Tuesday, April 17, 2018

{Goodbye to} Driving Miss Julia

I much prefer the infant carrier.  Turned around backwards.  With the plastic keys dangling—you know, the ones that played “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round”. Those were just fine with me even if I did sing that dumb song in my sleep. Real live working keys in her hand?  Not so much.  I mean, just flipping her around front ways was revolutionary.  I could finally make eye contact with her sweet face in the rear view mirror and I remember thinking, “I am the one who gets to see that cutie every day.”  Besotted I was…{and am}. 

{Poor quality here has everything to do with momma trying to make sure she didn't get run over!}

Then, there were the boosters that allowed a little more freedom and a few more toddler perks with their little pockets and cupholders.  These were fun days and inspired many of my “From the Backseat” posts.  We discussed almost anything that caught her fancy as we drove by or random-ness that passed through her mind.  I could be driving along thinking about ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, relishing in the quiet, buckled-in moment and then she’d ask about the origin of her chromosomes or the theology behind the lingering “old in my heart” or the preference for God’s Word over Dove’s chocolate promises.  Good stuff, people.  This was what you got when there wasn’t any “glow face” back there.  Thoughts and questions ran rampant, flowed freely… and thus really great conversations whether you wanted them or not.  Ha!  Those were the days. 

Then, one day she was riding shotgun.

I learned every angle of her lovely profile.  And posture.  Mommas can read a lot by just those two things— face and form— and then we know how to ease into the conversation.  Or not.  Car time is golden time.  Money in the bank?  Maybe.  A few years it was both of them—J in the front,  B in the back—but the last couple of years with different school start times and ending times, I have had her all to myself, just about every day.  I had come to count on those times with her because we rarely had that kind of privacy.  I knew she would feel more freedom to speak her heart and mind and I knew I had a captive audience. I saved many harder parenting things I might need to say for these times.  I would wait until that short car ride with just her.  Again, privacy AND there was a clear cut- off time where she knew this tough conversation wouldn’t go on forever.  It only dawned on me about six months ago that this time was coming to an end…like I haven’t known that for 16 years… so tell me, why did I forget?  Why did I think that Driving Miss Julia around town would go on forever?  That I would always have this time with her— snippets as they may be?  It’s a bummer.

In our no flaws, brilliant parenting style {please hear the eye roll}, Jeff had told her that he would match whatever she saved for a car.  I agreed with him but wondered how this would go.  She’s a homebody.  {And I say that with great affection}. When you are 15, it’s hard to make much money and never leave the house.  If she could make money reading books, trying on outfits, journaling, practicing with make-up and cheers or scrolling Instagram, she’d be driving a Tesla right now.  {And I say all of that with great affection too.  She’s not shallow.  She’s a teenager.} The closer we got to the sweet sixteen, I was feeling pretty secure in my chauffeur hat thus my time left for more conversations with her to and from.  When she got her drivers license, her bank account was sorely lacking.  She could have bought a middle of the road bicycle.  And a good helmet. Insert thumbs up emoji here.  I was like, DRIVE ON, MOMMA. 

Enter a very Ephesians 3:20 moment.  On Easter Sunday.  And in case you haven’t read it in a while, here it is:  “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”  Did any of us ever ASK God for a car for Julia?  Did we even IMAGINE that she could get one a different way than having her daddy match what she earned?  We didn’t ask it, think it or even imagine it -not even on a really good day.  But God did.  So, therefore, Kelly Nix did.  Julia’s new keys DON’T play a song.  They ignite the ignition of a very cute car.  It’s as old as she is but it’s a very cute car.  And yes, I had to overcome any fear I had about a convertible.  I have no idea why God entrusted a convertible to her.  However, He does not owe me an explanation.

Y’all.  Kelly gave her a CAR. 

{I can't believe we don't have a picture with Kelly but I will update later with one.}

{Her friend, Collette, helping her clean it all up.}

Sure, she and her daddy have worked out all the details— what she’s responsible for and what she’s not.  It will be interesting what her need for cash will drive her to do….  Work, perhaps?  I know Julia.  She will figure it out and make it just fine. 

This driving thing is certainly liberating for me but at the very same time terrifying.  It is just one more opportunity to release any pseudo-control I thought I once may have had over my child— also known as another opportunity to “Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding.”  I am becoming convinced that our lives are made up of a bunch of those opportunities… one after another. 

So {Goodbye to} Driving Miss Julia.  I will miss our time together.  I’ll miss those set times in the car but trust we will figure out how to get all those Very Important Conversations in another way.  In the meantime, I'll be stalking you on this phone -- this thing I love to hate and hate to love.  I consider it my BFF when you drive away from our home with your REAL keys in your REAL car. Just you make sure those wheels don't go 'round and 'round too fast. 

Because then you will be back to riding shot gun with me again! 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Interruptions are not Efficient {A Sad Confession}

Well, Happy Spring.  Every season is my favorite when it starts…..  Texas is a little tricky though.  The starts are short— or long— depending on which one it is.  Spring is probably the most bi-polar if we can attach that label to a season.  It plays hide and seek starting somewhere in late January then summer interrupts the game and lasts until, oh, about Thanksgiving.  Today it will be around 80 and tomorrow the high is 45.  Hide and seek.

I taught my last lesson of Bible study last night for the year and there is a relief and a sadness that always comes.  Relief that the work of studying is over and a sadness that the work of studying is over.  I have college  to thank for revealing the study geek in me.  I had to study in high school to get the grades but by college and certainly by pharmacy school, I discovered I really enjoyed it.  Going into full geek mode at the Science Library at UGA was my happy place.  People knew where to find me and when I didn’t want to be found, I would hide.  Sometimes it worked and typically the tenacious seekers were a welcome break— especially the ones who brought me cheese on wheat crackers from the vending machine downstairs.  I got a certain energy from learning in college as I do now but honestly, it helps to have something to push me— something to work towards. I won’t have the deadlines of teaching to push me these next few months.

Studying to teach is a reflection of one kind but I miss reflecting on other areas in my life— which I tend to shoo away when I have a deadline coming up, a mind consuming list in front of me or I just don’t care to reflect on the thick atmosphere we sometimes have here in our home with teenagers trying to figure out life and parents trying to figure out teenagers. Deadlines and to do lists seem to rob my body of any possible light-heartedness.  My family loves this about me as you can well imagine.  I wrestle with it almost every day and most of the time, unfortunately, some poor soul that lives here has to point it out to me before I realize I am plowing ahead with my head down getting it done, daring anyone to interrupt me because what I am doing is paramount.  And poor, POOR soul if they choose to reveal this about me when I am hungry, behind or in my own little world- and their presence startles me.  I know you can relate, so I won’t belabor this.  But no matter my task, 100% of the time the person is right. Thumbs down—because I like to be the one that’s right 100% of the time.  Life just goes better for me that way.  But alas….. not going to happen… so.  I RARELY welcome an interruption.  I find it interesting how in all my 2018 pride, I think life is so much more complicated and hectic and distracting than any generation before me and then I come across this heart poking paragraph written close to 150 years ago!

“I think I find most help in trying to look on all the interruptions and hindrances to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to help one against getting selfish over one’s work.  Then one can feel that perhaps one’s work— ones’ work for God- consists in doing some trifling haphazard thing that has been thrown into one’s day.  It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted to think, it is the most important part of the work of the day— the part one can best offer to God.  After such a hindrance, do not rush after the planned work; trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime , and keep a quiet heart about it.”

Thus, Elisabeth Elliot’s classic book Keep a Quiet Heart was penned.  And even she is quoting Annie Keary who lived from 1825-1879.  Seriously?  Yes.  Seriously.  And I bet Annie could outwork all of us put together.…  with a gracious smile and hands folded in front of her apron.   I wiki’d her for about 2 minutes and I promise you, she knows all about “interruptions and hindrances”.  More than we can imagine.  I, in 2018, am not all that special…. to think that things have just ramped up for me.  My struggle is a very old struggle.  And reading it here from, like 1850, puts my “struggle” in perspective for me.

I rewrote her statement in my talk— It’s beneficial to look at any interruption and hindrance to my day’s agenda as challenges sent by God to remind me not to hold on to my own agenda too tightly.  Then if something seemingly insignificant pops up in my day, I can consider it exactly what the Lord had planned for me that moment, the most important thing to which I could give myself.  Trust God to give me the time to finish any work that needs to be done.

To see a “trifling haphazard thing” as the “most important part of the work day— the part one can best offer to God” does NOT come naturally for me.  And that’s an understatement.  I barely have a category for that kind of thinking but I DO HAVE ONE, it just usually stays empty. Until the “poor soul” points it out.  I am truly trying to have that mindset. To see my agenda as optional and to look out for more important things that do pop up in my day and to choose “no” to my “work [I] have planned out”.  AND KEEP A QUIET HEART ABOUT IT.
Which I read to say— don’t whine about it.  If I give myself to the “interruption” aka “the most important part of the work of the day”, I am not to whine about all I didn’t accomplish on my mighty list.

It’s so embarrassing but this is what I do…. I feel interrupted and aggravated then if I do give in then I am frustrated at my lack of productivity   WHY DO I DO THIS? How long have I known this?  Too long but as they say, not long enough, apparently.

A good friend gave me the book by Alan Fadling,  The Idol of Efficiency  She has to be a good friend to know I needed to read this book and I am grateful to my core she had the courage to give it to me. Here are some of my take aways after reading the book:

In what ways does my hurry {my efficiency} harm others instead of helping them?

I surely don’t want to be known as unlovingly efficient— getting much done but with no love.

Relationships are messy but not very efficient.

I don’t want to be efficient in managing tasks but unloving in the process.

What if I had to lower my personal standards of productivity in order to be more loving and more available?

Be willing to become a less job efficient and a more open to interruptions {new opportunities to love}.

Ouch, ouch and ouch.  Does anyone feel it like I do?  These are just great reminders and I do refer to them often—praying all the while the Spirit who is alive and work within me will remind me of simple Truths that, if I choose to obey, will keep my paths straight. No, I don’t always understand His ways— His interruptions or hindrances- to what I think is best, but that is where He calls me to trust in Him with all my heart.  My understanding is limited and flawed. {Proverbs 3:4-6} An openness and lighthearted attitude regarding my tasks would be a welcome gift to my family.
Lord, truly. help me.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Things

{A few January things I don't want to forget...}

The only picture I took when we got away to pray after the New Year.  Jeff is faithful to get us out of town if for just 24 hours to refocus and put our weaknesses, needs and gratitude before the Father.  And don't think I didn't make this night of sleep on a futon a matter of prayer.  I was amazed they made it through the night.  Sharing a bed has been a potential vacation ruin-er for us.

Well, they tried REALLY hard.  It was fun to make it to the National Championship even if we lost it.  The interview of the Alabama quarterback made the loss a LITTLE easier but the Thompson guy needed a old fashioned spanking and a firm sit down.  Goodness.  Thanks to my friends who came over to WATCH football and witness my pacing.  You were the perfect distraction.  My favorite moment was when ALL the kids came running down the stairs near the end when we thought the tide had turned.

Julia landed on her head at cheer practice one night and was diagnosed with a concussion.  Crazy-- all that.  So....... after sitting out of practice and then being cleared by her doctor, she had to do 3 days of "return to play" drills at school.  The last day was run 3 miles and 400 yards of wind sprints.  We did it together because like Julia told me YEARS ago-- almost anything is fun when you do it together.

We took the kids ice skating to stretch our break-- or get out of the house.  Which one?  Grateful for friends who are up for almost anything and we missed the gals who couldn't make it happen!

Julia's first cheer competition and so glad we had the Wilson girls for support.  Hmm... wondering if Basden will try out or not....

The days are flying by.  Grateful for the days or nights we are all at home together.  Time won't slow down.  No matter what I say. And I haven't even told you she turned 16 this month....

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Rambling.... into 2108

I just ordered my 2015-2016 blog book. 2015….so long ago….  There were technical and preferential issues as to why it’s so late but I won’t go into all that.  But my ninth 7x7 hardback book is on its way and that makes me happy.  Scanning posts and pictures as I was arranging them on the pages just caused me to remember how much I love having a small record of what is going on….because we forget SO much.  And even now, as I sit to write many months and moments have transpired I don’t even know where to start. {I realize I say this EVERY time!}  So today, right now seems a logical place to begin….

My house is quiet and there is a fire beside me.  I am sitting in one of my Grandmother’s chairs I’ve had recovered a couple of times.… after my mom did and after my Grandmother did.  It’s my winter spot.  The kids just went back to school this week— on Tuesday — and I wound up working that day so Wednesday after a morning meeting, I came home to a quiet house and this note by the fireplace:

Jeff knew I had been struggling.  Oh, I told him but I didn’t NEED to tell him.  He could see it all over my being.  My social introverted self was about to implode.  My social meter had gone “boing” and was dangling inside the glass.  There is NOT ONE THING to complain about.  Our Christmas was absolutely wonderful— full of family, traditions, our road trip, yummy food, friends— and some really great and not so great Georgia football.  The hard part is finding recharge time— down time— a bit of solitude— breathing room— just a little bit of space.  And sometimes you don’t realize how bad off you are until you are in the middle of a stupid argument with your 14 year old.  You think, “What is wrong with me?  I just picked this fight and I don’t even care about the outcome!”  I KNOW my family is tired of me when I get to that point because I AM TIRED OF ME too.  And here is where I get to practice walking in the Spirit when my flesh is screaming for me to just please itself.  Sometimes the practice goes well and sometimes I give in to me.  So today, it’s quiet. And I get to work on my Bible study.  I get to go through the stack by my computer.  I get to read by this fire.  I get to type some thoughts down.  And I am so thankful.  I just texted Jeff and told him I was feeling better by the hour.  ; )
Side note:  It's kindnesses like these that I need to offer more.  Kindness goes such a long way.... heals hurts, breaks down tension, fuels further kindnesses, grows love into something with depth and character.  I am grateful for a thoughtful husband.

At some point, like when the kids won’t care,  I want to document this parenting journey— the tweener years into the teenage years— because it has been so surprising to me.  Stuff happens faster than you can blink and some things you don’t ever think to prepare them for because you would have never thought it might be an issue and if you did, you didn’t think it was time yet.  I feel like I was blindsided in the tweener years and was NOT prepared for their doing exactly what I had prepared for them NOT to do.  Ha!  That should make any parent with kids over 10 laugh!  But here we are in this house—at 14 and 16 {next week}— and every day is different.  The schedule is different, the emotions are different, the moods are different, the needs are different.  I guess the same can be said of any age of kids, but I think with teenagers, it’s all just BIGGER.  They are premature adults trying to figure things out as everything seems to be changing — not to mention what we’ve learned with all the new brain research.  {It’s a wonder any of us made it out of the teenage years!  The “teenage brain really IS a thing!}

My favorite times with them is when a real conversation starts— criteria for “real”— something that matters and the child you know you are raising is doing the talking— not some persona they are hoping to keep up so kids think they are cool until they realize how foolish it is to have this “other persona” and give it up— which calls for celebrations of the largest kind.  I love those moments and they happen mostly around the dinner table or when I have one of them by themselves.  Sidenote— like this whole post isn’t— The power of the “dinner table” is undoubtedly underrated.  It’s so true that good things happen around the table— not EVERY night {and who has a schedule that can make that happen?} but even if you get “magic” one out of ten, then the mashing of potatoes was worth it.  Cook the dinner.  Set the table.  Sit down.  Without phones.  “Make it happen” is what I tell myself around 4.  The effort will pay off.

I am so rambling….then there are the irrelevant conversations you have over text with your teenage girl who decides at school the day BEFORE the cheer competition that she is pale and needs a spray tan.  These words have never been uttered by her before.  She was booked until 8:30 or 9 that night and she leaves for school at 7:00 am the next morning and leaves from school at lunch for the competition.  When I read the text, I was like, well, this will be easy.  I don’t have to say yes or no, I can just ask her “When?”and she will answer the question herself.  But of course, there is a girl on the squad that OWNS a tan sprayer and they are going over there AFTER their pre-competition dinner that night.  It’s not important how all that ended but it’s conversation you engage and then hopefully she trusts you the next day with saying something like, “I don’t feel pretty” when she really doesn’t feel pretty and you get to share words of life, hope and Truth.  Over text.  Of course.  I’ll take the words any way I can get them.

Then there’s B who is an idea a minute with his words.  Nothing like Brighton Sanders has made me want a driver more— or maybe a planner who can keep track of it all and do all the texting back and forth with other moms to make it happen!   He wants to be going and doing and seeing at every tick of the clock.  He’s always got a plan, making a plan, working a plan—- or thinking up the next plan before the present one is carried to completion.  He could employ his own driver.  I am amazed by how much time we could spend driving him around— AND it begins to make you LONG for a driver when you are really terror-stricken to let them drive.  I don’t think I’ll ever do this but it makes you understand why sometimes parents use Uber for their kids.  Kind of.  However, I won’t forget ONE of the Saturdays he was ‘chained’ to the house—- not really but to hear him talk about it…. BALL and CHAIN…. Around 4 o’clock, he leaned over the couch where I was reading and said, “You know, Mom, it really hasn’t been all that bad being here today.”  Well. I may or may not have rolled my eyes before I turned and said, “Home is not such a bad place to be. I’m glad you were home today.”  And I really was.

And that’s where I find myself this morning in a much needed quiet place— recharging for the people I love the most.  They truly do get the worst of me when I honestly want them to get the best of me.  I know my weakness but I also know His strength and I trust that always, always, always, His grace is sufficient for me. {2 Corinthians 12:9} Especially on the days I am the worst version of myself.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Letter 2017

As I was addressing cards just now, I thought of you as I wrote your name and little things I wish I could say just to you— but it was only your envelope and I think writing on the outside of an envelope is considered tacky… by someone… or at least a “no-no” by the post office.  So…. since I will most likely NOT get that personal little thought written on your card, I’ll say something personal right now.  What is this life without relationships?  You people to whom we send these cards — family, friends- past and present— you have added and are adding ABUNDANCE to our lives.  When Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have LIFE, and have it abundantly”, well, YOU are the abundance for us.  More than ever, especially since we lost my sweet momma this summer, I am convinced that the abundance of life He meant for us is FILLED with people to love and people to love us.  I’ll take this opportunity to THANK YOU one more time for all the kindness shown and care given to our family over these months.  I think I can speak for my whole family— we are overwhelmed by you.  You are making this journey of grief tolerable, and even sweet, as you love on all of us and remember with us what a delight my momma was to so many.  Thank you.  Two words have never fallen so short.
This year, we became official parents of TWO teenagers. Crazy.  Julia dropped piano, added cheer {?!?!?!!?- I’ll leave it at at that} and sadly can’t make ballet work even though she still wants to continue.  She filled her summer with some really great things,  got her learner's license {another ?!?!?!?!?}, made some new friends and decided she wanted to work hard in school.  Brighton kept piano, decided to try out for quarterback {got second string}, became a teenager, started a pressure washing business, chose some really great friends and grew a mop of hair.  Some of these things matter. Some of them don't but I love that my kids are seeing things and deciding to go for it—whether it be activities, certain friends, mission trips, a position on the team, grades etc.  So I fight to hear what they are saying through all of these choices.  I fight to engage them in the busyness of back and forth and to and from.  I want to hear their thoughts that lead them to these places.  I fight to create the space that's "large" enough so they feel there's room to hear them in the fullness of a day.  Car time, kitchen time, table time, after bed-time, texting time, retreat time, homework time, couch time— I’ll take it wherever I can get it!
Jeff has made the transition to Christ Together as Associate Director.  Christ Together is doing on a national level what Jeff has been doing here in Fort Worth for the last 17 years— to be a catalyst to unify the evangelical churches in our city in order to give every man, woman and child multiple opportunities to see, hear and respond to the gospel.  He will continue to provide leadership and support locally as we both love this city and the churches that serve it.  

Me?  I write Christmas letters and drive kids around.  

Merry, merry Christmas to you.  We are grateful for each one of you.  I pray you fight to create a space large enough this Christmas to ponder the wonder of this Story we celebrate.  To elaborate on the hymn, O Holy Night, when He made His first appearance as a human, beginning another chapter in the Great Rescue, His desire was for our souls to FEEL their worth, to KNOW how much He loves us and how “WITH us” He wants to be.  He came.  He’s here.  He’s with us.  

Monday, November 20, 2017

For This, I'm Grateful

The first words are always the hardest— whether you are walking into a room full of strangers, preparing to speak in front of a group or writing a post….. which I am attempting.  I am feeling the time— the time that spans between writing— and it discourages me from doing this.  However, I am stubborn enough to keep trying because I realize how quickly life spins, how days run together, how things can fall through the memory cracks and we miss lingering on the goodness and the giving of thanks.  So maybe that's a good place to start.  Giving thanks.

Momma's passing has made these months unique in the sense that many things are just different.  Even though I've lived 1000 miles from her for many years, there's a hole in my life, in my thoughts and even in some routines like calling her when I hop in the car to go pick Julia or Brighton up.  My daddy and I felt it when he came for a visit and when I went to visit him but here's the blessing. The hole she left is enormous but what she left behind is more than enough to fill those holes we feel— different than before but filled.  We have memories to retell and even memories to discover.  Her influence on me and those close to her is strong so we experience her impact often.  And the love.  I can't say enough about this— not only the love she had for each one of us and the particular ways she expressed it, but the love that surrounds our family- God's love which is more than enough but by His grace, we love each other and are loved by friends and family far and near.  All of this… this is what fills the hole- the memories, the influence and the love.  For this, I am grateful.

Jeff and I celebrated 25 years of marriage— that's a big deal, right?  I think that constitutes a little lingering.  When I met Jeff in the summer of 1990, I hadn't yet turned 20 and had even fewer notches on the maturity belt.  But the defensive tackle from Furman stole my heart with his talk of God and His grace and I and my faith have never been the same.  Twenty five years under his leadership has been anything but stagnant or stale— even though there would have been times, in my stubbornness, I would have welcomed stagnant.  He keeps our eyes on the future while making for much fun in the present.  For him, for this, I am grateful.

Summer ended and then school began……and this week before Thanksgiving we get a breather.  But these school days are where the days spin — and you wake up and it's Monday again.  This is where I struggle— struggle to keep focused on what matters.  I KNOW how important that is— I VALUE family time, teachable moments, dinner at the table, having ready ears for ALL of the words— but many of these days just seem to dissolve into each other and the weariness wins out.  This I fight.  Some days I fight harder than others.  This year, Julia dropped piano, added cheer and sadly couldn't  make ballet work either even though she STILL wants to, got her learner's license, made some new friends and decided she wanted to work hard in school.  Brighton kept piano, decided to try out for quarterback {got second string}, chose some really great friends and hasn't decided yet if he wants to make good grades.  Some of these things matter. Some of them don't but I love that my kids are seeing things and deciding to go for it—whether it be activities, certain friends, a position on the team, grades.  So I fight to hear what they are saying through all of these choices.  I fight to engage them in the busyness of back and forth and to and from.  I want to hear their thoughts that lead them to these places.  I fight to create the space that's "large" enough so they feel there's room to hear them in the fullness of a day.  Car time, kitchen time, table time, after bed-time, texting time, retreat time, homework time, couch time.  For these, I am grateful.

This week we are coming off of 20 days with only one night with all four of us under the same roof.  There were just some scheduling things we could not do any differently.  Jeff and I go home today after a postponed celebration of our 25th and we are excited to be with our kids this week.  We have some new fun planned along with our normal traditions of the week.  We have one of our favorite families joining us for Thanksgiving which makes my heart SO HAPPY. But today this homebody is thrilled to have the week in front of her with the three people I love the most spread all throughout it.  We have more fun to have, more people to host, more things to bake, more thanks to give, more love to share, more apples to wash, more caramel to melt, more fires to build and more memories to make.

For this, I am grateful.

These are some pictures that totally messed up but are too fun not to share.  We took them this summer while we were in the Pacific Northwest and my settings were all WRONG but they are too funny not to share and remember.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Letter to a 14 Year Old Boy: Brighton's Birthday Letter 2017

Mount Ranier 6/2017

Dear Brighton,

You can just go ahead and get used to it.  I will say it every year, just with a new number.  How is it that you are fourteen already?  Nothing in life prepares me for how fast you little jabbers grow up.  I see pictures of you just a year ago and you look like a completely different kid… umm, excuse me, young man.

I do try to keep these birthday letters honest so I just want to get this stuff out of the way….  You and I both know this last year hasn’t been OUR best.  Not your, but our.  We’ve had some great times, some good days and even some sweet moments {I am your Momma. I can say things like that.} but tension has been high many days and I know as sure as you will always choose chocolate mint ice cream that there have been many days you would have rather been somewhere else rather than here at home.  I own my part in that and I hope you will own yours, but you know what?  It’s part of being a family— working things out, loving each other through the tension, you pushing back, us pushing right back, doing things we love and doing things we don’t really enjoy. It’s all very normal but sometimes it’s just not a lot of fun.  We have to understand that this —our home and our living out “family”— is a training ground for all of us but my favorite part is that it is a SAFE training ground.  We can mess up here BIG time and yet, know we will be loved no matter what.  We can be so irritated and frustrated with one another but at the end of the day, we are loved, accepted and most likely willing to give or be given a hug….. or a back scratch.  I hope you find great security in that.  I do.  Because I mess up often.

Big B, you make up 1/4 of our family.  Your personality, your way of doing things, the manner in which you process life, your sense of humor— ALL of it goes into the identity of our family.  You  help make us who we are.  Without you, we lose some pretty great things.  You love music and you love to dance— some pretty crazy dances that almost always make me laugh {Asian Hula} but then you like to spin me around to Glen Miller when I least expect it.  I promise NEVER to be too busy for that.  {Just ignore my resistance.}  You love to laugh and when you are feeling good about life and your place in it, you make some pretty funny comments. {“You just wrecked my 3 seconds of fame!”}  You are still a thinker even though right now, you don’t give yourself to it very often but when you do, you ask good, hard questions.  When you give yourself to listening, you can make some pretty mature observations.  I enjoy talking WITH you when you are just yourself— not trying to get some reaction out of me.  {You little stinker.}. But your one-fourth is dear to me— what you add to the mix of the Sanders is special and critical to who we are as a family.  I am proud to claim you as ours.

Let’s just say a couple of things about Middle School….. can I just say, I think we need to have a celebration of the largest variety come June 1st!!  {I might just work on that.}.   I am so ready for the pond to be bigger, for there to be more kids to throw into the mix….  It has not been easy, has it?  You’ve said and done some things you wish you hadn’t.  Others have done stuff to you that made me want to go up there and sit a few boys down.  On the sunnier side, I am thankful for a handful of kids there who have been kind, forgiving and inclusive.  You DO have some faithful friends and we need to always be grateful for that.  One story we don’t want to forget is the Phone Heist— counterfeit money, the police officer and anonymous tips.  All in a day at middle school. {This was actually AFTER you turned 14 but I didn't want to forget it!}

You lost your Nana this year and you were there.  I know it was NOT by accident, B.  God wanted you there because Papa needed you that week.  And in some special way, Nana did too.  She didn’t want to leave Papa alone.  You had a role to play because you are their grandson.  I am so glad you asked to go — I feel it was you being obedient to the Holy Spirit within you to ask us. 

The thing I want the most for you and that’s always closest to my heart is the kind of heart I want you to have.  I will be the first to admit, I can’t pass something on to you that I do not have myself.   So much of what I want to pass on to you is still being formed in my own heart and life— but I am trying to live it out— the process of becoming more like Christ- in front of you.  You’ve seen my sin in living color and my great need for a Savior.  I can only hope you are keenly aware of your great need for a Savior too.  His gift of salvation is not something to take lightly— He has placed His Spirit in your heart so that you can do what you have no power to do on your own— to choose purity, dignity, honor, righteousness and Truth.   This is the foundation of Wise William— NOT Foolish Fred. {Couldn’t help the throwback…} This is the foundation of rocks— NOT sand. This is the foundation of wisdom—- NOT foolishness.  This you can build a life on.  And this you can count on.

I desire your heart to honor authority.  I pray your heart learns the honest balance between authority, responsibility and accountability— that great leaders recognize that respect is gained when all three of these are treated as valuable as the other.

I’ll close with some Scripture because this, I know, will last.  2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

I know you have battles presently and you will have many battles ahead.  I challenge you to think of these verses remembering that you fight- empowered by the Holy Spirit- with Truth, with a personal track record of a faithful God, with the knowledge of the Gospel which offers hope and life to all.  Fighting with human argument powered by pride and arrogance— and sometimes ignorance— will only fail in the long run and you’ve accomplished nothing at all, especially no sort of victory you can enjoy.  Some of your battles will be from without {from the world around you} but most of them will be from within.  Your thoughts are not always true, B, and I want you to recognize the lies and demolish them with the Truth.  Give your time to learning the Truth about who God made you to be and what His purposes for you are.  These Truths are worth fighting for, worth waging a war for….. Fight for the Truth.  Live in the Truth.

You have what it takes, B.

I love you.  More than you’ll ever know.

Some Star Wars movie, I am sure.

You are my tradition keeper.  Thanks for stringing the popcorn, B!  

Christmas jammies

The John Cena phase I am rejoicing that is OVER.  

You are loved by cousins.

Tejas, y'all.  Rodeo-ing.... In Vineyard Vines.... What has happened?

Canoeing St. Elena Canyon between Texas and Mexico-- the Rio Grande

My favorite haircut.  Your least favorite haircut.

I don't care what y'all say-- you love each other.  It will show more regularly at some point.


Y'all celebrate me well-- always makes me feel loved and special.

Last recital with Dr. Fritz



That's what 13 year old boys do.


Junior Ranger Program has helped us keep you motivated to do these National Parks!!

Even though I wish you had stayed on the trail with us longer, I love this picture.

Mystery Soda Machine in Seattle

Sigh.... my baby boy.

Lake fun-- Rice Krispies forever!

Lois  : )

Helping you with your first job.

Grateful for this week at SGI-- more cousins!

A night I hope we never forget

First day of school

Hotter-N-Hell 2017 -- you rode 75 miles

We saw this face a lot this year-- even though you don't look happy, I still like it.  Life is not always easy and the tough patches have made you stronger.

Goodbye, 13.  Hello, 14.