Friday, October 29, 2010

First Steps

Ten minutes before bedtime (and 5 after KJ came home)...

Fall in the Mountains

KJ and I went on a camping trip with two of my brothers and their wives this past week and had a really wonderful time.  It was so nice to get away and be able to talk without interruption and enjoy each other freely.  We dropped the kids off with my parents Sunday afternoon and arrived  at our campsite Sunday night where we were greeted by Jesse and Sandy and a blazing fire.

Maybe not quite blazing yet

KJ and Jesse pitched our tent; it took me a little while to go to sleep because there was a storm blowing in, and leaves kept falling on the tent just as I would begin to doze off.  Sleep finally came as did a big thunderstorm about 5:20 a.m.  The wind was pretty strong, and there was one moment where the side of the tent blew in, but it held firm, and we stayed dry.  Jesse and Sandy got a little damp, but by the time we got up at 8:30 the worst was over for the day.  It was a gorgeous day to be in the mountains, surrounded by walls of color and deep blue skies.

We hiked through a trail near Cades Cove, picnicked, and packed up just as a few raindrops began to fall.  We drove through the Cove during a rain shower, but it ended by the time we made it back to our campsite, for which we were thankful.

We had a really great fire Monday night and grilled hamburgers and ate "nice hot s'moes" (name that movie).  Then we stayed up late playing Catch Phrase.  The night was uneventful as far as rain goes, but we definitely had a nocturnal visitor.  Sandy spotted a skunk on Sunday night, and I believe it was him we heard scurrying around our tent and sniffing.  The next morning we had several little holes around our tent as proof of his presence.  I was too nervous about getting sprayed to holler at him to leave.

There was an expectation of a lot of rain and tornado warnings for Tuesday night, so the campground allowed us to move to a camping cabin for no extra charge.  We were very glad and thankful about this, and we spent the morning taking down tents and moving all our gear.  Afterwards we took the scenic route into Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  It was a beautiful drive.

Our new cabin

The rain started that evening, but we played games and talked on our front porch and enjoyed the sound of rainfall.  That night we all slept in bunk beds, leaving the front room and double bed open for Josh and Nicole who were coming in late.  It rained all night, but we expected it to clear up for our hike that day.  We were wrong.

3 Murphy kids and their spouses

There was a light rain when we made it to the trail head, and I had forgotten my poncho!  Josh had an extra jacket with a hood, which I would grow to really appreciate in the coming hours.  Not very long into the hike it began to rain at a steadier pace, which soon became a torrential downpour.  The trail runs straight up the mountain, and all the rain created a stream straight down the trail near the upper portion.  Needless to say we were completely drenched, but the fog lifted, and the rain dried as we reached the top.  It was worth the climb, and I know I felt a huge feeling of accomplishment.

It only sprinkled here and there on the way down, and I was really glad to be able to take pictures.  I had been severely disappointed on the way up because there were so many beautiful spots I was missing out on being able to photograph in the rain.  KJ told me I would have my memories; it was all anyone had for thousands of years.  True, but I was still disappointed.

Almost Done

By the time we reached the bottom of the mountain again we were soaked through and through with very sore feet.  A hot shower never felt so good.  In fact, I might close with a "bath song" composed by Bilbo Baggins and sung by Frodo and Pippin as they bathed after their trek through the fields and woods to Buckland, running from Black Riders.  (Yes, we were listening to The Fellowship of the Ring on c.d. as we drove.)  When I heard that song I laughed because it described the way I felt exactly, minus the beer.  

We had a really great trip, and I was sad to leave Townsend as always.

Our farewell look
(I really got some great pictures.  You can look at the whole album on my Facebook page.)

Bilbo's Bath Song
Sing hey! for the bath at close of day
that washes the weary mud away!
A loon is he that will not sing:
O! Water Hot is a noble thing!

O! Sweet is the sound of falling rain,
and the brook that leaps from hill to plain; 
but better than rain or rippling streams
is Water Hot that smokes and steams.

O! Water cold we may pour at need
down a thirsty throat and be glad indeed; 
but better is Beer, if drink we lack,
and Water Hot poured down the back.

O! Water is fair that leaps on high
in a fountain white beneath the sky;
but never did fountain sound so sweet 
as splashing Hot Water with my feet!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lewis on Fiction

"One of the prime achievements in every good fiction has nothing to do with truth or all...Every episode, explanation, description,dialogue---ideally, every 
sentence---must be pleasurable for its own sake."
- C.S. Lewis, quoted in The Liberated Imagination by Leland Ryken

Monday, October 25, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Children

I just wanted to give a quick update on the kids.  James had his 12-month check-up on Friday.  He now weighs 22 lbs. and 4 oz.  That puts him weighing 2 ounces more than Ella at her 18 month appointment.  That still placed him in only the 50th percentile for his weight, though.  He was in the 75th percentile for his height and 95th for his head!  What a boy.  He was as precious as could be at the doctor's office, though it did wear him out.  He was asleep in the car seat as we pulled out of the parking lot.  I was pretty exhausted, too.  

Ella was hanging out with her grandmother while James and I were away.  She had many adventures, and one of the stories T told me made my day.  She and Ella were at the school's pep rally, and a lady asked Ella if she wanted to be a cheerleader when she grew up.  Ella's quick response?  "I want to be like my mommy."  She melts my heart.  That makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Morning Reading

"But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus.  It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not.  We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes."
   - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, October 21

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Morning Outing

I have discovered that if I am not proactive with organizing our day the day runs away with less than productive activities.  The morning is especially susceptible to this phenomenon.  This morning we drove down the street to a neighborhood with a toddler-sized playground.  First we went for a walk, and then the children went up in a swing.  It was James' first time.

The Swing
by Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roofs so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ordering My Day

I was thinking about the things I should do today that I might live an ordered life, and this stanza of a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier popped into my head:

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Interesting Quote

"And how could we endure to live and let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back--if we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole life with expectation and memory and that these are that day?"
- from Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

Our God is Better

[Perhaps there might be need for a small spoiler alert if you're planning on reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians and you don't want to know even the tiniest bit about the plot.]

Last week I finished reading the book series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and I really enjoyed it.  Riordan makes Greek mythology come alive in a way that sure didn't happen for me in high school.  I never liked the Greek stories when I read them in school, though my 9th grade, advanced English class did have an incredible substitute teacher once, (a retired English teacher herself) who read Odysseus aloud to us after we complained about not understanding it.  She was amazing.  A good reader can make all the difference, but I suppose that's neither here nor there.  

I thought the books were a fun read for maybe older junior high/high school students and a good way to help the information about Greek gods stick in their minds a little better.  But as I read I couldn't help but compare the gods of Greek mythology and man's imagination with the true God, and big surprise, our God is infinitely more satisfying to worship.  Here are just a few points of comparison, and these are based on Rick Riordan's portrayal of the gods; some of these attributes were familiar to me from school, but I'm sure he took some creative license.

  • Our God is holy.  And wow!  Those Greek gods sure aren't, cheating on their wives and having children with mortals.  It's just so gross.  How can you respect, much less worship gods so devoid of morality?  
  • Our God is perfectly just in His judgments.  In the last book, you're told that Zeus attempted the murder of two demigods (children of his brother by a mortal) out of fear that they might be responsible for the overthrow of Olympus one day.  Wasn't that lovely?  
  • Our God wins His battles.  The end of the last book finds the gods of Olympus at war with the Titans, and there is no assurance that they will win.  I'm comforted to know that when the last battle comes on earth, there is no doubt who the victor will be.
  • Our God is strong.  The gods of Olympus need the help of the heroes (half-blood children) to save their thrones on Olympus.  Our God doesn't need anyone's help to accomplish His task or to defend His Name.  He graciously allows us to serve Him, but He doesn't need our help, and He has no weakness.
  • Our God lives forever; the grave could not hold Him.  If the gods of Olympus lose the war with the Titans and lose their power, they could fade away.  Our God cannot lose His power.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He will never change.  
  • Our God is ONE.  Boy, the main problem for me is that there are just way too many Greek "gods."  By the very name "God" it seems you are saying there is one in control, one in charge, and one to be worshiped.  There are way too many gods in the throne room of Olympus, and there is absolutely no working together as the Trinity is described doing.
Again, I'm not writing to criticize the books.  I enjoyed them and thought they were well-written and entertaining, but I just couldn't help but make a few comparisons as I read.  The God who has revealed Himself to us in the Bible is just so much better.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall Pictures

I know I posted several pictures yesterday, but some moments are too sweet not to share.   I  have a couple of posts whirling in my brain that I would like to write, but I think writing well is something I'm going to have to schedule.  I want to do it, but there are other things that seem more pressing.  For now, here are a few of my favorite moments in the past 24 hours.  

Aren't these the most beautiful children ever?
I love, love, love, the drool that is ALWAYS hanging from James' chin.
It's his signature trademark.

Ella insisted on joining KJ on his jog around the block this morning.
(He's in training for our hiking and biking adventure in a couple of weeks.)
 Notice, if you will, the bloodstain on KJ's shirt. 
James had another minor accident last night.

I love this picture of daddy and daughter.
Ella made it longer than KJ expected.  At the top corner of the neighborhood
she finally gasped, "I think it would be better if you carried me now."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Week In Review

The weeks go by so quickly, don't they?  They certainly do for me.  A couple of years ago when Ella was two I remember watching her chase bubbles in the backyard and thinking, "Wow.  Time goes by so quickly, and I want to hold on to each day."  I had this great idea then to take a picture of her every day and put it in a scrapbook, because the changes in children happen so imperceptibly.  I wanted to capture each moment as she grew.  I never made that scrapbook, but I did start writing this blog in March!  And since then I have taken her picture almost every day.  I'm glad that I have.  Our lives are made up of these small moments, and they are so precious.  So, here's a few things we did during a beautiful fall week that has flown by:

  1. We took a walk around the neighborhood.  I love the feel of cool, crisp air in the morning.  We went first thing.  Ella ate breakfast (a granola bar) in the stroller, and James chowed down on Cheerios from his tray.  It was nice.
  2. We went to the library.  Again, a sudden desire that I acted upon first thing in the morning.  There's something about an October sky and October sunshine that makes me want to hit the open road.  I also thought we might make story time.  We missed it this week (James slept until 9:10 that morning!), but we still had a good time.

3.  KJ and I got to go on a date.  Mama T. and a friend from church, Kim Sales watched the children for us, and we had an afternoon and evening together.  We enjoyed some beautiful weather and a nice walk by the river, a little bit of Shakespeare, dinner at Newk's, and a trip to Lifeway.  We came home a little early and got to spend some time with Kim, who helped us out during family worship with her guitar skills.

KJ's not much for landscape pictures without us in them. 
This is what resulted when I tried to stare nonchalantly at a tree while he took my picture.

"Never did the course of true love run smooth..."
...a line we read yesterday, but thankfully ours has...

Ella strums while Kim changes chords.
They make a good team.

4.  The kids and I went to the mall this morning.  I was really afraid I was doing something extremely unwise, heading across town in the morning alone with both children.  I was especially concerned about James who has been such a sleepyhead recently.  I knew he would be wanting a nap before we made it home.  We made it to the mall by 9:30, when I realized that the stores don't open until 10 a.m.  (I forgot.  I don't go to the mall that often, especially not first thing in the morning.)  We bided our time at the fountain.

Ella didn't want me to put money in it to make it move.
She just wanted to climb inside it and play.
Fine by me.  Cheap, and it passed the time until the stores opened.

I was really grateful that I found everything I needed in 30 minutes, warm pajamas and socks with tread for James and a couple of fall dresses for Ella.  Score.  And James only hollered out periodically as he sucked his thumb.  We even made it through a quick run to Target before heading home with the help of the trusty stroller.  James fell asleep before we made it to McFarland and slept for another hour and 15 minutes once we got home and got him in his bed.  I am very thankful.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom...Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
- Psalm 90:12, 14 -

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Poem

When my brother, Jesse, got married a couple of months ago, my father assigned me the role of "keynote speaker" at his rehearsal dinner.  That's not a role that comes naturally to me, so I took a page from my sister-in-law Katie's book and wrote and read a poem instead.  When my dad first asked/told me I would be speaking he told me I could write a speech and post it on my blog.  I didn't do it at the time, but on the occasion of Jesse and Sandy's 2 month anniversary, here is my poem, along with one of my favorite Jane Austen quotes for an introduction.

"Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations
and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no
subsequent connections can supply."
- Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

For my brother

There's so much about you
to remember that's fun.
When I need a good laugh,
you're always the one.

Thinking of you as a little boy
I remember certain kind of toys.
G.I. Joe and Spiderman,
a Batman clock that would not stop.

"Gotham City is in trouble!"

The house awoke to this cry
long before the day was nigh.
Dad arose to quickly deposit
that Batman clock deep in the closet.

I'll never ever quite forget
our very first camping trip.
So many bike tubes popped that week,
I pushed you back on my bike seat.

You were always brave and full of bluster.
"I won't fall out!" to Mom who was flustered.
But at the first rock, you flew out.
Stuck under the boat, Mom began to shout.

One thousand sit-ups every night,
you've always been so driven.
I came home from school to find a young man
and not the boy you had been.

I'm always so thankful for time with you
I had before I became a Pugh.
I loved helping with your school assignments,
driving you places before you were licensed.

I treasured each and every trip
you made to the "Bluegrass State."
Thanks for coming to spend time with your sis,
to watch movies and stay up late.

One night I called to say, "Hello."
You were watching a movie that night.
Not just with a girl but with her whole fam,
It sounded like this could be something right.

"That girl's in my hip pocket," you said.
And I would have to agree.
Her eyes light up at the sight of you.
You've found true love with Sandy.

It's kind of sad to no longer be
the number one girl in your life.
But in the end, a man should leave 
his family and take a wife.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Place I Love

Today I found out that I get to go to one of my favorite places in the world in two weeks.

I have been going there my whole life, and it feels like home.

I've had a lot of adventures there.

And I've read a lot of books there.

Yes, I'm holding a machete.

I've taken a lot of hikes and ridden a lot of bikes.

Seen some deer...

...and some bears.

I've even taken my husband there!

Thank you, Jesse and Sandy, for inviting us to go with you.
I'm so excited!

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Thoughts EXACTLY

I've had a random C.S. Lewis quote in the back of my brain for the past few hours and have been searching my bookshelf and the internet trying to find it.  I haven't had much luck, but I found something far better, something I underlined in Surprised by Joy my freshman year of college.  Lewis expressed my thoughts and feelings exactly when he wrote this:

"For eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.  
Of course not all books are suitable for mealtime reading.
It would be a kind of blasphemy to read poetry at table.
What one wants is a gossipy, formless book which can be opened anywhere."

Some of you will not understand this.  But some of you might.  I could never have said it like this, but I totally know what he's talking about.  I don't like to read my Bible while I'm eating, but give me a good insert your favorite gossipy and formless book here and I am one happy woman.  Why am I so surprised?  I just read on an earlier page, "Nothing, I suspect, is more astonishing in any man's life than the discovery that there do exist people very, very like himself."  I really love it when I meet those kind of people(even if it's in the pages of a book), don't you?

There Will Be Blood

James fell head first into the floor (possibly the table leg) this morning.  Pictures can't really do justice to the amount of blood that flowed.

Those are bloodstains on my shirt (and on his bib and mouth).

I think this is the cost of having a boy.  Lots of blood.  Thankfully, his teeth were okay (I think).  I got to go out without the children last night, and the small break has given me a lot of renewed joy.  Starting the day out with blood everywhere was actually kind of fun.  I like being a stay-at-home mom.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Resurrection Thoughts

I am the resurrection and the life.
Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.
- John 11:25 - 

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, 
than I have ever done.
It is a far, far better rest that I go to
than I have ever known."
- Sydney Carton, giving his life for the ones he loved,
having been upheld by the promise of Jesus
in "A Tale of Two Cities" - 

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Today has brought a lot of little "happy's" to my life along with some fun.  Here are a few in random order:

  • Sleeping until 7:40 a.m.  KJ did some kind of miracle sleep training with James while I was in Florida, and he sleeps until nearly 8 a.m. every morning now.  I love it.  I've had two weeks of between 7 and 8 hours of sleep.  Can I just reiterate that that is the longest span of good sleep in a year and a half for me?  I am so thankful.
  • Sunny, blue skies  I love waking up in a sun-brightened room.
  • Hillary is at my house again.  She is staying with us while she films a fall retreat for some churches in town.  She helps me so much just by being here.  She holds James down while I change his diaper, picks him up when he cries, plays imaginary games with Ella while I work out.  Live-in help is really nice.
  • James' naps  I'm not sure why, perhaps it is a growth spurt, but not only is James sleeping almost 12 hours at night, but he is taking 2- 1 hour and 45 minute naps during the day.  That's pretty helpful, but I'm trying not to get used to it.
  • Playing Super Mario on the Wii  I rediscovered this game Tuesday night, and I played some more yesterday and today.  It's really fun, and  I love the graphics.  James enjoys watching me play, and Ella cheers me on.  I'm trying to model good video game-playing manners, though.  No getting upset and yelling at the t.v. (not that I would ever do something like that).
  • KJ's home  It's fun having daddy home.  I'm very thankful for a house filled with love and laughter.  I love my husband.  I'm glad he loves me and still thinks I'm beautiful when I wake up in the morning.
  • God's Word  Another amazing result of being well-rested in the morning is a renewed desire to read my Bible at the start of each day.   It's such a hard discipline to keep up with a baby, but this is day 3 of starting the day like that again.  It feels good.
"Playing" the Wii

I'd also like to mention that James ate chalk today.  Ella was writing on her little chalkboard and dropped a piece we couldn't find.  James found it and took a big bite out of it.  We just heard the gagging.  I guess he's okay.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On the Mountaintop

Last night I got in my car and drove off into the sunset.  For a few minutes I felt like I did the first week of my freshmen year of college.  It suddenly hit me that I was free.  I could do anything I liked whenever I liked.  I got in my car and drove to the beach.  It was a glorious afternoon, alone and unhindered.  My spirit has felt like that a lot lately, as if I'm standing on a precipice almost able to see beyond the veil into eternity.  God's Word has seemed very real, and His Spirit has been giving me understanding.  

I haven't read Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest in so long, but I picked it up a few days ago when I had a brief and quiet moment.  Here's what I read:

After every time of exaltation we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they are where it is neither beautiful nor poetic nor thrilling.  The height of the mountain top is measured by the drab drudgery of the valley; but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God.  We see His glory on the mount, but we never live for his glory there.  It is in the sphere of humiliation that we find our true worth to God, that is where our faithfulness is revealed.  Most of us can do things if we are always at the heroic pitch because of the natural selfishness of our hearts, but God wants us at the drab commonplace pitch, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship to Him.  Peter thought it would be a fine thing for them to remain on the mount, but Jesus Christ took the disciples down from the mount into the valley, the place where the meaning of the vision is explained.

So last night I drove to the library for a few minutes of solitude, checked out a few random books, then went back home to the place of my glory and humiliation.  There I find sweet little hearts that will grow into my joy and crown.  I also find constant demands for my time and attention where little people cry and whine when I try to tell them, "no," for their own good, a place where all my sin and selfishness comes flowing out of my heart for all to see.

When you were on the mount, you could believe anything, but what about the time when you were up against facts in the valley?  You may be able to give a testimony to sanctification, but what about the thing that is a humiliation to you just now?  The last time you were on the mount with God, you saw that all power in heaven and in earth belonged to Jesus--will you be skeptical now in the valley of humiliation?   

My one-year-old is interrupting my spiritual pondering trying to grab the thumb drive out of the computer, and my four-year-old is whining and pouting because I made her move out of her little brother's way.  Thus begins another day.  It's a good thing His mercies are new each morning and as Anne says, "It's a new day with no mistakes in it yet."

I wouldn't mind going back to that mountaintop. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall at Last

When we left for Florida two weeks ago, Tuscaloosa was still in the throes of 90 degree weather, yet suddenly, shortly after our return, fall arrived.  I'm so glad it's finally here.

We attended my cousin's outdoor wedding on Saturday, and James loved it.  I've been keeping my poor boy indoors a lot, mostly because of the heat but also because his sinuses do not like the plants and weeds blooming around our house, and a walk around the block usually results in a runny nose.  But I should have known my adventuresome son would love grass.  He was fascinated by it.

He loved to touch the grass, walk in it, and he was especially happy with the stick he found.

Ella wouldn't agree to smile with her daddy, but a picture with Aunt Nicole brought a beautiful smile to her face.

This morning we went for a walk around the neighborhood.  James especially enjoyed it.  He is such a sweet and precious boy, but he has been especially frustrated over the past 5 days (since his first birthday to be exact).  He wants to walk so badly and wants us holding on to his hands all day, but even that is growing tiresome for him.  I think he also gets bored with the house.  All morning he was communicating through frustrated whines.  I went out the garage door to get the stroller set up and heard the door open a few seconds later.  When I looked over my shoulder I saw a little boy's head peeking into the garage, "Bye, bye."  He was very eager for the morning jaunt.  This verse was on my mind when I woke this morning.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.
- Psalm 68:19 -