Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hello, Panera. I've missed you too.

How Sweet It Is {Part 7} "Practicing our Throw"

There’s nothing like a small town wedding.  It's the event of the weekend.  The town bulges at the seams because of out of town people driving in.  Florists stay up all night.  You don’t send invitations.  It just gets put in the church bulletin and people just show up ~ some who have invested all sorts of love into your family and some come just because they are curious.  Mommas just guess how many people will be coming to eat afterwards.  Our reception was at my house and Daddy spent gobs of time and money getting the outside ready and my mom and her best friend orchestrated the whole affair.  Even though I thought it was dreamy, white tents and all, it will go down in the minds of our guests as the hottest day ever.

Jeff and I never noticed.

On any given wedding day at the First Baptist Church, our small sanctuary is usually packed like an Easter Sunday when everyone could make it.  The place seems smaller and the walls come close.  In between all those people, those white walls witnessed a short ceremony, sweet with personal words by my pastor in college, a young girl making music on her harp, practical jokes brother style, songs that minister to me even today, sung by one who still invests in my life and a couple in their early twenties with some of the highest hopes and expectations that an altar has ever seen.

Twenty years later, I have to wonder why it has taken us so long to figure some things out, all of which, I think, I have shared throughout the year.  Many of those things are still in “active” status but identifying them is a huge part of moving forward.  We have been blessed by couples being transparent with us whether it be through phone calls, talks over dinner, by writing a book or talking to Jim Daly on Focus on the Family.  We have so much to learn, but here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately.  Our kids.  We are intentionally preparing our kids for so many things but what about marriage, the single most important relationship on the earth and the stickiest, and the most complicated, and the most tender?
Several years ago a beloved babysitter was getting married.  Julia fell asleep looking at her magazines.
I think, certainly, there are things we can plan to do to help prepare our kids for that relationship, but just as in everything, what are they catching?   At home?  What is bouncing off the walls over here, hitting them square in the heart?  I know I can’t pick and choose from our daily doings what takes root in their spirit, oh, if I could........

I’d want Brighton to always remember the picture of his dad filling up the leather chair in his office every morning, head bowed or Bible spread in his lap or sitting listening, thinking.  I’d want Brighton to take that with him because it’s everything.  It’s the foundation, it’s the plumb line, it’s leadership, it’s decision making, it’s freedom, it’s food, it’s THE relationship.  Everything.

I’d want Julia to remember all the times she knew her daddy and I needed to “discuss” something~ that it takes time, patience, and courage.  And Jesus.  It may not be fun but the things that hurt each other can’t be shelved for months on end. I want her to remember how we committed, through Jeff’s leadership, to hit them head on, no matter what, so it would make us stronger.  For each other.  For them.

I’d want Brighton to catch how his dad dreams for his family.  Our family has done things because each thing started with a dream inside Jeff’s head.  He sees them more clearly than I do which, at times, has led to the paragraph above this one, but I will say now, his dreaming needs to be celebrated and encouraged.  Because I struggle with dreaming, this celebrating and encouraging is in “active status”.  Let’s just say, I would have led, so far, an absolutely boring and dreary existence if it weren’t for Jeff.  I wouldn’t have known it was because my nose would have been in a book somewhere, but it would have been.  I want Brighton to dream for his family.  {And I’ll tan that girl’s hide if she responds like I have at times. Tan. It.}

I’d want Julia to catch how a lady is to be celebrated.  I think she’ll see lovely dinners for two set up in the backyard by the fire with flowers and candles a screen full of Tony Bennett or Harry Connick Jr.  She’ll think of those dates she’s had with him to fancy restaurants and how he took her shopping EVERY time.  She’ll remember the gifts displayed on the breakfast table for me on special days or the package left on the bed “just because”.   She’ll have pictures of us on the couch with our coffee, reading, watching or just talking, after their bedtime.  She’ll remember the Daddy Daughter Dances and how special he made her feel.  I want her to catch what it means to be celebrated by her husband.  And know that it's all grace.

I’d want Brighton to recall the sacrifices of time made by his dad ~ for all of us.  Most working men have more to do than the day will hold so they have to hit the stop button at some point.  Brighton sees his dad making time for almost everything. Early morning bike rides, “farm chores”, throwing the ball, field trips, batting cages, dates with me, recitals, Galaga games in the man cave, baseball games, quiet evenings at home with me, coaching, weekends at the lake, dates with Julia, dinners at home, shopping for special occasions, school functions, reading at night.  His dad takes the time because he loves his family.  I want Brighton to catch that.

I’d want Julia to have a clear picture of what a man looks like whose love for Jesus drives everything he does. I want her to know the real thing so well that she can smell a fake coming from clear across the continent or even across the street.  I want her to recognize godly leadership, a man who is willing to sacrifice much for the cause of Christ, one who is willing to take a back seat while he sees the Kingdom growing, and one who is willing to carry a burden because it needs to be carried.  Personally, I think she’s in the right house.

Oh, they’ll catch their share of our stuff that will spur those “discussions” I mentioned in their own marriages.  I just pray that those discussions will serve only to remind them- and us- of our great need for Jesus, the Cross, the Gospel.  Because of the Gospel, we always have hope.  And hope does NOT disappoint us.

“Because of the gospel, we have hope (Romans 5:1-4). Therefore we can endure any marital difficulty, hardship, or suffering, with the assurance that God is working all to our greatest good (Romans 8:28).”  Jonathan Parnell

So Jeff, how I pray the kids are playing catch with you more often than with me.  We are so blessed to have you.  To be under your leadership, your protection.  To experience your love, your devotion.  And to live out those dreams with you.

{And I can’t wait for the one you are working on now to come true!  Watch out west, here we come!  Pop up and all.  Fun!}

First date

Last date so far....

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Butterflies = Words

Stiff shorts, new shoes, morning showers, braided belts, green and blue plaid, mega bows, back packs stuffed with all things “first day of school”...

And yes, I loved having an excuse to buy saddle shoes.
And his smile says, yes, I have swarms of butterflies going on.
EVERY newly enrolled family I knew personally was waiting at the door to drop off their kids for the first day of school.  For a few minutes we were truly the ONLY ones standing at the door.  Dorks, I know.  Hilarious, but oh, what comfort for my two kids. And me.  We took pictures, compared uniforms and notebooks.  At 8:25 the doors opened and we all filed in.

This smile STILL says it.

Words were flying around the house all day yesterday and this morning-- at a speed with which my brain could not compete.  Both of my children tend to spew words like a fountain when they are a tad bit nervous--more like Niagra falls when they are truly rattled.  I forgot so much of what they said, but here is what I can remember of what soaked me through yesterday and on into the morning.

Last night--

Mom, remind me about getting my name on the board.  How do I not do that?

I really don’t think it’s fair that my teacher is going to take all my supplies.   Why doesn’t she take someone else’s?

I need a bowl in my room.  I think I am going to throw up.

{And I'm leaving out alleged tick sightings, coughing fits, and "I taste blood" comments.}

This morning--

I’m going to have to sit like this at school today-- {showed me}, because my stomach hurts and it needs room to move.

Dad!!  I love my new Bible.  It looks JUST LIKE yours except the cover the is different.
{Jeff bought them leather One Year Bibles so we could all read the Psalms together.  He left them on the hearth for them this morning.}

Mom, really, what if she gives me the 100 multiplication fact test today?? I could never do it real fast on my first day of school.

Will EVERYONE have a notebook JUST like this??  I mean, I know it won’t have their name on it but will it look JUST like mine but with their name on it?

What will happen to me if I untuck my shirt at school?

I’m so full {I heard “nervous” because this child usually wants to lick the bowl}.  My stomach just can’t take anymore oatmeal.

In the car--

Don’t put my back pack in the trunk!!!  I want to hold it.

I am so glad I am not an only child going to school.
{I thought they'd think it was silly when I told them to be sure to make eye contact and smile when they saw each other.  Family is just pure comfort.}

What if I am the only one with a green shirt on?  What if everyone wears white shirts today?

Mom, why do they call Christian Life Preparatory School "clips" when C-L-P-S really doesn't say ANYthing?  C-L-P-S just says "[something indecipherable]".

Mom, will you carry this?  And this? And this?

The Scriptures I read this morning really helped all my butterflies in my stomach, but there are a few who just weren’t listening.

I won't name the child who said 99% of these but I can tell you that the last one was Julia's........
and I understood that.  I have some of those proud butterflies from time to time.  The ones that just won't believe what the Father says to my heart.  Just like Him, He had specific reminders for us this morning in our regular Bible curriculum.

#1-- He created us to need Him for everything.
I had a feeling my kids would need Him for a few things today in a new environment, in a new learning situation two days a week, with a new teacher and new friends.
#2-- God is the only True and Almighty God. His is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.
It was a great review for them -- that He is more powerful than their fears, that He knew about this day before they were born and that He is WITH them, all the time.
#3-- From their Psalm 37 reading:
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
We all need "firm" steps EVERY day, but how much more for our kids in school?  They need to hear that NO MATTER WHAT happens or what choices they make in or out of my presence is that "the Lord upholds him with His hand."

He is sitting much like he showed me he would.  At least he is looking toward the teacher.

She looks a little too happy with this new teacher idea.

These girls have known each other a LONG time.  This looked very normal to me.

Praying that He "makes firm [their] steps" and that they sense Him upholding them with His hand.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Missing You Already

Even though laced with excitement, this back to school countdown is munching away the last few days of sleeping in, sitting by the pool and loosey goosey bedtimes.  I am sad to say goodbye to this wonderful thing called summer.  We lingered, but summer did not.  The last three weeks have brought us to the finish line happy campers.  We are so grateful for the summer we've had.

The day after we returned from our beach vacation with 14 of our favorite people-- plus 6 more favorites {all family!} at a different beach on the way home, Jeff and I celebrated 20 years of marriage.   TWENTY years.  Praise the Lord.  We have a special plan for September but loved getting in a quiet meal downtown on the actual day.

I took my planning retreat for the fall the next day-- calendaring every event possible, redoing farm chore charts, their daily lists and then planning the "exposure" I like to include each school year- composers, artists, operas, poets, writers, Latin, geography etc.  It was mine and Jessica's fifth year to go.  This trip to her grandmother's home looked a little different for both of us as our kids are making transitions this year.  Mine will be going two days a week and they will be home with me the other three.  We are staying with all of the same core curriculum which thrills me!  We are losing some of our flexibility we've had over these last few years but I think overall everyone is pumped about this new experience.  Julia is most excited about plaid uniforms and we had to make a special stop Monday for this.

{She purchased with her money.  It was that important. Bow or propellor, I'm not sure...}

After I had spent what seemed like an entire paycheck on school supplies I dumped them on the floor and let the kids sort them out by the lists.  They had way more fun doing that than tagging behind me in 3 stores with 2 lists and a dazed look on my face.  And yes, I did find the GREEN 3 brad folder WITH POCKETS.  Vinyl.  Yes, I did.

Anyone with kids who lives in this town knows where I made this party hat.  You also know I spent way too much time on it.  Can you tell I needed some creative outlet??  The fact that it made it home unscathed speaks volumes of my pride and how I needed to see- and keep- something started and completed!  So now I have a party hat.  No possibly thoughtful, meaningful words to write, but a really cute party hat.

Our last three weeks have been a great finish but Sunday night, I realized this truly was the last week of summer for us.  I'd like to finish fun.  Have a party hat kind of week.  Since it's only Wednesday, I'm not sure yet how we are doing, but I hope we can say our last week of summer was one of the best ones yet.

Goodbye summer.  I will miss you EVERYday until you come back.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Soperton Shoot: Hunter, Julia and Meghan

I just had to say "shoot".  Every wanna be wants to say they did a "shoot".  So I just did.  The front of my Daddy's pharmacy looks like any other well kept small town store but the back...well, it could use a little love-- some weed eating, some clearing, some painting etc.  However, it made great backgrounds for pictures and Momma's living room antiques made it a little more interesting.  And maybe these cute girls will take your eyes off the parts of the pictures that reveal how little I know about my camera and its settings.  One day I'll learn.

This is my niece, Hunter. She's seventeen and her senior year starts this week.  I've been taking pictures of her since the day I met her.  I love this girl.

We may be in Soperton, but these boots are from TEXAS!

These teenagers love this "serious" look, but I just can't figure out why when you have a smile like this with seriously dangerous voltage.

And her contagious, full body laughter.... that could light up Texas' power grid.

Loosening up her brother RJ

Meet his special Meghan...

who strums a guitar for Jesus

throws like an athlete and likes to sleep.

So, our thought for this field behind our house was horses in the background but way more BACK!  We came through the gate, unloaded the couch and they wanted to be right there with us.

So we just took pictures WITH them.

Then Hunter tells me to sit down with Julia and when I least expected to be on the other side of the camera...

I now have a picture to treasure.