Our autumn blur

I haven’t blogged in nearly three months — officially the longest gap I’ve ever had between writings. And that pretty much sums up the blur that has been life the last few months.

Our summer wrapped up with these end-of-dog-days notables:

  • Matthew’s birthday party;
  • our final trip of the season to Wet n’ Wild with Matthew and Miss Stacey;
  • my completing the Color Vibe 5k with Tricia;
  • Zeke breaking his arm while playing nighttime freeze tag at Miss Jessica’s;
  • my 45th birthday;
  • and Papa’s 80th birthday party in Richmond.

We attended a Trump rally, which served as our anniversary kick-off & the 3 Amigos’ civics lesson for the day. Plus, we ran into Tyrnan & Jim @ the event. What a win-win-win!

From then on, we began mixing a brew of activities, which seemed to make life rush by in the blink of an eye. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was all good stuff, just a bit overwhelming, especially for a mama who took Awana off our schedule this year just so we’d have more free time. Ha, live and learn.

There were 3 main ingredients to our cocktail of crazy:

1. SRA baseball

Baseball was the big kahuna time-wise because all three boys played this season, although Gabriel and Zeke were on the same team. However, being that there were two games a week per team and two early-morning Saturday practices every weekend … well, just talking about it makes me tired.

Houston the big-hitter! (Speaking of blurry, my apologies for the not-so-focused baseball pics. Sports photography is hard, people.)

Now, throw in these curve balls (pardon the pun):

  • that kids were supposed to show up a half an hour before game time to warm up;
  • the fields where they played were both 20-30 minutes away from home;
  • sometimes the 3 Amigos were scheduled for games on the same night (and sometimes at the same time);
  • dinner either had to be eaten in the van en route to the game, or made and served up upon arrival home to a tired and hungry (read: “hangry”) crew;
  • and then there were even games every night of the week during part of the playoffs.

Luckily for me, the boys’ teams didn’t advance too far in the tournament. I know that sounds callous to say, but sheesh, this old lady needed a break something fierce. I think the 3 Amigos and Daddy did, too.

Houston participated in his last season of coach-pitch ball with good buddy, NickO. His team, the Athletics, didn’t do that well, but Houston really came out of his shell as far as his personal skills go, especially his hitting.

Bum arm & all, Zeke does what it takes to help out his team during an early-season scrimmage game.

That child actually hit a few home runs and a lot of RBIs. He was even moved to 4th position in the batting lineup, which is the “cleanup hitter” (a.k.a. the “power hitter,” says Stephen). Way to go, Houston!

This season was Gabriel and Zeke’s first experience with competitive baseball. Their team was the Rockies. And I’ve gotta say, they really took to the regimen, the hard-nosed style of the rec coaches, the technicality and rules of the game, and the responsibility that comes with being part of both a winning or losing team.

It was amazing to see my two sometimes head-in-the-clouds boys out on the field, focused and ready for action; to watch them attentively listen to their coaches, heed their advice, and improve on skills; and to witness them strike out or be called out or lose a game, and not cry, although I know it often devastated them. Studs for sure.

Gabriel, whose running had been likened to a kid moving through quicksand, sprints to home plate. Running was just one of the many drastically improved skills the twins attained over the course of their baseball season.

Moreover, Zeke played the first five weeks in a cast. Sure, he didn’t get to hit. But when he was in the outfield, boy, he was working his butt off, stopping grounders and even catching a couple pop-flies with his baseball cap.

I’ve got to say, although it was an exhausting few months, it was such a pleasure to watch the 3 Amigos grow in their sportsmanship, maturity, and love of the game. It really was a blessing to be a part of it all.

2. CC + Essentials

Sure, this is our 5th year of doing Classical Conversations. But this is Houston’s (and my) 1st year of Essentials, which is the dialectic stage of the classical-education model called the trivium.

Zeke & Gabriel get ready to blow out their eight candles during their birthday celebration @ the Eden Drive-In. Where have all the years gone, my sweet babes?!

What the boys have been doing up to now is called Foundations. It’s the grammar stage of the trivium, and it involves tons of memorizing vocabulary and basic facts about a variety of subjects.

The dialectic is when kids start “asking questions, sorting, comparing, and practicing the knowledge learned in the grammar stage.” It involves delving deeper into English grammar and writing. It’s an extra 2-hours of instruction after Foundations wraps up at noon every Tuesday, but it does comprise our complete language-arts program.

It’s intense, humbling, time-consuming, and challenging, to say the least, but it’s effective. I also had good advice from a couple veteran moms, who advised us newbies to take it easy, chill out, and relax. After all, Houston will be in Essentials for three years, so no need to bite off more than we can chew. (The twins will start it in fall 2018.)

The neighborhood crew held their own election & the results are in: Zeke won secretary of state, Jacob governor, Gabriel treasurer, Houston VP & Congress, NickO president, Gavan (not pictured) press secretary & Congress, & Matthew (also not pictured) general.

Houston has become a madman at diagramming and parsing sentences. He actually enjoys it and always says, “Let’s do one more, Mommy.” And we’ve written some great papers on a myriad of medieval topics, with Houston taking the helm more and more each week, coming up with his own similes, alliterations, metaphors, and more.

It is quite a wonder to see a classically-educated child unfold and mature and grow into an independent learner. One day, the 3 Amigos will all be smarter than me … but not just yet, fellas. And can you believe we wrap up our semester this coming Tuesday? Life is a blur indeed.

3. “Church shopping”

That’s what Protestants call it when they flee a church because it’s not meeting their spiritual needs anymore. It may have gotten too worldly because it has too many parking volunteers, too much of a rock-n-roll praise band, or too much of a social-justice bent.

We had a corntacular good time w/ friends @ Harvest Ridge Farm on Halloween morning.

Or it may have been putting too much effort into lobby coffee, happy Sunday greeters, or video messaging. Whatever the case, evangelicals say their hungry for authenticity and truth, not watered down, gimmicky, commercial, popular sentiment. After all, truth is probably the most unfashionable thing these days … or any days, for that matter.

But because of this, we left our church of 3+ years this summer and have been “frolicking,” as one pastor called it, this fall. We have visited three churches over the last few months: two Reformed Presbyterian and one Eastern Orthodox.

I will write more about our religious adventures in a future blog. But for now, suffice it to say that we’re seeking a church with stronger roots and traditions, more liturgy, and a deeper respect for history and the early church.

The Halloween posse, featuring the 3 Amigos as different warriors throughout history: Gabriel is a Confederate infantryman, Houston a U.S. soldier, & Zeke a Medieval barbarian. Not politically correct in the least, which is just the way we like it!

And because we’re so serious about participating in a church, a denomination, a corporate worship that is grounded in longstanding convention with an adherence to great Christians and rituals of the past, we have been very intentional in our frolicking, as well as getting to know each church’s leaders.

My pal, Adair, and her family are extremely involved in Christ Covenant. Her husband, Eric, is an elder, and a few cool CC families attend there. One Sunday, Adair and Eric even hosted a lunch at their house, where they invited our family, the lead pastor, Neil, and his family, and a few other choice folks. That meant a lot to us.

Neil even reached out to Stephen on his own accord. The two met for lunch and talked about everything from faith to firearms to freedom and more.

The dudes go nuts on the giant jumping pillow @ Harvest Ridge. You gotta love the feel & smell of a warm autumn day … it’s just like a cozy blanket.

Our pals, Tricia, Jeremy, Bret, and Bella go to The Kirk. In fact, Jeremy preached during our first visit there. He’s not a pastor per se because he didn’t graduate from seminary, but still, that was super-cool. They even treated us to a post-church lunch twice and on their dime. Very kind indeed.

Like Adair and Eric, Tricia and Jeremy are serious, thoughtful Christians. They wear their faith humbly, but forthrightly, always growing, reading, discussing, reaching out, delving in, and just keeping Jesus at the center.

It’s like my BFF Christie, who actually introduced me to Tricia and Jeremy, once said: that her walk with Jesus was head and heart. Intellectual and emotional. Reason and faith. And that describes where Stephen and I are, and the Kirk and Christ Covenant, which are both Reformed/Calvinist, meet those needs.

Our crew @ the Carolina Renaissance Festival. Jousting, dungeons, falconry, fire eaters, jugglers, sword fighting, gothic weaponry, fairies & even camel rides + awesome friends = medieval merriment!

Holy Cross, on the other hand, is Orthodox, meaning that it has basically done things unchanged for 2,000 years. It was the early church. The first Christians sung the same songs, chanted the same prayers, and had the same liturgy.

When the Great Schism took place in 1054, Catholics tweaked a few tenets and invented some new ones from their base in Rome. But Orthodox Christians just kept doing things old school and kept its center in Constantinople. And when Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation in 1517, it was against Catholicism, not Orthodoxy.

Admittedly, Stephen and I still researching this ancient, but not-well-known brand of Christianity. And it is vastly different than what we’ve become accustomed to at Protestant churches. It’s extremely serious, not casual. It’s highly ceremonial, not preacher-centric. It’s solemn, not loud and over-the-top.

Interestingly, Father Christopher, the head priest at Holy Cross, was in the popular alt-rock band Luxury in the ’90s (click on this NRP link, and he’s the second dude from the left). Before that, he was into punk and says that he used to read a lot of Noam Chomsky. Pretty zany for a man of the cloth, huh?!

Zeke’s uses his new double-headed axe to slay this scalawag pirate @ the Renaissance Fest.

Recently, Stephen met with Father Christopher for lunch, and even though some of the above tidbits might lead one to believe that he leans left, he explained to Stephen that, because of keeping with tradition, there’s really little room for politics in a homily. And for us, that’s a good thing.

Sickness, Stanley, & slogging

This triad of busy was intensified by a stomach bug that worked its way through the family in early fall. People puking in trashcans, on couches, in beds, and on walls… you know, the average abdominal-virus fare. It was rough.

Houston, Gabriel, and I were hit early on in autumn with severe seasonal allergies. Mine haven’t been that acute in years. We really should buy some stock in Kleenex.

Those illnesses subsided, only to be replaced by a harsh debilitating cold that’s been bringing Stephen, Gabriel, and me down for the past week and a half. Oh, and did I mention that I got a gargantuan stress-induced fever blister on my top lip the night of the election?! Here we are, nearly two weeks out, and I still have a healing scab. Nuts!

A nervous Houston grabs on for dear life on this real, live camel during a ride @ the Renaissance Fest. It was an hour-long wait to ride, so I hope the boys’ enjoyment & adrenaline rush outweighed any anxiety they may have felt these atop these huge, smelly beasts.

Stanley had an injury, too: a cat bite on his front right paw. Once I noticed his limp, I doctored it myself for a few days, and it seemed to get better. But all of a sudden, it ballooned up and his hobble intensified, so I finally took him to the vet.

The doc said he had the cat version of cellulitis, so he got his booboo drained and cleaned, a shot, meds for home, and had to have a check-up a few days later. While at that return visit, the vet noticed that Stan had lost 3 pounds since his annual appointment this summer. So, he had a third appointment for a round of blood tests.

Turns out, Stan has hyperthyroidism. Because we’ve caught his early on (unlike Bob’s, which was in the extreme stages once diagnosed) and because he’s 14, we are foregoing expensive treatment options, which the vet says is ethical at this point. However, once the condition worsens, we’ll have to put him down. So sad.

I actually completed an entire 5k (w/o walking) w/ my pal, Tricia. And amazingly, I have been running fairly consistently ever since. Here’s to good health.

Stephen’s job got a bit hairier than usual this fall, with calls from the powers-that-be for additional sacrifices in personal time and little to no telecommuting. So, I had to get creative in getting to all my necessary yearly medical appointments, which, for some reason, all take place this time of year.

Thankfully, Granny visited, allowing me to get to my gynecological and eye exams, and then I squeezed in my mammogram late one afternoon when I think the kids were playing at a neighbor’s house. I can’t really recall, but it was touch-and-go for a while there.

Fortunately, Stephen can work from home again without too much hand-wringing from his workplace overseers, but he could still use any and all prayers for just doing what he does so well: laboring diligently and providing for his family with little complaint. We love you, darling!

Gabriel readies himself to ride a mini-motorcycle @ NickO’s birthday party. What a cutie pie!

October occurrences

October always offers up an annual whirlwind of fun. Our 16th anniversary began with a Trump rally in the afternoon. That evening, we got Donni to babysit, and Stephen treated me to an hour-long couples’ massage and then an eating/drinking feast at World of Beer. Doesn’t my husband know me well?!

We celebrated Gabriel and Zeke’s 8th birthday at the Eden Drive-In. A smorgasbord of cool kids and even a few families were in tow for the movie. We packed up already-prepared hotdogs, sides, popcorn, and cake, and enjoyed the beautiful night outdoors under the balmy fall sky.

Bret and Tyrnan spent the night, so the good times kept on rolling until wee in the morning. And then our clan went out to Burger Warfare and Krispy Kreme that Sunday (on their actual birthday) to round out the celebratory weekend.

There’s always a haze of activity surrounding All Hallow’s Eve. A few days prior, Miss Julie hosted a Halloween piano party, at which each student played their spooky-themed songs.

During our outing to Harvest Ridge, Gabriel & I strike a pose w/ Miss Jessica — my partner in crime for mirth-making & mischief.

On Halloween morning, we went with Miss Jessica, Jacob, and NickO to Harvest Ridge Farm. It had massive hillside sliding boards, a giant jumping pillow, a corn cannon, huge rolls of hay to climb on, a barrel train, and of course, a corn maze and a tractor-pull ride.

Miss Stacey hosted a pre-trick-or-treating party that evening. She had a variety of games for the kids and food for all, which really came in handy since I had spent my whole late afternoon helping the 3 Amigos piece together their homemade costumes, not fixing dinner.

Trick-or-treating was a hoot. Miss Jessica even drove us wide and far in her golf cart, so the boys’ pumpkins were overflowing with goodies, and the adults were able to kick back and enjoy an adult beverage or two during our escapades.

Playing Risk w/ Daddy: a new favorite pastime of the 3 Amigos. It can get pretty intense, y’all.

We’ve had quite a few other special fall memories, like:

  • a rare visit from Gramsey and Papa, who got to catch both a Rockies and an Athletics baseball game;
  • a farewell dinner hosted by Miss Shawn for our longtime and wonderful neighbors, Miss Ruth, Mr. Kevin, and Maddie, who’ve moved back to their home state of Pennsylvania;
  • Q Commons, a “live learning experience” that focuses on discussing relevant topics through a Christian lens, which I attended solo;
  • the Renaissance Festival, which we did with Mr. Jeremy, Bret and Bella, as well as the J-Crew (sans Logan), who spent the night with us the night before;
  • local birthday parties for neighbor NickO and CC buddy Joel;
  • and Asher’s 10th birthday party, which was in Roanoke, so our entire clan made a weekend of it and was able to spend some much overdue with our beloved J-Crew.

So, yes, we are busy and our lives do sometimes seem to be a blur. But what is abundantly clear is that we are truly blessed. Of that, I am sure and grateful.

Running around … & just running

So, guess who has been training for a 5k? This 44-year-old, 25-pound-overweight, slow-as-molasses mama, that’s who! Pretty astonishing considering that at one time (due to my past left hip/lumbar/pelvis injuries), I was fairly certain I would never even be able to run around the block. Thank God for modern medicine and improved health!

“Running slow isn’t a character flaw. Quitting is.” – Jacqueline Gunderson

It’ll be interesting to see if I can actually complete a 3.1-mile race, considering that my longest run to date probably maxed out at just over 2.5 miles. But Tricia, who I’ll be running the Color Vibe 5k with on 8/27, promises me that my adrenaline will help push me through to the finish line.

Just like old times: Beck-Nut & Laura Anne on the tandem bike!

I’m fairly confident that I can complete the course, as long as we don’t start off too fast. I really don’t mind running so slowly that little old ladies with walkers are speed-walking passed me; I just don’t want to wuss out and walk. Wish me luck!

Got another one for ya: Guess who took on the 76-foot water shoot at Wet n’ Wild known as the Daredevil Drop? Yep, yours truly. In an effort to prove to the boys that super-scary rides aren’t really all that scary, I nearly had a heart attack! But I survived and was thrilled to bits that I actually had the cojones to go through with the steep plunge.

Third time’s the charm

So, it turns out that this old cliché proved true for us at Wet n’ Wild. The dudes and I ventured over again on 8/10, and I was kinda dreading it due to our first two stress-inducing trips to the waterpark. But this outing proved to be way more fun.

The 3 Amigos having fun @ my old stomping grounds in Deltaville, Va.

There were barely any visitors there on this Wednesday afternoon, so the wait times were short to nonexistent. Moreover, we all had way more realistic expectations about who would participate in what slides, and how we would handle scaredy-cats not willing to do a particular ride. It worked out quite splendidly!

Return to the rivah

After probably more than 25 years, my old friend, Laura Anne, and I reconnected on Facebook. She had been one of my besties growing up because our families had cottages right beside one another along the Rappahannock River, where we spent most every weekend of summer, from before I was born till our place was sold in ’81.

Needless to say, we have many incredible memories from our summers in Deltaville, like crabbing, fishing, boating, and swimming on the river; and riding bikes (and sometimes even motorcycles) all around North End Shores and up to Snake Road.

Check out the underside of this sailboat I made Kara & the boys pose in front of @ the Deltaville Marina? Isn’t it neat looking?

While Mom drank her Tab and Dad his cheap canned beer, we kids had bonfires, made s’mores, and set off dangerous (by today’s standards) fireworks at night on the beach; we frogged, fished, and hunted for sassafras at the pond; and we all ate fresh-caught fish and crabs on our screened-in front porch.

Basically, it was a childhood of exploration, adventure, and freedom. Such was growing up in the unencumbered and relaxed 1970s, and that kind of free-range living always seemed amplified at the river. In fact, my long-lived nickname “Beck-Nut” was coined by Laura Anne’s older brother, Eric, during those wild Deltaville days.

Dina, who is as nostalgic about the river as am I, enjoyed a few fleeting moments when dropping off Kara and Sara. Although it was a whirlwind visit from July 20-22, this blast from the past gave us an opportunity to catch up with Laura Anne and her mom, and meet two of her five kids, as well as offer our kids a glimpse into the early Quate years.

Three generations of sassy ladies gather for Dina’s 50th birthday crab-feast party on 8/6!

Other notables

  • Dina and I took the kids to play miniature golf at the putt-putt in Richmond where we used to play. Not much has changed, just good, clean fun.
  • I had a girls-night out with my good friend, Penny. We ate Scottish eggs, drank craft beer, and loved having some kid-free time together.
  • We also had Penny, Jim, and Tyrnan over for dinner. They are in the midst of church-shopping, too, so we had plenty of things to chat about, faith-wise and otherwise.
  • We visited Tricia and Jeremy’s church. Jeremy actually preached, which was super cool. And then after church, they took us out to lunch … on them. Super-duper cool.
  • Adair had our family over for a pool date, which had been rain-checked three times. Stephen and Eric discussed theology and politics, Adair, Christina, and I chatted about homeschooling and mama things, and our total of 10 kids had a blast swimming.
  • Houston attended a weeklong half-day baseball camp at the local high school as a belated birthday gift. He got to hang out with pals Nick and Carter, and said he learned a lot from the coaches and teenagers.

Stephen, Greg, Meredith, & I went to see the Tedeschi-Trucks Band, Los Lobos, & North Mississippi All-Stars in Charlotte on 7/24. It was a hot, humid evening filled w/ kickin’ tunes!

  • The 3 Amigos wrapped up their summer piano lessons with a party on 7/29. We have the month of August off, before starting back to fall lessons, which will entail Houston having an extra 15 minutes each week per Miss Julie’s request!
  • Gabe and Zeke spent the night with their buddy, Josh. This was a sleepover that had been months in the making, which made it extra-special sweet for the twins.
  • Houston spent the night with “Nick 2,” who is now called “Nick O,” even though his middle name doesn’t start with said letter. Weird, I know.
  • Miss Jessica and I had a long overdue “mama booze date” at her community pool. I hope to have more of these bonding sessions with my sweet neighbor this fall.
  • Last night, Dan treated us to a “braai, which is just a fancy Afrikans word for a grilling out. Chillin’ with our favorite South African and his kid, Brendan, is always proves to be a good time.
  • Interestingly, I modeled a shawl for Greg. See, he’s a very talented knitter and has created his own pattern, which he wants to sell online. Once the pics are available to view, I’ll be sure to share.

Keep calm, it’s summer

This is a mantra I keep telling myself. But when you just finished up your math curriculum from last “school year” this past week, well, one can understand why calm has been an elusive thing around the Dillingham household for much of the summer.

Clan Dillingham on the stern of the U.S.S. North Carolina in Wilmington, NC. Now there’s a nice looking crew!

Many friends that are normally at school during the day are now home while the 3 Amigos and I do lessons, so it has been a bit challenging. Even though we’ve summer-schooled in year’s past, the dudes didn’t have as many solid boy friendships in the neighborhood back then, so there simply weren’t as many distractions.

But that has all changed, which is a blessing, of course. It can just sometimes make the logistics and implementation of educating year-round a tad arduous. Not mention, all of our sleeping-in late hasn’t helped … then again, that’s part of the “calm” of summer, right?!

And now that we finally wrapped up the Saxon math curriculum, I feel like I have broken free of the chains. See, Saxon is very teacher-centered and time-intensive, so it was taking virtually all morning for me to complete a lesson with Houston and then one with Gabriel and Zeke.

Gabriel “steers” the battleship from the bridge. He sure makes one cute & confident captain!

This obviously left sparse time to do other necessary school, catch-up work, supplementary learning activities, and other fun projects I have been putting on hold till what I hoped would be a big, fat swath of seasonal spare time. I guess the laugh’s on me.

Good news is now that Saxon is finally complete, we will never again use that curriculum. I am in search of a more student-centered math that frees up the parent significantly while also fostering independent learning for the child.

I think I’ve decided on Teaching Textbooks, which comes highly recommended by other friends and is fairly cost-effective, considering that I’ll eventually be using Houston’s curriculum for the twins. Plus, it’s pretty popular among home-educators, so it shouldn’t be a problem to resell a level once we’ve completed it.

A contemplative Zeke looks out a porthole from the bridge. Maybe being a helmsman is what it’s going to take to calm down this wild child.

Another rough spot of the summer has been dealing with our exit from Mercy Hill. I wrote about our reasons in the three previous blogs, but it was still a hard decision. I mean, two of my kids made their professions of faith in Jesus in the baptismal waters at that church, so yeah, it’s sad.

And right now, we’re taking a church hiatus, just trying to get our muddled heads and broken hearts in order before “church shopping” later in the summer. There are two in particular that I think may meet our theological and non-social gospel needs, but we shall see. Please be praying for us that we find a church home. Thanks.

Of course, there’s seemingly always some behavioral bone of contention that decreases the calm around the homestead. It has been a mostly twin thing for most of the summer, sometimes one, sometimes the other, sometimes both (a la the “freight train.”)

A view of the battleship bow from the bridge. Can you imagine actually steering this behemoth?!

As of late, Gabriel has been showing a much greater deal of self-control and maturation, though. Thank the Lord! You can tell he’s really trying and liking the results of being a bigger boy. Fewer punishments. More rewards. Greater freedom and independence.

Zeke, on the other hand, well … let’s just say that he has always been our most stubborn, quick-tempered, prone-to-a-meltdown child. We’ve made a tiny bit of progress over the last few days, but geez, can that kid wear a person out! Prayers on that front would be sincerely appreciated, as well.

Despite these hurdles, we’ve actually had a great many adventures this summer … yet they’re ostensibly peppered with a dash of stress here and a sprinkle of anxiety there. I suppose that’s parenthood, but for the love of Pete, let’s relax and have some fun, people. There are too many cool things to do and see to be sitting around, crying about nothing!

Inside the battleship, we found Uncle Bill’s name on the Roll of Honor wall commemorating all North Carolinians (listed by country) who fought in WWII. Bill Houston was Stephen’s grandmother’s brother on Granny’s side. He was a pilot in the war & died in action when he was shot down over India.

Oak Island

We went to this wonderful destination June 18-25. It’s a quaint, low-key little island, about an hour south of Wilmington. Not too fancy and commercial, just the perfect mix of down-home beach town but with a few nearby conveniences.

The interesting thing is that we went with extended Biddix family, including Granny and Cathy; Kelly, Rusty, and cousin Ella; Dale and Teresa; Tiffany and cousins, Grace and Faith; Dustin and his girlfiend, Anna; Christy and cousins Marley and Sofie; Tee, Morgan, and cousins Rawley and Sloane; and Mike and Diane.

It was a raucous week of drinking too much, eating yummy homemade food, and having many loud, boisterous, and often profanity-laden conversations. The swimming was excellent because it never really got that deep, so you could walk way out onto what I guess was a sandbar to catch waves, while never having to tread water.

Granny & Houston hang out @ Oak Island Point, right where the Intracoastal Waterway, the Eastern Channel, and the Atlantic Ocean meet … very cool.

The weather was incredible, even kinda chilly in the evenings, because there was an ever-blowing ultra-force wind. I mean, it was powerful. It even blew over Mike’s canopy, which hit a guy, so there was never any shade to be had while on the beach. Too dangerous.

On the flip side, I never broke a sweat, despite the heat and humidity, so it was always temperate and nice. Most nights featured exquisite moon shows, including a Blood Moon, and a billion perpetual stars dancing on the ocean that we viewed from the front-row seats of our ocean-front house.

Now, there was one particularly stressful time when Stephen and Houston took our new inflatable raft into the Eastern Channel from Oak Island Point. This is where the channel meets up with the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic, causing a huge suction toward the ocean, unbeknownst us.

During our camping trip to Peaks of Otter, here are the boys, precariously balanced on a cliff face & ready to conquer the world during our hike to Harkening Hill, a 3.3 mile loop with an altitude of 3,364 feet.

At first, I thought I could swim out, and help them get back shore. Certainly my kicking at the back of the raft and Stephen’s paddling would create enough force to actually move through the water. Well, as confident of a swimmer as I am, I was scared to even get out to them.

Luckily, Uncle Mike had his boat and proved his nautical skills by rescuing my dudes, even navigating through 2-3 feet of water without getting stuck or ruining his engine. Of course, holding on to the rope that pulled them back to safety almost broke my hand and Stephen’s finger, but eh, that’s the stuff of which memories are made.

And even after all that, awesome Uncle Mike still took Clan Dillingham for an amazing sightseeing ride along the Intracoastal Waterway. Thanks, Mike!

U.S.S. North Carolina

On the way home from the beach, we took a detour to Wilmington to visit this battleship, which was part of the American fleet during WWII.

Enjoying a break @ the summit of Harkening Hill. Sure, you couldn’t see the mountainous view from this high vantage point because stupid nature was in the way, but @ least the national park rangers made up for their lack of stewardship by sorta helping us out when Rick & the boys went “missing.”

According to the battleship tourism pamphlet, “She steamed over 300,000 miles. Although Japanese radio announcements claimed six times that the North Carolina had been sunk, she survived many close calls, near misses, and one hit when a Japanese torpedo slammed into the battleship’s hull” on Sept. 15, 1942.

The boys learned about all that history, and got to check out the ship up close and personal, from the gun mounts and gun turrets, to the Kingfisher scout plane and the plotting and coding rooms, to radio central and the bridge, to the engine room and the powder magazine and projectile storage, to the chapel, galley, and barber shop. Neat.

Houston’s 9th birthday

Santa gave the boys season passes to Wet n’ Wild, and we finally put them to use on July 2, as a belated celebration for Houston’s 9th birthday. Yeah, I knew a Saturday on a holiday weekend was going to be a bit chaotic, but it was even crazier than I had imagined.

Gabriel, Jackson, & Piper do their best “Atlas Shrugged imitation during our hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The additional stress began when I was prohibited from using my two free friend passes, even though my official paperwork didn’t specify any such a restriction. Then we were forced to pay adult prices for Nick and Bret, who are 8 and 11, because they exceeded some arbitrary height rule. What a ripoff.

Despite all this and the very long and tedious lines, I think the boys had fun. Good thing kids are so resilient because I was exhausted by the end of the outing. I think the pizza, chocolate cake, ice cream served at the house and enjoyed with all their neighborhood pals, and a sleepover helped to create some fond birthday memories.

Independence Day

4th of July really wasn’t that notable. We did school that morning, since we were still in hardcore Saxon mode then, but that evening entailed yummy burgers and other delicious edibles grilled by Daddy, and then fireworks and sparklers at Matthew’s house.

This pic was taken literally moments after we returned home from Oak Island. Other than Houston’s pretend angry face, you can tell how happy the hood crew is to be reunited after a week apart. So sweet.

Grasshoppers game

We went to see a minor-league baseball game on July 7 with our neighborhood posse. It was a Thirsty Thursday event, which meant the yummy local microbrews were flowing for only $2 a pop. Now, there’s a bargain!

The kids had half a row of seats along the first baseline all to themselves, and then the parents sat staggered behind them, with the moms first, followed by the dads. I got the tix this way as to foster greater conversation, and I think my plan was a hit. Good times at the ballpark for sure!

There was a rain delay, so the game didn’t end till quite late. And by the time we were leaving, there was a Black Lives Matter protest going on right in front of the stadium. Now the city cops had things well under control, but it was still disconcerting when the 3 Amigos and Matthew started chanting, “Trump! Trump! Trump!”

The boys @ Wet n’ Wild for Houston’s 9th birthday outing. With a buy-one-get-one-free discount, those Icees were about the only thing affordable @ at the waterpark. Highway-robbery prices, I tell ya!

I mean, you know I’m a firm believer in free speech, but when I’m prohibited from carrying my weapon into a baseball game and I’m put in a defenseless position, the last thing I wanna do is tee off a bunch of young, angry black people. Luckily, we made it to the van and home safely. Thanks for driving, Miss Stacey!

Peaks of Otter

From July 8-10, we went camping with the J-Crew and cousin Rick at this national park in Bedford, Va. Camping always provides for many entertaining moments, and this time was no exception.

Some highlights included:

  • a freak storm that blew in just as we were about to finish setting up the tents … classic Dillingham;
  • Houston and Zeke going in circles, like a dog chasing its tail, trying to walk the tent up the steep hill toward the van;
  • watching the twins “fall over rocks, sticks, and thin air,” as Christie described it, and out of chairs constantly around our rugged campsite;
  • an inebriated Christie (a rare occasion in and of itself) laughing hysterically at the reflectors on my tennis shoes and then me laughing hysterically at her;
  • our camping neighbor yelling, “Shut up!” at said mirthful ladies;
  • and the boys following Rick around like he was the Pied Piper.

From L to R: Yours truly, Shannon, Jessica, Stacey, & Joanne representing the hood @ the Thirsty Thursday Hoppers game. Looking good, chicas!

The last item led to our most disturbing memory, however. On our hike down from Harkening Hill summit, the boys took off with Rick ahead the rest of us. By the time Stephen, Christie, Piper, and I slowly meandered down to the visitor center, where the 3.3-mile loop began,there were no dudes were to be seen.

We sat calmly for a while, thinking that they had probably taken a detour to Johnson Farm, a 1930s-era working farm that offers a glimpse of what mountain life was like back in the day. But then an hour passed, and then another, until I started for freak. With no cell coverage up yonder, what’s a worried mama to do?

See, if I had known for a fact that they were all with Rick, I wouldn’t have been so concerned. But he’s such a fast hiker, and the boys are sometimes slow or get off trail or get separated into splinter groups, etc., that my biggest concern was that all kids were not actually with the one adult in the group.

This is what I get when I ask all the kiddos to “act silly” for the shot.

Christie drove to our nearby campground and then to a lodge that was across the parkway, thinking that perhaps in a daze of selfishness, they had completed the hike and set off on a new adventure. But again, no boys were to be found.

Stephen talked to the park ranger inside the visitor center. He apathetically radioed the farm, but got no answer. Then we considered having one person stay at at the center, one hike back up to the summit, and the other do the farm loop.

Then we surmised that that plan would take too long, pushing us way too close to sunset. And did I mention that there had been lots of black bear sightings in that part of the forest?! Yep, that’s always a good thing.

I even went back inside the center to see if the dispassionate ranger would try again to contact the farm. He did so in uncaring, post-office-like fashion, but somehow forgetting to mention to the farm rangers the most distinctive aspects of the missing crew: that Rick has bright green hair and all the missing kids are only ages 6 to 9.

Stephen & neighbors Bill & Heather attended Trump’s rally in Greensboro back on June 14. He was a little apprehensive about going to an event where he’s prohibited from carrying a firearm, even when the protesters are known to turn into a riotous mob. But the rally went off without a hitch, thank God.

As we discussed this tense predicament, a friendly ranger happened to hear our anxious conversations and queried as to what was wrong. After I, in my “Libertarians plotting to take over the world and leave you alone” t-shirt, explained our worries, the ranger commented, ”Oh, you’re a librarian? My mom was a home ec teacher!”

After a quick chuckle over the libertarian-librarian misreading, we took the ranger’s advice and walked to a nearby police van. The cop was very nice and told us to head back to the center, so we could discuss the game plan, which he said would most likely entail a couple of us hiking back in and him taking a vehicle up to the farm via maintenance road.

But right as we reconvened, the green-haired leader and his minions came waltzing out of the woods. After we hugged all our beloved boys and thanked the good Lord for their return, we pieced together that Rick had confused the ”.8 mile” sign pointing back down to the center with “8 miles.”

Doing sparklers on Independence Day w/ some of my favorite mamas, Stacey & Shannon. Happy b-day, ‘Murica!

In his defense, the engraved decimal was not filled in with paint. And the poor dude had tried his best to get those kids back down the hill safely, scouring the farm in pursuit of us, and even hiking back up to the summit solo (while the boys rested at a the farm-hill crossroads) to try to figure out his directional mishap.

So, all’s well that ends well. And the final humorous clincher was that the listless visitor-center ranger emerged from his governmental cave to ask me what had happened. Then he went on to compliment my shirt and admit that he, in fact, was a libertarian, too, making him the Ron Swanson of the federal parks. Classic.

Wet n’ Wild … again

On July 13, we did a waterpark redo with Jessica and Jacob. It was a Wednesday, so there were much shorter lines. We packed food and got our hands stamps, so we could eat outside and didn’t have to buy the overpriced junk food inside.

It wasn’t only the nights that put on grand displays for us while @ Oak Island, but the sunsets were pretty impressive, as well. God is everywhere, watching over us, reminding us to keep calm, it’s summer.

I bought a $4 waterproof bag that hung from my neck beforehand, so all I brought in was our season passes and my car key. When we got thirsty, we drank from the water fountains, and we reapplied sunscreen during our picnic lunch. We also got to use one of our friend passes for Jacob. I was determined not to be taken advantage this time ’round.

Well, the only thing I couldn’t foresee was that the twins were being total scaredy cats about the rides (even ones they had ridden previously), and Houston was being picky. Therefore, I got dissed on much of the fun because of that and our spending a large amount of time contemplating who was willing to ride what and how we would play that out.

I told Jessica I was “wangry and wild,” and that Santa was a fool for buying these season passes. Oh well, live and learn.

Get woke to a catch-22 existence

Well, a lot has been happening on the cultural-imperialist front since my last blog. On the positive side, Great Britain voted to leave the European Union. Brexit was a huge win for secession and for self-determination, putting a chink in the armor of the globalists. But for every small step forward, it’s like we liberty-lovers have to take 100 steps backwards.

So yeah, on the negative side here on the home front, Black Lives Matter activists are killing cops, assaulting citizens, destroying private property, and closing down interstates in an effort to push their hateful message. Just a smattering of race riots dotting the American landscape. That’s all, no big deal, people. Move along.

Seriously, these are crazy times for sure. And anyone with a brain in his head knows BLM is a Marxist movement which cloaks itself in the banner of justice and equality — a pretty great strategy since it fools unwitting, good-hearted people and self-loathing, elitists alike.

Unfortunately, many in the modern American church fall into either one or both of those camps. These Christians have been duped or guilted into thinking that “social justice” is a Biblical prescript. All you have to do is look at a generic definition of the term “social gospel” to see how poisonous this kind of thinking is. Truly frightening.

Somehow, they forgot to mention that it was this progressive social gospel that helped Wilson convince people that America must enter WWI — a horrific struggle, in which America simply had no reason for fighting. The Great War, as it was called, promised to be “the war to end all wars,” but really, it was just the beginning.

I would argue that it was the first domino of an ever-spreading and destructive U.S. imperialism (save the Spanish-American War in the late 1800s). It set the stage for 20th century American war lust. It was the first step in getting a previously free people used to the slow, but steady destruction of Western civilization, all the while subsidizing it.

And we have been on this war-time footing ever since. With flags perpetually at half mast and moments of silence booming from coast to coast, this continual “state of emergency” demands all sorts of anti-liberty actions of its citizens, specifically curtailing one’s freedoms and rights all in the name of safety, security, and the American way.

The social gospel continued the push “forward” with its noxious progressivism, giving us the New Deal and the Great Society, and foisted the dangerous “Pledge of Allegiance” into the consciousness and hearts of all citizens, tricking the people into accepting leftist nationalism and the dystopic view of indivisibility. Thanks, social-gospel totalitarians!

What do all those things have in common? Statism, the very thing of which black people should be wary. The very thing that afforded both slavery and Jim Crow legal protections. The very thing that tried to keep guns out of the hands of freed slaves. The very thing that replaced fatherhood in the black community and beyond.

The very thing that made black, white, brown, and red hapless dependents on government bureaucrats for miseducating, feeding (malnourishing), and housing their kids. The very thing whose militarized police force aggresses against people of all color (and last time I checked, white was a color, too).

The very thing whose top-down central planners are headed by a black president and a black attorney general. The very thing that is organized, implemented, and waged by predominantly black mayors against people in America’s big cities. It is statism that BLM should be fighting against, not the mythical white privilege.

Yet social-justice warriors praise the state, depend upon it for answers and solutions, and then use it to coerce others into accepting their beliefs. Statism pushes the victim status of “people of color” to an untouchable level, so that saying anything counter to them pegs me as a divider and a racist.

And then you have the “Christian” magazine Relevant pushing the narrative of “… the ongoing reality of white supremacy in America” and writing stories about there being a problem with saying “all lives matter.” One of my former pastors actually shared on Facebook a Relevant article, by “Christian” rapper Propaganda, which included much of the same tripe. Ack!

This cancerous type of thinking enables black supremacists to write/say hateful things about other populations. The lies are never questioned by the progressive useful idiots, but instead, are worshipped by SJWs who thank the racists for their “courage” and then plead for patience since whites are “struggling to come to terms with their privilege.”

A commenter to another Relevant article actually said that! Aw, look at the guilty “Anglo” who so wants a black guy to like him, that he is willing to abhor himself just to look cool. Anyone who uses white privilege as an excuse to bludgeon people with hate will never, ever trust a hipster cracker, no matter how self-loathing he is. Get woke, nihilists.

And let’s look at the hypocrisy, like the fact that more whites have been murdered by police than blacks. Where is that in the mainstream media? Where is justice for whitey? Well, that doesn’t make for sexy, divisive news, or a civilization-destroying movement.

Sure, more blacks have been killed proportionately, but honestly, SJWs don’t care about white folks dying, at the hands of the state or otherwise. It doesn’t fit their narrative: “people of color” get killed by cops, so we cry for more state intervention. Huh? It’s hard to even wrap my head around such an illogical premise as that.

But what about these facts (something that Propaganda the rapper said we shouldn’t worry ourselves with): according to the U.S. Department of Justice, which has been headed by only black attorneys general under Obama, between 1980 and 2008, black people committed 52% of homicides, even though they are 1/5 of the population.

And in 2013, black criminals committed 38% of all murders, while whites accounted for just 31%. Where are the SJWs who want to deal with that? Oh yeah, blame it on white institutional racism and then force the “Anglos” to pay for the very thing that really hurts all people: statism.

What about black-on-black crime? My former lead pastor said that shooting sprees that happen all too commonly in Chicago are not reported due to “poverty.” Really? Nope, it’s not because the victims are “poor” blacks. It’s because the murderers are black.

It was this statement during a sermon on privilege (coupled with that horrid FB share by another pastor mentioned earlier) that we decided to part with our church of three-plus years. Sad, I know, but that kind of message is either borne out of naivety or deceit.

A picture that Vester Lee Flanagan II posted to Twitter before killing two journalists on live TV in Moneta, Va. As a fired employee of the news station, the mainstream media claimed the Flanagan had gone postal. But really, he was incited to “kill whitey” due to the BLM off-shoot, F***YoFlag, whose organizer, “Sunshine,” has called on her radio show for lynching & killing crackers & then sharing the pics via social media.

Either way, I am not attending any church where the leadership pushes the privilege message. It is a dangerous narrative because I know it’s code for “white people (especially men) are devil supremacists” and “people of color are righteous victims.” You can’t fool me. I was a socialist and feminist once, remember? I understand the lingo.

What about black-on-white crime? Such crime is rampant, yet is never reported. Why? Because the media has accepted white guilt and refuses to report facts in order to purge themselves of their supposed privilege and ancestral past sins. They aren’t watchdogs of truth, but they are instead the perpetrators of fiction and lies.

Check out the work of Colin Faherty, author of White Girl Bleed a Lot. The subhead of his newest book, Don’t Make the Black Kids Angry, pretty much sums it up: The Hoax of Black Victimization and How We Enable It. This is the suspension-of-reality world in which sane people are being forced to exist.

Anti-Trump protestors w/ their Che Guevara shirts (gag!) & pro-socialism signs (double gag!) intimidate & assault citizens @ rallies “by any means necessary” — a mantra that the French intellectual, Jean-Paul Sartre, penned in his 1940s play, “Dirty Hands,” & then entered popular civil-rights culture through a speech given by Malcolm X @ the Organization of Afro-American Unity Founding Rally on June 28, 1964. Love how that chick is using a tool created by the “patriarchy” (the smart phone was invented largely by men) to film the burning of a hat. Hypocrisy.

Let’s not forget to follow the money. The Washington Post reported leftist billionaire George Soros gave more than $30 million in seed money to BLM-affiliated organizations. According to EssenceGoogle did the same, giving $2.35 million in grants to activist groups addressing the “racial injustices that have swept the nation.”

Another major BLM donor group is Democracy Alliance, which was started by Soros and Taco Bell heir Rob McKay, and is endowed by hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer. Others include Black Youth Project 100Center for Popular DemocracyCenter for American Progress, and The Black Civic Engagement Fund.

All nice sounding names that just want “restorative justice,” right? Wrong. They’re simply part of a web of communist front groups. It is hateful, anti-white, totalitarian, and evil, and spans from the black-supremacist movement to La Raza to man-hating feminist organizations, and is all kept afloat by wealthy progressives. And the media, of course.

Do ya feel the love?!

So, not only am I told to embrace guilt, pass this self-loathing on to my kids, not criticize or question or fight for peace and sanity out of fear of being castigated as “part of the problem,” I am forced to subsidize the statism that spreads the poison that is pitted against my family. How do you like them apples?

Moreover, what about “black and brown privilege” in labor quotas, higher education, welfare distribution, bank loans, housing, media bias, selective law enforcement and police protections, and other sectors of the system of which BLM and La Raza benefit, yet claim they want to fight?

It’s state-endorsed cultural imperialism. It’s violence against my children. It’s arrested development of the masses, and I’m footing the bill.

Earlier I mentioned our living in an oligarchy: rule by a few. This is indeed true, but civilization is also being destroyed by ochlocracy: rule of the government by a mass of people. In other words, mob rule or majoritarianism. It is like a two-headed monster from which freedom-loving people cannot escape. It is a catch-22 existence.

What a sweet tweet from the BLM Toronto founder. At least Tef Poe, a BLM activist who went to Geneva in 2014 to take part in a U.N. Human Rights Council panel discussion on police brutality, is just warning white folks about the race riots that will happen if Trump wins the presidency. Poe is credited with coining the phrase “This ain’t your grandparents’ civil rights movement” & pushing the riot as a legitimate form of protest. Of course, when Trump fans do it, the guilt-ridden media plays along & pegs them as “violent white supremacists.” Poe, Khogali, & the BLM is *for* brutality against who they see as the enemy & against rights for *all* humans. Period.

Liberty-lovers are persecuted by the state through oppressive taxation, a militarized police force, the tyranny of law, and increased gun control, while being told by the mob to shut up and take it, encouraged to hate and not defend ourselves, and to accept the fact that we might be killed because of our skin color. Quite the politically correct quandary.

But where’s my empathy? Where are the constant calls of unity and understanding and compassion for my family? Where are the people who want so desperately to walk a day in my shoes in order to reveal and come to terms with their privilege or to admit their racism?

Well, honestly, I don’t seek any of that. I just want people to leave me alone, let me raise my kids as I see fit, stop forcing me to pay for a corrupt and unethical system that is stacked against most everything I hold dear, and cease threatening the lives of the people I love most: four white guys named Stephen, Houston, Gabriel, and Zeke.

White people w/ sons are posting stuff like this on Facebook: a kid reciting a poem about “white privilege.” (If you wanna puke a little & shed a tear for Western civilization, check it out @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDAmADiQX0A). In my humble opinion, *not enough said* from this mama bear!

I am called by God to provide, support, protect, and educate my children to the best of my abilities. And I will never teach my boys that they are less than any other human being or special-interest group; we are all filthy rags, but every person is worthy of human dignity. So, I will say it since I’m deemed a racist anyway: All lives matter!

I will not submit to the caste system of victimhood or the divisiveness of identity politics a la privilege and guilt a la skin color or ancestry or gender. As Ephesians 4:14 teaches, I will not be “… tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

I will not endorse the propagandistic newspeak of words and phrases, like “white privilege,” “white supremacy,” “gender identity,” “toxic masculinity,” “misogyny,” “the war on women,” “social justice,” “restorative justice,” “diversity,” “mansplaining,” “man spreading,” “patriarchy,” “hegemony,” “otherness,” or “black lives matter.”

I will raise up my kids to be warriors for Jesus, truth, and human freedom. I will tell them that popularity doesn’t matter, as long as their fight is a righteous one. And at the end of the day, I think that’s the most productive and worthy thing we Christian liberty-lovers can do.


If you’ve been red-pilled, like Neo in The Matrix, and you know the painful truth of this catch-22 existence that is being foisted upon Western civilization, and you are willing to fight for true justice, I know it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but can I get an “Amen?”

And how are you going to use talents with which we’ve been blessed to help spread the message of truth? God endowed me with half-decent writing abilities and a strong streak of anti-authoritarianism, so I plan to keep blogging when I am able to convey a message of peace, self-determination, and freedom to anyone willing to listen and question.

And for you who have been blue-pilled and are living in the blissful ignorance of illusion, we pray for you. May Jesus have his way with your heart, and lead to a more peaceful and loving world for our children.

Stay tuned for a forthcoming blog that Stephen and I are working on: solutions to creating a more angst-free South. Since those are our peeps, Southerners of all colors, they’ll be our target audience. Should be a fun intellectual exercise and perhaps will even have some real-world results!

Truth is always the imperative

So, my dear friend, Christie, posed some introspective questions to me since my last blog. I’ve marinated on them deeply and prayed about them passionately. I’ve even woken up at night and not been able to go back to sleep (which is not my norm) pondering the ramifications of my positions. But I have finally formulated some answers.

All things to all people

The Apostle Paul said, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”

I don’t interpret Paul’s words as saying to purge oneself of your individualism, heritage, and culture; rather, he is calling Christians to try to walk in someone else’s shoes and empathize. Then, you can more productively share the blessings of Jesus through admitting your own struggles, your own sins, your own backsliding, your own doubts.

I think that is the way of being “all things to all people” that Paul is talking about. That is compassion. That is authenticity. That is the power of the Word. It transcends differences and fosters real unity.

Otherwise, a white person could never share the Gospel with a black person, or a black with an Asian, or an Asian with a white. It would limit as opposed to liberate. It would ignore the unique qualities of each human as opposed to helping to open an individual’s heart.

I liken it to my time volunteering at the local pregnancy care center. Women participating in abortion recovery often said that having a post-abortive facilitator was a plus for them, as this woman could better understand her experience with terminating a pregnancy, killing her own child, and struggling with the subsequent guilt and ultimate forgiveness.

But that certainly doesn’t mean that a man couldn’t have led the class. Or that a female facilitator should have gone out and had an abortion just to better relate to her class. Paul’s call is for pragmatic understanding, not literally pretending to be something you are not.

An apology that was needed

Because of the Southern Baptist roots in using the Bible to defend slavery, the leaders at this year’s convention decided to denounce the Confederate Battle Flag. “All the Confederate flags in all the world are not worth one soul of any race,” preached Pastor James Merritt, while proposing an amendment to strengthen the ridiculous resolution.

Well, is pushing propaganda worth souls? Is perpetuating lies, whether historical or modern, worth souls? Is cleansing your white guilt through a hollow emotional display worth souls? Is appeasing the politically correct culture worth souls? Is setting a precedent of bending to the cultural Marxists within the church worth souls?

I would say emphatically, “No!” In fact, I would add that all of this virtue-signaling is extremely dangerous. It is a corrupting cancer not only on our culture, but on the church specifically.

All you have to do is go to most any American church’s website and see them promoting “diversity” like good little PC sycophants, touting their progressive aspirations and the using the Orwellian-speak they’ve been taught to utter often and loudly.

Sure, churches want varied congregants — sometimes a noble goal for helping people to understand the disparate experiences within their community a la empathy and compassion; but other times, it’s a purely business.

The intent should not be to represent “every tribe and nation” at the expense of truth. Preach truth, and promote accurate information about the culture and history, and the Kingdom of God will do just fine reflecting true diversity.

All this making of politically expedient public apologies for a sin you yourself didn’t commit, all this “feel-good,” yet deceitful rhetoric cloaked in unity, where does it end? It doesn’t, unless common-sense Christians fight back.

For goodness sake, now you’ve got Protestant bigwigs John Piper talking about how he doesn’t believe in self-defense, even if that means letting his wife get raped, and making videos to purge himself of his “racist past;” and his son, Barnabas Piper, supporting the existence of the made-up “rape culture.” Total treachery.

J.D. Greear, pastor of the Summit Church (the church from which Mercy Hill was planted) and nominee for SBC president, wrote on Facebook: “Depending on the tone and content of those [monumental convention] moments, it can make you proud to be a Southern Baptist … or, sometimes, feel affirmed in your decision not to be one.” I think it’s obvious by now in which camp I firmly fall.

I’m not sure if it’s even possible to find a Protestant church in America that doesn’t at least lean toward the social gospel. Is that because the seminaries have been infiltrated by leftists, or because churches tow the statist line as not to jeapordize their tax-exempt status, or simply because church leaders have read too much Francis Chan?

Whatever the case, leftism is a cancer, and it has infected the American church. There’s no reason to spread lies and perpetuate feminist-created, progressive-pushed, or historically inaccurate myths, other than to cause disunity, undermine community, and foster distrust. It’s sad and sickening.

The flag was co-opted

The thinking here is that even though the flag may have had noble intentions, that it was taken over by people who hated blacks during Jim Crow. But this minority of creeps also flew the American flag during their protests, so should we also ban Old Glory? And under which flag did slavery exist for longer, that of the U.S. or the C.S.A.? The U.S., of course.

And what about the KKK, which also flies the American flag, as well as the Christian flag? I mean, Christian socialists were all the rage in the KKK during its heyday, so does that mean we start banning Christian symbols, too, due to their association with stupid people?

Sure, many things have been appropriated by haters, but so what? Plenty of good things have been co-opted by idiots — like marriage, the church, parenthood, conservatism, much of our language (like the words “tolerance,” “rape,” and “racism”) — but that certainly doesn’t mean that their original meanings and significance have changed.

Truth is, nobody gave two hoots about the flag or any vestige of Confederate pride for a long, long time. “Dixie” was once the nighttime sign-off song for many radio stations and was the Washington Redskins’ fight song. Bands giving public concerts used to play both “Dixie” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

I went to a high school named after Pulitzer-prize-winning, pro-Southern historian, Douglas Southall Freeman. We were called the Rebels, and our flag was (you guessed it) the Confederate Battle Flag. My nephew’s Boys Scouts troop was the Robert E. Lee Council, and I knew many people who went to Washington & Lee University.

Moreover, the Battle Flag is not only a symbol of Southern heritage, but it is also seen by many others as a representation of the fight for liberty.

For instance, after the final battle in Okinawa during WWII, the Confederate Battle Flag was raised over Shuri Castle, the last Japanese bastion. In 1958 at the end of the Lebanon crisis, the U.S. Marines marched out of Beirut under the Battle Flag.

In 1989, the Battle Flag made its mark in Berlin during festivities ringing in the fall of the Berlin Wall. And in 1992, after the fall of Communism, the Battle Flag flew beside the national flag of Yugoslavia during the independence celebrations in Ljubljana. This hated flag has been flown by rebels in Ukraine to Christians in Africa.

So, when did all this anti-flag stuff come to pass in America and who was it that created this race-bating agenda? Well, the answers in order are the early ’90s and the NAACP.

“Like the old March of Dimes after the polio vaccine had solved the problem of polio, the NAACP had succeeded on every legal front and frankly no longer had a purpose,” wrote Charley Reese, a 50-year journalist who worked mostly with the Orlando Sentinel. “The NAACP was hard up for a reason to stay in existence. It was having a hard time raising money. It had internal scandals. That’s when the NAACP decided to wage war on all things Confederate, and on the Confederate flag in particular.”

And as they say, the rest is history … or revisionist history, in this case. ”At some point American progressives need to stop viewing the South as their whipping boy, being perpetually flagellated for its sin,” said New York libertarian Michael Malice in a recent article for The Observer. Can I get an “amen?”

So, here we go again, more haters co-opting historic symbols in order to grow their own power and notoriety. More haters using a flag as a political scapegoat as to increase their annual budget. More haters pushing a cultural genocide of the Southern people just to line their own pockets.

If anyone should be apologizing, it should be the NAACP and their social-justice enablers. They are the ones who have created racial divisions where there were none. They are the ones who invented this bone of contention for their own self-serving and destructive means.

Laying aside rights

Some Christians are calling for me, you, and anyone else with whom they disagree to forego their “rights” for the sake of solidarity. So, first let me provide a definition of rights, which I consider spot on.

“‘Rights’ are a moral concept — the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual’s actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others — the concept that preserves & protects individual morality in a social context — the link between the moral code of a man & the legal code of a society, between ethics & politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.” — Ayn Rand

Now granted, Rand was a devout atheist, but I think she’s got it right, pardon the pun. But then again she’s speaking directly to individual rights, which were born out of the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment — two historic, world-changing occurrences that shaped Western Civilization for the good.

Martin Luther preached that God is each person’s conscience, that we’re all individually made in His image, that every Christian is responsible directly to Him. Hence, salvation is not dependent on priests or the government or any other worldly institution; it’s a personal thing, although your baptism should be made publicly and your faith shared widely.

But this doesn’t mean that individualism and communitarianism have to be mutually exclusive. After all, no man is an island, so uber-individualism will never fulfill most humans and, most specifically, the faithful Christian.

Instead, Christians must accept and protect this blessing, but also let it play out through the Gospel lens. And this is where, to me, John Calvin seems to come in.

“While liberalism and libertarianism are committed to individualism, stressing individual self-sufficiency, for Calvin, God is the ultimate source of all rights and obligations,” explains Avihu Zakai, history professor of at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“Yet, given that, God has ordered human existence socially so that divine rights and obligations are mediated by social institutions, and the individual’s sphere is defined and shaped by the larger community in which he or she lives. Hence, Calvin anticipated contemporary communitarians, for whom individual rights and obligations derived from the social and political institutions to which individuals belong.”

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, & especially for their own household, has denied the faith & is worse than an unbeliever.” — 1 Timothy 5:8

In other words, there is a social nature to individualism. For the Christian, you practice self-interest, not selfishness. You relish your God-given rights, and never hold others’ rights in contempt. You work hard for your family, but you use those fruits as you see fit to help your neighbors, community, and the greater Christian social body. And you share Jesus with anybody and everybody.

Yet, many of the pastors and Christian social-justice warriors who claim it’s not Biblical to embrace individual rights within the faith are more than happy to promote civil rights or equality or special rights carved out for special-interest groups. So identity politics is good, but individual liberty is bad. Hmmmm, I think I smell a rat.

Alethophobia vs. truth

Obviously, so much of this inanity and hate stems from the miseducation of the American populace. I mean, what do you expect when federalized schooling, which got its start during the radical Reconstruction era, is one of the main institutions propagating the extermination of Southern tradition?

It was the “forced acculturation to Northern beliefs and social systems” back then, writes Tulane Professor Richard Marksbury. And today, those old ideologies have morphed into new modern dogmas: progressivism and political correctness.

Truth is the reason why I homeschool my children. We decided to homeschool even before having kids, namely because we understood the toxifying of true history and the perpetuation of cultural Marxism carried out in government schools. Then when we became Christians, that was just more of the impetus needed to home-educate our boys in all things truthful.

And I’m sorry government-schooled friends, I will never relinquish truth simply because people are miseducated as youth or have been re-educated as adults. Historical ignorance is no excuse for being a race baiter or supporting cultural genocide.

It is such cluelessness that has let good people throughout history to be duped by tyrants. Hitler misused the Bible, stirred divisions, and rewrote history to meet his Aryan political ends. Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot created their own cults of personality as religions and then spread faux histories to hoodwink the masses.

“So justice is driven back, & righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, & whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked & was displeased that there was no justice.” — Isaiah 59:14-15

Unfortunately, most of our society, and even our world, is suffering from alethophobia: a gripping fear of truth. And though Christians get the truth about Jesus right, many are stuck on the plantation of political correctness.

Truth is under the law of Christ, not cultural Marxism. I, for one, am not willing to concede the moral principle of truth just to spare someone’s feelings, especially when doing so only worsens matters for the human condition.

And that is my point: Political correctness is evil and has been a destructive force for Western civilization, so I will speak out against it and for truth. I will not be a “domesticated lapdog,” as Tom Woods likes to say, by supporting PC tyranny over public discourse. I will not cow tow to demagogues.

Journalist and anti-PC provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos defines cuckery as ” … prostrating yourself before the powers that be in a desperate attempt to curry favour with your oppressors, in defiance of the facts and your conscience.” I will not be a cuck. I will not goose-step in line with cultural Marxists, whether they be Christian or not.

I know fighting against lies is an uphill battle. Being a champion for truth has never made anyone popular. But I already feel like a foreigner in my own land, so why not, right?!

Never give an inch

“You will never please them and will never placate them … ” penned Yiannopoulos, who also happens to be gay, in a recent article about radical Muslims. “So don’t give an inch (because) they won’t stop taking.” He says that homosexuals have the choices of suicide, adopting Sharia Law, or fighting back.

I think the same analogy works for Southerners, and all common-sense, liberty-loving people for that matter. Just as Southerners are told to bend over and take it, gays are told by the very people who claim to be their advocates to pipe down about all this Muslim hysteria.

Just as a Southerner who fights back is called a racist cracker, a homosexual who casts any doubt or critique on the religion of peace is called an intolerant Islamophobe. The power of the ad hominem attack is strong in this brave new world.

Of course, unlike gays, white Southerners are no where to be found on the “privilege pyramid,” as Yiannopoulos calls it. It is within this progressive caste system that the Southern man must wear the yoke of burden of every “aggrieved minority” around his neck. It’s tight, limiting his freedom, but the benevolent PC dictators will loosen it, only if he behaves.

The cultural Marxists continue to push for lesser-class citizenship of Southerners (well, at least the white ones), always with shrill screams of unity and healing. These instigators say they want to bring about social harmony, but what they really seek is division, vengeance, and power.

Making concessions will never satisfy the enemies of truth. And if progressivism ends up the vanquisher, well, I will just be one chick the PC gestapo has to drag kicking and screaming into their horrid Marxist dystopia.

A Southern manifesto

So, people are clamoring yet again to ban the Confederate Battle Flag, all brought on by the Southern Baptist Convention’s vote to suppress the symbol. At best, some of these pastors pushed the move to ease their white guilt. You know the type. The kind that says if you’re a white Christian who doesn’t admit he’s a racist and wallow in self-loathing to an acceptably nihilistic level, well, you must not love Jesus.

At worst, other pastors used the faith-based meeting to push a political agenda steeped in cultural Marxism. You know the type. If ain’t politically correct and the “amens” don’t abound from the social-justice warriors in the congregation, well, you must not be preaching an “authentic” message.

These pastors then want to castigate me as the one who’s pushing division. Last time I checked, the Body of Christ was a place of unity without your meddling. One pastor even called to get rid of the flag in people’s own homes and for personal use, like he’s some kind of Michael Bloomberg of the pulpit. (Then again, he quoted multiple Bible verses in a strained attempt to deny the existence of individual rights, so his progressive motives were in glaring and hideous display, flag or no flag.)

Moreover, if preaching the love, mercy, and grace of Jesus isn’t enough to attract the right color, class, age, ethnicity, or whatever demo is the target, that’s not your problem. Keep spreading the Good News, equip your congregants to be fishers of men, and God will handle the rest. The Gospel is enough, so enough already with the phony displays of unity at your convention.

My hometown of Richmond: what an embarrassment. Then again, this billboard was probably created & paid for by Yankees who migrated to the former Capital of the Confederacy, yet loathe the city’s rich history & antiquity. Ignorance & hubris are in no short supply among the cultural Marxists.

I, for one, am sick to death of people who have no understanding of history; people who claim indoctrination is fact; people who have no ability to consider nuance; people who believe whatever the government schools and mainstream media spoon-feed them; people who think intentions trump principles and logic; people who incessantly call to ban everything; and people who are offended by anything. Maybe I should have a personal secession.

I could write a dissertation on the Civil War; the necessity of state’s rights for a free people; Lincoln’s litany of federal tyranny; the evil of Sherman’s “total war” policies; the horrors of Reconstruction and the “remaking” of the South; the unconstitutional and immoral acts waged by the U.S. before, during, and after the bloody conflict; how most Southerners weren’t slave owners and instead chose to fight in order to defend their homes from invaders; the rampant racism in the North; the fact that Emancipation Proclamation was a purely political move because slavery still persisted in non-Southern states after this raw display of executive abuse of power; how even abolitionists by today’s standards were racists; how many Native American tribes fought with the Confederacy as they saw the Union as the real enemy; how the Battle Flag has Christian roots (really, I’m not kidding); and many, many other politically incorrect, yet factual items about this incredibly misunderstood and propagandized time in our history.

Lee & me: Where he stood in the Virginia Capitol to accept position in the Confederate forces as general of the Army of Northern Virginia. This is, of course, after he turned down Lincoln’s offer to fight for the Union; Lee chose instead to defend his home.

But for now, I say that if a symbol of Southern heritage offends you, well, you should at least be intellectually honest enough to ban everything that is a reminder of this detested region and its people, from bluegrass to “y’all” to sweet tea; biscuits and gravy to Southern rock to Southern accents; Elvis to Duane Allman to George Washington; saying “ma’am” to mint juleps to jazz; BBQ to saying hello to strangers to Tennessee Williams; fried food to country music to James Madison; collard greens to the blues to Thomas Jefferson. Eventually, you will have to ban the people themselves by either creating an American caste system in which white Southerners will become the untouchables or by cleansing your multi-cultural utopia of the backwards-ass-cracker outcasts through eugenics.

Till then, I’m displaying the Confederate Battle Flag, the Stars and Bars, the Bonnie Blue flag, and whistling Dixie. I’m advertising to the world that my husband is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and I’m an ancestor of C.S.A. General A.P. Hill. I’m yelling from the highest rooftop that my son’s middle name, Lee, was chosen out of our deep reverence of General Robert E. Lee. I will teach my children real history and encourage them to stand up to thugs, liars, and deceivers, popularity be damned. I’m saying to y’all that I will never be bullied by pastors or progressives of public pressure to disown who I am and where I came from. And all the while, I’ll be praying for the haters, bless their hearts.

Go, Tigers!

Super proud of Houston and his fighting Tigers, who are Pinto league champs! And let me tell you, they didn’t come by this designation easily.

Coach Phil used his fancy-shmancy camera to take this cool shot of the team during playoffs. I think it perfectly captures the focus & drive it took these kids to beat the fierce competition.

The team had lost only one game in the regular season, so they went into the playoffs seated number one. However, the Tigers lost their first playoff game to the Braves — a team they had already beaten twice in the regular season — so they were placed in the loser bracket.

They quite handily offed the Dodgers, Marlins, and then the Orioles, who were both formidable teams. In fact, it was the to the Orioles that the Tigers suffered their only regular-season loss. And did I mention that our neighbor and the boys’ good pal, Nick 2, played on that team?

So, after winning games on a Monday and Tuesday, they had to face the Braves again. Now, this was a team who remained undefeated during playoffs, so the Tigers would only win by coming out on top of a double elimination that Wednesday and Thursday.

This kid never got nervous during playoffs … seriously. Now, Stephen & I on the other hand, got a bit antsy on occasion. Yet, Houston remained cool as a cucumber & focused on the big picture: play your best & have fun.

The first game wrapped up when Houston fielded a grounder at short stop and then slid into second to get an out. One coach likened his moves to a “shooting rocket.” It was a pretty dramatic game-ending play, and the Tigers won!

Houston got to shine on first base during all the playoffs, and that second Braves game was no exception. It is a fact: that boy can catch. And he and his teammates had to have sharp skills in every way, as well as be maniacs on the defense to come out on top of these hard-won playoffs.

What a super-fun season of competitive rec baseball. Way to go, Tigers!

Appomattox Court House

After packing up all our camping gear at Paradise Lake on 5/15, we headed with the J-Crew, Dan, and Brendan to Appomattox, which is just a stone’s throw away from Spout Spring.

L to R: Brendan, Piper, Houston, Jax, Asher, Gabriel, & Zeke get punchy after a fun-filled weekend of camping & doing history in beautiful rural Virginia.

The tourism billboards leading to historic Appomattox Court House had me a bit concerned about the propaganda factor of the national park we were about to visit. I don’t remember the exact verbiage, but they touted something about how it was there that a country divided became reunified again. Uh, really?!

If you hadn’t noticed, America couldn’t be more disjointed, bifurcated, and split on most everything, from free speech to safe spaces, bathrooms to healthcare, marriage to gender, guns to schooling, faith to atheism, race to rape, mob rule to individualism, stewardship to environmentalism, and truth to suspension of reality. It’s scary.

But it wasn’t just happenstance that this is how the nation has unfolded. I would be so bold as to say this actually roots back to the Union winning the War Between the States and forcing perpetual nationhood on sovereign states, who are made up of very diverse peoples.

The McLean House where, on April 9, 1865, C.S.A .Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to U.S. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. However, this is the not actual house. In 1893, Yankee speculators dismantled the house in hopes of taking it to Washington as a war museum. The money-making scheme failed, & the house was eventually rebuilt to its original specifications on site.

South from North. Midwest from West. Southwest from Northeast. Northwest from Southeast. East Coast from West Coast. Americans and the regions they call home have always been vastly from one another.

Different cultures. Different food. Different accents. Different faiths. Different guiding principles. And sometimes, we don’t like each other very much. And that’d be okay, if we weren’t forced to try to be indivisible and monolithic.

After all, at the founding, we were referred to as “These” United States of America. This reinforced this assumptive separateness and took a healthy jab at a central authority.

For the majority of the Founders (save Alexander Hamilton, John Marshall, and their pro-federalist ilk), the union was a contingent thing — a voluntary compact based upon divided sovereignty, checks and balances, a central government limited to only a few powers delegated to it by the states, and negative rights.

Here’s the parlor of the McLean House where the generals met, Lee in the desk on the left w/ his aid, C.S.A. Lt. Col. Charles Marshall, & Grant on the right w/ some 14 U.S. officers. But what was actually signed? A military surrender, & this is very important, since the Confederate government never surrendered. But even if it had wanted to — which it didn’t, as many Confederates wanted to keep fighting a guerrilla campaign — the U.S. would probably not have accepted. To do so would have given the C.S.A. legal legitimacy both domestically and internationally. So, why was a treaty not signed? Sure, the Confederacy has the trappings of an authentic government, like raising armies & taxes, but treaties are signed between two sovereigns, & the Yankees would never concede the existence of something it held in such disdain.

But the feds are a “general government,” as historian Brion McClanahan aptly describes the feds. It was meant for and Constitutionally written as such solely for general purposes only, those being only commerce and defense.

Obviously, the general government has always been forcing and promoting the union mentality of these disparate regions and peoples for their own gain. Just check out Hamilton’s actions (not his words) in pushing for a powerful general government and weak states. He was one cunning, duplicitous dude.

“Still a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, & in which strife & civil war are to take the place of brotherly love & kindness, has no charm for me.” – Robert E. Lee

The federalists always wanted the country to be a homogeneous blob, a nation-state which now spans four time zones and two oceans, and includes 320+ million people. No wonder there’s so much division and angst. Empires just aren’t natural or healthy.

The kids sprint across a field due west, toward the Lafayette Meeks’ grave. It was just beyond this point that the final battle of the War of Northern Aggression began to wage @ dawn on the morning of April 9, 1865. Even after fleeing their defenses @ the besieged city Petersburg & fighting battles along the way of Lee’s bloody retreat, the Army of Northern Virginia originally outnumbered the Union cavalry at Appomattox. But eventually, U.S. infantry arrived. Moreover, the Yankees had also captured & destroyed supply trains @ the Battle of Appomattox Station the day prior, cutting off both military rations & food from the Confederates. Lee was encircled. “Then there is nothing left for me to do, but to go & see General Grant,” he said, “& I would rather die a thousand deaths.” But he surrendered his once-mighty regiment & set the stage for other Confederate leaders & their beleaguered units to do the same.

So, why all this talk about the Founding? Because Lincoln is the one who took the dream of the federalist statists and brought it to fruition. He once and for all, answered the question of secession in the negative, say the “experts.” Of course, I vehemently beg to differ.

“I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.” – Robert E. Lee

Unfortunately, Lincoln shared the philosophy of Daniel Webster, whose “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable” speech in 1830 had a lasting impact on the would-be president in his formative years. Lincoln’s eventual usurpation of power, authority, and law roots back to this obsessive sentiment of unity, no matter the cost.

As Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederate States of America, said: “The Cause of the South is now the Cause of all [Americans].” In other words, if the South took a stand, many other states may follow the leadership. After all, it was some Northern states in the 1860s that first talked of secession.

The dudes act silly (shocking!) in & around the privy behind the McLean House. Piper & Gabriel are nowhere to be seen. Perhaps they had too much sense to get involved in all these shenanigans & are reading the historic literature w/ their parents instead … ha, doubt it!

And today, California bandies about the notion of separating into five sovereign regions, and you sometimes hear the sentiments of peaceful separation in places, like North Carolina, Texas, and even Vermont. Nobody likes to be told what to do from a distant capital, unless, they’re the one calling the shots.

And that’s where we’re at today: people vying for power in order to coerce the masses, since ours is a country “united” under duress. Our collapsing society is proof that Lincoln’s “A house divided against itself cannot stand” has failed miserably.

The 16th president who is lauded almost universally (save for libertarians like me and historians like Tom DiLorenzo) set the precedent for mob rule. Today’s progressive hordes think they know what’s right for me. Or they just want to kill me. And these benevolent tyrants learned from the best despot of all. Thanks, Lincoln.

The gang explores (& even does a little butt-shaking groove) around the village of Appomattox Court House. Originally known as Clover Hill, the settlement consisted of only a few houses, a tavern, a store, a courthouse, a jail, & a law office. It was initially established as a town because it was a stopping-off point on the integral Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road.

I’m not saying that the Confederacy would have been perfect. After all, it was a government, of which I’m no fan. And C.S.A. president, Jefferson Davis, was opposed to nullification, which I think is the proper moral and legal remedy to an overreaching government.

But it would have been better to break the ties peacefully. Let the Union be, let the Southern states sink or swim on their own, let slavery wither on the vine, as it was a dying institution anyway, and let the chips fall where they may.

No bloodshed. No “total war” strategy of Sherman. No murderous and destructive “scorched earth” policy. No horrific Reconstruction. No coercion. And way less animosity and revenge-lust between people, both Yankees and Rebels, and black and white.

Inside the tavern, printing presses were set up to issue parole papers for Confederate troops. Three days after the surrender, 10 divisions of Lee’s army (some 23,000 soldiers) stacked their arms along the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road, symbolizing a final end to the war. Two days later, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, who shouted “Sic semper tyranus” as he leapt from the balcony of Ford’s Theater. History’s a bitch, ain’t it?!

I’ll leave you with the words of a famous libertarian essayist and social critic, from his prophetic1930 satirical work, The Calamity of Appomattox:

” … the tradition that the Union is indissoluble is now firmly established. If it had been broken in 1865, life would be far pleasanter today for every American of any noticeable decency. There are, to be sure, advantages in Union for everyone, but it must be manifest that they are greatest for the worst kinds of people. All the benefit that a New Yorker gets out of Kansas is no more than what he might get out of Saskatchewan, the Argentine pampas, or Siberia. But New York to a Kansan is not only a place where he may get drunk, look at dirty shows & buy bogus antiques; it is also a place where he may enforce his dunghill ideas upon his betters.” – H.L. Mencken

Oh my. Sound familiar?! Man, secession never sounded so good.

Twitchy mama & the time thieves

Being a mom can be so doggone hard sometimes, and walking that line between disciplinarian and grace-giver is a bumpy and imperfect ride. We must nurture, but not shelter. Kiss boo-boos, but not coddle. Give consequences, but not forget second chances. Teach, but not demand.

Miss Stacey snaps this pic when she took Gabriel, Gavan, Zeke, Matthew, & Nick2 to the park for sunny-day shenanigans. (Houston missed out because he & Daddy were @ baseball practice.) She also treated the crew to hotdogs @ Mount Gethsemane Church & fro-yo @ Coolie’s. Thanks, neighbor!

And I’m supposed to do all this while dealing with my own inadequacies and depravations. Sheesh. A recent Desiring God blog said it this way: “Being a parent doesn’t mean I’ve graduated from His school, but that now I am in one of the most intensive courses.”

Ain’t that the truth?! And we Christians and a lovers of liberty often feel like we’re in the the trenches of raising up the next generation of warriors in this topsy-turvy world. This post-modern world is the devil’s playground. People are no longer just moral relativists or deniers of objective truth: the mobs have actually become repudiators of reality.

But I know Christ has already won the war. And I know that God will equip and strengthen me for all battles, big and small. Still, all that daily disciplining, all that minutiae can really suck the life right out of you, if you let it.

Houston might have had to miss out on a few fun Saturday outings due to baseball practice, but he did get to the walk the field @ the Grasshoppers game.

Fortunately, I’m not a safety zealot. I slather (supposedly) carcinogenic sunscreen on my kids. I let them occasionally pig out on candy, processed food, and soda. We don’t eat a diet free of gluten, red dye, trans fats, or GMOs. I sometimes let them watch too much TV. We often stay up too late and almost always sleep in. And that’s all okay by me.

I’d rather lead a more chill life than kill myself trying to meet all these modern expectations. We’re all on that reluctant, yet inevitable march to death anyway. What does irk me, though, is people intentionally wasting my time. I’ve mentioned our slow-schooling ways before and our struggles with that.

And I’m sure I’ve written about the trials the boys (but mostly Gabriel and Zeke, admittedly) have with time management. I told them the other day that I’d rather have spare time more than be a millionaire, although the latter could buy me a personal assistant, a chef, and a chauffeur; that’d be nice.

Karaoke night @ the local sports bar: After Nick2 & Gabriel sang an impressive rendition of “Uptown Funk” (who knew there were so many naughty words in that song?!), all the dudes + Stephen perform “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2.” We don’t need no education …

Point is I spend so much reinforcing the little stuff, like “wash your hands, brush your teeth, wipe your butt, shut the door, don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t interrupt, don’t hang on the towel rack, don’t run in the house, keep your hand out of your pants, don’t throw boogers on the floor,” etc., that I’m often too worn out to handle the big stuff with any aplomb, grace, or even maturity. It’s exhausting.

Moreover, all that reminding and reinforcing (I like to call this having to “cattle-prod the kids”) of three separate people forces me to have to multi-task my thoughts and tasks — something that even a youthful Rebecca with her much healthier brain would have trouble accomplishing.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that los gemelos still have tantrums on occasion?! Sure, the episodes aren’t as lengthy or as often as those of the toddler years, but they are intense nonetheless. More importantly, tantrums should really be a rare-to-nonexistent occurrence by the time you’re 7 and a half. I mean, c’mon!

Batter up! Summerfield baseball has been a serious time commitment for the family … & that’s just for one kid! But it has been a wonderful experience for Houston, who has come amazingly far w/ his skills. I’ve also learned way more “inside baseball” than I was ever aware existed. Seriously, who knew there were so many rules?!

Although Houston usually has stellar time-management skills and doesn’t typically have major meltdowns, he is known to pick relentlessly on his little bros, if the mood strikes. Frustrating thing is it always seems that this happens when Gabe and Zeke are exhibiting calm or good behavior. What’s up with that?

I know it’s probably some kinda “I’m exerting my power of these dudes just ’cause I can” sibling thing, but it is so lame! And so unnecessary. I mean, c’mon!

All this, of course, makes for one twitchy Rebecca. My nature already tends toward the high-strung, so this is not a good place to be: more scatter-brained, more frazzled, and twitchier than ever. Breathe deeply, mama … you got this.

The other day, Stephen was bummed out about a minor inconvenience while running an errand with Zeke, and I offered him some sage advice: make the best of it, and enjoy the one-on-one time with your son.

And here I have endless time with my kids, getting to witness their youth up close, personal, and daily, so I know I need to lighten up and appreciate the greatest show on earth, even if our days are peppered with unnecessary annoyances. After all, I do have the best seat in the house.

Gabriel reads to Piper during our camping excursion to Spout Spring, Virginia. You gotta do something on those slow-poke mornings when it’s chilly willy & taking forever to get the water boiling for coffee. Thanks for entertaining the crew, G-man!

So yes, I must remain sternly vigilant in my parenting or else the freight train that is the 3 Amigos will run me over flat. But I also must not forget to handle this in a more consistently compassionate and patient way, with way more humor, and way less bitterness. That will lead to a more reliably calm and peaceful home.

James 3:18 says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” But man oh man, does that reaping seem like such a distant thing. It sometimes even feels like an impossibility. But I know I need to just keep pouring in the love and encouraging wisdom and know that the only thing I can control is me. The rest is up to God.

Granny inspired the boys to write me a Mother’s Day note by explaining “Why we love Mommy.” Zeke wrote, “You are nice. She helps me when I’m stuck.” Houston said,”She’s generous and a good teacher.” Gabriel wrote, “I love everything about you. You are silly.” And then they all concluded, “She loves Jesus.”

Piper stores bread in her hood (which was Miss Christie’s ingenious idea), so we can use it as bait to fish in Paradise Lake. Zeke will go on to catch a few sticks & other odds & ends, but man, does that kid have the vigilant, yet patient persona needed to be a good angler.

Turns out that I’m doing okay after all. Thank you, Lord, for covering my kids from all my inadequacies and giving me the heart to know and do what’s right in your eyes … well, at least, some of the time.

I’m still trying my best to create more simplicity in our busy schedule, but that can obviously be a hard thing to do with three kids. I mean, just getting them all to church in one piece and on time can be a major undertaking.

We are considering not doing Awana next school year. Even though it is an incredible Bible study and has been a true blessing for the kids over the past three years, I think nixing it from the calendar may be one of the things required to achieve that peace and ease I’m striving for.

Together again. Funny how all my pics of “Big Hashy” are blurry & amped up beyond belief. See, Piper back there? She knows my judgment of these two hooligans is spot on.

Plus, I would love to have more free time to do whatever the heck we want, perhaps not having so many things on our schedule to begin with, so that we don’t feel like we have to squeeze in a spot for relaxation or random fun, or push to some later time spur-of-the-moment discussions on silly or deep topics. Having time for going off on tangents is a good thing.

Moreover, there’s talk of the twins playing competitive baseball this fall. And that means a doubling of practices and games if they’re on the same team, and a tripling if they end up making separate teams. And being that Zeke has gotten pretty skilled by practicing with Houston, I think the latter is more likely.

That’s a whole lotta baseball. So I told my little “time thieves” that unless they become more considerate of the family schedule and better managers of their own time, their baseball dreams ain’t gonna happen. I really hope and pray that they pull it together this summer.

Mr. Dan, our favorite South African, teaches Gabriel about proper casting technique. Of course, catching an actual fish is an elusive thing, but it sure is neat to try.

Speaking of baseball, Houston’s team is in the midst of playoffs. With only one loss in the regular season, they started things off in first place, lost a game by just a few points on Wednesday, but then demolished their opponents on Friday. Fingers crossed for a happy end to a really awesome season. Go, Tigers!

Houston also got selected by his coaches to represent his team in something called the Coaches’ Select Tournament. Extra teams are made up of a few players from each team and from each league. This will entail a few practices and then 3 to 4 games in mid-June. It’s no cost, so it’s really just extra baseball for the love of the game.

Houston’s rec league got to walk the perimeter of the Grasshoppers’ field before a game — kind of a big deal for an 8-year-old baseball fan. Funny thing is we arrived at the stadium at 5:15, but the game didn’t start till … 8:10 (gasp!) due to rain delay. “Classic Dillingham,” as Stephen would say.

Logan, Dan, & Stephen pose (hesitantly, of course) for a dad-only shot while @ Paradise. Thanks for always cooking such delicious eats for everyone during our camping exploits!

There were plenty of friends for the kids hang with while we bided our time, but we all had low blood sugar ’cause were hungry. If the game got cancelled, we wanted to go out to eat downtown and not pay for overpriced ballpark food.

There was also some intermittent kid whining and maybe even a dash of mommy complaining (since you know how protective I am of my scarce spare time). But despite the l-o-n-g waiting game, it turned out to be a nice family outing, and the Hoppers won!

Odd thing about our lifestyle is that uninformed people always comment that kids need to go traditional school in order to be properly socialized. Yet, our social calendar is always jam-packed with a myriad of outings, hangouts, and travels.

See, even a twitchy mama can have some fun! I always tell the boys, the more efficiently we manage our tasks, the more spare time we’ll have to experience adventures, like plunging into an icy cold lake in rural Virginia.

Like as I write this part of the blog, I’m at the park with Matthew (who’s not even my child) while my kids are around the corner at Miss Julie’s for a piano party. We have an hour to kill before Houston’s tournament games, so the five us plan to grab a pre-baseball dinner en route to the fields.

And this all come at the tail-end of a full day on home education, complete with two meals, chores, and one kid tantrum. No wonder I’m so twitchy. At least I’m getting to blog while poor Matthew plays by himself. Oh well, that was the the deal, and we’re sticking to it … ain’t nobody messing with my prized free time!

We hosted a Memorial Day party in which Stephen cooked all the food, and I did all the cleaning. He wanted to make brisket for a few of his favorite co-workers, but ended up doing a spread of different other meats, since the store was out of brisket. (That was the “minor inconvenience” mentioned earlier.)

If it wasn’t for this guy, Adam — as well as his two bros, Mike & Steven — my Stephen & I never would have met! So glad to reconnect w/ one of my oldest & dearest buds @ Mike’s 40th birthday bash. (P.S. Yeah, I know I gotta work on having a steadier selfie hand.)

The backyard bash was a great success, of course, ’cause that man can cook! He’s so serious about his food that he had to start grilling at midnight before the party to make sure everything was done to perfection. Yummy!

We also invited our friends, Jim, Penny, and Tyrnan, as well as a slew of our awesome neighbors. It was a shindig of international proportions, since Penny’s from Australia, and Stephen’s work pals, Dan and Gabriel, are from South Africa and Romania, respectively. We joked about having people where flags of their home country, but that might’ve been weird.

Our clan had a much-needed low-key camping excursion with the J-Crew, and Dan and his son, Brendan. It was a weekend thing up in Spout Spring, Virginia, at a chill campground called Paradise Lake.

Highlights were fishing, some light hiking, swimming in the frigid lake and taking on the steep sliding board out in its depths, and waxing philosophical and political around the the fire — a perennial camping favorite of ours.

The 3 Amigos & their beloved piano teacher, Miss Julie, @ today’s recital, which was Gabriel & Zeke’s first! Great performances, fellas … also proof that all my boys can indeed exhibit boat loads of self-control, maturity, class, & style.

Tricia and Jeremy had the family over for a nice meal. While the 3 Amigos played video games and Apples to Apples, and watched “The Office” with Bret and Bella, the adults smoked cigars and discussed spiritual and political topics. I love having good friends with whom we can engage in these types of conversations.

And just today, we returned from Mike’s 40th birthday celebration in Hickory. It was a cowboy-themed soirée complete with the honky-tonk music of Mike & the Moonpies. The boys swam (while paid babysitters kept an eye all the kiddos!) as Stephen and I danced, feasted on margaritas, Texas-flavored fare, and cigars, and just relaxed … twitch-free!

It was Mike and his bros, Adam and Steven, who introduced Stephen and me, so this bash was also a reunion of sorts. Adam was visiting from his home base of Austin, and Mike and his wife, Anah, just recently moved to Hickory. We had hung with the Steven, Paige, and Owen in the fall, but we hadn’t seen the rest of the gang in many years.

The 3 Amigso were the first in the pool & the last out @ Mike’s party, which also featured piñatas, an inflatable waterslide, sweet treats galore, & tons of new friends! They had a blast swimming, even though I forgot their goggles. I explained that if their packing had been a calmer, more focused endeavor (not requiring parental cattle-prodding), Mommy would’ve had the brain power to remember their beloved eye wear.

We talked old times, caught up on new times, even got a late-summer camping trip in the works, and simply enjoyed watching all our offspring play. It was truly a grand ol’ time!

Last but certainly not least, Houston had his two-year eye checkup. When we last saw the ophthalmologist, he had explained that it’s common for kids with Horner’s Syndrome to eventually need glasses.

Well, amazingly, Houston has 20/20 vision! And the doc even said that he doesn’t have to come back EVER, unless, of course, there’s some reason we think Houston’s vision is worsening. Nothing like yet another one of my kids bucking the medical stats. God is good.

Mountain Top Youth Camp

The 3 Amigos made their annual trek to homeschool “summer” camp, where they got to spend five days and four nights sleeping in a cabin in the woods with their buddies. Stephen and I had a couple nice dates while they were gone. I also did a major spring cleaning/organizational overhaul of the house and caught up on sleep (of course).

As always, the dudes shower little and play a lot, and always come home with grand stories of sunny adventures and fostered friendships. This excellent camp has been teaching kids about Jesus and nurturing an appreciation for recreation and the outdoors for 51 years. My boys sure do have a blast up there on Sauratown Mountain!

Mr. Paul, their camp counselor, just so happened to be a news photographer, so he captured lots of cool action pics with his fancy-shmancy camera. Here are some of my favorites shots from the boys’ fun-filled week at camp in Pinnacle, NC. Enjoy!

Houston is in an alliance with his pal, Gray, while playing a fierce round of gaga — their favorite game from camp.

Zeke borrows his friend Will’s journal & draws funny pictures in it for him. He says his stinky socks were from the day before & that the cabin crew had just gotten back from Bible study @ chapel.

Gabriel hits the heck out of a baseball filled w/ shaving cream. Check out that look of concentration on his face … that’s some serious baseball playing.

While standing in a line, which homeschoolers are admittedly terrible @ doing, Gabriel yells raucously for his team during the sponge race. “Woot woot!”

The goal of the game, explains Gabriel, is to try to get as much water as possible into a bucket via these giant soaked sponges.

“How in the world are we going to make this work?” question the older, more skeptical kids. “And here I thought camp was going to be a break from all the thinking I normally do,” ponders Houston. “Sheesh.”

The 3 Amigos happily play shipwreck, which is kind of like a counting game, where you have to sit with the number of people the counselor calls out. If you’re left standing, you lose.

“He’s always with the girls,” explain the twins about their handsome big bro. “They’re always grabbing me & pulling me down,” Houston says about the chicks. Uh oh.

Gabriel’s just being cool while playing shipwreck w/ his friends. “I was always with these two,” he says of the dudes on the left.

Gabriel is getting into the obstacle-course-type game, Indiana Jones, & trying his best to get the ball into the treasure bucket.

Zeke’s team, the Hungry Treasure Hunters, battles the Blood-Thirsty Indians during the Indiana Jones competition. Not a very PC game by the sounds of it … ha, good!

Zeke sprints to the next obstacle, trying to escape from his arch enemies, the Blood-Thirsty Indians. Too funny.

In this action-packed shot, Zeke says he’s diving to safe his life. Wow.

Last but not least, Zeke leaps to score a win for the Hungry Treasure Hunters. Way to go, team!