Monday, November 16, 2015

A Square Foot of Thoughts

I saw my life in a small pile on the kitchen counter the other day- all within a square foot or so.  Well, not really but notable chunks of life and thoughts these days.  In the kitchen {a detail not to be lost on a keen observer}, there sat my Bible, a red pen, reading glasses and my keys.  Scooping up my things gave me pause and here’s where my thoughts landed.

So who would say some of your most significant conversations happen in the kitchen?  {Hand up, darting repeatedly upward and leaning out of my desk}  Yes! I would!  Just last night, Julia positioned herself right over the dishwasher and there, with me cutting up fruit, gave me a glimpse into 8th grade drama and into her heart.  Not wanting to sound too dramatic myself, but I think the kitchen is just a safe, comfy space.  There’s almost always activity— something to do, something to put your hands to if need be.  Mindlessly popping grapes— or Fritos— into your mouth, putting away dishes, or wiping the counters just keeps the conversation at an easy level for some of us. Someone isn’t boring a hole into your soul with their eyes.  It’s just comfortable—not the pillows and blankets kind of comfort— but less intense.  Less threatening.  She knew I was listening but she also knew it wouldn’t get too serious right there.  And if it did, she could hop off the counter, get completely sidetracked by eating something and meander away.  Good stuff happens in the kitchen without it even being planned.  Agree?

The red pen?  When the kids are home doing school, I have to have one nearby for grading- or for initialing.  It seems they all wind up in the kitchen because that’s where I usually am.  Cute and cheery “Excellent Work” stickers would be more fun to decorate their papers because that red pen is daunting.  It was for me when I was in school.  You remember the paper that had so much red on it that the kid six seats behind you could clearly see you either didn’t comprehend the information covered in class or you didn’t study the night before. The red pen is a constant companion on these school days at home— and so many days I look around when it’s actually quiet- B in the window seat devouring the chapters in his book for English {Who am I kidding?  “trudging through the chapters”} and Julia working hard in the dining room, lights off, using only the light from the window- and think, this is FLYING by.  We’ve got to enjoy this more.  I need to make this more fun.  Bust out the cookies and milk and let’s do this.  I need to be lighter— not just with my red pen but with my words and my tone and my spirit. Maybe I should put some snazzy stickers in my back pocket?  And bake some cookies? Yes.

Oh. My.  I have reading glasses. {But mine are cute, right?  And, mark my words.  I will NEVER have a chain. Sorry to my chain adorning friends...I won’t.}  I made it a few years after 40 but now there is just no denying it.  I can’t see like a normal person anymore.  The directions on the back of the pasta box just don’t look like they used to— neither do dinner menus, phone screens, book print, brochures, answer keys- or this computer screen for that matter!  {And in case you're worried, Walgreens has a large lighted magnifying glass on a flexible arm for those of us who are ocular challenged.}  I have a contact — for my non dominant eye— and that works pretty well if I remember I have one and actually put it in.  I could probably go a little long here too because these sorts of things throw me for a bigger loop than I had anticipated.  I like things to work whether that’s my eye, my shoulder or my coffee frother.  If something is broken or not functioning as it was intended, well, that bugs me.  I think I am figuring out if I don’t change my perspective regarding that philosophy with my body, I’m going to be perpetually “bugged”.  I met a former model the other night at a fund raiser— older than me and beautiful— however, not gracing magazine covers anymore.  I knew she was a strong believer so I just skipped the chit chat and asked her how her heart was on all of that - aging- since her lovely young face had transformed into a lovely older face.  Her answer was simple.  “It’s just part of our walk with God.”  So simple but she’s SO right.  We are young and we are old in this sanctification process but His ways don’t change, His standards don’t change— He is still more concerned about my heart more than anything else and so should I be.  I think maturity UNKNOWN could come to me if I viewed my aging as part of His process to grow me up to be more like Him. How I respond to my body changing and failing as I continue to walk with God will reveal much about who I believe God to be and who He has made me to be.  No, it doesn’t sound fun but I know it could be the most freeing and fulfilling thing I’ve ever given myself to.  Only by His grace will this turn out well.

And the keys….. I drive.  Mostly with kids in the car taking them to one thing or another.  Ballet, the sport in season, piano, church small groups, friends’ houses, to buy jeans, basketball or pointe shoes, to buy a friend a birthday present etc.  That’s living life and I am not complaining-at all.  Walking is the alternative.  I’ll take my keys.  However, the car is similar to the kitchen in that it’s good for talking.  It CAN be relaxed and fluid but then it can be planned and targeted.  At the age my kids are now, sometimes I find the car is the best time I might have alone with a child that day.  Other days, the car can be a great space to announce some information, to pray, to ask hard questions when they can’t slip away — and keeping it honest, to give them a piece of my mind.  But I never do that.  I just could if I ever wanted to.

My Bible— with this one, I get all twisted inside—  my heart clenches and my throat gets a little tight—  when I try to think of what to say about my Bible.  I’ve had this one since I was around 14. My parents gave it to me for Christmas. By the grace of God, I was taught to read it and to pray that I would love it.  And that I do.  I could go for days right here but I’ll just say a few things.  NOTHING snaps me out of my own ridiculous selfishness like taking to heart what’s on these pages.  Just a few minutes is all it takes— just to open it and hear the pages rustling and be reminded of the countless times He has met me as I’ve heard that familiar sound— begins to soften my heart.  His Word  has just grown in value during my life and especially now as I parent.  I am completely out of control of my kids’ hearts and choices so I’ve never been quite as dependent on Him as I have before— because before I had delusions of being in control.  What a joke, right?  But oh, how patient He is.  He’s faithful to teach me when I least expect it and where I least expect Him.  He is faithful.  He is the Word.  It’s flawless and life giving.  I love Him. I love the Word.

November 2015- that’s what’s filling my hands, my heart, my thoughts—  or a square foot on my kitchen counter.

Not sure where my coffee cup was…..

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Letter to a 12 Year Old Boy: Brighton’s Birthday Letter 2015

Oh, you cute thing.
Well, Big B, it’s finally here.  You anticipate this day for months— plan and scheme a thousand birthday scenarios until the big day arrives.  And even that day, you want to go over and over the plan to relish in it.

[A run down of this year— Thursday night— Family dinner at On the Border with Emily, Friday— 5 boys to spend the night {Scavenger Hunt, Nachos, Laser tag, and Jurassic World} and Saturday— Family presents and Caramel Cake after dinner]

Your toddler days are a consistent picture that comes to mind— your wandering around the kitchen on Park Arbor with hands full of magnetic train cars clung to your chest, talking to me and asking me, “What are we going to do now?” — or next, or tonight or tomorrow or next week.  That hasn’t changed— you may not ask me as often but you are certainly asking yourself— anxious to get on to the next minute, the next thing.  I am finding you are a young man on the move and this expresses itself differently as the years go by.  At 10, 11 and 12, I picture you “at large” in the neighborhood, on foot or on your bike, seeking interaction-some social time with friends, young and old.  I am praying that your love of people and love of relationships will bless you in many ways as you invest your love for God in these friendships that are significant to you.  I pray that people and relationships always stay the main thing for you as you frame them within God’s plan for your life.

First world problems
But you made sure they got it right next time.
I enjoyed watching you face your fear regarding our big hike at Zion this summer— how you strongly contemplated it. {That part maybe I didn’t enjoy so much}  I was reminded of a few years ago when you told me,  “I can’t be strong, brave, or courageous without the love of my Momma.”  The memory didn’t help me figure out how to boost your courage without melting into a heap so I let your Daddy handle it.  You went very reluctantly but you did it and the satisfaction on your face afterwards made me smile deep on the inside.  I loved the tangible expression of God’s providing for you in the form of a water bottle from a stranger.  You asked—out loud— and He provided. I learn from your faith.

Once you made it to the top, you decided going down on your bottom might be the better option.

Riding Bryce Canyon with Daddy

Always up for a contest!
I do love to hear you pray- even when I know you are praying what I want to hear but especially when I sense your prayers are heartfelt and coming from somewhere I don’t get a glimpse of any other time.  You don’t forget ongoing requests and pray for things I didn’t even know were near your heart.

Crunching knuckles and sniffing that blanket....
B, your heart is tender— towards many things and that endears you to me in so many ways.  You pull for the underdog.  You still look for the one being left out and draw him in— not every time but it still characterizes who you are.  You know when feelings have been hurt or when a teacher is having tough time.  You know if I have cried even if it’s hours after it has happened.  You can just tell.  Because your heart is tender, it means you are easy to hurt.  We are learning this delicate balance of your emotions and pray we are parenting you well.  I’ll never forget a time this summer when you were hurt— in your heart— and it was a RARE — almost never— time your daddy told you to sleep in between us.  I was mad and sad because you’d been hurt and I had to explain this to you— that sometimes madness and sadness come together.  After a few minutes of my tossing and turning, your hand found my face in the dark and you patted me assuring me you’d be okay and that you were sorry I was sad.  Even in your pain— that was very real and warranted— you were tender towards mine.

I find this sometimes--you’ve just dropped them, right there, on to something else.  And this is the kitchen.
I love to hear you play-- and that you like to play.
Always up for Mexican food-- all that Cholula when you were 2 paid off for me.
One of your many notes all year long-- always encouraging and always thanking me for something.
I love when you want to hold my hand.

Emily, will you give me a head massage?
I also see your tenderness in your quick confessions and repentance.  This will become more beautiful and meaningful as you mature but it still gets my attention and calls for affirmation.  Your desire to be “right” with someone and “right” with the Lord drives you, I think.  It’s a humbling thing to admit your wrong doing in the moment.  There are sometimes it takes longer than others but, mostly, you give the Holy Spirit a willing heart.  This blesses our whole family and I pray it will always be a growing part of your life— this humility and willing surrender.

Neighborhood buddy

Getting to read the Christmas story to these two for the FIRST TIME.  What a gift.
Some Harbinger friends

Seeing RJ’s baseball card for the first time
You endured your first bone breaking this year!  Even if it was just a pinky, it was a big deal!  I just wish you could have waited until AFTER baseball season!!  ; )  However, I was terribly proud of how you handled it— that is code for “I am proud you didn’t FREAK OUT and MILK IT for all it was worth.”  My heart clenched at the thought of the pain you were enduring and again, this momma got some deep satisfaction watching you deal with the long afternoon of pain.  I barely heard any complaining, except we couldn’t meet friends for dinner at Joe T’s.  As as bonus you got to wear GYM SHORTS to school while you had a cast on!  Because we were out of baseball season, we trekked to Georgia to see my nephew AND my niece’s boyfriend play college ball.  It was a bummer RJ’s games were rained out in Savannah but Jason came through with getting you the bat boy position for the Georgia Southern double header.  You had a great weekend, cast and all.

All this for a pinky!!

Being bat boy for the Georgia Southern double header.  Thanks, Jason and Hunter!
You tried to play with your cast-- not sure this was such a great idea-- but later, someone else made this decision for us.
You made it through another year of camp— always so reluctant to go but always having a hard time leaving your counselors.  You set out for the 10 mile bike race in Wichita Falls this summer and wound up doing the 25 mile ride!  You had a great season of Saints YMCA football this fall playing defense for the first time as your daddy was the line coach.  I think I enjoyed watching you play basketball the most this past year.  There’s something about watching you “get after it” on the court makes me happy.  You got the “Marksman” award this year.  I was shocked every time a 3 pointer made it through the hoop!  You got your Thursday boys BLACK CAP this year.  You are now officially “Security”. Oh-and you’ve survived almost a year with our first teenager in the house.  A girl teenager, at that.  Way to go, B.

So proud of you!!

Playing football for the first time as Daddy as your coach {That’s a good looking pair right there.}

Ready for you two to be back in the same class!

So what now?  What can I leave with you on this your 12th birthday?  How do I focus on just one thing?  Honestly, I know you will have some not so fond memories of you and me together— I am guessing mainly over school— our days at home together where you like to push every known button I have and drive me to the brink of CRAZYVILLE {or maybe just my closet}.  If you are reading this years later, I bet you chuckle admiring your own strategies to age me even faster than it’s happening.  Just hope I have selective memory when you want me to watch your kids for a week.  We’ve had some hard days— and I know they aren’t over.  We both regret them.  Sometimes you are in the wrong and sometimes it’s me but what I love about you, B, is that you are quick to make things right.  With humility, you just confess it all and just get it out of the way.  You ask for forgiveness— unashamedly grabbing hold of God’s grace AGAIN.  I love this.  I learn from this.  You have NO doubt that what Christ did for you on the cross was enough.  And that there is plenty for you.  You don’t let the sin weigh you down.  Once you realize it, you confess it and ask for forgiveness.  Because of this, I’ve seen some things change in you— I am even watching some now in the process and it makes me proud.  So my prayer for you this 12th birthday is that your heart will stay soft, stay pliable, stay teachable— for always.  This keeps us opened up and ready for whatever God has up His big ol’ sleeve and I can tell you, B, it’s worth it.  Whatever you have to do— or NOT do— to keep your heart from hardening, give it all you’ve got.  Put forth the effort to remain moldable, penetrable clay before Him.  He is making you into someone INCREDIBLE.

I love you and am so proud to call you mine.

Goodbye 11, Hello 12!

Monday, October 19, 2015

I Like You

Some time last year, Julia got her first “I like you” note.  {Well, the first one I know about anyway.}   From whom, you ask?  I would never tell— and thus the tension regarding so many things I’d like to write about and process here but some stories are too fresh to tell, too personal to ever write here— and if I want to keep the trust of my kids, I just can’t tell them. However, as far as “the note”, some time has passed and you will never know what it said, who wrote it, or how she responded. I do love that she showed it to me and wanted my input on how she should answer.  That was a gift. The note she received, I will say, melted this momma’s heart— mainly because I loved knowing someone else recognized some of the sweet qualities Julia has.  Don’t you wish you knew what it said?!

Jeff knew about it and we got his input as well.  We found it to be a perfect launch for many great conversations.  We talked about how she should respond— grateful because kind things were said about her, respectful as the young man had put himself out on a limb.  Whether she liked him or not— she needed to answer him in a way that kept his dignity intact.  We talked about how it made her feel to be singled out and how much that should matter or not matter to her.  We talked about the friendship and how she thought it would change or not change depending on her answer.  And that was the big one to me— keeping the friendship intact by not taking it all too seriously.  They are 13.  Friendship is the most important thing right now— not exclusive boy/girl relationships.

I can tell you moms that might be a few years behind me, this sneaks up on you.  It did for me and for most other moms I have talked with.  Within a 3-6 month time period during “the note”, I felt I watched a teenager appear in my home.  It was so strange.  Even the pictures from just a few months before, she seemed like a 10 year old and then POOF, I see her catching the eyes of boys— her being completely unaware.  I see them watching and in my head, I’m like- “Okay, that’s enough.  Move on, young man.”

So many conversations to be had, so many confusing emotions to sort through, so many things she wants to figure out…… So what’s my job?  To stay engaged.  To stay available and engaged.  Oh, and maybe to stay a step ahead.

Some things you might want to think through—
-how you will respond when she tells you that she likes someone or that she got “the note” ;  )
{We are always told not to “freak out” and I think that's GREAT advice so imagine it now and what your best response could be.}
-what conversations you want to have with her before and after the boy/girl things gets started {prioritizing the friendship is important here}
-what boundaries you want to have in place BEFORE this lets loose {I would think at this age that would include texting or direct messaging.}

Anyway, a couple of hours later after telling Jeff about the note, I found this on my bathroom counter.

I guess you can tell that I like you.  You are not like all those other girls that I know.  
You are funny, you like sports, you are athletic, you are beautiful, you are serious about your walk with Jesus and you have become a great Mommy.  
I don’t know what all this means, but I think I would like to keep getting to know you better.  

Well, if I thought the other one melted my heart, this one reheated the wax and sent it dripping again.  If you didn’t know, I have a thoughtful husband.  I’ve been reading his notes since the week or two after I met him.  We were great pen pals when snail mail was our only option.  I always anticipated his letters and I kept them all.  Even now, I can’t throw away a birthday card or a Mother’s Day card or a Valentines card because he pens his thoughts in them.  He knows I like the words.

 And his “I like you” note was no different.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Note to Self: To See the Beauty in the End

I am up to my eyeballs in Exodus 3 this morning and had to stop.  I love studying to teach {and read that humbly, please, because I don’t take it lightly one bit.  Freaks me out EVERY. TIME.}  but I needed some “marinating” time and a chance to pin some of these floating thoughts down.  I turned 45 last week and birthdays always make me thoughtful, but this one slipped by sandwiched between a surprise trip to Georgia, missing time with my neighbors in our home, changes to a 12 year work schedule and a difficult parenting week.  I was sure celebrated-- Jeff leads in that, but it was overshadowed by the reality that life doesn’t always go how we think it would or should.  I don’t like one bit that my Mom was so sick she had to be hospitalized.  I want her to be healthy all the time. I don’t like change so when they start messing with my work schedule it puts me out of sorts.  I also don’t like that I have to dole out consequences when my children disobey.  And I certainly don’t like their choosing disobedience.  So today, kids are at school and I’m thinking.  And since I am in Exodus 3, it’s God and Moses I am thinking about.

I am often struck by the intricacies of the paths God weaves in order to carry out His plans.  I mean, it’s nothing to Him because His mind is capable.  Mine?  It begins to overheat.  Think of the ramifications of all of it-- what family you are born into, the personalities of your parents, their love for God or lack of it, your siblings or lack of them, their personalities, your extended family- cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, the neighbors or friends you had growing up, their parents and siblings, the teachers you had, the babysitters who kept you, the church you did or didn’t belong to, the coaches/instructors you had, the kids in your schools, the moves you may have made, the people who loved you, hurt you, invested in you, ignored you, the jobs you had, the books you read, the trips you took, the deaths you endured, the classes you took, the movies you saw, what you chose after high school, who you ran around with, who you met at “random” places who became friends for life or someone you never saw again-- and a zillion other factors.  Do I believe God had and has purpose in all of that?  You bet I do.

We all see it in Moses- the Levite mother who made the waterproof basket {in, like, 1400 BC?!? And LifeProof thinks they are clever}, the sister who watched him float to safety at the exact time Pharaoh’s daughter was bathing, how Moses’ mother was chosen to nurse her own son-- but the one I never thought of before was the two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who let the Hebrew baby boys live-- Moses being one of them.  Who were these women?  Who were their parents?  How were they raised?  They defied the command of an evil ruler. Risked their lives to save baby boys.  Who were their biggest influences as they grew from child to woman?  How did they become midwives?  What paths led them to Moses’ mother’s birthing bed that day?  God had it all figured out-- nothing surprised him on Moses’ birthday.  He knew Shiphrah and Puah would be in place that day, to save the baby that would grow into the man who He would use as the instrument to deliver His beloved people from the bonds of slavery.  And the story goes on..... and it makes my brain smoke thinking through all He ordained.

I can’t think on my life very long because it’s too much.  God’s got it so I don’t have to but to look back and see His Sovereign hand on my life is many things-- mind-boggling, humbling, encouraging, and awe-inspiring.  There are many, many big events but I wish I remember what factors were involved in my getting to camp in the summer of1990- the week I met Jeff-- and what got him to work that camp that particular summer.  And then I think of the timing, the conversations, the relationships, the choices that led us to our adopted children.  See?  I can’t think of it for long.  Too much.  Too much grace.  But it’s His hand, His work, His sovereignty-- and why do I ever doubt it?

Do I really think at 45 He has stopped?  That His hand of grace has been removed from my life?  That the paths and the weaving together have somehow come to an end?  Can I really think that the circumstances in my life RIGHT NOW aren't leading to a greater purpose than just the clock ticking off a day?  Most of you reading have the advantage of looking back a few years.  What do you see?  What paths weren’t chosen for you but now, you see great purpose in it?  What paths did you choose and can you see God’s sovereign hand using that to get you in position for something else?  How have you responded to the circumstances in your life- big and small?  Can you see His work?  Do you believe He’s got everything to do with it?

Did Shiphrah and Puah have ANY idea?  Did they  live to see the Exodus?  To see Moses, chosen of God, deliver the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians?  Did they live to be free?  Most likely not, depending on their age, but we can bet their children or grandchildren did.  And unbeknownst to them, all because two midwives related to them decided to defy a king and save the life of a Hebrew baby boy.

My quick trip to Georgia to help out with my Mom?  The hard weeks of parenting that drive me to pray and self reflect?  The neighborhood we chose to make a home?  The changes taking place at my job?  What has that got to do with anything?  I don’t know but I do know God’s hand is gently nudging it all in place.....  just more pages that make up this big story that one day I can look back on........ and it can be a beautiful one.

So... notes to self:  To see the beauty in the end, I must pray to stay soft, not allowing regret or anger to harden me.  I must pray to be yielded to His will and purposes knowing that His plans for me ARE always good because He can’t BE anything other than good.  I must be fully devoted to Him willing to go as His hand leads because it’s only in Him will I find the satisfaction and abundance for which I crave.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

66 Books to Remind Me

Sometimes in the midst of life-- no matter the season-- you just forget why you do some of the things you do.  As I parent, I have this ongoing list in my head of the things I know that are right to teach them, to require of them, to coach them along in, but because I roll over into task mode so effortlessly, I lose sight of the ‘why”-- which is really what matters. Sometimes, I snap out of it on my own and other times, a kids’ comment, a choice, a reaction to something has to explode in my face for me to realize my error.  The why, then, becomes very clear.  Explosion.  Just in the last few days.

My kids are older now and able to make a few judgment calls on their own.  A few.  They still need some direction in many areas, of course.  At 13 and 11, there are still conversations, cultural ideas, bad theology, even people and just plain sin that I want to protect them from for a tad longer.  I think, “I’ve got a little more work to do before I let them loose to navigate THAT.” But sometimes I don’t feel like doing the work.  And sometimes I let my guard down and forget. I am not sure which makes me madder.

No surprise, I know, but my best tool for this kind of work is His Word.  Day in, day out, moment by moment, thought by thought.  I can’t tell you how many times Romans 12:2 replays in my mind during conversations these days.  Verses 1 and 2 are foundational to any form of discipleship and as I watch my kids grow up in a different block of time than I did, verse 2 just gets bigger and bolder to me.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

On a basic level, the pattern of this world is no different than it ever has been.  We have been separating ourselves from God’s standards since, well, forever.  The gap is more gaping but the pattern hasn’t changed.  Influences of this world want our minds, our lives, our hearts to be conformed to their patterns, their ways of thinking, their lifestyles, their preferences.  That is why it is so critical that WE and our kids are shaping our ideas about culture and responses to culture by reading His Word, allowing Him to shape all of our thoughts so as words filter through, they can be either labeled as Truth or as lies— or just plain nonsense.  I have wondered many times how many of my thoughts/ideas are conformed to this world and I don’t even realize it—and worse, if I am passing on Krista-isms on to Julia and Brighton. I pray often that any darkness in me would be revealed by the light of His Word.

I previewed a show the other day the kids were interested in watching and was intrigued by two things:  It was a GREAT show-- good writing, interesting characters, complex plot.  Number 2- However, even in the first episode {the only one I watched}, the agenda was clear.  Blur the lines between right and wrong.  “There is no right or wrong”.  One character had an attribute that was forbidden in his surroundings -- punishable by execution -- and as he struggles with it, he tells a confidante, “I was born this way.”  And later, “I am not a monster, am I? Tell me why I am like this.”  And later, "It just happens.”  It’s a little like the problem I had with the really good movie Inside Out.  I SO wanted the little girl to have some CONTROL over her emotions- for HER to be able to choose and not be victim to the whims of her emotions.  We do have choices, right?  Our culture is ALL ABOUT choice, yes?  The writers are masters at conjuring up empathy for these characters.  We’ve just got to be mature enough to discern whether it’s a healthy empathy or not— and coach this in our kids.

These are subtle and blatant messages that paper the walls of our kids’ minds.  Our minds.  A steady diet of what we see on any screen will AFFECT THE WAY WE THINK- translating into responses or reactions and become the way we live.  And all of that influences greatly every relationship we have-- whether with a spouse, a boyfriend, a son or daughter, a friend, co-worker, our parents, the cashier or the waiter.

I love the kids my children get to hang out with.  These sweet faces are just one more motivation for my kids to be GOOD friends and an influence that blesses these people. 

This is why I can’t forget why I do some of the things I do-- WHY it’s important for my family to be in His Word regularly, WHY I preview things, WHY I review things with trusted sites, WHY I talk through things with my kids so I can hear how they understand something--in light of what they’ve been taught-- or what they’ve caught.  They need to be able to recognize the pattern of this world for themselves and be diligent to renew their minds all day long.

I want their “transformation” to be a heart decision because of time spent in His Word and not a behavioral modification to please me.  I want their non-conformity to be their heart’s desire birthed from their love for the Savior and not because they get to keep their privileges.  The good news is that I can’t create this.  I can direct, coach, advise the “heart why”-- but I can’t create these kinds of desires.  The Holy Spirit through His Word can.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Matthew 5:6
“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4

Only He can conjure up this kind of appetite.  I pray it will be so in my kids.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ready or Not

I wasn’t ready.  But I never am.  School started Wednesday and we “summered” as long as we possibly could.  We left for our National Park tour the day after school and we stayed long at the pool the day before school started.  Not long enough, but long.  I didn’t want to unload the pool bag for good or put the rolling cooler back in the garage.  I wasn’t ready.  Oh, we had everything we needed to start school Wednesday and there were parts of me that were ready, but the schedule keeper part of me was not ready.  And I like structure.  I just like being the one who creates the structure.  Ha.

If you are still checking in with me here from time to time, you are getting bored-- just like me.  These last few months-- or maybe couple of years-- I am just keeping up with pictures.  That how it seems and this post is no different.  I always hope-- EVERY WEEK-- that I get to write... SOMETHING.  Posting pictures is great and I am thankful they make into the annual blog book but it’s not therapeutic like actual writing is.  But here I go, documenting summer 2015.  Good stuff, hard stuff happens in between and for now the “between” won’t get any words.

The countdown to the beach was longer than ever this year because we didn’t go until August.  Of course, it was worth the wait.

As soon as we returned from the National Park trip, Julia helped her friends with “Camp Joy”-- a very small camp for younger girls.  They plan for it all year long.

Who wouldn’t want these sweet girls for camp counselors?!?

Adam is in our Foundation Group {newlyweds' discipleship group} and plays in the band Songbird Jones.  We met our whole group at Central Market for a fun night except for when the Foodie who had to come out to the patio and ask who the parents were of the BOYS running around the store.  Ooops.

Thank you, Craig’s List.  It fit him perfectly.

The lake water was extra muddy because of all the rain and flooding but it swam just fine. ; )

We had to go to Possum Kingdom Lake this particular weekend because Eagle Mountain was TOO FULL.  They had a Treasure Hunt around the lake that day and B won a lovely beach towel....

We celebrated this girl all day from Chick-Fil-A biscuits, Starbucks, crazy lake trip {dead battery- but what’s a trip to the lake without boat drama?} and dinner.  We LOVE HER!!!!!!!

“Momma, I want biscuits for breakfast.”  Thus, Biscuit Making 101.

Concert in the Garden-- Journey.  Perfect night. Happy kids.  Glad we have the memory.

I get a lot of this on my photo feed.  I think a lot of parents do.  They usually make me chuckle and I think that’s worth it.  There is NOT enough funny around.

These boys got a week at Don Eddy’s basketball day camp.  This week makes me so happy because they are dog tired by 5.  It’s GOOD for boys to be dog tired.

Of all the blessing of the summers, this is one of the biggest ones.  Seriously.  The friends we have at the Ridglea Pool makes me so. stinking. happy.  This was definitely a favorite night when the husbands came after work and we closed it down.  Next year, I am getting a picture of all of the moms-- cream of the crop, people.  Seriously.  Blessed to be in their company.

We got to go see neighbors doing their thing in Les Miserables.  These two are super talented.

Then the kids were off to session 5 at T-Bar M and Camp Travis.  Neither were too pumped about it and so I wonder-- WHY DO WE SEND THEM?  It’s good for them and I knew once they got into it, they’d love it.  Again.

This guy-- Johnny Polk-- found both of my kids and took these last two pictures and texted them to me MAKING MY DAY.  It was so good and reassuring to see them so happy.

Our “Jona-anna” as B used to call her.  Joanna with her husband, Nathan, are raising a beautiful family close to where the kids were at camp so we got to have dinner with them and ENJOY her precious kids.  This gal is special-- babysitter turned friend.

Pick up day at T-Bar M and Camp Travis.  B has a harder time leaving his counselors-- he’s torn because he knows he’s supposed to be happy to see us but then he’s sad to leave everyone too.  More than an 11 year old boy can process.

Julia had WAY MORE fun this year with these gals.  She had the best cabin-- for sure.  ; )

We drove straight here to celebrate the 4th with friends.

We had trouble taking a selfie with all of our hats on....

Don’t miss Beckett in the back.

Someone in our Foundation Group texted out that Sonic had half price cones-- we promptly visited.

Our first night at the Coyote Drive-In-- homerun, developers.  We loved it.  {Sorry about the “outside” drink-- my Starbucks.  I am a rebel.  In the sweetest kind of way.}

Sanders MULCH Team.  We were 30 for 30.

Proud of her tomatoes from her urban garden

She’s the perfect height for these wings.... in those shoes..... {Daddy-approved-shoes}

Mommas just LOVE it when their kids get all cleaned up.  I am NO exception.

Sunset volleyball with our neighbors.  I would have liked to have done this more than once.  The Gossetts have crazy good volleyball skill.

Another family night at the pool-- those nights are my favorite.

First trip to Burger’s Lake- by way of the Air Force Base.  Google Maps can sometimes make your life more difficult and very embarrassing- especially in a swim suit cover up. Wish I had taken a picture of the officer confiscating my driver’s license.

Julia busy at work trying to fill the freezer with yummy breakfast muffins-- Blueberry Lime was our favorite.

Family Date night-- wrapping up summer

Maybe if we plan a boring summer next year, going back to school won’t be so difficult.  Who thinks that is a good idea?  I’m being silly, I know.  So, let me turn a corner and talk myself out of this.  What am I looking forward to?

I am looking forward to cooler weather-- moving the chairs in front of the fireplace for the fall/winter and enjoying a fire for the first time and the 100th time.  This may be a while-- so, let me think more immediately-- I am looking forward to a little built -in time alone- hopefully time to write, which I have missed immensely.  I am looking forward to women’s Bible study and the privilege of teaching some.  I weighed that heavily with the time change to Wednesday morning and prayed..... coming to the conclusion that studying the Scriptures is one of the BEST ways I can spend my time.  And teaching motivates me like nothing else.  It shouldn’t be that way.  Just telling it like it is.  I studied this summer but with the added dynamic of SHARING it with others in the fall, I will study more intently.

I am curious to see how the kids respond to schoolwork, whether or not I will see more ownership, more responsibility, more diligence with an added year.  I have much hope- every year- for smoother days, for more peaceful days, for more victories in how we respond to each other when things get a little crazy.... We all need Jesus and I want us ALL to see Him at work in us.  I am looking forward to watching B play football-- and seeing his handsome daddy on the sidelines as a line coach.  Just like I miss seeing Jeff in the pulpit, I miss seeing him on the football field too.  Because of Julia’s age, I anticipate conversations with her that could possibly be life shaping as she takes in more of what is going on around her in this world, how her relationship to God is paramount in every area of her life and the importance of the friendships she cultivates now.  Every year these conversations get more exciting and more significant.

I am excited to meet my two new Read2Win kids at M.L. Phillips Elementary in October.  Helping an eager child to build their reading skills is second to earning their admiration by just showing up with a smile and by Christmas, a hug because then, they initiate one.  Explore God hits the metroplex in September and it’s bursting with opportunities for all of us to share meaningful conversations with those who don’t understand who Jesus is or what it means to have a relationship with Him.  I am excited to see who we get to have in our home for 7 weeks.

That helps.  Fall is going to be great-- loads of potential if I can just stay in step with Him.

Those are all good things and it’s really okay for summer to be over.

And just like that, we awakened one morning and they got ready for school.  Fall 2015, here we come!

P.S.  Sort a big P.S.

So the next day-- this happened:

Braces.  These are pictures a momma loves.  She’s embarrassed that I am taking them.  She’s happy I am taking them.  She’s nervous and all that.  I love it.