Friday, May 27, 2011

The Last of the Last Pictures from Nathan’s Last Visit Home (As A Single Man)

Nathan’s been back in Florida almost two weeks now, but he left behind lots of Nathan memories lurking here, there and everywhere. And there’s nothing dearer to this mama’s heart than to come across an unexpected (lurking) Nathan memory. Of course, when I have lots of photos of him to look at, that certainly helps, too.

Whenever he’s at home, I love taking pictures of his stuff—like his Bible, his computer, his phone, and his backpack all stacked by the recliner in the living room. No better way to be reminded that one’s (former) College Dude is on the premises than to come across the (former) College Dude’s belongings.


Of course, when he (and his sidekick) are actually sitting in the chair, well, that’s even better.



On his last Sunday here, I was so happy to get to sit between him and Sarah during church. It is such a rare treat to be surrounded by both of my beloved Smith kids.


While I worked on Sunday lunch after church, he and Steve sat out on the front porch so that Nathan could play Steve a worship song on his computer that he loves.

In this shot, it looks like Nathan is working on the drum beat . . .


. . . and in this shot, I think Steve is acting out some some sort of musical accent. Or something. (We may never know.)


And then? After lunch?

It was time.

nate leaving collage

Time for goodbye hugs where the big brother attempted to strangle the little sister. (You will please note that Snowy is wearing his best patient doggie look.)


Fortunately, the sisterly strangling eventually gave way to a regular ol’ brother/sister hug.


I said goodbye for the last time to my son as a single man. (And although I don’t look like it in the picture, I did get a little weepy.)


When it came time for Steve and Nathan to hug, it started out well until Nathan goosed Steve just a bit. And then, of course, he laughed cheerily at his Dad’s discomfiture. Nathan has been a tease for as long as I can remember; it’s a good thing that Meagan is able to take it and dish it out!

Steve birthday Nathan leaving

Since both Sarah and Steve had plans that afternoon, I got the wonderful privilege of driving Nathan to Norfolk. He gallantly pumped the gas for me while I surreptitiously admired my wonderful son in the mirror. (And got teary eyed again.)


We had such a nice two hour trip, talking about everything and nothing. And then (way, way too soon), we were there. At the airport. And he was climbing out of the car, getting his luggage from the trunk, and hugging me.

And then walking away.


Leaving behind a sad, happy, proud, weepy, smiling, sentimental, loving mama.

Hard to believe this chapter is done. Hard to believe that I am soon going to be the mom of a married son. And the mother-in-law of a married daughter-in-law. And eventually (not too soon) a grandma to the planet’s cutest, smartest, most charming grandbabies.

So many good things have happened in the past twenty one years. So many good things are yet to be. And I’m excited and thrilled and happy about it all.

But I still miss my little boy.


Comments and Questions

Danette Baker said, “Isn't God good to take those human mistakes, in this case a computer not yours, and turn them into a wonderful bliss filled gift. Those pictures were lovely and I found my heart gasping when I saw what you had found. I'm so thankful you shared them with us. I am curious to know if this church is still an active church or just a historical setting now?”

Danette, yes the church is still very active. I thought as I walked around the grounds that it would be such a gorgeous place to go to church!

I lost the name of the person who asked this question, but they wanted to know what brand Sarah’s blue backpack is that she wears in a lot of pictures.

The backpack is by Vera Bradley. Some blog friends who we met in real life several years ago (Hi Ann and Jim!) sent that to Sarah (with her initials embroidered on it) over a year ago. Sarah has absolutely loved it and takes it with her all the time.

Lisa Burt wrote, “Hello and congratulations. What subject did Nathan graduate in and what does he hope to do as a career. What an exciting time for you all. Love and prayers.”

Lisa, Nathan graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Human Services. (Similar focus to a psychology degree.) He’s still considering several options for his career but in the meantime, wants to go back to school to get his Master's degree.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Living In My Life

I’m looking out our front window at trees (upright), houses (intact), and cars (unmangled.) To say that I can’t imagine the chaos and destruction in Joplin and other tornado-touched places around the country is a huge understatement. I really can not imagine it. Whatsoever. At all.

I sit in my lovely home where I have toothpaste, and oatmeal, and toilets that flush and my heart goes out to the women in those devastated places who have so few belongings that they would probably be thrilled just to find a rubber band in the rubble that would enable them to pull their unwashed hair back from their faces.

As I think of them, I think of the blessings in my life here and now. The unnamed and often unnoticed blessings. They are everywhere—ephemeral and fleeting. They are also unguaranteed. No one can promised me that what (or whom) I love will still be here tomorrow. Because tragedy happens.

We had a bad storm late last night. In the blink of an eye, it could have turned into a tornado. And this morning, I could be the one rummaging through the mangled remnants of our home, looking for precious pictures, old journals, and special blankets from my children’s childhoods. Instead, I am freshly fed, freshly coiffed, and am sitting in a comfortable leather recliner next to a contented, snoozing dog. I am very aware how blessed I am. And I am very aware of my responsibility to pass the blessings along.

This past Sunday, our church received an offering for Convoy of Hope, a crisis assistance ministry that goes immediately to whatever place on the planet disaster is happening. Although I can’t travel with them to Joplin--or other ruined cities--I’m glad that the money our family gave on Sunday can. And maybe, just maybe, that check we put in the offering plate might go toward buying some oatmeal and a toothbrush for a Joplin mom who just wants to feed her family and clean up a little.

It’s so simple, really, the things that we truly need. And it’s so amazingly scary how quickly even our simplest, most precious things can be yanked away from us.

So today, I am making it a point to just be thankful for simple things. To be thankful for life. To be thankful to have a home, a family, a town, a life—all intact.

Although I certainly love my house and am thankful that it still stands strong, I’m especially thankful today that those whom I love the most---my husband and children--are alive. There are women in storm torn cities across this country who were not able to say the same as Wednesday dawned over their broken lives.

More than anything that I might ever do, or ever own, it is my family who puts the living in my life.

And I am thankful.


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Sunday, May 22, 2011

The (Happy) Mapquest Misdirection

Last Friday night I drove about ninety minutes to attend a dinner gathering for pastor’s wives. I had dutifully printed out Mapquest directions and then, as I am wont to do, added a couple hours to the trip time so that I could engage in some miscellaneous meandering. (Because there are few things worse than going on a solo jaunt and not factoring in that all-important miscellaneous meandering time.)

As it turns out, I was glad I had done so because when I arrived at my destination town, I happened across a most fabulous consignment store. Since bargains are my hobby, I have been to hundreds of consignment/thrift stores; however, I don’t think I’ve ever seen another consignment store as unique or as beautiful as this one.

When I got back in the car, clutching my little bargain, I looked over my directions once more to confirm that I was only 5-10 minutes away from my dinner location. Since I still had another hour free, I drove away from the store intending to do some small town exploring. I had only been meandering miscellaneously for mere moments when I struck gold. I struck gold of the sort that caused me to shout, “Eureka!” It caused me to do the happiest of happy dances. It even caused me to holler hallelujah.

What was the reason for my joy? What was the source of my unmitigated ecstasy?

Simply this. I had stumbled across a fabulous photographic opportunity. An elegant old church. Gorgeous grounds. Intriguing cemetery.

I passed the next hour in something close to bliss. The weather was perfect and the early evening air was clean and cool and still. There were birds making merry and squirrels making tracks along the limbs of towering trees. The real world receded and I was happily alone with my camera and creation—both God’s creation and man’s creations.







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When it finally came time to head down the brick path back into the real world, I felt a smallish regretful twinge; the time I had spent in that lovely place was positively Edenic. (Which seems appropriate since the town is called Edenton.)


As I left, I said good-bye to a new squirrel friend . . .


. . . and then I got in the car and began to ponder my printed directions. And then I pondered them some more because directions—and their following thereof—is not my gift. After I had sat for awhile trying to unravel the miscellaneous rambling I had done, I finally put in a call for help to the pastor’s wife who had organized the dinner. When I told her where I was she replied, “Edenton? You’re in Edenton? Hmmmm.” (Hmmmm-ing is not usually a good sign.)

As it turns out, for some inexplicable reason, my directions were instructing me to drive through Edenton and keep on going to some mysterious location on the other side of the town; however, my intended location actually turned out to be ten miles before Edenton and I was never supposed to have gone into the town at all.

But you know what?

As I got my car pointed in the proper direction and drove off to dinner, I was grateful for those (happy) Mapquest misdirections. I was thankful for a lovely, memorable hour so full of serenity and quietude. I was grateful for time alone to amble through beauty and to remember that despite all the ugliness in this world, there still exist places of peace for our hearts.