Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I’ve been here before.  I’ve seen moving boxes in the midst of the orange of Thanksgiving.  But the last time, I had toddlers and I was FOREVER, it seemed, away from 40.  Then, I was trying to coax a little boy to walk and attempting to engage a vivacious little 3 year old girl in imaginative conversation while packing up the house.  Now while I pack up all that we call ours, those kids are making their own meals and I take ibuprofen at night for packing injuries.  We will be taking these boxes to a rental in a few days and in several months,  on to a house we will begin building in January.  {Please note the temporary address at the bottom.}

Since this IS a Christmas letter, I will only tell you the really sweet things about my children.  How could I break the Christmas letter tradition?!

Julia:  kind, laid back, my favorite helper, quick to forgive, capable of pulling off a dinner party single handedly, a reader of books, a good friend, thoughtful, graceful dancer and pianist, growing into a little lady before my eyes

Brighton:  Jeff’s shadow, funny, competitive, intuitive, persistent, clever, Lego master, creator of his own tunes on the piano, charming, ball player, first class little brother {takes his roles seriously as “picker” and protector, flower bring-er

Their biggest change is going to a school twice a week.  We complete assignments and new materials the other three days a week.  I have transitioned more into the helper and cheerleader than their primary teacher.  Now I just get to expose them to the things I enjoy.  I am grateful for their schedule which allows for more flexibility in the evenings.

Church-- We are more excited than you can imagine to be a part of the core group for the Watermark Ft. Worth start-up.  The schedule is “penciled in” but we are hoping to be “public” by Easter.

Tarrant NET-- In October, Tarrant NET officially kicked off Read2Win as the literacy program for the Fort Worth Independent School District.  Over the next few years, we will partner a church with each of the 86 elementary schools to provide reading coaches {church volunteers} to 1st graders.  Tarrant NET has been overwhelmed by the response of the churches in Fort Worth!  Jeff and I are enjoying our Thursday mornings at Manual Jara Elementary.  The kids we meet with are super excited each week-- and they are learning to read!

I am counting on some white space on the calendar come December.  I don’t want to miss this sweet season of celebrating when God’s set in motion His rescue plan for all of us.  He came.  Emmanuel.
Come let us adore Him.

It’s a happy morning.

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Underneath the Layers

I remember hearing John McArthur say one year while he was preaching through the Bible that it just so happened that he came up on the Christmas story smack dab in the heat of the summer.  He wasn't sure how his congregation would react to the whole Christmas in July thing but he said, for him, something wonderful happened.  Without all the action of December, he was able to take in the story of Emmanuel as never before and Christmas would never be the same for him again.  I find myself thinking of what he said throughout the days of December as I struggle to keep my focus.... and as I watch my kids get caught up in the wanting part of the season.  We've done it.  As a culture, we've created all the hoopla that layer upon layer make it difficult to ponder, to worship, to be overjoyed by the history changing event of God using a young woman's womb as the entry way to earth.  To where we are.  To be with us.

The wise men always make me think a little harder as they determined not to let this event go unnoticed by them.  But why?  These guys were Gentiles.  They weren't looking for deliverance from the Roman Empire.  They were looking for a very significant birth, a world-changing arrival, marked in the heavens by the stars the Baby King put in place.  They set out, for possibly two years, focused on their intentions of worshiping this newborn King, checking their precious gifts along the way.   I wonder in those two years of traveling what sort of distractions they experienced.  My guess would be things much more intense than shopping and getting out your family's Christmas greeting.  I love that the wise men journeyed TO GIVE-- their time, their resources, their worship.  They expected nothing in return.   I can't imagine the satisfaction they experienced as they carried out what they had set out to do. Worship the newborn King.

The fact that lists and tasks come more naturally to me does make it more difficult for me to ponder, to worship.  I want to worship.  I want my kids to OWN the reality that there's so much more to Christmas than what they want. In our culture, it's a thick river to swim.  And I've added to the water.

We have a good vision for our family's Christmas.  We have plans and traditions.  We want to do it well.  But I have to ask myself, can we do it better?  Differently?

Father, Thank You for coming to us.  You know my heart.  You know our desires for our children, for us.  Help us to celebrate You well.  Show me what distracts me.......and my kids the most from You.  What can we change?  How can we do it differently?  Thank You for all the sweetness that surrounds this time.  May we dwell on that.  The giving.  The celebration.  The family.  The worship.  The YOU with US.  Amen.

Christmas-Ready Rental

Jeff started this tradition with the kids several years ago and the perfect pairing with this little house is Mortimer's Christmas Manger which puts a sweet story to Ephesians 3:20.  Check it out.

Extravagant hostess gifts--  Thank you!

I have cool friends who throw cool birthday parties.  Julia came home with this the other night.

Anticipating Christmas....

Jeff and Brighton being too cool for school here.  NOT silly.

And Emily has no problem at all with silly... and Brighton is learning from the best.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pericope: Picking Up Where We Left Off

When my thankful journal was unpacked the other day, I opened it up on the unfamiliar kitchen counter and saw these last things written at our old house.  I remember writing "re-offer"---  the couple offered, backed out and re-offered and now they have our home.  Yes, it's a hard thankfulness, but I can be truly thankful and be sad.  This was one of the last things packed but three weeks went by and I wrote nothing.  Now living life and sleeping in a place I'd never laid eyes on a month ago,  I'm feeling a bit more grateful.

I could write a book on our last few weeks.  Only I would read it-- my own mother wouldn't.  It would be page after page of me whining, wondering how I had accumulated so much stuff... again, wishing my family didn't need three meals a day, thinking how 42 feels a lot different when you are working like a maniac all day, how much I love ibuprofen, questioning my every book purchase over the last six years {took up half the truck}, thinking that maybe my love of dishes needs to lose its luster in the years to come, pondering what it would be like to live in a tree house with a mattress and one extra pair of clothes........ Maybe the most monumental change was deciding I was finished making decisions for a while.  Everything I touched while packing and even unpacking, a decision had to be made... keep to use now "UP" meaning "unpack", keep to use in 10 months "DUP" meaning "do not unpack", keep to store in attic of rental, keep to store in very old, questionable weather proof storage shed at the rental, keep for sentimental reasons, give away, throw away... and after a while the last seemed to be the best option for everything.  Here is one of the last things sitting on my kitchen counter.  Yes, the bottle of 500.  And that's my first thing I am thankful for if you were wondering if I had forgotten my point.

Of the last things I packed..... We had our S'more and Caramel Apple Party the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving to say goodbye to our neighbors.  Driven by my sweet tooth, I always plan to have caramel left over to do the apples at least once or twice more over the next few days so Em's parents were in town so I thought, we'll certainly do that.  Thanksgiving came and went.... and by Monday things just needed to be put in boxes.  So there's the crock pot full of hardened caramel on the kitchen counter, complete with wooden spoon sticking out of it and in the box it went, along with my camera bag, random desk-like things, ibuprofen, hand towels, oh, and my 50 cup coffee maker.  I just found it Saturday, spoon still in the caramel.  

Mmmmm.... want some? Right by the old dust buster.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is our day to decorate for Christmas so before we stacked the rental house with boxes, we put up lights, a tree and few decorations.  I can say now, I don't know if we would have gotten that done......sweetly......had we not done it that day.  

And who makes FOUR orthodontist appointments during their pack, move and unpack weeks?  It was one of those things Julia had been asking to do and in my mode of "finish EVERYthing", I took her.  We were 3 for 4 and everyone at Dr. Kelley's office was gracious about my brain lapse.

We moved boxes ourselves {plus a LOT of help} and had professional movers move our furniture-- the heavy stuff, but there is NOTHING like people you will see again seeing how much JUNK you have.  Mortifying.   House things look very strange on your lawn or driveway.   It's like the back of the cross stitch or needlepoint.... or your garage/attic or your laundry room or the master bath room-- people just aren't supposed to look there.  Seeing this truck in the drive was reality coming into focus after days of having my head in closets, attics, cabinets and boxes.  {My niece sending me pictures of her shelling in St. Augustine didn't help.}

Someone likened Brighton to a Golden Retriever the other day and this is concrete evidence.  I can't remember the exact day Jeff found this note on the bed but it was right when we were in the thick of it. At the time, we were popping Motrin and moving the note out the way in order to lie down... incredulous and somewhat endeared at the same time.  Love that kid.

And then there's the day you just need one of these.  An Oreo Blizzard with pecans and cappuccino syrup.   I could move/lift at least 20 more boxes after this cup of yummiliciousness.

The porch doesn't look so bad in this picture but let me tell you, it was like a bad eviction for several days.  I hated it for our neighbors but we didn't know what to do with so much of it!  At that point, we were wondering where our toothbrushes would go.  I took this picture because of the familiar site of a book in a random place.  Julia, after locating a book, had been in the swing at some point reading.  I think it was one of her ways for a little visit with normalcy.  Seeing this was good for me too.

One of the coolest things that happened during all of this was that we got to meet as "Watermark Fort Worth" for the first time.  January will be two years that we've been waiting on what the Lord would do about a new church in Fort Worth.  We are beyond happy that Watermark Dallas is now adding the Watermark Fort Worth campus.  

Hmmmm............Thank You for a washer and dryer. I texted my cousin and sister in law and said I was pretending to be on vacation at the beach since this is what's in the house on St. George.  Not feeling it.

First play date in the old house-- I remember this day like it was yesterday.  We weren't settled at all but these girls had so much fun.

Just last week, these two {a different friend} came hobbling in from the back yard begging for a quarter.  They aren't as glamorous but they are STILL playing dress up.  Our dress up box just keeps getting bigger....and more scrappy.

 Call it what you want-- cheap, stubborn-- but we didn't want to rent a storage facility so all of our furniture needed to find a spot in the rental house which is half the size of our house we just left.  After thinning out through the move process, here is the one chair that just won't fit.  Not even greased with Vaseline.  It's one of the first pieces of furniture we purchased 20 years ago-- oh, those jewel tones.  It's spent a lot of time over the years in Brighton's room and looked great with his western boy colors.  But now it's just a chair without a home.  And when I say there is NO room, I mean it, unless we set it in the middle of the kitchen.

Jeff hung our dining chandelier because it's the best place to store it in the meantime.  It's too big for the room, but it's familiar and I've already fed 10 under it.  It just feels right.  Thank you, Jeff.  And thank you even more for not making me go back once we left.

Jeff went back three, maybe four more times once we left.  It's the worst-- going back for all that didn't make it into the truck---the random things that just seem to be a part of the house because we were so used to seeing them in certain places.  One of the last loads he got from home had the kid's hearth time Bibles and devotionals in it, another stash of picture books, my Grandmother Julia's silver plate I had intended to use Thanksgiving and a huge picture on the wall.  After we'd been gone for 5 days, they still found my Ikea food storage containers in the kitchen cabinets.

As I've said, it's hard to leave home.  It's so familiar that you can't even see what needs to go. Over the last two weeks, a couple of us have admitted awakening once, thinking we were in our old house.  I think we'll get used to our stuff in this new house and soon it will be our home.  We'll get used to having to use BOTH hands to open the old lock on the front door and turning sideways to get between the couch and piano.  We'll figure out how to navigate 3 adults and 2 kids in two small bathrooms.  We'll get used to the kids walking through our bedroom to get to their bedroom.  We'll enjoy the small sitting areas, vacuuming half the house without unplugging, our little school area, the large front porch and swing, the incredibly friendly neighbors, and how much warmer a house with 8 foot ceilings is.  Thank You.

We ate lunch on the swing the other day.  It squeaks as all great swings do.  Brighton didn't like it.  It was "annoying".  Julia was quiet....thinking before she spoke.

"I like that sound.  It sounds to me like it's saying 'Everything is going to be okay.'."

I'm glad she thinks so and I believe she's right.  

And I say "Thank You".

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Biggest Fan

I called my Mom on the way home from something this morning and one of her first statements was, "I see you didn't post yesterday."  {I won't go into the detail involving her reference to a caped person.}  I'm glad I have a fan-- even with her attempts at light-hearted bad joking-- I'm thankful she checks.  No, I didn't post.  And if any of you have ever moved recently, you know exactly why.  Oh, I have lots to share.  You haven't heard the last of this move.  You just wait until I get the time.

So, Mom, thanks for always checking.  It means a lot to me that you anticipate my posts.  Just remember, next time, you won't be reading about my move, you will be a part of it!  Put it on your calendar, Mom.  Now.