Cowboy Poetry

29 11 2016

My eldest is in 8th grade, and as part of their English curriculum, students composed a rhyming poem to go along with their study of “Peace Like a River” by Leif Enger.

Each class recited their poems out loud, and the students chose their class representative for the final recital.  Caleb was chosen by his classmates to represent them.

On the day of the final recital, the students were encouraged to dress in cowboy/cowgirl attire, and the four finalists read their poems in the school’s theater and before all their teachers and other guests.  Three faculty members selected the winner.  Caleb and a classmate tied for first.

Here is Caleb’s winning poem.

There lived two men so long ago,
they bought a checkered board.
The first man’s name was Skippy,
while the second was named Ford.

A game of checkers started,
in a quiet, empty room,
and both men sat there thinking,
that the other’d sure face doom.

Ford moved his black piece up one space,
and Skippy did the same.
A jeopardizing move was made,
Ford sighed with such great shame.

The game continued on and on,
and things weren’t looking good.
If Ford could take that one move back,
without a thought, he would.

Then Skippy left to get a drink,
and with him gone, Ford thought,
“I could move a piece or two,
I hope I don’t get caught.”

Integrity was lost that day,
but could it be regained?
Skippy returned and saw the change,
and hoped it’d be explained.

“Did you move some pieces round?”
a curious Skippy asked.
At this point would Ford tell the truth,
or try to keep it masked?

“Yes, I did. I’m sorry Skippy,”
Ford then chose to say.
“Please forgive me, I messed up,
just please don’t go away.”

“It’s okay, I understand,
you have received forgiveness.
Let’s restart the game and then
we can get back to business.”

Integrity was shown just then,
in Ford it was restored.
That afternoon, the two men played,
right on that checkered board.


Entering the Teenage Years

28 11 2015


You’re a teenager!  (Though you’ve been eating like one for a while now.)  You are almost taller than me, but I am still faster and stronger and smarter.  And, I can drive and you can’t.  At least I have that.

Not only have you grown up physically, you’ve grown more mature.  Academically, you are (have always been) gifted.  I was super proud, perhaps a little too proud, to see you standing on the stage when they announced the first quarter Heads List recipients, and there were only six kids.  You, the only boy in the group, were among them.

Spiritually, I can see your faith turning into your faith, not my faith or Daddy’s faith, but one of your own.  This excites me and scares me.  You have conquered some feats I was a little hesitant about (ROP), and I see you wrestling with God sometimes as you try to make sense of the world around you.  As long as you always lean into God and not away from Him, these times of wrestling can lead to great peace and joy and wisdom.

Highlights from your twelfth year include:

  • Successfully completing the Rite of Passage, even on a weekend with pretty miserable weather.  (No pneumonia, thank you, Lord!)
  • Receiving a “real” phone with a “real” plan. Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Happy Easter and Fourth of July for that one.
  • You made Honors Choir and had your first piano recital where you played the Star Wars theme song. I honestly thought you sounded better than some of the kids who had been playing longer than you.  But I am your mother, so I am automatically biased in your favor.
  • I love that you prefer to listen to K-Love or The Fish as your music of choice. I also like all the classical and movie soundtracks you listen to as well.
  • Lego Dimensions. (Even I admit, it is kind of cool.  But not quiet so cool as what you paid for it.)

Looking ahead:

  • Only one more year until you can start working at Publix. (You have no idea how excited I am about this!)
  • Only three more years until you can drive on your own. (I know I will eventually be excited about this once I get over the terror of my first-born driving on his own.)
  • You’ve got great teachers this year, and I am so, so grateful for how you enjoy and excel in school. That does a momma’s heart good.
  • You’ve got many more years until you’re a parent, but please stop practicing on your little brother so much. However, if that’s our main point of contention with you as you navigate the tumultuous waters of middle school and puberty, we are so very blessed!

And we are blessed by you, Caleb.  You have such a good, kind, generous heart.  You care about your work.  You always desire to do your best.  You are creative.  You are musical.  You have a good group of friends.  You make us proud, and you are a gift from God.

My prayer for you as enter the teen years . . .

  • Don’t get bogged down by things that don’t matter. Always remember what’s most important in any situation; it’s probably not what is most obvious.
  • Don’t let the stress of getting a certain grade weigh you down. Earning a B is not the end of the world.  (I promise, we won’t love you any less if a B ever makes its way onto your report card.)
  • Remember your little brother is 5 ½ years younger than you. He loves you and adores you and looks up to you in ways you don’t fully recognize yet.  That is a tremendous privilege, and with it comes tremendous power and responsibility.  Don’t abuse it.
  • Honor and respect the young women in your life, be they classmates, friends, or someday girlfriends. When you find yourself becoming “interested” in a young lady, read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, replacing the word love with the name of the girl.  If you can’t read it without questioning the fit of the girl to the scripture, keep it platonic.  (Actually, keep it platonic anyway.  You’re far too young.)
  • Always turn to God first. When you’re happy as well as frustrated, take all of your emotions to God.  Cry out to Him when life seems unfair and you’re hurting.  Thank Him when you are surprised with an unexpected gift.  Talk to Him when you’re bored.  Seek His counsel and wisdom when you are unsure.  Rest in His presence every night.

I love you with every fiber of my being.


28 11 2014

Dear Caleb,

I can’t believe you’re 12.  How did you grow up so quickly?  You are still my miracle.  Every day, I look at you and smile at the young man you are becoming.  I am so thankful for so many things about who you are and who you are turning into.

You love your daddy and me well.  I am really thankful you feel loved and safe enough to come to us with any problem you are facing.  I know far too many families for whom that is not the case.  Their parents are the last people they want to talk to.  I pray you will always trust us and know that we will love you no matter what.

You love your brother well.  I love to watch you and your brother play your silly games.  You can certainly push each other’s buttons with the skill and ease of an expert, but I pray you grown into being each other’s best friend.

You love your Maga and Papa well.  You will do anything they ask, and you will do it without complaining.  Of course, I wish you’d exhibit the same eagerness to help at home, but what a blessing it is to me to observe your love for your grandparents.  You have a very special relationship with them, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

You love your friends well.  Your desire to help your friends do better in school, your efforts to hold them accountable for their work, and your fight to not get sucked into their idiocy make me proud.  Oh, I know you make mistakes and go along with the crowd sometimes, but even then, I know your heart, and your heart is good.

You love Christ.  You are generous.  You are kind.  You are polite and respectful.  You work hard.  You are studious and conscientious.  You do your best.  You care.

I am thankful you still let me give you hugs and kisses, even at school.  I am thankful you still let me snuggle with you occasionally at bedtime.  I am thankful you are growing taller and stronger, but I’m also thankful you haven’t overtaken me yet on that front.  I know time will pass quicker than I want it to, but for now, you are still mine, and for that, I am thankful.

To my Lego loving, Minecraft creating, brother bothering and brother loving, iPad charging, phone begging, Facebook not wanting, piano playing, Gravity Falls obsessing, Shark Tank watching, mail scanning, 9:00 p.m. snack wanting, raspberry Nutrigrain bar eating, free samples taking, Honors Choir making, joke telling son . . . I love you with all of my heart, dear one.


From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Psalm 22:10 

Lessons of a PR

23 10 2013

I finally did it. After nine years of running, I finally broke a 30-minute official 5K (official results), and actually wound up winning my division (female 40-44 years old). I can check another item off my 40 Things list, and I’m getting closer to checking off item #14 on my life-long bucket list, running an 8-minute mile for an entire 5K.

So how did this happen? I would love to say it was the result of hard work, determination, and endurance. While those attributes played into this accomplishment, the other factors that helped were:
1. This was an inaugural 5K supporting our local YMCA. For you runners out there, you know what “inaugural” means: low turn-out. There were only 21 ladies in my age group, and 188 total participants. I finished 45th overall.
2. The course was ridiculously flat. Flat = good.

My official time was 29:12.6, but my running time was 28:22. I had a “wardrobe malfunction” at mile two which involved me trying to take my jacket off while running. I’ve done this numerous times so I know how to do it efficiently. However, I forgot that I put my GPS watch on TOP of my jacket. In trying to figure out why my sleeve wouldn’t come off, I got my jacket tangled up around me and had to stop. Completely stop. When you are trying to PR, stopping completely is not a good thing. That little snafu cost me about 50 seconds. But, really, who cares? (besides me) I still PRed and won! (PR stands for Personal Record, and in running it can be used as a noun or verb.)

On the podium (I promise you, there were more than two us in the division!)

On the podium (I promise you, there were more than two us in the division!)

Matthew on the podium

Matthew on the podium

My husband also ran and placed second in his division (male 40-44), missing first by about four seconds. His time was 23:18.9. He can run that fast without training. Ever.

Oh my word!  I cry from laughing every time I look at this photo.

Oh my word! I cry from laughing every time I look at this photo.

There are so many things wrong with this picture. It might have made it on to our Christmas cards this year if we were doing Christmas cards. (Why are we not doing Christmas cards?) My mom looks like she saw a ghost, and Jason is . . . missing. If you look carefully, you can barely see the top of his head where the “professional” photographers cut him off. I look sunburned despite the 50° temps. Thank goodness Matthew and Caleb look normal.

Caleb and Jason also did the kid’s one-mile race. Caleb walked, but Jason had it in his head he was going to WIN! He took off like lightning . . . at least as fast as his little legs could carry him. He wanted to hold Matthew’s hand the whole way, but once other kids began passing him, he stopped completely, threw his hands up in frustration, and sat down. In the middle of the path. I shouldn’t have laughed, but I did. He eventually got up and started walking, pouting the whole way. Only a balloon sword at the finish line could bring about a smile again.

Jason and Matthew on the kid's mile

Jason and Matthew on the kid’s mile

Jason and mommy pre-race

Jason and mommy pre-race

I love this photo, taken by a random staff member at the Y. I love that 1) Jason is so stinking cute, 2) I can still lift him for a snuggle hug, and 3) you can see my hair is long enough to put in a ponytail. I’ve waited 15 years for that!

Whenever I run alone, I always have an amazing time visiting my thoughts unencumbered—no kids asking questions, no phone ringing, no doorbell dinging. Just me and whatever is flittering around in my head. On race day, this is what was on my mind.

•I’m so thankful. Thankful I have two legs that work well together to be able to run. Thankful that my asthma has much improved and my cardiovascular system is in great shape after three decades of getting winded walking up a flight of stairs. Thankful that I have the leisure time to be able to run. Thankful that I have the finances to be able to participate in races/fundraisers like this. Most of the world does not have the money, time, or health that I enjoy.

•God’s creation is breathtaking. Leaves changing colors in autumn. Green grass against a blue sky. Sunlight filtering through a forest. When I’m running I get to escape the iPads and iPhones, the fluorescent lights and artificial heat, and I am transported to God’s creation in its purest form.

•I need to push myself A LOT harder when I train. I usually train 3-5 miles, 3-4x a week. My first mile is usually just over a 10-minute mile, mile 2 is a 10-minute mile, and for mile 3 I increase the speed 0.1 mph every tenth of a mile until I’ve only got a ¼ mile left. Then I up the speed to 7-8 miles per hour. I do like pushing myself hard at the end, but I definitely need to start at a faster pace. I just proved I could run a sub 9-minute mile for an entire 5K. I should not be such a wimp (most days).

This Is Why You’re Not Getting a Christmas Card From Us This Year (or maybe ever again)

6 12 2012

No More Christmas Cards explains how we came to our decision to NOT send Christmas cards this year.

So, the winner of what would have been our Christmas money was Safe Haven Family Shelter, by almost a 3-1 vote.  I was introduced to Safe Haven almost two years ago, and since then, both Caleb and Jason have joined me on various occasions to help provide dinner for the residents.

Besides the money issue, the other reason you are not getting a Christmas card from us is because this is it!  SURPRISE dear readers!  We’re going all-digital this year.

Many of you keep up with us via Facebook anyway, so you already know our year in review.  For those who don’t, here you go:

The Huddleston 2012 Year in Review

Matthew continues to teach physics and launch high altitude balloons at Trevecca Nazarene University.  He loves his job, and even took on the challenge of hosting a national high altitude balloon conference at TNU in June.

He finished his first (and possibly, probably, hopefully last) full marathon in April.  His goal was an ambitious 4:00, but he made it around 4:25.  This is incredibly impressive considering he only “trained” once each week . . . most of the time.

He has also completed several mud runs, the latest rage in running races around the country.  Now that he’s in a new age bracket, he will probably start placing and winning some nice prizes.

On a heavier note, Matthew’s dad, Mark, was diagnosed with colon cancer in October.  He had surgery just a few days after.  The doctors thought they got all of the cancer, but subsequent tests showed a spot on a lymph node.  He is currently undergoing chemo therapy once every two weeks for six months.  His doctors remain very optimistic, but we’d still appreciate your prayers for complete healing and for strength and endurance for Mark and Martha during this time.

Kelly (me) continues to teach technology and journalism/graphic design at Franklin Road Academy.  I also love my job.  I did NOT do a ½ (or full) marathon this year, and I feel great!  Triathlons are my new thing (My First Triathlon).  Having successfully finished three of them, I can no longer qualify for placings in the Beginner category.  However, being really a really weak swimmer, mediocre bicyclist, and slow runner, I wouldn’t qualify for placings in any category anyway.  Maybe when I’m 80 and still doing triathlons will I win something.

Gourmet cupcakes are my newest indulgence so if you are ever looking for a gift . . .  (I also love chocolate and a good extra sharp cheddar cheese.)  However, I really need to be eating more fruit and vegetables, so a membership in some sort of fruit-of-the-month club would be a better gift.

Matthew and Kelly’s (our) international trip this year took us to Nicaragua in July.  We met another one of the kids we sponsor through Compassion International.  Always an eye-opening, life-changing event, you can read about it here:  Open My Eyes.  You can also read about the amazing amount of fun hell we had as we hiked a volcano on Ometepe Island.

Next year’s trip is another once-in-a-lifetime trip:  india!  For three weeks we will traverse a good chunk of the country in June.  The first 10 days or so will be spent in Chennai and traveling up the Indian Ocean coast of south eastern India, mainly to visit two more kids they sponsor through Compassion International (link) as well as spend some time with a friend who pastors a church in a small village there.  During the second half of the trip, we will get to play tourist:  visit the Taj Mahal, ride elephants and camels in the dessert, visit Agra, Jaipur, New Delhi, and take a boat tour along the Ganges River in Varanasi, the heart of the Hindu culture.  Expect great blog posts to come from this adventure.

Other big news for 2012 included placing membership in a new church, Priest Lake Christian Fellowship.  Our former home church group, the Gathering, fizzled out as families found new churches around the Nashville area, so we started looking, too.  Being less than a mile from our home was a great benefit, but the people were the main draw.  We have never been to a more humble church where the Holy Spirit is so alive and thriving among its members.  It’s inspiring and challenging and moving each week.

Caleb is in fourth grade at Franklin Road Academy and continues to love school and excel in his academics.  To brag on this child for a moment, he has yet to receive a B in any term grade since he started PK.  He’s got his Daddy’s brains and aptitude for math and building things.  Caleb continues to love all things Star Wars, but his Pokemon obsession (thank goodness!) has come to an end.  If you know of anyone interested in buying a 700+ card Pokemon collection, please let us know.

Caleb’s newest obsession is legos.  The kid lives and breathes legos, which we are fine with.  He actually builds some really cool things, like a working flashlight—complete with an on/off lever and working bulb.

Caleb is also learning to play the recorder and trumpet, and we (as in Kelly) are trying desperately (and futilely) to get him to sing “This Song is Just Six Words Long” by Weird Al Yankovic in the Fourth Grade Variety Show in January.  Weird Al is another recent obsession of Caleb’s, and being the cool parents we are, for his birthday we bought him tickets to see Weird Al in concert in April when he comes to Nashville.

Caleb is a Webelo scout this year, and is a popcorn selling machine!  He sold over $1500 to win first place again in his cub scout pack.  He won an archery set, 8% of his total sales in cash, a $50 Walmart gift card, an LED head lamp, a patch, Predators’ tickets, and a trophy.  (Don’t get me started on winning trophies for something like selling popcorn.  Let’s just say, I’m not a fan of the practice.)

Caleb’s most exciting adventure this year, though, was his ER trip that led to a hospital stay for a couple of days at the end of August for pneumonia.  Despite this bump in the road, we are still tremendously blessed.  His asthma and allergies have plagued him something fierce this fall, much worse than normal.  We have an appointment with an asthma/allergy specialist next week so we are praying for something to help manage this better.

Jason started preK at FRA this year, and is loving it.  Being the second child, we did not work with him on things like the alphabet, drawing, writing, or reading much (hardly at all) before he started school.  Thankfully, the kid has a mind like a sponge and is taking off in the writing and reading department.  He also loves to draw.

Jason, too, is obsessed with Star Wars and legos.  At three he could recite entire scenes from Star Wars.  I’m not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed by this.  Did I mention he was three at the time?  The kid can build lego creations with the best of them . . . well, maybe not a working flashlight yet, but he can build really cool spaceships, race cars, jails, mouse traps, and monsters.

Jason and Caleb took their first official swimming lessons this summer.  Lesson 1 involved Jason crying and screaming for the full 45 minute session.  He had snot running out of both nostrils to his belly button when I picked him up.  He only cried for about 15 minutes of lesson 2, and by lesson 3 he was actually excited to go.  Now, of course, the kid is terrified to put his head in the water, which reminds Kelly of herself as a child forced to take swimming lessons.

Packer, our dog, continues to love to eat anything that falls on the floor including baby spit-up (true story) as well as grass to later make herself throw-up said baby spit-up.  She loves to sleep during the day and wake us up around 4:00 a.m. to pee and play.

Finley Bubbles the VIII, our beta fish, didn’t last the year.  At this time, we are uncertain if we will buy Finley Bubbles the IX.

Hopes and prayers for 2013:

  • Good health for everyone
  • A safe and amazing trip to India
  • Jobs we love
  • Caleb and Jason would continue to grow and mature in their faith, following Christ
  • Matthew and Kelly possibly beginning a new Marriage Builders home church group
  • Kelly hopes to begin working on her MBA at Trevecca in the fall

As we reflect back and look forward, may we always remember WHY we celebrate.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
-John 1:14

Love and prayers to all,
the Huddleston Family

PS.  If any of you find yourselves in Nashville and need a place to stay, we’ve got plenty of room and love house guests.

My Dear Son

28 11 2012

My dear son,

Eldest.  Blessing.  Miracle.  Joy.  Delight.  Honor.

I can’t believe you are 10 today.  I’ve been pondering this day a while now, wondering what to write.  Let me start with this scripture I read a few days ago.  I immediately thought of you and some of the things you are going through.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

In my distress I prayed to the Lord,
and the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me?
Yes, the Lord is for me, he will help me.
I look in triumph at those who hate me.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people.
-Psalm 118:1, 5-8

I think of some of the conversations we’ve had lately, and I am blown away, excited, joyful, and yet my heart aches for you.  I can see the Spirit of God moving in you in a mighty and powerful way for one so young.  I see God pulling on your heart, desiring goodness for you.  I see you wanting to obey with everything that is in you.  I see you coming into a faith of your own—not your father’s or my faith, though I pray we have provided you with a firm foundation on which to stand on your own.  Not having grown up myself with the faith you have as a young child—you have no idea what this experience means to me.

I see your struggles, and my mommy-heart aches for you.  I wish I had the answers you seek:  Why am I here?  What does God want me to do?  Why doesn’t He answer me?  Does anyone think I’m special and important?

Take heart, precious son!  You are here for a grand purpose, though we may not know for years what that purpose is.  God did not bring you into this world without having a great and glorious master plan already prepared for your life.

Be strong and courageous, my child!  God wants you to love him first and foremost.  He wants you to love others just as much.  He wants you to pray for those who tease you or make fun of Blanky Bear.  He wants you to love, no matter what, no matter how difficult.  My heart rejoices as I see you try to live out God’s greatest commands.

Be at peace, young one!  God always listens to your prayers.  He always hears your cries of sadness.  He always knows your deepest longings and greatest struggles.  He always loves no matter what.  He always forgives with a doubt.  Even when you don’t hear him, and it seems like he’s on another planet, He is still there for you.  Always!

Smile and sing and rejoice, Caleb!  You are more special than you will ever know—not just to daddy and me and your family and friends.  You have no idea the lives you have touched and will touch.  You have no idea the plans God has in store for your future—a future brimming with hope, goodness, and greatness in Him.  I believe this with every fiber of my being.

Caleb - 10 years old

Caleb – 10 years old

To my lego-lover, deep-sleeper, joke-teller, recorder-player, popcorn-seller, avid-reader, craigslist-poster, Weird Al-lover, straight-A receiver, laundry-doer, special-helper, hospital-visitor, Cheerio treat-maker, cous cous-eater, and most precious delight of God . . .

My prayer for you is that you will always feel the presence of the Holy One dwell deep within you.  May your faith continue to mature.  May God’s will always be on your heart and in your mind.  May you always overcome your struggles with goodness, mercy, and grace.  May righteousness always be your guide.  May you always love God and always know beyond a shadow of a doubt how much He loves you.



Why My Kids (Might) Think I’m a Bad Parent

2 11 2012

My last post was on Things That Make Me a Bad Parent (Part II.)  I decided to approach this from the lens of what my children might think.  I don’t even have to ask them . . . I just know.

  1. We won’t buy Caleb an iPhone for his 10th birthday.  Everyone in his class has an iPhone.  Do you hear me?  Everyone!   And they all have iPhones—no Androids in his tech savvy 4th grade class.
  2. They have to eat what we are eating for dinner, and they do not get dessert unless they eat it all.  Gasp!  They do not get mac and cheese or hot dogs on nights when we’re having a casserole or salmon loaf or brussel sprouts or soup or ___________.  They only get those things when I am too lazy to cook in which case I let Caleb choose a wise dinner, but then he has to prepare it for himself and his brother.
  3. We enforce bed times.
  4. Caleb has to do his and his brother’s laundry each week.  He hates it.  I love it.
  5. Jason has to clean up his lego messes or I will take them all away the following day.  Many tears are shed over this.
  6. Caleb has to practice his trumpet or recorder 10 minutes a day.  When he complains, I offer for him to pay me back the $40 for the used trumpet we bought from a neighbor because he just had to have it.  This usually ends in sulking, stomping to his bedroom, and then the sweet sounds of trumpet noise.
  7. They only get $1.00/tooth from the Tooth Fairy.
  8. I will not “just run back home” to get their forgotten homework or lunch bags.  I believe they need to learn the consequences of not being prepared, and I’d rather they learn it young than later in life when the consequences are more severe.  (I don’t make them starve at school, though.  I’ll provide them with my apple and a granola bar I always have on hand.)
  9. If they are fighting in the car, I will take away whatever it is they are fighting about—Lego magazines, the iPad, toys, whatever.  I don’t care who did what to whom, neither gets to play.  I don’t need to be distracted like that when I’m driving.
  10. If they ask their Daddy a question and don’t get the response they want, they will come ask me.  My response is usually, “What did Daddy say?  Well, that’s what it’s going to be.”

For my readers who are parents, I would love to know what’s on your list.