Friday, July 1, 2016

Why Saying Yes Matters

Sometimes as a parent you feel like your main job is to say, "No."  Seriously, some of the things my kids ask me make me a little bit scared for the future.  And even worse are the things they DON'T ask  ("Hey--lets tie a couple of boogie boards together and slide down a hill of ice and take out a few dogs and ram into the brick house on the way down--it'll be so fun!)

Moving to Aubrey has been a rough transition for Caroline.  She had a great group of friends at our old house and we didn't even think to worry about her when we moved. She's one of those kids that you just want as your friend because she's loyal and loves well.  Aubrey is a small town where many of the people have roots that go back generations here.  They don't mean to exclude, but part of the small town feel is that people stick together and don't always go out of their way to include newbies. 

Add the fact that she was diagnosed as dyslexic her first year here and you have a perfect storm. 

I've worried and manipulated and prayed about what to do.  I still feel at the end of most days, that I am failing her because I can't fix it.  (I know, I know--that's not my job, but I'm good at fixing things so I turn her stuff into my own identity crisis.  Narcissists are good that way.)

Caroline is our animal whisperer.  She can get chickens to fall asleep in her arms and turtles to calm down.  And she knows how to use the internet.  So she is always bringing us screenshots of animals that she wants.  Always.  Every. Single. Day. 

About a week ago, Brian approached me and somehow made me agree that a puppy for her was the best thing to teach her responsibility and give her something of her own.  So she upped her search and had him calling on several little "puffball" kinds of puppies--little bitties that won't grow bigger than your two hands and can fit in a bag.

Then, I'm on my way home from getting a haircut and I get a call from Hope.  "Mom, you gotta get home quick.  First of all, Dad got a call back about a dog and we are going to get it when you get here.  Secondly, dad put salt in the bb gun and is shooting flies." 

I don't make this stuff up.

After telling her to let him know he was cleaning up any mess he made (to which he shouted in the background "Make me!" I asked Hope which dog.  Somehow, Caroline fell in love with a Brittany spaniel and THAT was the dog we were going to get.

Ummm...what happened to the puffball?  Brian insists he had nothing to do with the change of heart, but I still think he secretly showed her a few and whispered things to her when she was sleeping. 

So, I found myself in the back yard of a lady in Gainesville, holding a sweet little puppy.  And laughing at her on the way home as she chewed Caroline's hair.  And feeling that exhaustion that comes from being woken up all night by cries and barking. And sighing at how sweet she looked when she finally fell asleep.

We will probably have many regrets.  I KNOW she will be work.  I also know that helping Caroline "parent" her will not be a piece of cake.  But it's one more step to raising daughters who can enter the world and know how to take care of themselves. 

And I *might* have already used it to tell her how having a baby is even harder--just to throw the abstinence reminder out there. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

#Askingforafriend

These situations may or may not have happened to me...

Have you ever talked to your daughter on the phone and she insisted you hurry and get home because your husband had put salt in the bb gun and was shooting flies?  Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever asked your husband to give your chicken a haircut? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever made your daughter listen to a song from the first concert you went to and then realized as you're singing at the top of your lungs how totally inappropriate it was for a 12-year-old? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever stooped to paying your older child to help her sister with her homework?

Have you ever burned a bag of popcorn and 2 hours later still smell it on your hands? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever gotten a call from your teenager at 9pm, asking if you would come pick up her and her 4 friends from a camp out because it's raining and lightning and oh--can they all just spend the night at your house that isn't clean and smells like a wet dog?

Have you ever had your daughter bring a chicken into the house who keeps falling asleep in her arms? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever run off to the lake with your hubby on a weeknight, leaving a sick kid and her sister at home??

Have you ever waited Til your bladder was more than full and on your way to the restroom gotten behind the guy who stops to pick out a toothpick (blocking your way around him) and then proceeds to walk in the middle of the hallway, slowly picking his teeth the whole way? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever laughed at someone who said his arms were sore from taking pictures and 6 hrs later--after doing the same thing-- regretted it? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever been scrolling FB and realized you almost missed opening day for the Snowcone Lady so you told your girls to jump in the car and you raced to Frisco? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever been sitting in your backyard, minding your own business reading, and looked down to find a chicken staring up at you? Yeah, me neither

Have your kids ever popped balloons with a blow dart? Yeah, mine neither

Have you ever gotten everything you needed ready for work--even packed up blankets, sweatshirts, coats for a track meet after work and patted yourself on the back for being on top of everything...then you realize you left your purse at home...an hour away...with all your money, work keys, etc in it..and you are headed into a lunch? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever found yourself in the car heading to the mall with 3 teenagers who are going to help you pick out an outfit? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever been afraid of being mauled by a flock of chickens because you fed the dogs before you gave them scratch? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever gotten home from church and realized your fitbit battery died at some point during the morning and the one day that you actually get your steps in so you that you don't feel as much like a loser didn't even get counted??? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever been sitting in traffic on 380 and accidentally blocked an entrance? Yeah me neither. (In your defense, you probably didn't know not 1, but 2 cars would want to turn into the liquor store at 7am)

Have you ever clicked on a cute video of a dad and daughter singing "Let it Go" before bed and woke up the next day with it playing over and over in your head? And over and over again? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever gone to heat up a bowl of BEEF stew, only to realize, someone ate all of the beef and just left you with the stew? Yeah, me neither.

Which is worse...the smell of dirty dogs in the back seat or corn nuts in the front?

Have you ever bribed your kid with a ChickFilA peppermint choc chip milkshake? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever been sitting with your 97 yr old Granny and she keeps changing the channel to a Spanish show that nobody--including herself--can understand but she doesn't hear you ask her to change it bc it's so loud? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever fed your chickens watermelon and a seed got left behind and decided to grow in your backyard? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever had to stop for gas 4 times in 1 week bc you kept just putting a little bit in to hold you over to the place that has it 10 cents cheaper but you kept forgetting to stop there and your low fuel light came on when you were nowhere near the cheap station? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever eaten a slice of the dessert pizza before you took it to your friend's house for dinner?

Have you ever gotten your kids out the door and let out a deep sigh of relief that it's the last dress-up day for red ribbon week...and then you remember Halloween is tomorrow and your oldest still doesn't have her costume?

Have you ever asked your daughter to move her tutu off the kitchen island and she moves it to the kitchen table? Obviously I haven't.

Have you ever agreed to let your daughter and her friends tie-dye a bunch of stuff, and then hid in your room so you didn't get dragged into the mess? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever borrowed your co-worker's stapler only to find that he doesn't have any stinkin staples in it?

Have you ever sat around watching old episodes of Undercover Boss all afternoon and become such a sappy mess you aren't good for anything the rest of the night? Ummm....yeah, me neither

Have you ever cracked yourself up using the Bitmoji app to send your kids weird texts that freak them out?

Have you ever walked in your daughters bathroom and found her puke bucket...from the night before...with "stuff" still in it?

Remember that time when your hubby didn't like the way you parked so he re-parked after you got out? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever walked into a room that you could see had just been mopped, you could smell had just been mopped, but you still fall on your knees and slide all the way across on your booty? Yeah, me neither.


Have you ever written a blog post entirely copied from facebook #askingforafriend posts? 

Yeah, me neither. 



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Finding your Passions

One of my favorite things about parenting is watching my girls discover a new talent or love. 

Caroline has tried lots of different things.  And she likes them for a year or two, but has not found something that she is just plain passionate about for longer than that; however, she's always enjoyed baking. 

Last summer, I asked the girls to each plan and cook dinner one night a week.  With our crazy schedule, we only did it a few times, but Caroline loved it.  Over the last year, she has looked up recipes on Pinterest and baked several different items, but hasn't really cooked a meal.  Except for grilled cheese.  Let me tell you, she makes UH-mazing grilled cheese sandwiches.  I seriously beg her to make me one every so often. 

Brian and I decided to ask them to each take a night a week to plan, cook and clean up again this summer.  Caroline was excited.  I tried to tell her that it didn't have to be fancy, sandwiches are fine--she just had to coordinate the whole meal.  She scoffed at me.  "I'm not going to make something as easy as sandwiches!" 

So she went to Pinterest and created a shopping list for me as well as menus for us.  She decided to make baked potato casserole and wanted to make cupcake sundaes for dessert.  Ummmmm....how awesome is that?  And let me tell you, it was really good! 

I called her on my way home from work to find out what kind of cupcake mix she wanted.

"Oh, I don't need a mix.  I already made them today.  I did them from scratch.  Dad had to help me with the icing, though."

Seriously?  How did she even know to make them this way?  I'm all about starting with a mix for everything and adding to it.  She is definitely her father's daughter.

Anyway, it's such a fun thing to watch her discover her passions and to encourage her creativity! 

It's such a good reminder that creativity can take all kinds of forms.   Anytime we step out and embrace the gifts we've been given, we are courageous.







Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Royal People Chicks vs The Royal Chicken Chicks

I started my Saturday doing my most favorite thing...cleaning the chicken coop.  NOT!  I mean, I DID clean it, but it is by no means my favorite thing to do.  Even at 8am, sweat and dirt were rolling off of me.  I was not a pretty sight to say the least!

As I was shoveling out the coop and putting in fresh hay (with lavender seeds from our trip to the lavender farm a few weeks ago!!!) I started noticing the similarity of my girls and chickens.  Don't tell them I said this--esp. Hope.  For some reason, I don't think they will think it's a compliment.  But they share a lot of the same things.  Maybe more than they should-ha!

Here's what I was thinking..
As soon as you get the coop in order, they rearrange it to their liking. 
Seriously.  Every time.  I spread the hay evenly.  I put the little Rubbermaid liner under the hay in the nesting boxes so it's softer (this is really self-serving--sometimes the eggs crack when they hit the floor).  Less than an hour later, I went out to see if there were any eggs and 3 of the boxes had the liner pulled up.  Same for the girls with the house.  Except sometimes, they just mess it up by leaving their cups and trash lying around.

They think everything is FOR them.
When I come out of the house and head to their side of the fence, they come running.  They just know I have something for them.  Truth be told, I often do--just like my girls.  I don't like shopping for myself, but I love to pick up things I think they will like (of course, that's a lot harder now that they are older


They ignore the boundaries when possible
Brian just put up a new fence to keep them off part of the yard so we don't step in chicken poop and can one day have a fish fry and not be worried a chicken will steal a guest's food.  We used the bigger cattle panels because they were wayyyy cheaper--which means the holes are big enough for the chickens to get through.  The plan is to put some chicken wire along the bottom, but between the rain, his trip to Guatemala and playing catch-up afterward, he hasn't finished it yet.  So this means many of them just walk through the fence and continue to think the dogs' waterbowl is their drinking source and the whole yard is theirs. 

Have you ever set a boundary for your kids and realized that there were holes and they found them immediately?  Yeah, me neither--ha!

They are amusing and fun to watch.
I can sit outside and watch our chickens for hours.  Or until it gets too hot.  They are funny.  Whether they are tussling over food, taking a dust bath, hunting for grasshopper, positioning themselves to get their favorite roosting spot or just wandering around, they keep me interested.  Same with my girls--have you ever just sat back and watched teenager girls?  It could keep you busy for hours!

So, when you hear me talk about the Royal Chicks, good luck figuring out which ones I'm referring to!




Take the Heart out or Put it Back???

One of my favorite things is my Mary Engelbreit daily calendar.  I love getting a dose of her whimsy and wisdom each day.  My girls know that if I forget to rip off the day before's page--they are not allowed to do it--that's MY job.

Last week, the picture to the left was the page I came to ( you can also see a few of the last sprigs of my lavender before I gave it to the chickens). 

In case you can't read it, it says,

"There are people who take the heart out of you. And there are people who put it back."      ---Elizabeth David 

It struck me in a way that literally, made me stop in my tracks.  I had to sit for a minute.  Sounds silly, I know, but for me, it hit me deeply because I had just experienced the latter one.

A few months ago, I had the privilege to run into one of my heroes.  We were in the midst of 7000 people and she had a TON of responsibilities, but she stopped what she was doing, hugged me and spent the next 20 minutes saying beautiful words about, over and to me. 

This will sound overly dramatic, but those words, and the follow up email conversations, set a ball in motion that is changing the story I'm writing with my life. 

None of us want to be the first type of person, but we often are.  Maybe it's not even anything that we do, but the fact that we rush past people we could have spoken into.

And then there's the fact that because we've had our hearts taken and trampled, we don't let others have the opportunity to speak into us.  We guard our hearts and close ourselves off to people.  Sometimes it's not just out of hurt, but out of ego and pride--we don't think certain people have anything of value to put into us.

God doesn't need us to speak into people, but oh, how much we miss out when we don't! Or, we speak out of our own selfishness and don't seek Him. 


Have you ever had anyone say something to you that made you change your direction?  Have you ever had an opportunity to put the heart back into someone?  Did you take it?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

So what now?

God doesn't always answer my prayers in the way I think He should.  I have prayed for years that He would give me lots of money so I could give it to people/organizations who are doing amazing things to serve others (I might have also prayed for a jeep for myself a few times). 

Anyway...I've just realized recently that He chose instead to give me a voice so I could tell stories of people--mostly kids--who are overlooked or forgotten or just unknown.  And I tell these stories not to lay a guilt trip on you or make you feel bad for the blessings He has given you--I don't see any reason we should sit around and feel bad for what we have--especially if you have a Jeep.  I tell them because as hard as they are to hear, we NEED to know.

A few days ago, I wrote a post about God breaking my heart for the girls at Kids Alive/Oasis in Guatemala.  Most of my posts get a couple of views, but this one has over 500 at this point.  I wrote it from a self-centered point of view and wanted to talk a little bit more about the ministry there and what we can do.

Those of you who know me from my Lovepacs stuff, know I have a heart to be part of the solution and not just talk about the injustice of it all.  But, if you are like me, you might see a big need and feel like the little you can do won't be enough, so you do nothing.  I've done that.  I DO that.  All. The. Time. 

But I don't want to do that anymore.  And I don't think you do, either.

I have bitten my nails forever.  (Yes, this is the same blog post--just stay with me).  I've done artificial nails or most recently, as my real nails grew, the powder dip stuff (which I L-O-V-E!).  Well, I decided to try to go natural and after just a couple of weeks, I have bitten them down to the quick again.  I didn't have time to get them done before Brian got back so I had plans to go on Sunday afternoon after church.  The cost is $35 plus tip. 

And then Brian came home from Guatemala. 

And fell in love with the ministry of Kids Alive.

And told me he wanted to sponsor a couple of girls.

And showed me pictures and told me stories.

My thoughts went immediately to my nails.  They look horrible and I am embarrassed to have them look this way as I start interviewing.  But, if I choose not to get my nails done, we could sponsor 2 girls.  Every month.  Is that really a sacrifice? 

Here are some other things I thought of:
  • If we gave up just 2 Starbucks drinks a week, we could sponsor a child
  • If we chose to eat out one less time a month, we could sponsor a child
  • If I took my lunch on Tuesdays, we could sponsor a child
  • If we gave up a gallon of Bluebell, we could sponsor 1/2 a child.
I don't know about you, but none of those are sacrifices for me (as much as I want to joke about it--even the Bluebell isn't--and yes, I considered the fact that Strawberry hit the shelves this week).

What would you add to that list? 
To learn more about all the amazing things Kids Alive does, or to sponsor a child, click HERE.

You don't have to choose a child in Guatemala--Kids Alive is in 14 other countries!

And would you do me a favor?  I don't beg for comments often, but would love to hear from you.

If you decide to sponsor one or twelve, would you let me know?  You can email me at royal1234@att.net or you can leave a comment here (you don't have to put your name--you can do it anonymously). 

And even if you don't sponsor, would you join me in praying for these kids and the Kids Alive organization? Comment to let me know what you are praying--that often opens my eyes to new ways I, too, can pray! Thank you!!!!!


                                                   This is the team that Brian was on!




 





Monday, June 20, 2016

When God breaks your Heart

Brian just came back from Guatemala on a mission trip.  He went with a team of men to do some construction work for Kids Alive/Oasis.  Right up his alley, huh?  He spent the week building cabinets, doing electrical and plumbing work and playing soccer with the girls there. 

During the week, one of the moms lost her 1 month old baby.  It was incredibly sad as they all had gotten to know them and one of the men was even holding Hannah* the night before.  I don't know when the death of a baby isn't sad, but in this case, it was even more than usual.  Her mom was 11 years old. 

Yes, you read that right--11!!!!

For her privacy, I won't post a pic of her, but here are pics of my daughters at 11. As you are reading this, I want you to imagine their faces when you think of this mom. 

 


Brittany*--our 11 year old mom--has a different life.   Instead of going to 5th grade, she was going through labor.   Instead of worrying what outfit she would wear on her 1st day of middle school, she was worrying about how to care for a baby. 

Do you have daughters?  Do you remember what they were thinking about when they were 11?  Or better yet, can you remember what YOU were doing at 11?  I had just moved to a new school and was playing tetherball and foursquare and swimming and passing notes to my friends.

Oasis is a refuge of sorts for girls who have been sexually abused.  Many of them by their father, brother or neighbor.  The girls are brought into the home while charges are filed and the men are prosecuted.  They are given a safe place to sleep, eat, play, go to school and in some cases, raise their babies.  The ministry itself is amazing.  Currently, there are over 50 girls living there and they are being cared for by some amazing people.

Sadly, Brittany isn't the only one in her position.  There are several other girls who live at Oasis with their babies and toddlers.  And there are more coming.  The day Brian was leaving, they had a girl arriving who is 23 weeks pregnant--over halfway to delivering her baby.  SHE IS 10!!!  My girls were enjoying waterslides and going to soccer games with their friends when they were 10.



And me?  I was in 4th grade.  Reading books that my favorite teacher recommended to me.  Going to state UIL competitions.  Yelling at my sister for keeping her side of the room so messy.  Trying my best to be teacher's pet.

So, even though I did not physically travel to Guatemala, it feels like my heart did.  I have so many feelings and emotions going on inside of me--rage, sadness, grief, wonder, anxiousness, fear, compassion and even LOVE for girls I don't know and have only seen in a few pictures.  I found myself sobbing at a video one of Brian's teammates made with pics from their trip.  AND I WASNT EVEN THERE! 

I remember feeling like this before.  It was the year before Lovepacs began when I felt God stirring inside of me, but I didn't know what to do.  He was giving me information every time I turned my head and I felt like I was seeing things I'd never taken time to open my eyes to before. I was outraged and confused and searching for what I was supposed to do with this knowledge.

It's that same feeling. 

I'm excited.  I know God is up to something  even though I don't know what it is.  I'm almost hesitant to say that because what is happening to these girls is TRAGIC.  It should NEVER happen to anyone, but even especially to a child.  But, I want to be apart of the rest of the story for them.  As believers, we know their circumstances don't define them.   

I'm reminded over and over of a quote I once heard:

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."  -Edmund Burke

So, I'm praying.  And dreaming.  And planning.  And most of all--looking and listening for what God says is next.  Will you join me?

*Names have obviously been changed to protect privacy.