another one bites the dust...

oh, 80's songs. thank you for being so perfect. to describe my life...

this is our middle child. waving goodbye to us. after we left him at belmont university a week ago. 

i didn't take many photos. i didn't really want to. some things can't be photographed in a way that truly shows their weight. and i think taking photographs would have made the transition feel heavier than it already felt. so i snapped a few moments on my phone. and those will have to stand for perpetuity. 

it was a beautiful weekend in nashville. a hint of fall. a promise of a new season. 

belmont was just as efficient (if not more so) than when we brought millie for her freshman year. hordes of belmont tshirted co-eds lined the roadways CHEERING as we arrived. even CHANTING maxx's name (once they learned it.) they descended upon our truck and picked it cleaner than a group of hungry piranhas... then quickly climbed three flights of stairs with even the heaviest of boxes and the truck was emptied in 5 minutes flat. i have no doubts that the belmont women's volleyball team will be undefeated this year, as i saw one volleyball player carry maxx's box o' books up the three flights in some kind of stair sprint worthy of olympic glory. 

THANK GOODNESS MAXX PACKED TWO VERSIONS OF THE AENEID. you never know when you'll need to cross reference...

THANK GOODNESS MAXX PACKED TWO VERSIONS OF THE AENEID. you never know when you'll need to cross reference...

everything happened so fast that it is a blur. adam build shelves. and more shelves. and a little bench over some piping (maxx is in the oldest dorm at belmont. and a corner room. which is awesomely HUGE.) i made a target run with maxx and checked off items on our handy dandy college packing list app (oh yeah, there's an app for that.)

it was so comforting to see a devotional book on each student's desk to welcome them to belmont. and how about that university ministries motto...

LOVE GOD & LOVE PEOPLE

IS THIS A GREAT SCHOOL, OR WHAT?!?!?!?!?

maxx and all his boxes (brought up in less than 5 minutes flat) and his RA going over some instructions. i hope his RA (whose room is next door) isn't too jealous of maxx's hair game. this could be bad...

in the end, it all fit into 6 boxes (2 large trunks and 4 plastic bins). plus an accordion. a guitar. and a keyboard. that was it. boys are so much easier to pack for college than girls. and middle children. well, we all know how resilient and easy going we are...

we went to a professional bull riding event with nashville friends. of. course. cause our life = hilariousness. and in some ways it was a perfect metaphor for our life right now. crazy and trying to just hold on to sanity for 8 seconds and score some points.

we matriculated at the matriculation service on sunday morning. i cried when they cited these lines from amazing grace for the students...

Tis Grace hath led me safe thus far.

And Grace will lead me home. 

one more lunch out with our nashville dwellers and then it was time for us to hit the road. and leave them to the mercies of the music city.

all throughout the campus are these belmont flags that state "BELIEF IN SOMETHING GREATER." which is their motto for their 125th year. and it is what drives everything they do as a university. i truly believe that it is this Something Greater that has brought 2 of our children to belmont. we have felt this Something Greater every time we walk on campus, talk to another belmont family, or share with prospective belmont families our belmont stories. i am so grateful for belmont and the opportunities my children are having there and most importantly the Something Greater that is a part of every decision that is made for this university...

on the back of each WELCOME TO BELMONT tshirt worn by the multitude of welcome week co-eds, there was this reference ROMANS 12. so you know i had to spend a little time looking over those verses...

Romans 12 (the message)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

another mom who was dropping her son at vanderbilt that same weekend sent me a photo of her and her boy... and these words "it is well with my soul."

and that was exactly how i felt. it was poignant. it was difficult. but it is well with my soul. 

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” {c.s. lewis}

another lengthy letter/lesson/liturgical liaison from lea...

(this is my yearly Christmas letter at the end of our family Christmas card... it was in a really small font in our letter and some people may find it easier to read in this format...)

as you may have surmised from our Christmas card this year (or if you know our family AT ALL), the marshalls are not a “cookie cutter” family. where everyone likes the same things, does similar activities, whilst sportin’ matching outfits and singing hymns (or broadway songs). that was SO my vision for how this whole family thing was going to go (perhaps too many viewings of “the sound of music”). but i am slowly learning God always does more than we ASK or IMAGINE. together our family runs the spectrum of interests, personalities, and sleep schedules. but because the extroverts still outnumber the introverts we keep sending out these excessively wordy Christmas cards. HOORAY!

another year has FLOWN by... and millie has flown from our nest all the way to belmont university in nashville! she LOVES belmont and nashville. she is home for winter break which makes this momma so happy! and winter break means it is time for another lengthy letter/lesson/liturgical liaison from lea. it’s almost enough to make one give up reading. but thank you to those who haven’t (or those of you who have learned how in the last year) and especially to those who are good at lying and tell me that you read every word of our card (which should be easier this year with all the infographics and so few words. until now...) but i wouldn’t be the lea you know (and hopefully love) if i didn’t use finish up this Christmas collaboration with WORDS...

2013 was the year of LIFT. which like all my yearly goals fell a bit flat. ha. but i do love the process of concentrating on one word for each year. for 2014 i have chosen the word LIGHT. since i don’t remember ANYthing from high school science (or from breakfast this morning),  i did a little study of this thing called LIGHT. turns out the science of LIGHT is at once both obvious and mysterious (just like me), scientists are continually making new discoveries about LIGHT. it is an antinomy (having the appearance of a contradiction) because it functions as both particles and waves.  LIGHT reflects, refracts, and scatters. i think this very accurately describes my life at this point of 47 years. so in the keeping of our infographic theme, i will do a more visual representation of my word of the year and some of my thoughts that come with this ILLUMINATING word...

Transient

REFLECT: to throw or bend back light 

    & also to think deeply or carefully, 

    to express carefully considered thoughts

this year i hope to reflect LIGHT. these days i am so glad there is Good News at Christmas that i don’t have to produce LIGHT myself (can i get an “amen” from my middle age peeps?). i only have to be a (sometimes dim) reflection of the Greater LIGHT that cannot ever be defeated by darkness. isn't it interesting (and encouraging) that the smallest LIGHT defeats darkness...

john 1:5 (the message) 
The LIGHT blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.

psalm 18:28 The Lord, my God,  LIGHTS up my darkness.

isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great LIGHT; on those living in the land of deep darkness a LIGHT has dawned.

 

REFRACT: to make something change direction, from the latin “broken up.” 

refracting LIGHT means that things that enter appearing as disasters can be “broken up” and change direction and be seen as something good. refracting LIGHT means remembering i am always loved and God is always good. j.r.r. tolkien made up a fantastic and perfect word for this... EUCATASTROPHE: combining good (from the greek eu) and destruction (catastrophe). it describes the moment when the tiniest LIGHT of deliverance throws back the darkness. “the sudden joyous turn, not an ending, but the moment we get a glimpse of joy... a gleam of revelation from outside the narrative.” refractive LIGHT changes the direction of my daily catastrophes, my own failures, and the sorrows from this fallen world into something for my good. a reason to be thankful.

 

SCATTER: throw in various random directions, from the old english word “shatter”.

not only is my mind scattered these days, my family is also. everyone off doing their own activities (some in other states.) but scattered light is interesting and beautiful. light scatters only when it hits a rough surface. which gives me hope that even in my imperfection i can be a source of scattering LIGHT...SCATTER & REFRACT both come from words meaning “broken”. i don’t like broken things. yet a seed can only grow once it breaks open. a broken heart becomes a soft heart. we become stronger in our broken places. and broken LIGHT can sometimes give us the best more beautiful way to see the world. 

SCATTER & REFRACT both come from words meaning “broken”. i don’t like broken things. yet a seed can only grow once it breaks open. a broken heart becomes a soft heart. we become stronger in our broken places. and broken LIGHT can sometimes give us the best more beautiful way to see the world. 

THE ELECTROMAGNETIC SPECTRUM

Transient

one of the most striking things i learned regarding LIGHT is that the human eye is only able to detect a small region (visible light) of the sun’s electromagnetic spectrum. if the entire electromagnetic spectrum of LIGHT was the distance from new york to los angeles, this visible range (what we actually see) would be the size of a dime. all the colors, all the beauty that i do see is only a dime sized view of the VASTNESS that is LIGHT. 

so LIGHT is CRAZY huge and most of it we can’t see with these human eyes. i guess that is why this life is such a walk by faith and not sight. i know ALL that invisible LIGHT is there (well, i know it since my google LIGHT search). just like i KNOW that God's LOVE and GOODNESS surrounds me daily. even though i only see small glimpses. and sometimes the daily catastrophes seem to block out that dime sized visible LIGHT. i know that all His promises are answered YES in Christ Jesus. even when i don't see them answered today. this year i want to be quick to look for the good (EU) in daily destruction to find the EUCATASTROPHE. look for the LIGHT that is always there giving me a glimpse behind the scenes knowing there is so much more than my eyes will ever see in this lifetime. 

2 corinthians 4:5-12 (the message) It started when God said, “LIGHT up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with LIGHT as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful. If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at...

 

LIGHT: adj. “gentle, not burdensome” or even “cheerful and entertaining.” 

i love this quote from g.k. chesterton: 

“it is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.”

the heaviness of everyday life and everyday strife weighs me down, and it is so hard to be LIGHT. it takes special effort to be gentle with others and cheerful in these days of a constant blame, shame, and “i have it worse than you” game. i crave this kind of LIGHTness of being and hope to bring it into the spaces where i go everyday and into the lives of the people that God surrounds me with. i hope this card has been cheerful and entertaining. we can be a bit on the self-aggrandizement scale (practice your SAT word skills with that beauty.) it is a marshall trait (maybe just a lea marshall trait). but hopefully it brought a bit of LIGHT heartedness to you and your family.

matthew 11:28-30 (the message)

Are you tired? Worn out?…Come to me. 

Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.

I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 

Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. 

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.

Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and LIGHTly.

one of my favorite books EVER is the tale of despereaux by kate dicamillo. and i will end this LIGHT lesson by quoting the way the book begins...

“Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark.” 

Transient

this world is dark & LIGHT is precious. i hope this season is a season of LIGHT for you. LIGHT reflected. refracted. and scattered. visible LIGHT to see the beauty and the gifts that you have been given and invisible LIGHT that isn’t seen with eyes, but felt deeply in your soul sensing there is something even more deLIGHTful beyond what our eyes can see and our minds can think. may the LIGHT break into your story with Grace and Glory, so that even in a season of catastrophes there is EUCATASTROPHE. there is LIGHT everlasting...

revelation 21: 23-25  Heaven does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it LIGHT, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its LIGHT, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

Transient

there are times...

when you actually see the words of Scripture illustrated in a photo. sent to you on your phone. in the middle of an ordinary day. case in point, this photo... 

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that photo speaks a thousand words. and a thousand promises answered. oh wait, you don't see it? well, it make take a thousand words to explain it... 

here go the words... that is my daughter millie (on the right) and one of my best friends deaver (on the left) having lunch together yesterday in nashville.  simple enough. millie is in college in nashville and deaver lives in nashville, so what is so special about that photo?

well, it came after a rough 36 hours for millie (and deaver too.) millie woke up saturday morning early (like before the crack of noon. WOAH.) feeling horrible. she took her temperature (because i packed a thermometer in her "health and medicine kit", of course) and her temp was 103. she isn't studying to be a dr. but she knew that was bad. she texted me (i was at a cross country meet in georgia with maxx.) no response from her loving mom. so then she called deaver. early on a saturday morning.

deaver dressed and flew out the door and into super hero like action. picking millie up from her dorm. HAVING THE FORETHOUGHT to also take all of millie's laundry AND the sheets plus duvet cover off her bed so they might be washed as well. she took her to a CVS walk in clinic. left her there with a nurse and went to starbucks to get her a favorite drink. came back and the verdict was a sinus infection. antibiotics procured. took her home. tucked her into her daughter's bed (her middle daughter is at UT.) while millie napped, deaver washed, dried, and folded all the laundry and linens. made dinner. kept the medicines coming on schedule. millie woke feeling better but stayed there for the night to really get a good night's sleep. and to hang out with a family for a while.

then yesterday they had lunch, did a little shopping, and back to the dorms went millie. deaver even MADE HER BED. and it is a loft bed. not. easy. yoga moves are involved. up high on a loft. dangerous stuff.

deaver sent me that photo around lunchtime. and i was so grateful that i really didn't think anything beyond how great it was to have a friend in nashville that would drop everything and devote most of her weekend to caring for your daughter. and a daughter that felt so secure with a friend that she would call her early on a saturday morning because she knew she would be cared for. 

then i realized that photo was so similar to a lot of photos that i have of college girls who are not my daughter, but who i love very deeply... 

it reminded me of all the times i ate lunch with a college girl in the past 15 years here in tallahassee. all the times one (or several, or dozens) slept at my house because they were sick, scared, lonely, breaking up, or just wanted to hang out all night...

looking through my photos to find those moments with those college girls was a pleasure. everything i did with them was fun. we poured into their lives and it was never tedious. or boring. or challenging (well, the challenge trips were challenging. hence the name.) it didn't feel like GIVING. it felt like GETTING something great in return. how like God to take our meager offerings to Him, our filthy rags and to change them into something exciting. worthy. enjoyable. to make what we are giving into a gift to us AT THE VERY TIME WE ARE GIVING IT.

and then to RETURN IT LATER AND GREATER in a different form... but in a way that is so recognizable to me that i kept staring at the photo wondering why it looked so familiar. 

ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.

it looked like some crumbs that i had thrown into the water. returning to me. after many days.  

luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

i never poured my life into those college girls because i wanted a return (face it, i don't think past 5 minutes from now. i couldn't ever have imagined that i would one day be the mother of a college girl.) i poured into them because it was exciting. they were energetic. they listened to me (sometimes.) they laughed with me. and at me. they french braided my hair. way past the age when a woman should sport french braided hair. they loved me and shared their lives with me. and i loved (and still love) them and still share lives with them. even though some of them live really far away. 

and i am still so grateful for their presence in my life. 

but today i am grateful for the presence of another older woman pouring into my daughter's life when i am over 400 miles away.  i woman i call friend. and a woman that millie will also call friend. sometimes it is more than we could ever ask or imagine...

ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

so what was i doing all summer...

besides blogging? 

nothing important. or maybe things more important. 

it was millie's last summer home. i know that she will be "home" again next summer (well, i am fairly sure.) but i also remember feeling like my "home" wasn't truly my home anymore once i entered college. my life was at college. home was a respite. relaxing. wonderful. but not where my LIFE was happening.  

so i wanted to soak up our last summer. 

iris krasnow wrote a beautiful book "surrendering to motherhood"  which i read when my children were little. but it is still valid now that they are teenagers. 

When you surrender to that fact then real balance comes, of having your soul and mind and heart in sync. Most accomplished women can go back to rebuilding careers as our kids grow up. We can never go back to the fleeting moment that constitutes our children's childhood. We only get one chance to get it right. And doing it right takes a lot of time. How we choose to spend our time is ultimately our greatest power as human beings.

i can never get her last summer at home back. and i wanted to choose to be with her. not sitting at my computer writing and editing and finding the perfect photo to sum up what i was feeling. i just wanted to feel things without thinking "i should blog about this." 

i was also doing a lot of packing. 

someone sent me this list (which was a good/bad thing. good because it is a GREAT list. bad because i am an over packer and felt like we had to have EVERYthing on that list.) 

The Most Outrageously Thorough, Ridicously Detailed College Shopping List You Will Ever See 

and so i procured almost every item on that list. and maybe some that weren't. we set up a packing room in the living room... complete with stations for different categories of items. and lists. oh, the lists... 

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and if those stations where indications of where this was heading... well, even though we have a suburban it wasn't going to be enough room...

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and if you don't believe that i went overboard on the packing. take this example... the kcups i purchased for her coffee/tea/chai/hot chocolate needs (her roommate has one of those kuerig one cup at a time machines.) 

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truth be told... she did have a lot of bed, bath, and beyond gift cards to use for those kcup purchases. and all the different flavors looked so exciting and delicious.  

during this whole packing process (the entire summer) i went to lunch one day with my dad and i asked him about packing me for college. because I DON'T REMEMBER PACKING ANYTHING FOR COLLEGE. i thought my failing memory might be triggered whilst millie and i were packing and checking items off a list. but NOPE. not a twinge of a memory.  and i don't remember needing ANYthing or lacking for any items once at college. maybe i was on heavy drugs all that summer that wiped away my memories of packing... or maybe there was another explanation...

my dad smiled and said simply, "you didn't pack anything for college. your mom did it all for you." 

then he added, "you went to europe for a month. and hung out with your friends a lot that summer." 

i did remind him that i did have a JOB that summer too. in one of his offices. so i am sure my hours weren't the strictest.... 

so there was my answer. my mom packed everything. i do remember doing some shopping with her and her saying, "oh, this dress is just what a college girl needs!" so i did some of that with millie. during our trips to nashville and through atlanta (including TWO ikea visits. one to look and take notes and one for procurement of items.)  

i hope that millie remembers packing with me. that we checked items off of a list LIKE A BOSS. that we laughed a lot. that i never cried. though i wanted to cry a lot. that i kept reminding her EVERY time she asked me if i was sure she would make friends... if i was sure that she was going to be okay... that EVERY time i told her that she would make GREAT friends. that she was a GREAT person to be friends with. and that i KNEW beyond a shadow of a doubt that she would be better than OKAY. and that on her way to better than okay that she would have plenty of caffeine and kcups. 

she may not remember. and it may be 28 ( give or take a couple of) years from now when she is packing up someone for college that she finally understands and appreciates the summer before she left for college through a mother's eyes. i am only sad that my mom wasn't here to finally get the thank you she so richly deserves...