Friday, July 3, 2015

Friends From South Carolina

Some of you may not know this about me, but I was born in South Carolina. I'm not sure if I am what people call a "Southern Belle" since my mom was from Missouri and my dad lived in Michigan - his mom however grew up in the marshes of Alabama so I tend to identify myself as a Southern girl. I lived in the foot hills of the Smokey Mountains and grew up seeing snacks like pig ears, onion rings, and pickled eggs on the shelves in the grocery store. We didn't buy them of course because of my mixed heritage but I ate them sometimes at friends houses. The dirt roads were orange and the pine trees were so tall they seemed always about ready to topple over on me. I painted T-shirts and fence posts with squashed poke-weed berries and I mashed the buttons on the elevators. My parents watched NASCAR and shouted at the TV screen while I played in the backyard. I loved watching the Dukes of Hazard and would try to pull the same stunts as the General Lee did on my little pink and purple bicycle. I lived the first story of my life there in South Carolina for eleven years until we moved to Missouri. 

It's not the best picture, but it gets the point across, we went canoeing down Clear Water Creek. Oh, and there's that one kayak in the back.
While we lived there in my birth state we had many adventures, adventures that were shared with in particular, the Courtney family. This past week two of these long lost "family members" came to visit for a few days. I won't try to reconstruct our week for you but I just wanted to share a few pictures here on my blog instead of blowing up my Instagram feed. I'm thinking of all a' y'all, my sixty-two Instagram followers, so thank me please. ;) 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Orientation at University of West Florida 2015

I must warn y'all before you start reading this post that it is going to be pretty long. I just couldn't help myself this time!

 Okay.... what the heck Jamie!? Why are you turned backwards! Anyways, this was my group for orientation. 
These last five days have been super busy for me. It started out as a normal weekend on Friday. I drove myself to piano lessons, then went to teach a piano lesson. I filled up my gas tank, went to the bank and ran a few errands... I don't remember what they were but almost every Friday without fail I have something I have to go do. Saturday came and I woke up at 5 am to get ready to volunteer at a run that was going on in Pensacola called the Run 4 Hope. All proceeds from the run go to Christian charity organizations. My younger brother Levi decided to participate in the 5K run so he slapped on his boots and blue jeans and came along with us. My mom and I were working at a water booth at the one mile mark with other folks from our church. I've never volunteered at a run before so this was a fun new experience for me.

After the run there were food and drinks available for everyone and booths with information about the ministries the run was supporting. There was also a chin up bar where a competition got started to see who could do the most. I had fun cheering and watching everyone's neck muscles bulge and their faces turning red. The highest count was twenty two! Levi did eleven.

After the run I went to the farmers market and bought zucchini, cucumber, a cantaloupe, corn, and a spaghetti squash. After the market I stopped at Reynold's Music House in downtown Pensacola, did a little shopping at Target and TJ Max, then met up with Mom, Dad, and two of my younger brothers to go to the same adoption picnic we attended a year ago before we had met my four foster brothers. (I mention it briefly in this post here.) This time it was at the beach so we had a lot of fun.

After the picnic I was dropped back off to my car because I had to pick up some contact solution which I had forgotten to get earlier in the day. When I finally got home the day was almost over but I spent about an hour going through the music for church the next day.

Sunday morning came and I accidentally got up a half hour earlier than I needed to. *sad face*. Sunday's are normally pretty tiring for me but this Sunday was especially exhausting. After church everyone rushed out of the building as quickly as possible because everyone was going to head over to the Smith's house for a big summer fish fry/going away party for the Anderson family. The food and drinks were delicious, and we had all sorts of fun playing in the water. I went kayaking, swimming, paddle boarding and jet skiing. There were other things to do like playing ring toss, giant hula hoops, knee boarding, and getting pulled behind the boat on the biscuit and trying not to get knocked off. I pushed little kids on the swings and showed them interesting creatures you could find in the rocks and sand/muck of the bay.

This is downstairs at the Smith's house. Their home is raised up on stilts so there is plenty of space below for ping-pong, foosball, pool, a mini basketball hoop, Mr. Ron's shop, and plenty of storage for water toys and floats and what not.
When the party was over we didn't leave... my parents kept on talking. The sun had long since went to bed and I desperately wanted to follow. Alas, I was stuck there with no bed in sight. I mean, I like a good party, but you can't stay forever! When we finally got in the van to head home I said in a pitiful voice "I sure hope I don't have orientation tomorrow!"

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Breaking the Silence

Sometimes the silence is unbearable. Don't be afraid to make some noise.

This is the thought that slipped into my head a few weeks ago and it still hasn't come out. There is a book coming out called Tear Down this Wall of Silence by Dale Ingraham and Rebecca Davis. It's about sexual abuse in the church and how we should handle it. I haven't read it, but I believe my mom has and if you're friends with her on Facebook; then I am sure you have seen her post about it a few times. Even though I've never been sexually abused, this title still resonates deeply with me.

When I was young Mom gave me a small paperback book called Dorie: The Girl Nobody Loved. It was dark blue and had a simple line drawing of a little girl looking up at a particular constellation in the sky. I remember laying in the bed of our small pickup truck at my brother's football practice. It was night and the lights were so bright on the field, that it was almost day. The story was about this little girl and how she grew up being sexually abused and how she dealt with it becoming an adult. Gazing up at the ink black sky, searching for that constellation, I learned compassion. I am thankful that Mom gave me that book to read. It is one of the key points that God used to open my eyes to see others suffering.

Monday, May 18, 2015

All Sorts of Waters - Wild Beach Pictures

We went to the beach yesterday and that is what inspired me to write about all the different kinds of waters I've been to. I took pictures too so I'll be working them in throughout the text even though its not directly related.

I've had a pretty eclectic experience when it comes to growing up with different kinds of waters. Our family has always been active and my parents made a point to take us as many places as they could.

One of those places was the mountains. Mom and Dad would take the four of us kids (this was long before Jubal was born) on weekend camping trips so often that we practically didn't have time to put our sleeping bags away. We lived in South Carolina at the time so went to the Smokey Mountains, which is at the tail end of the Blue Ridge Mountain range. The drive was part of the adventure and I remember being able to recognize the roads because we went that way so often. Up there in the clouds we would go on hiking trips or playing in the freezing cold mountain streams, sliding down slippery rocks or standing underneath pounding waterfalls and swimming in the pools formed below them.

When we weren't in the mountains we would go to the lake. There was a lake called Lake Hartwell (we called it Lake Cartwheel) that we frequented. Once we had a bonfire there with some friends and Uncle Mike melted the souls of his shoes and my friend Emily swallowed a fish and got sick. Someone else got their fishing line stuck in a tree. Once time I went walking along the red clay shore a long ways from the group an found an old log and some dog poop. Other lakes we visited were Lake Jocassee and Lake Keowee which were much bigger and colder. I remember some kind of party at one of these big lakes. We went boating and water skiing and I almost lost my goggles. Another time I went with my friend for her birthday to Lake Keowee. There was a low rock cliff face, probably about thirty feet, and at the foot of the cliff a shallow shelf of rock just beneath the water . At the top of the cliff blue lines were painted on the rock and if you ran and jumped far enough out you would miss the rocks below and land safely in the icy cold water. I was there with my friend and her brother and their dad said he would give us a dollar if we would jumped off. Of course a dollar was a substantial sum of money in my mind back then so quick as a wink I ran through the blue lines and launched myself into the air. The fall was thrilling and folks cheered me when they saw my head bob up from the lake below. My friend and her brother were too scared and eventually their Dad said he would give them five dollars so they jumped too. I was mad at my friends because they got more money than me.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Being an Older Adoptive Sibling

Hello friends, it has been a while since I've posted on here.

Today I have something important to talk about. Although I can't share everything here online I must make you aware of the fact that we are no longer adopting the boys. Many things have contributed to this decision on my parents part and it is not my place to explain everything. Even so, everything I said before about loving being a big sister, about how I could see God leading us to these boys, all of that still applies. The time we had with them was hard but still a blessing. Maybe more for them than us, but I don't regret that time at all.

Having read different blogs and forums, I've noticed that people are always saying that nobody really talks about adoption that much. I wouldn't have known since all of these places were talking about it, but maybe I just stumbled upon the few rare gems. Since there is a need for more discussion on the subject I would like to share with y'all my story as an older sister in a local American adoption. I hope some of you other adoptive older siblings will find this story and get some encouragement out of it.

Easter 2015
We're just missing our older brother Zachary!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Floral Shorts and Muscadines Remind Me of His Mercy

A while back my mom took my sister and I shopping at a Spring sale Old Navy was having. Styles are cycling back around and what was once popular when my Mom was a girl is once again becoming the latest trend. Many of the prints and colors were familiar to me. Mostly I remember the shoes from Mom's closet but I guess when we were younger we also had some old hand me downs, mostly dresses. I got a pair of navy blue shorts with pink and blue flowers plastered onto it. I like them a lot but whenever I look at them I cant help but remember the hideous dresses Mom used to make me wear when I was little. They had flower print just like my shorts and one had big puffed sleeves and soft gathers at the hem so my dress looked like that one sleepy cartoon dog - Droopy is it? - Anyways, I don't know why but I had so many floral print dresses and I hated them all. I swore I would never ever wear dark colored with medium sized contrasting flowers on top clothes... especially dresses. Now here I am wearing a pair of shorts that if they were a dress I would immediately throw into the donate pile. Go figure.

The other day my brother was listening to country music and one of the lines in the song is "sweeter than muscadine wine" How many of y'all know what a muscadine is? Well you won't have to wonder long because I'll tell you. They're summer. They are komorebi (the soft light that turns leaves into glowing fireflies). They're the gentle breeze that sneaks under the thick vines and cools a little girls legs but not her sweaty brow. She is almost completely out of sight under the thick growth, her waist and legs rest in the moist dirt as the rest of her strains reaching up and up, to the very center of the friendly vines where she plucks the very last fruit. She collapses and rests on her elbows that are digging into the soft earth and plops the muscadine into her mouth. She sucks on it and then pulls it out and carefully begins peeling off the skin to reveal the green inside. It matches the glowing leaves. Finally she eats it. Muscadines are the perfect day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


I know I talk a lot about the ways my life has gone wrong, and it may be easy to get the idea that my life was nothing but torture for me, but there were many many good times that I haven't written about yet. It's not that I don't want to its just that the scary parts stand out more than the times that I smiled I guess. Anyways, rest assured, there was a time when I was a very happy little girl and that time is not at all lost upon me.

In many ways I grew up with a normal American childhood. I learned to ride my bike, I was involved with sports from a young age, swimming, baseball, basketball etc. I shared a room with my sister and played Barbies, and of course watched cartoons in the mornings. I loved Mickey Mouse and his friends, and enjoyed watching other classics like the Pink Panther, Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Flintstone's, The Jetson's and Under Dog. Aside from cartoons we watched movies too. We watched old live action movies, CGI, claymations... but honestly, the ones I remember the most would have to be the Disney animations.

One movie Disney is famous for is Cinderella. I don't really know why since they didn't do a particularly good job, but you will have to admit, almost every little girl you will meet will have watched Disney's Cinderella. I of course watched that Cinderella movie too but you may be surprised to know that my fairy tale education did not stop with one multi-million dollar company's interpretation of said stories. Mom bought different versions of different fairytales and we watched them all. We had books too of course (like Grimm's) but I remember the movies the most. My absolute favorite fairytale movie was one live action Cinderella movie where the step sisters were hideous, cruel, pale red heads and Cinderella was a breathtakingly gorgeous black girl with a beautiful, vivid, dazzling blue dress. I remember watching that movie twice over in the same night one time! I loved it so much and I loved her. It's been years since I have watched that version of Cinderella. I have no idea who the actor was or what the name of the movie was. Even better, one time my parents took me to see a Cinderella play!