Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

The costume isn’t quite “Pilgrim”, but aren’t they cute??

Today I am thankful..................

that Christ heard my prayer on my pastor’s wife's piano bench when I was eleven and changed my life forever.

for His Word that is living and active, that it is sharper than a double edged sword that it penetrates joints and marrow and judges the thoughts and intentions of my heart.

for parents who loved me fully and took me to church faithfully.

for Christ followers who shined their lights in such a way that I could follow.

that His mercies are new every morning....including this one.

that my husband's life belongs to Jesus and that he lives with me in an understanding way.

for my inability to conceive a child.

for two children who are exceedingly abundantly more than I could ever have asked for or imagined.

for friends with whom we can live life and talk about everything and nothing.

I am thankful for THIS day. May I rejoice and be glad in it!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Double Whammie

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?

"Haqee Thacsgiveeg!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

20 Rows

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


You are cordially invited to a delightful tea honoring
Miss Julia Sanders
and her decision to become a
a Daughter of the King.
The special day was three years ago Friday.
On this most important day, we would like to celebrate this momentous occasion marking it as the best day of her life.
Please join us Friday at 2:30 at the home of “Miss Denise”
for tea and light refreshments.

On the morning of our trip to Georgia, Julia found the invitation tied with fancy ribbon on a silver platter in her room. When I realized the day she asked Jesus in her heart would come and go while in Georgia, I wanted to make sure we did something out of the ordinary. My main motivation was to be sure I was putting forth the effort to make a big deal out the things that WERE indeed a big deal. I called Denise and this is what I asked, “Could we come over for afternoon tea that Friday I am home? You just make some hot tea and Mom and I will bring the treat.” Now, I’ve known Denise basically all my life and, well, I should have known better. It was Denise I had called and we were in the South. She wasn't going to let me do a thing and if that wasn’t bad enough my simple request and Denise’s reality were like comparing The Dress Barn to Chanel. Just like the invitation said, the afternoon tea was "delightful".

Julia was intrigued by the invitation. It was the last thing to go in her backpack for her trip to Soperton. Having wonderful memories of our tea time in Branson, she had many questions about our “tea” at Denise’s as she anticipated the next 24 hours. She wondered what would be different, what would be the same, who would be there, and would she have to eat the cucumber sandwiches. Great and plentiful memories from Denise’s kitchen allowed me to answer her last question with a firm “no”. There would be absolutely no cucumber sandwiches.

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!
And then came the “light refreshments” ..........Denise-style (and for those of you who don’t know what that means--- all home-made AND delicious. ALL of it.) She served us bite-sized gourmet pizzas, chicken salad in pastry cups, miniature pear tarts on puff pastry, ham spirals, scones and the crowning “light refreshment” was her famous thin layer chocolate cake made petit four style. You have NO idea. Really.

With all of that on my fancy plate, hot tea was the last thing on my mind until I tasted what she had poured for me. It was called Margaret’s Hope from Alice’s Tea Cup on the Upper West Side in New York. I am not a huge fan of tea and I had two cups. It was the ONLY tea I have EVER tasted that gave me the slightest inkling that I could possibly replace coffee cravings. Possibly.........until she poured our next drink----caramel coffee punch. So much for tea. Oh my. It was truly dessert in a crystal coffee mug. Even Julia's taste buds were in love.

Denise continued to communicate love for Julia by praying for her, thanking God for her sister in Christ, celebrating her new life in Jesus and praising Him for Julia's promising future of serving Him. Julia described to us the night she asked Jeff if she could pray to receive Christ as Lord and Savior after bedtime Bible reading. They came downstairs to find me so I could be a part of the life-changing event. After she prayed, she told us how she felt “different” which she usually describes as an “I don’t know” feeling because she had never felt that way before. I remember her beaming, huge smile and an energy that could not be contained. Three years ago. She was almost five. Young? Yes. Ready? Yes. A lot to learn? Of course.

My Mom, Denise and I were privileged to be able to celebrate this day with Julia but Mom, Julia and I were just as privileged to be witness to our sister in Christ serving Him wholeheartedly by serving us the way she did. The tea party was “wholehearted” in every way- the warm welcome, the beauty displayed, the incredible hospitality and the rich love of Christ shown so extravagantly to Julia from one sister to another.

Denise, “I thank my God EVERY time I remember YOU.” Philippians 1:3