Monday, October 31, 2011

The Help.

So I loved the movie, "The Help."

I loved the book even more when I read it about 2 years ago. But when I read the book, I had only had help for a short period of time. It is my assertion that the longer you have help, the more lax you get about your own responsibilities in the home.

So watching the movie hit a little closer to home now that I have had house help for the past 2 and a half years. Hope that saying this is not really a spoiler warning, but one of the basic tenants of the book is that the kids always like the help better than they like the mom.

This is true in our family and it's not. For example, Josiah (who is most like Mae Mobly from the movie), has a major personality clash with one of our helpers. To the point where, when we pray for the kids and staff at night, he will purposely leave out her name, and then POINT OUT TO US (after amen) that he's not praying for her because he hates it when she bathes him or some other "offense" she's committed against him. But that's not the whole story because another one of our helpers is like Josiah's BFF, preferring him to Nick or me most days.

And I KNOW that what I am about to say is going to make me a candidate for my new favorite website, "White Whine," but I am going to say it anyway. Having staff is HARD. Everyone talks about how great living in community is. And really, there are a lot of great aspects of living in community. But it also is REALLY hard at times. Having people that LIVE in your home and touch/use/move all your stuff all the time is a challenge!

Exhibit #1: The Random Bag of Crap
I opened my purse the other day and found this plastic shopping bag shoved in there with the following items inside the shopping bag: a tube of hydrocortisone cream, a tiny truck, a rubber band ball, a teether toy of Schneiders, and a wad of colored tissue paper. This stuff was lovingly "cleaned up" for us. But then it was shoved in a bag in my purse. It kind of makes my blood pressure rise.

Exhibit #2: The Sanitizer
When we had our staph decolonization project, I had bought these big bottles of hand sanitizer to put in specific locations. Each bottle was labeled with where it needs to stay. This one I found on my kitchen counter this afternoon. In English the words in black marker say, "MAZDA-- Leave this in the Mazda please." When I go visit the camps, I interact with a lot of kids and I don't want to spread the germs, so I like to have a bottle of sanitizer in my truck. But tonight, there it was in the kitchen. OF COURSE it was in the kitchen! WHY would it be in the Mazda? *sigh*

I don't want to just give up on organization and order, but I feel like my house is kind of out of control. So it's become more obvious to me that I am going to have to be a bigger participant in the organization projects of our home. I can't just create the systems, I have to model the USE of the system, which means picking my crap up off the floor.

18 people living under one roof demands lots of organization. That's my new rallying cry in our home. Order. Because the chaos is driving me batty.

Tomorrow we're re-organizing the depot (again), and then once there's room in there, we move on to Jos/Nico's room. It looks like something out of an episode of Hoarders. Wish me luck... I'm going in!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Haitian pride.

Nick has taken quite an interest in Haitian history these past few months. He's always reading something or other about the Revolution and spouting off interesting tid-bits here and there and impressing people with his new-found knowledge. I am learning a lot from him. I wish I had his mind-- he's really good at remembering facts and dates and things like that.

He also has a new interest in Haitian-themed attire. Here's a couple of pics of Nick showing his Haitian pride--

I like the look. And I'd much rather he have Haitian pride than Haitian happiness.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

St. Jude

A year and a half ago in a shipment of earthquake relief supplies we received a couple of these St. Jude candles.

I recognized them as Catholic candles but not being Catholic, I didn't know anything about the saint who was pictured on the front. However, they were candles. And living in place where power is unreliable, they seemed useful.

They've been sitting around our house for the past year and a half. A few weeks ago, somewhat curious from looking at them over and over, Nick looked up what St. Jude was all about. Turns out he is the Patron Saint of Lost and Desperate Causes. I love that.

I don't (personally) pray to saints, but the candle sitting in the corner of my room is a great reminder to pray for even the things that we feel like are lost causes. Because who of us is to say what is and what is not a lost cause? It seems like much of what surrounds me on a daily basis could fall into the "lost cause" category. But that is because I tend to look at things with earthly eyes. If I claim to be a follower of Christ, then I have to agree to look at things with heavenly eyes. This is the the same God who brought forth his son via Mary, a virgin. And as the angel told her that day when she was informed of the things that were to come her way, "Nothing is impossible with God."

So here's to lost causes...

May we have the faith to not decide for God what is (and what isn't) a lost cause.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

depressing news.

I haven't gotten taller since 1989.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NEW WEBSITE-- win a Kindle Fire!

Hey friends!

Joy in Hope launched their new website/logo today!

Check it out at!

In order to promote the new site, everyone who helps us spread the word (fb/twitter/newsletter, etc*) will be signed up to win a brand new Kindle Fire! (JiH will be tracking tweets/fb likes and newsletter signups for the purpose of the give-away, which will ship on Nov 15-- the day it is released!)

Check out the new JiH blog on the site to hear about where we've been recently and where we're headed. Also, learn more about how you can partner with JiH in their Be a Ripple campaign.

Thanks for being in it with us!


Friday, October 14, 2011

Mama Jo.

I am trying to remember how my mom got the nickname "Mama Jo" but *I think* it goes back to Amanda Case. (Sisters, correct me if I am wrong???)

Anywho-- my latest ink is a tribute to the woman who gave me life--

I LOVE it.

I love the South.

I LOVE the South.

People here are so freaking friendly. And they are generous and they help each other out. It's really, really neat.

I love Manteo. It's a great town. And even though I never lived here (except for summers while I was in college) I am TOTALLY one of them since I am "Steve and Denise's girl."

My favorite thing about Manteo might be the Pioneer Theater. Err, sorry, Ye Olde Pioneer Theater. How could you *NOT* love a place that only charges $5 for admission and $1.50 for popcorn? And the whole town was there (like they always are.)

I just stinkin' love it in Manteo. (Especially when my sissies are here with me!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Today was makeover day for mama!

I think I am a gifted makeover-ist. ;)

Of course it's easy when your mama is as pretty as mine is!

before (we had a hard time making her look miserable because she kept laughing)


after. (She totally looks like a teenager.)

daddy and mama.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


It was a week ago yesterday that I was out at the Raymond beach with Jerry on his last day before school started. We were playing Parcheesi. I was having a rough day (like pretty much every day.) Nick and I had been fighting that morning (like pretty much every day.) I had a water bottle. Jerry had a Tampico and a green lollipop.

My phone rang. It was Nick. He said he wanted to come talk to me. I sighed because, as I said, we'd been arguing and I just didn't have it in me to argue anymore. But still, he said he felt it was important that he talk to me so I said what I always say these days, "fine" (you know the kind of "fine" I am talking about-- the kind of fine when you communicate that you are anything but fine.)

Nick drove up on his black moto a few minutes later. He sat down and tried to get Jerry to go play in the water. Jerry said it was too rough and he didn't want to. So, with Jerry right there, Nick looked at me and just flat out said, "Gwenn. I just talked to your mom. She has cancer."


If you'd given me a hundred guesses as to what Nick was about to say to me, I wouldn't have guessed.

Tears sprang to my eyes immediately.

The next few minutes are kind of a blur in my memory. I cried the really ugly cry. (Poor Jerry didn't know what was going on.) Nick went through the details that he knew-- it was in her uterus... they thought they caught it early... hysterectomy...will know more tomorrow after seeing the oncologist...

I wanted to talk to my mom but I was crying too hard and so my thoughts sprang to my sisters. What a special gift sisters are. I walked away, leaving Nick to finish Parcheesi with Jerry. I called Gretchen. We talked. She was the calmer voice of reason. That's because she's the OLDEST sister. (Much, MUCH older than me... but I digress.)

Fast forward to yesterday morning, I am sitting there trying to figure out what to wear to the hospital. The thought kept crossing my mind-- "What does one wear to their mother's hysterectomy?" At first I put on a purple t-shirt that had these metal studs-- and then I changed because I thought bedazzling was too much. As I put on my makeup, I kept tearing up. And I didn't know why. (Incidentally, I have not stopped feeling teary.)

Finally, a few minutes later, this thought crossed my mind-- "I am crying because today part of my mother is dying." And not just that, but it was the part of her that carried me. The uterus they removed-- that was the uterus that cradled me as I grew. And Gretchen before me, and Melody after me. And now, there's something else growing in there-- something that leads to death, not life. It was kind of scary to think about.

They think they probably removed all the cancer. It will take about two weeks for the pathology to come back to know for sure what the next steps are. Lord willing, we're done and at this moment as my mom sits across the room from me she is cancer-free.

But either way, part of her is gone and it was a really tangible reminder that someday all of her will be gone. I am not ready for that. I don't think I will ever be. It made me think about my own kids who have lost their moms... ug. How could I not realize this is how they felt?

I got an email from my dear friend Andrew who is praying for my mom, and he said this, "I know her (and pretty much everyone in your family) mind must be racing right now wondering how this will impact the future. And then of course, “why?” That’s rarely an easy one to answer this side of Heaven."

I guess it's just one more reason to long for a new heaven and a new earth where there is no more sickness or death or tears. One more reason to beg, "Come, Lord Jesus..."