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.