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...



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}

how to draw near...

in light of my last post this quote by clive staples seems most appropriate... (is there EVER a time when a clive staples quote does not seem appropriate? i have not found that time yet...)

We shall draw nearer to God not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in our lives, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it. 
—C.S. Lewis 


trying to accept and offer all that is broken in my life to Him. so be it..


i have been doing a little light reading of aristotle. NERD ALERT. NERD ALERT. 


i like aristotle. this isn't a valentine's day confession. but as far as dead philosopher's go, he is one of my favorites.

i have been reading about the four cardinal ("cardo" means "hinge" in latin) virtues espoused by aristotle (and his teacher, plato). and by "reading about" i really mean "bemoaning over the lack of these in my life"...

and for those of you who aren't reading aristotle (or weren't even aware that he was a dead philosopher) the four cardinal virtues are...

prudence- able to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time, this one is the BIGGIE! knowing what to do... then the other virtues help you to carry out what you know to be wise actions. 

justice - the perpetual and constant will of rendering to each one what they deserve. this virtue is the only one directed specifically at others. it is the perfect mediation between selfishness and selflessness.

temperance or restraint - practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation; tempering the appetite. this virtue is directed inward.

fortitude or courage - forbearance, endurance, and ability to confront fear, uncertainty and intimidation, the "mean" (middle area) between rashness and cowardice. the "sweet spot" as you will. this virtue is directed toward difficult situations

aristotle's big thing (if i am interpreting him correctly) is that a virtue becomes TRULY virtuous when we have done it so much that it is a habit. when we do it without thinking about why we are doing, or if it is the right thing, or what we will gain, or lose, or how hard it is... but when we just do it. over and over and over.


c.s. lewis has a lot to say about virtue in the screwtape letters. and i thought of this quote by him when i was reading about courage...

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality. ” {c.s. lewis, the screwtape letters}

and i was thinking about that today when i saw this quote as my quote of the day in my inbox (see this is all going somewhere...)

“Optimism is true moral courage.” {ernest shackleton}

b.t.w. ernest shackleton was one of the great antarctic explorers. i knew this because rosie had to do a research paper on antarctic explorers once and we rented a movie about matthew henson, a great and unsung african american arctic explorer. the movie, glory and honor, was a fantastic and riveting true tale of exploration and courage and dsicovery and freezing temperatures until this one SEX SCENE stuck in there right smack dab in the middle of all that exploration and discovery. so i am fully versed on antarctic exploration. and fast forwarding rapidly through surprise sex scenes. thank you.

when i read that quote from ernest (who knew a thing or two about courage)  i thought about aristotle and i thought about cs lewis and i thought about virtue... because i have not been optimistic as of late. i have been pessimistic. a paragon of pessimism, if you like alliteration. which i definitely do like. a lot.

you should all be glad that i didn't blog last week whilst hopelessly adrift in this "blue fog of pessimism." it would have gone like this...

whine whine. we are all going to die. whine whine. especially me. whine whine. and maybe you too.

perhaps i should avoid blogging (or you should avoid reading my blog) during one week every month. not so veiled euphemism there...

any way. i have decided that i need to be more courageous. aristotle would want that of me. c.s. lewis will want that in a neighbor (of course i do understand that by the time i am his neighbor i will be perfectly virtuous. but it won't hurt to practice it now.)

optimism is true moral courage. to choose it first. automatically. not to travel down the road of "what if's". 

i have always loved this quote by carolyn mahaney...

A woman came up to me at a party last week, and after we chatted for a minute, she said: “My friend told me about something she heard you say once, and I wondered if it was true.”

I knew where she was going. I get this question with curious regularity.

“Did you say that your biggest regret as a mother was that you didn’t trust God more?”

Yes, I told her, it’s true. I wish I had trusted God more.

As I wrote in our book Girl Talk:

“For every fearful peek into the future, I wish I had looked to Christ instead. For each imaginary trouble conjured up, I wish I had recalled the specific, unfailing faithfulness of God. In place of dismay and dread, I wish I had exhibited hope and joy. I wish I had approached mothering like the preacher Charles Spurgeon approached his job: ‘forecasting victory, not foreboding defeat.”

{a mother's trust by carolyn mahaney}

so i walk on with hope. forecasting victory. courageous.


and in the words of aristotle...

“well done is half begun.”

and if you think aristotle was a genius... he also had this to offer as wisdom...


and in case you need to learn more about great arctic explorers and courage and you don't mind fast forwarding through a racy scene...