Saturday, May 31, 2008

Welcome to the Jungle

The zoo is much improved since my childhood days. Animals in their (almost) natural habitat are much cooler than the concrete slabs that I remember. And the pictures turn out better, too.

Tough guys wear pink & sleep standing on one leg.

Two billy-goats gruff.

Bella was all gasps in the petting zoo.
(cameo appearance of Tim's nose)

Good camouflage.

Bad camouflage.

Looks like you can just reach out and tap him on the shoulder.
Not recommended.

X marks the spotted giraffe.

While looking at the pictures on my camera, my sister asked, "who's the white kid in that one?" I responded, "I don't know. They were all over the petting zoo." She chuckled so, I added..."we told our crew they could pet the white kids but to be sure and wash their hands afterward." ;-)

That's What Friends Are For

Thank you all for your prayers and sweet words. We had a good (albeit emotional) visit with family, both immediate and distant.

The funeral was on Monday in Alabama and was very sweet and honoring to both Mamabel and Jesus. HUGE props to my Mom (who is a cryer like myself) for giving an awesome eulogy without any ugly crying!

After a couple of days of resting (grief is exhausting) we took the kids to the Atlanta zoo for a much needed mental diversion. We got back to NC late yesterday afternoon. Here are some photos from the week and a few funny moments from the trip. (zoo pic's in the next post)

Mamabel and Papa's house (currently Granny and Grandad's house, too)

Mamabel's favorite spot was the swing on the front porch.

The shed in the background of the blueberry bushes. Papa spent hours trying to outwit the birds who loved to steal his blueberries.

If by chance you stopped by and couldn't find the "old folks" in the house, which was never locked; this was the second place to look -Papa's shed. The door would be propped open and Mamabel would be sitting just inside watching Papa saw out the pieces for his swings.

While reminiscing about the old days we got to hear and share some funny Mamabel stories like these:

Mama, Mamabel, and a neighbor named Jo would head to Penney's outlet while us kids were in school. (All this time I thought my Mom just sat at home coming up with cleaning projects for us kids.) Miss Jo would pass gas and then her and mom would walk away and leave Mamabel standing there. Well, she was never one for subtleties and would inevitably and loudly say, "Somebody stinks!" Then look up to realize that she, having drawn the attention of unknown shoppers, was the only one standing there in the funk. My mom and the true culprit watching and laughing from a distance.

While Mamabel and Papa were still newlyweds she fell prey to yet another flatulence ploy. In the dark of their bedroom, Papa would say, "Liz, you better put your head under the covers 'cause I'm about to spit straight up into the air." Wanting to avoid getting a lugee in the face, she would duck her head under the blanket at which point he would let one rip. Talk about a catch 22. Poor soul.

I may have shared this one before but it's worth repeating. Mom, Terrie (my sister), and I had taken Mamabel to the mall to shop. The stores were closing and it was already dark outside as we headed into the parking lot. Two things we knew about Mamabel -she had horrible knees and a weak bladder. I whispered to my two partners in torment, "on the count of three, let's all run for the car." Mean? yes. Worth it? Oh yeah! She tried to catch up but couldn't run because she was busy holding her crotch and screaming, "I'm gonna wet myself." In the end, she was laughing as hard as the rest of us -always a good sport!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

…coming for to carry me home.

I don’t know if it was a “band of angels” since I’m pretty sure just one was sufficient for her petite frame; but that one angel at least, met Mamabel and finally carried her home to see her sweet Savior this morning.

I’ve been thinking for several months about how to tell you just who this lady was and how much she meant to us. And while this may sound completely unorthodox, these are the words that have been stuck in my head: Sweet as apple pie – Stubborn as Balaam’s ass. That was my Mamabel.

To say this woman was an integral part of our lives is a major understatement. We (my sister, brother, and I) grew up just 8 houses down the road from my grandparents. I remember few, if any, days without some form of contact. We would get home from running errands and the phone would begin ringing as soon as we stepped on the porch. My mom would say, “Yes, Isabel. We’re home.” It was always her. Mamabel was the neighborhood watch. She supposedly had vision problems and yet I’d swear she could tell if a bird pooped in our front yard. And she would call to tell us about it.

We got on the bus for school just two houses up from theirs and she stood in the doorway and waved EVERY morning! And for a time, while my mom was working, we would get off the bus and head straight to Mamabel and Papa’s until Mom got home. I can still smell the sweet potatoes baking in the oven. A half a stick of butter swimming on top and we had ourselves an afternoon snack. It’s no wonder I’m a carb-aholic.

When I was 17, my dad’s work transferred him to Indiana. The rest of us moved in with my grandparents until I finished out my senior year of high school. After which, Mom and my brother joined Dad in IN, my sister moved to an apartment, and I remained with my grandparents while attending community college and later preparing to marry a really cool guy named Tim. It was during these two years that I came to appreciate Mamabel as an amazing woman and not just a doting grandma. She had a great sense of humor, a love of laughter, and incredibly quick and sarcastic wit. (I consider this my personal inheritance from her.)

She loved her family and welcomed each new great-grand baby (eleven of them) into the fold regardless of color or even how they got here -adopted, biological, married into, whatever -she loved 'em all up and took great pride in them!

Please pray for our entire family. Many will be traveling (like us) and all will be hurting. Pray that we will grieve but not as those who have no hope! And lastly, pray that those who do not have a relationship with Christ will be drawn near to Him.

In loving memory of
Delia Isabel Harrington
March 26, 1919 - May 23, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Foolish Games

(fyi, not saying this is "foolish" just trying to stick with the song title motif) I was tagged by Tara to share the answers to these five questions:

1. What were you doing five years ago?

I have a hard time remembering what I was doing five minutes ago but...I believe I was living in a single wide, two-bedroom trailer (which I loved) with two boys -3 and 1 and waiting not-so-patiently for news from Haiti that we could come and pick Mamoune up. I was also spending an insane number of hours on the phone and instant messaging with a certain Haitian missionary. =)

2. What are five things on your to-do list today (not in any particular order)?

-laundry, laundry, laundry
-home school the kids (without killing anyone)
-clean out and switch over the boys winter to summer clothes (I keep bumping this one to the next days list)
-shop for new closet storage stuff
-take a nap if at all possible (my head is full of snot and I am a crab)

3. What are five snacks that you enjoy?

-milk/white chocolate
-pickles with salt sprinkled on them
-lemons/limes with salt sprinkled on them
-cheese cake
-salt-n-vinegar potato chips

4. What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

-I would rent out an entire tattoo parlor so that I could get a teensy tattoo without anyone seeing me or hearing me cry like a wuss.
-I would pay off our house and buy the two lots on either side of us for neighborhood ministry
-I would probably adopt waaaay too many more kids
-I would let my husband do what he loves just because he wants to, without the pressure of having to provide for his family.
-I would buy three Great Danes (Larry, Curly, and Moe) and the rest of my budget would probably go toward feeding kids and dogs.

5. What are five of your bad habits?

-overeating (and under-exercising)
-not flossing/avoiding the dentist office
-sleeping late
-letting my imagination get the best of me

6. What are five places that you have lived?

-Riverdale, GA
-Milledgeville, GA
-Wake Forest, NC
-Youngsville, NC
-back to Wake Forest, NC

7. What are five job's you've had?

-floral arranging/sales (enjoyed the flowers but worked for psychopaths)
-receptionist (at a veterinarian's office, my favorite out of the house job by far!)
-data entry for a physical therapy office
-sales clerk at a department store (would've been okay if only I'd had a fake tan and eating disorder to fit in)
-day care worker (I should share those stories...another day)

8. What five people do you want to tag?
-Lisa Shay
-Joanna C.
-Chris M.

(I know that several of you have major things going on right now (traveling, moving, missionarying, ect. so, if you don't have time to play -don't sweat it!)

Oh, and I'd like to add one more:

Why does a game about "FIVES" have eight questions? hmmmm.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Mississippi Squirrel Revival

A couple of months ago, my friend Lisa Shay shared a post about her opinion of (read: hatred of) squirrels.

I've given it some thought and I think it is unfair that these little fellows have been unfavorably lumped into the same category as rats. Rats are scavengers. They are sneaky, gluttonous, trash-eaters. Squirrels are foragers. That alone implies a higher intelligence and almost nurturing quality. Not only that but they are thoughtful, plan-ahead kind of critters. And so, I've taken a liking to these would be tree vermin.

Lisa will be greatly dismayed to find out that while she is fiendishly working her capture and release program, there are people like us doing the unimaginable...feeding them! She will be more dismayed to find out that we've left a trail of sunflower seeds from our yard to hers. =)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes

So, here we are at the close of Mamoune's birthday. We had a great time bowling and Bella avoided any unnecessary contact with the bowling pins. Mamoune creamed us all. She had a little help from the bumpers but we let her gloat anyway -just this once. After bowling, we headed to The Factory for some ice cream.

For those unfamiliar with NC joints like The Factory, it is a warehouse/ice skating & hockey rink/shops/restaurants/skate park kinda place. In the front section there is a picnic area centered around a large water fountain. At one point, a few younger children made their way into the area and Nathan, observing them, made the following statement:

"Mom, I have a feeling one of those kids is going to fall into that water and I'm gonna have to go in after them." (said with voice of exasperation over how stupid some kids can be.)

Time elapse -less than two minutes


He was right. One of those kids fell into the water. Yep. Nathan. He jumped up and back over the edge soaked from the neck down. I stood there with camera in hand, laughing hysterically and taking not one single picture. Dip. But here he is looking sheepish (and shirtless) on the ride home.

It was an exciting ending to an exciting day. I think it's safe to say that we are all a little older, a little more mature, and a little less apt to run on wet bricks! Here are a couple more pictures of the birthday girl. Have a great day of worship tomorrow!

Happy, Happy Birthday Baby

We will be partying to the nines! Nine years, that is. Mamoune is nine years old today. Tim asked if that meant that we are getting old. No, it doesn't. However, the fact that he is sore from playing just one hour of kick ball and that every extra pound I gain now lands in my middle region instead of it's prior hip and thigh abode are indications that we are getting old. sigh.

To see a little bit of Mamma Jamma's story, click here.

As Queen for the day, she will get to choose a restaurant (usually Mexican or Chinese -anywhere that serves rice) and an activity. She seems to be leaning toward bowling; always fun with a one year old in tow. =)

If you ever think to pray for our oldest daughter -we would be grateful! As I said in the post linked above, life with Mamoune is not always easy. Like many children adopted at an older age, she came programmed with some serious survival skills. Not so much the good kind like how to start a fire with two twigs but the bad kind like manipulation and self-preservation at all costs. We all have these skills -they're called sin. And just like us, her best hope for overcoming these things is Jesus.

Here are a couple of verses that you could pray for her:

Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me."

Psalm 51:17 "The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise."

You could also pray that Bella will not end up sliding head first down a bowling lane today. =)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Simply the Best

Ladies and Gentlemen: We have a winner!

"Patrick's death was tragic, but no one doubted that SpongeBob had something to do with it."

Congratulations Lisa Slater! It was a toss up and I have to give props to Amy's daughter "R" for "sea-cow patty" which was a very, very close second. But after conferring with our panel of experts (read: Tim and Amie hashing it out) we had to go with the caption offered by the woman who shamelessly references cartoon characters when she, as of this moment, has no children to blame it on.

So, Lisa, email me your shipping info and your wonderful prize will be on it's way to you asap!

FYI, the original caption for this picture was going to be "Sponge Happens!" I'm impressed to see that so many of you avoided the temptation (that clearly I could not resist) to jump into the gutter. You's good people! ;-) Oh, and yes, it was some type of sponge; freshly washed up and not dried out yet. And since right after taking the picture, Tim hacked into it with a large sea shell, we are greatly relieved that it was not, in fact, Bobbey's brain.

=) Thanks for playing guys!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Final Countdown

Okay, people. I'm extending the contest deadline by one day. I know there are some of you out there (without mentioning any names) who may have things going on like... planning to move your whole family to Africa and needing to pack all your belongings in a vary narrow amount of time OR maybe some who have a sister visiting overseas to see their soon-to-be adopted baby girl. Just to throw out a few completely random possibilities for why some of you haven't played yet.

For the three or so of you who have already contributed -the lack of participation makes for pretty good odds, eh? But come on -who wants bragging rights over just two other people? That's no fun.

So, the clock is ticking. You've got the rest of today to jump in. If you have no idea what I'm talking about -well, check out the previous post (or just click here) to see what this contest is all about and to submit your caption. A winner WILL BE ANNOUNCED tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Freeze Frame

More fun photos:

Papa looking sassy! We know how frustrated he gets
when his bangs hang in his eyes.

Ah. Young love.

One-way ticket to Georgia, please.

No words for this face.

Snot stringing between us.
Now, THAT'S commitment.

Okay, for all of you who hung with me on this picture parade,

I have a surprise...A CONTEST!!!

The person who comes up with the catchiest, wittiest, funniest caption for the above picture (by the way- can you identify this object?) will win a copy of one of my favorite Tyler Perry movies: Madea Goes to Jail (the stage play). If you've seen any of the Madea movies, the stage play version puts the rest of them to shame! Hilarious! Entries will be accepted until Wednesay and midnight and the winner will be announced on Thursday. Good luck.

(to post your caption, click the comments link on this post and enter and ID -google account or anonymous- then hit enter. Your comment will not appear until approval. You can also email me at if you have trouble posting on this site.)

Picture to Burn

(yes, Jena -that's two country songs ;-))

Here are a couple of posts with pictures that never made it to the blog, until now. Some for obvious reasons. Hope they will make you smile!
Ooh la la! Did we order a French baby?
Isaiah -a fashion icon waiting to be discovered.
Still waiting.
Hope that's not lead paint.

You've seen Sweeney Todd?

Wall-eye effect.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Where the Boys Are

Girls are cute. They do cute things. But boys are just downright entertaining. Here are a few recent moments among the young male breed of Sexton's:

Nathan informed us that his back was itching and needed to be checked because Isaiah had stuck a piece of poison ivy down his shirt. I asked Isaiah it this was true. "Yes. It l-l-l-looked like poison ivy." I calmly explained that if Nathan broke out with poison ivy and Isaiah did not, I would take him outside, strip him down, and plant his skinny, little, black, behind right on top of the stuff. No break outs so far. His behind has been spared. ;-)

Isaiah recently got his summer hair cut, shave that is, and Nathan has taken to smacking him in the back of the head. Why? According to Nathan, "I love the sound it makes when I slap his bald head." Isaiah was equally amused by this to begin with but he's beginning to lose sight of the humor. I predict that we shall soon hear what sound it makes when one slaps a curly haired boy in the back of the head. I also predict it will sound like the cries of one who can dish it out but doesn't like to take it.

I've decided that boys can turn anything into a competition. My theory was proved this morning when Nathan pridefully informed his brother that, "I have more history than you do, Isaiah, because I am older. I will always have more history than you." Since the only way this true but goofy fact could be altered would be for Nathan to die to an early death -I think Isaiah loves his brother enough to let him win.

While watching a movie recently someone "forted" (click here for an explanation of terminology). Everyone threw the blame to Nathan who denied it between cackles. I called him out by explaining that if he was the culprit he should at least say "excuse me." He sincerely offered this explanation: "Mama, I really don't know if it was me 'cause sometimes I feel it coming and I squeeze and squeeze really tight but a little bit squeaks through anyway." gotta love boys!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pretty in Pink

What does the color "Heather Moon" bring to mind? I'm guessing it's anything other than this:

This was after she tried blending. It didn't really help. :0)

Daddy's Hands

"...were soft and kind when I was crying.
Daddy's hands were hard as steel when I'd done wrong.
Daddy's hands weren't always gentle but I've come to understand
There was always love in daddy's hands."

It's been so interesting to watch the ways the kids in our neighborhood (especially the young boys) respond to Tim. I don't want to paint an exaggerated picture of the situation -to our knowledge, most of these kids are not from abusive or even horribly neglectful homes. Let's just say that for many of them, the men that are around aren't necessarily their fathers and their fathers aren't necessarily around.

So, it's pretty clear that something different is going on at this house where the same guy shows up everyday at about the same time and hugs his kids, and then hugs and kisses his wife. Tim has become quite the hot commodity. "Can Mr. Tim pump up my bike tires?" "Can Mr. Tim fix my fishing rod?" "Can Mr. Tim play football with us?" These are common. But the moments I love the most are when one of the boys will stand as close as he can get to Tim or offer up a few air jabs in his direction. You can see all over their faces what they really want. And my sweet man does not fail to deliver. He'll grab 'em up in one arm and noogie their little heads. Then off they go to play, smiling.

The Bible says many times that God is the father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). And over and over we are mandated to care for the widow and the orphan (Isaiah 1:17, James 1:27). We recognize God's heart toward the least of these and have tried to follow His lead -thus the four adoptions. BUT I also think our definition of "fatherless" has been broadened by the culture we live in.

Tim and I have toyed around for years with a saying that we think would be great on t-shirts or bumper stickers. Here is the edited version...

"Any old xxxx can make a baby, but it takes balls to be a father."

You can probably see why a pastor and his wife aren't the most likely candidates for mass production of this little diddy. But it holds true. And when I see kids whose dads were little more than sperm donors, I can't apologize for the fact that I don't have gentler, more tactful words for them.

The irony of it all is that, for whatever reason, Tim and I aren't able to conceive a child the old fashioned way AND YET my husband has amazing testicular fortitude (yes, his ears will turn red when he reads this ;-). He is an awesome Daddy. And I pray that these kids will not only see something different in him but that they will crave it enough to break the cycle of past generations when they themselves become daddy's.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Nothing But the Blood

...of Jesus!

For any who are interested (sorry to take so long Lisa Shay) I have posted an audio link from my lecture/session/study/whatever at the Vibrant women's conference at our church. I am working on condensing the notes and will post them under the literary braindump site as soon as possible.

I've listened to it and chided myself over all the "um's," the hillbilly accent, and the fact that my nervous voice doesn't settle into a normal speed and tambre for a good 10 minutes. Having come to terms with all of those things, I'm happy to make it available to those who may want to hear it.

Late update: If you are having trouble getting the link to work -I hate to say it but I have no idea how to help you. I can tell you that it is a windows media player file so maybe you have to have that application to make it work but I truly do not know. Can anyone who is smarter and technically advanced post a comment to help me out?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Big Enough

Are you like us? You wonder if you're doing enough. If what you are doing is big enough. You see people who write great Christian books, speak to thousands at seminars, record worship Cd's and sell out concerts, and you start thinking God, what BIG thing can I do for You?

It seems like God has spent years giving Tim and I HUGE ideas for ministry and then showing us how He wants them to look on a much smaller scale.

Last night was the first of what we hope will be many Friday-grill-out-and-get-to-know-people-in-our-neighborhood-with-the-help-of-our-Sunday School-class nights. We're working on the name. On the surface, it may not have looked like much but here are a few of the highlights.

We had a single mom and 3 of her six kids (let me qualify that -single WORKING mom whose six kids all have the same father whom she was married to for 16 years before he walked out on her recently. In case anyone was tempted to slap a welfare stereotype stamp on her.) With the help of friends, we will be bringing her three youngest to church with us each week while she is working.

A woman from around the corner stopped by to thank us in person for bringing food to her home when her father passed away a couple of weeks ago. I got to pray with a weary and distraught young mom who recently had an abortion, and touched base with another mom who we have been able to hook up with baby girl clothes as Bella outgrows them; plus feeding and entertaining 18 kids.


maybe the real question isn't "Are we doing the big thing?" but "Are we being faithful in the little things?" A bucket of chicken, a prayer, a ride to church doesn't seem like much but sometimes the biggest thing starts with just a walk across the street. And if someday, one of these little things brings one person to a relationship with Jesus...well, that would just be GINORMOUS!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

(It's) Hairspray

As I write to you, one of my children is gracing me with a hair makeover -sweet gentle strokes of the brush, strategically placed pastel hair clips, bangs swept to one side. I think this kid has a real future in the beauty industry.

Unfortunately, we'll have to kiss that NFL retirement dream good-bye. Along with our dignity as we embrace our 6'4, 250 lb beautician...Isaiah. sigh. And don't go giving me the "love them no matter what they choose to be" speech. We will choose to love him while being completely embarrassed of him. No, no. I'm sure it won't come to that. We are planning now to send him to Haiti so he can man-up with Troy while killing small rodents. You don't mind another kid, do you Tara?