Surreal. Marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.

Surreal. Bizarre, is this really happening?


This word sums up the emotion of this week for me. But it wasn’t until a dear friend used this word that I fully realized what I was feeling inside, and why I felt as though I was walking in a gray cloud.

“It’s all surreal,” Brad said, as he gestured to the room we were all sitting in. The room was quite beautiful; the flowers had been arranged nicely. There were pockets of people all over, getting caught up on the latest news in each other’s lives, asking how life had treated them since last they saw each other. We have all changed in the past 10 years. Single. Engaged. Married. Kids. Jobs. Cars. Mortgages. Older.

But as pleasant as the conversations were, as much as we all liked seeing each other again, no one could escape the reason why we had all come together after all this time. All conversations turned back to the common factor in all our lives in that moment. Mark Norris.

He was there, but he wasn’t there.

His physical body was there in the room with us. But Mark wasn’t. He wasn’t cracking jokes, wasn’t flashing his million-dollar smile, wasn’t telling someone to “hold his foot” for comfort. His body was in the coffin, over which laid a beautiful spread of flowers. In front of his casket stood his parents and his brother, hugging, greeting, and crying with those who came to pay respect to Mark.

Everything about Mark’s death, funeral, absence.....it’s all surreal. Like a bad dream that won’t end. Not a scary one, but one that really....well, sucks. Don’t get me wrong, the funeral was beautiful and sweet. There was the video montage of Mark’s life, put together by the guys in the film production company Mark started. Mark’s dad, Dennis, shared some sweet thoughts about his son. And the preacher gave a beautiful eulogy. And everyone sitting and standing in that chapel was touched by Mark. Yes, standing – it was standing room only. But I didn’t like being there. I didn’t like hearing the sniffles, I didn’t like asking for tissues, I didn’t like seeing someone reach over to comfort another. I didn’t like knowing that people were really hurting.

I’ve come to the conclusion through this experience that I’m not ready to grow up. Sure, there are the perks of being an adult: you can legally get married, buy alcohol, you don’t have to order from the kids menu. But there are painful things you have to go through. You have to watch as people you love depart this earth.

As I watched Mark’s casket being carried to his grave, I was struck by this thought: I don’t know what is sadder for me. Watching my friend being carried to his grave, or watching my friends carry my friend to his grave. There were 6 main pall bearers, and 6 honorary ones. Most of them I grew up with, and just like Mark, I considered them as my brothers. And now I watched as these boys, these men, whom I have known since childhood, who are some of the toughest guys I know, weeping at the loss of their brother.

Another thing I realized in all this is the loss I feel towards my childhood friends. I know we all grew up and started living our own lives. But there was a friendship that began all those years ago, and the test of those relationships came out today, when all of us who could showed up for the funeral. Faces I hadn’t seen in a decade suddenly were in the same room as me, and we were talking and catching up....and while it was under terrible circumstances, I was glad for it.

Grief....it’s a beautiful, terrible thing. Right now, we are all grieving Mark’s loss, some more than others. Is there hope? Is there relief from the sadness? Yes, absolutely. But for now, there is grief.

On the drive home from Memphis to Selmer, a song popped into my mind. It’s a Casting Crowns song, “Praise You in This Storm”. More specifically, the chorus rang through my ears over and over.

“And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm”

The line in bold really struck me. “Every tear I’ve cried You hold in Your hand.” But wait! Doesn’t that mean that He holds ALL the tears cried? So, He – God, the creator of the Universe, the Lord of the Heavens, and our loving Father – He holds my tears, and Mr. Dennis’s tears, and Ms. Janice’s tears, and Michael’s tears, and Brad’s tears, and Wil’s tears, and Josh’s tears, and Aaron’s tears, and Andrew’s tears, and....if I knew everyone in that room, I would list them.

As I thought more about that song, I realized how hard it was for me to really praise God in the middle of this storm, or in any storm for that matter. I can’t wrap my brain around the concept of “praising through a storm”. Praise is a happy thing, right? I want everyone to be happy. I don’t like things being messy. I like life to be cheery and rosy and beautiful and happy all the time. I don’t like the feelings of sadness, pain, or suffering. And I especially don’t like seeing people I care about having feelings of sadness, pain, or suffering.

What is God’s plan in all of this? I don’t know, I have no stinking clue. And, frankly, I don’t really care. I don’t care about a timeline for this to “be used for his purposes”. I mean, I know He will, I have every faith that He will. But I don’t care about it right now. What I DO know and care very much about is that I have a God, and that He’s REAL and that His promises are TRUE. I believe with all my heart that His Son, Jesus, the Great Comforter, can heal any hurt, any time, any day of the week. He is the Prince of Peace, peace that surpasses all understanding. Peace in the midst of Grief. Realness in the midst of Surreal-ness.

Anyway, these are my semi-raw thoughts. But it’s still all....surreal.


Old stuff

As I was rummaging through my phone, I found some stuff I wrote a while ago, and thought I'd post them on my blog for kicks. :)

Things I've learned as a mom:

*until your children are taller than your shoulder, you are a walking trash can/Kleenex/napkin/baby wipe

*Target is the best place in the world to buy clothes. If you see a shirt/jeans/dress you like and don't want to pay $25 for it....just wait a couple months and you can get it for $3.

*If said $3 shirt/jeans/dress is used as a kleenex/napkin/baby wipe, don't sweat it! I mean, it was only $3!!

*Target is the best place I'm the world. Period.

*babies/toddlers never perform when you want them to.

*sometimes kids just have a runny nose.

*don't leave full (or semi-full) cup of coffee in the reach of small children.

*don't give espresso flavored gelato to small children.

*scrubs are not for people in the medical field. They are for moms of small children. They are comfy, durable, have pockets, and have a stain-resistant coating.

*babies don't break easily.

*overalls are made as a handle for crawlers and toddlers.

*talking "with" your child is so much more effective than talking "at" your child

*teaching your child how to do something is much more inconvenient than doing it yourself in the moment. But doing it for the child instead of teaching them how to do it is much more inconvenient in the long run.

*sometimes, the best way to relieve stress is to crank up the music and dance with your child

*kids are very fun to laugh at. They always do things to make you laugh, and don't even mean to!

*your kid(s) should be your favorite toy

*a hug and kiss from your little guy/gal can uplift your mood and spirit better than most anything else in the world.

*having conversations with your child while walking through Walmart will produce 1 of 2 reactions: 1-strange looks from those who "don't know". 2-happy, sweet, blessed looks from people who "do know"

*the best place for your child to be is in your heart. The best place for you to be is in your Child's heart.

*a great place for mommy time is in the bathtub. A little bath salts, candles, and relaxing music go a long way to rejuvenate your spirit.

*No mother has everything completely figured out, and no mother gets it completely right. But we all have these tools that we use and have in our tool bag. Some we use everyday. Some we hardly ever touch. Some we forget we have until another is broken (and we find it accidentally). Sometimes our older friends give us ones that they no longer need as much. Sometimes we give one away to one who needs it.


My Dear Sister

This is a letter I just wrote to a younger Sister in Christ.  I thought I'd share with you what God has been showing me.  ~April~

My Dear Sister--

I hadn't actually forgotten to write something for your book.  I forgot to remember to do it. Haha, anyway...

I have been thinking for a while of what to write to you, of things I would want you to go back on and consider in the future, of what I would want to put out there for all posterity.  Frankly, I got nothing.  No words of wisdom, no great mantras to live by.  I’m finding out, day by ever loving day, that I am no expert on anything; that there is always someone else who is more knowledgeable in some area than I; that I am not the self-proclaimed “know it all” that I once thought I was.

Instead, I want to tell you about the things that God is showing me, even this very minute.  Some things I will be able to elaborate on, because He has shown me most or the entire picture He wants to reveal to me.  Other things will be short, as I don’t even fully understand what He’s saying, let alone own it in any way.

  • He’s showing me that I can be a friend.  I can take care of people.  I can add more things to my already (seemingly) busy schedule to take care of someone who is sick, or needs a meal, or needs me to take care of their kids, or whatever else comes my way.  I cannot use the excuse that “I can’t, because I have 6 kids.”  God has given me a large capacity to handle lots of responsibilities.  And, as such, He expects me to respond accordingly when opportunities to serve come up.
  • He’s showing me that the illusion of “God” that I grew up with is a joke.  He’s not this distant, cosmic being, who stoops down on us lowly mortals to check in every now and then.  He’s real, He’s tangible, and He’s right beside me every step of the way.
  • He’s teaching me to rely on others.  I’m very self sufficient and capable, and have a hard time asking for help in any area of my life.  But, even more important than learning to lean on others, He’s teaching me to fully rely on Him for everything.
  • He’s revealing to me that I have to draw from Him EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY. He’s showing me that I HAVE to talk to him, even if I think that (in the grand scheme of eternity) my requests, complaints, thoughts, desires, etc., are inconsequential.  He still cares about me.
  • He’s helping me become a better mother to my kids, helping me see the big picture with them, helping me not focus on the behavior, but rather to see the person inside.  He’s helping me nurture the spirit within.
  • He’s pounding me with how I speak to my children.  A friend of mine quoted a scripture in a recent blog entry.  Jeremiah 1:9...”Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, 'Look, I have put words in your mouth!'"  Ok, so if that’s true, then the opposite can be true, right?  If God can put words in my mouth, can’t Satan do the same, if my guard is down and I let him?
  • He’s helping me become the person that He wants me to be, not the person I think I am.
  • There are times when I look at other women around me and I begin to feel like I’m lacking in areas.  Let me rephrase.  I know I’m lacking in a lot of areas in my life.  I’m a terrible house keeper, my room is always a wreck (despite all my efforts to keep it clean), I always have tons of laundry to wash/fold/put away, I’m terribly inconsistent with so many areas of my life....the list of my short comings is endless.  But I look at other women and begin to “idolize” them.  I think, “Wow, (insert name here) has it ALL TOGETHER!  Look at her (life, children, house, room, relationships, etc.).  Everything is so easy for her.  Something must be wrong with me, because I can never be like her.”  I hear this conversation in my head so many times during the week that it’s hard sometimes to tune it out.  But you know what God is showing me?  He’s showing me that, while those ladies (or men) seem like they have it all together, it not completely true.  They struggle with the same things that I struggle with.  And while they may excel in an area that I am a complete and utter failure in, I have something from God that they need.  We are all here to help each other, not to look at each other in pitiful envy.
Ok, so that’s all I have.  I love you very much.  I so very much want us to become closer than we already are.


The Lesson

Why do I struggle so?
After all, it's just a "thing,"
And we already have so much.
Why does it bother me
That she thinks it's hers
When I know its not?
Why does my heart burn with anger
Over a trifle?
Our battle is not against
Flesh & bone....
But against our own
Fleshly desires,
The Powers & Principalities,
Our Selfish Self.
Why is it hard for me to love?
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
A hard lesson to learn.


New Beginnings (from my other blog)

Ok, I've waited 10 years to finally start this adventure, and I'm so excited that we are finally embarking on this journey!  I've decided to start this blog in the hopes of being "disciplined" enough to keep up with it.....yeah right.  The reality of it is, that I will start this today, and probably not touch it again for 3 months, be riddled with guilt and try to cram 3 months of work into an epic long post, decide it's not worth the trouble, and abandon the project altogether......*sigh*  Well, at least I know myself well enough to know that I have no delusions.......

Ok, so like the blog's title says, this is a new beginning for the Parkerson family.  Yes, we've talked about homeschooling, run a stinkin' umbrella school for homeschoolers, and talk to homeschoolers all over the place about the glories of educating your kid at home.  But, it wasn't until this current school year that we've actually be able to do it!  Isn't that funny.....gotta love God's sense of humor.

But in all seriousness, I really think that this was from God.  I mean, that we had to wait until our oldest is in 4th grade to start homeschooling our kids.  I realize that David and I both got very Pharisee-icle about home education.  But I think that God has really used these past 3 years to undo a lot of those strong holds.  While I still disagree with the overall philosophy and execution of the public school system in America, I do see that I had some lessons to learn.  Anyway....just my ramblings.

And now, onto the ACTUAL reason for this blog.  It's to journal what we've done as we've done it.....lol, should probably use better English, huh?  Well, happy reading!!


It's quite an adventure!!!  Going to copy a post from my other blog here.


My Ambition

Somewhere in a parallel universe, I'm sure that I'm fantastic at a great deal many things. I have the raw talent to which only needs a little coaching for me to excel at anything I desire. I've had many desires over my life, and regardless of which one I were to choose, I'm sure that my name would be noteworthy. You would be reading my name in the supermarket tabloids or see some story about me on Foxnews.

My first ambition came at the tender age of 7. That was when I first was introduced to the adventurous world of archeology. The thought of digging up a mummy in Egypt or a dinosaur in the Bad Lands was exhilarating. If I had pursued that course, I would be as well known as
Zahi Hawass (Za-he Ha-wass), lead Egyptologist and Secretary General of the Egyptian Council of Antiquities. If I had chosen that path.....

My next ambition came along around the same time. I was introduced to music. I've always loved to sing, and have probably been singing since I was in the womb. Not only did I learn how to sing, I learned how to read music at the same time I learned to read words. I sang competitively in many choirs in my school-aged years, and won high honors. I even had someone once publicly tell me that my voice could sing down the angels. While in college, I auditioned to the highest choir in the music program, and wowed the professors when I told them I had never had one voice lesson. If I had pursued that course, I would have signed with a well known recording label, either as a solo artist or with my best friend from college, with a Dixie Chick meets Gospel kind of sound. If I had chosen that path.......

Or, I could have doubled that talent and ambition with my love of the stage. I had great ambitions to be living in New York, working on some major Broadway production with the likes of Kristin Chenoweth and Carole Shelley. If all the world's a stage and
all the men and women merely players....then I would be a noteworthy player. If I had chosen that path...

At one point I wanted a life in medicine. The TV show "ER" had hit popularity, and I saw myself as a top doctor in the Emergency field. The life seemed glamorous, and the science was fascinating. If I had chosen that path....

And children! I have always been drawn to children, and had a knack for instantly building a connection with any small child I saw. I could engage in pint-sized conversations on a gamut of topics, from finger-painting to Barney. And I loved to teach, and the thought of being in the education field was enthralling. Elementary education was a field I pursued in college, albeit for one semester, and I loved every minute. If I had chosen that path....

So, what is my ambition? Which of these paths do I want to pursue? Any of them are attainable, even at this point in my life. And to an extent, I am doing some aspect of these ambitions in my daily life. But I think that God has a higher calling for me than any medical, historical, educational, or celebrity field could take me.

The other night, Shammah was talking about.....something (for the life of me, I can't remember the exact topic -- but it had something to do with the kids in the village). He mentioned John and Charles Wesley, two brothers who wrote beautiful hymns for God. What struck me wasn't about these two men, but about their mother, Susanna. God had to do a great work in her so that she could raise two incredible sons who would forever shape Christianity.

My ambition is to be a "Susanna Wesley". I want to be the kind of mother so that my children can be great. I want nothing more in this life than to raise young men and a young woman for God, so that they can be used by Him and see their ambitions and dreams come to fruition. There's no outward glory, no outward reward for me. Even after our family started, I never really "saw" my children. I worked for the business, making sure that the kids' basic needs were met. But I woke up one day this summer and realized that I didn't know my children. I didn't see who they were, didn't see their strengths, only criticized their short comings. I didn't see them as future brothers & sisters in Christ, who will some day walk this Journey with me. I saw interruptions, and arguments, unclean rooms and dirty snotty noses. I saw all the negative, and nothing of the future and the positive, the "what it could be." My ambition is to correct that, to change my ways. I thank God that I haven't missed it completely, that I have time to play catch-up with them. My ambition is to see their ambitions grow, not mine.