Sunday, July 2, 2017

Nora is 17 months and talking

We've hit the stage of a new word or two or three a day!! It's so fun communicating with our sweet red-headed toddler. My greatest surprise is just how proud and rewarding it is to watch Kathleen as big sister in action: teaching, reading, and protecting.

Comprehensible words include:
Mom, momma
Hi - Bye
🌃 Night night
What's that
Head or Hair
🦉 Owl - hoo hoo
🐕 Dog
🐢 Turtle

Also, Nora loves to eat bananas. We call her our little monkey and if you ask her what sound a monkey makes it's the cutest little "eeek eek" sound you've ever heard.

Love our girls.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

"I am the sum of all my stories"

After two and a half years of not blogging I'm committed to writing down our stories here again. It brings me joy - the exact theme of this blog - and it is a service to my family to preserve our memories.

What's new for us in the past 31 months you might ask?

We moved from Henderson back to Durham for Calvin to work at McMannen UMC in December 2014. Calvin left McMannen and his work as a pastor in the United Methodist Church in January 2017. He is now working to start our family business Three Bean Properties.

We had a miscarriage in February 2014, ectopic pregnancy in September 2014, and unplanned successful pregnancy in 2015 which brought us dear sweet Nora Jane on January 29, 2016.

I left working at The Duke Chronicle in August 2014 and when we moved back to Durham I began looking for work again. I joined The Daily Tar Heel February 16, 2015 as the Advertising Director. It has been hard work the past two years with lots of changes. I am hopeful for the school year ahead and eternally grateful for the most recent investment in a Southwestern Sales Coach/Consultant for me and our team.

Kathleen graduated Kindergarten at Holt Elementary Language Academy. She had the best teacher, Mrs Scott, with 29 years experience teaching Kindergarten. Kathleen enjoys learning and made straight A's in the last quarter of school. I'm so proud of that because I know she worked hard for it. She loves learning Chinese and we love the year round school schedule. Kathleen's currently in gymnastics as her Friday extra circular activity. She wants to go to the Olympics. She absolutely adores horses and she just finished her first full day summer camp experience at Camp Chestnut Ridge. Kathleen loves camp which makes us happy because we do too. In May celebrated her 6 yr old birthday there with the horses!!

From August 2016 - May 2017 we had a dear friend Cici Du living with our family. Cici is from China and graduated from UNC in 2016. She landed an amazing job at Participate in Chapel Hill and got her work visa in April. She's still in Durham and we're so happy to still have our family friend close by.

My mom and dad moved to Durham in October 2015 and just purchased a house 10 minutes down the road from us in May 2017. They have been absolutely amazing full time caretakers for Nora. We love having them so close. Living life with my parents is so good. I have no idea how we used to manage with them an hour and a half away. Pop Pop's Cafe is always open upon request and Mamaw will make dessert!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fall Pictures

Gail Smith never let's us down. Here are three new Dickenson Family photos courtesy of Images by Lucy.

The last picture posted of Kathleen by herself was posed by Kathleen and taken by Daddy! She sat down on one of Gail's props and said, "Daddy, take my picture!" I know that beautiful smile combined with the red boots, yellow mums, and pumpkins will be one of our favorite photos for years to come.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happily Ever After...

This morning in play time before school Kathleen rolled out my yoga mat and said, “It’s an aisle! Let’s play wedding!” Then the fun began…

First Kathleen got a blanket to walk behind like she saw Jessica Nelson do that at her outdoor wedding (so no one could see the bride before she walks down the aisle). Then Daddy was asked if he would be the groom which put Mommy in the position of official wedding director/pastor. We rehearsed the basic ceremony before school and when I picked Kathleen up at the end of the day the details of the plan came together on our ride home. Kathleen had the best time thinking about and discussing which dress she would wear, how she wanted to set up her stuffed animals as guests, and last but not least we could not forget to pour the sand!

Once we got home, Kathleen and Mommy spent a full hour getting ready: preparing dinner, the room, and most importantly the bride for her big night. When Daddy walked in the door at 6:30 p.m. the game was on. In fact, I believe Daddy was greeted at the door with a sweet Kathleen running up to him in her wedding dress yelling, “Daddy, Daddy, we’re ready for the wedding ceremony!”

First, we ate Kathleen’s favorite dinner to celebrate the occasion (Yellow rice, Black Beans, Veggie Fajitas, and Guacamole). After dinner, Daddy put on his suit jacket and walked his little girl down the aisle behind a blanket. At the end of the aisle he tossed the blanket aside to reveal the stunning beauty of his bride. While holding hands, Kathleen then promised to love Daddy forever and ever. Daddy likewise promised to love Kathleen forever and ever. Kathleen gave Daddy his wedding ring and promised to love Daddy no matter how old or sick he became. Daddy then gave Kathleen her wedding ring and promised to love Kathleen no matter how smart or beautiful she became. Then they walked over to a special table to pour colored sand into a glass bottle. This sand was a symbol of how their two hearts, joined by love, could never be separated - just as the beautiful colors mixed together in the sand also cannot be separated. Coming back to the center of the aisle, Mommy then pronounced the happy couple married and Daddy kissed the bride! They danced back down the aisle and celebrated among all their stuffed animal friends. Kathleen baked a pretend cake for all the guests and the couple’s first dance was to “Everything is Awesome” from the Lego movie. It was truly a dance of celebration and did not disappoint!

As a child, I don’t remember ever asking to marry my daddy, but tonight was a night of dreams come true in the land of parenthood. Kathleen had such a great time preparing for and walking through her wedding ceremony. Thank you Jessica Nelson, for allowing us to attend your beautiful wedding and therefore causing Kathleen to want to be just like you!

p.s. No filter was applied to these photos, and our house is not full of smoke! I was just a horrible photographer in the midst of directing and officiating. Emotions were high, what can I say. 
The memory of the night however remains perfect. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

God loves to bless barren women

I have volunteered to lead the UMW program for Gillburg UMC's June meeting. Preparing for June invited me to go back and read what I presented in October the last time I spoke to the group. This is what I said on October 19 & 20, 2013 to both Gillburg and Spring Valley United Methodist Women's groups. Could this also apply to you, your women's group, or your church? 

"Five of us women attended the Women of Faith Conference last weekend in Charlotte. The theme for the weekend was “Believe God Can Do Anything”. The first speaker on Saturday was Liz Curtis Higgs. She is a well-known author most famous for her book Bad Girls ofthe Bible. I loved what Liz had to say so a small portion of that message is what I would like to share with you today.

Let’s look at the story of Elizabeth - Luke 1: 5-12 - In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 

Now Zechariah was a priest entering in a holy place but he didn't expect anything holy to happen. He was startled, and overcome with fear. Don’t we do the same thing on Sunday mornings? When we come to God’s house, what do we expect? Do we expect to meet him here?

Luke 1: 13: But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 

The angel said, “Your prayer has been heard.”  That’s it. Simple enough. Your prayer has been heard. Do we believe that when we pray?  

The angel goes on to tell Zechariah…. Luke 1: 14-17 - He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

And what’s Zechariah’s response? “Are you serious? How can I be sure?”  Luke 1:18 - Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

Here Zechariah is saying to God - "that's impossible" - and we still do that today. We read his word and we shake our head and say – "that’s impossible" - but the Truth is:
God Loves to work in the realm of the impossible because that is where He gets all the Glory.
Is anything too hard for our Lord?
Is it too hard for Him to fill the Spring Valley or Gillburg UMC pews on Sunday mornings? 
Is it too hard for him to bring growth to His church? Life within these walls? Love among His people? 
To grow this UMW group into a force of sisters in Christ that have come together to spread the good news?

The story continues, Luke 1: 19-25 - The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

God loves to bless barren women – Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary, Rebekah, Hannah, and there are more. And the light bulb moment for me here was when the speaker Liz went on to say that “Any kind of barrenness in our lives is God getting ready to bless us.” Will you believe that if you open yourself to the Lord you will be filled? That God will hear and answer your prayer? This could be those barren pews on Sunday mornings, it could also be your marriage, your relationship with your children, the relationships between us gathered here, your work or home environment, or your calling of current purpose in the world. 

As Calvin was discerning his call into ministry, one of the books our pastor gave him to read defined calling by saying, “It is the intersection of where one’s greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” Tell me, what is the calling of this women’s group? Do you know that you still have a calling on your life no matter what your age is? Look at story we just read. God can CHOOSE anyone, and He can USE anyone. And I love knowing there is a plan, God’s plan, and we are part of it. So it is our job to open ourselves to being used. What can our time, talents, gifts, service and witness offer the community around us? I would love to see us come together as a powerful group of sisters in Christ who offer the love and light of our savior to those around us. Let’s think, and pray, and be open to what we can do for the children of God outside the walls of this building. As Calvin said it so well this week: Instead of saying, “Look at this small church.” Let us instead say, “Look at all this small church can do!”