Sunday, December 27, 2009
As I write here at home, Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away and this time next week, Christmas lights will be a blur in my periphery. The children are excited about Thanksgiving festivities with friends and Brighton is especially excited because he thinks Friday is Christmas.... mostly because Friday is when all the decorations emerge from the attic. Although I think he’d be terribly disappointed given the fact we haven’t started shopping. Nevertheless, the season of the most celebrated Birth is here and I consider it one more opportunity to help our kids “get it” and one more opportunity to “get it” myself.
Here’s our update:
Julia, who will be 8 in January, still has a thing for books. I find it hard to fuss about the crumbling mountain of them by her bed or all the random places about the house I find them turned over holding her place. She’s a nature girl in the sense that she loves being out in it and doesn’t blink at picking up a Daddy Long Legs- or any multi-leg creature. She continued ballet and sewing this year and added a drawing class taught by a good friend of ours. For her second grade year, she didn’t miss a beat sharing her teacher with her brother. She has been his biggest encouragement and mine! If I have learned any thing new about her this year it would be that she keeps me guessing. Just when I think I have her pegged, she surprises me completely whether it be with belting out Take Me Out to the Ballgame for a crowd of friends or not wanting to make a simple phone call! My favorite thing about her is that she literally whistles while she works and has a better attitude about doing tedious jobs than I do! Just today she said, “Mom, if we do this together, it should be fun!” And then the whistling began.
Brighton, who just turned 6, is everything I have said about him before but just a year older----more practiced, more refined, more obvious. Whereas Julia can’t wait to have time alone in her room in the afternoon, Brighton thinks you might as well have told him to go play in a dungeon full of hungry rats. He craves company, a play mate, a companion..... at all times. “Room time” is the longest hour of his day which incidentally makes my hour seem like a vapor. His desire for company is endearing with family and friends-- young and old. He’s the best greeter around and if he zones in on you, he can make you feel awfully special. He enjoyed his first year of coach pitch baseball and his second year of Upward Soccer. Drawing is still his default and I have quite the collection of “B” originals. What I have learned new about Julia’s little brother is that he is the clone of my brother when it comes to aggravating a sister. He is relentless in his pursuit and comical in his tactics. (Pray for Julia.) My favorite thing about Brighton are the words with which he chooses to express himself- especially when expressing love for his family. He picks just the right thought and phrases it in such a way that I come close to offering Coke and ice cream for breakfast.
Jeff’s work with Tarrant NET continues to go well and he enjoys his role in the local church in Keller. The highlights of his year may have been helping coach Julia and Brighton’s sports teams.
One day a week, I am still a pharmacist at Walgreens. As far as my other days, I am in my third year of teaching at home. My class size doubled this year to a whopping TWO kids -a Kindergartner and a second grader and I am learning more than Julia and Brighton. If I can discover a cure for the rampant, and evidently highly contagious, disease of pencil dropping, I might survive this endeavor.
My prayer for my family is that Christ would not be a blur in our periphery this Christmas, but the One upon whom we focus ALL of our attention. May you and I find Him “more than enough” this glorious season. Merry Christmas!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
A couple of Saturday mornings ago while I was stirring pancake batter waiting on the griddle to heat up, Jeff was busy in the den making a fire with Julia and Brighton skipping around his feet. Over their happy chatter, I heard some loud snaps and then an adoring daughter’s voice. “Daddy, you are REALLY GOOD at breaking sticks!” From my stirring station, I could not see them but I couldn’t help but to participate from a distance. With a convincing, matter of fact tone, I said, “Did you not know that Daddy is the BEST stick breaker in ALL of Tarrant County? C’mon.”
All was still and there came a sudden hush. I stopped stirring. They took the bait.
Julia’s wide eyes zoomed in on her Daddy, “Really, Daddy?? Are you really?”
I peeked. Both kids were STARING at their Daddy with reverence and awe. I began to stifle my laughter-- still at a distance.
Jeff, matching my pokerface and taking on a very Herculean posture, “Oh yeah,” head nodding, “I have a trophy in my room to prove it.” Brighton perked up. Trophies are a BIG deal.
Snap! Another broken stick over the knee with a little added drama and maybe even a grunt for impact. The kids were gawking at him and his handiwork, now clenched in his large fists. As my suppressed laughter threatened to ruin this fun, I retreated to my spot and began pouring out batter.
Bait swallowed, Julia asked, “Daddy, HOW did you win?”
Jeff, aware of my enjoyment, held his head a little higher, flexed his "power" as Brighton calls it and announced, “It must have been my form and the intensity by which I broke the stick.” My head hit the island to muffle my laughter in the sleeves of my sweatshirt. I lifted my head for air and through tears I saw them gazing in silence as Jeff stuffed the kindle in the fireplace. Brighton's focus slowly moved to the pile of unbroken sticks.
Seconds later they made a bee line to the kitchen to tell me the incredible news, not remembering I was the one who had reported to them. So while flipping pancakes, I got a great show from Brighton as he tried his hand at his Daddy’s award winning skills of stick breaking.
I had no idea my kids were so gullible.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Most of you who will read this know the birthday girl pretty well, but for those of you who don’t, she knows everyone on the planet so there are throngs of people who could write books about this special gal. But for a few minutes, you are stuck with me, my perspective, my experiences, my completely biased opinion on my friend TJ.
Almost 10 years ago on a weekend retreat, I met her best friend from high school, Heather. After only a few hours with her, she said, “You have GOT to meet my friend Tonya. You two would just love each other.” (Incidentally, you can always tell from what stage of life someone knows her: “Tonya” high school and before and “TJ” college and beyond.) Heather’s mother in law, Mary Ellen, set up a lunch date at Great American Subs on Camp Bowie. For those of you who know TJ, you remember when you met her for the first time--- unpretentious, big white smile, focused brown eyes, and laughter that spills out easily. I left lunch feeling as if I had known her all my life and that is how
we carried on from there. I had a new friend.
TJ and I both have brothers so we know what it means to tease and to be teased, so I am hoping Trey, Chris and Luke did their job well and conditioned her to grin as she reads the rest of this! If she doesn’t..............guys, it ALL your fault.
She’s bossy. Just the other day, we were headed somewhere with a few friends. My plan was to sit in the back giving her the front. I was settled IN the seat with all my stuff around my feet (a trick I learned from her). She exercised her “I have been a mother longer than you” voice telling me she was sitting in the back and my determination evaporated. The next thing I knew I was robotically moving to the front and giving her the back seat. I think she even moved my feet companions for me. Oh and when eating out with her don’t go to the restroom before the waitress takes your order. When you return, she may have already ordered your meal for you---one to share with her.
She gets around. I can’t say I have ever been with her ANYWHERE that she has not happened up on someone she knew. This person may be from Spanish class in high school, from college years at Baylor,
from her Kanakuk days, some random girl she met at the park 10 years ago, someone from time served in the college ministry at Christ Chapel, from her parent’s work or church, or HER former preschool teacher’s husband’s mother’s sister. It is mind boggling. I am convinced if we ever get to make a trip to my obscure hometown in South Georgia, she will run into someone she knows.
She’s nosey. You’ve been in a conversation with her only to find that when you walk off or
hang up, you know nothing more about her but she knows all about you whether you had planned on it or not. That first day I met her I remember telling her my life story, and leaving knowing only that I really liked her, nothing more. I’ve seen her perform this bait and switch on close friends and countless unsuspecting bystanders. (I’m on to you, girl. It’s taken me 9 years, but I am on to you.)
She’s a know it all. You know what I am talking about. She’s a
wealth of information. We need a TJ Hotline, don’t we? I will never forget when Julia was born in Louisiana and TJ had a newborn of her own (boy #2). I bet I called her a bazillion times with silly questions like, “Can I give her a pacifier?” or “She’s crying before nap time is over. Should I pick her up?” (Mind you, Julia is only hours old.) She answered EVERY phone call, validated all my absurd questions and gave me great advice. I honestly think this was a crossroads for her as far as a friendship with me goes. If I were her, I don’t know that I would have hung in there. Two and a half years later, she gave me the crash course in “potty training in a day” while on my 15 minute drive home from Walgreens and it worked! However, I think her most valuable counsel comes when she speaks of relationships. I may get solid advice from personal experience or the sound of her voice reading a Psalm over the phone.
She’s a busy body. Now those couple of words say a lot. First thoughts: She knows what is going on in the lives of the people she cares about. This takes a lot of energy. It may manifest in a quick phone call or email to check on something she knows I am working on, to see how an activity or meeting went or to check on how someone is I am concerned about. It may be a note to one of my children telling them how proud she is of an accomplishment. It might even be my favorite Starbucks drink at my front door to spur me on in a new endeavor. Almost eight years ago, she made the trip all the way to Shreveport just to check out our new baby girl, saving Julia from forever being scarred by a car seat incident. Second thought: She is the mother of FOUR darling kiddos. Her body is busy. I would be in a padded cell donning a straight jacket if I had to keep the schedule she keeps. The pace is not always easy for her, but she gives herself to it without grumbling or complaining. (Well, 99% of the time. Remember, she’s amazing, not perfect.)
She’s chatty. How I thank God for this! I have been in so many situations with her that I have just not had it in me to carry the conversation in the group. She can always do it, do it well and actually enjoy it! I, however, stare, listen and marvel at her. A couple of years ago, she was my sidekick of confidence when I spoke at a luncheon in San Antonio. When my mind was reeling with “What in the world am I doing here?” and “They should have asked TJ to do this”, she was cool as a cucumber talking for the both of us. She’s the one you want at a dinner of strangers, a small party, in a just plain awkward situation or anywhere for that matter. This alone is worth keeping her around.
She’s a mother hen. Few people love their family the way this girl does. It is inspiring and refreshing to any who get to watch her up close or from a distance. Before I had children, I remember thinking how easy she made this mother-thing look. I knew it wasn’t but I wanted to move through it as seamlessly as she did. Her methods and her devotion are well worth emulating. She gives herself to mothering Branson, Hudson, Basden and Esther wholeheartedly and it is lovely in every way. I am eagerly waiting on a book penned by TJ on her paramount investment of motherhood.
And just a few more things.......She likes to draw attention to herself in ways like wearing T-shirts that say things like, “I love my husband.” She’s self-absorbed in the sense that she examines herself continuously, desiring to stay in the will of her Father. It could be something as small as what she will consume that day or something as significant as how her children will be educated year by year. She’s my kind of fashionista hunting for a Ross or TJ Maxx in cities like San Francisco and Chicago. We have “twinkie” clothes in our closets-by accident, of course- and do our darndest not to show up at the same place with them on. She’s an interrupter when it comes to someone making self-deprecating remarks. She infuses the air with encouragement.......ALWAYS. She is also quick to use her delicate skill of interrupting if the topic of conversation begins to go south.
Well, that's about it, for now. The day I met her at Great American Subs, yes, I had a new friend but I had no idea what a treasure she would be to me. I thank God for making sure our paths crossed, and crossed and crossed and keep crossing. She's stuck with me.
Okay, girl. I am done. Happy Birthday! Knowing Corbin, he's probably got you a slot for sipping extra hot decaf hazelnut mistos with Belle, Cinderella and Snow White in the castle's parlor complete with wedding style cake and ice cream and candles that shoot off fireworks after Tinkerbell flies in and lights them with her sparkly wand!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
It’s early morning and the rain that has serenaded us all night is still coming down. With late nights and a couple of weekend trips, it’s the first morning in a while I haven’t read the Word in a rush. Delight. Rest. And maybe what I needed most....... perspective.
Last night, Jeff was poking fun at me that by 7 am yesterday I had “doomed” our Christmas an entire month out. Without going into my every wearisome thought, I was trying to figure out travel schedules, equal time at our parents (ever seen a Southern momma bristle?), when we would have our Christmas here and all 31 calendar blocks that make up the glorious month of December. I was merely wishing for an extra week in the month.....that’s all. “Doomed” he had labeled my thoughts which became words perhaps prematurely. (I am famous for that.) He was sort of teasing, sort of not. But I considered what he said because, of course, “doom” is the last thing I want hovering around my home for the next few weeks.
To the sound of a soaking rain, this is what I read:
Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
I will give You thanks, for You answered me; You have become my salvation.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
The Lord is God, and He has made His light shine upon us.
You are my God and I will give You thanks; You are my God, and I will exalt You.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
(All from Psalm 118)
Perspective: Thanksgiving is next week, not Christmas. Take one day at a time. “THIS is the day.......... be glad in it.” Give thanks. Julia and Brighton are bursting at the seams about everything Thanksgiving means in our home. Enter in and enjoy it with them. Be thankful. And just last night Jeff mentioned how we were in the midst of having a night at home and to simply be thankful for it and enjoy it instead of wishing for extra days in a month. I can easily allow the knowledge of a full calendar ahead to overshadow the present week that is generously giving us room to breathe. Crazy I know, but that’s why I am married to Jeff. I can't stay there very long.
When it comes to my “dooming” thoughts-- even if I spout them out for just a few hours until I figure it all out-- I don’t have a chance of staying there. Jeff points it out and God’s Word highlights it bringing just what my skewed thinking needed-- a little teaching, reproofing, correcting and training in righteousness. A double whammie for sure and I am thankful for that.
"THIS is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Pictures: I found these one Wednesday night when I returned from work. It had to be at least a month ago. These definitely went in the "keeper stack". I love that they anticipate Thanksgiving the way they do. Julia did her best to draw our kitchen complete with cabinets and then the stairs that are hidden behind. The two blondes (one blonde and one "blonde") and two brunettes in our family are represented and there is even company at our door!
In Brighton's drawing I am not sure about the significance of the hovering "cloud". The looming "turkey fog" or food coma in the near future??? My favorite thing about B's drawing is his turkey, which looks like it might get up and run, and his attempt at spelling "Happy Thanksgiving". P and Q's are easy to get mixed up! Right?
Thursday, November 12, 2009
It happened about 7 years, 2 months and 12 days ago. No one even thought to warn me about it. It just happened.
A couple of weekends ago, the kids and I made our way to South Georgia to spend some time with my family. The morning of our flight bad weather was expected, so 2 1/2 hours before take-off I started checking weather and flight times almost every 15-30 minutes. Up until the moment, we began taxi-ing to the runway, I was shocked we were actually going to take off on time. A classic Texas storm was to hit in half an hour and the pilot was leaving just in time to beat it. The kids were all buckled in and ready to explore all they has stashed into the array of pockets of their, now, 50 pound backpacks. With the anticipation of pressing buttons on electronic toys, drawing with freshly sharpened colored pencils and drinking a "coke", Julia and Brighton were, hmmmm......, excited. However, the longer we moved along the runway, the more daunting a noise became from under the plane. “Ding Dong.” Pilot’s voice boomed from the speaker, “We are having difficulty with our back brake. We have called a mechanic and we will have to de-board the aircraft.” The outside crew rolled a stairway to the door and everyone obediently moved down the stairs with the assistance of a familiar pre-storm wind. We walked onto the runway and back to E13 where our short journey had begun. I promptly got in line to be re-booked on the next flight. As soon as I walked up to the desk, Delta people began handing out red cards emblazoned with a handy-dandy 800 number so I could be the lucky one to re-book our flight. So at, 10 am, we were confirmed on the 5:40 flight to Atlanta and we were the dismal numbers 11,12 13 on the stand-by list for the 12:30. I knew our chances were slim. After confused faces and many questions from my traveling companions, I explained to them what “stand-by” meant. I tentatively, but positively, presented the worst case scenario of our being seated in different areas of the plane. Looks of terror took over their faces. I told them I would do whatever I could to get us together but if we could only have 2 seats together, that I would put them together. That gave no comfort at all. I dropped it and prayed it wouldn’t happen.
While all of this was going on, a strange person had overtaken my body. She was calm, NICE, absolutely optimistic, very patient and had a sweet even-toned voice. I liked her.........a lot and so did the children. She played tic-tac-toe a thousand times. She drew big trucks with big wheels, race cars and outdoor scenes of trees with wooden swings made comfy by ruffled floral pillows. She scratched backs. She handed out gum often and offered snacks laden with partially hydrogenated oils. She read. She answered with that sweet even-toned voice a bazillion questions, the most popular one being,”When are we going to leave?” Her smile remained placid and her face friendly. She was good. Real good.
As the time for our flight drew nearer, the typical Texas storm kept pushing back the time on the little black screen behind the counter. At this point, the kids and I were chained to the gate. I was told if they called our names and we weren’t there, they would not hold our seats. Once, we had to take the chance to run Brighton to the restroom. It’s a wonder we made it with their mammoth bags bouncing on their backs. Once back at E13, Julia took on the job of watching our names on the stand-by list, running back and forth giving us reports of positive movements. When Delta began boarding at 2:30 and our names were still 7, 8, and 9 with only 4 unclaimed seats, Julia’s hopefulness began to wane. She voiced her thoughts that maybe God wasn’t going to get us on the plane. Silently, I continued to pray He would and the butterflies started swarming. I REALLY wanted on that plane. I wasn’t sure “the nice lady” would hang around until 5:40. We had a big audience. Tic Tac Toe was only just so riveting- even to really nice people. After they had boarded Zone 100, it seemed, the terminal was empty, but from overhead I heard a
lovely sound, “Sanders”. I think I ran to the counter.
As we boarded the plane, all eyes were on us. WE were why they hadn’t left the gate yet. I scanned the seats seeing nothing but glaring eyeballs on me and my two. As we reached the back of the aircraft a tall stewardess looked at me, bewildered, and said, “Where are YOU going?” looking from me to Julia to Brighton. “I was told there were three seats for us somewhere.” We turned around making our way back up the aisle with the crew sandwiching us in from behind and before. An intuitive young gentleman was already moving to another seat so at least we could have two seats together, but I needed the third seat on the row. The man in the third seat, who evidently wasn't quite as intuitive as his former seat neighbor, never even looked up. As stewards and stewardesses, along with silent messages from 200 other eyeballs, were telling me to take my seat, which I had no idea where it was, I tried to pat assurance on Julia and Brighton’s heads OVER the man, wishing I had thought to hand the barf bags to him warning him of their horrible sufferings of motion sickness. Abruptly, the steward scooted me farther and farther and farther back on the plane telling me I had to take a seat. After it seemed I had walked the length of a football field, I made my way to the the last empty seat on the plane. A window seat. Trapped. But it was right by the stewardess station. I’ll keep them busy, I thought. As soon as I buckled up and situated my backpack, my throat grew tight, my nose started burning and my eyes started filling. What?? Crying is not my "MO". I can't even tear up when my dearest friend is crying. I was sitting next to some strange man.....CRYing.
So here is where my thoughts were: I can’t even SEE them. They are so little. I can’t even see the tops of their heads. The last expressions on their faces were pitiful. Their worst scenario became reality. They don’t even have gum for take off. They are so little. It’s 3:00 o’clock and they have had a piece of cheese toast and a pack of Cheese on Wheat crackers! Who IS that crazy man who wants to sit with MY children--wishing now they were bratty more often? What if they get scared? They are so little. I am at least TWENTY rows behind them for pete’s sake! To make things worse, we sat on the runway for another thirty minutes waiting on another line of thunderstorms to pass. For a little more drama, once underway, the ride was so rough that NO ONE could get out of their seats, not even the stewardesses who were supposed to be the ones to deliver “special” drinks to my kids. To the crew’s credit, before take-off, they did take them pretzels and peanuts after I told them they had eaten no lunch because of our stand-by situation. The nicer the man next to me was, the more my nose burned and my eyes emptied. As my tears rolled, I could feel the stewardesses looking at me from across the aisle. I am sure they thought I was some silly, weepy, lunatic Mom whose very existence was to keep her children sublimely happy. I felt silly alright, but nothing was going to change the way I felt. At that point, 20 rows might as well have been 20 miles.
As I tried desperately to stop the sniffles that were completely annoying me, the question came. When did this happen? Why can’t I be a mere 20 airplane rows behind my children and hold it together? The feeling in my heart was familiar but I didn’t know it well-- not well enough to control it anyway. The two little people God so creatively gave to me to care for were completely out of reach. Out of the range of my voice. And worst, out of my sight. I didn’t like it. Maybe it’s some horrible side effect of home schooling. I don’t know, but I have a feeling it is more universal than that. My response made me squirm to imagine my reaction to maybe 20 miles and not just 20 rows? 200 miles? 2000 miles? Oh, good grief. Shoot me now.
What happened to me 7 years, 2 months and 12 days ago? I became a mother.
That's the end, really, but if any of you are up for reading a little more, here is the rest of the airplane drama:
We made it fine. After a couple of days, I confessed to Julia that I had cried and she said, “I did too!” Well, on our return day of Monday I had 3 tickets back to DFW. Two tickets were together and one ticket was a couple of rows back by the window on the 4:25 out of Atlanta. We prayed as we walked to the gate that God would make a way for us all to sit together. As we were about to step on the plane, the pilot stepped out and said, “We need to de-board the aircraft. We have a mechanical problem.” At first, I thought it was a joke but then I remembered, he didn’t know our troubles from Thursday. Without thought, I whipped my backpack around, dipped in for my phone, found the magic 800 number to Delta and before I could get out of the portable hallway, I was rebooked on the 5:40. About 20 minutes later, when we checked in a few gates down, the nice lady said, “They are actually re-boarding the one you just left. Let me print out new boarding passes for you. You will leave sooner on that plane.” When she handed me my new boarding passes, I immediately saw a very good thing. Now I had something worth bargaining with ---- an aisle seat! Gold. We enjoyed our flight home..................together.
Oh- in case you are wondering about "her"--that nice lady who had overtaken my being at the airport--- she vacated my premises in Soperton about 11pm on Friday night after the football game when it was time for bed.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
As Denise opened the door, all her focus wrapped Julia up with a hug and sweet words of welcome. Then we saw the table, set for four princesses, Daughters of the King-- flowers, silver, china, crystal, beautiful napkins, scrolled place cards and a unique crystal tea pot. There was no mistaking which chair was Julia’s for it was adorned with the color of royalty and topped with a lovely, sparkling new tiara, which was promptly nestled on her head. As we sat down, Julia read this from her place card, “Her Royal Highness, Julia Karis Sanders, Princess in the Realm of Jehovah, Joint Heir with Yeshua”. Amen!