Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pericope No. 13 {and a 1/2?} Fall to Christmas 2014

May.  May the 12th to be exact.  School is almost out and summer is a beacon in the near distance.  The clouds broke just enough yesterday for me to see it.  Anticipation abounds.... but not before I can remember.  When I looked to see when I did my last "catch up" aka "pericope post", I had to search twice to be sure I was doing it right.  Big deal, you say?  Well, yes, it is to me.  These posts-- turned into books after each summer-- are records of our days, our memories-- sneak peeks into moments or events we so soon forget.

I usually don't have trouble protecting my family's calendar.  I enjoy margin, quiet spaces for us all to enjoy, and filling that margin with some fun, not so quiet, activities.  However, in the fall, I failed.  Completely.  I took on more than I could handle-- with joy and grace and kindness to spread over the other parts of my life.  Once in the midst of it, it was like I could only see the next moment and I couldn't think past it either.  We all survived, of course-- as most people do-- but I learned a lesson and maybe more importantly, my limit.  But when I see how much time passed without any reflection, I understand why it seemed super hard.  This girl needs that-- to wonder why that went well or didn't, what I could do differently next time or what might make this more special or how I'll be sure to have that conversation next opportunity or how we'll be sure to include him/her next go 'round....... and I didn't take it and one day smeared into the next.

There were great moments-- fun ones and big ones-- but not cohesive in my mind.  Nevertheless, here I go to remember the fun and big in the blur.  And just fyi-- things are WAY clearer now.

This was a big night to kick off our September when Mrs. Bush was the speaker at our Tarrant NET banquet.  It was a special night and she was the epitome of grace, intelligence and kindness.  {Funny memory-- we were told NOT to chit chat with her but she initiated conversation with Jeff and then I was stuck between my rule-following nature and being on my best behavior with the Former First Lady. So our funny friend, Jeff A took pictures of me trying to PULL my husband away but also trying to give her my attention-- just awkward I tell you.}  Friends always make these events sweeter-- thanks SO many of you for being there!!

Then a slew of THIRTEENTH birthday parties began-- with a handful of sweet girls.  This particular party, the mom took them all to Dallas overnight.  Here they are trying on gowns--- not going ANYWHERE, mind you. ; )

And one of a couple of date nights I had with my favorite middle schooler.  Mexican... always.  Raised him right.

I had the HONOR of sharing thoughts on Loving God and Others with this amazing group of women from Alliance Community Fellowship.  Humbling to say two words in front of any group.  Yes?

Homecoming week at school and maybe this is my only picture?  Career day...... Julia is a fashion designer.  Not sure about B. ; )

We had a fun group at the game-- a few of us offering up BBQ fixings from our tail gates.  Really great night!  Grateful to be in school with these families.

En pointe-- needs to be included in the yearly budget.  We did this a few times this year.  She's better at it than I am but last time, she gave me some pointers.

Big Tex got a new outfit-- and it was a lovely day!  And this year, it was a quite uneventful day, thank goodness- unlike LAST YEAR!!

Let's just say I am glad this was taken near the end of our day.......

I love the determination here.  And her curls popping out to remind us all-- it's a GREAT DAY to be at the fair!!

Altar picture-- where Jeff and I prayed about that little bit on his lap.  She was growing in a womb that wasn't mine but here, on these benches, God planted her in my heart.

We played a little football-- just a lot of fun to watch.

We love watching our friends play when we can-- this was the "Hudson game" as in "give the ball to Hud"!  He was so exciting to watch!

I posted this but I can't skip it--  WE CELEBRATED MY PARENTS' 50TH!!!

Our small town started a magazine and put these two knuckleheads in the first edition.  They didn't make the front cover-- I mean, who could stand all that handsomeness on the FRONT cover?!?  But y'all, I am so proud of this.  That's my Daddy and big brother.  The article is about my dad got to Soperton-- and beyond.  Wish you could read it.  I may just retype the whole thing in one day-- that way it will be in my books..... Hmmm....

Julia helped with a friend's birthday party.... you know, those sought after teenagers. ; )

It's always worth documenting time with this woman-- Mrs. Summey, my college Sunday School teacher, mentor and friend.  {SO GLAD YOU HAVE ROOTS IN TEXAS-- AND NOW A GRANDSON!!!}

I took my own beauty to see the ballet, Sleeping Beauty-- a treat from her Nana and me.

This special woman gave us this piece that her husband's mother had made.  She couldn't quit thinking of me when she looked at it and decided it belonged to me-- a mother with an older girl and younger boy. Christy-- we are blessed by you.

My Daddy's unbridled joy after beating Brighton in football-- a favorite moment for sure.

A little TCU football--- family date night

There was a LOT of studying going on.... taught at our church's Women's Bible Study some and it was a BIG deal EVERY time.  A hyperventilation big deal.

We celebrated, simply, her 7th spiritual birthday.... Grateful for this sweet girl.

Then there was Mother Daughter Retreat with this fun group!!

They had a costume night so Nikki bought them all wigs and they dressed alike and went as the Darling Dozen-- maybe a Baker's Dozen or not....

Maybe my kids' favorite thing we did in the fall?  TobyMac in concert-- maybe my favorite thing?  We worshipped and sang and heard his own heart regarding the Savior.  Inspiring.

Julia made a few cakes..... I benefitted from each one.

We took this impromptu picture thinking we might do a "selfie" Christmas card-- and I really liked this one.

We celebrated Thanksgiving Day with friends-- including this crew of 5.  Downtown was all lit up-- ready for Christmas.

We faithfully cheered on our Dawgs as they lost to the bumblebees for the first time in like half a century.  {A tenth?}

We watched these guys learn to HUSTLE on the basketball court.  You guys were fun to watch!

We made Christmas candy.

We sang carols and read the Christmas story in a friend's barn.

Brighton experienced first world problems at Starbucks on our road trip to Georgia.

And we celebrated Christmas in Texas and twice in Georgia.

I believe I'll start 2015 in another post!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Who Said That? {What are our kids hearing that we aren’t saying?}

I find myself these days in conversations with my 13 year old wondering, how long has this been smoldering?  How long has she been sizing this up in her head?  Why hasn’t she asked me about this before now?

After a tearful conversation a few days ago, she said, “Everybody thinks we’re this perfectly happy family, and we’re not.”  {“Perfectly, happy” was not said in a tone that communicated all warmth and coziness.}  In those split seconds, close to midnight, while my hip propped me up by the sink- thankful for the sink after a confession like that- these thoughts zinged through, “We are!, Of course we aren’t!, We want people to think that!, "Perfectly, happy" is relative!, I thought we were transparent!  Oh, c’mon, what movie gave you that line?  We are so not that.”  And then her next words snapped me back, “I feel that pressure.”  That’s fair.  I think— and that’s why I am processing here.  You know, I couldn’t be writing this, I don’t think, if I truly wanted you to think we are a “perfectly, happy family”.  I feel I have shared enough information here so no one would ever think that.  Sure, our pictures are fun- everyone’s are— and we have terrific times in our home and with our family and friends but we also fight hard, act rudely, show disrespect, argue too much, and ask forgiveness daily.  Families are made up of sinful people— and some are made up of sinners saved by grace who need the gospel every day of their lives.  That would be us.  For sure.

I actually have family beach pictures where my cousin or niece has captured us getting on to the kids during the ETERNITY of snapping pictures.  I almost posted but they make me sad-- but KNOW we have them on record!!

But Julia confessed the pressure she feels and as I was propped by the sink, I had to pop the balloon and let her breathe.  I did the best I could for never even imagining this conversation— I am not good at impromptu but this is parenthood, yes?  No time for a rehearsal.  Here is where I want to go with this—  we have no idea what our kids are thinking or what they are picking up on.  What are we communicating when we don’t think we are saying anything at all?  We’ve all been in the middle of a rant with our kids and the phone rings…… and out of nowhere close by comes,  “Hello” in such a sweet, mellow voice.  I know the kids see right through it and that is why I always talk about it when it happens.  “If that had been so and so {a close friend}, I would have told them we were in the middle of a hard moment but the lady from Clothes Carpenters doesn’t really care we are having a bad day.”   A hard day, a hard last few hours made this thought come out AND it was LATE at night.  Late night is a double edge sword— good in the sense that I think more vulnerable thoughts come out but bad in the sense we don’t always have the energy to engage, push through and finish- parent or child.  However, I think her just speaking this secret thought to me began to relieve the pressure she was feeling.  Not perfectly, happy.  I am glad it came out.

Here are some questions I had for her to think through later:

Define “perfectly, happy family”.  What is your image of our family and what part of the image are you responsible for?  Do you know where this “pressure” comes from and are you responsible for any of it?  Am I?  Is Dad?  What dynamic is in our home, our conversations that make you think this is the image we wish to portray?  What kind of family do you think Jesus wants for us?

A few things the confession made me realize:  I need to remind her that our family is in community with other believers that know our struggles, our weaknesses and our possible sin patterns.  There are close friends in our lives who know our ugliest stuff but love us and always point us back to Jesus and His Word.

She needs to know that happy families argue and fight— it’s HOW they do it and what they do AFTERWARDS is what can set them apart.

I need to remind her that where sinners are involved, nothing will ever be perfect, or perfectly happy and that’s why we LONG for Jesus to come back and set all things right again.  The gospel must be central in family relationships.  He was the substitution for us in death to bridge a gap between all the non-perfectly happy people and Himself.  And He overcame death shattering forever the power of sin and death.

She needs to know that the family is possibly Satan’s most coveted target— where he desires to wreak the most havoc— to steal, kill and destroy.  {John 10:10} He does not want me to know Julia feels that pressure.  He wants to suffocate her with pressure.  He does not want me to enter into these conversations with her.  He wants to destroy her and her dreams for her present and future family.

I can’t end on that morbid note.  In that same verse in John 10, Jesus says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  I believe abundant life can be experienced in many ways by Christ followers but I think He loves expressing Himself in families and through families.  Our kids can have a front row seat of God’s abundance while they are in our homes, walking in the Light of Truth, learning to love when it’s hard, learning to forgive and be forgiven and realizing the Perfect Jesus brings the deep seated happiness for which everyone longs.

Now, I said that.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Certain Well- Done {A re-post from 2008 to honor a precious friend}

{This sweet woman went to be with Jesus Friday, May 1st.  I cannot imagine the reception she received.  She is a treasure to so many.  I wrote this in 2008 and wanted to post it again to reminisce with and honor her and her sweet family.}

It was almost 2 years ago that I first heard her name picnicking under a pecan tree with 2 of my favorite Moms. “Betty Cox”—even typing it now makes me want to sit a little straighter. My friend Jessica told me Mrs. Cox teaches little girls how to sew. My curiosity peeked because Julia had expressed some interest in sewing and according to Miss Barbara, she had a knack for precise stitching. I thought a sewing class might be a good fit for her as well as give her a chance to learn a life long skill. However, this is what hooked me and reeled me in with no trouble at all. She has the girls memorize scripture and rewards them monthly for it. Before our lunch ended, I got her number and called her on the way home. After being on a waiting list, we finally got a call from the efficient Mrs. Cox telling us when Julia’s first lesson would be and what sewing supplies she would need. I followed Mrs. Cox’s instructions to a T, even allowing Julia to pick out her own fabric. (which may have been one of the hardest things I have ever done) Julia was just weeks shy of 5 when she had her first lesson. I took her into the little house trimmed in blue on El Campo and felt much like I did when I used to walk into my sweet Grandmother’s home- completely comfortable but almost as if it were sacred ground. This was her beloved space……….so many memories sitting around, hanging on the wall and, the ones I couldn’t see, waiting to be retold. We were welcomed by a beautiful lady dressed in cute jeans, a stylish top and dangling miniature spools of thread for earrings. So THIS was Mrs. Betty Cox. I loved her from the start.

As the weeks went by, I found out it was a perfect fit for Julia. It was truly the highlight of her week. Once when I visited for a bit after a lesson, I got to see the reward chart for the girl’s Scripture memory. Tacked to one of her kitchen doors is a poster board with a carefully constructed chart with each girl’s name. If they say their verses at the end of the month they get a red star by their name and if they can say it at the end of the second month, they get a gold star and 2 dollars out of a jar from Mrs. Cox’s kitchen. She feels like if they know it for 2 months, they know it for life. If you look closely at her chart, at the very bottom, you will see something a little strange. It’s my son’s name. No, I haven’t signed him up for sewing.  Mrs. Cox has a small dish of candy that the girls get to dip into before they leave. Brighton, who can smell high fructose corn syrup a mile away, figured this out by the second week and strategically stood with his nose practically in the dish until Mrs. Cox saw him. Being the lady that we love, she told Brighton if he said a Scripture verse, he could have a piece of candy. Without batting an eye, he turned and gave a wonderful “Big B” version of I Corinthians 13:4 and "kind of" following. The noble Mrs. Cox melted and now, Brighton works on his memory verses, on Mondays only, and gets gold stars by his name and candy in his mouth.

One of my favorite Mrs. Cox stories is the time our babysitter, Remey, who is in her early 20’s, picked Julia up from sewing. She had Brighton with her so they both went in. Of course, Brighton was on Mrs. Cox’s heels, ready to say his verse and when he did, she led him to the candy dish. She turned and asked Remey if she had a verse and then she could have a piece too. Remey said she really wanted a piece of candy, so she pulled a verse from the recesses of her mind and found herself reciting it so she, too, could dip into the dish! 

One of my OTHER favorite things she does with the girls is that while each child takes their turn on the sewing machine, which, by the way, has sewn over 2000 dresses, the other little girls sit around the table and learn to engage in “ladylike” conversation while they work on embroidery or other projects. At the end of her second year, Julia has finished 4 pillows (one that she made specifically for my bed), 3 dresses, a rag doll with clothes, a stuffed animal (cat), bedding for a miniature Moses basket, 2 embroideries and most importantly, memorized several passages from God’s word-all because Mrs. Cox asked the Lord how she could continue on in ministry after retirement and being widowed. 

Every Spring for 25 years, Mrs. Cox and friends organize a fashion show so the girls can model their creations from class. Last year as I sat through our first fashion show experience, I saw everything from the traditional calico, knee length, puffy sleeve dress like Julia wore, to beautifully custom designed evening dresses and Renaissance gowns. These 17 and 18 year old young ladies had taken their skill seriously and were amazing at it! On Monday night, Julia modeled her third dress stitched partly on the machine in Mrs. Cox’s lap and partly by hand. Of course, we were proud and had a ball watching her but it was just as fun to see all of her dear little friends parading about in their own spring fashions! There is hardly anything more pure and lovely than the world of little girls!

(Julia's "fashions" from last year and this year!)
Mrs. Cox’s heart is big. Her love for these girls is obvious as she hugs on them and encourages them in their level of skill. When any of the girls has a birthday, she pops popcorn and they go around the table and give each other “imaginary gifts” by naming something that they might like to wrap up for the birthday girl. As she introduces each girl during the fashion show, she will say something personal about each one. Even bigger is her love for Christ and her trust in her faithful Savior. The evidence of her faith is all over her and is such a natural part of her exchanges with me. She knows Him and I can’t imagine the pleasure and the sweet aromas she must bring to Him. I know He can't wait to tell her face to face, "Well done, my faithful servant."

It is still Julia’s favorite activity and I think I know why. It’s the sweet lady who lives in that little house trimmed in blue.

Julia's darling "school mates" and one proud brother-- all dressed in dresses made with Mrs. Cox

Grandparent info:
Brighton got confused and thought the fashion show was going to be a puppet show and was sorely disappointed.
I wish I could say Brighton was there to support his sister, but when he got wind that cookies would be served afterwards, his only concern was "how long is it until the cookies?".
However, he did enjoy walking down the "runway" with Julia afterwards.
Oh- I dropped by my Mom's group afterwards to say hi only to find out one of the Moms in my group used to take lessons from Mrs. Cox!! Ouch!