Thursday, March 13, 2008

Our trip to Sea Island, GA

Aaron and I had the blessing of spending a few days in Sea Island and St. Simons Island, GA with some other ministers to learn about the need in the country of Angola in Africa. It was a missions fundraiser of sorts, where emerging leaders could learn from more established leaders.

We were so excited to be able to spend some time with Pastor John and Melissa and Nick & Kim Serban. It was HARD to leave our babies... in fact, here's what they looked like on our way to drop them off with Mimi:
Abbey was especially thrilled... not.

We were sent information ahead of time about how nice the resort would be... but we honestly had no idea! As soon as we walked in, a butler was waiting for us in the lobby and greeted us by name. I guess when we had gotten our parking pass, they had called up to the Lodge and alerted them we were coming.

We were taken to our room by Tim, our butler. (Yes, our own butler!) He was excellent. He very pleasantly showed us around our room and told us that even though it was past the deadline (we got in around 11pm!!!), he could bring us some warm cookies and milk!
(You can't see the cookies, but OH were they good!)

Our room was INCREDIBLE. Feather beds and down comforters. Our butler opened the door to our balcony when we got there to let us hear how close we were to the water - we could hear the waves hitting the shore! Our bathroom was awesome. Huge walk-in shower, full tub, heated towel rack and heated mirror. Speaker system so you can still hear the TV. Our own bathrobes and slippers. Huge TV WITH TiVo!!!

As we woke up, I snapped a few pictures in the daylight:

The view outside our room was amazing:

That first day, I was able to go to the Spa and relax and get the best massage of my life. The Spa wasn't just any old spa. Oh, no. It was a 65,000 sq ft. monster of amazing proportions! Phuong was my massage technician. Here are some artsy pictures I took of the spa:

The next day (while the men were golfing - again), Melissa and Kim and I went to lunch at Sweet Mama's and then to see the Lighthouse.

As soon as we parked the car and walked toward the water, I saw something with a fin come up out of the water! I gasped and said "I just saw a shark!" The girls laughed at me and right after that a man walked by and said "You better get your camera ready - the dolphins are out" There were dolphins everywhere! We watched them come up in perfect synchronicity. It was such a neat moment. Neptune Park is the place where the lighthouse and dolphins were.

After this, we dropped Kim off for her Spa treatment and Melissa and I just drove around and saw the sights. Some of what we saw:

Later, after the guys finished golfing Aaron and I went out to where the majestic 150+ yr old oak trees line the entrance to The Lodge.

Aaron proves that he was still working, even though we were out of town!

The last night we were there, Aaron was really tired after playing golf the whole time and learning more about missions... but I was a little wired. Thankfully, I had remembered to TiVo American Idol, so I was able to watch it and write on my other blog about it!

All in all, this trip couldn't have come at a better time for us. The last 3 months have been wonderful with the merge and everything... but nothing if not stressful, ya know?

I am so glad to be back home... but found myself wondering where my butler is!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Sometimes it snows in April... er, March

Some 20-odd years ago, I was moderately obsessed with the artist formerly known as the artist whose name was formerly a sign and is now Prince again. Or, just Prince if you're nasty.

He was (and still is) so talented and mysterious and even though he was a bit raunchy at times, I was just enthralled with his music. Always the reclusive eccentric, at one point in the late 80's, early 90's, he was asked a question about his next album. In true Prince form, he mysteriously answered "Sometimes it snows in April." And that was that. No further explanation. He left us wondering what the crap that meant, if ANYTHING. The answer really had nothing to do with the question. But, it made many of us try to figure it out.

Strangely enough, the following year it DID snow in April, by golly. Weirrrrrrrd. That didn't happen very often back then, I remember.

So, what? you ask.

Here's what.

It's due to snow a bunch tonight. Normally the snow skirts right around us here in the Tennessee Valley. In the 10 years I've lived here, we've maybe had 3 or 4 BIG snows. (By big I'm talking more than a dusting.) Or maybe we've had more than that and I've simply ignored them because I don't like snow. That's right. If I'm prepared and can sit inside by the fire and not have to go out AT ALL, it's fine. But I absolutely do not appreciate getting out in it. I'm weird, I suppose. I just don't like being cold. It drives me crazy.

So, all the fuss and hubbub surrounding this snow reminds me of a really big snow we had here in Tennessee shortly after I first moved here in 95 or 96. I was single back then and hardly ever bought groceries. However, I had left work for the day and decided to stop at the store and get some essentials before going to my apartment. I walked into this place called Super1 Foods in Madison. It was one of those Warehouse stores that had gobs and gobs of stuff for cheap, but you didn't have to have a membership.

Anyway, I walked in and went straight back to the bread (so that half the loaf could mold since I was single, but was only .45) and much to my surprise the ENTIRE bread shelf was EMPTY! The snow hadn't even gotten there yet and people had completely cleaned out the bread aisle! The milk was the same, I later found out. But standing there by the bread aisle was a lady. She was giggling to herself and taking pictures of the empty bread aisle. Really. Maybe she was mentally disturbed, I don't know.

So today I had to go to Wal-Mart because I had been putting it off all week. It was a madhouse of people stocking up on food as though there was no hope of leaving their house for days. Thankfully I didn't need bread or milk. Whew!

Going back to Prince. He actually later wrote a song on his Parade album entitled "Sometimes It Snows in April". It's a beautiful ballad - very simple with some crazy jazz chords stuck in. There is a line in the song that makes so much sense to me in regards to my previous blog about Seasonal Depression:

Springtime was always my favorite time of year,
A time 4 lovers holding hands in the rain
Now springtime only reminds me of Tracy's tears
Always cry 4 love, never cry 4 pain

Fall was always my favorite time of year. Especially October. Ahhh, my favorite month. In recent years, though, I have felt as though I cannot enjoy October because it's over before I realize it was here (due to my freakishly early SAD appearance). Now, Fall seems to only remind me of the painful things we've experienced in the past 4 years of Falls. (grammer?) Which tells me that I need to get busy making THIS Fall (yes, I realize it's only March and I have some time before Fall gets here) the best ever, full of NEW memories that will take the place in my mind of the more painful ones.

Always cry for love, never for pain.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Just saving the world...

Ever have that feeling that someone is watching you? Even writing about it makes me want to break out in Michael Jackson's classic line "I always feel like... somebody's watching me!" Who was that guy he sang that song with? Normally I would look it up, but now I'm too lazy...

Anyway, I was sitting at my dining room table working on the computer a few afternoon's ago. I had that strange sensation someone was looking at me. Sure enough, as I lifted my eyes ever so slightly to the top of the stairs, here is what I saw:
This is my son Spiderman... I mean, Lincoln. As I burst out laughing, Lincoln jerked the mask off of his face and said these words (which made me laugh even harder):

"What??? I'm just Spiderman! I'm just saving the world."

Now, these pictures were taken with my cellphone camera because I was afraid if I ran to get my camera he would leave.

My little man - so brave. So funny. Gee, he's just saving the world. All in a day's work.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The end of S A D ness...

Every year I'm surprised by it, and yet every year it's the same.

Sometime between September and January is my death. (It depends on what kind of year I'm having. Bear with me.)

But March 1st is my resurrection.

I tend to suffer from something called Seasonal Affective Disorder... or SAD as "they" like to call it. This is a condition where your brain (particularly your hypothalamus, which controls mood, energy, etc.) is affected by a lack of sunlight. In some people, it is worse than others. I'm one of those people.

Some common symptoms of SAD are:

* Depression
* Hopelessness
* Anxiety
* Loss of energy
* Social withdrawal
* Oversleeping
* Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
* Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
* Weight gain
* Difficulty concentrating and processing information

Yep, that's me in a nut shell. The first time I experienced it was in January of either 96 or 97. I woke up the first Sunday or the year and felt paralyzed with the thought of walking out of my apartment door. I just couldn't do it.

When we lived in Texas, my condition wasn't as bad - and especially when I was pregnant for some reason. I never had it when I was pregnant. Hmmm.

The worst experience I ever had with it was the year after we moved back here to Tennessee from Texas. See, TN is situated very near the time change "border", so it gets dark here WAY earlier than a lot of places in the Central Time Zone. Texas is further away from the Central Time Zone line, and as such gets more sunlight.

Anyway, the year we moved back to Tennessee, several things happened in the Fall of that year. I believe I have blogged about this many times before but I'll quickly repeat it. In September of that year (2003) Aaron's dad passed away rather unexpectedly. I was pregnant with Lincoln and Shelby was pregnant with the twins. A month after that, Aaron's grandmother passed away. Then, of course, 3 weeks after that, Lincoln was born and that was a nightmare. He was so sick he almost died and ended up spending weeks in the hospital and had to be fed by a feeding tube for 5 months. It was a LOT to handle, on top of full-time ministry and 2 other lively children.

ANYWAY... we made it through that year - if you can call it "making it through" considering I was pretty much in a fog. BUT, when the next September rolled around, I began to slip into a downward spiral. I couldn't get enough sleep - during the day - and couldn't sleep at night. I couldn't remember what month or season it was. I would catch myself putting the cereal in the fridge, leaving water running, etc. All the while, my own dad was in the process of dying from the effects of early-onset of Alzheimer's.

I couldn't understand why this was happening at this time of year - whatever time of year it was since I couldn't grasp the concept of what time of year it was. Finally, I went to the doc and told him I thought I had a brain tumor or was dying of something horrible. He figured out that I was experiencing SAD, just earlier because of everything that had happened the previous year during the same months. Crazy!

But there is good news, boys and girls.

Something happens to me on March 1st. I come back to life! It's wonderful!!! It's like turning on a light switch. I don't know that it's always been March 1st, but for the past 3 or 4 years it has been. What is so weird is that when I'm under the effects of SAD, I have the hardest time keeping up with what month, day, etc. it is. But then, one day I feel myself feeling REALLY good... and then that feeling lasts for more than 24 hours and that makes me take notice and look at the calendar and - ALAS! - it's March 2 or 3!!!

SO, I'm really happy right now. It's March and I've come out of my seasonal coma. The sun is coming back to me and I love it. I'm going to try and make the absolute most of this year. I will have to say that this past season has been the TAMEST I've had in many years. I attribute that to all the festivities surrounding the merging of Sumner Life with the Hope Center Fellowship. The more I'm busy, the less I have time to wallow in my dumps. However, it's a vicious cycle because the dumps usually sneak up on me and take over before I have a chance to defend myself.

Now, I DO want to add that I absolutely put my faith and trust in God and I know that He has the ability to remove this from my life. And I believe that will happen. I will overcome this. But until then, He will sustain me.