Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I remember back in 2006 when we were experiencing our first Mississippi summer, I asked a friend, "When does it cool down around here?" She said, "Well, in September it usually starts getting back down into the 60s at night. It'll still be warm during the day, but at night it is cooler." She was right. And her prophesy has proved accurate each and every year since. This year, thanks to Tropical Storm Lee which came in during the 1st week in September, it cooled off and has stayed that way:) You know, cooling off means 60s at night and mid (sometimes upper) 80s during the day but it is far superior to upper 70s during the night and upper 90s during the day with 80% humidity. I enjoy Autumn.

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

Turning the Page

So apparently, I decided not to blog all summer. I found myself being a little surprised by that BUT, it's mostly because it takes me quite a bit of time/thought/energy to blog. With my 3 kids home all summer, I found it difficult to prioritize that much uninterrupted computer time. (That's a nice way of saying that my kids interrupt me quite frequently)

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

Our May=Ready for Summer

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.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hurry Up Sunday

Today is Good Friday. I am so glad to be free from school schedules today. It's nice that our kids are out for Good Friday and not some secular-coated spring holiday. Around here, it's Good Friday. Everyone knows it's a holy day...or it's supposed to be.

I am feeling weighed down by the Act; by what I believe happened today all those many years ago. Last year was the first time I ever gave up something for Lent. It was coffee. Not super self-sacrificing or anything. But I do enjoy my coffee and it did mean something to me to give it up; to focus on what Christ gave up...for me. This year, I didn't give up something. It seemed somehow flat to do the same thing again. I thought of not eating sugar or desserts or meat or something like that but I know secretly I would hope to be losing weight as a result of abstaining from that stuff for 40 days. It seems wrong to me to use Lent to lose weight.

I am not a reflective person by nature. It takes effort for me to actually look 'into' what something is or means or seems instead of just going with my initial reaction. I realize I need to work on this but am coming to the realization that I lack the tools to do that.

I am reading a little book by Lauren Winner called The Mudhouse Sabbath. I am just about to be finished with it. I read her book Girl Meets God a few years ago when she was the keynote speaker at the ZOE conference. I appreciate her writing and her thoughts. I appreciate that she's my age and thus not so far removed from the the experiences I've had. She grew up Jewish and then converted to Christianity in her 20s I think. She attends an Episcopalian church in Charlotte, NC. She is a reflective person. She ponders and studies and researches and writes. I am grateful for people like her who provide tools for people like me. I think I may get myself a prayer book.

I keep thinking about Jesus' friends on today. He was gone; taken. I can't imagine the not knowing. I can't imagine knowing that he most likely wasn't coming back to them and feeling like, "Now what?" They don't know about Sunday and what will happen. He's just gone; out of their reach.

But I do know about Sunday and I can't wait for it's arrival. Last year, I woke up with this thought, "He's risen! He's alive!" I had set my coffee maker the night before and I got up to the smell of a fresh pot. I fixed myself a cup, got my bible and went and sat on the patio at the table and read all 4 Gospel accounts of the crucifixion and Resurrection. I love John's. I love when it tells of the women going to the tomb and Mary is crying and Jesus comes to her and asks her why. I picture her as looking at the ground, trying to hide her tears from who she thinks is a stranger. And Jesus says, "Mary." Just her name. I imagine him saying it with emotion, like, "Mary...look at me." But he doesn't even get that far. When he says her name, she knows. He's alive! He's risen! He's here. Mary hurries back to tell the others. Can you imagine being one of only a couple of people who knew that this had happened? It might be like knowing you had picked the winning numbers for the lottery and as soon as you confirmed you're the winner, it'd be all over the news. But for now, the knowledge is your own.

I'm not an expert so I don't know how many Christians are in the world and how many non-Christians know, in an academic way, that this guy named Jesus supposedly rose from the dead on Easter. But my guess is, there's a lot of folks that know this. Or at least know about it. I can't imagine when that wasn't the case, when it was just Mary and her friends, until they told and Jesus showed up all over the place to lots of people.

So now it's been thousands of years. I've been alive 35 of them, and I'm still learning how to reflect on Easter. It does take effort. But He says my name. "Dixie..look at me." And I know he is here. He always will be.

Hurry up Sunday.

this is my garden and all the daisies that make me happy

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


In April of 2003, my youngest niece, Carmen, was born. We lived in Augusta, GA and they (Eric's sister, Dawn, her husband, Brad and my oldest niece, Audra) lived in Florence, AL. We visited often while we lived there but when I got the call from Brad that Dawn had gone into labor, I took Isaac (who was about 15 months old) and set out by myself for their house. The plan was that I would stay at their house and take care of Audra while they were in the hospital and then help for a day or 2 after they came home. I think that my mother-in-law was sick at the time and couldn't be around a newborn. That's why I got to go:) Anyway, that whole experience was wonderful. We arrived at the hospital just a few hours after Carmen had been born. It was so neat to see Audra (almost 3) and Isaac love on the tiny baby. One of the most wonderful things I remember was fixing Audra's hair in braids and pony tails; things I hadn't gotten to do as a mother yet. Anyway, fast forward 5 weeks and we were back at home. I got a call in the very early hours of the morning from Dawn. With a teary voice she said,"I have a very sick baby." Carmen had somehow contracted meningitis. I don't remember all the details but I remember her telling me that her white blood count was really high. My comment was how amazing, that this little tiny body is doing exactly what it's supposed to---what a grown up body does---in the face of infection. Carmen came through and recovered and has been a joy to watch grow and mature. She'll be 8 in a couple of weeks!

Here's Carmen and Audra then

Here's Jaylie and Carmen this past Thanksgiving

You may be wondering how this post, so far, can have much to do with bodies, which is what this post is titled. Well, I'm getting there. Or at least, I'm trying to.

I have had brief stints with exercise in my childbearing life. You see, it may surprise you to know that I didn't always look like a mother of 3, but used to have a more petite figure! I never really had to exercise. But then, as with most people I know, you get married, have kids (gaining and losing a ton of weight in the process) and then YIKES! before you know it, you're in your mid-30s and you sorta don't really look like you used to and losing weight is not easy. I don't know about you, sweet reader, but I go through phases of being fine with how I look and then really being sick to death of how I look. I don't really expect to ever look like I did (or even weigh what I did) before I was a mother of 3. After all, I was 24 when I had Isaac and let's face it, having kids changes so much about you, not just what your body looks like. So, yeah, although I would really like to someday have a slightly smaller jean size and also a smaller number on the scale, I'm not after reclaiming my high school size 4 prom dress. Those days are gone forever...and I'm fine with that...really...

Lots of you know that I have started running this year. I've started to run in the past but never for this long, with this much success and with this good of an attitude. I ran 3.26 miles on Monday this week. That's the farthest I've ever run. As in ever. It took me a solid 40 minutes which is pretty darn slow if you ask me but you know what they say about slow and steady winning the race. I'm running a 5K at Isaac's school in 2 weeks. I'm not expecting to win it (especially when I know people can walk about as fast as I run!) but this will be a major milestone, both mentally and physically.

Back to the bodies thing though. I have been amazed at my body. (How many times have you said that about your body?) What amazes me is that what I used to not be able to do (run a mile without stopping, run for 10 minutes without stopping, run for 20, 30 minutes, 2,3, miles) I can now do. Conditioning, or training is what you call it, I guess. (You can tell I'm not an athlete) I used to not do something, and now I can. That's amazing to me. Now, it hasn't made all that much difference on the scales, yet...I think I'm only off about 8 pounds since I started in January. But I know I'm doing what I should be, and I'll keep doing it and trust that at some point, my metabolism will kick in and help out a bit!

God has made our bodies perfectly and amazingly. From Carmen's white blood cells to my super-soft mother-of-3- tummy---perfect and amazing. Capable of doing things we wouldn't think we could do. I'm fully aware that David said it much better than me in Psalm 139:

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

But then again, I doubt David ever had squishy abs.

Enjoy the rest of the week!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Half a Decade

This past weekend was rather momentous for the Livingston family. (Mostly for me because I'm the one who keeps track of things like this) It was the 5 year anniversary of our arrival in MS, this house, Meadowbrook and full time ministry. As many--or most of you--probably know, I moved around all the time as a kid and even the first 10 years of our marriage was pretty transient. This address is by far the longest one I have ever had...EVER in my life (and I'm getting pretty old) Jaylie just turned 5 and a half, Ethan will be 7 in May and Isaac turned 10 in December. Subtract 5 from their ages and you'll see that this house is pretty much the only one my littlest ones know of. This house was Isaac's 5th one when we moved here; he was 5 then. Meadowbrook is the only church they have really known. Jaylie learned how to walk in this living room. Isaac learned how to tie his shoes in this kitchen. Ethan learned how to play Mario Kart in this house. I've become a runner in this neighborhood. Eric has become a vessel used by God to serve others in this community...

Thank you so much to those of you who have loved us and our kids so much. Thank you for allowing us to be here to serve with you. We couldn't ask for more.

And Mom and Dad, your own 5 year anniversary is coming up in May. Thank you for coming with us, for loving us more than TX. Isaac and Ethan and Jaylie have no idea what life is like without you. That is a gift that is immeasurable. And thanks is really not enough. I do love you so much.

So this is what roots feel like :)

Blessings to you


Saturday, January 22, 2011


You know how, before you have kids, you glean a lot of info from your friends that do have kids? Well, one of the things that really stuck came from my first friend who I knew before they had kids, knew all through her pregnancy, and then got to hold their baby in those first few months of early parenting. This was all back before the Air Force when Eric and I were very young and rather newly married. We were blessed with a core group of other young married friends at church; most of them weren't quite as young as we were.

Anyway, after these friends had moved away and we were in the Air Force and living in GA and Isaac was tiny, I remember talking to my good friend. (Her name's Joanna, btw) By this time, they had added twins to their family. In our phone conversation, she was talking about Rest Time at their house. I remember her saying,"As long as their are children in my house, there will be Rest Time." or something like that. I really took this to heart. At the time I had only one child, and he did NOT like to sleep (still doesn't). He was never a good napper and maybe that's why I grabbed onto the idea of a Rest Time. I also recalled my Grandmother telling me, when I was very young staying with her, "You don't have to sleep. Just lay there and rest." Joanna's rule in her house seemed to have some good footing, in my opinion.

As if my Grandmother wasn't enough, I learned at a ZOE conference a few years ago more about Sabbath than I had known before. I'm not just talking about the resting on the 7th day that the LORD commanded in the bible. Having a day for rest and worship is so important, He commanded His people observe it. Because our family values that, we try to limit our extra activities on Sunday. Beyond worship and sometimes a meal with friends, our family tries to mostly stay at home -- resting, playing games, being outside. What Rest Time is at our house is a daily Sabbath.

Back to one of Joanna's comments, "It's important for my kids to be able to be alone and to be quiet for a while." Being alone was so important, she made her twin boys have rest time in different rooms. I used to hate being alone. I am a pretty extroverted person and enjoy people and the energy that conversation and company gives me. But through our Rest Times, I have learned to treasure the quiet solitary moments I have. Rest Time lasts for about an hour at our house. When Eric is at work and the boys are at school, I still make Jaylie go rest in her room for a bit. A lot of times, she will go to sleep. Other days she just reads or plays with small toys on her bed. I use my hour to read (sometimes for fun, sometimes the Bible), to write in my prayer journal, to catch up on small things I am behind on (this isn't very restful, but makes for a smoother evening). Most days I do actually lay down on my bed. I have a pretty good view of our backyard and I like to watch the birds and squirrels and the trees in the wind (when we have some) I have also been known to have a little nap (luxury of luxuries!)

I have held to a daily schedule that includes REST for far longer than most of my friends. Perhaps it is because I have come to need it so much. I do notice a difference in my patience level when I have not stopped and slowed down for a little bit. I'm sure Eric and the kids notice too. I like to think of Rest Time as a little Sabbath; a daily Sabbath. It's a little time to stop and rest knowing the the LORD is taking care of whatever it is I'm NOT doing at the time. It's an acknowledgment of my place in His plan. He's got this. I can rest for a bit. And I find myself renewed and ready for the remainder of the day.

I really hope that my kids will leave our home rested, not rushed or hurried. I hope that they will take time to rest as they enter adulthood and not cram every minute full of activity and noise. God's voice is small and hushed sometimes. I hope that they can lean on Rest Time and learn to hear the voice of their Maker once their lives are busy and full of adult things. This is one habit I hope they will take with them.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Poetry II

The first one was kind of long. Here's a shorter one. Who doesn't love Shakespeare?

From Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, 1596.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.

Friday, January 7, 2011


I am not a poet but I do appreciate poetry. I tend to like poetry that rhymes and has a good meter. I thought I'd post a few of my favorites over the next few days. Tell me what you think.

The Eternal Goodness by John Greenleaf Whittier

O Friends! with whom my feet have trod
The quiet aisles of prayer,
Glad witness to your zeal for God
And love of man I bear.

I trace your lines of argument;
Your logic linked and strong
I weigh as one who dreads dissent,
And fears a doubt as wrong.

But still my human hands are weak
To hold your iron creeds:
Against the words ye bid me speak
My heart within me pleads.

Who fathoms the Eternal Thought?
Who talks of scheme and plan?
The Lord is God! He needeth not
The poor device of man.

I walk with bare, hushed feet the ground
Ye tread with boldness shod;
I dare not fix with mete and bound
The love and power of God.

Ye praise His justice; even such
His pitying love I deem:
Ye seek a king; I fain would touch
The robe that hath no seam.

Ye see the curse which overbroods
A world of pain and loss;
I hear our Lord`s beatitudes
And prayer upon the cross.

More than your schoolmen teach, within
Myself, alas! I know:
Too dark ye cannot paint the sin,
Too small the merit show.

I bow my forehead to the dust,
I veil mine eyes for shame,
And urge, in trembling self-distrust,
A prayer without a claim.

I see the wrong that round me lies,
I feel the guilt within;
I hear, with groan and travail-cries,
The world confess its sin.

Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed trust my spirit clings;
I know that God is good!

Not mine to look where cherubim
And seraphs may not see,
But nothing can be good in Him
Which evil is in me.

The wrong that pains my soul below
I dare not throne above,
I know not of His hate, - I know
His goodness and His love.

I dimly guess from blessings known
Of greater out of sight,
And, with the chastened Psalmist, own
His judgments too are right.

I long for household voices gone.
For vanished smiles I long,
But God hath led my dear ones on,
And He can do no wrong.

I know not what the future hath
Of marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death
His mercy underlies.

And if my heart and flesh are weak
To bear an untried pain,
The bruised reed He will not break,
But strengthen and sustain.

No offering of my own I have,
Nor works my faith to prove;
I can but give the gifts He gave,
And plead His love for love.

And so beside the Silent Sea
I wait the muffled oar;
No harm from Him can come to me
On ocean or on shore.

I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.

O brothers! if my faith is vain,
If hopes like these betray,
Pray for me that my feet may gain
The sure and safer way.

And Thou, O Lord! by whom are seen
Thy creatures as they be,
Forgive me if too close I lean
My human heart on Thee!