Monday, August 23, 2010

Little Plastic Cups

Jonah attended "Camp Keeling" (although I think it should be renamed "Grammy Camp") at the beginning of the summer. Basically, he spent two days and one night with Grammy and Papa while Sarah and Charlie visited from Alabama. He had a blast! Not only does he love playing with his cousins but Grammy packs every minute full of fun and creativity. I'm talkin' painted t-shirts, homemade bird feeders, scavenger hunts (complete with toilet paper roll binoculars), flashlights and sleeping bags, cereal necklaces, coloring, cutting, name it and she's got it. I'm surprised he didn't come home with a full ride to SCAD or at least threaten to quit all academic pursuits to abandon himself to a career in the arts or something. Anyways.....when he came home, he brought with him a little plastic cup filled to the brim with potting soil. I did my best to water and nurture that little thing but I have a confession to make.

We went to Mexico. In my defense, I left it outside so it could get rain while we were gone but apparently it didn't rain all that much in our absence. We had good intentions. It was to be a "Mammoth Sunflower" or so the seed packet said. We were going to let it grow in its safe little plastic cup until it was strong enough to transplant to the yard and then we were going to see if it grew taller than Jonah. Bless his heart. He was really looking forward to it.

Bear doesn't think it was really us being gone so much as the roots were all knotted up in a ball. I think it may have been ready to be moved out onto its own. We just didn't know it. We thought it needed to be stronger, bigger, older, healthier before putting it out there in the yard all by its little lonesome.

Early this morning our neighbor, Dan Gealy, went to be with Jesus. It was his second bout with cancer in the past year. He left behind a widow, a son in his senior year of high school, and a daughter in the tenth grade. I'm gonna be honest. I don't get it. Just at the time when you get to start being your kids' friend and not just a parent. Just at the time when your kids are old enough to do their own thing and you and your wife get some alone time again. Just at the time when you're pronounced cancer free and can take a breath.

Sometimes, God asks us to get out of our little plastic cup. He moves us into a big yard. The weather's harsher. The surroundings are unfamiliar. We don't get it and think it's too soon. We're not strong enough for this yet. But He puts us there with a purpose. To grow our roots deeper. To have our faith strengthened. To allow us room to grow into mammoth giants of faith. We can take hold of Him and His Word, allowing it to fertilize our hearts and minds, or we can dry up in refusal to be stretched beyond what we understand. But if we never get out of that little plastic cup, our growth just stops. Dies out. We get so knotted up underneath the surface of it all. It’s only when we’re given room to spread out with all our doubts and questions do we find stability in a Savior Who meets us at our deepest need. He becomes real to us and our faith increases exponentially.

2 Kings 19:30 says, "Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above". Lord, I want to take root here so I may bear fruit there! I want to be that remnant, God! In Luke 8, Jesus shared the parable of the four soils.

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown."

Oh, that my family would be good soil for the seed of Your Word. Protect Esther Grace and Jonah from being trampled. Give them godly friends, not thorns that would choke your word out of their lives. Keep me from being a thorn to others. May the Living Water of Jesus continuously replenish them as they grow in Your Truth, O Lord. May I mother them according to Your Ways and not my own so that they might produce a crop one hundred fold.

As for the Gealys, I pray Psalm 126:5-6 over Debbie, Brett, and Jordyn.

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him."

May their promised harvest be soon, Lord.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

All Too Soon

This morning was Jonah's first day of PreK. Well, technically I think they call it ThreeK since he's 3 and only goes twice a week. Okay, and technically he's supposed to go three times a week but I just can't handle that so on Wednesdays he goes to Bible study with me instead of school. Besides, he learns more about the Bible in those 2 hours on Wednesdays than I do all week. So. This is already off to a bad start. Let me begin again....

This morning was Jonah's first day of PreK. We got up happy and ate his favorite breakfast: sausage like a hotdog (link, not patty) and cinnamon toast. He had to settle for the cinnamon toast because he wanted a waffle but there wasn't any time. He also thinks Mommy doesn't know how to make waffles because I hate the mess and Daddy's the one who usually makes those. Since Daddy was already at work, we went with an alternative option.

Did I mention that we had to make cinnamon toast twice because Mommy was so beside herself that she burned the first batch? Maybe we should've gone with a waffle.

After breakfast, we washed our face and hands (we had taken a bath last night), brushed our teeth, and got dressed.

Is he not the cutest? Yes, his teacher requested a regular size bookbag so his artwork doesn't get smashed. Artwork! He's going to come home with artwork! I love it.

We dropped Sister off at GB's so it could just be "Mommy and Me" for the first day. As we rode in the car, I asked him how he felt and if he wanted to pray about anything. We prayed for peace and joy last night because he "was a bittle bit scared inside" but he assured me that when the time came he wouldn't be scared anymore. He told me that he was good to go and Jesus had taken all the scared away. My sweet little man.

He requested "Holy, Holy, Holy", "Our God is an Awesome God", and "Everyday" as his ride-to-school playlist. We sang and talked about the tractor trailer trucks we passed. We pulled into the parking lot and I thought it would hit me but I was fine. So was Jonah as he said, "Bye Wuthie (Lovie)! Bye Pappy (Passie)! Bye Airpwane (his new toy from the airport)! I'm going to school!" and hopped out of the car.

We headed inside and one of his teachers, Ms. Martha, greeted him at the door. His grip tightened and he ducked behind my legs. I went in his classroom with him where we hung his bookbag on his hook. Ms. Tracy, his lead teacher, welcomed him and had a star nametag necklace for him. When she tried to put it around his neck, he shook his head no and plainly stated, "No. I don't need that. I'm not staying that long. I'm eating lunch with my Mommy." Ooooookay. She winked at me and put his necklace in his cubby.

Last Wednesday we had met his teachers and toured his classroom and he told them that he really "wuuuuuuuuved (loved) dump trucks". On the carpet were three dump trucks that Ms. Tracy had picked out especially for him. He relaxed a tad but still made me stand by the classroom sink so I wouldn't be anywhere near the door in case I tried to escape.

I waited a few minutes and slipped out with a set of parents who had just dropped off their fraternal twins, Jace (boy) and Joie (girl), as Ms. Tracy was making a big deal of how Jonah, Jace, and Joie all began with J. Apparently I wasn't as sligh as I thought because I heard a huh-huh-huh as Jonah slipped into his panic breath I know so well. It's his silent substitute for whining because Bear can't stand whining. I glanced at the teacher who nodded and shooed me with a smile. I blew a kiss and said, "Love you and I'll see you after Bible study" and slipped on out.

That's when I heard it. Slow at first and then rising to a full on holler. I wasn't sure what to do so I just stood in the hall to the left of his door and silently prayed for what felt like forever. He quieted down a bit but was still crying when I walked out to the lobby and got in my car. Surprisingly I didn't shed a tear but I was so nervous for him. I just want him to have a good time and to enjoy it so much.

I came home and Esther Grace had already been fed, bathed, and changed. My mother is a saint. I just wanted her to sit with the baby and I was planning on doing all of that myself when I got home. She is completely wonderful. Once we got home, Sister was in desperate need of a morning nap. I think it's jet lag. I nursed her and while I was rocking and singing, it hit me. My Beanie is so big. He used to be the one snuggled up, rubbing Lovie's ears with his pudgy, little fingers. His little, rolly thighs outstretched on my lap with those long, blonde eyelashes sweeping his soft, velvet cheeks. Then, the tears came. Even now, as I type, the tears are rolling down my cheeks.

My mind flashed to college and dropping him off in his dorm room. Kneeling by his little twin bed praying for God's blessing on his future, protection over his social choices, and guidance in decisions. All too soon that'll be my life. All too soon this stage of passies and matchbox cars will give way to football and wrestling. All too soon football and wrestling will give way to driving real cars. All too soon he'll start dating and eventually find God's girl. All too soon he'll be a man.

But for now, I'll just embrace the Happy Meals and playground days. Treasure the non-stop pretend stories and stuttering paragraphs. Value the snotty noses and skinned knees. Revel in laundering little Grover undies. Because all too soon it'll be gone and I'll have oak trees instead of acorns.

Customs & Lee Greenwood

Well, Tantie is married off and we're back from Mexico! I will definitely fill you in later on all the exciting details but for now, I'm just going to try and get some laundry done and our bags unpacked. I will let you in on a little secret though.

Whenever I travel abroad, which is not as often as I prefer, I inevitably end up in customs upon arriving back in the U.S. This happens to be one of my most favorite things about traveling. One might think I would cherish the memories of visiting exotic cultures or seeing some of history's greatest The very best part of traveling is standing in the lines of smelly, exhausted, irritable passengers approaching customs.

First of all, visitors to the U.S. are herded to the right while residents continue on until they reach a string of counters manned by agents sitting in their little booths. Already I feel like I'm beating the system. Once settled into a shorter line by the booth of my choice, I get my passport out and ready to hand over to the smiling face behind the desk. They always ask me about my travels which gives me a small opportunity to briefly live in my fantasy world where I'm a recurrent jet-setter just back from my lastest excursion. Little do I realize, the lack of stamps in my little blue book give away my secret. The agent scans the computer screen, probably checking to make sure I'm not an international fugitive since I do have such an air of mystery, and here it comes......

He picks up his little round stamp......

Smacks it right on my page......

Looks up at me squarely in the eye.....

And as "Proud To Be An American" begins to faintly echo in my mind, he says.....

"Welcome home, Mrs. Keeling."

Sunday, August 8, 2010


"What? Jonah's missing a piece of sidewalk chalk?"

"Hmmm, that's odd. Me? Nope. Haven't seen it."

"Blue, you say? Weird. I'll let you know if I come across it."

"Hey, you wouldn't happen to have a sippy cup of juice around, would you? My mouth is parched!"

Friday, August 6, 2010

Words for Thought

Hipples: the two dark colored circles found on one's chest

Example: While in the tub..."Mommy! The water's all the way up to my hipples!"

Not to be confused with...

Nipples: the concentric circles that are a result of an object breaking water's surface

Example: While eating a popsicle on the dock & feeding the catfish..."Woah! Did you see that?! That fish's got some pretty big nipples!"

And finally...

No way, Hosanna: an expression used when something is completely absurd or out of the question

Example: "Jonah, it's time to take a nap." "No way, Hosanna!"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Not only was the past week the first ever youth camp for Jonah, Esther Grace, and Bear (yes-Bear), but it also culminated several weeks of firsts for our family.

Jonah took his first trip to Lake Oconee with Pop (my dad), Tyler, and Daddy.

(This was not his best performance but it is the best one caught on tape. He went all the way around the cove. Trust me, he's good.)

Esther Grace took her first steps and hasn't slowed down since.

(Please ignore the dusty footprints by the garage door. They're from one of Bear's "projects" and I noticed them after taping.)

With all this excitement, I'm wondering what my "first" will be. Maybe something is in store for me in Mexico next week at Katie's wedding. I just hope it's not my first tattoo.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Camp Cost 2010

Camp was UNBELIEVEABLE! I don't know why I expected any less. Maybe because I remembered my days as a youth and the drama that accompanies teenage girls but this past week sort of made me want to go back to high school. At least college. That very well could be the sleep deprivation talking.

God did a work in the hearts of the teens there and I pray He continues as they return to the "real world" once school starts. It's so hard to live it out in the valley once you've been to the mountain, you know? But that's life. I'm just so thankful that we're allowed those mountain top experiences here on Earth. I think it prepares us for Heaven. Although, I'm not sure if God allows drums quite like the ones I heard. Wow. I may need subtitles for the rest of my life. Interestingly enough everytime the band kicked up the volume, Esther Grace fell asleep. I asked if they had a CD I could buy to play in her room at night. I don't think they knew I was serious. I'm not sure if it was just sensory overload or if the vibrating furniture lulled her to sleep. The jury's still out on that one. Either way, she dozed throughout morning services just fine.

The week produced several revelations for me and Bear, which I'll probably recount throughout my blogging later, but one quite unexpected was that of a future worship leader.

I'm telling you, he loved every. single. minute. The bad thing is that now he thinks that he's 17 and doesn't understand why he can't take the car out to pick up "his boys". Jonah may need a good detoxing after an entire week spent with teens. The good thing is he saw boys he adores freely worship our Lord and it was sweet. An example was set for him to love God unashamedly and boldly not just by his parents, who now rank on the cool factor but not for long, but by boys he tries so hard to emulate. I'm so glad we took our kids. It was hard. It was exhausting. It was so rewarding.

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"
Mark 8:34-36
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