Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I want to remember this...

I really cannot tell you how I wish I had started blogging earlier.  I wrote short stories from when the girls were little, but I wish I had blogged or had written more consistently.  I feel like there are so many things that I swore I would remember that I have long since forgotten...and I hate that.

So here's something I don't want to forget. My sweet son, age 4.  He goes through spells of wanting to talk on the phone and for the past couple of days he has been a talking machine.  Last night he went on and on and on with my mother...talking her ear off...and then it was his bedtime and so my mom offered to talk to him again tonight...to make the hanging up easier.  He agreed and promised to make a list (omg, how cute is that???) of all the things that he wanted to talk to her about on the phone.

So after school today he made the list.


He was going to lead with...
1.  I love Meme.
 ...because clearly that is the best way to start when you have rest of the list to go...
2.  Can he buy lots of games for her phone, including candy crush and chess?  (he calls it chest)
3.  Gardening - he just wants to plant some flowers 
4.  Cardboard Boxes - this one may have been my favorite...as he was talking to her he told her that he wanted to make a house out of cardboard boxes and that he was going to draw a picture of people of the box with a line through them so that everyone would know that the cardboard box was "no grown ups allowed"
5.  bubble baths - he wants to swim in Meme's bathtub with bubbles
6.  he also wants to play with balls - he had to write it twice because he messed up the L in the first ball
7. He wants to play tag outside.
8.  He also wants to play hide n go seek.

He went on to tell her that he wanted Phineas and Ferb macaroni and cheese and could they put flowers on the table because that makes things polite and pretty.

Big sigh.  I love that boy. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Our church part III

I have struggled with how to write this part of the story.  For me, it is the part that I will hold most dear in my heart.

The beginning - waking up and facing the news, being pulled over by the cop, seeing it for the first time - was all done through the lens of my grown up eyes.  As unfathomable as the events were, I could still process them as an adult.  I could recognize the feeling of loss and grief.  I had been there before, they were familiar.

But this part, the part of telling our children, was what I dreaded most.

They've never experienced a loved one dying.  They've never experienced divorce.  And I am grateful for those things, but I also had no way of knowing what this news was going to be like for them.

I knew, throughout the day, that people in their school knew of the fire.  I was terrified of them hearing about it from someone other than us.

Our congregation had already established with we would have a service that evening in the yard across the street from the church and I wanted them to have that time together.

I picked them up from school and we sat on the bench under the tree out front.  Or I should say, Q and I sat on the bench.  The girls stood in front of me because they were terrified when I told them we needed to talk before leaving.

And so I just came right out with it...

....there was an accident...I don't know how it happened...or why...but last night there was a fire and our church burned....

Casey recognized and processed with words immediately and began sobbing.

Chandler stood there.  Frozen.  "What church?  What church burned?  Whose church?,"  she demanded.

Chan, Honey, our church.

Her chin quivered and her face crumpled and the tears began to flow down her cheeks.

Quinn wasn't really sure what was going on, but he knew it wasn't good.  He began a whining cry, almost like he was scared, scared that both of his sisters fell apart before him.

Do you want to see it?  
Do you want to go over there?

Casey immediately said yes, but Chandler shook her head.  No.  No, I don't want to see it.

But I explained that we had enough time to go there, take a few minutes by ourselves, then go out to eat and then come back for the service.

So we did.

I parked in the lot across the street.  We walked, holding hands, to the sidewalk and stared.  They all leaned into me and cried.  I held Quinn in my arms and the girls pressed their bodies to me.  I kissed their foreheads.

Everything will be ok.  We know that the church is not the Pastor and the church is not the building. The church is...

and Chandler, in a barely audible whisper, finished, "...the people.  The church is the people."

We stood for a minute longer.  Then we loaded back into the car and drove down Poplar where you could see so clearly into our beautiful sanctuary.  Where you could see the heart of the damage.  The fallen roof.  The broken windows.  The destruction.  Casey gasped just as I had and Chandler leaned her head on the window of the backseat and cried some more.

After dinner, we made our way to the yard of the old parsonage building where we all gathered together.  I was so glad to see my in-laws as we pulled in.  (Chris had to teach class that night.)  At the prayer gathering, people stood and shared stories of what the building meant to them, what they were going to miss most, etc.  It felt very much like something you would do when you lose a loved one.  Because that's what this building was - a loved one.

Chandler took the microphone and in front of our congregation with the backdrop of the burned out building, Chandler spoke of how she felt loved by everyone in that building.  That she remembered being baptized in first grade and how Pastor Lisa told her that God loved her and blessed her.  And Chan cried.

The next morning, the Athens Banner Herald published an article about it - with this picture on the front page of the paper...


...and my heart broke all over again.

Quinn has spoken of the fire almost everyday since it happened.  He continues to remind us that it will all be ok.  He tells us, "We will webuild."

And we will.  In the meantime, our church has become Oconee Street on Prince - meeting in the gymnasium of Young Harris Methodist Church.

The day the rebuilding begins (and the day that it ends) will all be bittersweet days in this journey. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Our church Part II

So before I move on, there's a piece of part I that I failed to mention.  So I'm mentioning it now.

It's true, Tuesday morning I spoke with my mom and cried on my way into Athens (highly unusual, its the wee hours of the morn when I'm driving to work), and I had left a few minutes early so that I would have time to stop by church on the way to work...the part that I left out was that I was also pulled over.

Gah!

For you locals, you know how 129 between I-85 and Athens always has cops on it?  How Arcade is known to be a speed trap?  Yeah, I know that too.  I mean really, I drive the road every.single.day.  It's not like it should've been a surprise. 

Here's how it happened.  I pulled onto 129, still talking to my mom, sobbing, and I had a one track mind - get to the church.  We spoke a few minutes more and then I hung up.  Right as I passed a state trooper sitting on the side of the road.  I watched in my rear view mirror as he pulled out after me.  I went ahead and moved to the right lane and began slowing down.  It was inevitable.  And you know how normally when a cop pulls out behind you you get that sinking feeling of dread - your heart starts to race and your arms feel tingly?  I didn't have any of that.

He flashed the blues, I pulled over, he walked up to the window, I rolled it down (still sobbing).  He took one look at me (his flashlight in hand, remember, it's still dark) and said "Everything ok here, ma'am?"

Um, no, everything is not alright.  *wailing*  I've had a really bad morning.  My church burned down.  It's the first morning of CRCT and I have 5th graders at home so I had to keep it together and I work in an elementary school and I just need to cry right now and get to work.  *deep breath, big gulping sobs*

"Can you get your license out for me so that I know who I'm talking to?"

*sniff, sniff* Yes.  *racking deep breath*

"Pendley?  Is that how you say that?"

*weep* Yeeeeessssss. *deep breath*

"You still live in Jefferson?"

Uh-huh.  *sobbing*

"Your church in Jefferson?"

*sobbing* Nooooooo.  I go to Oconee Street in Athens.  *sniff sniff*

"Oh, yeah, I saw that on the news.  Terrible.  Was anyone hurt?  Which school do you work at?"

*hiccup, deep breath*  No one was hurt.  I work at Gaines on the east side.  *sobbing*

And the conversation went on and on and on.  He went back to his car and ran my license and after a million years he came back to the window.

"Today I just gonna give you a warning.  However, I need you to slow down AND I need you to calm down before you pull back out onto the road.  Let's just keep it all in perspective - it's just a test and it's just a building."

*waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhwaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhwahhhh*

I kid you not, I started crying all over.  Such a man.  Didn't he know that I already knew that it was just a building and just a test?  But that I'm a woman and so I thought that (just a building, just a test) and then made the executive decision to cry about it anyway just to let it out and feel a little better?

Ugh.

So he made me sit there, taking some deep breaths, before I could pull back out.

And then I finished my drive into Athens.  And I stopped by the church with the firemen still out front.  I cried a whole lot more.  And I was late to work.

The end.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Our church part I

This week was one of those weeks that I just wasn't prepared for.  And, sadly, there wasn't anything that I could have done to prepare for it. 

Our church burned.

Even though days have passed, typing that sentence isn't any easier.

I don't talk a whole lot about church or God or my faith on this blog.  I recognize religion as being a hot button and kind of try to avoid it.  A lot of times I try to avoid it because it is something that I feel that I'm not good at.  I'm not good at religion.  I'm not good at organized religion.  I'm not good at Sunday School and committees and pot lucks and women's meetings.  I've tried. I'm just not.

I think my parents did a great job of raising me with faith.  They raised me with a belief in God and to have compassion for others and to be tolerant and kind and accepting.  I know that I got these qualities from both my mother and father even though I wasn't raised in a church.  I never really had a church home.  There were places that I visited.  Youth groups that I played softball with and went on vacations with...but I was never a member anywhere. 

I have never read all of the Bible.  It was fairly recently that I figured out that there were two Josephs...you know, Joseph and Mary and then Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Chris hates it when I call him that, but that's how I keep them straight).  I didn't know they were two separate people.

When Chris and I were engaged the ladies of his church wanted to throw us a wedding shower and I declined.  I didn't understand.  I had only met them maybe once or twice, why would they want to do that?  Truly, I just couldn't comprehend it. 

But Chris had grown up in his church.  His mother had started attending as a teenager.  His parents were married there and these sweet ladies had known Chris all his life.  They had helped raise him and shape him into the man he became.

But I didn't understand that then.

We attended with the girls irregularly. On the big holidays - Christmas and Easter - and a Sunday here and there.  Mainly because I like putting them in their smocked dresses and braiding their hair.

And then the sleepless nights began.  The nights when Casey couldn't go to sleep because she worried.  She worried that we were going to die and that she would never see us again.  And my sweet child had no idea, couldn't understand, the concept of Heaven, because she had never been to Sunday School. We had never talked about it.  And in that moment, Chris and I knew that we needed to make some changes.  If for nothing else, so that our girl could get some rest.

But this thing happened - I made friends, and Chris joined committees and taught Sunday School, I donated jewelry for silent auctions and volunteered at the soup kitchen and our children learned about God and Jesus and Heaven and the two Josephs.

For so many reasons, I began struggling with Church when I started my new job last year and I just couldn't go.  I would cry on the way into town.  And I stopped going, even while Chris continued to drive in and take our kids (to Sunday School and to acolyte and to, as Quinn calls it, "the place where we sing to God.")

I am, what you might call, not a very good church member.

But Tuesday morning when I checked my email and my eyes scanned a message from Pastor Lisa grieving over the loss of our historic sanctuary, I sank.  Chris and I did our best to hold it together that morning.  Our children were starting their first day of state testing and we knew that a church fire was not the way to start it.

I talked to my Mom on my ride into Athens.  I sobbed for that building that meant so much to my in-laws, to my husband, to my children and to myself.

I stopped by the church on my way to school.  The firemen were still there in their trucks out front.  And I snapped this picture and I laid my head on the steering wheel and cried.  I turned down the street next to the church and fell to pieces when I saw the destroyed sanctuary through the busted out windows.  The roof collapsed into the space that my children acolyte in.  The space where my girls stand over the giant floor vents in the summer to let the air conditioning poof out their skirts.  The space where my husband ran as a toddler and walked as a man and a husband and a father. The space wasn't there anymore.  It was gone.



 I stumbled upon this picture in the Athens Banner Herald that afternoon...


and all I could think of was this...


...and of the countless other pictures that have been taken on those steps...in that sanctuary...at that alter...and guess what?  Yep. I cried some more.

And now, I need to take a break from writing this...look for the conclusion over the weekend.  I have to go to bed.  Friday can't get here fast enough.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Some of my favorite people.

Some of my favorite people are people that I have met on the internets.  Here's how this all began...

1.  Last Feb I went to Blissdom...and I was looking for a roommate...the website said the check a certain hashtag on Twitter.  So I did.  And if you know me, you know that I pretty much never tweet.  I just don't get it.  But on that day, I visited the twitter.  And I found this super sweet girl, Alison.  We emailed.  We became friends.  We couldn't get the room thing worked out, but we met at Blissdom and then we stayed in touch through the spring.

2.  At the beginning of last summer, Alison and Lindsay, decided to plan a Blue Ridge Craft Weekend.  And Alison thought of me. 

3.  In September, I spent a wonderful weekend in the North Georgia Mountains with a fabulous group of ladies.  They encouraged me to take up instagram (so glad I did!).

4.  So many emails, texts, phone calls later...

I count these ladies as some of my closest friends.  And we had a girls' day on Sat!  Complete with lunch and dinner out, thrifting, antiquing, starbucks, a target trip and a stop at the dekalb farmer's market...

I loved seeing y'all and I started missing you on my drive home Saturday night...

{amy, me, heather, alison and lindsay}

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Glorious.

This past week was glorious.  You may think I'm being sarcastic (especially if you know me IRL), but really, I'm not. 

1. My mom's birthday weekend.  I think this year may have been one of the best.  Saturday night Chris made homemade enchilada's, black beans and avocado for dinner.  We spent the evening playing killer uno and laughing.  Sunday morning we lazed around in pajamas and then spur of the moment decided to drive into Athens and have lunch at Heirloom.  



 2.  After lunch we had an amazing photo shoot with our sweet friend, Abby.  The kids were great and in 26 minutes we had some fantastic shots and went on our merry way.

3. It was crazy warm this week.  Like, I painted my toes and broke out the sandals kind of warm.  And instantly I felt a million times better.  Incidentally, I matched my ears and my toes one day this week...with a pink/mint combo...pretty impressive, if you ask me. ;)

 4.  It was Spring Break at the dance studio.  So we didn't have to drive any crazy long distances after work this week and it was glorious.  Glorious, I tell you.

5.  Quinn got to spend some time planting in Doe Doe and Pop Pop's garden while the girls and I ate dinner street side at The Grit

Afterward, we headed over to my school's Spring Fling, where they won an assortment of bakery items from the cake walk and rode horses three times while I manned the nail polish booth.  It's important to be able to show your customers (two tickets, please) sample nails.


And, yes, my nails still look like that...two days later...

6.  For a super fabulous reason, I woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and made some delicious mini pistachio cakes.  It was lovely to have a quiet house to myself for an hour before anyone else woke up.



7.   Quinn and I spent some time snuggling this morning. I was finishing up my book, he was playing some super serious puzzle app on the ipad.


8. Chris made some AMAZING dinners this week.  And we had the first watermelon salad of the season.  Oh, how I love the watermelon salad.  And these potatoes - olive oil, garlic, rosemary - all smashed together.  Yeowzers.  This man can cook.  Amen.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

This Weekend

This weekend we're celebrating my Mom's birthday.  She's turning a number that I am not going to mention on this blog...although she is still younger than my dad...so there's that.

{we're also celebrating sweet Loralai's birthday, Chan has sewing class, and we're doing family pictures...you know my motto...go big or go home.  I'm kidding.  That's not my motto.  My motto is, "Plan as many things as possible in a weekend to procrastinate cleaning the bathrooms."  Because bathrooms can only be cleaned on the weekend.  Clearly.  I will not be scrubbing toilets on a Tuesday night.  Although if our weekends keep going this way, I might be scrubbing toilets on a Tuesday night.  Just sayin.}

Back to before...

We're celebrating my Mom's birthday.  We'll be eating chicken enchiladas and playing killer Uno Saturday night.

There are lots of things that I love about my mom...  I could give you a list of a million things, but I figure just a few will do...

1.  We have the kind of relationship where we talk everyday.  Most days we talk a few times a day.  Just to make sure that we've said everything that we needed to say.  Sometimes the girls do things and I pick up my phone just to call and apologize to my mother.  Because one day I hope the girls call me to apologize.

2.  She taught me the importance of being able to make a fabulous fried egg sandwich.  Life is better with egg sandwiches.

3.  When I take a picture of my son that looks like this...


...I can text it to her and write nothing more than, "He looks like Hobson, doesn't he?"  And she know exactly what I am talking about and responds with, "If I begin to die, please take this off my head.  This is not the way I wish to be remembered."  And then I fall over laughing.

Mom, I love you and I hope you have the happiest of birthdays.