Friday, June 23, 2017

Not My Job, But Yours Be Done

I'm beginning to realize why my older friends didn't talk much about raising teenagers. {And you may remember when I said the same thing about middle schoolers….} There are times when I've been like, "Why didn't so and so TELL ME?"  "Why didn't they sit me down and fill me in on the best ways to handle these little budding adults that have shown up on the second floor of my home?" "Why didn't they tell me that I would feel so ill-equipped and confused much of the time?"  Here's the reason they didn't tell me— because they knew I really wouldn't be able to understand it until I got there.  Here.  Wherever. They knew they could tell me, warn me, encourage me in some specific areas but that I really wouldn't— couldn't— take it to heart because I had no way of knowing what raising teenagers would be like.

Until I was actually doing it.

Life with teenagers can be great.  On good days, we can teeter on the "friendship" side of parenting— seeing glimpses of what our adult relationship might look like, we can actually agree on a life issue, we can have some meaningful interactions on close to the heart subjects, and we can think, "Hey— I really like you."  And SOMETIMES life with teenagers can feel like a bubble blown from dollar store mix— it’s fragile and one more breath in the plastic wand and it bursts.  A good ol' "bust" just may be the better term.  And these "busts" leave you wondering if things will ever be light and normal again……if hormones will ever run on cruise control again…if anyone will ever smile in our house again…if coat hangers will ever be used for hanging clothes again.  You know- dire issues like that.  Anyone with teenagers knows what I am talking about— with the bubble— you ask a simple question, like, "Have much homework?" and there are tears followed by questions of why you don't love them anymore and life is NOT normal.  Or light.  *

And you are dumbfounded.  Homework vs. their place in your heart.  The game has changed.  The stakes are higher.  Fo sho.

Look at all of them!  If not a teenager already, look how many just a few friends have to raise!!  Love. These. Kids.
Having a few more years behind us, we think we know what's best for them—and most of the time we do, but they simply can't see it.  OR they see it fine, but wouldn't even pretend they did.  A few things fall into that category these days— things I'd love to see them doing but they just haven't owned yet.  I DO know these particular things ARE best for them so I pray.  And pray some more— praying that God will do the things that only He can do.  Remember Blackaby's Experiencing God in the 90's?  I picked it back up again after 20 years and guess what?  It's STILL amazing.  And I loved being reminded of these things— the things ONLY HE can do.  {See?  If only HE can do them, then it's struck OFF my list. I don't know about you, but I am all up for that.}

1.  Draws people to Himself
2.  Causes people to seek Him
3.  Reveals spiritual Truth
4.  Convicts the world {us, our children and everyone we know!} of guilt about sin, righteousness and judgment

How freeing is that?  Those are His jobs, not mine.  I take huge comfort in that and the really incredible thing is that He is faithful and I am counting on Him to do His part. And you can bet I will remind Him of it— respectfully.  Of course.   When will I respectfully remind Him?  Every time I try to think of a creative way to get them to read Scripture on their own.  Every time I want pure repentance— like some sackcloth and ashes action.  GRIEF over their sin.  Every time I see them struggling with a spiritual Truth after I've laid it out as clearly as I know how.  That's when I have to remind Him that drawing, revealing and convicting is HIS job.  Not mine.  I am not in control.  I have none.

Are you detecting the focus here?  Are you sensing who this parenting thing is really about?    So a few months after I began reading Experiencing God again— enter Paul David Tripp's book Parenting.  It IS about parenting but as I read it, it is so much more about the work needed in my own heart.  Just like marriage, parenting is just another degree of our sanctification, another prying off of our fingers from our own desires and agendas, another microscope on the sin that is still active in my own life.  So don't read it if you don't want to be thoroughly challenged— BUT, know this, it's not a burdensome book.  AT ALL.  It frees you— just as Henry Blackaby's principles from Scripture do.  There are just certain things we were never meant to do.  We can encourage it. We can teach it.  We can model it.  But we cannot make them choose it for themselves.  It's only by God's grace that I chose Him all those years ago.

So, these days, I am more convinced than ever that parenting is really about the work He wants to accomplish in me— letting go of my desire for control, comfort, "rightness", and even peace.  He wants me completely aware of what’s ruling my own heart, my absolute dependency on Him, my perpetual need for Him— and how that kind of dependence looks moment to moment.

And yes, I am still figuring that out.  Parenting moments are hardly EVER planned.  Friends, we've got to be at the ready.  I think His Word has a few things to say about that.  So maybe we can talk about that another time?  Until we can do that here’s some favorite verses.

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wow.  So be it.

{Here's the link to what my friend wrote several months ago now regarding Tripp's book— and a bit of her parenting experience.  Don't we all learn so much from each other?  Grateful for community within the Body of Christ.}

{* Instead of “Have much homework?”--- “What did you do last night?” or “How was the party?” or “Why did you miss curfew?” or “What is this text all about?”  In these years there could be things that happen that tear holes in our hearts-- this is a burst bubble of a different caliber-- so just know those things are tumbling around in my mind as I write this.}

Friday, June 2, 2017

Pericope No. 18 Winter to Summer 2017

It’s happening again.  These picture recaps just don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.  I’ve told you before--it’s the kids’ favorite kind of post-- all pictures, no talk.  SOME talk but not my usual overload.  By this time, we had one semester of public school under our belts.  The kids seemed to have “leveled out” a bit.  Not that it was smooth sailing or anything quasi normal but in a groove of sorts.  January brought our 2 days of winter- as you can see one of them below-  and the kids had never had breakfast at Paris Coffee Shop.  It opened in 1926 and there is nothing French about it except there is French toast on the menu.  Just a FW icon.  January is also time for the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.  We don’t make it every year but almost.  BOTH of my kids own “rodeo wear” as any good Texan should, but this was the first year they chose not to don it.  Teenagers. Eye roll.  It’s also the month of Lake Weekend.  There are all sorts of “Lake Weekends” about but this one is a few good friends, favorite things, all day pj’s, yummy food and just a bunch of fun.  By God’s grace, I’ve got good women around me.  We also headed to Houston for a conference Jeff wanted to attend-- me too!  Made a family trip out of it and visited the Space Center.  It just so happened that we saw Hidden Figures our first night in Houston so touring the Space Center and the Training Facility took on new meaning for us.  The crazy thing that happened was that while we were sitting IN Houston Mission Control, our guide got word that Gene Cernan had just died and announced it to us-- with tears.  Gene Cernan was the last man living who had walked on the moon.  Our trip coincided with Em’s first MARATHON.  We got to meet up with her friends and family and watch her FINISH.  Like a boss.  Oh-- forgive me, Houston friends, but we weren’t impressed with H-town.  I am SURE we weren’t in the right areas so besides the Space Center, Arandas Bakery was the second highlight of our trip.  We walked into a grocery like place bursting with color and just had to observe to get our bearings so we figured out one needed a metal tray-- about the size of a pizza pan and tongs.  And then you loaded up.  And we LOADED UP.  So many things we wanted to try.  I was a little nervous about our bill but our MOUNDFUL was under six bucks.  B’s eyes went wide and we all just smiled.  

They look cold, right?

Of course the END of January brings Julia’s BIRTHDAY!!  Fifteen.  FIFTEEN!!  Which means NEXT year she will be SIXTEEN!!!  My how these parties have changed-- and you, sweet readers, have seen most of her parties!!  She invited a mix of old friends and new-- old school, new school, and childhood friends.  I think they mixed well and I certainly enjoyed hearing all of their words and giggles.  She got her yellow roses from Uncle Blake.  {Blake, my sweet brother, you are an AWESOME uncle.  I love you more for it.}  She wanted to try a ramen restaurant for her birthday and quickly realized she liked the 15 cent ramen better.  She was a sport to try something new though.  {We all were!!}  Her canvas with a quote was her surprise and I hope to write more on that later.

February brings Jeff’s birthday and the Conners agreed to drive the hour or so to Bluff Dale, TX to eat at this reservation only hole in the wall in the middle of nowhere-- um, excuse me, Bluff Dale-- restaurant.  These places amuse and delight me all at the same time.  It was totally worth the drive.  Maybe not if it hadn’t been the Conners....
Laundromat, schmodromat.  It was a bargain or an agreement and B didn’t hold up his end.  So to the laundromat on Vickery he went every Saturday for a month.  And to be honest-- if you are wondering-- it didn’t change anything.  Just thought you might want to know.  The best thing about it?  He had great stories to tell during our Sabbath meal on Saturday night.
D-Now with Watermark is always a highlight of their winter.  I’m so grateful for their leaders and the way they love our kids.
Julia was asked to be part of lecture demonstrations this year at her studio.  They travel to a few schools in the FWISD and demonstrate their skills for the students.  It’s a GREAT idea and the kids actually sit and watch intently.  This surprised me.  I think “live” things are fascinating to them.
I got to spend 24 hours with Julia’s friends at Therefore at Pantego Bible Church.  T{4}-- to say it cool.  It was a well done event with great Truth spoken.  
And yes, that book-- it’s deserves “EVENT” status.  Seriously.  Event in my life and heart.  I am still reviewing and taking notes asking the Lord to make it real and live in my every day.  A must read for any parent.  
Our sweet guys under this roof celebrate Valentines well.  Jeff is the master, I tell you.  I did work that night and when I got off my car wasn’t where I’d left it and HE was there in it waiting to pick me up.  He took me to a gorgeous wedding venue that our friends own and cooked me an amazing meal and we went over his list of 25 great moments- our moments- 25 years ago he asked me to marry him on Valentines.  He went to a lot of trouble to make this sweet for me.  Most of the time, I am too overwhelmed to respond appropriately.  It was a very wonderful night.
And the end of February means BASEBALL STARTS!!  This picture TJ sent to me was a sweet reminder of how our lives overlapped a little more this year.  She was at the tournament and Julia was walking back to class from lunch. 

March is awesome because it brings Spring Break and, in my opinion, it’s all downhill after that.  Don’t tell my kids I said that though.  It kind of ruins my end of school year mantra of “FINISH STRONG!”  These two teachers below started Porches at Paschal at 7 am on Friday mornings.  They invite the kids to come to their classroom and watch the talk from Watermark’s Porches ministry-- while serving up coffee and doughnuts!  It’s awesome and THEY are amazing.  Mr. Wilkey is not in this picture but he’s rounds out this trio and I couldn’t be MORE THANKFUL for them.  
I think the craziest thing that happened in March is that Julia said she wanted to try out for cheer.  Maybe I need to write about this whole thing ---- so this started a series of tumbling/cheer lessons added to 4 days a week at the ballet studio plus REHEARSAL SEASON-- getting ready for Alice in Wonderland and Ballet Americana.  I don’t care to repeat this ever.  Not at the same time.  And guess what people?! She made it!!  She started 10 years too late, but she made it!  She found a used uniform at the first official meeting and couldn’t have been happier in it.  She looks adorable in it.  A WHOLE NEW WORLD FOR THIS MOMMA.
Flowers-- the kindness of my husband all of these years.  I don’t deserve any of it-- it’s all grace.  His choice to love me-- with all my irritating things-- is his greatest gift to me.
Tarrant NET has made my life so much richer.  I’ve gotten to experience things I never would have before.  I love the churches of Fort Worth and this one pictured blew me away with their genuine hospitality.  I was BLESSED to worship and pray with these people. 
Friends-- His grace abounds to me and my family.  Relationships are what makes this life worth living and I love these people with all my heart.  Julia’s new friend, Collette-- I’ve got no words to express what she has meant to this momma this spring.  I see good things in our future because of her.    
Icky, dirty socks on the KITCHEN counter-- like where we eat and serve food and stuff.  Just keeping it very real here.
The Master’s Program kicked off this spring-- more on that later but Jeff rocks it every time.  Any man would be crazy not to want to be a part of this group and learn from what Jeff is learning himself.  Time and money WELL SPENT.  Fo sho.

Canwick-- maybe more on that later.  We are grateful Libby Manning nominated Julia.  We aren’t exactly sure what we are doing but it seems fun.  
Turner Classic Movies Film Festival-- Denise and Margaret invited me-- HOW COULD I SAY NO?!??!?!!!  It was the perfect weekend to be out of pocket and I just had the best time.  I had no idea about anything so I was wowed the whole weekend.  I could have gone to a cabin the middle of nowhere with these two and been happy as a clam but the city-- even with the weirdos, the theaters, the movies, and laughing with these two-- it was AWESOME.  Thank you so very much.
High school brings invitations and outings that we know little about the people hosting and attending so you have to make a decision and go with it.  This was a quinceanera-- once I knew this group was going and that we needed to give a ride to two of my favorite young men in her class, I was good.
Easter- I love how the kids still do this with the baskets.  We continue the Easter garden and the lighting of it and the tomb closing on Good Friday. It is always a favorite holiday with this crowd. I am so grateful for a place to celebrate His grace-- and with these special people.  I love this day and these people.  So much.  
Revive Texas started Easter night-- it truly needs a post of its own.  Nicho-- new brother in Christ.  The greatest privilege, I tell you.  The greatest.

Trying to figure out what to wear to Canwick?!?  Just mark it down-- I should have gone out and let her buy something new.  I had no idea it would be the latest spring fashions on display before the weather was ready!!  Momma got it wrong this time.
SKIN FICTION!!  Automatic filters.  Nice. 
More wonderful fiction.
B celebrating her making cheer.  Loved these pictures.
Trying on the uniform. : )

I just wish I had taken a picture of the bathroom counter.  Thousands of dollars of product and primping tools.  
These two-- first picture was in car seats when Julia was 2 days old.  They don’t have a choice but to be friends.  Two introverts {SOCIAL introverts} so there isn’t a chance for much else except a great friendship and that’s what I am counting on.  {Hud- HOW can you watch over her from SCS?!?!?}

Oh, y’all May-- almost done.  Lives are full, right? Sometimes the things that make us think are going to burst from the crazy are the biggest blessings.  Revive TX continued, cheer practice, ballet class AND rehearsals, piano, school work, company-- and helping Kelly celebrate the teachers at ML Phillips elementary.  Company was my favorite this spring-- my parents coming being the highlight.  They saw Julia’s ballet AND were here for Mother’s Day-- a privilege to have my mom here for sure.  We had a good time-- pedicures, massages, and a yummy lunch at Grace.
My favorite Sunday of the year at Watermark-- Baptism Sunday.  
Piano recital-- bittersweet. More on that later.
Jeff had the privilege of marrying Zachary and Skye. Zach grew up down the street from us and attended our house church.  We remember the day Ceil and Mike brought him home as we all awaited his return from Mexico as an adoption addition to their family.  We have a lot of history with this sweet family and were honored to be asked to be a part of this special day.

I just have to post it.  It’s so typical of me.  I am doing this right before this next picture.  

And that’s a wrap.  That took forever.  Kids-- I hope you appreciate this toil and sweat one day!!  I love making memories with the three of you.  We don’t take pictures of the bad days-- the ones where we argue and say things we regret.  But we have them, right?  All of it is part of what makes this life we are learning to live together.  God’s grace is sufficient for ALL of our sin, right?  Praise be to Him.  Let’s keep doing this thing TOGETHER.