Thursday, October 20, 2016

Time, Homecoming and Humble Pie

I’m faking fall by my fake fire this morning. The 95 that hit us yesterday was no joke for October.  Tomorrow looks promising but who really knows.  I’m ready to burn some real wood and wear something besides July clothing.  Who’s with me?

A songwriter I met several years ago used to have a tag on her webpage— “writing when I should be sleeping”— like that was a normal thing for her.  I will give up a few things, but sleep is not one of them.  So for me— I should be studying for my next time to teach but here I am writing because I want to and I really love to process things this way.

A couple of years ago my friend posted her 9th grade son’s homecoming pictures— a large group of girls and boys all dressed up and looking very “grown”.  I thought to myself, “No way will Julia be doing that in 9th grade.  It’s too soon.  How do we know this will turn out well?  Who are those kids anyway?”  Something like that but basically {in South Georgia talk}, “There ain't NO WAY she’s going to homecoming in 2 years.”

And there she is two years later at homecoming with a kid I had never heard of before Friday.  It’s a great story but one for a back post later for the family books— and not to embarrass either party.  It was a late ask —for good reason— no real fault by our new friend, Nathaniel.  All I know is that Friday morning I called and ordered a nosegay for Jeff to give to Julia because she had made homecoming plans with girlfriends and 2 hours later I was calling the florist to change it to a boutonniere.

So, the young man…. before all of you freak out that we let her go with a “stranger”….. THIS is what friends are for—times just like this when you REALLY want to say YES to your daughter but DO NOT have the critical information you need.  And if you don’t live here, Fort Worth is just a big small town.  All it took was a text or two and the kid had stellar reviews blowing up my phone.  {The funniest part of the texting is that BOTH MOMS I texted knew about the “ask” before I could inquire about the boy.  Their sons had already texted them to tell them Julia had been asked!}  Then, to hear my friends speak of his family— I knew Julia would be well taken care of — and the best part, she’d spend the evening with some of her closest friends.  It was all just super sweet.

We’ve known the Jordans for quite a while and mirrored school experiences.  Glad Julia got to make this transition with Audrey.

Hudson rode to Bossier City, LA in his infant carrier when Julia was born.  He was barely 3 months old.  
What happened during the two years of “ain’t going” and “going with a stranger”?!?  Two years.  That’s what happened.  I remember clearly the summer before 7th grade and how I felt I still had like a 10 year old in Julia and then thinking only 4-6 months later, “Whoa. Wait a minute.  You certainly aren’t 10 anymore.”  Lots happens when our kids sleep. I wrote a sappy post on that before.  It feels crazy when you “miss” it.  It really is like you turn around to answer their question and when you see their face, you stare and forget what the answer was.  All you can think is “WHO IS THAT? HOW?!  Just how?”  And not only the physical changes but emotional/mental as well.  They are capable of processing things that they weren’t able to just 6 months ago.  You get to a point where you are like, “Yes, it’s time to have that conversation. I hate for her to have this knowledge of something so horrific, but it’s time.”   A different level of exposure to worldly things is in order.  They ask more questions and we can answer them more fully.  The best part of all of it is, they can grow in their knowledge of the Lord, WHO HE IS and, hopefully, the value of walking with Him.  As we answer questions and help them process the things they are beginning to notice around them, we can go deeper into the things of God because now, they can understand it more fully.  Only they can choose whether or not to embrace Him and His ways.  Our job is just to keep putting Him out there— walk and talk Him out in front of them.  They get to choose.  

Just how I can’t stop this aging process happening ALL over my self, we can’t stop it with our kids and it’s not healthy to try.  As my kids have more freedom and get permission to do things that are completely out of my control and protection, I am figuring out that they probably know about 90% of what they need to know to make good decisions. We’ve already taught them this — since “littlehood”.  Right?  The context might change but not the principle.    

So you sweet young mommas that stop by here from time to time, you lay that foundation for your sweet littles because they grow and become bigs— bigs who need to be bolstered from underneath and held up by the Truth that won’t change, bigs who will be making decisions out from under your watchful eye.  We are raising our kids in years that things are changing so fast I don’t even try anymore.  They NEED the security of Someone who never changes and the Words He gave us that don’t change.  Our kids can be a voice of logic, reason and wisdom in a world of foolishness and spinning opinions but they need someone willing to put in the time to help lay this foundation beneath them.

And YOU, sweet momma, are just the one for the job.  

I’m at it with you— not there yet, but in the process with you.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Rocking My World

No one else knows, but September is almost over and I don’t have a post on the books.  My mom let me know a couple of months ago I wouldn’t have enough to make a book this year.  At least someone is keeping track!  What she doesn’t know is that I have done a lot of “back posting” — another way to say it is that I have been cheating blogger.  I love that feature— wish Instagram had it— but then it wouldn’t be very “insta”, would it?  But it allows me to put things in LATER that I want in the family book.  It’s mostly been events or vacations — and really, THOSE are the things the kids enjoy.  All my words?!  Oh my gosh— nope, they get ENOUGH of those during the week.  Pictures.  That’s what they love seeing.  So here I am, with a day left in the month and determined to post SOMETHING in real time.

So what is “rocking my world”?  You know, I just gave it that label this week.  I know people have used that expression for a while but it’s really the best way I know how to describe this thing.  Last summer, I lost “my store” with the pharmacy I work for after nearly 20 years.  Not my job— just my store.  I don’t even think I’ve told Jeff this— too embarrassed at the time— but on the day I knew I wasn’t scheduled there again, I cried on my way out.  I mean, I don’t just LOVE my job.  I am grateful for it but my heart is at home.  However, I have been there almost EVERY week for the last 20 years.   I have seen babies born and go off to college.  I have seen more sweet elderly people die than I care to count— and seeing their spouse a week or two later is heart- wrenching.  So, I cried.  There wasn’t a big to do— which I am typically not a fan of— but somewhere in my sentimental spirit, I wanted someone to recognize it.  It was the very first store in the DFW metroplex and the corporate big wig {now retired in Trophy Club} and I opened it together.  The company flew 6 of us to Des Moines to train for a week so we could open the district here.  Ok, sniff, sniff — enough about that.  It’s been a year and I am so over it.

What I am NOT over is this—and this is what is rocking my world—  I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT EIGHT HOURS OR WHAT STORE I AM WORKING IN WEEK TO WEEK.  NO DAY TO DAY.  {I typed in bold and caps so you wouldn’t misunderstand me.}  Granted I only work 8 hours a week but it’s a chunk and I never know when it’s going to be extracted from my seven days.  So when I say “day to day”, I mean, I’ll be driving Julia to school at 8:20 and I will get a text on my phone offering a shift for the afternoon/evening.  Very rarely do I know the day before anymore.

Here are my conversations with people— “I’d LOVE to hand out Chik-Fil-A to the boys before their game Tuesday night but if I get called into work, I’ll have to bail.”  “I will do carpool on Monday and Wednesday but if I get a shift, I’ll need to switch it around.”  “I really want to come help with the coach’s surprise party after practice, but if I don’t show, it’s because I went to work.”  “I’ll see you Thursday at prayer unless I get a shift last minute.”  “Yes!  Let’s meet for coffee!  I’ll text you as soon as I know if I have to go into work.”  “I’ll be at your son’s football game Friday night if I don’t have to work.”  Don’t you want to be my friend?  Lame-O.  Seriously.  If reading those got on your nerves, I PROMISE you, speaking them day after day is like watching a used car salesman commercial 25 times.  Misery for me.

First, perspective.  I had a GREAT, predictable 20 year run.  I have a good job that pays well.  They have not fired me and I can still work 8 hours a week. {So far.} I do not have to get vacation approved.  Yes, I could look for a different job in pharmacy —- a few things that deter me— my retirement plan, learning a new computer system {can you say “lazy”?} and the pay is good where I am.  I am not looking at this point but maybe after several more months of this, I will.  Who knows?

I had no idea though, what this unknown 8 hour disappearing chunk would do to my thought processes.  I don’t feel I have one anymore- a thought process. I am a planner and I am not doing much planning. Until I get that shift, it’s like I am going hour by hour.  I absolutely LOVE a Monday shift because then I know the rest of the week is “stable”.  Pieces of it won’t go missing.  There are, of course, the non- negotiables for our family— what we will miss and what we won’t, and then there are times that are just too complicated for someone else to cover for me if Jeff isn’t available. So imagine a week ahead of you with stable pieces— things that you will NOT miss no matter what and then everything else is like driftwood floating on the surface waiting to be claimed.  I’d like to say I am getting used to it, but I am not.  However, I am figuring it out trying my best to make it work for my family.

To say the least, it’s been a year long exercise in flexibility— and that may be RIGHT where God wants me.  Oh— and also loss of control of my schedule.  The more I write, the clearer it’s all coming to me.  He totally has me right where He wants me. He is strengthening my weakest muscles— flexibility— and hindering me from exercising my ugliest strength— control.  All of a sudden this feels a lot different.  Father, help me to submit with humility and joy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

8 Days In

I didn’t get her picture before we left so I asked her to take a selfie since I knew there was no hope of a picture since I was dropping her off.  

This is so normal, I know…to drop kids off at school and come home to an empty house— a QUIET, empty house.  But FIVE days a week.  It’s really amazing.  Only 8 days in, I don’t know the full extent of the “amazing-ness” but everyday, I find it hard to believe that they will leave again the next day too.  And only 8 days in, I really can’t tell yet exactly how different I am going to feel.  I think mid October, maybe I’ll know?  All I know, it’s a very big deal.

The first week was good for both of them.  Julia had a couple of schedule snafus but other than getting lost like every other freshman, wondering what to wear and not being able to locate her locker for a week, she really enjoyed it.  This isn’t easy— brand new school, HIGH SCHOOL, 6A school {very large}, a handful of friends— I think she’s {I want to say ‘killing it’ but can a 45 year old say that?  Without people thinking, “she’s trying to talk hip”?}I think she’s doing swell.  Ha!  Anyway.  I am so proud of her.  God loves my girl— way more than I do and He’s using other people to show her that too.  Another mom offered to get some freshman girls together at a yogurt shop last Sunday just to give Julia more familiar faces to see in the halls.  When I thanked her later, she said, “Today was my pleasure and a glimpse of God’s love for Julia!”  My heart is full.

Get this— NO DRESS CODE.  Nada.  Zip.  It’s really hard to believe in 2016 but there’s not.  Julia left today in running shorts, long sleeve T-shirt and running shoes.  Second day for that look but she’s worn “real clothes" the other days.  I had no idea what she’d want to do.  Last week when she came down in above said outfit, no make-up {she doesn’t wear much but NO mascara or gloss) and her hair in a bun, I knew she was O-KAY.  Made me happy that she was comfortable in her bare and beautiful 14 year old skin.  For now.  Will continue to pray.  For lots of things.

Brighton didn’t have football practice on the first day of school so I didn’t drop him off until— another “get this”— 9:30!!  I’ve heard of this but wasn’t sure I really believed it.  But it’s true. And the sweetest thing that happened on day 1— There is a group of girls I have known since right before Julia was born and many of our children overlap in ages but hardly have ever schooled or even attended church together.  Two of my friends in that group had kids starting at McLean too. As I was inching down the street to drop him off, we saw one of the boys {and his mom} so B jumped out and I called Kellie to tell her B was running up behind them.  When they got to the front of the school, our other friend was there so they all got to go in together and walk each other to their homerooms— after Kelly explained to B what homeroom was.  And she was able to take this picture.  Again, my heart was full.

Thanks, KB, for taking this picture!
Back to the 9:30 drop off.  We only got ONE morning of that.  Football practice drop off is 6:30!!  Hello morning.  He’s rocking the alarm clock and ready to go. On time. Our Golden Retriever went without breakfast a couple of days as B was getting used to this new dark-thirty schedule {Gabe had lunch though when we realized}.  Gosh, I know B’s tired.  I told him this morning that this would be easier once they played their first game.  I watched him get out of the car this morning— in the dark— he was barefoot, carrying his shoes, glorious bed hair and too many pieces NOT in his backpack and sure enough, he left his lunch in the car.  I’m not sure if the left lunch was by design or not because, guess what?  He has an affinity for cafeteria food.  Of course he does.  Carbs and cheap meat are his favorite food groups.  I am not sure what we are going to do about that.

By about Tuesday last week {SECOND day of school}, he said, “I can’t believe I get to go back tomorrow!”  He truly loves it.  I went to his open house last night to meet his teachers— and some of his friends- and I could just tell, he LOVES it.  Going into situations like that for him are very natural and energizing even.  Not one atom in his body is introvert.  He thrives with all the people and all the interactions.  Now, let’s see if his heart and grades thrive. {So many prayers to pray!}

I cannot end this without a bit on pick ups/drop offs/carpool.  This was a brand-spanking new frontier for me.  I had no idea.  Really.  I am SO impressed with my friends who have done it for YEARS and not ONCE complained.  I am totally inspired.  The first day, it rained, so Monday night my friends assured me it was “pick up on steroids”.  But even then, I knew I needed to do something different.  Every day I have tried new routes and new times and I think I’ve got it.  Ballet started this week so I am trying some new streets for that and the piano time slot might be a lost cause but I am going to try really hard tomorrow.   Carpool is a BLESSING— surprised it isn’t mentioned in the Holy Scriptures somewhere.  To AVOID pick ups is the way to go so you really want to make carpool work.  However, you get to know the kids which is the upside of it being your day to drive.  Just say yes.

But did I mention I come home to a quiet, empty house FIVE days a week?  I can do crazy pick ups, no problem.


Yes, I do miss them.  It took me until Friday but B got out of here early that morning without my seeing him and about 2 o’clock, I thought, “I miss him”.   I went into this with my eyes wide open.  I know what I had with them for nine years.  TIME.  Lots of precious time.  We interacted all day and interacted fully all those years.  Some was ugly and some was GOLDEN.  Putting them in public school, I knew that would be gone. It is a sacrifice made.  I know I am missing a lot.  And I am okay with that— on the days I remember the Lord led us to here.  I have to trust Him with their time— to mold and shape them into who He has created them to be, to allow circumstances in their lives that drive them to Him, to develop more compassion for a larger sphere, and to begin to understand our world’s culture and how to interact IN it but not OF it.  {Prayers!!  Please!!}

Seriously.  Can all of that really happen in middle/high school??!  Who knows.  I think it’s a good starting place.  My heart is full of gratitude to a good and faithful God who loves my children way more than I do.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Lake Day {Old Friends and New}

Did I ever tell you it rained -- it seems-- the LAST MONTH OF SUMMER?!?  Pool days came to an abrupt halt.  No more packing coolers.  No more sunscreen applications.  No more lazy days of chatting in the sun {or shade - depending on who you are} with friends.  It was sad.  A “lake day” had been promised to Julia with a few old friends and new who would be joining her at Paschal the first day of school but the days and days of rain seemed to be determined to snuff this fun day out.  On the day of as I was debating on whether or not to cancel it, all it took was one boy in the background of the conversation I was having with his mom saying, “Let’s just try it!”.  No more questions-- if he was game, I was game.  After a handful of optimistic texts to the other parents, I heated up the Hawaiian Roll sandwiches, loaded the cooler with fun cans and bottles, layered THREE batches of Rice Krispie treats in one container, the biggest bag of popcorn I’d ever seen in my life and off we went.  As I was heading out the door, I noticed the wood pile and thought of wet kids and evening time and threw a few pieces of wood in the back of the car.  And in case you were wondering if I am crazy or delusional, we had a VERY strange August.  Very cool. Very wet.

Kids, lake, a dock, a football, no worries of sunburn.  Perfect.

How many teenagers can you fit on a ski boat?
 {They didn’t all go at once, of course. But they would have tried!}

Always a little work to get a group shot.

As the afternoon turned to early evening, the sky just kept getting more dreamy.

Audrey was the ONLY one to try wake boarding and make it up several times.  Hudson was a veteran- got up the first time-- but I applaud the boys for trying.  Really hard.

Tommy, Audrey’s dad, started the fire - WITHOUT lighter fluid- {show off} while Jeff slung the kids around on the tube.  They found sticks so they could heat their sandwiches.

We lit sky lanterns at the end which-- I don’t care how may times you’ve done them- they are just cool.  And so pretty to watch.  They floated the right way-- thank goodness-- AWAY from the trees.  But we were able to watch them until they were just specks.  

The sky at this point was just incredible-- as you see in the following picture but, here, you can see the reds and pinks reflecting onto them as they followed their lanterns.

I know.  Amazing.  This is completely unedited taken on the phone. It just looked like this.  I noticed a couple of the kids-- boys, mind you-- running back to snap a picture too.  Gotta love a kid who appreciates a sunset. ; )

We had a GREAT time with these kids.  We just wanted to give Julia a few more friendly faces to recognize as she headed to a brand new school.  I was completely encouraged- and impressed- to meet them because each of them were super polite and very helpful.  And so very grateful.  That always gets a momma’s heart.  We’ll load this crew up anytime they want to go.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

2016: St. George Island- A Little Sweet Tea to Cure the Beachfever

Driving through Port St. Joe last Saturday afternoon on our way to St. George Island, talking out loud, I figured something out.  We had rolled down the windows to smell the ocean air as we got our first glimpse of the Old Florida Gulf.  {I consider Port St. Joe the entry to Old Florida, but what do I know?}  I always take in the surroundings of the gorgeous coast line- the shacks, the boats, the shops, the businesses- ones thriving, ones long closed and all the haphazardness that comes with time, coastal time in particular.  Apalachicola is no different.  Bigger but much the same.  Before we hit the bridge that takes us to the 28 mile long island of St. George, we drive through the famous oyster town.  And it meanders.  Again, you see shacks of old grayed wood patched together with metal or whatever was handy it seems, signs painted over signs, a shop you didn’t know was there because you never noticed that street winding through, boats on the bay that have seen better days-- no rhyme, no reason-- just a bay town that has become what it is just like the surf of the beach.  It just happens.  With age.  As we were turning off of Avenue B, back to 98 which takes us to the bridge, I said, “Anyone can up and build a beach town, but you can’t just build this.”  Jeff laughed, “Yes, it takes almost 200 years to get something to look so............”  I can’t remember the word he used, but it was something like random, “colorful”, meandering, or eclectic.  He didn’t think it was necessarily a compliment but I did.

St. George is much the same.  These places have character-- not that the new places don’t.  I LOVE the pristine beauty of the beach communities on 30A but it’s a completely different experience.  The character is of a different age.  Not better or worse-- just different.  I have been falling in love with Old Florida for a few years now-- with all of its dilapidation and growth like ivy on a English Tudor--  and I think I am finally there -- ready to say it.  “Old Florida, I love you.”

This was our 13th year on the island and it never disappoints.  I know a lot of why I love it so much is the people with whom I spend the week.  We’ve made and are still making some great memories there-- all growing old and growing up together.  {A lot changes over 13 years- for ALL age groups} Sea sickness, sunburns, picture nights (they’re getting SHORTER!!}, belly aches from either eating too much or laughing too much, sore losers or winners, taller kids, cuts and bruises, cousin club, sea turtle sightings, sunglasses + reading glasses, practical jokes, eating habits, jelly fish stings, the year RJ knew it was his last year for quite a while, sitting among the dolphins in a kayak, the paddle board challenged, a very busy coffee pot-- and griddle, shore fishing and catching all manner of fish, fireworks, being REALLY sore, sky lanterns, books and books, peaches, Bill’s beach activities that always make it more fun {thus the "REALLY sore"}, sand in our beds, the smell of bacon EVERY morning, daily grocery trips, the years we had no tent and on and on and on.  It’s all very normal but oh so very special because of our family.  We are so grateful for this week together.  And the backdrop just doesn’t get any better.

To me, it looks different every day.  I love how it changes so much during the day and night.

Brighton had just returned from camp the day before so I saw a lot of this on the way there.  It was more of a service camp and he had worked his boo-tay off.

Jeff and B’s roughhousing ended with B’s foot through the high quality sheetrock at the Days Inn.  B was mortified.  We were off to a GREAT start.

Driving through Wewahitchka, home of the Dead Lakes and Tupelo Honey, we saw this beautiful wood in the yard of this store-- wood that drys out when the water goes low and then floats to the top when the water rises again in the Dead Lakes.  It’s big business for many.  Each piece is so unique-- full of character.  I’ll show you my small piece later.

My Mom always brings the peaches and we ate all but five.  They were so yummy.  I got a little excited.

We couldn’t stay in the house we normally stay in {Beachfever}-- water damage being repaired.  We liked the different house {Sweet Tea} but I am ready to have the other one back...HOWEVER, I did like this.  This is the view I had with my head on my pillow.

Even though I don’t fish, I do love this scene.  If RJ weren’t playing professional baseball, he’d be in this picture.  

Blake making much of his puny catch.  But that, folks, is a real fisherman.

This one is too but he just couldn’t seem to hold his fish this particular evening.  

Here is the benefit of having fisherman with us....  getting to eat it right out of the ocean.

Although he held this one just fine.  So he pulled in this while Hunter and I were doing this.....

Huge potential for fun

What a daddy will do for his daughter.  Hunter, this is amazing.  

Somehow, Blake was on the winning team.  Every. Time.

And he’s an obnoxious winner.

More proof.  

And while we are playing around on the beach-- 


We so missed Hunter’s energy last year!  It was truly fun having her back this summer!  After many attempts for all three of us to hop on the kayak to take pictures of the dolphins with H’s GoPro, we capsized, missed the dolphins and settled for a shameless selfie.

We interrupt this vacation to stare at our cell phones.............

Aunt Ebby’s AGAIN

Pre- meal entertainment

The bay-- picture kudos to Hunter

I bet you’re wondering where B’s book is.

Last year it was whip and nay nay and I think they call this the dab...  which may or may not have questionable origins....

You only need one good picture. 

Jeff didn’t think it was nearly as funny as we did.  

Here are my two favorite finds-- my piece of wood from Dead Lake {and it’s PINE} and this book.  Four ladies who either grew up in the area or visited regularly for years put together this gorgeous collection of photos, history and stories from their beloved area called Old Florida.  {“Saints” meaning Port St. Joe, St. Maria, St. George and St. Theresa} It’s wonderful.  

This was the only way we got to see RJ...  

And Jason.

The lanterns were beautiful.

Saturday morning is the worst-- having to leave everyone and this beauty.  

I love this crew-- each and every one.

Thanks, Mom and Dad for a very special week!