Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Garage Door

For the first time in over a year, I parked in my driveway last night. And for the first time in several years, I entered my house through the garage. You see, our garage door opener has been broken for a long time now. It's one of those things that I took for granted when we had, missed for a while when it first broke, and then just "made do" without it. When I was tired of entering through the back door and getting mauled by the dogs, I started parking out in front of my house.

A working garage door, while an awesome convenience to have, has not been a priority for our family. So, when our sweet friend, who's business is garage doors, stopped by after a job in our neighborhood and insisted on looking at it, we were grateful. He worked on it for a while--all with spare parts he had in his truck, but, being parked in our driveway proved lucrative for him and he had 2 other jobs that came up. That was a few weeks ago. Yesterday, he had some time in the middle of the day and came over and finished the job. He even installed a keyless box for us--not that I've ever locked myself out of the house--hahahaha!

The garage door got me to thinking about the other things I think I need, but could really do without. There's a line in the movie "The Book of Eli" about humans not knowing what was really important until it was gone. How many times do I take clean, running water for granted? In fact, I often complain about the taste of it. How often do I wish we could eat out at a restaurant instead of being thankful we had enough food last night to have leftovers at home tonight? Don't get me wrong, I don't plan on giving up electricity or air conditioning any time soon, but I do hope that every time I push the garage door button, and it opens, I remember what a sweet gift it was from a friend, and am thankful that I live in a place where I am blessed with so many things I don't need.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa at the Royal House

Santa will be visiting our house this year. My girls (age 9 and 6) still believe, and until they ask me point-blank if I am Santa, I will continue pretending each year. I love it! I have heard all of the arguments on why, as Christians, we shouldn't make it about Santa, and some of them make good sense. I can totally understand why some families choose to take him out of the holiday--and I don't begrudge them that.

I found a quote that I just love: "There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the magic in the eyes of a child who believes." It is a fine balance when you celebrate Christmas with Santa. I don't want our family traditions to revolve around his visit. We talk about the reason we celebrate throughout the season. We read the Christmas Story (last year, on Christmas Eve, it was read off an iPhone). We have a couple of different nativity sets (I finally had to buy Caroline her own last year so she would leave mine alone--she LOVES to move them around and tell the story--she sometimes adds Barbies, Polly Pockets and Littlest Pet Shop creatures, but I think God understands that). We talk about giving to others.

I have been so proud this year watching my girls spend their own money to buy presents for the people they love. They "get" it--at least most days. Some years they make lists of what they want, others they don't. This year, Santa's gift will be a little bit more mild than last year (how do you top a trampoline???), but each gift will be hand-picked for each girl. They will continue to believe that Santa, a man who doesn't know them, loves them anyway.

They get that about Jesus. They know what he did for them and they fully embrace the gift of Life he's given. In this world, when they see so many people who don't live that out (especially in North Dallas where so many are so privleged), I'm okay with them believing that a stranger cares about them. In fact, I choose to believe that Kris Kringle was a Christian. If he wasn't, we, as Christians, have a lot to learn from him about giving away our faith in tangible ways.

So , Santa will, once again, make an appearance at the Royal house this year. He'll eat the gingerbread men cookies, leaving some crumbs, drink the milk, and his reindeers will gnaw on the carrots. My girls will wake up Christmas morning and I will get to see the beautiful magic in their eyes, as their belief is proven once again another year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The world in my backyard

I am easily moved when I see a child in Rwanda who has lost her parents or a boy in Africa who has no shoes. I even get moved when I see kids enter my daughters' school with blankets wrapped around them because they don't have coats. One of my strengths is empathy and I cry at the drop of a hat.

So, imagine my surprise when I realized that one of my daughter's friends totally annoys me. She is truly a sweet girl and has a ton of self-confidence. She also reeks of cigarette smoke and is a bit rough around the edges. She is not timid, but is very vocal about all that she sees (and she sees a lot). She's smart and she is totally a leader. In fact, she is a lot like Hope would be if she lived in a house where we didn't know Jesus.

Why is it so much easier to care and pray for kids who live far, far away than for the little girl who lives around the corner?

Father, don't let me close my eyes to the people you have put before me. Keep me mindful that you love them as much as you love my girls.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Grateful Heart?

As a mom, I have always wanted to make sure that I provide well for my children. There are the basics of that statement: that my girls have enough to eat, have a safe shelter, know they are loved, have clothes, etc that they need. But, for me, like most parents, I want to do more than the basics. I want to be able to take them out to dinner on a whim, buy them a toy they like, buy the cool jeans and not just the inexpensive ones, enroll them in sports and music, teach them about giving by allowing tthem to buy things (with my money)and donate them.

We, like many other families this year, are not in a position to do many of the "extras." Part of me feels like a failure because of that. I want to be able to take my 6 year old out and foot the bill while she shops for all the people she loves. Or even, allow her to earn the money to do that. But, that's just not really an option.

As we walked around the mall this weekend, I started feeling worse and worse. Not because my girls were asking for a bunch of stuff, but because I love to give gifts and am not able to do so this year. I live in fear that my girls will grow up resenting the fact that I was unable to allow them to have/do the things they wanted. Funny thing is they were more interested in the SPCA animals up for adoption than the latest clothes in Justice (although we did have to wander through there).

Hope had a birthday this week. As we were talking about what to get her, we were stumped. Brian and I finally agreed on a sleeping bag--something she asked for since she was having a slumber party. I wanted to do so much more. She did receive more from family: her Mimi and Papa got her a new comforter (that she absolutely loves), her Grandaddy got her a cool pair of black boots (that she has worn all day yesterday and is planning outfits around now), her aunt Tess got her some skinny jeans and tops (which also go with the boots) and her Granny sent her money which she used to buy curtains to match her new comforter). Needless to say, she received a LOT and everything she got was something she really wanted. Sounds pretty good, huh? So why do I still feel like I failed my child? Because I was unable to buy them for her myself.

Pretty crazy, huh? I can say all day long how I am thankful that God has chosen to bless her through others, but deep inside, I'm truly ungrateful for those incredible gifts. All because I was unable to buy them myself. I know it doesn't make sense--believe me, I am totally frustrated with myself over this. It makes me feel like God is blessing my children in spite of me. And that I am not enough for them. Which, are both true, but knock my ego down quite a bit. The way things have played out, I am not the hero. And that is the root of my issue--I want to be my girls' hero. I do love them more than I can express with words, but that is not the main reason I want to be their hero (which in itself is sad that it's not my main motivation). I want to be their hero so that I feel good about myself. Sounds pitiful, huh?

I don't think I'm the only mom who has ever felt this, but I've never heard anyone else express it. Maybe because I am surrounded by people who are able to give to their children. Maybe because they are scared to admit their fears like I have been. Maybe because they are truly grateful and don't have these feelings.

What I am deperately holding onto today is the fact that God loves my girls more than I do and He loves me madly. He has chosen to bless my daughter, as well as provide a way for me to not feel guilty about my child not having the "extras." So, I just need for Him to get that from my head into my heart.

Monday, December 6, 2010

House shoe drama

I think I'm going to change our last name to "Drama." Seriously, we have drama over the craziest things at my house. Tonight, it was house shoes--yep, you read that right--HOUSE SHOES.

One of my daughters had 3 pair of house shoes. When I was helping to clean out her closet yesterday (or should I say shovel it out), she told me that 2 of the pair were too small. One went to the goodwill pile since they would probably only fit a 3 year old--not sure how they stayed in her closet so long (then again, I did say I had to shovel it out when cleaning). The other pair went to my younger daughter's room.

Well, tonight, the little one came out wearing them and the older one was almost beside herself thinking she had "stolen" them from her closet (can you imagine what my house will be like when my girls are teenagers and actually DO steal clothes from each other--do massage therapists let you put their services on layaway? Anyone know how I can get stock in Advil?). She didn't remember telling me they were too small, she was just determined they still fit her. Well, after many tears, she tried them on and they did fit--as long as she curled her toes up inside.

By her reaction, you would think that these were designer house shoes, but they are ragged, and dirty, and were hand-me-downs from somewhere, so they don't even have sentimental value. She has another pair in her closet that have never been worn, were given to her by her Mimi and are way trendier than the scruffy orange plaid ones.

While I sat back, incredulous, at the amount of passion these shoes brought forth from my 8 year old, I think God whispered to me. I say, "think" because I really was trying not to listen. It was so much easier to look at my child and see how wrong her thinking was instead of listening. Focus out instead of in.

Wanna know what He said? Tune in tomorrow and I'll tell you. Just kidding--I wouldn't leave you hanging like that. What I "think" He said to me was, "How many times do I give you something great, something that is so perfect for you, but you don't even acknowledge it because you are so caught up in wanting what someone else has?"

Hmmm...I think I'd rather make fun of the drama going on in front of me than listen. What's ironic, is that when I look at the two pair of houseshoes left, the scruffy ones are truly not something my oldest would ever wear, but they would fit my youngest's personality to a tee.

So, I guess I learned something from house shoes tonight. Am I truly looking for God's best for me or am I settling for what is familiar? Am I listening to His voice or too busy looking around me at what others' are doing?

Oh, and I learned that Santa might need to rethink his gifts to the Royal girls this year and add some new house shoes to his bag.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You are Good

Every now and then, I hear a song that just hits me. If you are a facebook friend, you've already seen this on my page, but it is worth repeating here. I resonate with the words to this--it just reminds me that underneath all of my jealousy and pride, I truly am grateful.

You are Good by Nichole Nordeman

When the sun starts to rise and I open my eyes
You are good
So good.
In the heat of the day with each stone that I lay
You are so good.

With every breath I take in
I'll tell you I'm grateful again
When the moon climbs high before each kiss goodnight
You are good.

When the road starts to turn around each bend I've learned
You are good
So good.
And when somebody's hand holds me up, helps me stand
You are so good.

With every breath I take in
I'll tell you I'm grateful again
Cause it's more than enough just to know I am loved
And You are good.

So how can I thank You?
What can I bring?
What can these poor hands lay at the feet of the King?
I'll sing You a love song
It's all that I have
To tell you I'm grateful for holding my life in Your hands

When it's dark and it's cold and I can't feel my soul
You so good.
When the world has gone gray and the rain's here to stay
You are still good.

With every breath I take in
I'll tell you I'm grateful again
And the storm may swell even then it is well
And You are good

So how can I thank You?
What can I bring?
What can these poor hands lay at the feet of the King?
I'll sing You this new song
It's all that I have
To tell you I'm grateful for holding my life in Your hands

I'll sing You a love song
It's all that I have
To tell you I'm grateful for holding my life in Your hands

You are holding my life in Your hands

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Non-Sappy Thanksgiving

I walk the fine line between being a sap and being a cynic. It's always a countdown to see how long it takes for me to start crying during Extreme Makeover Home Edition (I still don't think I've made it through an entire episode without at least tearing up, but I am also usually the first to make an unkind remark (or at least think it).

So a holiday like Thanksgiving, while I love to celebrate it, is sometimes difficult for me to stomach. I read all the great things people write that they are thankful for and often think there must be something wrong with me. I love that they feel that way and often wish I could express my thankfulness in the same way, but I've always thought that you gotta work with what you've been given.

So, here are some of the things I am thankful for (in no particular order):

...That the only health problem my children have is that they were born without a volume control
...That I have a hubby who can fix anything in our house
...Tile countertops that I can place hot items on
...That my dogs love me--no matter how much love I show them back
...That we have a bed for everyone in our house in which to play musical beds at night
...Hot showers
...That my girls feel the freedom to say what is on their minds--at any given time (really)
...That I have a working washing machine, clothes dryer and dishwasher
...My microwave (seriously--we went without one for about 6 weeks a few years ago--I've never taken it for granted since)
...Pandora and the ability to choose great music
...Friends who aren't afraid to tell me how it is
...A job where I get to love people and look for the best in them
...That Santa brought us a trampoline last year
...Giggles from my girls--even though it often means they are teaming up to do something bad
...A sofa cover that hides a really ugly sofa underneath
...My sunroof
...Co-workers who love me enough to accept my flaws but also call me out
...Comfy clothes and shoes
...New mercies every morning (Lam. 3:23)
...My hearing (and all the other senses, but especially the hearing)
...Facebook and the way it allows me to keep up with lots of people and appear witty
...Jesus and the amazing way He loves me
...Good books
...Nikuze Grace (our Compassion child) and the reminder to me of how blessed I am to have been born in America
...That my kids can go barefoot in the backyard in November
...Jammie days
...That my girls don't play musical instruments, yet

I'm sure there are many others, but these are a few of the things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Throwing Fits

The Royal house does not lack for passionate females. Each of us has a strong opinion about pretty much everything that comes our way. One of my daughters has been on a fit-throwing spree the past few months. I won't name names because if she finds out, it will just lead to another fit that I wrote embarrassing stuff about her.

Anyway, I had to put her in bed at 7pm tonight because of a series of fits. What cracks me up is the way she flails her arms and legs--I can never get to the video camera fast enough to catch them, but at this rate, if I keep it handy, I'll have enough material for a movie soon.

While watching her throw temper tantrums is just plain annoying, it has also made me start thinking. I don't love the fits or the mean words that often accompany them, but I love that she throws her whole body into it. In fact, I have found myself envying it. She has such a sense of who she is that if she's gonna do something, she's going all the way. Now, I realize that is not always a good thing, but I have to believe that God created her to be a passionate being for a reason. She loves just as fiercely as she flails during a tantrum.

Instead of holding in my temper, or stomping around my house, I think it might be better for me if I threw a fit like her. Can't you just picture me on the sofa, kicking my arms and legs in all kinds of directions? Maybe if I would allow myself to do that, I would see the ridiculousness of it all. Seriously, throwing a fit isn't going to change whatever I am angry about. but I think it's sometimes part of the process of getting to the peace that passes all understanding.

So, if you walk past me in public and see me kicking and screaming on the floor, just do what I do with my daughter--turn and walk away and pray that she throws herself into it so that it gets out of her system quickly. And then, the next time you see me, give me a hug and tell me that it doesn't change the way you feel about me.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Forty One Reasons We Love Dad (by Hope and Caroline)

1. He thinks a Nerf gun is a great birthday present
2. He jumps on the trampoline with us
3. He is cute
4. He shows us grace
5. He is funny
6. He is a good cook
7. He is a good pumpkin carver
8. He loves our dogs
9. He's just plain fun
10. He is a good man
11. He tickles us
12. He is unique
13. He is a nut
14. He is strong
15. He works on our house
16. He is smart
17. He is kind
18. He buys us candy
19. He's creative
20. He is the best dad
21. He works hard
22. He takes care of us
23. He tells good stories
24. He loves us
25. He's good at fixing things
26. He is a good cleaner
27. He lets us hunt with him
28. He lets us climb on him
29. He lets us watch our tv shows
30. He has joy in him
31. He provides well for us
32. He's a good colorer
33. He a good teacher
34. He is good at building a fire
35. He mows the lawn
36. He cleans up the dog poop
37. He takes the garbage out
38. He washes dishes
39. He's a good hugger
40. He is a good friend
41. He is sweet

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rejoicing with friends

Last night, Lillian Averie Moore was born. I know that babies are born every second, but this baby has a special journey. Her parents started trying to have her back before Caroline was born. They are the type of people you just know will be incredible parents. Needless to say, it saddened me when I told Beth I was pregnant, knowing she had been trying so hard and wanted it so much more at that time. Beth handled the news with such grace--she rejoiced with me. She sewed my bumper pad. She helped to throw me a shower and prayed over Caroline in my womb. She brought pretty flowers to the hospital. She made me some yummy manicotti. All this while many of her friends were having babies and she was not.

After a 7 year journey to meet sweet Lillian, I get the opportunity to rejoice with my friend today. Lillian will forever be a reminder to me of what it means to put aside my wants and just be happy for those around me. To trust that God really meant Jeremiah 29:11--He didn't just put it there to placate those who don't get their way. To see that comparison steals joy. What a legacy this little girl has already left in less than 24 hours of breathing the air of this earth!

So today, I am choosing to stop and take time to rejoice with my friends and celebrate the life of Lillian Averie Moore. So, look out-if her life is half as impactful as her birth has been on those around her, she will change this world!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Making Gravy

I have been fortunate to be surrounded all my life by men who can cook. Growing up, my dad did a great job, my brother was a chef for a few years and my hubby is the best cook I know. I'm adequate. I can make spaghetti, tacos, anything on the grill, and all the other basic staples, but I am by no means a chef.

Earlier this week, I made a roast (well, the crock pot actually cooked it for me). While I know some people frown upon it, I LOVE gravy on my roast. Brian usually whips it up for me. Well, the night we had roast, Brian was working late.

I think I tried to make gravy once as a teenager, but my dad or brother rescued my lumpy mess and I never tried again. Brian makes yummy gravy, so why should I even bother? Typically, if Brian doesn't make it, I just don't have it. After all, I'm not good at it, so why even try?

Well, I decided to try it this time. I was pleasantly surprised when it was good--and it didn't have any lumps in it. It was the right consistency--not too runny, not too thick. I was amazed--I actually did it!

That got me to many times do I miss out on something I love because I don't think I am good enough to do it? How many times do I just allow others to do something for me because they are better at it than I would be?

I'm actually looking forward to making gravy the next time. I've been thinking about how to season it up and make it better. Kinda funny, coming from someone who doesn't make gravy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Funny-isms from the State Fair

There are often things the girls say and do that I just have to capture on paper. Not only are they funny, I'm hoping for some good blackmail material later in life.

Here are a few from the State Fair yesterday:

Hope's definition of a Dooley: skinny body with a fat booty

"This is a great car--look at the cool cupholders in the back seat!" (can't remember which one said it, but they were both oohing and aahing over them)

"Why do they call it Crazy Mouse?" There's no mouse, just a bucket. It should be called "Crazy Bucket."...Hope (she had a point--I didn't see any mice and have never thought to question the name)

Caroline's shirt at the end of the day:
3 root beer stains
nacho cheese on the back
grease from leaning against something
butter drips from corn on the cob
powdered sugar from funnel cake

Other fun memories:
Riding the Love Bug with Hope and laughing so hard that my face was wet with tears.
Watching Brian do a little dance in the fun house
Meeting up with friends
Sharing a funnel cake
Hope's tummy before the rides
Watching Hope and Caroline on the other Love Bug ride
Hope stepping up to kick the ball and everyone gasping at the oomph she put into it
The Bird show--even though it's the same one every year, it's still good
Hope squirting herself in the head with hand sanitizer
Spending 10 mins filling out the waivers so the girls could climb the rock wall for 10 seconds
Walking past the entire parade so that we could get to the front of it and see the entire thing
Looking for the man selling umbrellas
Listening to the girls in the backseat reminisce about how much fun they had last year

Saturday, October 2, 2010

You don't have to understand, you just have to believe

I'm a multi-tasker. It's very difficult for me to just sit and watch a movie with my family--typically, I have a book or my phone in hand and don't just sit. But I've been trying to do that more often.

I think kids movies have some of the best truths in them. Typically, I get some truth out of every one I watch. My favorite was "Tinkerbell," so any time a new one comes out, I'm almost as excited to watch it as Caroline.

The other night, we watched "Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue" and one line stood out to me: "You don't have to understand, you just have to believe." I wish, as adults, it was as easy to believe as it is for kids.

I pray that believing always comes easy to my girls.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hope has a Boyfriend

On the way to the car from soccer practice, Hope grabbed my hand and said she had something to tell me. She got a shy grin on her face and proceeded to inform me that a boy had asked her if he could be her boyfriend. WHAT???? She's 8!

So I did what any good mother would and asked his name and then started telling her that her daddy was going to have to have a conversation with him, as well as her soccer coach (who has grilled players' boyfriends in the past). Needless to say, she wasn't very happy with me.

Then I started asking her what she and her boyfriend were going to do and she asked me what her dad and I did before we were married. How should I have answered that? I threw her off by asking another question, "Are you going to kiss him?" To which she replied, "NO WAY!!! I'm NEVER going to kiss a boy--EVER! Except for Daddy.

Ahhh...the world is right again.

Title I

We live in a blue collar neighborhood and my girls attend the public school down the street from our house. I knew that the income level of our families at Camey was low, but I still was taken aback when I learned that we were a Title I school.

The first time I heard the term "Title I" was at church. Bent Tree had recently adopted an elementary school and when they explained what Title I meant, my heart went out to those kiddos. It meant that over half of them live at or below the poverty level and there is a high transient rate.

It's really easy for me to see the need far away (I've blogged about my heart for Rwanda and Haiti), but I like to forget that there is a huge need right down the street from my house. I know poverty in America is very different from poverty in Africa, but it doesn't make it any easier on those here in The Colony.

This year, I'm really asking God what He has for me at Camey. I don't feel like it is to join the PTA and I already make copies for the teachers on Fridays, so the obvious things are already being done. What I do know is He is calling me to do something at my school for those in need.

I have waited 3 1/2 years for someone to organize something I can join in on, but so far, I'm hearing crickets chirp. I'm not really a great person to get something off the ground, but I'm a good support player and can carry a vision that I believe in. In the past few weeks, I've had a few doors opened to me, that have led me to believe that God wants me to be surrendered to Him at Camey--no matter what that means--including starting a progam.

Sooo, I'm praying and looking and tomorrow, I'm making a phone call. I'm a bit nervous in giving up any more of my time, but I'm also excited. Who better to love these kids than someone who lives in the same neighborhood? It's really about the total surrender for me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


In this day, when most families take 1-2 trips a year, we are the minority. Honestly, I get so stressed at the amount of money it takes to do anything, that I chicken out and don't do anything. I almost hyper-ventilated when I was booking the hotel and the buying the SDC tickets online. I am so glad we bit the bullet and did it--we had a great time.

Here are some of my memories from the trip:

Driving late at night after the FADC performance
Belgium waffles with my sis and nephew early in the morning
Telling my dad we were 2 hours away when we were only 20 minutes from the reunion
Grandma's surprise party at the reunion
Hope and Caroline fitting right in with relatives they had never met
Fighting over who would sleep on the waterbeds at Uncle Allen and Aunt Vicky's
Seeing cousins I haven't seen in over 10 years
Getting to visit Bob and Marilyn's elk farm
Watching the girls with elk surrounding them while Bob fed Dorothy and the other elk
Rocks loaded in the back of our car from sweet Marilyn
Fish fry at Allen's
East Sedalia Bapt Church with Caroline crinkling paper during the sermon
Going to Ryan's Steakhouse in Sedalia--as always
Lots of cake
Josh's lost wallet
The Hotel Grand Victorian with the huge teddy bears and staff in period clothing
Silver Dollar City at night
The red-headed boy who kept squirting us on the RiverBlast
Fire in the Hole with Caroline's light-up shoes
Hope riding Thunderation for the first time
Entertainers at breakfast
Marvel Cave
Fresh squeezed lemonade
105 degrees!
Water sprinklers everywhere
Sandwiches in the car (THANK YOU CINDY!!!!)
The dog show
All the incredibly nice people at SDC
Water-proof bags
Watching the glass-blowers
The train robbery
Walking sideways in Grandfather's Mansion
Shooting things in the Flooded Mine
The sweet man at the balloon dart booth
Searching forever for souvenirs and the girls finally choosing ROCKS
Denny's for dinner
Twins born the day after we left
6 more hours in the car
Seeing family at the farm and realizing we missed Diane and the girls at SDC
Grocery shopping at The Country Boy
Coming home and picking up our spolied dogs who stayed with a friend while we were gone (thanks Denise!)

Great family memories. Initially, I wanted to go to Silver Dollar City with just my 3 peeps, but am so glad that my sis, nephew and cousins came with us. I'm looking forward to the next trip

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I have taken a brief hiatus from the blog. Honestly, I've been re-evaluating my purpose in starting this. Originally, it was to leave stories--both serious and funny--for my kids to have when they get older. Then it turned into a place where I felt like I needed something great and inspirational to say. Then I started to feel a pressure to find blog posts from everything I did and once I feel obligated...that's it--I'm done.

Life in the Royal house is good--not easy, but still good. We have our ups and downs--many of which are private and I don't want to share with the world. The blog in itself, was a big step for me--and I'm not saying I'm done, but I am being cautious with what I share. I tend to have loose lips and while my intention is usually not to spread gossip, I really want to have others know that anything shared with me is safe. I have been working hard to be trustworthy over the past few month--not that I ever shared things people told me not to, but I just talk to much.

So, in the same vein, I want to make sure that what I say on here honors my family and does not embarrass or tear down. So, if you follow this blog, bear wth me as I try to get my bearings again and figure out how this plays out for me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Smells on the bus

A few months ago, Brian and I were asked to lead a group of 7th graders on a mission trip to San Antonio. Along with one other male leader, we pulled out of the parking lot this past Sunday with 12 of them in tow. They were asked to pack a lunch for the trip down from Dallas. They all complied, but most brought along some other snacks. Here are a few of the items I saw:

Terriayki Beef Jerky
Goldfish (pizza and cheddar flavored)
Sour Patch Kids
Laffy Taffy
Ranch Sunflower Seeds
Bazooka Gum
Chocolate Milk
Fudge Stripe Cookies
Fruit Snacks
White Cheddar Popcorn
Peanut Butter Crackers
Cheddar Pringles
Cool Ranch Doritos

I'm sure you can just imagine the smell of our bus--it was interesting, to say the least. Normally, I think having all those smells combined would have made me want to hurl, but it didn't. Maybe because I could see 12 smiling faces the whole way. Maybe because I could sense their anticipation and feel their excitement. Maybe because the Dramamine I took dulled my sense of smell. :) I am choosing to believe it was because I KNEW I was embarking on something so much bigger than myself and a few interesting smells along the way weren't going to change my destination.

Isn't that so true of life? We do life with people who are a weird mixture sometimes (hopefully not as weird as the smell of Cool Ranch Doritos with Terriayki Beef Jerky--but you get my point). Sometimes it's not the people we would choose to be with, but the combination, while interesting, can also help lead us to things we would never have done if we had just stayed with the people who looked and smelled like us. As long as the destination is the same, isn't it worth it to have a few interesting smells?

I pray that I am open to new smelly combinations in my everyday life (although, I don't think I want to see Ranch-flavored sunflower seeds and chocolate milk side by side for a while).

Monday, June 28, 2010

The day that Hip Hop died

A few months ago, Brian ordered a butterfly larvae kit for the girls. It finally arrived last week and they have spent every day watching the caterpillars morph into butterflies.

Today, all but one had come out of his cocoon, but it was shaking, so Brian had to help break the cocoon open. Since most of the others had been out for a day or two, they released them--all except for the one. It was unable to fly, so the girls spent the day "training" it. They named him Hip Hop and carried him from room to butterfly habitat. They talked to him and told me in pained voices, that he was probably going to die.

After the girls went to bed, I checked on Hip Hop and he is not moving--even though he is sitting on an orange slice the girls put in the habitat to help him gain his strength. When they wake in the morning, they will be heartbroken.

I know these moments are supposed to be the teachable ones, but they totally suck! I thought about writing a post tonight about saying goodbye to the old life and hello to the new--I even had a great analogy about our soccer experience to embellish it. But when I sat down to write, I just couldn't. I keep hearing my girl's voices as they were coaxing Hip Hop to fly and I don't care about any lessons--I just want them to wake up excited to see the stinkin butterfly alive so they can release him, too.

While I know it's just a butterfly, not a person or a pet, it is still a big part of their world for today. I guess that is part of parenting--acknowledging the things that they grieve over them and not making light of them. (But, I'd still rather the stinkin butterfly would come back to life).

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I read a quote by John Ortberg today that I just loved: "God never grows 2 people the same way, God is a hand-crafter, not a mass-producer. God does not do 'One size fits all.'"

Oh, how that makes me so happy! It sounds simple, but so often I find myself in the trap of trying to do things that work for other people, but are so against who I am at my core.

My girls are such a perfect example of this. Hope hates new environments; Caroline sees them as new opportunities to make more friends. Hope would rather be outside playing hard; Caroline is quite content to stay inside and snuggle in front of the tv. Hope is a thinker; Caroline is a feeler. I don't parent them the same way. If I did that, neither one would ever excel at being themselves. So why do I think that God wants me to grow the same way as He is growing someone else?

Just as my job is to parent my kids based on who they are in their core, my job is to worship God in the way that He made me to worship Him--not the way He made Brian to worship Him (which I'm really glad, because Brian's idea of great worship is sitting in a tree-stand for hours watching the nature God has created--that is soooo not my idea of worship).

I wish I could say I knew exactly how He wired me. I've spent so many years trying to live up to certain expectations--some set by me, some by others--that it may take me a while to figure out what really makes me come alive. In the past, this might have overwhelmed me (Hope is, after all, my daughter), but right now, in the place I am, it is very freeing. It makes me feel that anticipation like I felt when I was a kid and could hear the ice cream man on the next block--I just knew he was coming down my street next and I was out front, on my sidewalk, money in hand, waiting to see what kind of goodies I was about to get.

So for today, I'm being a bit sacrilegious and choosing to view God as the driver of an ice cream truck (if I'd ever been to the famous Frisco Snow Cone Lady, I'd probably think of Him in that way, but just haven't had the patience to stand in a line yet that wraps around the block). Once again, I've gone off my mark here--back to why I'm being sacrilegious.

Just like the ice cream man, I believe God knows I would love to have those goodies, but if I'm not outside when the ice cream man passes by, then I miss out. I don't believe I will ever miss-out on God's goodies, He'll continue to circle around the block for me, but I do have a responsiblity to listen for Him and go where I know He is. Although, He won't charge me an arm and a leg for my goodie that I could have bought a whole box of at the store for the same cost... And I don't believe He's a creepy-looking guy like a lot of the ice cream truck drivers I've seen... And He never runs out of the goodie I want...

So, maybe the ice cream man wasn't such a good example. You get my point anyway...I hope.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Family fun at the DMA

Today was one of those days I hope my girls remember when they are grown. It was a fun day that we spent together as a family, doing stuff that each of us enjoyed. That doesn't happen often--that we ALL have fun doing the same thing.

We went to the Dallas Museum of Art. The girls were given paper and pencils to draw in the African gallery. As a family, we all did self-portraits. Actually, Brian and I drew each other instead of ourselves. It was fun to just sit and create--knowing that our sketches looked very little like each other. Caroline was entirely free with hers--no cares on what anyone thought. Hope was a bit more concerned about being perfect, but after she saw me and Brian's, she loosened up a bit. I still think my drawing of Brian looks like it should be on a Wanted poster (he just thinks I gave him too much hair).

After looking at some of the paintings, we went back to pick up our sketches and sat down at the "materials bar" where we grabbed random materials and created stuff. I loved that there were no scissors--we had to tear our paper and cardboard. There was also a place for them to do rubbings. There's something very freeing about rubbing crayons over different surfaces

All in all, it was a peaceful day. Don't get me wrong--we still had arguments over when to eat and what we were going to do next, but they didn't make up the majority of the day.

I always forget how much I enjoy creating. I don't allow myself to do much of that these days. There's already enough of a mess to clean up that I just don't want to drag out any more to do. Plus, I feel guilty when I'm doing stuff that looks silly when there are piles of dishes and laundry to be washed--not to mention sheets on the beds that have been there for almost 2 weeks.

What I was reminded of today was that art is good for the soul--whether creating it or just looking at it. It makes me reflect on the uniqueness of everything around me. The verse "Your works are wonderful. That I know full well." kept running through my head as I was sitting at the table doing a rubbing over a tile with nails on it. Pretty silly stuff, but it restored my spirit and gave me a bigger sense of who I am and how I was created.

Another thing it did for me, was to remind me of how creative my husband is. I often forget how good he is at making something out of nothing. In the busy-ness of life when we often don't look at each other but for a few seconds at a time, I miss the little things. I couldn't get Brian's eyes right when drawing them on my paper--they were so expressive--even when he was concentrating. There's nothing like staring at him for 30 minutes to remind me of how much I love those eyes and want to see them smile.

For my girls, I hope they remember the way their mom and dad laughed at each other's pictures and didn't get offended at how awful they were. I hope they remember the teamwork we had when someone needed help holding an item to be taped or tied or hole-punched. I hope they remember the joy of being together without just sitting. I hope they remember how awesome it felt to see a bunch of random materials and use their imaginations to create something from a pile of scraps. I hope they remember that they, themselves, are works of art.

We didn't have any great conversations today. We didn't have any A-ha moments. What we did have was a day of enjoying each other. But I believe that days like today will lead to the great conversations and the a-ha moments.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sounds I love to hear

I wrote this post over 7 months ago, but never finished it or published it. Thought I would go ahead and maybe I'll finish it one day.

As I sit here in anticipation of my doctor's appt today, I'm of course, worrying. What if he tells me that the hearing is going in my left ear and there is nothing they can do to fix it? Besides the fears of what would I do for a living and how would I contribute to my family, the thought of the sounds I would miss keeps running through my head:

hearing my girls giggle--even when they are doing something bad, the sound of a whole body of believers singing in unison. Hearing, "Mommy, I wuv you." Listening to Whitesnake, Steve Fee, Sara Groves, Martina McBride or the other random music artists I enjoy. My dogs paws clicking on the floor. Hope singing at the top of her lungs in the shower.

As I reflect on the sounds I would miss, I am struck by the many things we hear without words being spoken: a hug from my hubby, a smile from a shy child, a wave from a friend across the room.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Do you have a doll/toy/game that your kids love, but you just can't stand? That's Buddy in our house.

When Hope was little, I used to go to garage sales on Saturday mornings. This was back when only having one child who wasn't in sports yet allowed me the luxury of having a whole day off to do whatever I wanted.

Hope must have been 18 months or so, when she saw Buddy. Her face lit up when she hugged him, so I couldn't say No and Buddy came home with us. She named him and carried him everywhere--he was as big as her when he first came to live at our house. Buddy has the nappiest hair of any doll I have ever seen--someone once said he kinda looked like Chucky. At one point, when she wasn't as attached to Buddy, Brian hid him. A few months later, she found him and once again, started carrying him everywhere (he even took a road trip with us once to Missouri).

Hope eventually outgrew Buddy and he ended up in a bag with a bunch of her other stuffed animals that we planned to give away. Somehow, that bag didn't make it to Goodwill and Caroline discovered Buddy. I don't know if he had magic powers, but she was also immediately drawn to him and started carrying him everywhere--just as Hope used to do.

Buddy disappears for months at a time and all-of-a-sudden he reappears--usually being carried by one of the girls. I still don't know what the fascination is, but they were fighting over him tonight (until Caroline found another nappy-haired doll and they had a tea party).

There are some things you do, just because. Keeping Buddy is one of those "just because" things at our house. This is the parenting stuff the books don't tell you about. True parenting is allowing ugly dolls to sit next to you at the dinner table.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hopey Doodle Bug

There are some days when I look at pictures of my girls or think about them and feel totally overwhelmed with love for them. I wish that meant that I was a great mom and didn't yell or get frustrated with them, but there's still lots of progress I need to make there.

Yesterday, Hope brought home a book her class made for her. The title was "I'm special because..." and each page was a letter from a classmate with a picture they drew. Reading them made me smile. Some were just funny (like the girls who told her she had the best shirts) and others made me so stinkin proud of my Hope and the way she befriends others ( like the boy who thanked her for helping him adjust to a new school).

Hope is one of those kids that you know is destined for greatness. She is a leader. When she was 3 years old, we were in McDonalds and she wanted to play with a group of girls. When she asked them if she could join, they told her "No." As a mom, my heart broke and I was trying to figure out how to explain the meanness of others to her, but she came and sat down next to me and we were both quiet. After a minute, she got up and went to play. I kid you not--within 5 minutes all 4 of those girls were following her all over the play area. Not only was she playing with them, they were all doing what she wanted.

Hope is the kid I wanted to be. She is good at most things she does and she has a kind heart. She loves fiercely and is passionate about seeing justice prevail. She has the most beautiful features and her smile lights up everything around her. (I know I'm bragging, but this is my blog, so I get to say what I want.)

When I was pregnant and found out she was a girl, I began praying for a strong, passionate woman of God. There is no doubt that God has granted that prayer. As much as that strength frustrates me some days, I do know it will serve her well and am thankful for it. She will not be one to succumb to peer pressure just because everyone is doing it.

Watching her with her friends at school has been good for me. As her mom, I often focus on the negatives about her personality and forget to just delight in her. Seeing her interact with others makes me want to cry--she is so incredibly thoughtful and giving and just plain funny. She is well-liked and was voted "prettiest" in her class (although she didn't like that--she wanted most creative).

There is a verse that I have always considered Hope's:
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline."
2 Timothy 1:7

I absolutely adore my Hopey Doodle Bug and am so thankful that I get to be in her life!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Amazed or Taken For Granted?

A week ago today, I got my hearing back. My baha (a bone anchored hearing device) has been incredible. I won't bore you with the details of what all it does, but it allows me to hear on the right side of my head--which I haven't been able to do in 5 years.

Each morning, when I put it on, I am amazed at how loud everything is, but as the day wears on, I have to plug my good ear to see if it's still working. My body adjusts to it and it becomes normal to hear again.

Makes me wonder, how many other amazing gifts do we start out being grateful for, but gradually forget the wonder of them and take them for granted?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The last day for the swingset

When Hope was 1, we purchased a swingset. It wasn't the wooden fort one I wanted, but it was a great metal one that was almost $600 cheaper. It had all the things a kid would want--swings, basket glider, airplane glider, slide and teeter-totter.

Over the years, we've removed the baby swings to put in the regular ones, taken down the slide because one of our dogs liked to pee on it and cringed when the girls decided to use the top bar to shimmy across. It has been a part of our backyard for almost 8 years now.

Tonight, it's being dismantled. When we originally bought it, it was something we just settled for at the time--it wasn't our first choice, but we "made do" with it. As I look at it now, I realize just how adequate it has been for our needs. No, it didn't have a fort on it, but my girls used their imagination to build a house in the corner of the yard. It didn't have monkey bars, but that didn't stop them from going across the entire thing and back. It wasn't made of wood, but can you imagine how rank it would have smelled with dog pee?

How many other things in my life do I think I am settling for and never realize how perfect they were for me?

Good-bye, fun metal swingset--we truly will miss you and can only hope another family enjoys you as much as we have. Your old home has now become the "soccer green."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

10 years ago

This Thursday, Brian and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary. To many, that is just a drop in the bucket, but I'm celebrating the milestone.

Brian and I come from very different backgrounds. We used to think we were a lot alike, but marriage has shown us just how different we are. He really does get annoyed at me for the way I squeeze the toothpaste and I've gotten used to always having a couple of home improvement projects in process at our house.

Here are a few of my memories since May 13, 2000...
Buying Indian Hawthornes for our backyard
Seeing a bookcase I liked and having Brian come home and build it
The piano bar on Sixth Street in Austin
Coming up with the crazy idea to put pickets on Hope's wall and lattice around her closet--and Brian going along with it
Watching George Strait at Texas Stadium
Sitting on the couch together when I was 7 months pregnant watching the 9/11 attacks
Bringing Hope home from the hospital to a huge stork sign in the front yard (ordered by Brian)
Conversations on our drives to the farm
Watching the man I love turn into the world's best dad
Realizing I was pregnant with Caroline and trying to figure out how that happened
Brian planting tulips along our front walk for Valentine's Day
Getting our 1st yellow lab Callie and losing our sweet English pointer Bubba
The Dallas Boat Show
The sound of the shop vac Brian uses to "sweep" the floors
80's music (esp the Richardson Wildflower Festival)
Brian potty-training Caroline in a week by giving her bubblegum (after it took me months with Hope)
Saturday morning pancakes
Kolaches that never made it home
Manicures and pedicures
Funnel cakes
Ft Worth Main Street Arts Festival

So many memories. We don't have what I would call a fairy-tale marriage. We argue--sometimes out loud, sometimes under our breath. We get frustrated with each other. We get cranky and snap at each other. We don't kiss as often as we probably should.'s real. I'm not a happily ever after kind of girl--give me a reality show any day over a romantic comedy. This is the kind of marriage that suits me. I am thankful God knew me so well to pick Brian for me.

So, while there have been many memories packed into the past 10 years, I'm praying that my 20 year list will quadruple what I have listed above.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sunroofs are like a kiss from heaven

My car died the last day of last year. The week it died, my phone and camera also kicked the bucket (my phone revived after 4 days but the camera, like my car, never did)--anyway, I digress.

For the past 4 1/2 months, Brian has been taking me to and picking me up from work. After the first initial wave of panic, I tried to look on the bright side and think of how close this would force my family to be. I love my family, but some days being together can pull you apart. My dreams changed from wanting to be thin, live in a better neighborhood and have enough discretionary income for any last minute thing I want to do, to driving on a freeway for hours, BY MYSELF!!!!!

After looking at our options in fixing my Durango, we decided we needed to go ahead and get rid of it. In the beginning, I prayed fervently for the cost to fix my car to be minimal. When that did not happen, I started praying for another car. I didn't pray for any specific kind of car--I asked for the basics--let it run, have a/c, power windows would be awesome (in Brian's truck, the handle is broken off the window on the passenger side, so I can never open mine) and low mileage. Oh, and God, I don't need it, but it would feel like an extra-special kiss from you if it had a sunroof--I realize that is not necessary, but I'm gonna just throw it out there."

Funny thing we were looking for cars, every one we were presented with as an option in our budget, all had sunroofs--every stinkin one of them!

I wish I could say I waited patiently and embraced the time without my own car, but I didn't. I wish I could say it drew us closer as a family, but I don't think that happened. What I CAN say, is that while the interim time was hard, it will be a fading memory this morning when I drive myself to work, and again this afternoon, when I drive myself home (and maybe even when I sneak out during Sonic Happy Hour to get a slushie!).

While I don't see myself looking back on these last few months fondly, I do see the benefits of the hard time--things that would take too long to explain here, but are definite signs that God did not forget about me during that time. I never believed He ignored my prayers or left them unanswered--He just said "No--I have something different in mind for you."

Maybe it was because He wanted me to rely on Him during this time. Maybe because He wanted us to have a car with a lower monthly payment. Maybe because He wanted me to really notice when He gave me an extra-special kiss. I don't know why and honestly, don't really care. What I do know is that through this, my faith in Him remained unshaken and I truly believed He would provide--even thought I didn't know the timing. For a doubter like me, this is big.

So, if my hair is messier than usual on top over the next few days, just know that I'm savoring my kiss from heaven and the best kisses leave you looking disheveled.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sonic Ice

Sonic ice makes everything taste better.

I made a pitcher of pink lemonade. When I say "made" I mean that I took a can of frozen concentrate and mixed it with water. (I buy the Target brand because it's 84 cents and the Minute Maid is over a dollar.) Sometimes, I get an extremely sour one and it tastes bitter.

This is one of those bitter ones. I drank it last night with the regular ice that the freezer makes and the only reason I kept drinking it was because I was tired of water. (I'll save the story of why I no longer drink caffeine for another day)

So, today, I used some of the Sonic ice from the freezer. I don't often buy ice from Sonic anymore--it's a luxury because of how expensive it is now (yes, I consider more than 3 dollars for a bag of ice a luxury). But, a few weeks ago, our ice maker couldn't keep up with the amount we were using and I forgot to pick up a bag from the store, so I was lazy and parked at Sonic where they brought it out to me.

Anyway, I filled my cup with Sonic ice and added the pink lemonade. While I still taste a tinge of the bitterness, it's nowhere near as bad as it was last night or even an hour ago with regular ice.

It's funny how seemingly simple things can soften our bitterness.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sometimes there just aren't words...

Caroline, this morning: "Mom, my hair looks like...looks like...looks like...a really bad thing!
Sometimes there just aren't words to describe a bad hair day

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thanks, Joe!

So, I went to Walmart tonight, looking for a yellow shirt, a backpack and a hat. Random, I know. Anyway, I went through the self-check out (only got the hat--which ended up not fitting Brian--and a book for myself) and pushed the button for $20 cash back. I grabbed my receipt and bag, said goodnight to Joe, the cashier at the stand and left. As I was in Target (decided I didn't need the yellow shirt, but was still looking for a backpack, I realized I never grabbed my cash. So, I left Target and drove back over to Walmart, not sure if it was still there, but it was worth a try. I grabbed my receipt and walked in the door and Joe immediately recognized me and went to his till and pulled out a $20 bill. Thanks for looking out for a stranger, Joe!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nana Barbara and Cassie

Cassie is Nana Barbara's newest pet. Let me give you a bit of history...

Nana Barbara is Brian's aunt. Since she is our cousin's "Nana," my girls have dubbed her "Nana Barbara." She's one of those people who is just pure in heart. You know the type--people and animals are just drawn to her sincere kindness.

Barbara's house is known by many in the city. It's the house where unwanted animals just appear. She tends to have a few dogs and cats at any given time. She once sat on the ground by the side of the road for over an hour, waiting for an injured dog to let her help.

I'm not sure how Cassie came to live at Barbara's, but she has been there for over a year. Cassie was abused by her previous owner. I don't think there are any physical signs of it, but it is obvious to all who try to get close to her.

Cassie is petrified of people. She literally shakes when anyone comes near. She follows Barbara's every step, and is most content when sitting next to her on the sofa--that's the only place I've been able to get close enough to pet her. Even then, she was shaking so much, that I felt bad for trying to show her affection.

Cassie has 100 acres to run and enjoy. But she doesn't. There are 3 houses on the farm filled with people who adore animals, but she won't allow herself to enjoy that love. Nobody has abused her for over a year, and yet, she still trembles at any noise.

In contrast, Baxter is another dog at the farm. He arrived during Christmas a few years ago and is well-loved. He takes full advantage of the farm and all it has to offer. He has no fear of people and jumps up into strangers' laps. Being around him, makes me want to laugh.

Do you see where I'm going with this? While I know Cassie must have had a horrible past, those circumstances are no longer her reality. Because she is too scared to allow herself to accept the love that is given to her--with no strings attached--she sits on a sofa, in a house, rather than running around the farm with the other animals.

I think many of us can relate to Cassie. We have a Father who loves us tremendously, but we can't bask in that love because we are so scared of our past. So, rather than enjoy the full scope of what He has given us, we sit, paralyzed and shaking on a sofa.

So my daily choice is, do I live today as Cassie or Baxter?

Monday, March 22, 2010

The lump in Hope's throat

A few weeks ago, a friend of ours was asked to go to Haiti to document the devastation there with pictures and video. My heart had already been softened toward that country, but this gave me a personal reason to follow a blog by World Orphans. One of those nights, I was telling Brian about a scare of aftershocks that the team had experienced and Hope was in the room.

I feel strongly about bringing my girls on whatever journey God has me on, but I also want to protect their eyes and ears. We had talked about Haiti as a family, so she was aware of the earthquake, but I hadn't really shared the details of it with her. As she listened to Brian and I talking, she asked several questions about the kids over there. After a while, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "I'm scared for those kids. I have a lump in my throat."

We talked about that "lump" and how God sometimes gives us physical reactions to make our hearts soft for others. Brian asked her, "So, when you feel that lump, what can you do?" She, of course, said, "I don't know--I can't go there to help." So we talked about how she could pray every time she felt that lump. And we did that. Then, I shared a story of another girl from our church who was giving a violin recital to raise money for the orphans of Haiti and she became excited. "I could make potholders for them" she exclaimed! We tried to tread lightly here--we loved her heart, but knew the Haitians really had no need for potholders and there was no way of getting those to them--even if they did need them. So we talked about how she could make potholders, sell them and give the money to an organization that would help the Haitian orphans. She was very excited and started working on a new potholder right away.

As the weeks have gone by, I have tried to back off and let her lead in this. While I would love for her to go crazy making and selling potholders, I would rather her do it in her own time and really own the process. I don't want her to do it because her parents want her to--I want her to do it out of an overflow of compassion in her heart. She's made a couple of them, we've set a price, I bought her more material, but that's been about it. Until today.

She came home from school with $10 from her teacher and one less potholder (I didn't even know she had put them in her backpack). She even recruited a friend who wants to help with them. So, it looks like she is in the potholder business. She has 3 made and is working on her 4th. I told her I would send an email out to my friends when she had 5 made to show, but I wanted to document it here before I forget more details of how her business came to be.

When she added her own change and dollar to the cash envelope tonight, it hit me that she really has gotten the bigger picture of this. She is typically a child who saves every last dime and spends it on things she wants--it's not that she has a hard heart, she's just very focused on her own wants. So, if today's potholder is the only one she sells, I'm great with this. Seeing her give of her own money and knowing how huge that is for her, has put a smile in my heart.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hope's Art

One of the things I struggle with as a mom is the desire for my girls to be the best at everything they do. This is hard for an over-achiever like me--I want them to be at the top of everything in which they are involved. I have been slowly giving this up--esp. over the past year.

Hope is an extremely well-rounded child. She truly is good at almost everything she does, but she has developed a fear of trying something new because she might not be the best at it. This, of course, stems from the messages I have sent her over the past 8 years. I'm working at changing that. I truly am at a place where I would rather her enjoy what she is doing and only be okay at it than to be the best at something she doesn't really care about. I know, as a mom, this is what I SHOULD do, but it's not always reality for most of us. I can now say it is my reality.

It's been freeing. I no longer compare her to the girls she plays soccer with or the LEAP kids at school or even her friends' kindness. I've learned to accept her talents and gifts and rejoice in the things she enjoys.

Art is one of those things. As her mom, I think she is incredibly talented in it, but more than that, she LOVES it. So, it was so rewarding to her a few weeks ago when her artwork was chosen to be displayed in a district-wide art show. It was so fun to see the joy she had on her face and the way she was trying to be humble about it ("Mom, I didn't even think that piece was very good, but Ms. Griffen did.")It was fun to celebrate with her and wait in the 30 minute line to get in to see her work, as well as have a fun dinner and get a new shirt.

What I hope she will remember from this is not the fact that her work was chosen to be one of the best, but that she enjoyed putting the detail into the project and did her best work. And that her family celebrated her.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Celebrating Caroline

Some days time seems to fly and others, it just stands still. As I think back to the day Caroline was born, it seems so much longer than 6 years ago. It seems like she has always been a part of our lives and I just can't imagine what would have happened if God would have listened to our timing of waiting for another year or two before having her.

Caroline is pure joy--I can't think of her without a smile coming to my face. To describe her, I would say she is passionate and caring. She loves with her whole heart and doesn't hold back when she's feeling something. That makes for a bit of drama, but I never doubt her honesty in how she feels.

Caroline curls up in your lap or around your shoulders on the sofa, just like a baby kitten. She is not afraid to grab my hand--just because--or look over at me in the middle of something to say, "Mommy, I wuv you." She walks around the house on her tip toes and spins in ballerina twirls everywhere she goes. She doesn't like to get "schweaty" and would eat macaroni and cheese for every meal, if we let her. Her heart is generous and she would give every last cent she had if someone asked her for it.

I don't know what kind of job Caroline will grow up to do, but I do know it will be something relational. When she was learning her letters, she would recognize the ones like "H" for Hope or "B" for Bubba--always had a relational context to it. She is a whiz at math, so she might be an interesting contrast.

So, as I celebrate Caroline's 6th birthday today, I am also celebrating her presence in my life right now and the many people she will bless as she grows up. She is a light and so very precious to all who know her.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

One Week

So, today marks the one week mark until I have surgery that will ultimately lead to being able to hear again in my right ear. I had a dream last night that they called to cancel it--which is something I've thought of a few times, as I start to fear the anticipation I am feeling. While I am typically anxious about most things, I really have a different feeling with this one. I still have the occasional thought or dream, but I am a lot more at peace. Probably because of the way it came about. Let me explain...

When I first tried out the device and was told I was a candidate for it, I spoke with the lady who schedules surgery and was hit with reality. My insurance had to approve me first and from what she typically sees, that is at minimum, a 6 week process. Once insurance gave the go-ahead, then she had could schedule the surgery and that was a 3-4 month wait. After the surgery, my scalp would have to have a 3 month healing process before I could get the actual device and begin hearing again. So, I left there with the optimism that I would hear by Christmas.

Two weeks after she sent the pre-approval request to the insurance company, I recieved a letter from them telling me that they DID cover this procedure and device. I called the doctor's office the next day and left a message to schedule surgery. Two days later, I had not received a call back, so I called again and was told that they received a letter saying that insurance did provide for it, but would not pay. The estimation for the entire process is @ $6000--something we don't have in our back pocket at this time. She sent me to the Texas Disability Office to see if there was financial help and I was give other options that I just didn't feel peace about.

I think at this point, I hit an all-time low. My doctor had assured me just 2 weeks before that there was no chance I would ever go deaf and I believed him. I felt like all hope had been snatched from me and the reality of the disability was staring me in the face. As long as I didn't know there was an option, I was able to cope, but once I tried on that device and could hear again, I was ruined for settling with only one ear working. The reality of talking to the people at the Disability Office had hit me (as had sitting in a meeting with so much background noise going on that I had a headache from trying to concentrate so hard on the people talking who I was with). I remember thinking and saying, "Sure, there's no chance I'll go deaf--as long as I have lots of money."

So, I stressed over it and spoke to our HR Director who encouraged me to call my insurance company directly. I did, and the man I spoke to said in his system, the entire thing was approved--even the device. Huh? I called my doctor's office again, and was told that was not what her letter said and she agreed to fax it to me. So I waited. I received a fax in the morning that said she had already sent my file for repeal, so we would have to wait for it to come back.

I had several people questioning my doctor's office (who I had absolutely loved up until this point)--including myself. So I left another message for them--trying to be kind, but stress my sense of urgency in getting this approved quickly so that it would all fall in the same calendar year for insurance deductible purposes.
Around 2 pm, I received the fax. She had double underlined the words "This plan does provide coverage for this service." When she read it, she swore it said that it "does NOT" and looking at the letter, there is an obvious spot where the word "Not" could have been. She may have made a mistake, but this is a person who looks at letters like this every day--her whole job is to schedule these surgeries.

In the course of calling her back and having her pull her copy of the letter to read it to me, I found out that someone the day before had just cancelled their surgery for the end of February. She put me in that spot. So instead of having to wait 6 weeks just to get approval, I was getting my surgery in almost that same amount of time--something they never see.

I know this has been a long one, but I feel the need to write it down so that I can remember it. If she would have read that letter correctly, then I would have had the surgery scheduled for the end of April and received my device in the late summer/early fall. I truly believe that the letter DID say they did not cover it and when she faxed it to me, God deleted the word "NOT." I know that sounds far-fetched, but I believe that He takes care of us in supernatural ways and miracles are performed every day without our knowing it.

So, I am amazed once again by the way He loves me and cares so much about me that He is showing me in a tangible way--giving me my hearing again.