Wednesday, July 9, 2014

God's Gracious and Abundant Provision



Two weeks have passed since we left Charleston, and now that there is time to reflect on our year there, I’m reminded of so many things that we will miss. 

This time last year, we moved to Charleston for Paul to train under these outstanding surgeons, the head and neck surgical oncologists at the Medical University of South Carolina.  We were sad to leave Louisville, but we were excited about the professional and familial adventures that were ahead in Charleston! 

Dr. Josh Hornig, our family, Dr. Jeff Houlton (the other head and neck fellow) with his family, Dr. Terry Day, and Dr. Judy Skoner. 


Before we left Louisville, we were advised to join a church, despite the fact that we’d only be living in Charleston for one year.  We joined James Island Christian Church- a church that we will deeply miss!  We greatly benefited from the excellent teaching as well as the close-knit community at that church, and we look forward to returning there when we vacation in Charleston in the future.  

If our boys remember any of this past year, I know that they will miss the weekly beach trips, the beautiful parks, watching military airplanes and helicopters fly over us just about every day, strolling over the Arthur Ravenel bridge, searching for alligators, playing at our friends’ beachfront homes, and exploring their backyard which was filled with dirt, sticks, palm trees, bugs, lizards, and who knows what other creatures. 

I will miss many of those same experiences.  But what strikes me most about our year in Charleston is God’s kind provision of friends- whom we already miss.  When we left Louisville, I had been praying for Paul and me to each have one likeminded friend.  I knew Paul would be working very long hours, and I did not want to get bitter, lonely, and stir-crazy at home with the boys.  It should not have surprised me when instead, God answered that request in abundance!  Upon our arrival to Charleston, Paul became friends with many of the students and residents- especially these guys, Sam and Jay, whose families we met with weekly for community group.  Our Sunday night get-togethers were by far one of our favorite parts about this past year, and their wives were so sweet to quickly befriend me and our boys.

Jay, Sam, and Paul.  I can't believe this is the only picture I have of these guys.  Thanks to Jay's wife for taking this picture!


Their wives, Rachel and Sarah, became some of my very dear and hopefully lifelong friends, along with two others, Amanda and Ashley.  Though our time in Charleston overlapped for just a year, the year was filled with many ups and downs for all five of us, and it was a joy to journey through those experiences together.  Here are some of my favorite pictures of these sweet girls:

Ashley, me, and Sarah- all over 33 weeks pregnant at this point!  Amanda bought all three of us pedicures while she and her husband babysat all 6 of our children!  This is one small example of why I treasure their friendship.



These girls were sweetly insistent on celebrating our 3rd child.  Despite the fact that two of them had 2-week-old sons and that one of them was also moving to KY a few days later just like us, they threw a shower on Sullivan's Island where we prayed for our son and enjoyed treats and lemonade.

We also picked up seashells off the beach and made a baby mobile out of them!  This was such a meaningful gift, and it's currently hanging in our boys' bedroom.

Rachel, Ashley w/ baby David, me, Sarah C, and Amanda.  






Another treasure we'll take with us from Charleston includes the friendships we were able to form with the other ENT fellows and their families: the Gudis family and the Houlton family. From the first week we arrived in Charleston, Charlotte, Crystal, and I got our kids together weekly for playdates at the Houltons' gorgeous waterfront home, and our friendships grew week by week.  We, too, underwent various hardships and big decisions during our year in Charleston, and I'm grateful for all of the conversations we shared. I love these girls and will miss them very much!  Paul and I hope to see the Houltons at future ENT related events, and we are still set on convincing the Gudis family that Louisville is just as thrilling of a place to settle as New York City!   

David Gudis, Paul, and Jeff Houlton.  

Me, Crystal Houlton, and Charlotte Gudis


This picture accurately displays our weekly get togethers!  Oh how I will miss them.



We bid a sad farewell to our Charleston friends, and the boys and I headed towards Louisville while Paul finished up in Charleston. On the way there, we enjoyed making a pitstop in Kingsport!  The boys enjoyed spending quality time with their grandparents, and Caleb clearly enjoyed his first experience at La Carretta. 













And alas, we arrived in our new "home," Louisville!  God once again reminded us of his gracious provision of friendships as we entered our home to a stocked fridge (thanks Meg, Jill, and Bethany) and meals courtesy of the Frantz and Lindblom families.

Luke and I have been memorizing Romans 8:32 which states, "He who did not spare His own Son for us, but who gave Him up for us all- how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?" What a joy it is to partake in the privileges of being a Christian and to experience the gracious provision that God lavishes on His children!  That provision most certainly includes the start to Paul's career:

Paul has joyfully accepted the position as an associate professor of head and neck surgical oncology in the ENT department at the University of Louisville!  He considers it an honor to work among those who trained him, and we praise God for sending us back to Louisville!  While we will miss our beloved friends in Charleston, we are enjoying the surreal experience of finally settling in a city that we love so much.








Friday, June 13, 2014

"What You Don't Know"

If I have time to write these days, it's usually done on a private blog where I write more vulnerably to my boys. Sometimes the entries include stories about our day; sometimes I'm trying to impart biblical wisdom to them; and sometimes I write about where they are developmentally.  Ideally I'll be able to compile these entries in a printed book version and give them to the boys as gifts on a yearly basis.

Below is an entry I recently wrote to them about their dad.  Though he's imperfect (and he'll likely be surprised at what he reads when he sees this), he's an exemplary dad who models the Perfect Savior.


"What You Don't Know"





Luke and Caleb,

We recently went to your favorite park right by Daddy's work to picnic for dinner.  Usually it's just the three of us at the park together, so your faces lit up with excited surprise when you saw Daddy walking towards you in his blue scrubs and with his briefcase in hand.  He was on the phone in what appeared to be an important conversation.  As I was swinging you, Caleb, I heard another father at the park teasingly comment that your dad "looked important in his blue scrubs."  I felt frustrated when I heard this, because there was so much that this man did not know.

What this man did not know what that your dad had walked blocks from work just to savor a few free moments he had before he needed to return to work.  Your dad didn't care what he looked like or how he appeared to others; he simply wanted to see his wife and kids.  This man didn't know that the highlight of your dad's day that day was seeing you two laugh and play at the park during the 30 free minutes he had available to see you.

Similarly, boys, there is so much about your father that you do not yet know.

You know that your daddy loves you.  But you do not know the extent of that love.  You do not recognize the pride on your father's face when he talks about you two.  You do not know how he joyfully laughs at your differences and celebrates the ways that you are unique. You don't know that he frequently asks me to "keep the boys up" on nights when he is leaving work near your bedtime, because he just wants to see you.  You don't know that your daddy runs upstairs to your bedroom on nights when he returns from work long after your bedtime, and he watches you and pats you as you sleep.   You don't know that it's really not your dad's inclination to belly laugh loudly and play Goliath with you, but he'll do just about anything to make you laugh.  You don't know that in the midst of his day of cutting cancer out, he's most satisfied when he gets to call home in between surgeries to hear how your day is going: what discipline is looking like that day, what our plans are, or what funny comments you have made so far.  You don't know that when he speaks sternly to correct you; or when he tells you to take your toys away from the dinner table; or when he sits across from you at supper for an entire hour as he waits for you to swallow that last piece of broccoli- it's because he loves you.

When people ask what your daddy does, you answer that he "works hard to help people," but let's separate those phrases.  

You know that your daddy works hard.  But you do not know how hard he works and how well he disguises that exhaustion to you when he walks through the front door.  You don't know that he wakes up hours before you do, stands on his feet for at least 12 hours (usually longer), and does well if he gets enough of a break to eat his sandwich and apple that is packed for him.  He tries his best to be available to us when he comes home, and after you've gone to sleep, he often reads to prepare for tomorrow's surgery.  Yes, your dad works hard.

You know that your daddy helps people.  But you don't know that helping sick people get better is what drives your daddy to work so hard.  People choose their careers for various reasons; your father chose to become a surgeon so that he can help sick people.   It's that simple.  He treats some of the sickest patients in his specialty, and he cares deeply about giving them his best effort as their surgeon. Your dad is fully aware of his weaknesses, as he frequently calls between surgeries to voice those and to be reminded that we are praying for him.  Yes, your daddy uses his God-given abilities to work hard to help people, boys.



You don't know the extent of his love for you; you don't know how hard he works; and you don't know how much he wants to help people.  This sounds like an exemplary father to me, sons, and you would do well to watch and learn from him.  It sounds a lot like the Heavenly Father whose love we cannot fathom, who came to earth to work hard by being perfectly obedient to the Father so that he could help us by granting us saving life through Him.  May you come to know that perfect Father as your own father exemplifies Him to you.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Family Pictures at Isle of Palms




My good friend, Sarah Cline, is an impressive photographer, and even though she is 36 weeks pregnant and has family visiting, she was willing to take some pictures of our family at Isle of Palms last night.  With Charleston being such a beautiful city, we had plenty of great options for shooting locations.  But none seemed more representative of our time in Charleston than the beach.  Given how thrilled our boys are around water, I was proud of them for cooperating during the pictures by remaining dry for (almost) the entire time.  Thank you, Sarah, for somehow managing to capture such wonderful pictures despite the unwelcomed wind!





















"The Frown"
























































My favorite pic!



















Saturday, March 8, 2014

And then there were... 5!!



We came to Charleston for Paul's one-year fellowship with no knowledge of where we would settle after the year was over and that we would be leaving Charleston with me being 8 (+) months pregnant!


Even though we were as surprised as we could be about this pregnancy, we have only been excited.  We give glory to the Creator of all things who has, in His infinite wisdom, decided to bless us with another child.


My OB is the best ever and has let me take a peek at the baby at every single appointment.  So Paul and I actually discovered the gender at 14 weeks gestation, but we wanted to keep it a secret until we received the official news at my anatomy ultrasound yesterday!  We are most grateful for the good news that this little one appears to be healthy as far as we can tell.


Here are the big brothers sharing the news about baby Tennant #3:



video



Here's a view of the baby's profile:

(Profile is the right half of the picture; belly is the left half of the picture).



We enjoyed celebrating over pizza last night (thanks to my parents for the gift card!):

That's right- Cici's Pizza.  We're not ashamed.  Buffets + pregnancy = always a good thing.  And feeding 4 for $12 isn't bad either.






I never knew how much fun little boys could be, and I love that they seem to be taking over our family!  We look forward to welcoming this little guy in mid-July, Lord-willing!  Let the chaos... continue!  We thank the Sustainer of life for knitting this one together.






Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"What Christmas Songs Mean to Me



There have only been two posts on this blog that have resulted from a sense of compulsion to sit down an write out my thoughts.  One was this post about Diane Schreiner when she had her bike accident.  The other post, for whatever reason, is this one.

When I became a Christian back in 1997, I knew very little about the Bible.  Since I'm from Tennessee, the heart of the Bible belt, and since my parents had my brothers and me in church fairly regularly, I'd heard the gospel message on countless occasions. But whatever little knowledge I did have about Christ, I had no experience behind it.  I may have been able to recite the gospel message, but nothing about that message ever compelled me…

Until, sitting alone in a pew, I heard it at a church camp.  I don't remember the exact words that the youth pastor shared.  But through his message, the Lord opened my eyes to three truths: 1) I was created for a purpose; 2) That purpose was to know God; and 3) Jesus was the way for me to know God.  Every atom in my body said, "Yes!" to this message, and I remember experiencing an indescribable joy when I placed my faith in what Christ had done.  It wasn't a purely sentimental decision; it was an irresistible one.  And though sentiment is not what we Christians rely on, nothing has (or will) fulfilled me like Christ has and does.  Not my husband.  Not my children.

I love the fact that Jesus saved me without knowing much about Him.  I love that He called me with such ignorance of his majesty, purity, and holiness, knowing that He would build on that knowledge in my years to come.  What mattered most was that I knew and believed the glorious, but basic gospel message. 

And one of the ways He built upon that basic gospel knowledge was through a familiar Christmas carol.  I think it was the Christmas of 1998 that I heard the timeless, "O Holy Night," and the Lord opened my eyes again to behold the incredible truths within that song:

"Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn'.
Fall on your knees!"

I will never forget sitting in my room and listening to this song, and though I had heard this song throughout my entire life, the gospel truth of this message warmed my heart.  I've never been able to listen to that song without beholding the truth that He has appeared, and my soul has felt its worth.

Now that my oldest is able to listen to song lyrics, we have Christmas music playing whenever we're home.  That's pretty often, considering I stay at home with my little ones.  I catch myself tearing up throughout the day as I listen to these gospel-saturated songs, and though the tears are largely due to the fact that I'm pregnant, I think they're also a result of a God-given desire to behold the beauty of Christ.  And I think that's really why most people feel such strong emotions about Christmas songs: they prick our hearts and reveal a desire to welcome and behold the Creator who came to dwell with us.  

I'm so grateful that He who began a good work in me will carry it to completion at the day of His coming (Philippians 1:6), and I cherish every occasion that God deepens my gratitude for what He has done, especially as I worship Him in beautifully written Christmas songs.