Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Volusia Fair 2012 -

November 7th, Emily and Ben (and Georgia and Mr. and Mrs. Case) went to the Volusia Fair to celebrate Ben's birthday. And I went too! :) We kept the tradition from the year before, exactly to the day, Nov. 7th of last year, just 12 days before the wedding! Yes, we were kind of crazy. 

I remember watching them standing in lines, holding hands and hugging and thinking it was the sweetest thing I'd ever seen. And I got a reminder of how cute it was, because it was the same this year. Except their babe - Miss. Georgia was Moby wrapped to Mrs. Case, and they had been married almost a year. CRAZY. 

It was SO cold last year. And it was SO cold this year. haha. I lost feeling in my nose and ears after awhile. I had 3 layers on, leather gloves, and my hoodie pulled up, and 2 pairs of socks on. When I drove home, I had the heat blasting. hahaha. We had such a great time, though. 

It was so special being there with them, and getting to talk to Mrs. Case one on one again! I'd really missed that. It got tiring to keep pulling my gloves off and get the camera out, so I didn't take too many pictures, but I got a few. 

Ben & Emily on that ride that never should have been invented. Now is it just me, or do they look like they are surrounded by a Shaun White on either side? 

Okay. Now look at this. Look at the guy's face on Emily's side. It makes me laugh so hard. HAHahaha! 

Fair Bokeh. Mmmmm. 

When they got off that insane ride, I stayed perfectly where I had been standing for the past 10 freezing minutes, and waved them over to where I was. Because I knew where I was. I was right where I had taken this picture last year. And I thought it would be cool if we got the same shot. :)

Seriously. AWW. 

The light was just as hard to manage as it was last year. haha. 

I had memorized the picture before I left, so I would know what it looked like, and had Ben switch sides with Emily, and got closer up. This is November 7th, 2012. 

and this is a year ago, November 7th, 2011. Pretty cool, huh?? Almost exactly the same shot. ;) 

 That was worth not getting to ride the carousel for. Believe me. I was sooooooo happy. hahahahaa.

Emily might kill me. Not like I care. hahaha. jk. But I walked behind them, and she kept turning around all night to make sure I was still with them and had not gotten left behind/lost/fallen over/any scenario you can think of that would require her needing notice of it involving me.

And so she would twist around, and I took a picture, and we were like "Wow, you need to work on that model turn. Because that was AWKWARD." HAHHAhahahahaa!!!

This is one of my favorite pictures I've taken. EVER. Ever ever ever. I love it. This is the one I would pull out when someone asks me if I can take pictures of love. It looks like this. Hugging in line at the fair to go on stupid crazy rides with your best friend. That's what this is. 

"No Single Riders" .... "No worries, sir. They are married. But you probably shouldn't have let on the rest of the population because they were single. Ok, great. Thanks for the sign." 

She's so adorable. I love her so much. She's so sweet. She's so nice. She's so precious... 

... and now she's going to kill me. Hahahahaa. 

All in all, it was a very sweet, cold, brisk, wonderful, memorable night. And I was blessed to spend it with my bestie and her love. They celebrated their first anniversary on the 19th! Wow!

Love you all; Ben the ridiculously good looking and nice guy who loves Emily so much,
 Emily the stunning, hilarious, sweet and sometimes-dangerous-when-I-am-eating-something-bestie,
and Georgia, who makes my heart melt and rejoice all at the same time.

Thank you for letting me join you on your family night! It was a sweet November!
With love,
~ Jean Marie ~

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

770 days old -

Today Lucy Mae is 770 days old. Perhaps I should have waited until next week, when she would be 777 days old, but hey. I can always do it again. ;) After all, she's one of the cutest subjects I've ever seen!

She was lying on the study bed, which we've been camping out in for the past week and a half, because sister dearest has had a bad cough. She was a little sulky about something this morning, so I plopped her on the bed, and told her to stay. Then the light came streaming in, and I had to take some pictures. ;)

Such a lovey. 770 days old ....

 or 18, 480 hours old ....

or 110 weeks old ....

or 2 years, 1 month and 8 days old.

And I've loved her for 710 of her 770 days. What a joyful and trusty friend she is. I love her so much.

That last pic - she does this with me where if I look at her, she puts her paw on my nose, cheek, mouth, etc, until I talk to her or pay attention to her. It's soooo sweet. And then she gives kisses.

Have a wonderful last week of November!!
~ Jean Marie & Lucy Mae ~ 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 -

Well my Thanksgiving was wonderful. :) How was yours? Here's the video that I put was sooo much easier than uploading all the pictures and sorting them and uploading again to the blog. I love doing this! Especially because I get to add music. Of course, when I went to add music to it today, I agonized for an hour or so because I don't have any Thanksgiving music. What? haha.

So I just put two favorite songs to it, and I love it. :) I'm going to suggest you go watch it on Vimeo, because you can see it HD as well as a LOT bigger than here. Just click the title or "vimeo" down on the right corner of the video. :D

Oh, and two shout-outs of JOY to:
Tricia, whose 20th birthday is tomorrow. I love you, Tricia!! You are so very special to me.
My parents, Ed & Mary Ellen, who celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary yesterday.
 Love you, Momma and Daddy!! Thank you so much for showing me what Biblical, loving marriage is every single day, and for loving and caring for Kimberly and I the best that you can.

With much love,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Kinship with the Pilgrims -

You finally sit down, your heart calming after rushing around all morning to get things ready, and you wait for everyone to settle down for the prayer. You look down the long plank table, and notice the little things that you missed earlier, some sweet girl gathered wildflowers and tucked them near that platter of venison. The little boys are poking each other with sticks and pretending to re-shoot the turkey and roasted birds like little boys do. The breeze wisps in and out through tucked up hair and send delicious smells everywhere from the steaming platters of food. 

Children are eyed with the look to be silent and lay down their toys. They wiggle and squirm, and put foreheads against hands, eyes alight with the promise of feasting and celebrating for several days, of free time and games and playing with friends. Fathers sit next to sons, and daughters sit next to friends, Mothers sweep back hair and wipe hands, and a moment of pause before the prayer causes a quietness to fall. The Indians look on, more of them than of yours, and in their eyes you see an understanding of your loss. They too, have lost, and they too, have served you, taught you, watched this life.

The breeze moves through again, and tears wet your eyes as you look again at those gathered to rejoice.  Your heart breaks all over again. There is an empty spot between those brothers where their older brother sat. Husbands are missing their wives, and children are sitting not quite so quietly without a Mama's hand on their back, loneliness lighting their eyes for brief moments. Children missing fathers, fathers missing children. There are empty places where people should be, your friends who you raised your children with are gone, sisters and their husbands mourning the loss of their babes. 

It has been so hard. Harder maybe than you thought it would be. And you ache for all the families that are missing loved ones today. It's a small group that go to bow their heads in prayer. Tears slip unheeded down your face as you listen, and you hope no one notices. You quietly open your eyes for a brief moment and see you are not the only one. A few children down, a father has crushed his little ones to his sides in a loving embrace, heads huddled together. A mother has pulled her little one onto her lap, and her shoulders shake with emotion. Children have grasped hands with each other instead of folding in prayer, and here and there among the parents are choked back sobs. 

You listen to every word, it resounds inside, and seems to burst in every part of you, as the "Amen" is raised from every pair of lips.
You lift your head, and through the grief, all you can give is praise. 

Because God has preserved you. You know He is taking care of you. He has not led you to this land and to minister to these friends for nothing. He has given you freedom for the very reason you bowed your head. Prayer. Praise. Worship. Eyes alight, you eat the turkey, the corn, the pudding, the fish. You rejoice and you laugh and you love hard. It has been hard, but oh, God has been good

~ A fictional story, as I imagined sitting at that 1st Thanksgiving ~ 

I read the statistics last night, and I think we forget how much hardship those Pilgrims went through before they celebrated their first harvest. "Of the 102 emigrants, forty-five died the first winter and were buried on Cole's Hill. Additional deaths during the first year meant that only 53 people were alive in November of 1621 to celebrate the First Thanksgiving. Of the 18 adult women, 13 died the first winter, while another died in May. Only 4 adult women were alive for the Thanksgiving. 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans."(Wikipedia)

As I read that, and thought about that first sympathetic heart hurt. As I sat at my computer, and closed my eyes; as I imagined myself sitting there with them, I imagined a holy pause in the chaos, a lengthy prayer, and I couldn't imagine that first Thanksgiving without tears. There must have been tears on at least one face as they remembered those they had lost. Missed friends in the celebrations. There would have been tears on mine. I imagine many would have been surprised how much their hearts responded in praise after going through so much suffering. 

But praise was there. Because the Holy Spirit was not silent. 

And this is where I feel a kinship with those first pilgrims. Granted, I have not been out every day in work, tending the crops and learning Indian language and caring for children whose parents have died, or gutting fowl and fish for meals. I haven't been wiping tears from children's eyes as they cry to sleep and I have no answers, and I haven't been hoeing the corn and praying that it is a good harvest. I haven't been in the incredibly cold and terrible winter that caused so many deaths.

I have been to way too many funerals this past summer and fall. I've wept along with friends and family at the loss of their loved ones. I've wept over my own losses. I've spent sleepless nights wondering what the Lord is doing, and how will we all ever survive. My heart breaks at the thought of the missing person at the Thanksgiving table, the missing laughter and jokes, the missing hugs and the missing person in the family picture.

I usually hold back tears during the Thanksgiving prayer. My voice usually catches and breaks when singing the Doxology. I hold hands much tighter in prayer, and I usually sneak a peek to save the memory. The Thanksgiving prayer is usually long, and my mind usually plays flashbacks of past Thanksgivings while I try to savor every word.

I've looked forward to Thanksgiving more this year than past years. Yesterday I realized for the first time that the places in my heart that have fallen quiet have produced something unexpected - Thankfulness. This came as a wonderful shock. :) I have learned a long time ago not to push thankfulness, but to rejoice in the Lord I love, and thankfulness will come. This doesn't mean I'm not overwhelmed with sorrow, but it does mean that when I think of Avery, I whisper a "Thank you, Lord.", that I was so blessed to love him and hold him in my arms.

Thankfulness spills over in the places where Georgia and David and Henry have stolen my heart, it sings with a fervent joy in those places, it is unbounded in the ways the Lord has moved and worked with many situations and friends, and I'm constantly thankful for my family and friends and their families and friends.

But it is in the quiet places that it is the sweetest to find thankfulness. To find joy. 

Because it was once a place that I deemed so quiet that even my own heart could not understand the dark. It is ... one of the sweetest gifts I have ever received. And it is something that I turn to give to the Lord. He gave me a gift that I will give back to Him.

Praise is here. Because the Holy Spirit has not been silent.

I too, have loved ones buried on hills.
I too, bow my head in worship.
I too, raise it again in thankfulness.

This life is so hard. Harder than I ever dreamed. But oh, God has been so good.

As you bow your heads in prayer and thanks, remember the families among you that for this Thanksgiving, it is their first without their loved one. Please keep them in your prayers, as well as the families for whom it is not the first, but the third, or the 5th, or the 13th.

With much love to you all -
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Jamboree Days 2012 Day 2 -

Hey y'all! So this is fun - here's the second day of the Barberville Jamboree Days!! :) 

I actually whipped through these pictures a whole lot faster than the 1st day, probably because I always take more the 1st day because I don't want to miss anything. I was also under pressure (the loving kind) from Miss. Becs who couldn't make it, but still wanted to see photos. :) haha.

Our "gang" kind of looks at these Barberville events as holidays, and believe me, when you look forward to something all year, it's like Christmas.....there and gone in 48 hours. :) Worth every minute of it though. And it was sweet! What I just realized is that because Christmas is coming is the Christmas event at the Settlement! December 8th is "Florida Christmas Remembered." So if you couldn't make it to the Jamboree, then maybe you can make it to that! :)

Ok, on to pictures....which, I feel like I really should put a disclaimer up here that says I was seriously in need of some Jean Marie & David time, one on one. I've missed him so much, and I'm not sure how it happened, but I think I spent more time with him and Tricia than anyone else there. Which is more than great, because they are two of my most favorite people. :) Anyways, he's adorable, so you can stand it. haha.

So the 4th was a Sunday, and I went to church, and my sweet Momma taught my Sunday School class for me so I could get on the road and have an extra hour at Barberville. When I got there,  I was....starving. haha. So I snagged a cheeseburger and chips and sat down next to David's pack 'n play as he woke up. I talked to him, and generally just soaked him in. He is such a love.

.... and then we had fun with the camera and I took pictures and all was right with the world. :)

Hello, sweetie.

He adores the camera.....and the strap connected to it. haha. 

Poor baby had a skeeter bite on his forehead, but he was perfectly happy. :) 

I'm in love. 

Those little fingers. 

Om nom nom nom nom.....


Those eyelashes. (notice his grip on the camera strap. haha)

Standing up, can you believe it?!! 

Up on those toes. :) 

The Bowens were working hard grilling hamburgers and running the food station. They've done this for a few years now, and they are so sweet to do it, thanks y'all!! Bowens are the best. 

Sitting under the old living oaks with all that Spanish moss, listening to oldies by the Gaffney Brothers.....on the most uncomfortable benches ever created by humankind. 

Old Glory.

Susanna and Little Bit explain how they have a Fire Helmet and I don't. Sweeties. 

Gabi's ice cream (on left) and Abi's (on right) - looks amazing, right? Tastes just as good as it looks too!!

Aaron found a ring on the grounds .... aaand we turned into Hobbits. "One ring to rule all rings!!" It just looks so much like that with how he's holding it. I was *this* close to editing it that way. ;) Every time I think about The Hobbit coming out in December, my brain turns into scrambled electric wires. haha. 

Shannon and I's own private dirty feet contest. ;) 

The Gaffney Brothers on the Train Depot Stage - I tell you.... they have arraaaaaaaahved. hahaha.

It was a warm day. Warm and sunny! 

Oh, my Florida home,

where pines stand tall and Spanish moss drips from branches

waving in the bright sunshine and gentle breeze,

cradled in the strength of powerful arms of oak. 

Ok. Poetry is over. Here's a lovely banner. 

and here's a quick video of Susanna the Hula Hooper. ;) She's amazing. I thought she might like to watch this.....just ignore my voice. haha.

The schoolhouse

Peacocks. :) peacocks!! YES! In the tree with its Mama. 

Hugs goodbye....the Jamboree ends at such an early hour! We sort of had mini-meltdowns. haha. 
Leah and Abby share a hug. How cute is Leah's dress!!? love it. 

Love this one of Abby and her freckles. She's such a sweetheart. Love you, Abby! 

The bawlin' pot for the corn is drenched to cool down. 

Yeah. It's going to take awhile. 

Can't have Barberville without a picture of Bro Nathan!! :) He makes a hysterical Sid the Sloth voice. 

The Woodshop. Probably the only place at the Settlement that I don't remember taking a picture of. hahaha. 

Where ya' goin'? 

Back to the peacocks. See the adorable young chick? 

They stuck pretty close to their mamas. :) It was so cute seeing them, though! Last time they were in eggs.;)

LOOK. We match. :D Kind of. 

Real life beauty. 

Inside the Settlement house - 

Playing with very little light.....Tricia said this one looks like Cody. :) 

After Barberville closed, I was soooo worn out, and did not want to hit the road like that, so I stuck around and spent time with Tricia and David, and we sat in the car and talked. :)

I love cirrus clouds. 

After awhile, David was getting sooo tired and antsy and sick of the car, so we got out. But super quickly we realized that the mosquitoes had descended like it was the last day on earth, so we hid out in the Fire House. ;) And then.....we put a fire helmet on David. And then we died from the cuteness. :D

Which is why there is a mini-photoshoot of the little dude. Now tell me this isn't adorable! In case you don't know, David's Daddy, Granddaddy, Great-Granddaddy and also his Great-Uncle are all firemen. :) So that just makes it 1,000 times more adorable. :)


Yep. He's super cute. :) 

Love that baby and love that friend. 

sooo cuuuute

*THUD* That was just my heart falling out of my chest. 

Oh my heart. :) 

Tricia and Cody - I know you know this already, but David is so special. I love him. :) Thanks for letting me spend so much time with him! 

And what a way to leave you with smiles!! :) Until next time - have a wonderful weekend!
Much love,
~ Jean Marie ~