My Little Brother
Thursday, September 27, 2012

My brother and I, summer of 2012.

When he's in the right kind of mood, my brother Coe may just be one of the funniest people I know.  When Coe, my mom and I are together, there are approximately 17 episodes of Coe saying or doing something that leaves all three of us worthless with laughter.  

I woke up today feeling incredibly grateful for this guy, and for the laughter and joy he's brought to my life.  I'm grateful for the time we got to spend together this summer in Oklahoma.  It was good.  

My mom had this picture and caption on her facebook a few weeks back:

My son, Coe. Six months ago I hardly recognized him. And now look...clean, sober,
happy and healthy!! Prayer is powerful. God is good. Thank you Lord!! :)

There are many reasons to hate drugs and and hate what they can do to a person.  They can create addictions so strong that some people never overcome them.  They can, sadly, cause families to be torn apart. I have seen drug abuse cause mothers to give up on their children, unable to forgive heartaches or allow themselves to imagine a better future for a son or daughter wrecked by addiction.  Drugs can steal a person's identity, creating an empty, angry shell out of what was once a filled-up whole person.  They can take lives.

I am so glad that is not Coe's story.

He did overcome; is actively overcoming.  My family is whole.  My mom never stopped praying.  She never stopped loving.  Never stopped visiting him in places that many mothers could not or would not find the fortitude to visit.  And drugs most certainly did not steal his identity or take his joy; maybe for a season, but not forever.  

No one will ever convince me that there is not God who hears our prayers and delights in answering them in His own time, and in His own way.  

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine...."  Eph 3:20

I am convinced there is so much more, immeasurably more, to Coe's story, yet to be written.  A good, good story. 

Rock on.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Moving to Georgia created major hair issues.

My hair had gotten really long, and with the humidity here in the South, I seriously looked like a member of an 80's hair band.  I used my straight iron as usual, but something was terribly amiss.  Every time I looked in the mirror the fuzzy, frizzy mess made me start humming Sweet Child O' Mine.

So, some new friends gave me product advice (hello, straightening serum!), and today I went and had 5 inches chopped off the length.

I feel so much better.  I present below a before and after shot of my hair.

This is me, before my haircut.
Basically.  Minus the leather pants.

And after.
This is my glamorous carpool line self-portrait.

Smarty Pants
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Reaching for gratitude during the hours of 3:00-5:00pm everyday. After school time. Homework time. We're nearly a month in now to the kids' new school, and I do believe we are finally finding our groove.

Grateful for apps and websites that help with memorizing math facts. Grateful we have the devices required for such things.

Grateful for the Lord reminding me to train them to do all things as unto Him and not unto men. Including reading logs and science worksheets.

Grateful for the point of view of a friend. Sent her the image in this post and she replied with "adorable!", when I was in a much different place, thinking, "We've been at this so freaking long. When will it end." But she's right. They are adorable.

Love those studious little faces. Love that I get the title of Chief Homework Helper Extraordinaire. Let's face it; Ryan's math skills are close to surpassing mine. Better embrace helping him while I still can.

Journey Thru Georgia State Parks: Watson Mill Bridge
Sunday, September 23, 2012

We are on a mission to explore all the State Parks surrounding us here in North Georgia.  We recently discovered that you can check out a pass from the library that gives you free entrance/free parking at all state parks and historical sites.  Holla!  You know this frugal mama jumped all over that.  We can also check out free passes to the Atlanta Zoo - looking forward to making that trip soon!

On Saturday we made the half hour drive to Watson Mill Bridge State Park.

So, so much fun.  The kids played and splashed in the river, and eventually worked up their courage to stand under the falls.

But wait....where's Dylan?  He's thinking he's not getting under the waterfall?  Think again kid.  Dad is on the chase.

Got him!  Don't slip Dad!

Going under.  He can't outrun or overpower Dad quite yet.  Give him a few years!

Dylan just enjoys the chase; he wanted to be caught!  Look at that smile.

This was the kind of day that feeds my soul.  Better than any amusement park!  We can't wait to visit again soon.  Have to take some friends with us next time! 

Watson Mill Bridge
Built in 1885


Friday, September 21, 2012

"Great job!... You can do it!....Awesome!...We believe in you!"

Honestly, hearing all that encouragement, I was surprised.

Those are just a few of the things I heard Dylan's 3rd grade classmates yelling to each other when I helped out at his "Olympic Day" this morning.

The kids were combining their study of the Greek Olympics with their current math unit, so they measured each others results in the javelin throw (a yard stick with an aluminum foil point), the 200 meter dash, the long jump, and the discus throw.

I have worked with elementary kids a long time. And frankly, they can be little pint-sized jerks to each other sometimes. When I saw I was helping at the long jump station, I steeled myself up to handle the inevitable teasing of the kids that couldn't jump very far. It's like Lord of the Flies out there in the world of elementary school.

Only....there was none! Zero teasing. Lots of authentic encouragement.

When we all got back to the classroom, I had to tell the class how impressed I was with the way they built each other up with kind words instead of teasing and tearing down.

Not gonna lie. I might have had a tear in my eye. I'm sure Dylan was horrified that I made an impromptu speech.

Proud of those kids.

a portion of our Olympic grounds

Eyes open!
Thursday, September 20, 2012

So I posted when we discovered these little guys (gals?) last Friday, and today they finally opened their eyes! Yay! So fun.

We've yet to see their mama. We were worried maybe she abandoned them, so we started laying a string across the top of their den each evening, sleuth-style. In the mornings we can tell the string has been brushed aside for her to get to her babies. Yeah, we think we're pretty clever.

Goofy goofs
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We had a great time at Kidstuf Live last Friday night at Athens Church! Love the super fun atmosphere for this great family experience. Looking forward to next time!

Apparently my oldest child is either too sophisticated for a silly prop...or he thinks his real glasses serve the purpose well enough.

Choosing good over great.
Monday, September 17, 2012

I am, happily, posting here at Lost in Laundry a bit more frequently lately!  Have you noticed? I started this little blog (over FIVE years ago! Crazy!) as a place for family and close friends across the miles to check in on us, and keep up with the Cliff Crew from afar.  I also wanted a place just for me; a place to hold some of my memories, since they leak out of my brain more rapidly than I'd like.

But somewhere along the way I developed serious blog envy.  I enjoy reading lots of amazing blogs with beautiful photography, lovely craft tutorials, and inspiring accounts of a life well-lived.  I think I subconsciously wanted to create posts more like those.

Except...I generally snap photos with my iPhone instead of a dSLR, I already share 100% of any crafty projects I happen to complete which only provides about 3 posts a year, and frankly I don't always have inspirational accounts to share.

Wow.  What a relief to figure that out.  Ha!  So, I'm back to my blog personality matching my real personality.  Which means hastily snapped photos not all that well edited, posting hasty blogs from the app on my phone, sharing fun stories about my kids that only grandparents would care about, and random musings that matter to me and that I don't want to forget.

So, hello again! It's great to be back!

Like my Georgia shirt?  Yeah.  I'm pretty much a total poser.  But hey...when in Rome, right? Y'all have never seen anything like Athens, GA on game day. We're getting swooped right on up in the crazy, and we love it.  

Celebrating in Downtown Athens
Sunday, September 16, 2012

We enjoyed a fun family day in downtown Athens, GA celebrating Lauryn's birthday.

Lunch at Clocked, cupcakes at Gigi's, and a walk around the beautiful and historic University of Georgia campus.   What a great day!


Lauryn is seven today. Seven.  

How to describe Lauryn, this light of our lives? Our baby.  She is full of giggles.  She prefers skipping or dancing over walking.  She is opinionated about her hair style and argues with me about clothes.  She can be her brothers' best friend or their worst nightmare.  She brings so much light and life to this family.

She adores her Daddy, then and now.

Happy Birthday beautiful daughter of ours.  Looking forward to all the memories we'll make this year.

Baby Rabbits
Friday, September 14, 2012

Found a den of 3 teeny tiny baby rabbits in the backyard! I read online that the mama rabbit won't abandon them if they smell like humans (why did I think that?) so I let the kids hold them. Their eyes aren't open yet, so according to the all knowing Internet they are less than 7 days old.

pretty petal pillow
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I am taking a 10 week sewing class from my new friend Ann!  Ann has a super cool local shop where she teaches sewing to kids and adults, and she creates custom embroidered baby and kids' clothing as well.  Check out her online store, Blessed Babe.

I completed this pillow during my first lesson with Ann.  I love it!  Love hanging out with this sweet, talented lady, too.

I already knew a wee bit about sewing, but in just two hours with her I've picked up a ton of helpful tips and tricks.  Gotta think about what I want my next project to be....

Rain sweet rain!
Monday, September 10, 2012

Made the most of our rainy Saturday! All fun and games until the thunder clapped.

More exploring
Friday, September 7, 2012

With Jonathan out of town on a church retreat with 300+ teenagers, me and the kids were looking for some fun on this fine Friday evening. I took the kids to a park near the local library, and we noticed some kids take off through the woods on their bikes. We decided to follow them (of course) and discovered a nice, cleared hiking/biking trail. What?!?! How incredibly fun. My little concrete dwellers may finally love to learn nature.

Missing my Lubbock friends and my coffee girls something terrible today. Thankful for a discovered trail that somehow helps dull the heartache. Thank you Lord for your small gifts.

Lubbock Photographer Andy West *DISCOUNT*
Thursday, September 6, 2012

Our friend Andy West took family portraits for us right before we moved to Georgia.

Andy is a student at Texas Tech and an all-around great guy. He gives a ton of time and a ton of heart to the ministries of Trinity Church.  He's following the example of his incredible mom and dad, whom we love and admire as well. Thanks West family for all you do and the excellence you do it with! 

***Discount Offer***

I love the way Andy captured our family!  He is extending a special offer to readers of Lost in Laundry - mention this post when you book your session (session details here), and he'll give you 20% off.   Reach him at 806.781.0006 or email him.  You'll have fun during your photo shoot, and you'll love the images.

Thanks again Andy!  Come see us in Georgia sometime.

I like these shots of Jonathan and I in the rocking chairs.....when my eight year old saw these pictures, he cracked up and said, "You look like a MawMaw and PawPaw!"

That kid.  Love him.  But he would be wise to never, ever call me MawMaw again.

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House Hunting
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Looking for a new home exposes the brat in me.  The thoughts of "if only we had a little more money" creep in so easily when house-hunting.  Might I add that it's been that way since we purchased our very first home, and our home shopping budget is easily 3x what it was way back then.  My 24 year old self would be slack jawed and in awe of the homes my 34 year old self considers purchasing.

So yesterday evening was spent in a state of bratiness.  I was a bit mopey because we've been house shopping for a few weeks now and just can't seem to find the right house that is also in the right price range.  I'm so ready to purchase something and be out of this rental and feel like we can start to "settle."

Cut to this morning: When I opened my fridge today to grab the half and half for my coffee, I really SAW those shelves.  God wiped away an amiss point of view like He was wiping the smudges off a mirror.  I really saw that fridge.  Like in a movie where everything except what's dead center of the screen goes blurry, and the center is in perfect focus.  I saw those shelves packed full of food from grocery shopping yesterday. I felt like God dumped such a heavy load of gratitude on me for all that food, all that met need, that the thankfulness was almost to much to bear.

I am so, so thankful.  I will have food.  I will have shelter.  My food and my shelter will go so far beyond the realm of just met need and into the realm of indulgence, that most of the world will never experience luxury like what I live with every day.

I am, gratefully, forgiven for my bratiness and ready for a new day, and a new point of view.  Bring on the house-hunting.  I pray my house will be a place where love is felt and Christ is honored.  That can happen in any square footage.

More Park Exploration
Monday, September 3, 2012

Today we took our Labor Day picnic to Memorial Park, a city park in the Five Points area of Athens. This little treasure sits tucked away right in the middle of a neighborhood. Fun!

Journey Through Georgia State Parks
Sunday, September 2, 2012

We're excited to see all the lakes and rivers that North Georgia (and eventually South, East, and West as well) has to offer!

First up on this fine Sunday afternoon for a little pre-Labor Day fun, Ft. Yargo State Park. A short 20 minute drive from home! Beautiful picnic areas and a sandy swimming beach. Ft. Yargo, meet the Cliff Crew. You shall come to know us well.


Remembering and Trusting Anew
Saturday, September 1, 2012

As the kids have started a brand new school in a brand new place, I am asking God to remind me of past lessons learned.  Things are going well and I'm so thrilled with how the kids are jumping into school with both feet...but there are always chances to choose worry and control over prayer and peace.  Tonight I revisited my own words, written a few years back for the Prize31 blog. Hmmm. I seemed so confident back then.  Asking the Lord to renew that peace.  He is good.  I trust Him.

Below Originally Published on August 2010

My two oldest, Dylan and Ryan, my handsome boys, will be starting 1st grade and 3rd grade at Cooper West Elementary. Go Pirates! (My daughter Lauryn has one more year before starting kindergarten. This is a point of much frustration for her, as she would love nothing more than to start NOW.)
I’m excited for the boys to begin a new school year, but my excitement is mixed with lingering questions as well:  Will they have a good teacher?  Will they have friends in their class?  Will they be inspired and encouraged?  Will they remember what we’ve taught them about their worth in Christ?  Will they hear His voice above all the noise?
And just as I let these questions begin to creep over into the realm of worry, I remember to turn my eyes to the Lord.  As I pray and spend time in His presence, I’m reminded that ultimately, I’m trusting my children to Him.  Not to a school, not to a teacher. Him. I’m trusting that we’ve heard from Him about where our children are to attend school, and we are trusting in His choice and our obedience to His plan.  What sweet relief. And as I seek the Lord, and remember that His plans are greater than my plans, I begin to answer my own questions differently:
Will they have a ‘good’ teacher? I hope so.  So far, they’ve had amazing teachers who I trust and respect.  But regardless, I trust they’ll have the teacher the Lord intends them to have. He knows what they need.
Will they have friends in their class? I hope they do. I hope they have great friends.  But if not, perhaps the Lord intends to teach them more of His friendship.
Will they be inspired and encouraged? I hope their teachers excel at their profession, and are able to inspire and encourage daily.  But if not, the Lord is in control.  He is able to inspire and encourage like no other.
Will they remember what we’ve taught them about their worth in Christ? I pray that particular truth takes root, and they believe it from a young age.  But if they chose to doubt, seeking their worth elsewhere, the Lord is still in control.  He knows the path they need to take to find Him and love Him.
Will they hear His voice above the noise? I laugh as I remember that I often still struggle to remember to stop and listen for His still, small voice.  My children will learn this lesson over a lifetime.
So then I breathe a sigh of relief and thank Him for his goodness and peace….and start to get excited about shopping for school supplies!  Who doesn’t love a freshly sharpened pencil and brand new box of crayons? A empty notebook seems to represent all the possibility ahead of them — by the end of the year that notebook will be filled up with new discoveries, and knowledge they didn’t have before!  Back to school time.  It’s a wonderful time.

I’d like to share with you the scriptures and prayers that my husband Jonathan nd I will pray over our boys throughout this school year.  I for one am tired of hearing prayers for children relegated only to the realm of simply keeping them “safe” and “healthy.”  Let’s ask God to capture their hearts!  I believe God wants to use our children to reveal His glory and goodness.  Will you believe with me?
Here are the promises Jonathan and I believe for our boys as they begin school this year, followed by the corresponding prayers we will offer on their behalves:
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Cor 10:13
Lord, I realize the boys will encounter temptations common to 6 and 8 year old boys in schools all over this city – to be mean to a friend, to exclude a peer because they don’t seem to fit in, to feel despondent when they themselves seem to not fit it,  to judge themselves “better” than someone else, to disobey their teacher, or not give their best effort – but Lord I thank you that You will be faithful to provide a clear way out from those and countless other temptations. Thank you that no temptation will come to them except what is common to man, and You will always provide a clear way out.  Regardless of circumstance, you will provide a clear path to obedience!

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.  Isaiah 30:21
Whether Your voice comes through the reading of your Word, their teachers, friends, myself, or by your Holy Spirit, speak to them Lord! Plant a firm resolve in their heart to follow and know you.  Let their desire to walk in Your ways outweigh any temptation to follow the course the world would set before them.
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.  Proverbs 21:21
As they show kindness to others Lord, bless them with honor and give them opportunity to make your righteousness known.
All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord. Exodus 35:29
Lord, stir their hearts to begin to give generously from a young age. Open their eyes to needs, and grant them humility and joy in their giving.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2
Let it be so of all our children, Lord!  By Your Spirit, may our children love you,  know you, and reveal your glory!

Cliff Familyt

I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)



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