Monday, May 31, 2010

1st Official Monday of Summer 2010

The first official school-free weekday of summer is...wet.  Very wet.  Thunderstorms.

That picture has nothing to do with today.  I just like it.  And that's where we were at the beginning of last summer - Wilmington!  We are too swamped to even leave Sparkle City.  Everyone left for Memorial Day Weekend and Jack said the only fun thing to do today is play with a paper clip.  Pretty sad.

We went to Blockbuster (I know, we're the only people that still use Blockbuster) and rented the 1st Harry Potter movie, The Sandlot, and The Adventures of Super Mario Brothers III.  All of my favorites.  I just got finished playing Monopoly-The Clone Wars edition because Jack thought he might lose and wanted to shut it down before I turned the corner on all of my mortgaged properties.

We got the house.  Yippee!  I thought I would be on cloud nine when it all ended, but the whole process was so long and emotional that I am just thankful to not invest time and thought into it.  At least not until the closing, which is July 30.  Even though we have a contract on the house, I will not truly believe it is ours until we hold the keys and all of our stuff is sitting in boxes in all of the various rooms.  Remember my great-great-great-great-great-great-granddaddy is Thomas, the disciple who doubted.  We have a lot in common.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why I Hate Honors Day

Honors Day...that ancient grade-school tradition wherein we applaud the academically-, artistically-, and athletically-gifted cream of the crop of children, and expect the middle of the pack children to sit still, applaud when appropriate, and try not to fidget. 

The fact of the matter is that those gifted and talented children have usually been praised and reminded of their academic superiority throughout the we need to have a day dedicated to them?  And what are we telling the other 95% of their classmates by singling out this little bit of their population for recognition?  I don't see how Honors Day helps anyone.

Don't mind me, I'm just grumpy.  We still are in house negotiation issues.  I thought we would know today whether we could buy the house that we finally decided we liked the best of all the billions we say, but the sellers are still thinking about it.   Thinking is overrated, I say!  Just sell us the house at a decent price and be glad you are done with it.  But I can't talk to them, everything has to go through our realtor who talks to the sellers' realtor who talks to them.  Justin said it's a little like playing the gossip game in school.  Who knows what the message looks like after it has gone through so many hands? 

Once I abolish Honors Day, my next goal will be to get rid of realtors.  They once were a necessary evil, but with the advent of the internet, they need to go sell used cars or be telemarketers.  I hope none of you are realtors.  Or used car salesmen.  Or telemarketers.  I probably should stop now.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

An Ode to Summer

I love to be hot.  In contrast to my husband, who hates hot, I soak up warmth like a cold-blooded lizard on a rock.  I can feel the sun beating down on me right now, just thinking about it.
I also love having my kids with me during the summer.  Remind me I said that mid-July.
I love going to the beach, and now that our kids aren't terrified of the ocean (big scary waves! take cover in the dunes!), they are fun to be with at the beach.  We make dribble castles, look for shells, make life difficult for ghost crabs, and swim in the ocean.  Yippee!

I love swimming in the pool, I love wearing shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops every day, I even like vacation Bible school.  Kinda.
I love going on trips! I love camping in the mountains near a loud, rushing river.  I love hearing the crickets and as summer wears on, the cicadas.  Jack hates them and always asks me to close the windows when I open them at night to hear the night bugs.  Which reminds me, I love lightning bugs.  And grilling out.  And baseball.  And fireworks.  And home-grown veggies.  I just don't like canning them.
This summer if all goes as planned, we will be moving to a new house.  I do not like moving.  But it's exciting to buy a new house!  I will try to fan the excitement flame when I'm packing bed linens and dishes into cardboard boxes while my kids whine about being bored.  I will put them to work if they whine.  I will put them to work if they don't whine.  I love them, but they're soft.  They need to work! And read.  And keep up with their math facts.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fifteen years ago today...

I said, "I do" to my sweet hubbie!  When I met him in college, I thought he was goofy and not cool enough for a hot mama like myself (I am laughing at myself right now for ever thinking that someone was not "cool enough" for me, but I have to tell the truth).

The first time I ever saw him, I was handing him a check for players' tickets to the Auburn - Georgia game at Georgia.  As I was writing his name on my check - and this again is the truth - I thought, "That's a nice name.  Justin Kendrick."  It seemed balanced, pleasant to the ear.  Little did I know...

My sister and I rode in the trunk (I guess all of the seats were taken.  Or maybe he was really particular about who rode inside his car.) of his Grand Am up to ... oh I can't remember now, but it was the Panhellenic HQ where the powers that be would announce important things. Cater Hall, maybe? Justin and his roommate Ed ended up chauffeuring various Chi Omegas around because we never wanted to give up our parking spots close to the dorm.  That particular night the announcement was the finalists for Top 20 Miss Auburn.  I was probably the only finalist riding in the open trunk of some random boy's car while he listened to Snoop Dogg's classic rendition of Gin & Juice ("With my mind on my money and my money on my mind...everybody sing it now!).  I remember we had to hold the trunk top up or it would come crashing down on our heads every time he hit a bump.

Justin and Ed would come over to the dorm and play Nertz, an interactive speed solitaire where everyone has their own deck of cards and chaos reigned.  He farted one time and it stunk up the room so bad we went down to the lobby and played there.  That's probably when I fell in love with him.

To be fair, he has told me in later years that the first time we kissed, my breath smelled so bad he had to keep himself from gagging.  Well, he didn't say that part about gagging, but he did say it was pretty horrible.  I do have horrible breath.  That's why I chew so much gum.  Maybe I should start brushing my teeth.

He was friends with Sam before he was friends with me, and Sam said they would run together at night at the track and he would ask about me.  Her roommate had a huge crush on him and she would come too and practice tumbling passes while they ran (she was trying out for cheerleading).  In fact, she was one of two good friends who had crushes on him.  There was some tension in the dorm, girls!  He only had eyes for me, though.  Of course, I didn't know that then.

Our first date we went to see Schindler's List.  Maybe that's why, fifteen years later, I only want to watch rom-coms now (romantic comedies...rom-coms...isn't that a word?).

He cooked me catfish almondine with green beans on one of our dates.  I should remind him that he can cook!  He said later that he was on the phone with his mom walking him through it the whole time (the dinner prep, not the date).

I think he fell in love with me when he saw my bookshelf (literally, my bookshelf.  That's not a euphemism.  Get your mind out of the gutter).  Weighty theological tomes...this girl must be a keeper!

Happy Wedding Anniversary, Sweetie!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You'll be glad to know...

that I'm almost done with The Swan Thieves

and the laundry

and I'm over the whole house rant I posted yesterday

and I forgot to call my sister back

and Will got to play third base in the last game of the regular season

and my husband is yelling at the TV again. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Just Ugly

My seven-year-old son Jack's Sunday School teacher, who knows that we are in the middle of house hunting, asked me if we were looking at a house with a pool.  "Yes, " I said, "Why?"  She said that Jack had told the whole Sunday School class that we might buy a house that has a pool, because everyone was talking about going swimming.  He is obviously as excited about that prospect as I am, but the conversation with his teacher put me on the defensive.  I told her that I was afraid if we bought this house, people who knew that Justin was a pastor would see it and look at each other knowingly and say, "That sure is a fine house the Kendricks bought."  Now, if you are not from the southern part of the United States, I will translate that sentence for you:  That preacher boy must be getting paid way too much to afford a house with a pool.  Well, I am showing the ugly in me just by saying that, because if God made it possible to buy a nice house (I feel compelled to point out now that it backs up to a busy road, the room layout is awkward, and the bathrooms are tiny - that may be why we can consider it in our price range), and we end up buying that house, I need to just rejoice in his goodness and not get all wadded up about what congregants may or may not be thinking.

It reminds me of a time about 13 years ago when Justin and I were joining a church in Charlotte, where we lived when we first got married.  The pastor and his wife invited all of the new members of the church to their house for a potluck supper.  We got to his house, which was pretty new, and all I could think about was how did a pastor have such a nice house.  And it was a nice house, but for Pete's sake, why did it matter to me what his house looked like?  The irony of that scene and the situation we are in now is not lost on me.  I would like to smack that little 23-year-old me upside the head and say, "Be glad for him!"

In a country where everyone lives and buys to excess, it is hard to know any longer what is appropriate when buying a house.  I pray that whatever we do, we will be good stewards of the resources God has given us, and not worry about what everyone else thinks.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Recently as a part of our involvement with the Spring Fling festival in downtown Spartanburg, we had a drawing for $50 worth of gift cards.  It was just another way to show love to the folks in Sparkle City.  I was tapped to be the one to call the winner so we could send her the cards.  Well, I talked to her today, and she was so excited!  I mean, she wasn't screaming or anything, but you could tell we had just made her day.  It was such a great feeling to be the one to deliver the good news!  I had kinda been dreading it (I'm such an introvert), but it was so much fun to hear the joy and surprise in her voice; I decided I would like a job where that's what I did all day.  Just calling up total strangers, telling them they've won something great.  I could be Oprah! but without all of the crazy I-lost-400-pounds-and-then-ate-every-doughnut-in-Krispy-Kreme TV shows.

Anyway, the thought occurred to me that actually, I already have that job.  I have good news!  You've won absolution from your sins and eternal life in a wonderful place called Heaven with a wonderful person called Jesus.  He is not only a great friend, He knows you inside and out, good tries and bad thoughts, and he loves you dearly.   You've won this through no doing of your own; Jesus just wanted to give you this prize because He's good like that. 

When we were handing out free cookies at the Grace Presbyterian booth at Spring Fling, many people would shake their heads no, they didn't want a cookie.  Now, maybe they didn't really, but maybe some of them did and they were just skeptical, thought surely there were strings attached.  Would we try to sell them something?  No, we gave out cookies like God gives out His goodness...just because we care, just because it's a joy to bring joy to people.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

tip of the day

Did you know that if you rub balled-up pantyhose against your black t-shirt with white deodorant marks, the marks go away?  Amazing!  Liberating!  All of these years I've been changing shirts when I could have been rubbing myself with pantyhose.  I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


We looked at a dozen or so houses today on the east side of Spartanburg.  None stood out as a clear winner.  We are too picky or we need to win a lottery, I'm not sure which.  When we got home around 5ish, after leaving our realtor about as tired as we were but without the emotional stress, I looked over the lesson I was about to teach to my 4th and 5th graders.  It was about the tenth commandment, not envying your neighbor, or his house, and I knew that the Holy Spirit was giving me a subtle smack on the top of the head to remind me that He was still taking care of us, even in a house hunt which looks to stretch on with no end in sight.  I needed that!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I have a problem

I don't know how to stop checking out books from the library.  I was there, ostensibly, for the children, because they have standardized testing this week and need some good books to read in the down time.  But I saw The Swan Thieves: A Novel the new book by Elizabeth Kostova and my fear is that I would never see it again.  The horror!  So I checked it out.  Her book The Historian was a massive work of fiction, but so well-written.  I loved it.  And I also checked out two more books by Laurie King The Moor: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (Mary Russell Novels)O Jerusalem (Mary Russell Novels) .  Now I, at this point in my life, don't even have time for deep cleansing breaths in the car pool line.  I know there is no way I can throw a little light fiction in life's mixing bowl (which seems to be set on super-high).   But I need books like other people need conversation, and the library is so great about giving them to me for free!  I cannot help it.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Recently I had a conversation with a friend whose life, as far as I was concerned, seemed to be better than mine in every aspect.  She and her husband were doing well financially, they loved their cool, trendy hometown (sorry, Sparkle City), they had plenty of close friends and family nearby, and they were both skinnier than they used to be.  When I have conversations like that, I am speaking warm words of encouragement and celebration ("you lost another 10 pounds!  without even trying!  how fantastic!") on the outside, but on the inside, I am talking to God and to myself, back and forth. 

To God I say, "Help me to be genuinely happy for her.  Please rid me of selfish ambition and vain conceit."  To me I say, "Stop it!  Stop it!  Act like a Christian, for crying out loud."  After a little bit of this internal tug of war, the Holy Spirit prompted me to completely forget about myself.  To not even think of my life, and to only be concerned about hers.  And by His grace, I was.  Then she asked me how I was doing, and I had to think about myself.  I tried to be honest (anxious! doubting! eating too much!), but to include all of God's gracious provisions to me.  Because He is good, He is so good, and like the ancient Israelites, I forget his goodness and focus on my never-ending, never-satisfied wants. 

In Numbers 14, the Israelites say, "If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert!  Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?  Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?"  This after the plagues, after manna, after the parting of the Red Sea, after quail, after their feet did not get tired and their clothes did not wear out.   The Lord is indeed slow to anger and abounding in mercy. 

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God.  I am the LORD your God." - Numbers 15:41

Friday, May 7, 2010

How to Know When to Put Away the Laundry

As an older, wiser Titus 2-type gal, I decided to impart some important counsel on when to put away the laundry.  Some folks say to put it away after every load, but that does not seem very efficient to me.  Some days that would mean a trip to everybody's drawers and the linen closet 5 or 6 times!  Some folks say to put it away by the end of the day.  That makes more sense, now doesn't it? But we all know that sometimes the end of the day creeps up on you and putting away laundry seems like trying to build the Taj Mahal, especially if it's 10:00 p.m. and your children are all in bed.  So one day I stumbled upon a good rule of thumb for when to put away the laundry, which I will share with you now:

When your youngest child asks for his favorite pair of shorts, and you ask if he looked for them where they were supposed to be, and he replied that yes, he had already checked the guest room bed...that's when you know it's time to put the laundry away.

Happy weekend everybody!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lunch at Wade's

Today my husband and I met at Wade's for lunch.  Wade's is a veritable shrine to Southern cooking, and since Justin has been living off of sandwiches and nachos for the last few nights, he had to get a vegetable fix.  It was a treat for me because I never eat out for lunch.  McDonald's is a treat for me.

Anyway, as we're eating, I was thinking about my hair.  It is long because my husband likes it long, but I hate it because it weighs 40 pounds and it looks exactly the same as it did in high school, which was a looooong time ago.  I've started wearing it up in a ponytail even to bed just to pretend like it doesn't exist.

Anyway, as I'm thinking about my hair, I tell my beloved, "I have decided that if I can lose 30 pounds and get down to my goal weight, this stuff (I point to my hair) is going."  He raises his eyebrows.  "You're going to shave your head?  I am going to have a bald, skinny wife?"
He is trying to exasperate me.  "Noooo," I say, "I am getting it cut short.  You know, it's like my motivation, my goal."   "How are you going to lose 30 pounds?"  he asks.
"I don't know yet," I reply.  "When I really restrict my diet, it feels unsustainable and so I say the heck with that and quit.  When I don't really restrict my diet and just try to do portion control, it takes me 3 weeks to lose a pound, so then I get frustrated and say the heck with that.  That's the problem, really, is that every diet ends with the heck with that."
"Maybe we shouldn't have come to Wade's," he says, and we both look down at our plates.  I got the veggie plate, which sounds healthy, but looking up at me beguilingly are creamed corn, macaroni and cheese, baked apples, sweet potato w/ marshmallows, turnip greens, and lima beans.  And a roll.  I say, "It's ok.  It's like the end of the old ways.  It's a grand finale."  And he grins and says, "I think I'll be repeating that back to you someday soon."  And I say, "Well, maybe there will be a few encores.  Hopefully not many."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Even Satan Has to Ask

Sometimes, it is hard to see how God is present in our lives.  In fact, He seems to be nowhere near us, possibly attending to other matters more pressing than our own worries and struggles. 

Job knew that feeling.  He knew what it was like to wonder why God let him suffer, when all of his life he had been faithful to obey Him.  What he didn't know was that he had been the recent topic of conversation between God and Satan.  Satan comes into God's presence in the first two chapters of the book of Job (I have to wonder how he summoned the nerve) and basically tells God if he strips Job of all that is dear to him (his possessions, his children, his health), Job will curse God.  I find it interesting that Job's wife remains untouched in all of this.  Maybe she was not that much of a blessing?  Anyway, Job is ruined, and he is ruined to prove a point.  Satan cannot inflict any harm on us without God's permission. 

Here is my favorite example of this from Luke 22:
31"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
 Satan asks God's permission to sift Peter like wheat.  But Jesus tells him that He has prayed for him, so that his faith may not fail.  The next phrase leads us to believe that Peter for a time turned away from God; maybe he did not abandon his faith in Him, but he was sorely shaken by the sifting that Satan inflicted upon him.  However, when he turns back, he comes back to his work and ministry with such conviction and determination that now he is the one who is strengthening his brothers.

God definitely allows some hard blows to fall on our heads, so much so that we can wish that we had never been born.  But though his hand is heavy, it is good.  And the "testing of our faith develops perseverance." (James 1:3)  Suffering exposes our weakness and our utter dependence on God.  Suffering also equips us to help those friends down the road who are going through similar trials.  Paul tells us in II Corinthians 1:5, "For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." 

Whenever you face insurmountable odds and troubles that threaten to shake you to the core, remember that nothing has come your way that God has not permitted, and He can use any suffering to produce maturity and strength in you in the very moment you feel completely weak and helpless.  He is good that way.