Porches, Culottes and Airstreams

I grew up with the great blessing of knowing my extended family. Each of my grandparents came from large families (11, 5, 7 and 7), and I have fond memories of huge gatherings with my great-aunts and uncles.

My maternal grandfather's family were the Calhouns. Papa and his 6  older brothers (they lost a sister, I believe), all grew up in the "Dry Creek" area of Covington County. I'm pretty sure there was Scotch blood on all sides ("Grandmother Calhoun" had been a Magee) and they were a neat and eccentric bunch of folks.
At one point the family land was divided between the brothers, but when Papa retired from the Air Force in the seventies, he bought several of the brother's shares and he and my grandmother built a house and settled into semi-retirement. He farmed, raised cows and had a part-time law practice, as I understand it. 

By the time I was a child, all the brothers were retired. They had been in the Highway Patrol, worked for Standard Oil, done Civil Service, military, etc, and in retirement, it seemed that every one of them owned an Airstream travel trailer or some sort of camper. My grandfather turned an acre of the land into a "camper park" and every so often, they would all gather at the farm for a season. 

I loved it when they gathered. It was so fun to explore their campers and just listen to their stories. 
Papa and his brothers had the best names: Knox, Garland, Evan, Shelton (Shaky), John H., Harry and my own Papa was Aubrey. They were all a bit loud as every one of them had major hearing loss, and 
the gathering may have been referred to as a "Beltone Convention" by some of the younger folk. I remember steaks on the grill and boiled shrimp piled on a spread out on a newspaper; aluminum folding chairs and folks gathered around the kitchen table. 

My Granny and aunts matched their husbands in names: Lois, Eloise, Lucy, Nettie, Edith and Jean. They were such neat ladies. I remember lots of tightly curled hair and culottes and pumps (worn with the culottes, of course!)

There were many hours spent on the porch, and I remember a lot of pea-shelling into these aluminum colanders. I have some chairs on our porch now that remind me of those days. 

After Papa Died, many of his siblings were still alive and Granny kept in close touch with most of them. I have the best memories of going to visiting.

Aunt Nettie lived in my hometown, in a little tiny house. She had an electric organ and her galley kitchen always seemed to have some kind of pie in it. The back yard, which you accessed through the carport, via a little gate between the storage room and house, was the best. There were rose bushes and some sort of small patio with an out door shower and sink. I loved to play in her backyard, and peek into her bedrooms.

Aunt Eloise and Uncle Knox were simply
wonderful. They lived in Georgia and she dealt in collectibles (like glassware). She was very, very ladylike. He made muscadine wine and was a woodworker. The one time we stayed with them, I was just enamored with their house.

Our favorites, though, were Aunt Edie and Uncle Shaky. I even named one of my dolls Edie, my sister did one better and named her daughter Edie. Because they lived in Meridian, we saw them very often. Their house was super cool. The front living room had a long seventies couch, but I don't remember anyone ever sitting in it, but instead, there was a very comfy family room.  Their tiny kitchen had a swinging saloon style door. Aunt Edie had white hair and was very "pearly". She had the best laugh and read Victoria Holt novels. Her bathroom was pink, with pink carpet and I remember a lot of gilty-gold accessories lining her hallway. When we ate at their house, there were vegetables like squash and black eyed peas and sliced, peeled tomatoes on a dish. Best of all, I remember that she spoke "to" me and not at me. When I was a very little girl, Aunt Edie would sit on the swing with me at Granny and Papa's and we would swing in the night air and listen to the bullfrogs.

I'm grateful for these sweet memories of family. Being on the porch of the house we are in now brings them back. I'm grateful that even though family is often "difficult", my Granny pursued relationships even after Papa died and I got to know so many of my great aunts and uncles. 



Our days are full of choices and the voices all around social media are pestering me to make deliberate and intentional choices. Well, here ya go:

Today, I chose to:
Spend a little time with my prayer journal.
Wash the breakfast dishes.
Sit down and eat only ONE biscuit with tomato gravy that my husband fixed for family who had stayed overnight. (then I chose to eat the SECOND standing up)

Today, I chose to:
Play a game with my husband, brother-in-law and son.
To get in the laundry room and catch up on a Holiday's worth of folding,
then I ironed dress shirts in a patch of sunlight because I knew it meant a lot to Tuan.

Today, I chose to:
Eat vegetable soup, then
Take a nap so I wouldn't be a grumpy pants.
I chose to sit with my dear sister-in-law and hold my nephew and talk.

This afternoon, I chose to
Get all the children bathed and the girl's hair dried.
I chose to straighten my daughter's already straight hair
because she wanted me to.

Tonight, I chose to
Vacuum the living room,  and wash and dry our sheets, and have the kids clean their rooms.
Then I chose to let the kids stay up late and mess up their rooms because they were all cute and wearing pajamas and playing so well together.

Tonight I chose:
A bath and a shower because it's fun to do both!
To eat dinner with Tuan after the kid's bedtime,
then to listen to his work training videos while I worked on a project
and let myself get lost in a blizzard of creativity and dreaming.

Every day we are surrounded by choices. Some are important and some are mundane, but sometimes its not so much what we choose to DO, but what we have chosen not to do.

And, that, dear friends is why I came out of the blizzard of creativity and walked into the kitchen at 1:20 am to realize that today I had chosen NOT to:

wash the lunch dishes,
wash the second lunch dishes
wash the crock pot
was the supper dishes
wash the second supper dishes.

And so, early this morning I chose to wash half of the dishes because I have so many type A friends (who never have dirty dishes and I SO WISH I WAS LIKE YOU SOME TIMES!)  who I'm afraid might drop by the house before I could get them washed in the am.

So at the end of a day full of great choices. I chose to wash the dishes from a place of comparison and guilt. But I only did half.

Because I'm type B.
And blogging about it was much more interesting than drying, then washing some more.



I love the idea of hashtags and while I don't use them on Facebook or Instagram, I'm always throwing them out in my head. #campwifelife is one of my growing mental hashtags. Here is one example.

My husband came home this morning before I was even fully awake asking for a "sacrificial basket for the loaves and the fishes" that he could use for some camp teaching purpose. I was stumbling around trying to find a basket when the word "sacrificial" registered.

"What do you mean 'sacrificial'? I won't get it back?
"probably not"

My first thought was, no you can't have one of my baskets. I need them. They are pretty. Are you crazy? Then a soft and gentle conviction came to me: "will you sacrifice even your home decor for the sake of the gospel?" hmm. That's one of MY most treasured areas, for sure.

This was by no means a heart-piercing, mega-moment of spirituality, don't be mislead; but it certainly gave me pause and I grabbed a "sacrificial basket for the loaves and the fishes",  emptied of it's contents and handed it over cheerfully.

I've been thinking about this a little bit. What am I willing to lay down, give away and let go for the sake of the gospel? So far, I've been asked little. Will I be faithful in the small things? Will I be faithful in the big things? I pray that the Lord will give me the grace to do so. 

What is is like to be a camp wife? Well, sometimes your husband pops home and asks for a "sacrificial basket for the loaves and the fishes" and you give one up for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus. 



Philippians and Camp

Philippians 1:3-11
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,[d] both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

I have the privilege of attending a Bible study with the female directors and camp wives. All of the Bible studies at camp this summer at going through Philippians and I was really struck by the affectionate language Paul uses when speaking to them. 

The "he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus" portion was first brought to mind when one of my dear, dear camp counselors sent it to me in a letter way back when (ninth or seventh grade, I think). Linda Spencer, who led worship at PCA camps back then, taught us a Steve Green song springing from that verse.

It hold a lot of "camp applications" for me, and this morning I was mulling over it as I cleaned the kitchen and realized that God has blessed Tuan and I with some deep, sweet relationships springing from camp and I feel that same affection and longing for these people as Paul describes. I love how camp ministry brings people back into your lives year after year (sometimes) and allows you to develop these relationships that push you to Jesus,  comfort you on your journey and point you to glory. 

Deep affection. Indescribable. Because really, the curtain is lifted a little bit and you catch a glimpse of the greater, more wonderful beyond and if you think about it too much--its just too much to bear. 

Here are the lyrics--best as I can remember them.

If the struggle you're facing is slowly replacing your hope with despair
And the struggle is long and you're losing your song in the night
You can be sure that the Lord has his hand on you
Safe and secure--He will never abandon you
You are his treasure and he finds great pleasure in you

He who began a good work in you
He who began a good work in you
Will be faithful to complete it
With be faithful to complete it
He who started the work will be faithful to complete it in you.


Christmas Chaos/Christmas Wonder

Have you ever had every going so smoothly and then wham! bam! it all goes to pot? I speak of utter chaos and wailing, spilling, breaking, whining and spaghetti noodles everywhere.

Today went so well. Worship. Lunch all ready in the crockpot. Long rest time for the kids and peppermint mochas and reading in bed for us. We had decided to decorate for Christmas today and I confess, I had visions of EVERYTHING decorated (indoors and out!) and some presents wrapped by bedtime tonight. The tree finding went of without a hitch and we brought home the best free-range cedar we've ever found. Bringing decorations down from the attic? Smooth as buttah. Even the lights untangled and EVERY strand but one worked. I mean, we were looking good. 

Then it  all stopped going so well. Decorations were being strewn about the house with abandon, the tree would not stand up on it's own. Half a string of lights that were already on the tree gave out. 

Shall I recount?
Screaming baby
broken strand of decorating beads: a hundred red beads rolling all over the floor
angry baby eating leftover spaghetti
3 year old opening his advent calendar present on the sly
hungry three year old caught foraging in the cupboard for craisins
the dustpan DISAPPEARED
morose toddler eating leftover spaghetti
broken hearted big kids who wanted spaghetti, too
frantic noodle cooking in the midst of it all
husband with a headache
angry baby mad at spaghetti
angry baby realizes that the rest of family is eating spaghetti and demands more
as does 3 year old

Finally, T called it a night. Advent and to bed. Decorations on delay. 

We cleared the table, threw the advent wreath together. Grabbed the advent books, calendars, Bible and dug the first Jesse Tree ornament out of the bag. 

Deep breaths. Candle lit. And then, J somehow took on the responsibility of reading tonight's passage. For the first time, I heard my son really and truly reading scripture all on his own.

In the abeginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was bwithout form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
 And God said, “Let there be an expanse1 in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”  And God made  the expanse and  separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were fabove the expanse. And it was so.  And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.  God called the dry land Earth,  and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

It was sweet. It was a glimpse of the fruit of our labors. Not only that our son is reading well, but a glimpse of the man of God I hope he will one day be. A "Jesus-man" as our dear friend Sue Jakes says.

We sang as a family after the devotion and the songs we have sung year after year came right back to them. I could sense the fellowship, the wonder, the longing, and awe of centuries of saints gone before us.

After bed-time, I was downstairs sorting through the Jesse Tree ornaments and trying to get them in order to place in their appropriately numbered envelopes.  Miss A came downstairs because she couldn't sleep, so I let her help me. She had lots to say, but hearing her recount on her own many of the Bible narratives and connections with the Jesse Tree ornaments filled my heart with thankfulness: for her, for our church and the faithful people who take their covenant at baptism seriously and teach our children.

Then, as I was paging through the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus, really emotionally joy--full, I read the story of King Herod and the slaughter of the innocents. Heart-stabbing hurt, there.

I wish I fully understood the why of life. The why of so much hurt and suffering, mingled with joy and gladness. I only know what God has given so plainly: Creation. Fall. Redemption. Glory. There's a BETTER day coming. A BETTER joy. A BETTER righting of wrongs. God's going to make it all right and wipe away every tear. The deep down feeling we all have that there is something MORE will be satisfied.

I pray that you, my friend, would rest in Jesus.

Jesus, joy of the highest Heaven, born as a little baby under a wondrous star.
Like us, crying, he takes His first breath, held by his mother, helpless,
close to her beating heart.
Jesus, laid in a lowly manger, 
facing a world of dangers, 
come to turn me, a stranger, 
into a child of God.

Jesus, joy of the highest Heaven, learning to take His first step, that He might bring us life.
Like us, knowing our smiles and sorrows, He showed the way to follow,
a way that is true and right.
Jesus, take away every darkness; 
Steady my simple footsteps,
that I might in your goodness, 
live as a child of God.

(Keith and Kristyn Getty)