Friday, November 6, 2020

Covid is Weird and so is Posting after 2 Years

 What kind of pseudo writer would I be if I didn’t eventually creep on here sometime in 2020.  It’s certainly been awhile.  I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to find my blog… let alone, navigate posting something.  I’ve thought many times of writing—not to share anything helpful or mind blowing—but about things or observations I didn’t want to forget.  It’s been one, hasn’t it?

We all have our different takes on the last 8 or so months… and varied experiences because of unique life stages.  However, it was the sameness of the world’s experience of what we now refer to so easily as “Covid” that brought us comfort and somewhat a feeling of being unified—almost across the world.  Clearly, that was a very fragile façade or possibly a worldwide web deception of the largest kind—and very, VERY short lived.  But that’s too sad to dwell on here--- and really just too worn out to want to make any more comments on it.  Moving on. 

So where were you when Covid “hit”?  Where were you when you heard the NBA was cancelling the rest of the season?  This is when the Sanders knew things were serious.  We were sequestered away in the Rocky Mountains via the generosity of a good friend.  Determined to finish a puzzle, Jeff and I had our heads down as Brighton rushed into the room with the news of the NBA.  We turned the news on and I feel like we haven’t turned it off since.  

Pre-Covid Smiles

It’s a little humorous to remember our thoughts in March….. another week of Spring break—translated, “Another week with kids at home all day?", surely we will be back in church by Easter, the trip I have planned in June is safe, you won’t catch me wearing a mask {as I sit here nearly 8 months later on an airplane wearing one!!}  Oh, how naïve our pre-Covid selves were….

The feeling I won’t forget is being at the beginning of something no one on the planet had ever navigated or experienced.  There may have been a handful of people still with us with incredible genes who were infants during the Spanish flu, but no one with any wisdom to share or lessons from failures with which to enlighten us.  This feeling was weird.  Add to that being a parent in it with no experience of anyone from which to draw—which actually with the dawn of the smartphone in the last decade, this wasn’t such a new feeling to me but it did just add to the perpetual floating question in my mind, “How in the world do I handle this??”.  Our kids also needed questions answered and decisions made regarding their own plans.

Enter the new-to-me terms “social distancing” and “shelter in place order”.  Wow.  Who ever thought these would become household words?  I knew that this wasn’t going to be over anytime soon when I saw the first commercial that incorporated these terms with mask donning people.  However, shelter in place may have been the silver lining for me.  With teenage kids, I found myself missing them in their pre-Covid day to day lives.  With one announcement from the White House, we were all cocooned again in our home—all day and all night.  Maybe a former homeschool mom’s dream come true?  I can assure you, it wasn’t a former homeschool kid’s dream come true.  HOWEVER- we made up for all the dinners around the table we had been missing.  We made sure we had coffee.  We had porch visits with friends.  We made some progress in the One Year Bible.  We laughed at memes.  {People are just downright funny. So thankful God made humor.}  We ate Easter lunch on the porch.  We helped pull off a wedding.  We established Take Out Tuesday.  We people watched as people walked--- and haven’t seen them since.  We watched Some Good News.  We went to the lake—a lot- coming to an end in one epic trip.  Julia got her sewing machine out of the attic.  Brighton most likely improved his Xbox skills—NOT my dream come true, but happy to give him some margin there.  {“Happy” might be generous there.}  I organized pictures and read lots of books.  Jeff led us, kept us stocked with food, checked on people and watched Fox news. And we ALL became Tucker Carlson fans.  All of that—I will miss.  

And we also had a 2020 Senior--- who bore all of the bad news with grace and dignity.  Exaggeration?  This mom doesn’t think so.  She had a couple of moments… but they were tears, not rants.  Her first tears were when she found out Camp Barnabas was cancelled.  She was ready to spend two weeks there doing one of the hardest jobs I think there is—she was sad for herself, but she was equally as sad for the kids who feel normal for a week and for their parents who desperately need a break.  Those were things she voiced to me.  I think the second round of real tears came watching virtual graduation.  {She eventually had a live one—masked and socially distanced.} Everything right up to the very present moment has been different for her than any other senior/college freshman experience.  

Goodness, it would have been easy for Julia—for any of us-  to sink in the last several months of this history—easy to complain, to fear, to rant, to give up, to wrangle for control.   But here’s the awesome part-- when literally EVERYTHING around us did change, God did not, so in the Scriptures I sought out this comfort.  And guess what?  Psalm 46:10 read the same as it did March, 10th 2020.  So did Philippians 4:6-7 and so did Isaiah 33:6.   The promises were still there.  They had not been given new meanings.  They had not been distanced from me or hidden in some way.  They were certainly not posing some unseen threat to me—but offering peace, life, care, security—ALL of it.  Our circumstances were offering NONE of it but God was offering ALL of it---- just as He always has.  Pre and Post Everything.  His Word delivers all that the world does not and cannot. 

Every. Single. Day.

Today on Thursday, November 5th, I walked into Love Field to hop on a plane to go see my Georgia family and in the midst of faces mostly hidden and new signage all about, I was struck by something very normal.   Christmas decorations.  Traditional dark green garland and bows made of true red ribbon—the fake velvet kind, wired to hold its shape.  And it made me happy.  Even though I am firmly in the camp of “Let’s not hide Thanksgiving behind the Christmas tree”, the décor made me smile this morning, under my mask.  It felt right—maybe that’s too generous a word also—it felt normal.  Covid can’t stop the celebration of the event that divided all of history in half.    God knew exactly what this half of history would hold and that we would need Jesus.  And in keeping with His good character, He sent His Son.  And there is NOT a word generous enough to describe that.  

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. Luke 2:6-7a

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Galatians 4:4-5

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins….. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  1 John 4:9-10, 14

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Taken for Granted. {Mom, it's a good thing.}

I’ve only been a mom for sixteen years.  I lived with my parents longer than Julia has called me “Mom”.  I don’t know much, do I?  My mom had been a momma for 49 years before we lost her.  I really don’t know anything at all.  I needed a little perspective this Mother’s Day morning before I attempted to write anything on the beautiful, conflicting, wondrous, all-encompassing, heart-bursting and heart-breaking subject of motherhood.

My momma was here with us in Texas last Mother’s Day.  It was a great weekend— eating out, playing cards, ballet recital, chocolate covered strawberries from Blake, reservations at Grace and pictures we took that I will treasure forever.  I got to have her here many Mother’s Days because Julia’s ballet recital always fell on this weekend.  I think it was for the ballet and the fact there are better places to eat out on Mother’s Day here than in Soperton.  {KIDDING}. We just had no idea that we were in our last couple of months of having her here.  No idea.

A month or two after she was gone, I took a two night retreat to get some thoughts down, to grieve freely if I didn’t feel I had been able to— and I cannot tell you how grateful I am that I retreated.  A book I read was loaded with questions to process, to answer.  And that, I can do and that, I did.  I typed and typed and typed.  I haven’t WANTED to go back and read any of it yet— too heavy… too something but I am glad it’s all there.  This morning I did go back and scan to find this one.

This question that I didn’t think I could answer when I read it the first time actually came pretty easily as I began to type. “Who was I with my mom that I couldn't be with anyone else?”

Simple answer but a very special one.  I was her daughter.  I'll never be that to another person.  It's a unique relationship — unique in every way.  I was her ONLY daughter.  I wonder what it would have been like to have a sister— to share the role of being a daughter.  But I didn't share the role.  I was the only one.  And that's significant.  Daughters enjoy special freedoms— and privileges— with their moms.  I said things to my mom that I wouldn't say to anyone else— called her at times you wouldn't call anyone else.  Moms are taken for granted — sometimes in a disrespectful way but sometimes in a familiar, familial way……which is beautiful and special—there's the freedom and the privilege. To take advantage of someone because you are so secure and sure of their love for you.  That's a momma.  Mom wasn't a perfect mom but she was a good one.  She singled me out many times— giving me "extra" things no one knew about.  She didn't come out and say it but I knew it was because….. I was her daughter— and of course that made me special.  Again— it's a unique relationship that you don't enjoy with anyone else.  

My answer is not profound in any way but the statement that stands out to me is “Moms are taken for granted”.  Sure, this holds mostly a negative connotation but if you are a momma, you can pull the positivity out of this and see it for the treasure it is.  In good relationships, there is such a foundational undercurrent of love and commitment under and around your daughter or son, they would never, ever doubt your love or your availability or your willingness to be interrupted or your constant prayers or your willingness to do anything necessary for their best. Hopefully, to them, it’s just WHO WE ARE…absolutely taken for granted because we are their mom and they are so sure of our fierce love for them.  We want them to LIVE out of that security that’s rooted so deeply in God’s love for them and us.

For sure, I took my mom for granted.  However, it’s a little bittersweet on this side of things.  I am beyond thankful for the love I know my mom had for me. I never thought twice about calling, texting, asking, needing, even wanting…..  until she was gone.  The finality of it all still sucker punches my heart from time to time.  How I hope she knew my “taking her for granted” was one of the highest compliments she could ever be paid.  I knew.  I KNEW.  I enjoyed a wonderful thing.

For 47 years, I was her daughter and she was my momma.  Deeply grateful this morning.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

{Goodbye to} Driving Miss Julia

I much prefer the infant carrier.  Turned around backwards.  With the plastic keys dangling—you know, the ones that played “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round”. Those were just fine with me even if I did sing that dumb song in my sleep. Real live working keys in her hand?  Not so much.  I mean, just flipping her around front ways was revolutionary.  I could finally make eye contact with her sweet face in the rear view mirror and I remember thinking, “I am the one who gets to see that cutie every day.”  Besotted I was…{and am}. 

{Poor quality here has everything to do with momma trying to make sure she didn't get run over!}

Then, there were the boosters that allowed a little more freedom and a few more toddler perks with their little pockets and cupholders.  These were fun days and inspired many of my “From the Backseat” posts.  We discussed almost anything that caught her fancy as we drove by or random-ness that passed through her mind.  I could be driving along thinking about ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, relishing in the quiet, buckled-in moment and then she’d ask about the origin of her chromosomes or the theology behind the lingering “old in my heart” or the preference for God’s Word over Dove’s chocolate promises.  Good stuff, people.  This was what you got when there wasn’t any “glow face” back there.  Thoughts and questions ran rampant, flowed freely… and thus really great conversations whether you wanted them or not.  Ha!  Those were the days. 

Then, one day she was riding shotgun.

I learned every angle of her lovely profile.  And posture.  Mommas can read a lot by just those two things— face and form— and then we know how to ease into the conversation.  Or not.  Car time is golden time.  Money in the bank?  Maybe.  A few years it was both of them—J in the front,  B in the back—but the last couple of years with different school start times and ending times, I have had her all to myself, just about every day.  I had come to count on those times with her because we rarely had that kind of privacy.  I knew she would feel more freedom to speak her heart and mind and I knew I had a captive audience. I saved many harder parenting things I might need to say for these times.  I would wait until that short car ride with just her.  Again, privacy AND there was a clear cut- off time where she knew this tough conversation wouldn’t go on forever.  It only dawned on me about six months ago that this time was coming to an end…like I haven’t known that for 16 years… so tell me, why did I forget?  Why did I think that Driving Miss Julia around town would go on forever?  That I would always have this time with her— snippets as they may be?  It’s a bummer.

In our no flaws, brilliant parenting style {please hear the eye roll}, Jeff had told her that he would match whatever she saved for a car.  I agreed with him but wondered how this would go.  She’s a homebody.  {And I say that with great affection}. When you are 15, it’s hard to make much money and never leave the house.  If she could make money reading books, trying on outfits, journaling, practicing with make-up and cheers or scrolling Instagram, she’d be driving a Tesla right now.  {And I say all of that with great affection too.  She’s not shallow.  She’s a teenager.} The closer we got to the sweet sixteen, I was feeling pretty secure in my chauffeur hat thus my time left for more conversations with her to and from.  When she got her drivers license, her bank account was sorely lacking.  She could have bought a middle of the road bicycle.  And a good helmet. Insert thumbs up emoji here.  I was like, DRIVE ON, MOMMA. 

Enter a very Ephesians 3:20 moment.  On Easter Sunday.  And in case you haven’t read it in a while, here it is:  “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”  Did any of us ever ASK God for a car for Julia?  Did we even IMAGINE that she could get one a different way than having her daddy match what she earned?  We didn’t ask it, think it or even imagine it -not even on a really good day.  But God did.  So, therefore, Kelly Nix did.  Julia’s new keys DON’T play a song.  They ignite the ignition of a very cute car.  It’s as old as she is but it’s a very cute car.  And yes, I had to overcome any fear I had about a convertible.  I have no idea why God entrusted a convertible to her.  However, He does not owe me an explanation.

Y’all.  Kelly gave her a CAR. 

{I can't believe we don't have a picture with Kelly but I will update later with one.}

{Her friend, Collette, helping her clean it all up.}

Sure, she and her daddy have worked out all the details— what she’s responsible for and what she’s not.  It will be interesting what her need for cash will drive her to do….  Work, perhaps?  I know Julia.  She will figure it out and make it just fine. 

This driving thing is certainly liberating for me but at the very same time terrifying.  It is just one more opportunity to release any pseudo-control I thought I once may have had over my child— also known as another opportunity to “Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding.”  I am becoming convinced that our lives are made up of a bunch of those opportunities… one after another. 

So {Goodbye to} Driving Miss Julia.  I will miss our time together.  I’ll miss those set times in the car but trust we will figure out how to get all those Very Important Conversations in another way.  In the meantime, I'll be stalking you on this phone -- this thing I love to hate and hate to love.  I consider it my BFF when you drive away from our home with your REAL keys in your REAL car. Just you make sure those wheels don't go 'round and 'round too fast. 

Because then you will be back to riding shot gun with me again! 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Interruptions are not Efficient {A Sad Confession}

Well, Happy Spring.  Every season is my favorite when it starts…..  Texas is a little tricky though.  The starts are short— or long— depending on which one it is.  Spring is probably the most bi-polar if we can attach that label to a season.  It plays hide and seek starting somewhere in late January then summer interrupts the game and lasts until, oh, about Thanksgiving.  Today it will be around 80 and tomorrow the high is 45.  Hide and seek.

I taught my last lesson of Bible study last night for the year and there is a relief and a sadness that always comes.  Relief that the work of studying is over and a sadness that the work of studying is over.  I have college  to thank for revealing the study geek in me.  I had to study in high school to get the grades but by college and certainly by pharmacy school, I discovered I really enjoyed it.  Going into full geek mode at the Science Library at UGA was my happy place.  People knew where to find me and when I didn’t want to be found, I would hide.  Sometimes it worked and typically the tenacious seekers were a welcome break— especially the ones who brought me cheese on wheat crackers from the vending machine downstairs.  I got a certain energy from learning in college as I do now but honestly, it helps to have something to push me— something to work towards. I won’t have the deadlines of teaching to push me these next few months.

Studying to teach is a reflection of one kind but I miss reflecting on other areas in my life— which I tend to shoo away when I have a deadline coming up, a mind consuming list in front of me or I just don’t care to reflect on the thick atmosphere we sometimes have here in our home with teenagers trying to figure out life and parents trying to figure out teenagers. Deadlines and to do lists seem to rob my body of any possible light-heartedness.  My family loves this about me as you can well imagine.  I wrestle with it almost every day and most of the time, unfortunately, some poor soul that lives here has to point it out to me before I realize I am plowing ahead with my head down getting it done, daring anyone to interrupt me because what I am doing is paramount.  And poor, POOR soul if they choose to reveal this about me when I am hungry, behind or in my own little world- and their presence startles me.  I know you can relate, so I won’t belabor this.  But no matter my task, 100% of the time the person is right. Thumbs down—because I like to be the one that’s right 100% of the time.  Life just goes better for me that way.  But alas….. not going to happen… so.  I RARELY welcome an interruption.  I find it interesting how in all my 2018 pride, I think life is so much more complicated and hectic and distracting than any generation before me and then I come across this heart poking paragraph written close to 150 years ago!

“I think I find most help in trying to look on all the interruptions and hindrances to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to help one against getting selfish over one’s work.  Then one can feel that perhaps one’s work— ones’ work for God- consists in doing some trifling haphazard thing that has been thrown into one’s day.  It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted to think, it is the most important part of the work of the day— the part one can best offer to God.  After such a hindrance, do not rush after the planned work; trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime , and keep a quiet heart about it.”

Thus, Elisabeth Elliot’s classic book Keep a Quiet Heart was penned.  And even she is quoting Annie Keary who lived from 1825-1879.  Seriously?  Yes.  Seriously.  And I bet Annie could outwork all of us put together.…  with a gracious smile and hands folded in front of her apron.   I wiki’d her for about 2 minutes and I promise you, she knows all about “interruptions and hindrances”.  More than we can imagine.  I, in 2018, am not all that special…. to think that things have just ramped up for me.  My struggle is a very old struggle.  And reading it here from, like 1850, puts my “struggle” in perspective for me.

I rewrote her statement in my talk— It’s beneficial to look at any interruption and hindrance to my day’s agenda as challenges sent by God to remind me not to hold on to my own agenda too tightly.  Then if something seemingly insignificant pops up in my day, I can consider it exactly what the Lord had planned for me that moment, the most important thing to which I could give myself.  Trust God to give me the time to finish any work that needs to be done.

To see a “trifling haphazard thing” as the “most important part of the work day— the part one can best offer to God” does NOT come naturally for me.  And that’s an understatement.  I barely have a category for that kind of thinking but I DO HAVE ONE, it just usually stays empty. Until the “poor soul” points it out.  I am truly trying to have that mindset. To see my agenda as optional and to look out for more important things that do pop up in my day and to choose “no” to my “work [I] have planned out”.  AND KEEP A QUIET HEART ABOUT IT.
Which I read to say— don’t whine about it.  If I give myself to the “interruption” aka “the most important part of the work of the day”, I am not to whine about all I didn’t accomplish on my mighty list.

It’s so embarrassing but this is what I do…. I feel interrupted and aggravated then if I do give in then I am frustrated at my lack of productivity   WHY DO I DO THIS? How long have I known this?  Too long but as they say, not long enough, apparently.

A good friend gave me the book by Alan Fadling,  The Idol of Efficiency  She has to be a good friend to know I needed to read this book and I am grateful to my core she had the courage to give it to me. Here are some of my take aways after reading the book:

In what ways does my hurry {my efficiency} harm others instead of helping them?

I surely don’t want to be known as unlovingly efficient— getting much done but with no love.

Relationships are messy but not very efficient.

I don’t want to be efficient in managing tasks but unloving in the process.

What if I had to lower my personal standards of productivity in order to be more loving and more available?

Be willing to become a less job efficient and a more open to interruptions {new opportunities to love}.

Ouch, ouch and ouch.  Does anyone feel it like I do?  These are just great reminders and I do refer to them often—praying all the while the Spirit who is alive and work within me will remind me of simple Truths that, if I choose to obey, will keep my paths straight. No, I don’t always understand His ways— His interruptions or hindrances- to what I think is best, but that is where He calls me to trust in Him with all my heart.  My understanding is limited and flawed. {Proverbs 3:4-6} An openness and lighthearted attitude regarding my tasks would be a welcome gift to my family.
Lord, truly. help me.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Things

{A few January things I don't want to forget...}

The only picture I took when we got away to pray after the New Year.  Jeff is faithful to get us out of town if for just 24 hours to refocus and put our weaknesses, needs and gratitude before the Father.  And don't think I didn't make this night of sleep on a futon a matter of prayer.  I was amazed they made it through the night.  Sharing a bed has been a potential vacation ruin-er for us.

Well, they tried REALLY hard.  It was fun to make it to the National Championship even if we lost it.  The interview of the Alabama quarterback made the loss a LITTLE easier but the Thompson guy needed a old fashioned spanking and a firm sit down.  Goodness.  Thanks to my friends who came over to WATCH football and witness my pacing.  You were the perfect distraction.  My favorite moment was when ALL the kids came running down the stairs near the end when we thought the tide had turned.

Julia landed on her head at cheer practice one night and was diagnosed with a concussion.  Crazy-- all that.  So....... after sitting out of practice and then being cleared by her doctor, she had to do 3 days of "return to play" drills at school.  The last day was run 3 miles and 400 yards of wind sprints.  We did it together because like Julia told me YEARS ago-- almost anything is fun when you do it together.

We took the kids ice skating to stretch our break-- or get out of the house.  Which one?  Grateful for friends who are up for almost anything and we missed the gals who couldn't make it happen!

Julia's first cheer competition and so glad we had the Wilson girls for support.  Hmm... wondering if Basden will try out or not....

The days are flying by.  Grateful for the days or nights we are all at home together.  Time won't slow down.  No matter what I say. And I haven't even told you she turned 16 this month....

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Rambling.... into 2108

I just ordered my 2015-2016 blog book. 2015….so long ago….  There were technical and preferential issues as to why it’s so late but I won’t go into all that.  But my ninth 7x7 hardback book is on its way and that makes me happy.  Scanning posts and pictures as I was arranging them on the pages just caused me to remember how much I love having a small record of what is going on….because we forget SO much.  And even now, as I sit to write many months and moments have transpired I don’t even know where to start. {I realize I say this EVERY time!}  So today, right now seems a logical place to begin….

My house is quiet and there is a fire beside me.  I am sitting in one of my Grandmother’s chairs I’ve had recovered a couple of times.… after my mom did and after my Grandmother did.  It’s my winter spot.  The kids just went back to school this week— on Tuesday — and I wound up working that day so Wednesday after a morning meeting, I came home to a quiet house and this note by the fireplace:

Jeff knew I had been struggling.  Oh, I told him but I didn’t NEED to tell him.  He could see it all over my being.  My social introverted self was about to implode.  My social meter had gone “boing” and was dangling inside the glass.  There is NOT ONE THING to complain about.  Our Christmas was absolutely wonderful— full of family, traditions, our road trip, yummy food, friends— and some really great and not so great Georgia football.  The hard part is finding recharge time— down time— a bit of solitude— breathing room— just a little bit of space.  And sometimes you don’t realize how bad off you are until you are in the middle of a stupid argument with your 14 year old.  You think, “What is wrong with me?  I just picked this fight and I don’t even care about the outcome!”  I KNOW my family is tired of me when I get to that point because I AM TIRED OF ME too.  And here is where I get to practice walking in the Spirit when my flesh is screaming for me to just please itself.  Sometimes the practice goes well and sometimes I give in to me.  So today, it’s quiet. And I get to work on my Bible study.  I get to go through the stack by my computer.  I get to read by this fire.  I get to type some thoughts down.  And I am so thankful.  I just texted Jeff and told him I was feeling better by the hour.  ; )
Side note:  It's kindnesses like these that I need to offer more.  Kindness goes such a long way.... heals hurts, breaks down tension, fuels further kindnesses, grows love into something with depth and character.  I am grateful for a thoughtful husband.

At some point, like when the kids won’t care,  I want to document this parenting journey— the tweener years into the teenage years— because it has been so surprising to me.  Stuff happens faster than you can blink and some things you don’t ever think to prepare them for because you would have never thought it might be an issue and if you did, you didn’t think it was time yet.  I feel like I was blindsided in the tweener years and was NOT prepared for their doing exactly what I had prepared for them NOT to do.  Ha!  That should make any parent with kids over 10 laugh!  But here we are in this house—at 14 and 16 {next week}— and every day is different.  The schedule is different, the emotions are different, the moods are different, the needs are different.  I guess the same can be said of any age of kids, but I think with teenagers, it’s all just BIGGER.  They are premature adults trying to figure things out as everything seems to be changing — not to mention what we’ve learned with all the new brain research.  {It’s a wonder any of us made it out of the teenage years!  The “teenage brain really IS a thing!}

My favorite times with them is when a real conversation starts— criteria for “real”— something that matters and the child you know you are raising is doing the talking— not some persona they are hoping to keep up so kids think they are cool until they realize how foolish it is to have this “other persona” and give it up— which calls for celebrations of the largest kind.  I love those moments and they happen mostly around the dinner table or when I have one of them by themselves.  Sidenote— like this whole post isn’t— The power of the “dinner table” is undoubtedly underrated.  It’s so true that good things happen around the table— not EVERY night {and who has a schedule that can make that happen?} but even if you get “magic” one out of ten, then the mashing of potatoes was worth it.  Cook the dinner.  Set the table.  Sit down.  Without phones.  “Make it happen” is what I tell myself around 4.  The effort will pay off.

I am so rambling….then there are the irrelevant conversations you have over text with your teenage girl who decides at school the day BEFORE the cheer competition that she is pale and needs a spray tan.  These words have never been uttered by her before.  She was booked until 8:30 or 9 that night and she leaves for school at 7:00 am the next morning and leaves from school at lunch for the competition.  When I read the text, I was like, well, this will be easy.  I don’t have to say yes or no, I can just ask her “When?”and she will answer the question herself.  But of course, there is a girl on the squad that OWNS a tan sprayer and they are going over there AFTER their pre-competition dinner that night.  It’s not important how all that ended but it’s conversation you engage and then hopefully she trusts you the next day with saying something like, “I don’t feel pretty” when she really doesn’t feel pretty and you get to share words of life, hope and Truth.  Over text.  Of course.  I’ll take the words any way I can get them.

Then there’s B who is an idea a minute with his words.  Nothing like Brighton Sanders has made me want a driver more— or maybe a planner who can keep track of it all and do all the texting back and forth with other moms to make it happen!   He wants to be going and doing and seeing at every tick of the clock.  He’s always got a plan, making a plan, working a plan—- or thinking up the next plan before the present one is carried to completion.  He could employ his own driver.  I am amazed by how much time we could spend driving him around— AND it begins to make you LONG for a driver when you are really terror-stricken to let them drive.  I don’t think I’ll ever do this but it makes you understand why sometimes parents use Uber for their kids.  Kind of.  However, I won’t forget ONE of the Saturdays he was ‘chained’ to the house—- not really but to hear him talk about it…. BALL and CHAIN…. Around 4 o’clock, he leaned over the couch where I was reading and said, “You know, Mom, it really hasn’t been all that bad being here today.”  Well. I may or may not have rolled my eyes before I turned and said, “Home is not such a bad place to be. I’m glad you were home today.”  And I really was.

And that’s where I find myself this morning in a much needed quiet place— recharging for the people I love the most.  They truly do get the worst of me when I honestly want them to get the best of me.  I know my weakness but I also know His strength and I trust that always, always, always, His grace is sufficient for me. {2 Corinthians 12:9} Especially on the days I am the worst version of myself.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Letter 2017

As I was addressing cards just now, I thought of you as I wrote your name and little things I wish I could say just to you— but it was only your envelope and I think writing on the outside of an envelope is considered tacky… by someone… or at least a “no-no” by the post office.  So…. since I will most likely NOT get that personal little thought written on your card, I’ll say something personal right now.  What is this life without relationships?  You people to whom we send these cards — family, friends- past and present— you have added and are adding ABUNDANCE to our lives.  When Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have LIFE, and have it abundantly”, well, YOU are the abundance for us.  More than ever, especially since we lost my sweet momma this summer, I am convinced that the abundance of life He meant for us is FILLED with people to love and people to love us.  I’ll take this opportunity to THANK YOU one more time for all the kindness shown and care given to our family over these months.  I think I can speak for my whole family— we are overwhelmed by you.  You are making this journey of grief tolerable, and even sweet, as you love on all of us and remember with us what a delight my momma was to so many.  Thank you.  Two words have never fallen so short.
This year, we became official parents of TWO teenagers. Crazy.  Julia dropped piano, added cheer {?!?!?!!?- I’ll leave it at at that} and sadly can’t make ballet work even though she still wants to continue.  She filled her summer with some really great things,  got her learner's license {another ?!?!?!?!?}, made some new friends and decided she wanted to work hard in school.  Brighton kept piano, decided to try out for quarterback {got second string}, became a teenager, started a pressure washing business, chose some really great friends and grew a mop of hair.  Some of these things matter. Some of them don't but I love that my kids are seeing things and deciding to go for it—whether it be activities, certain friends, mission trips, a position on the team, grades etc.  So I fight to hear what they are saying through all of these choices.  I fight to engage them in the busyness of back and forth and to and from.  I want to hear their thoughts that lead them to these places.  I fight to create the space that's "large" enough so they feel there's room to hear them in the fullness of a day.  Car time, kitchen time, table time, after bed-time, texting time, retreat time, homework time, couch time— I’ll take it wherever I can get it!
Jeff has made the transition to Christ Together as Associate Director.  Christ Together is doing on a national level what Jeff has been doing here in Fort Worth for the last 17 years— to be a catalyst to unify the evangelical churches in our city in order to give every man, woman and child multiple opportunities to see, hear and respond to the gospel.  He will continue to provide leadership and support locally as we both love this city and the churches that serve it.  

Me?  I write Christmas letters and drive kids around.  

Merry, merry Christmas to you.  We are grateful for each one of you.  I pray you fight to create a space large enough this Christmas to ponder the wonder of this Story we celebrate.  To elaborate on the hymn, O Holy Night, when He made His first appearance as a human, beginning another chapter in the Great Rescue, His desire was for our souls to FEEL their worth, to KNOW how much He loves us and how “WITH us” He wants to be.  He came.  He’s here.  He’s with us.