Thursday, July 23, 2009

Our Church Home

(This picture of our church was obtained from the church website at and is the property of whomever took it. There were no photo credits on the site that I saw.)

I finally have a few minutes to sit down and write about one of the most important changes that has occurred since we've been back here in Douglas County: our church home. Not many people know how we came to go to church there. When Jake and I were first married, we bought a house in Powder Springs. Charles was born while we lived there, and Jeremy and Jennifer went to their first years of school in that community as well. I was actively involved in genealogy at that time. With Dad and Granddaddy both recently deceased, I felt the driving need to find out as much about my family history as I could and ask for stories from my living relatives while I still had the opportunity. Our close proximity to the Central library in Marietta with the GA Room also influenced my decision to compile family research. Over the 3 years that we lived in that house in Powder Springs, I filled in over 1,000 names on my family tree and discovered connections (however distant and vague) to some interesting famous people. As mentioned in a previous blog, I found my link to Jane Austen, of whose 18th/early 19th century novels I am so fond. I found our link to 16 or so American Presidents and over 2 dozen authors. But during that research I found that while my mother's side abounded with information and easily accessible records and written histories and recorded information, my father's side proved to be difficult to trace. Especially his dad's side. As both Dad and his father were not alive to ask questions of, I turned to Dad's mom and sisters for leads. I thought surely they could provide me with something. A name or a document that might grant me the names and dates of my great grandparents and thus lead from them further back. To protect living people from identity theft, it is difficult to obtain any personal information after to the 1930 census. Any dates prior to that, the censuses and cemeteries make it easy (well, easier) to trace ancestors back through history at least to the point where they came to America from another country. All I could get from Dad's side of the family was my great-grandparents names: Charlie and Mary Ethel Wallace. After MUCH searching of census records in heaven knows how many GA counties (I won't bore you with the menial details) I at long last found where they were buried: Union Grove Baptist Church Cemetery in Lithia Springs. Lithia Springs is here in Douglas County! Because it was my mother's family who settled here and led to us moving here and me going to school here and everything, it never dawned on me that any of Dad's side of the family might have been in this county at some time or other too! It was just around the time that I discovered that they were buried there that we were forced by economic circumstances to rent out our house and move to Grandmother's until we could sell our house (we eventually foreclosed along with 3/4 of everyone else in Cobb county because the housing market was so bad and it didn't sell, but that's neither here nor there.) So it was that one Sunday during the process of packing up our house to move, we visited Union Grove for a service. The church is comparable in size to the church in Lumpkin where Jake's Daddy served as pastor for many years, so he was very comfortable almost at once. Which is saying something, because Jake hates change. He hates large crowds of unfamiliar people and during the time that we visited several churches in the Powder Springs area I was very proud of him for his willingness to do so at all. While all of those churches that we visited were nice and the people all sweet and welcoming, none of them felt like HOME. There is just something about going to a church and knowing that you belong within that circle of fellow believers and building relationships there. It's just an inward feeling and I can hardly even describe it. We enjoyed the service at Union Grove more than we had any of our time at the other churches combined. We decided to go back again. The pastor and some of the members came to our house during the week to visit and make us welcome. (I am rather embarrassed to admit that the house was in such chaos with packing up that I had not a single chair to offer them to sit, so we sat outside on the porch. Very luckily, it was a beautiful day out.) There is something about Brother Ken's preaching that is just the right blend of teaching as well as preaching. Most of the sermons at the other churches we visited were all focused on becoming saved. This is important and I know that there are people in the church who may not have come to Jesus yet and it IS important to lead them to Him. Brother Ken's messages always include an invitation toward the end of the sermon. But it seemed to us, at the other churches, that we couldn't get any further than HOW to be saved. Well, we knew how- we had done it. What next? What do we do with it? How can we grow in our walk with Him? Brother Ken's sermons always give me something that apply to what is going on in my life at the time and I find answers to those questions. He always makes the scripture make sense and I see how it is relevant to what I am going through, good or bad, at the time. He shows me how to better share my faith with the lost. We visited Union Grove for only a few months- perhaps 6 or 8 Sundays- before deciding together that we were, at last, HOME. It was the day before the Sunday we walked down together as a family to make our membership request known that I found out that we were pregnant with Emily! Any time I needed anything during the pregnancy, the members were right there to help. (Mostly this was in the form of getting up and down out of the pew in the last trimester!) Emily has found a second family in the Hennesys. Jennifer and Meghan and Renee "kidnap" her whenever I let them for a Sunday afternoon or a weekend when we want to go somewhere that taking a baby would be difficult (i.e. reenactments or Jake and I going on a date together.) I am so grateful for my church family. God has blessed us enormously through their love. When Jake had a kidney stone last September, God arranged it just so that Miss Kelly was on her way out to parking at the hospital from visiting someone when I had to take Jake in. She took Emily home to Mom and Grandmother so that I could stay with Jake and give him and his doctor my undivided attention. God is so good! All the time! I hate to miss a Sunday at Union Grove. We will be gone this weekend to the beach. Renee and Meghan will keep Emily so that I can focus on the other 3 children. This is Charles' first trip to the beach and we thought it would be better for Emily to be a little older before we take her too. There isn't much that she could do there and I wouldn't be able to take pictures or play with the other children for having to watch her. I will be missing her and them and church Sunday morning as we make our way back home. Jake will be taking over duties as choir director in September so Mr. Charlie can have time with his wife Kathy and both of them recover their health. I am so sorry that they are not well many days. We continually keep them in our prayers, that God would heal them and pour out his blessings on them. Though I am sorry that Charlie must take his leave as director, I am grateful that he has asked Jake to fill in, and I am looking forward to being in choir under my husband's direction.
Speaking of, my husband is home from work, so I'll end now and go see him.
Until later,
The Lord Bless You and Keep You

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A continuation from yesterday/early this morning

Hi again, everyone!

I was able to get a few hours sleep before the children decided they wanted to jump on me to wake me for fixing breakfast. For not having had but a few hours rest, I really don't feel all that bad. I'm looking forward to hopefully hitting the hay early tonight. As I write this, I am suddenly very thankful that my daily computer use is paying off in that I can type by knowing where the keys are, rather than seeing what I'm typing. My left contact has decided that after 18 months of daily service, it is done. Finished. The end. Goodbye. It stings something terrible when I try to put it on my eye, so unless I HAVE to drive somewhere, I don't have them in. I'm not completely blind without them, but my vision is pretty poor. How thankful I am also that I had just finished editing the REALLY important pics for work when it gave out. I won't be able to even think about getting new contacts or glasses until after Jake and/or I have been paid a bit more. There are several great deals going on at various eyewear places like 2 pair of glasses for $99 and such. The only problem with that is that I don't need 2 pair of glasses, I only need one and a set of contacts, which even at the sale price are $300 by themselves. So I'll just have to limp through. We don't have any vision insurance, so whatever it will be will come out of pocket. Oh, the joys and adventures of being an adult. Huzzah. I'm not concerned about it, however, because I know that God will provide exactly what I need when I need it. Between a client order being finished up here soon and Jake working 40 hours this week, I should be able to get what I need before August is out. Enough about all that; on to something else.

If you have the sound turned up on your computer, you'll notice that I updated and extended my playlist at the bottom of the blog. I thought it was amusing when our friend Harry Lehan from Leeds, England came to visit and we were discussing music. He asked what type of music I listen to and I said "Yes. Absolutely." because I really do love all types of music and ANY random combination of tracks can be found along side one another in my playlists at any given time. Kenny Chesney snuggles right on up to the opening titles of Pride and Prejudice, which is in turn after Mozart's Requiem Mass in C minor, the theme from Spiderman, and that awesome electric guitar riff that was played in the first Transformers movie when the 1970s Camero Bumblebee ejects Sam and Michaela out in the side of the tunnel, turns a U-ey and comes back as the new and completely fabulous 2009 Camero version. (The track is called "Battle Without Honor or Humanity", in case you are wondering, and was also featured- according to my husband- in the Kill Bill movies with Uma Thurmon. I don't know, I never saw them, but I believe him.) Anyway, if you are looking for variety in blog background music, I've got you covered. :)

There is so much that has been going on around here, I hardly know where to start in catching up to this month. In May, Charles turned 4 and we had a great birthday party for him. I don't have the pics up yet, or even posted on my facebook, because of being so busy and then the desktop crashed and our friend Jason at church is helping me recover them and clean up the PC so I can get to them again. I just haven't had time to edit and post them. The whole month of May got put in a "Temp to Edit" folder and wouldn't you know I didn't get a chance to burn it to CD before the stupid thing keeled over on me. But as I said, Jason (my computer HERO) is helping me fix all of that. Even without the pictures to prove it, Charles did turn 4 (!) and we had a great time. Many of our friends and family came over and we played games and grilled out hamburgers and hotdogs. It was awesome! The next day after his birthday party, our friend Christy got married and I did the photography for the wedding. It was fabulous and a great experience!

In June I celebrated a birthday but am not yet concerned with my age. I'm still not yet 30, so I figure I have absolutely nothing to protest as far as birthdays are concerned. I was spoiled silly by Jake's family who hosted a birthday dinner for me and we would have gone swimming had the water not been so cold. My mom gave me "Sense and Sensibility" on DVD and I have been enjoying that immensely. For those of you who have not read my prior blogs, there is a nice section somewhere in the middle of last year about my affection for all things Jane Austen (and British in general) if you are interested. One not so fun thing that happened in June was when my cat, Ashley, slipped out one Thursday while I was gone to dance at Soulstice. Gran didn't see him get out, so locked up as usual. As it happens, there are several strays that meander around our property and Ashley decided to defend his turf against one in a knock down, drag out squall. I knew nothing of this until 1 p.m. Friday afternoon when I found him meowing on the back porch to be let in. I didn't realize he'd been in a fight until 2 weeks later when the bites abscessed (one paw was swollen to 3 times its normal size!) and I had to make an emergency run to the vet to the tune of $80. They drained the wounds (NASTY!!!!! I've never smelled anything so foul in my entire life!!! The nurse and I were both gagging; it was awful!!), doped him up with a pain med shot, updated his rabies and FIV, etc, and sent him home with a weeks worth of antibiotics. What a mess. But he made a full recovery and at the time of this writing is back to his prime feline self- just as lazy, spoiled and arrogant as ever before. I think he's stretched out asleep on my bed right now with his belly flab hanging over the edge. It wouldn't surprise me.

Well, that's some of what's gone on, but I hear Emily waking up from her nap and had better end for now and get us a snack of some sort together. I didn't really have any lunch to speak of, so I'm ravenous!
Until later,
The Lord Bless You and Keep You

Some musings and current goings-on.

Once again it has been somewhere around 3 months since my last blog, so this is probably going to get quite lengthy. You may want to put the kettle on and brew up a nice cup of tea before diving in. (May I suggest some Earl Grey with a quarter teaspoon sugar and a splash of cream.) Or you could just grab a Coke. Either way.
If you've noticed the posting time, you'll see that it's a very early hour as I write this. I haven't been to bed yet, mostly because I just have too much on my mind for it to properly shut off tonight but partly because I at long last have a laptop with a built in wi-fi connection and I have been making my way down an insanely long list of sites that I have wanted to check out, without any real regard for the passage of time whatsoever. The kids are all asleep and that means I can focus my attention on some adult topics and conversation (like health insurance, new You-tube videos from my favorite stand-up comedians and IM chats with people over 25 who can properly use words with more than 4 syllables. Don't know what *you* were thinkin' I meant...) Some things have changed since my last post in April, and some have stayed the same. Jake is still at Ben Hill roofing and likes it very much. God is faithfully providing for our needs, but the nature of the job requires us to be careful stewards of the income it provides. If the rains come, Jake can't work. No work, no pay for that day (or several days). Our faith is being stretched and tested and I find that it is only by drawing closer to the Lord and trusting His plan for us that I can manage the bills without stress or panic. I have been standing on God's promises for us now more than ever before.
I've been so happy for the warm weather and sunshine. All last winter I suffered from a lengthy depression. Whether it was prolonged or relapsed from having Emily I cannot say, but I have come to understand some things about depression and how I can best treat it and kick it to the curb! I learned this year that depression is not just a "mood" that I ought to be able to shake on my own. It is a chemical imbalance that requires several factors in order to make right. I really might ought to have had some anti-depressant medications but I have gotten through the roughest patches to where that isn't necessary now and diet and exercise along with active counseling are the best cures for my particular tendencies.
I've been using the Wii-Fit since January. Admittedly not as much as I would like to have, since there are many, many distractions and other things to do, but I have used it more often than not and have managed to lose and keep off 12 lbs. since first setting up my user profile. My progress fluctuates, but is moving in a generally downward direction on the weight chart, so I am excited about that.
Another thing that is helping melt off the extra pounds is that whenever I have a few dollars during the week, I head off to either Hot Jam on Mondays or Swing Soulstice on Thursdays to dance. I posted a little bit about Hot Jam in April when Frankie Manning passed away, and will post a separate entry about it (as promised) and one about Soulstice a little later. The music is awesome, my new friends even awesomer (to quote my 8 year old), and I feel like a completely new and different person after a dance session.
I've been insanely busy these past few months with some photography jobs and getting some future gigs lined up for the fall, winter and next spring. I've taken and edited an estimated 5,000 images for work in the last 12 weeks, which is to say nothing of the personal images I have taken of friends and family and of the kids growing up. I rotate memory cards in my Nikon D300 like a hyperactive kid in the revolving door of a fancy hotel! (This is a very funny and accurate analogy that I came up with all by myself, so I'll likely be using it on my photography blog page as well, when I get that up and running here in the next few days or so.) I'll be posting a link to the photography blog when I get it all set. You'll get to read about my adventures, including the "first time" experiences for me of photographing action shots at a Spring dance recital for Axis Dance Center of Dallas, GA and photographing the very colorful and elaborate engagement ceremony of an Indian couple whose parents live here in Atlanta. (They reside in Augusta, GA) Both of those experiences were FANTASTIC and the blog will be worth the read. Just have to find the time to write it all down!
I hate to have to do it, but I'm going to have to cut this blog off here for now. It won't be long before the kids are up and I would like to snatch a few ZZZs if I can before facing the amazingly long list of things I have to get accomplished today. Laundry put away, rooms clean and more photos edited are all on that list. We have plans to go see an old school mate and dear friend of mine this weekend and all go to St. Simon's Island for the day Saturday. If this is to happen, I must "get my rear in gear" as my sister-in-law says sometimes, and get this stuff done! I hope to blog more tonight.... we'll see. Thanks for checking in.
Until later, the Lord Bless you and Keep you. (Numbers 6:24)