Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Letter to an Eleven Year Old Boy: Brighton's Birthday Letter 2014


Dear B, Eleven!  How long will it take me to get used to saying that?  We had fun celebrating you over the weekend— overwhelmed by all your “thank you’s”.  Once Daddy, Julia and I acted like complete weirdos for the birthday wake up, I made the dash to the doughnut place so I could fulfill your wish for the “doughnut tower” you’d seen a friend get.  So, remember, eleven was your first doughnut tower year.  WHEN, my boy, do we EVER buy doughnuts?!  I didn’t even know where the closest one was.  I miss the days when you had your first one and said, “This is the BEST BAGEL I’ve ever had!”  Oh the days of a little boy who liked healthy food…..  You try—- even faking “like” sometimes.   This year when our family decided to try the Fresh 20 menu plan, you were more than happy to offer to give it up for Lent.  Nice try.  But your tastebuds are still simple and prefer a PB& J over just about anything but pizza maybe.  I am thanking the Lord you still love apples.  Surely I can raise a big, strong young man on apples?






You had a big year.  Transitioning to a new home, a new space, a new room was a big deal for you.  You are like your momma in the sense that you don’t like a bunch of change.  Your year 9 and 10 had a lot of that and you’ve fought through it.  You miss familiar things— even our old cars, my old purses and you can hardly get rid of anything.  Everything gets “put in the attic for when I need it”.  You mention our previous home from time to time but I sense your easiness now in this one. It’s home, B, because we are all here.  And you told me once, “I like this place”.

My egg man





The things I’ll want to remember — some I love and some I don’t always feel just “warm fuzzy” about:  how you report to me all throughout the day what you’ve finished and what you need to finish, how you ALWAYS call when I leave the house- not just once, how when asked if you’ve followed some direction we’ve given you, you are always “on [your] way to do that right now”, how your money still must be spent {!!!!!!}, how you say goodbye and good night until the last possible minute, how you still begin to speak before I can hit end on the call I am having in the car, how your legs shake and your tongue works overtime when you are nervous or excited, how you must have sweet with salty, how you love old things whether it’s something of mine, your daddy’s, your uncle’s or any of your family’s things, how you search for the old school electronics on ebay, how thankful you are, how you value your friendships, and how you value your family.







You were introduced to Rocky this year and became quite enthralled.  I’d say ten was the year of Rocky.  You watched a few of them with your Daddy over a period of time and decided you wanted to join a boxing league.  I’m pretty cool— enthusiastic about most sports— but not that one.  I wouldn’t expend a half an ounce of energy towards researching that.  Dream on, son.  You just live vicariously through Sylvester and save yourself some troubles in your 60’s.




You got to play with your baseball team at the Dr. Pepper Field at Rangers Stadium and play with your football team at Cowboys Stadium.  We spent Spring Break in Rockport doing some pretty silly things.  We learned the waltz together and you, my man, are a great dancing partner.  You tried out basketball this year for your school.  You went away for an entire week of camp at T-Bar M and we couldn’t talk to you for 6 days!!  You had a blast and I was so proud of you.  You earned your red cap at Thursday Boys this year.  You switched school days and God answered our prayers and friends switched with you.  Even though our school days aren’t always rosy and full of bliss, I love that the three of us can be home together those 2 days.  You’ll be thankful for that one day too.

Had to include this one-- the smile that screams, "I am so done with this-- can I get back to my team now?"

You and your sister are still at it.  Some days, I think I’ve referred to it before as a “love fest” and other days, I wonder if you’ve been secretly raised by wolves.  Yowzers.  I prefer the former— in all its cheesiness ANYday over the snarling and picking.  Just the other day after one of the “attacks”, I asked if you had made things right with Julia and you said you had but I could tell you weren’t settled.  So I poked around a little more and you said, “She hasn’t asked me for forgiveness since 2008.  And I remember it.”  It’s a good thing you aren’t prone to exaggeration when you are mad.  I do love it though when I hear the two of you laughing upstairs— the kind I know is genuine fun and both of you are truly happy together.  There’s hardly anything a momma likes to hear more.  Your sister loves you even when she’s mad at you— it’s just harder to tell then.  I don’t think I told you this but a few Thursdays ago when you were at Thursday boys, Julia and I were home in the quiet house and she noticed it.  She said a few things about you but then told me, “I love it when B wears his pj’s that are too small— like the sleeves and pants are too short and the shirt is tight across his belly.  He looks so cute— Mom, don’t stop buying him those kinds of pajamas.”  She loves you and misses you when you aren’t here.  I don’t care what she tells you.


You guys entertain yourselves often so Jeff and I can have have adult time with others.





At Starbucks the other day, you saw this woman on an CD cover and you whispered to me, “Mom, she looks like one of those who want you to come to her.”  I was a little taken aback by what you said {You didn’t know that, did you?  You aren’t supposed to know that.  I did good, didn’t I?} because I wondered how you meant it.  So I asked and you said, “You know. That woman in the Proverbs.”  Crystal clear.  Your daddy is investing much in you, young man, and your time in the Proverbs on the road trip with him to Florida will pay off.  In very big ways.  All of what your dad is thinking through for you and planning to do for you over the years to come can be a strong structure on a sure foundation if your heart is receptive.  I pray almost every day that your heart would stay soft so the Word planted there can grow and produce that hundredfold crop Jesus talks about.  I’m trusting Him for that.





If I could speak anything into your life this year, it would be 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given [you] the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  I pray for you to have courage and to trust the God to whom you gave your life.  I pray for you to walk in confidence and security, and be free to love with clear understanding and sound judgment.  I don’t want fear to have any place within you or any hold upon you.   You are so loved and it seems very important at this age for you to know that YOU are a Sanders boy, through and through.  No, we may not share the same blood or genes, but you are our boy because God in His sovereignty planned it that way and nothing can ever change that.



When I asked you what you wanted for your birthday, you got real deliberate as you started making the final list.  We were in the car and you paused and stated in all seriousness, “I am making some big decisions right now.”  And I tell you even at 11, you are.  Not about birthday gifts, but about WHO you are becoming as Jeffrey Brighton Sanders.  You are free to choose.  You’ve been taught a lot— you know the Scriptures and the stark contrast between right and wrong and the consequences of each.  I pray for you — that the choices you make would reflect WHOSE you are and WHO you want to be. I love who you are.  I see world of potential in you and the personality God has given you.  I am proud to be your momma and am privileged and honored to have a front row seat in your life.

I love you, B.




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lift My Noise: Advice to My Younger Self



Happy Wednesday!  I am excited to share with you a post my friend, TJ, posted on her blog late last week.  It's worth the read and VERY worth passing it on.  I was a part of that lovely dinner--or appetizer- party on her back porch and the conversation was thoroughly thought provoking.  I have such respect for those women so I counted it a very valuable night.  I am so glad TJ was of the mind-set of getting it down before all of us forgot.  She's like that though-- getting it done, thinking it through, writing it down...  She's a wonderful writer-- more concise than I and a whole lot smarter.  Click on over to Lift My Noise.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on it and what YOU'D add to our "What I wish someone had told me when I as 25"!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

These Adoption Questions

These adoption questions— the memories I will have of WHERE we have these conversations- unloading the dishwasher, in the middle of a chapter, from the backseat of the car, while I am scrubbing the toilet, painting a door outside…..   This one took place sitting in my car beside a Redbox— returning Belle {rent it if you haven’t yet}, going through my mental list of leaving for Georgia, barely present,  “Mom, does it ever make you sad that you don’t have kids that look like you?”  Very present now.  “Have you met both of our birthfathers?  What was that like?  How did it make Daddy feel?”  The elusive birthfather— they don’t get much airtime but maybe now that they are getting older, they will.  “What made you choose open or closed adoption?”  “Did she get mad when you closed it?”  Yes— all last night in the Walgreens parking lot between meeting Jeff and B at Panera and getting home for baths and bed.



I won’t rehash our conversation but can I just say, I’m so thankful God loves me and that He is concerned with my family and all this is HIS story that’s being read- page by page.  I had no control of how this all got started or really, how it’s going to end.  That’s His job.  You bet I am throwing up prayers in the driver's seat.  Because who knows if she’ll ever ask the question again— not that I can’t bring it up— but her heart is ripe in that moment, looking to fill up that little space with truth.  With something that will satisfy.  With something that she can accept and move on from that place, secure.

She went to a spend the night party with sweet friends last Friday night and a whole FOUR days later {last night} she told me that her adoption became a topic of conversation.  I really don’t know how it comes up— wish I had been a Borrower in a mouse hole…. Does some girl just say, “Julia, tell us about your being adopted?” or “ Does being adopted make you feel so weird?!?!”  or my favorite, “Do you know your REAL mother?” {Them's fightin' words.  Kind of.}  Surely, this time, since they are such mature 7th graders, it was nothing like that.    Anyway— she told me that as she was talking, she felt like she was giving her testimony.  Bam!  or “Booyah!” as Brighton would say.  Yes!  Yes, you were, sweet girl.  I would have given up whipped cream for a month {let’s not push it} to have heard it— uncensored, with her good friends, realizing in the moment the power of God in her story.




See?  He’s doing His work.  And I need to be content with that— and to trust Him.  I could never have orchestrated that.  And she wouldn’t have done it had I asked her.

He’s her Father.  He’s had His eye on her all this time, patiently waiting for these little milestones— and patiently loving her mother as she eventually comes around to what He’s doing.  By His grace…..

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Temporary

Indications of Poor Planning and Mind Being Elsewhere:

Overdue books at the library

Water spilling onto laptap, phone and addressed invitations while answering a math question--{I haven't moved that fast since I last saw a cockroach and my heroic efforts couldn't prevent my computer a trip to the hospital.}

Forgetting "No gifts, please" on my parents' 50th wedding anniversary invitations- {yes, the wet ones}-- causing quite the stir by....... my parents

Calling the beauty shop in my hometown, "Cutting Up", knowing it's the place to get the word out "No gifts, please"-- Laura obliged.  {I also called the bank and the church.  My accent was in high gear by noon.}

No bananas

Dialing the wrong area code- MY area code- to my hometown- several times- wondering if Plant Telephone had finally pulled the plug

Orange "low gas" light on in car

Agreeing to do invitations for a party you are "ghost hosting" only to realize there isn't time to order invitations and less time to MAKE them and flaking out on that job entirely {Snowy Bluebonnet, I really do want to celebrate with you!}

Index cards-- everywhere {my system that is not helping}

Figuring out you have a week to get 13 hours of CE to renew your pharmacy license- that should have been on poster board somewhere {Done. I'm legal.}

So, I've missed some writing time.  I lost it to articles on Diabetes, ACE Inhibitors, ARB's, Statins, Drug Adherence, Nutrition....  It was a necessity and I am glad it's finished.  I FEEL smarter but I know that's just a temporary illusion.

And this is just a temporary season.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

43: The Big Take Away

Gosh.  It’s my birthday.  Again.  Please tell me, where is the pause button?  So, last night, Brighton made a big deal of this.  “Mom— I want to be sure to kiss you.  I’m going to be kissing a 43 year old for the last time!”  and just before bed, “Mom!  Only 3 more hours of being 43.  Live it up because tomorrow…. it’s history!”  More kisses.



Oh yes, 43 is history, but it’s a good history.  Maybe the biggest event was moving every thing we’ve ever owned from one address to another with the exception of the patio cushions left somewhere near Central Market SOMEONE didn’t tie down on the trailer I was pulling.  {Remember, we fired our movers?}  Observant people tried to tell me- waving their arms, pointing behind me, but I just couldn’t make myself stop.  I didn’t even know what had flown off and I didn’t really care.  That moving thing isn’t quite out of my system yet….  I could tell I was all of my 43 years when we made that move.  Being settled in this home of ours for almost a year now is certainly a highlight of last year.  I like “settled”.  I like “home”.  

Moving into a new home may have been a big event but not the most significant— not at all.   Lots of life was lived out here— 22nd year of marriage, a 12th year for Julia and B is wrapping up his 10th year.  And I wonder how it can be possible.  This phenomenon of time passing… that everyone has talked about since the clock started ticking.  Life lived—- and sometimes missed.  Calendar pages flipped but no recollections.  There were times it seemed to creep along— when was that?  But it did.  I’ve not sensed that in years.  It’s clipping along and we have no choice but to keep up.

Psalm 90 holds this verse:  Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. {verse 12}

Ever wonder, like me, what this exactly meant?  I like to count— to calculate because there’s no guess work in it.  There’s control.  And we all like that, yes?

But I know better so I looked up trusty Matthew Henry’s commentary on the verse.
 
“It is an excellent art rightly to number our days, so as not to be out in our calculation, as he was who counted upon many years to come when, that night, his soul was required of him. We must live under a constant apprehension of the shortness and uncertainty of life and the near approach of death and eternity. We must so number our days as to compare our work with them, and mind it accordingly with a double diligence, as those that have no time to trifle.”

So much for control….

I read a few books in my 43rd year and if I were to pick a book that was most influential, a book that I will read many times - and give away- in my numbered days was The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan.  Someone asked me a few months ago why I liked the book so much and I said you just want to crawl into it and live there.  Live in the “rest”.  I wish Mark were a girl so I could call him up next time I’m in Canada {?!?}  to have scones and tea.  Maybe I can talk Jeff into it. I just know he and Mark would be great friends.  He likes scones too- just not tea.  Surely they serve Americanas on Vancouver Island.

Anyway, Mr. Buchanan talks about this verse in chapter 5.  Hang in here with me— it’s worth it.

“It is a fresh orientation to time, where we think with holy imagination about how the arc of our moments and hours and days intersects with eternity.  ……  This is God’s time management technique.  There’s a right way to tally up days.  There’s an arithmetic of timekeeping and God must tutor us in it.  Wisdom is not the precondition for learning this arithmetic.  It’s the fruit of it.  Wisdom comes from learning to number our days aright.”

He ends the chapter with, “Most of us live afraid that we’re almost out of time. But you and I, we’re heirs of eternity.  We’re not short of days.  We just need to number them aright.”

This does not mean rigid time management, but it does mean intentionality, generosity, a slowing down, remembering…….. this is not easy, is it?  Just this morning as Jeff and the kids wanted to take me to breakfast, I find myself calculating the cost in the rest of our full day if I let them celebrate me.  Really?  Yes, it’s tricky.  But give yourself time to consider it.  To pray over it.   I do almost every day.  And as Matthew Henry states, “Those that would learn this arithmetic must pray for divine instruction.”  It’s worth part of one of your numbered days.

So that’s my personal lesson in my 43rd year-- and most likely from 44 on.  I was taught much, but that’s the one that vies for my attention daily.  Because I struggle most with it. And I think it impacts greatly the people around me— most of whom I love dearly.

“We hold time so tight we crush it, like a flower closed in the fist.  We thought we were protecting it, but all we did was destroy it.”

I want to be done with that.  When my “soul is required of me”, I want people to be able to say, “She numbered her days aright.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thirteen Years Later

Almost 13 years later, He is still showing me He was near.

Mid spring as school was winding down and as the calendar was winding into a tail spin,  the days were seeming longer and longer.  We were all longing for summer- for some kind of break.  From the alarm, from deadlines, from bad news on RenWeb, from searching for assignments, from each other…..  I felt like wearing black and white stripes everyday thinking it might make me more powerful in what seemed to be my consistent role of officiating Julia and Brighton’s hot squabbles.  Depending on how many times I hit the snooze, I was breaking open the Word for some amount of time and laying my requests before Him.  I sat many mornings not seeming to connect,  disgruntled within myself, wondering if He would lift the weight.  Wondering if He would make any difference.

Today.

As I put one foot in front of the other.

On my office floor, I opened Streams of the Desert to the April date and read, “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”  {Romans 4:20-21}  I smiled remembering how over and over I said that verse to myself, like tracing the letters with my fingers to make sure it really did say what I thought it did.   Then, thirteen years ago, I was waiting on a baby.  My first one.  Coming in a way I had not expected.  I had found out my baby making insides were covered in endometriosis and the chances of pregnancy were very, very slim- at least in the methods we were willing to try.  So, we gave our hearts over to adoption— and any control we thought we had to the Lord.  Early on, He had shown me Psalm 113:9, “He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.  Praise the Lord.”  And even though I knew that verse could mean a few things, I felt like He was clear with me that I would indeed be a mother.  So Romans 4:20-21 was oxygen to all the Scriptures I read during the waiting on my first born.  He was kind to put so many on my heart.



This spring, He wanted me to see something more.  I’ve said this before, but for some reason, He chose to use the Scriptures {and the commentary} of the classic devotional Streams in the Desert during the time— and I have documented this well here— I was waiting on Him to make Jeff and me parents.  The sweet women who had befriended me, loved me and prayed for me all read it and one gave me a copy for my 30th birthday.  This particular morning in April 2014, I realized this verse {Romans 4:20-21} was on an entry within 4-5 days of Julia’s conception.  9 months before her birth.  I began looking at the verses a couple of days before and a couple of days after—the time of Julia’s conception, taking place far away from me but reading these He was showing me He was near.

The hand of the Lord has done this.  Job 12:9

He will do this.  Psalm 37:5

Stand firm  and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  Exodus 14:13

“Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.  Romans 4:20-21

He knows the way that I take. Job 23:10

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.  Psalm 138:7

And exactly 9 months from her birth…..

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

He was near.  And I didn’t even know it.

How do I ever think He’s not listening to me or that He’s removed somehow from my dailies?  Why do I ever think He won’t come through for me in those hair-raising parenting moments when I wonder if I am really cut out for the job?  Why do I think for one minute I am on my own?  Or that, “I’ve got this”?

I’m a dummy.



Here He is some thirteen years later, revealing to me how He was bolstering my heart with His Word as Julia was being knitted together in her birthmother’s womb.  Showing me how He was covering it all with love through His Word when we didn’t even know to be looking for it......  Weaving together a beautiful story that reminds me of how He is intimately involved in every detail of my life......  Reminding me of His track record of faithfulness..... Strengthening my resolve to trust Him all the more.

He is near.

All I can think of to say to Him is, “Thank You and please, please don’t stop.”


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fighting Fears

A lot of things in life make me nervous— even scare me stiff and those are the things I regularly find myself praying about.  No surprises here- number one “scares me stiff" would be raising my kids in a way that scars them for life.  You know, where they feel the need for therapy when they are 35 because of something I did or said over and over and over?  Don’t want that.  Before I had kids, my number one was {and moved to number two now} speaking in front of a group of people.  You’d think as much as I can type in one sitting that I would have no trouble easily talking to a group of people.  It just never works out that way.  I have done it several times but the FIRST, most memorable time I did it was in my Speech class at the University of Georgia and get this—- the professor talked me into doing my 4 speeches on Sex Education- a buzz topic in 1990. My people pleasing self agreed and felt like vomiting every other week when my turn was up.  Misery.  Especially the week when we had to personally engage the topic and not just spit out the facts....

Anyway.

I have some invitations this fall to be scared out of my wits- besides my daily parenting opportunities.  I could have given these groups ten names of sweet friends that would be more fitting, more comfortable, more passionate, smarter, funnier, more everything but I didn’t.  I am honored they asked me and it causes me to be dependent on the Lord in a whole different way.  And that’s scary.  Speaking in front of people is NOT something I can do on my own.  I CAN but it would be a waste of everyone’s time if I just got up there and cranked it out.  That’s its own kind of misery.

So I’ve got some thinking to do.  The first thing this fall will be on Acts 2:42 — fellowship with God and others.  That’s life right there-- our lifelines to an abundant life.  Everything touches down in those two categories and each one dramatically affects the other.   Obviously, our relationship with God— our fellowship with Him- is EVERYTHING.  He’s not “first” on a list.  He’s the paper we write the list on.  He’s the pen with which we write the list.  He’s It.  The Source of All.


I love that I was taught in Junior High what it meant to spend time with Him and to invest in that relationship.  Nothing else I’ve ever done can compare with what I’ve gained from time with just Him.  Nothing.  I’ve filled gobs of notebooks and Bible studies with words to Him and about Him since I was 13.  Some of those words would be exactly what I write today and some of the words would turn my stomach. By the time college rolled around and life changing decisions were being made, His Word was such a comfort to me.  I remember one difficult night, pulling my Bible into my bed and sleeping with it.  It represented a lifeline and had bolstered me and taught me each time I had opened it up.  I have the privilege of adding to that every single day— all throughout the day.



Time spent with the Him lays the foundation for all the other relationships in life.  Try being a good wife or friend or parent or daughter without spending time with the Lord.  That can turn out to be the greatest frustration of your life. There is no formula, no methodology— certainly don’t read any legalism into this but read LIFE and FREEDOM in it.  No shackles.  Just keys.  His precepts are what teaches you to do relationships well.  You WANT to spend time with life-giving people and YOU want to be a life-giving person.  You know who those people are— the ones you leave feeling inspired, loved and challenged by.  You know with whom you feel safe-- who will give protect your hurts and not expose them, will love you no matter what, and will point you to the cross EVERY time.  And you know when you have helped a friend come up for some fresh air.  As you do this for each other, then you are strengthened to move farther out of your circle and love someone who may be harder to love.  This is ALL part of the abundant life.  The more time spent enjoying Him, the richer and more peaceful your relationships with others will be.  He wants this for us.  I want this for me.  I want this for you.



So, as the speaking opportunities grow nearer and when the acid decides to churn in my insides and the butterflies turn into crop dusters to His Word I’ll go.  I love this one.  Sometimes I wish I had dated these verses when they first ministered to my immature heart.

Isaiah 41:10 and 13  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

And because I know I have life-giving friends-- and family- in my life, I will count on them for prayer in this huge weak area for me.   I will know I am covered.

Grateful.