Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tucking In {Order amidst the Chaos}

Mission in Carmel, California
Embarrassing episodes have a way of cutting to the chase.  Maybe how we RESPOND to embarrassing episodes allow a small peak into our personalities, our character and how we are really doing at the moment.  I can’t say I’ve had many in my life- embarrassing moments.  I play it pretty safe— always have, so I’ve not had much practice at the response, but last week took me by surprise.  Come to think of it, much has taken me by surprise lately.

We had the delight of hosting two dancers from Ballet Magnificat last weekend who were in town for a performance of the ballet, Deliver Us, the story of the Israelites exodus from Egypt.  I was so impressed with these young women, Emily and Sarah.  Their love for Christ glowed in their faces and was evident in their conversation around the dinner table but shone its brightest when they danced Friday evening in the performance.  I was in awe of the company’s giftedness and the way they led us in worship as they danced.  {GO SEE THEM when you get the chance!!}



Okay so, on to the other…

During intermission, I left my seat to sit with Julia a minute who was sitting with friends a section over and a few rows up.  I returned to my seat after a bit and not 15 seconds later, Julia is beside me in Jeff’s seat.  She leans over and says,”Mom, your dress is tucked in your shorts.”  {Shorts being modesty shorts {aka sliding shorts}— my dress was not short but it had been an extremely windy day and like I said earlier, I play it safe.}  Ugh.  I played it pretty cool with Julia— thanked her and wrangled around in my seat to untuck the mess— and she left.  However, the longer I sat there and thought about the route I’d taken AFTER I had been to the bathroom and the moving around during the intermission, the worse I got.  Jeff and Brighton returned and B misses NOTHING.  “What’s wrong, Momma?”  I couldn’t speak.  I was holding back an unexpected pool of waters that had gathered behind my eyes.  Tears?!?  What in the world was wrong with me?  I tried to go the mad route in order to ward off the spillage. However, the more questions, the higher the waters got.  The more kindness shown to me, the lowers the walls became.  Spillage.  It was the longest intermission ever.  I just wanted the lights to go off.  To nurse my misery in darkness.

See, I am not a crier.  For me, anger usually comes before such emotions and so, I knew I was in a mess when I completely skipped the usual route.  As I had unsuccessfully tried to hold back the tears, I knew what my problem was.  I had allowed myself to become so tightly strung, so weary emotionally, so chaotic in my spirit, I could not gather myself up and bring order to my emotions.  I was not surprised.  It was no one’s fault by my own.

I really wanted to blame the kids.  They had made it an extremely difficult few weeks.  No details needed because every parent can relate.  We all have great kids that can make some pretty foolish decisions.  The more mine make now at 12 and 14 I see as little victories so maybe there will be less later when the stakes are higher.  Who really knows but it brings some comfort to me at the present.  We had been experiencing the first part of Hebrews 12:11—“No discipline seems pleasant at the time…” -- in hopes of the “harvest of righteousness and peace.”!!  NO PARENT enjoys placing consequences on their kids.  Okay, well, maybe we relish doling it out in the moment but when it lasts for days and everyone’s heart SEEMS soft, you just want to lift it all and be done with it. Over the last few weeks, I think I had let some fear in— like, “What if this never ends?”  “What if they never learn the lesson?”  “What if we’ve got it all wrong and mess this whole thing up?”  And every day, in the Word or out of it, I was letting it get the best of me and Friday night, the skirt tangled up in the shorts, was the last straw for my emotionally weary self.

And here’s the best part.  Of course, I was studying to teach Women’s Bible Study at my church.  It was Friday and I taught on Wednesday.  I love to study and God has been faithful to TEACH ME from this great book of Exodus.  I am aware of the concept of His teaching me before I get to teach anyone else and even Friday afternoon  -pre-embarrassing moment-  when I was on the phone with Jeff trying to get some parenting confidence and comfort from him, he asked me again to consider what the Lord might be teaching me in all of my studying— what it may have to do with what I was experiencing.

Of course he did. It was an apt challenge.

Though in the moment I didn’t take it.

Of course I didn’t.  It was a foolish refusal.

I did eventually.  As I studied to teach on the tabernacle in the wilderness I learned how it was an earthly representation of a heavenly reality.  It was a refuge of order in the chaos of the wilderness.  His space, His creation was to be a piece of heaven on earth.  Order amidst the chaos of the world.  The tabernacle was the orderly space and the means with which He connected with His people.  Then Jesus came on the earth and as John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”  “Made His dwelling” is derived from the word tabernacle.  Jesus was the piece of heaven on earth, the one to bring order to the chaos, the means by which people were to connect with God.  After the resurrection, how were His people to connect with Him?  He left us Holy Spirit who resides where?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  I Corinthians 6:19-20

Within us.  A most intimate connection.

So even we can reflect a piece of heaven on earth.  Order from the chaos tucked right within us. A sacred space.  An ordered place.  And we all know it— because we’ve all experienced it, when we take the time to pull away and just BE with Him, we feel it.  Him.  Holy Spirit.  Setting all things right again.  Order amidst the chaos.  A beautiful reflection of Him to the chaotic world around us.   A piece of heaven on earth.

Friday night, I was not that reflection.  I was a fragile, weary, foolish girl who had not sat in His Presence long enough for Him to restore the order, to change the perspective.  I was too busy trying to order my tangible circumstances {most of which I had no control} subconsciously thinking that would ease my inner chaos.  {Big fat lie.}  But by His glorious grace, as I’ve seen so many times with the Israelites in the desert, He’s there to hear my repentance, to forgive my sins, give me the humility to set things right with my family and enjoy a sweet connection with Him again.

He’s pursued connection with us since the Garden of Eden— condescending to us until He is as close as possible.  Right within us.  Tuck into the tabernacle within you, the dwelling place of His Spirit.  Allow Him to order your chaos.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Letter to a 14 Year Old Girl: Julia’s Birthday Letter 2016


Her letter but my post-- I get to choose my favorite picture.
Dearest Julia,

This birthday letter writing thing can be serious business now that you’re a full fledged teenager.  There are blush worthy things that need to be said, but maybe I’ll save that as a post script— just for you.  There are still things you need to be taught but these are the days for you to be practicing much of what we’ve tried to teach you.  It’s all beginning to count, you know?  The stakes are getting higher.  Mistakes can be bigger.  Bad choices could cost you more.

So, now is the time.

It’s time for your faith to really become your own.  You need to ask all the questions that you have.  Even the ones that you are afraid to ask— even to yourself.  Let’s have those conversations— and it would be very considerate if you’d do it when your Daddy is around— and see where they take us. Face any doubts you have now— is all this for real?  Does this faith my family has really matter for me?  Why exactly do we pray?  Will I really view the Bible as the final authority?  Ask before you leave us.  We will welcome it.   Don’t just assume what you hear is truth and Biblical.  Check it out for yourself.  KNOW YOUR BIBLE.  We hope we gave you your Bible-for-life this birthday— one that will hold memories for you as you filter your very life through the pages of Scripture.  The notes you make will remind you of markers, heart aches you’ve experienced, celebrations you’ve enjoyed, prayers that have been answered, times you have waited on Him, comfort you’ve received…..  You have a life to be lived and I pray His Word will inform you and propel you every step of the way.  {And when you are old, like me, you can look back on ALL HIS FAITHFULNESS to you.}




We’ve been snapping pictures on SGI for 12 years now!!  I love them EVERY year.  The candid ones are my favorite.
If you take that foundation seriously, the rest will fall into place— and if it doesn’t, it won’t rock your world.  Part of me wants to turn the above words into a begging or pleading because I feel so strongly about it.  You’ve heard me say these things so many times but He won’t disappoint you.  He may bewilder you, but NEVER will He not come through for you.  You may hurt in the present but I promise you, give it some time and you will see His goodness.  I’ll stop— but make your faith your own— preferably before you leave our home.  ; )

I love your friends, Julia.  You’ve been so blessed to know and get to know some of the sweetest girls in Fort Worth.  I know you don’t always feel you fit tightly into any one group but sweetheart, I know these girls love you and are blessed to get to call you friend.  I am trusting that God has a creative plan for your friend group and that you are going to have a blast all through high school with them.  But as new ones come, pick them wisely.  Hold close the ones who share your values— and the ones who don’t?  Engage them WITH your friends.  Introduce us to them.  Show them what Christ’s love looks like.  Share His love with them.  And then let them choose.  But always, always stay connected to your close friends.  This is a time in your life when friends really, really matter.  Does this quote from D-Town look familiar? “The friends you ride with determine the course of your life.  Make sure you are riding with people who point you to Jesus.” {Harrison Ross}  He’s absolutely right.



There is another type of friend that is on the horizon…..  and that would be a friend that is a boy….. or a special friend….. or a BOY-FRIEND.  There.  I typed it.  And I know there is one you’ve preferred for a little over a year now and I must say, that has been a very sweet experience.  {And a HUGE learning curve for me— AND his mom!!}  We have navigated some BRAND NEW things this year but I think it has been a lot of fun— and did I say sweet?  One day I can write ALL about it.  But more is coming and like I said at the beginning… more is at stake.  As you gain more freedom, you’re going to have more choices to make.  As a mom, it’s my job to prepare you for that— because, really, you have NO IDEA.  I could go off on a momma rant/talk here but I’ll save that for some face to face.  My prayer is that you will choose boys to spend time with just as you have picked the girls you like to hang out with— ones who share your faith in God, ones who respect you, ones who value who God has created you to be, ones who truly enjoy your personality…..I could go on and on but I just want you to just enjoy these special friendships.  Learn from these young men.  Admire their qualities that are so different from your own.  Pray for them.  {Being a young man is really hard.}  Be an encouraging and honest friend to them.  Inspire them to be better young men.  And make their lives a little easier by continuing to be modest in your dress and your actions.  Again… you have NO IDEA.  {Face time, girl. Later.}

But now is the time.  Remember that.

Would you be shocked if I stopped right there?  I am shocking myself but I think I should stop.  Those are biggies, girl.  I want those to stick with you.

Even with all the groundings and lost privileges, I have SO ENJOYED YOU this year.  We have had a lot of fun together.  I love that we both love a good story and a good bargain. {I may never beat your Old Navy 50 cents shoes… impressive.}

I am proud of you because I see some really great things becoming a part of who you are.  I am not your friend now, but oh, girl, God willing, we are going to the best of friends one day and I simply cannot wait.

I love you,
Momma

You got braces this year!!!
You and your city garden bounty
Concert in the Garden- Journey
I get a LOT of these on my phone! {Where is this shirt/outfit anyway, Julia?  I like this one!}
Our summers at the pool-- sweetest group of kids
Angel in Ballet Concerto’s Holiday Special “O Holy Night"
First day of school
Best day-- picking you up from camp
Easter
Such a fun memory....can we do this tomorrow?

Quite proficient in the kitchen...
Your “oldest” friends in the Fort 
First ride on the Texas Giant!


No matter what you think, he does love you.
Awesome Camp Joy founders and creators

Grateful for long time friends

And these decade long friends...HOW many pictures do I have of THESE THREE?!?

This picture on Disney Day says SO MUCH about you.
Remember.  ONE DAY-- BFFs  LOVE YOU!!

 

Here’s to Homemaking! “Forget Me Not"

{If you just want to get to the point of this whole post, click here.  The many words below just explains how that happened.}


It all began in October.......A neighbor stopped by to introduce herself.  Crafty neighbor.  After we chatted for a few minutes she apologetically asked me if I’d like to have my home on the Christmas tour for the Junior Women’s Club of Fort Worth.  I love all things home so to get to share mine sounded like fun-- no apologies needed for me-- and after I asked a few questions, I told her I was a 95% yes, but to let me run it by Jeff and the kids knowing it would take some effort on their parts too.  After clearing it with Jeff, the details were put in motion.  Once December arrived, my new neighbor friend, Daley, scheduled an evening for the docents to visit with me about our home and to look around so they would be familiar with it as guests came through.  They asked all sorts of questions and my most repeated answers were, “I’ve had that forever.  I don’t remember where we got that.”,  “Oh, Jeff made that.”, and the winner—  “We got that off Craigslist.”  I remember sweating a little as I realized how much I was talking about our home but they asked SO MANY questions and I kept getting these “Ohhs” and “Ahhs” with ladies’ hands over their hearts.  It was all very sweet-- and puzzling.  But it made me sweat.  Later, I learned why they had so many questions… but I’ll come back to that.

The last thing to say about that particular night was the humbling experience of taking them into my kids’ bedrooms.  Oh. My.  And this isn’t the first time I have taken a deep breath and carefully led someone in.  No kidding— the last person I took in turned to me with gaping mouth, speechless.  It’s difficult for me to do— to not take it personally or think it’s a reflection on me — but I figure if I keep doing it, it will do me some good and I’ll get over myself.  As we navigated the piles toward the bathroom with more of the same piles- just a little damp, I assured them I had a Bobcat rented and would have it cleared out in no time.  They must have believed me because they showed up the day of the tour. Once Julia and Brighton cleaned their rooms, I packed up a bunch of their things {and do you know, it’s February and they haven’t even asked for those boxes!}.  Here’s what I kept getting from one of them, “Mom, my room looks like no one lives here.”  My response?  “I promise people don’t want to see “lived in” when they are on a home tour— not your “lived in” anyway.  Why do you enjoy the Pottery Barn Teen catalog?!  Because it’s all cute. Every square-not- lived-in-foot. Cute.”  Or some variation of that…..  Goodness.

Once the kids’ rooms were presentable, the rest was a breeze.  We all left the house and Julia and I decided to tour the rest of the homes in and around our neighborhood before we ran our errands.  My friend, Daley, had her home on the tour and one step into her house, Julia and I looked at each other and I thought- and I bet Julia thought, “What were we thinking?! Why did we say yes to this?!?”  It was jaw dropping stunning.  As we toured the four children’s bedrooms, it became crystal clear to Julia why we cleaned up rooms and even went to the trouble to pack some things away.  These rooms were adorable, playful, and creative with colors rivaling a Mardi Gras parade and an atmosphere hinting to the magic of The Secret Garden.  Her whole home was strikingly beautiful with an eccentric mix of eye candy pieces and family keepsakes.  And I kept telling myself it was okay that I said yes.  Julia wasn’t so sure.

Oh!!  So it wasn’t until we got to this first home did I realize why the women who had come over that night asked me so many questions….  They needed to have some things about our home to tell the people as they came through!!  Duh.  Things like, “This tile was especially handmade in a little village in Italy.”  or “All of their lighting came from Fort Worth Lighting.” or  “This is their great grandmother’s Chinese chicken coop.” or “I don’t even remember but it made their homes sound really fancy.”  I could only imagine right then what the docents were telling people in my house.  “This chandelier was purchased from Craig’s List and her husband sprayed painted it on the porch of their rental when she realized it wouldn’t match anything in her new home.”  So, there you go.

Realizing not knowing what they were saying was better, I survived and truly enjoyed all the people I met in the organization.  Each one was so gracious and friendly.  I was honored to be a part of the tour and to be identified in a small way with the Junior Women’s Club.  {The gift basket rocked.}

Who likes photos of thmeselves?!?  I was glad it was kind of small... Brighton said we both looked “weird and photoshopped.”  Grateful for a dining room which is filled with 10 of Ft. Worth’s finest newlyweds every other week! 

And here’s part 2 of the story— I got an email from Daley a week or so later and she told me the editor of Indulge Magazine {a publication of the Fort Worth Star Telegram} had toured our home that day and wanted to see how I felt about our home being featured in the February edition of the magazine.  This is what tugged my heart— she wrote, “I just loved all the romantic little touches and think they must be really sweet, thoughtful people.”

Aww.

Well.

What do you say to that?  So all the things went through my mind— How cool!  That would be so fun!  Wait, is it okay for us to say yes?  What will people think?  If they interview us, will they print what we say?  What will the article really be about?  Call us crazy but we wanted to pray about it and ask a couple of key people their thoughts.  But when I spoke on the phone to Mary Rogers who would do the interview and heard her vision for the article, it was a no brainer…  And you will see why when you read it.

This room-- lots of life happens around the table.  My Mom and Dad made sure we ate dinner together every night it was possible which was most.  It might be 8:30 but we did it.  Those dinners are among my favorite memories -- especially teenage memories when the conversations meant something.  {Way to go, Mom and Dad!}

Meeting her was just delightful.  Mary Rogers wrote regularly for the Star Telegram for years and is now a freelance writer.  You’ll be able to read all that she found out but I just wanted to say, she was like visiting with a friend.  She jotted down notes in a tiny notepad, engaged my children and asked questions with intentionality— and made the whole process painless.  The time flew by and she was out the door.  Brighton stood with me at the door and said, “She reminds me of Nana.”  And he was right.  It was a very comfortable morning.  {No sweating this go ‘round.}

That dresser- my granddaddy’s painted white by Jeff.  The wall- pictures make my heart happy.  The pantry door- recipes/food are a part of a homemaker’s legacy and Jeff and I come from good ones  
This letter-- Jeff Sanders and his words charmed me in the most genuine way all of our days spent apart.  That song- Jill Sammons Butcher rewrote the music to the amazing words of “All the Way My Savior Leads Me”.  The only way to hear it is to call her up on the phone and have her play it while I listen.  The crosses-- each one representing the good God we serve and His tangible gifts of leading and loving us
Click HERE to read her gracious, poetic writing... though she describes me like my brother would describe a good fishing story-- much exaggeration.  I was humbled by her words about our home-- and honored she used her gift of writing on us.  If you aren’t a fan of the Sanders, I suggest you don’t read it.  If you know our quirks and mess and love us anyway, you might enjoy this.  We didn’t pay her to say these things, though I did drug her tea at the beginning.  {I jest.}  But as you read her kind words, you might think there's something fishy.  I promise there isn’t.

We just fooled her really well.  ; )

Though I don’t think there is any fooling Mrs. Mary Rogers.

Just like there’s no fooling Nana.