Friday, June 19, 2015
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
A long time ago I quit mailing Christmas letters and started emailing them instead. Then we moved to MS and decided to add a family year-end video with the emailed Christmas letter. The past 2 years I haven't done either...just didn't, for lots of reasons. BUT I am happy to report that the Livingston Family Year End Video will be posted later today, and here I am, summing up the past year for you. I bet you're breathing easier now, feeling that all is right with the world!
I think everyone we know knows that we made a big move this year from Jackson, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. I have wanted to write about this for some time but just couldn't. It was quite a difficult decision to make and then acting on it was even harder. We've been here 7 months today and I think it is safe to say that I feel like I'm on the downhill side (which is the good side) of the 'transition' way of functioning.
Most of you know that I moved every 3.5-4 years as a kid as my dad was in the Air Force so I am no stranger to a nomadic existence. But we had put roots down in MS, our kids had grown...quite a bit, in that house. They had only been in school with those kids. They had only been loved by that church family. I had grown into a rather busy PTO participant. Eric had matured as a minister with love and care from those at Meadowbrook. Blessings abounded for us in MS. Our family had thrived.
As I walked home from dropping Jaylie at school on the last day in May, I cried and cried. I think what it boils down to, for me, is being willing to stand and acknowledge the ways--all of them, big and small--that we had been blessed in that place. Stand in gratitude and thanksgiving for the path that led us there...and then turn my face to a different path in faith...in the absolute belief that the Lord will do it again for us here, in a new place.
He has. He is now blessing us in our new home here in Middle Tennessee. We're coming off of what may be one of the top 5 Christmases in my book. All of my immediate family were seated around my table(s) last week. Mom and Dad drove a short 17 minute drive from their new house in College Grove for Christmas dinner. Dawn and Brad and my nieces, Audra and Carmen, drove about 15 minutes from their house in Brentwood. Eric's parents drove about 30 minutes from their house in Thompson's Station. My brother Jason came with my folks but he had driven 20 hours to get here from Lubbock the week before! (We're working on a job closer to us once he finishes his dissertation.) So yes, this alone is the blessing I wished for my entire life. To be near grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. I only saw mine once or sometimes twice a year. Now, this has become the reality for my children and I am immensely thankful. But we also had 2 additional people at our Christmas table. These new friends from Otter Creek represent the way the Lord always has people for us to love, and people who will love us, no matter where we are.
So here's what we've been up to:
Isaac has just turned 13 (gasp!) and wears a size 13 (double gasp!) shoe. He's much taller than me and can rest his chin on my head, which I find both endearing and unnerving. He's in 7th grade at Sunset Middle School and is making friends steadily. He's got several school friends who live here in our neighborhood which is a welcome change. He is 1st chair saxophone in the 7th grade band and continues to do well in school academically. He absolutely loves the middle school youth group at church. The OCYG has been a lifeline for him (us) as we transitioned over the summer. David and Susan Knox do a fantastic job and we are so thankful for them both.
Ethan is 9 and in 4th grade. He is a San Antonio Spurs fanatic! As I write this, he is wearing his #21 Spurs T-shirt (Tim Duncan's number) with his Spurs basketball shorts and his Spurs ball cap. He also got 2 Spurs posters for his room. He has plans to be in the NBA as an outside shooter a la Danny Green. He plays basketball every single day. (I am not exaggerating) Ethan also has several school friends right here in the neighborhood. There is always a boy his size to play with. He is doing well in school and has had a bit of a harder time than I expected with all the changes at his new place. Things are definitely smoothing out though and we're looking forward to a happy 2nd semester. There are an abundance of 4th grade boys at church (some even go to school with him!) to hang out with and we're so thankful for that.
Jaylie turned 8 in September and is in 2nd grade. Her age and her social demeanor has made the school transition easiest for her. She has 2nd grade girls from school all over the place in our new neighborhood. Most special is Savannah, whose family (who is awesome and we love them!) goes to Otter Creek with us, and who lives 2 doors down from us. Jaylie can stand on our deck and see Savannah in her back yard. She absolutely loves her teacher and her classmates. She is doing great in school and has fun everyday. Jaylie has lost 4 teeth since we've been here and currently is missing the top 2. No, she didn't get her 2 front teeth for Christmas.
Eric is finding his feet at Otter Creek as the Community Life Minister. Mostly that means that he is the architect of the Life Group ministry and also coordinates the adult ed. ministry as well as all other non-Sunday-morning-worship adult gatherings. So, this is a much different role than he had at Meadowbrook but he is excited by the challenge of it and the goal of it: to connect people to each other as they walk with Christ. Life is easier when it is shared. Eric is also currently coaching both boys basketball teams in the local recreational league. He is sharing that responsibility with a friend from church, and also in the neighborhood and school (love when those circles overlap!) who has boys both our boys' ages. The Hawkins family is a blessing to us.
I am finding my way. I love Otter Creek and the many ways to serve there. It's a bit overwhelming sometimes, but in really good ways. I am starting to participate with the praise team and got to offer my first benediction in Vespers! Eric and I both led the communion time a few weeks ago and that was monumentally meaningful to me. A very new thing for me is willingness (on my part) to serve in the Middle School ministry. I had always believed that I had very little to offer this group of humanity :) But God has opened my eyes to the ways I can speak to them. I have become a Huddle Group leader of 4 absolutely precious 6 grade girls. These girls are not at all what I expected them to be and I'm so glad I was wrong. Turns out, middle schoolers are pretty great and exciting. I went with the Middle School youth group on the fall retreat in November which was awesome. And no, I don't think Isaac minds this at all. He mostly ignores me :) The biggest difference in my new life here is the lack of school involvement. I sincerely miss having that other sphere to function in. That just takes time, though, and I am trying to be patient, and available to the opportunities.
Middle Tennessee is a beautiful place. Hills and hardwood trees, horses and cows (and even 2 zebras on one road we drive!) are everywhere. We have been so thankful for those of you who have stopped in on your way someplace else: the Lynns, the Tollesons, the Partridges, the Hales and the Neills. We do have a guestroom so please let us know if you're ever in the area. Even if it's short notice (right Carrie Partridge?) or just for a short time. All are welcome in our house and at our table.
May Peace and Love find you this year. May you look around you and see, everyday, how you are blessed and loved. You are each a reminder to me that God does great things because He made each of you.
Eric, Dixie, Isaac, Ethan and Jaylie.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
I am going to do this thing that I've known others to do recently and that is to pick one single word to be my 'theme' for the year. I frequently shy away from bandwagons but this one sorta picked me, so I thought I'd go with it.
The Sunday before Christmas was our last week teaching the Middle School class at church. This man that I don't know, on a DVD clip we were watching, read this passage in Isaiah about the LORD as shepherd.
Isaiah 40:11--He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
It was really the part about him gently leading those that have young that spoke directly to me. I have young. He is always gentle with me. Really. Always. He deals with me, make no mistake. But he is gentle.
Monday, January 2, 2012
Loved ones 2011
Well, Christmas is over and I’m just now writing so this is now the New Year Livingston update! I hope everybody had a wonderful time of relaxation, ate lots of junk food, and enjoyed sweet time with family and friends. We have enjoyed ourselves as much as possible with several mostly sick family members and a veritable monsoon that has settled over Mississippi for the past 3 days. I’m ready for sunny skies!
I will attempt to recap our 2011 in a reasonable amount of time. If you know me at all, though, you’ll know I have the gift of gab and that sometimes translates to print. Sorry ‘bout that!
You may recall from last year’s letter that Isaac has been involved in Speed Stacking after being introduced to the sport (yes, it is a sport!) by his PE coach at school. Well, the World Speed Stacking Championship was held in Dallas in April so we decided to take Isaac and let him compete in the open competition that was being held at the same time. It was lots of fun. He did really well for someone who had only been stacking for a couple of months. He came back with a zeal for starting a speed stacking team so with a little help from Eric, Isaac created a Power Point presentation. He pitched the idea to his principal and PE coach at the end of the school year. There are now 2 speed stack clubs at his elementary school: one for 4th graders and one for 5th graders. It’s the highlight of his week. We’ll be having a tournament in Feb. If you’re in the neighborhood, come see! It’s lots of fun to watch. Isaac loves school, has a good group of friends, and is actually looking forward to middle school next year. (I am not, by the way, but I try to maintain a happy face whenever the subject comes up) Isaac has officially attained the height of 5’3”. This is significant because it’s how tall I am. I’m sure he’ll pass me by Spring Break. Sniff, sniff…
Ethan loves life and making folks smile with his dazzling dimples. He is now in 2nd grade and has a wonderful teacher who is absolutely perfect for him. He is playing UPWARD basketball again for the 2nd year in a row and has lots of fun with that. He has been sick for the past 6 weeks or so. Mostly he seems to stay congested in his sinuses but then that causes ear infections which cause him to be miserable. Ethan was on antibiotics for 5 weeks (3 different ones) and while the infection cleared up, the fluid in his ears never went away. This has greatly affected his hearing. According to a hearing test done last week, he has moderate hearing loss in his right ear (typical of one with fluid in there) but severe hearing loss in his left (more than what they expect to see with just fluid). We are so thankful that a sweet friend in our small group from church is also an ENT. She is going to be removing his tonsils and adenoids as well as draining his ears and putting in tubes on January 3rd. Prayers are definitely coveted here. Isaac’s tonsils and adenoids were taken out when he was just a little guy, almost 3. Watching him come out of the anesthesia was not fun. I am hoping that Ethan does beautifully and recovers quickly. Mostly, we want him to stay healthy and be able to hear normally.
Jaylie brought about the biggest milestone for our family in 2011 by starting kindergarten. She was so excited; so ready. I’ll never forget that morning of the first day of school. I was up, fixing breakfast. I heard her door open and her little feet pounding, running across the living room floor. She burst into the kitchen, threw her arms around my legs and said, “Eeeeeeeee!” It was hard to be sad when she was so happy. Her teacher is named Ms. Beasley, which is funny. She is a wonderful first teacher for Jaylie to have and I’m so thankful for her. Jaylie is reading and writing well, which is so awesome. It is so different hearing about a school day from a little girl’s perspective, as opposed to a little boy’s perspective. After 2 years of ballet classes, Jaylie decided to try out gymnastics. We started that in late August. Let’s just say, it didn’t take. She’ll be back in ballet after the new year! I am pleased about this. I was surprised that she didn’t dance at home while she was in gymnastics. It made me a little sad but I never said anything to her. After she said she wasn’t liking gymnastics and we got the ballet stuff worked back out, she dances all the time. There’s just nothing like watching her spontaneously dance because the mood strikes her. It makes my heart happy. Another major thing here lately for her is that she’s stopped sucking her thumb. For someone who has been sucking the same thumb everyday since BEFORE she was born, this was no small feat. The most recent big girl thing she did: pierced ears! She got them pierced just a few days ago. Her hair is now perpetually pulled back into a pony, the better to show off her ears. My little girl…not so little anymore.
Eric is everywhere at Meadowbrook. God continues to expand Eric’s giftedness and show him new ways to use those gifts for the body at Meadowbrook. March 1st marks his 6th anniversary at here which, incidentally, is the same amount of time that he was in the Air Force. It’s so weird to think of it that way. Our family continues to thrive, which is what every parent wants, so we are thankful. Eric is coaching both boys basketball teams this year, which will be fun and crazy. He participated with Isaac at the World Speed Stacking Championship. They entered the Parent/Child doubles event which consisted of Isaac using his left hand and Eric using his right hand as they went through the cycle. It was lots of fun to watch.
I am adjusting to life at home without children to dictate my schedule. It is quite different. For 11 years, while I had a loose schedule, it was more or less dictated by the kids needs (play with me, feed me, make me sleep, help me, hold me, be in the same room with me…) you know how it goes. I truly treasure all of those things and have always been completely and utterly fulfilled having my kids at home. These first few months with Jaylie in school have been quite a change. First of all, I’ve got some commitments that fill my time. I am one of the PTO presidents at Ethan and Jaylie’s school so that right there occupies a great deal of time and energy. I love that though. I love that I can go to their school and see them at work while I am up there contributing my time to help their school experience be the best it can possibly be. I also try to be at Isaac’s school when I can. Next year, I’ll have 3 kids at 3 schools…that makes my head hurt. The other thing is that some of you may not know that I took a part time job at the exact same time that school started. It’s a long story but basically, God is funny and He gives exactly what is needed at the exact right time. I work from home about 8-10 hours a week. I am the Relationship Manager for an online ministry called CrossLink International. www.crosslink.org I do several things but one of the biggest projects I work on is a massive directory of Restoration Movement churches. (So, if you go to a Church of Christ, and Independent Christian Church, or a Disciples of Christ congregation, you can help me out by checking to see if your church’s information is listed in our directory. If it isn’t, you can add it. If it’s out of date, you can update it. Or, you can let me know and I’ll fix it. Thanks!) Anyway, when you combine a couple of hours of work a day with being at school for events and shopping for groceries, doing laundry, running and keeping the house clean…well, let’s just say I’m not sitting at home twiddling my thumbs. Oh yeah, I have become a runner! I ran my first 5K last April which was a major milestone for me. I’ll run another in Feb. I actually like it this time, which hasn’t been the case in the past. I’m hoping to some day have a runner’s body, but right now, I’m just still in awe that I can run for 30 minutes without having a heart attack or something!
We are happily anticipating 2012 because we are headed to Disney World on February 5! This will be the first time our kids have ever been and we are excited! Next year’s Christmas (or New Year’s) letter will no doubt be filled with excerpts from our experience there.
I hope that you enjoyed 2011 and look forward to 2012 with hope and joy. Truly every day is a gift, a miracle in and of itself. Sometimes I struggle to see the miraculous amidst the common drudgery that I allow my life to become. As a new year begins, I feel myself resolving to be intentional about seeking out these daily miracles. I pray that my heart is always open to seeing them. I know that the LORD is always at work. Praise God for that!
Eric, Dixie, Isaac, Ethan and Jaylie Livingston
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The cooler temps in the morning also mean I'm running again. I totally wimped out during the summer. I am just not made of tough enough stuff to get out there in the heat and mug to plod myself around for miles. Nope. Part of why I actually enjoyed running this time (as opposed to other times I've tried---and failed---to become a runner) was being outside. That was completely taken away from about midMay til early Sept. Now it's back, and I'm out.
School is going well for everyone. Jaylie is loving kindergarten. It completely wipes her out but she is having fun and making friends. She's happy to read now (before she hadn't liked to read out loud for me...I think she is very aware of how well her brothers read and didn't want to make mistakes) she's counting by 2's and 5's and 10's. She's pretty proud of herself:)
Ethan is loving 2nd grade. His teacher is such a blessing. She is kind and sweet and gentle. Ethan has great friends in his class; some that he's had for a few years now, which is pretty lucky. He continues to be a great reader and speller. He dislikes memorizing math facts but does well regardless.
Isaac continues to enjoy school. He is already looking forward to middle school next year. I, on the other hand, have dreaded middles school since he started kinder. But the school he'll be going to has a lot of things to offer a kid like him (primarily a radio and technology club) that he's excited about. He and Ethan are going to be playing UPWARD basketball again this fall.
I have recently been collecting data from moms who've had kids at school for longer than me to see how they manage their day! I am finding that I am trying to do bits of everything everyday and therefor not making any progress on anything! So, I'm in the process of formulating a schedule for myself so that I can spend my time more efficiently. Work in progress!
I hope you are all enjoying a change of seasons. I am really looking forward to Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas. I just love this time of year.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Our summer was great. We got to see Brad and Dawn and their girls each month, which is unprecedented, but made the kids really happy. We made a trip to Nashville over the 4th and to the beach last week. Eric and Isaac went to camp. We made regular trips to the library to keep the kids reading. Each kid got to stay the night with my parents once a week all summer; they enjoyed the one-on-one time with them. All in all, it was a very relaxing summer. Not too harried. Extremely hot but you know, we live in the South...
Now school has started. Tuesday, Aug. 9 was everyone's first day. Jaylie has been super excited about kindergarten ever since she got her shots behind her back in May. Ethan has been ready for school for quite some time and even Isaac was ready to go back several weeks ago. He said he wasn't missing the work, but he was missing his friends.
The big question I've had is,"How are you doing with Jaylie at school now?" followed quickly by,"What are you going to do all day?" Indeed, that was sorta what Ethan asked me Monday night as I was saying good night to him. "Mom, you'll be all alone here. What are you going to do?" Bless him. I told him that I'd be at school a lot (I'm a PTO president now, after all) and I would still have my house work to do (laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, etc) and that I hoped to have all that done before they came home from school so that when the get home, all I have to 'do' is fix supper. Ethan kinda lit up after that when he realized that I'd be free to play games and stuff. I always like to play with them, but up til now, it has meant that I don't do something that I feel like needs to be done, because I want to be available to the kids. Which leads me to the thrust of this post...
Tuesday marked the end of an era for me. For 11 years, I have stayed home, bound by nap times and meal times, tethered by my kids' needs which are usually (as in always) more urgent than mine. Now, I set out to discover who I am without those bonds. 'Bonds' sounds so negative. 'Constraints' isn't the right word either. It is accurate, but not at all negative. I have been absolutely, totally and utterly fulfilled staying home with my kids. It's one of those things that has gone according to plan, praise the Lord. Eric and I knew we wanted me to stay home. We were blessed that Isaac arrived when he did to allow that. We have been blessed for these 11 years to have a salary for Eric that didn't necessitate my working at all (as in, getting paid) to make our ends meet. We put a very high priority on living with one income because we valued my staying home. I am so glad that Eric has always valued what I do.
I told a sweet friend yesterday that I feel like I've done a good job. That's not meant to sound like a boast. I don't have regrets about how I've spent my time with my kids. I feel like I have done a good job preparing them for school. I think that's evidenced in their excitement for starting back. There have been some choked back tears for me. As I told Jaylie goodnight on Monday, I had to try not to boo-hoo at her. There's an element of disbelief that she can possibly be 'school-aged'. Time flies.
But it is hard to be sad in the face of such joy and excitement. Our little school where Jaylie is is such a sweet place. I know all the teachers and staff there. I can be there as often as I like. It is populated with lots of folks I go to church with, that Jaylie and Ethan have known for most of their lives. It is a good place.
So far, this sounds so final. As if I'm done with the raising of my kids! Yikes, I would be sad about that! I guess I am just recognizing that I am moving into a new phase. When I was pregnant with Jaylie, I knew--absolutely--that she would be my last baby. After all, with the very rare exception (think, Duggar family with 19 kids) there is a finite number of kids a woman can have. With women who have c-sections (like me) there's a limited number of times you can be cut open. Knowing she was my last made it not so hard when lots of my friends were having subsequent babies. Accepting the end of my 'child-bearing' years made me embrace 'child-rearing' years. Alot of prayer goes into these phase-shifts for me. I appreciate the way God works in preparing my heart for the new adventures that await me in the new phase.
I titled this post, Turning the Page. I feel very much like that. I am moving into a different part of my story. This part isn't as familiar. It's going to take some getting used to. But lucky for me, I like to re-read my favorite books a lot. (seriously, I read them a LOT) So armed with my giant logs of not-so-wonderfully-taken photos, I will be able to look back again and again rejoicing in my story this far. Praising the Author for the beauty of it. And anticipating what awaits in the new chapter. It will be good.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Well, since it's been a whole month since my last post, I guess it's ok for me to be making a new one. I don't want to overwhelm y'all with too many, you know.
This is the last week of school and I am so ready to delete the 6am alarm on my phone. I thought I'd recap our May and it might give you an idea as to why I am so excited about summer!
After Easter weekend Eric left for a conference in Atlanta and I got sick. (It's always nice to get sick the day your husband leaves town. My kids watched a bunch of TV that week.) This was the 2nd Atlanta conference in a month for Eric, but the 4th weekend in a row away when you count our speedstack trip to Dallas and his spontaneous trip to Memphis to see a Spurs playoff game. The following week was teacher appreciation week at school, which included sending happies with both boys for their teachers and eating lunch at school with Ethan. Field Day rounded out that week, which was lots of fun. We also got a new roof that week; we're still finding nails around our house! Then came our neighborhood garage sale and small group, Mother's Day, Ethan's actual Birthday on Monday, state testing for Isaac Tuesday-Thursday, Ethan's birthday party/movie trip for him and some friends and the arrival of Eric's parents that Friday. Jaylie's ballet recital was Saturday and then Small Group was here at our house that night. Eric's parents left last Sunday afternoon and we are so happy they can make quick trips for big celebrations like birthdays and recitals. The kids love having them participate in their milestones. Last week was much more laid back with just Ethan's 7 year old check up and Jaylie's kindergarten shots... bless her. One more thing of note last week was that Isaac prepared a powerpoint presentation for his principal and PE coach. Eric went with him as he pitched the idea for a cup-stacking club at his school for next year. I'll keep you posted as that develops :)
Now, finally, the school year is almost over. The last week of school is always such a crazy time. Sort of like finding an excuse to send them when you know they aren't doing too much. But I remember as a kid loving the last week. Cleaning out desks and playing games and watching movies...kinda like a long playdate before not seeing your friends for a long while. Eric's sister and her family are coming on Friday for a long visit. It will be nice to have them and the girls here. My kids love their cousins. This weekend is Memorial day so we have a cookout with our small group and a wedding and....
Enjoy your summer. There are some things I'm mulling that I'll most likely post about soon.
Here's a couple of pics from the past couple of weeks.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that my parents got a new puppy 2 weeks ago. His name is Bevo and the kids adore having a puppy to play with. Here is Ethan watching the world go by with Bevo one day after school.