Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stir: My Broken Arm Adventure Retold

Stir, my Young Professional group at Otter Creek Church of Christ, has recently started a blog.  I was thrilled when I was asked to be a monthly contributor! Check out my first post on the new blog – a familiar but retold story of my broken arm adventures and God’s healing in our hearts.

To learn more about Stir (Otter Creek’s Young Professional Group) watch this video or check out this facebook site.  Amazing things are happening in this group.  I’d love for you to join us.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


My weekend text conversations with my sister usually look something like this:

Me: “Hey Al. I’m going shopping. Want to join?”
Allison: “No. I’m going paddling. I’ll be on the river all day. Want to join?”
Me: “No.”

But last Saturday she and I both went with my church’s young professional group to canoe on the Harpeth River. Yes. I canoed. 13 miles. On a river. And yes. It totally messed up my French manicure. But yes. It was worth it. I had a lot of fun. Actual fun.


 Al and I

 Our Canoe Group

Remember my recent post about how crazy hot it had been in Nashville? It was so hot and so dry for a really long time.

Nashville, you’re welcome. I washed my car, which we all know brings rain. And it has rained every day since.

We needed the rain so badly.  However, this also means that it absolutely poured on our canoe trip day. We sat in Tip-A-Canoe’s parking lot for quite a while, just watching the rain come down like crazy.

A Rain Delay

Half of our group even left. But we stuck it out, and the rain finally let up long enough for our trip.  It was quite perfect actually. Drizzly and overcast, which meant it was cooler than normal and the river had plenty of water in it.

I was nervous before we got on the river. Water sports just aren’t really my thing (although I had been canoeing once before and I did go white water rafting at Yellowstone). But Allison is outdoorsy. She knows how to navigate rivers and avoid fallen trees and paddle through currents and, most importantly, not tip-a-canoe. Normally I have an “I can do things on my own. Don’t tell me what to do.” attitude. But when we got into the canoe, I informed my big sis, “Please. Boss me around. Tell me exactly what to do and when. I won’t get mad. Promise.”

Allison, of course, was in the back of the canoe so that she could steer!

Not gonna lie, we were a pretty good team. And I was so glad that we didn’t tip because while we did see some cute turtles in the river, we also saw a few too many snakes and one large, unidentified, orange/yellow animal. Either a goldfish ate an entire canoe or there was some sort of undiscovered creature in that river. Eek. I’m just going to pretend it was a life jacket floating downstream. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, ya know.

Call me crazy, but I liked canoeing enough that I just might do it again. Soon.

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Sunshine

I’ve told you all about my experience with anesthesia when I broke my arm. I was as serious as ever and questioning whether or not I was even alive.  I was crazy and totally not fun. But this wasn’t my first experience with anesthesia, and fortunately my first experience was nothing like the second. When I was 14, I had my wisdom teeth taken out. When I came out of the surgery, I was silly.  Super silly. I (more athletic at the time) kept proclaiming things like, “I am NOT a cheerleader! Did you tell them I’m athletic?!?”. And then on the ride home and throughout my entire recovery process I insisted that my mother sing “You Are My Sunshine” over and over again to me. Why that song? I have no idea. But it started a trend and even after my quick recovery, that remained “our song” and has been sung countless times since. When I moved to East Hampton at 16 to be a summer nanny, I unpacked my suitcase on my first night there to find a stuffed bunny tucked in among my swimsuits and beach towels. I thought, “How did this get in my suitcase? What even is this?” As I picked it up, it began to sing. My homesick nervousness turned into a warm confidence as I listened to the lyrics of “You Are My Sunshine”, knowing that while I was out on my own, I was on my mom’s heart. And whenever we lived apart through my time at school and for various jobs, we would often text each other the standard, “I love and miss you!”. But in those special moments when that just didn’t feel like enough, our messages looked more like, “Look for the sun. You will find me in the sunshine.”

 With Mom at Loveless Cafe for her 4th of July Birthday Lunch

Okay, okay. That sounded really sappy. But isn’t it so true that the people that we love the most bring an incredible light into our lives? 

Super Blue Man 

 Lots of Family on the Fourth

 A Little Independence Day Croquet

 Ally dominating the game

Shooting off Model Rockets in the Field

 The kids watching the rockets

 Rocket Recovery from the very large trees

 A little family

 Dad and Ally with the old Farmall at Loveless

Ally's attempt at a Loveless Cafe ad. "Here, look! I'm posing with the logo on the front of my cup, just perfectly!"

 My girl friends and I at the 4th of July Bash

 Girl's Night - Lots of snacks, laughs, and nailpolish

It’s a light by which we see our love, our heart, our confidence, our security, and our family. A light worth fighting for.  A light as bright as fireworks on the fourth of July,

Downtown Nashville Fireworks Show

But a light treated with as much care as a flickering candle on a birthday cake - careful to not be blown out by the wind, but a light that instead marks the beginning of wishes and prayers.

Mom's traditional Striped Birthday Cake on the 4th, courtesy of my talented big sis

I adore all of these little lights in my life, these little bursts of sunshine.  And to me these beautiful people, these relationships, and these memories are all a reflection of True Light. A reflection of “The Light of all mankind. The light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5. One of my most common prayers is for Light. For God’s Light to shine on this earth. For me to be a reflection of that Light. For His Light in my thoughts and my relationships and my future. For God to pour Light over my friends and my parents and my sisters and my family.

And His Light always shines. It’s the kind of Light that makes us happy when skies are gray. The Light of a Son that sings over us, “You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you.”

"You Are My Sunshine" from my hometown's bluegrass jam. There's nothing quite like a Small Town Saturday Night.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Being Family: A Wedding, A Baby, and So Much More

Front Porch Farms: A Wedding
Yesterday I went to a gorgeous wedding for my cousin and his beautiful Bride.  We are so blessed to have her join our family. She is so sweet and gorgeous and, as Grandma says, “Those two will make pretty great grandbabies”.

 The Bride and Groom

 The Cousins

The wedding was at Front Porch Farms about an hour northwest of Nashville.  It was such a great locale! I am really into the country chic look right now, so this was right up my alley.

At one point during the reception my grandmother, who I thought was the most conservative person that I have ever known, began a conversation with me that I knew would not end well.

“Emily, don’t you ever date?”
“What? Oh, Grandma…” (voice trailing off and breaking eye contact to avoid another “Neither of us are getting any younger” speech)
“Well, why don’t you get up on this table, cross your legs, and strike a pose?  That will draw some attention.”
Oh. My. Gosh. Not what I was expecting to hear from her. Bless her heart, that one made my sister and I laugh for hours.

Me, Ally, Grandpa, and Grandma

In other news, it was really hot yesterday. 106 to be exact.

I was so hot for so long that I came straight home, took two bottles of water into the shower with me, turned the water as far to the cold side that it would go, and sat on the floor of my shower. Yep.  I drank bottled water on the floor of my shower. I’m sure that is really weird on some level, but you know what? So am I.  But it is good that I wore my purple dress to the wedding. You know, because I always like to match. And yesterday my face matched my dress.

Pink Picnic: A Baby
It’s pretty awesome when two of your best friends in high school start dating each other.  It’s even more awesome when they get married and have the most adorable little girl.  And now? They are adding another baby girl to their sweet family.  (And she is due on my birthday!)

The Best of Friends

To celebrate the baby’s upcoming arrival, the mom’s sister and I hosted a Pink Picnic – a co-ed, casual, outdoor baby celebration. We had cornhole, croquet, and bocci ball set up outside and lots of food and gifts inside. It was so hot again that day that we didn’t exactly “picnic” outside very much, but we still had a lot of fun hanging out. Here are a few pics from the day:

We had a menu of chicken salad in phyllo cups, turkey on rolls, a veggie tray, tortilla chip cups with black bean dip, strawberry salad, fruit kabobs, pink lemonade cookie sandwiches, and strawberry cupcakes. We also served pink lemonade and sweet tea in mason jars, topped with pink picnic paper.

My gift to the new baby: A Rocking Horse.

Let's all notice the creepy face and the bear catching butterflies on the front legs.

A little Sweet Cream and English Rose paint can go a long way. Much better without the bear!

 Me, The Mom-To-Be, and The Sister (And Co-Host)

Family Tree:  A Reunion
My mom’s family recently had a family reunion. I got to visit with tons of cousins and aunts and uncles that I haven’t seen in a really long time.  I just adore stuff like that. I wish I had a picture of all of the people that attended. Maybe I’ll get my hands on one soon. But I do have a picture of my sweet little cousin that chilled under the shade tree with me. She is too precious.

I also got a text recently from my mother with this picture...

And a text that read “Your nephew wanted me to ask you if you would come play dress up and scare him while he is visiting.”  Um, yes! That is my favorite thing ever!

Speaking of my mother, my friend snapped this picture of my mom and I at the Pink Picnic. I mean, seriously? Can we be any more alike in this picture? Our arms, our hands, our expression, our stance, our hair. It's crazy! 

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Reaching Out: A Family of Friends
Our Thurch small group has done a lot of reaching up. A lot of Bible study, a lot of theology talk, a lot of questions asked, and a lot of lives shared. But we recently decided that we needed to do more reaching out, too.  We decided to begin spending our Sunday afternoons with the families and children in an apartment complex in South Nashville where two of our Thurch girls live. The families in the complex represent various countries from literally all over the globe. So how do you reach out and create a community with people that you seemingly have very little in common with – including a common language? You love their children. So every week we go to the center lawn of the complex with soccer balls, footballs, jump ropes, hula hoops, a croquet set, and a cooler full of popsicles. We didn’t know how our idea would work.  Would the children even respond to us? Would anyone come join in? We all started playing the games ourselves, and – quicker than I expected – back gates started swinging open. Children ran from all ends of the complex to come hang out with us.  Last week was the first week that Thurch did Game Day. And this Sunday? The children were waiting on us.  And as we played with the children, the parents slowly started warming up to us as well.  Some joined in on the games, some relaxed in the shade with a popsicle, and several even videoed us playing games with their children.

After our Game Day we always go back into the apartment for dinner and a Bible study.  We had just sat down to eat dinner together and were discussing how great Game Days were going and how God could really build a community in this place when we heard a knock at the door. Nine children stood at the door, wondering when we would be back to play with them again and – of course – to get one last popsicle.  One little girl peeked her head in and saw ten of us eating dinner around the table together and said “Oh, wow! Are you a family?” We said, “Yes.”

We are.