Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Do Flashmobs Make you Cry?

I love watching a good flashmob—even now when they are no longer as cool as they once were. They usually make me laugh or sing, but I don’t think any have ever made me cry.
Until I watched this one…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDBSpuPhdE4

Now, I’m cynical and I’m sure that some of these people singing were planted there and that many bystanders kept walking, BUT, even still--to see that many people in a MALL, singing about the REAL reason for Christmas just did me in.  Especially at the 4 minute mark forward.  I won’t spoil it, but if you watch nothing else, watch it from that point forward.
So grateful for a King  who came as a baby because of His tremendous love for me!  And thankful for the freedom to “Go tell it on the Mountain.”
 
Falling to my knees...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Making Room for Christmas


Every year, like most of you, we pull out the boxes of Christmas d├ęcor. Boxes filled with garland, lights, ornaments and knick-knacks. We aren’t over the top, but we have enough stuff that I have to take our regular, everyday stuff down and pack it away for the month. (That’s also probably the only time I dust it all year, so you can imagine what a great housekeeper I am!)

A couple of the Christmas decorations have made it into the regular mix and a couple of the regulars, stay up during Christmas. They fit with each other. But most don’t make the cut and they get separated.

It got me thinking…Christmas is something that we should celebrate all year long. Maybe not to the extent that we do during December with decorations and such, but we should be living the story of a King coming as a baby (for that matter, we should be living the Easter story, too, but that’s another post).

So, I started thinking, maybe I’ll leave a Christmas decoration or two up this year—as a reminder that every day is a good day to rejoice that a Holy God became a human baby. As a reminder that we have a loving and compassionate God that was moved to action for us.

To remind me that there’s way more to life than the daily grind. I'm a part of a bigger (and better) story.

What about you? How do you keep Christmas “real” throughout the year?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Introducing Hunter…The Dude on the Shelf

Once again, we are thinking out of the box at the Royal house. I think this one puts us over the top as just plain ol crazy. Caroline has been asking for an Elf on the Shelf this year. I’ve had good intentions of getting her one, but just keep forgetting to look when I’m at Target (the only store I know who has it). Last night, she reminded me, so we stopped there on the way home.

And, just like I figured, they were out of them. If you know me, you probably know that I typically have a Plan B and sometimes even C to almost everything. It’s just the way I roll—call it half glass empty, but its reality most days that Plan A doesn’t happen the way I think it should.

I had been preparing her…”They may be already sold out. If that’s the case, maybe we can find an elf doll.” They did have a plush doll, but we decided to head over to the doll section to see what else was there. I was hoping for a knock-off elf (especially if he was cheaper) or a Christmas Ken doll.

What we found was a Mermaid Tale Ken. He was in surfer shorts and I think the girls kinda had a crush on him. Hope was enamored with his highlights and Caroline kept asking if he had a 6 pack.

I explained that our elf could not be shirtless, so we bought the only suit available—a pink and black one (they did insist that he keep the sunglasses, though). He was named Hunter, but since he’s not really an elf, he became “Dude on the Shelf.” When we were laying the ground rules (I’ve never read the Elf on the Shelf book, but I’ve heard some of the scoop), I made sure the girls knew they couldn’t touch him. His job was to watch and report back to Santa (even though they don’t believe in Santa, they often forget and play along).

That’s when I knew we had passed crazy a few blocks ago. Hope exclaimed, “He won’t call Santa, Dude will call the modeling agency!” 

Brian thinks he's creepy and won't play along, but what he doesn't know is that we passed up the One Direction dolls--it could have been worse. 

Have you ever improvised with your kids? How did it turn out?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Making the Most of Serving with Your Kids

A word of warning up front—most of this post will be plagiarized.  I read a great book this year called “Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in your Kids” by Kara Powell and Chap Clark.  It had lots of great ideas about helping our kids to own their faith before they left our nest.  There was a chapter on serving with kids/students that just resonated with me.  I may have re-worded a few things, but here is what the book said about making the most out of a serving experience with your child:

Frame it Beforehand
·         Lay the foundation of the service (Why are you doing it)
·         Talk about who they are serving
·         Ask your kids to put themselves in the place of the people being served: how do they think the homeless person they are feeding will feel?  What kinds of things would make a kid feel welcome in small group?

Process it During
·         What was your favorite part?
·         What was the hardest part?
·         What did you do well?
·         What mistakes did you make?
·         How did you see God at work?
·         How did you see others being used by God?
·         What new questions does this raise for you?

Debrief it After
·         How did God work through you?  What does that say about how God might want to work through you in your daily life?
·         How has your experience shaped your view of service and justice?  What difference might that make now?
·         What have you learned about people who are poor or different from you?  How do you want that to shape you?
·         What ideas do you have to help this be more than just a onetime experience and instead be something that impacts your life?

Ongoing Transformation
As parents, intentionally seek out ways to connect the dots from the service experience to their daily lives (i.e. having lunch with a homeless man and having lunch with a new kid at their school).  “Justice work is more likely to stick when it’s not an event, but a process.”

I haven’t implemented all of these, but I’m working on a few of them every time I serve with my girls.  It’s tricky—if they feel like I’m evaluating them or making it an object lesson,  then the experience loses its joy and becomes work.  Feel free to change up the questions to fit your family—make it work for you.  I'm finding that the more I do it, the easier it is for questions to come to mind and I don't have to look at my cheat sheet.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When Your Kids Don't Want To Serve...Part 2


A few weeks ago, I wrote about the “yuck” I feel when my kids don’t want to serve.  I promised I would share some things God’s been teaching me through it.  These aren’t necessarily tips or guidelines in what to do with your child.  These are simply lessons I’m passing on, in hopes that they will help you, too (I seem to learn best by mistakes—how much better if they are some else’s).

Lesson #1—Serving doesn’t define who they are or who we are as a family.   It can be something we feel passionate about, but it is not who we are.  We are in Christ.  Let me clarify this a bit.

I think all families should have things that they are about—things that they all come together and rally around.  It can be their kids’ school, it can be their church, it can be their neighborhood, a family, or an organization. You get the idea--it can really be anything.  In fact, maybe it’s just about a concept—like serving—and you expose your kids to different ways to do that. 

There’s a fine line, though, between this and creating an identity.  We do these things out of an overflow of Christ in us—not FOR Christ or to impress Him.  Since kids are such concrete thinkers, they sometimes mix this up.  It’s our job to constantly turn them back to the Bible and reiterate the truth about who they are in their core. To make sure they know that even if they never served again, your love for them would not waver or change.

Lesson #2—Don’t take the refusal at face value—dig deeper.  Usually—especially with kids who live in the day to day—their push-back is because of something else.  When we talked about it the next night, Hope told me that she was tired and felt like we were always doing Lovepacs stuff and she just wanted to stay home and watch TV.  So we talked through it.  For once, I didn’t get defensive; we looked at a calendar and counted how many times we went to Lovepacs.  In light of everything else she saw on our calendar, it was minimum.  BUT, I did allow her to say how much she thought was too much and how much was enough.  We also talked about the ebb and flow—there are some weeks things are busier (I related them to a soccer tournament—it’s a lot during that one weekend, but we don’t do that on a consistent basis).  We also talked about whether we needed to lighten up on some other things so that it didn’t feel like we were gone every night.  It was a great give-and-take discussion.

Lesson #3—Know your kids.  I know that Hope doesn’t like things sprung on her.  I had been planning to go to Lovepacs that night, but had failed to tell her we were doing that back when we decided to.  She’s a creature of habit and is not scared to do different things, but likes to know what to expect.  If I’d have done a better job in this case, she wouldn’t have lashed out at me.  I can’t always forewarn her (and she’s learning about flexibility), but most of the time, I can give her time to get used to the idea.

Lesson #4—Give them a say in what you do.  Just because you are passionate about it, doesn’t mean it touches them.  Ask lots of questions.

·         What do they see as a need around them? 

·         What do they like to do?  Do they like kids? 

·         Do they prefer to be around older folks? 

·         Would they prefer to do something nobody sees or do they like to be in the middle of a group of people working together? 

These types of questions can help narrow down what you want to do together.  It shouldn’t box you in—you can find most of these types of things in the same serving experience—you just have to be intentional about the part your child is involved in and how you talk about it afterward.

Lesson #5—It’s okay if you show up to serve and they spend most of the time playing with other kids instead of serving.  In the beginning, I tried to get my kids to come in, pack boxes and pray over them.  They preferred to play football in the backyard.  They are finding their own community.  If I give them a task list, it sucks the joy out of it for them.  Also, I had to look at my reasoning for wanting them to pack—and honestly, part of it was that I felt that if we were asking others to do it, my family should be leading in it.  That’s not necessarily wrong, but it also made me put expectations on them to perform for others.  Again—it’s a fine line to walk on this one.  When I give them space and don’t expect them to do it, they are begging to be a part of it.

These are just a few lessons I’ve been learning.  What have you learned with your family?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Making Christmas Intentional

I've been on the hunt for Christmas ideas.  Ideas that will miraculously make my family just ooze with compassion and joy in this hectic season.  Ideas that will make my girls look at Christmas in a totally different light.  Ideas that will make my hubby and I sit by the Christmas lights and stare deeply into each other's eyes.

Ok, so maybe that's a tall order.  And honestly, as much as I love Brian, if we sat staring into each other's eyes, we'd either wind up laughing or fall asleep.  And, as much as I want every day to bring an "A-HA!" moment, most of the best lessons I've learned have been in the ordinary.

BUT, I am still on the hunt for something to do with my family.  Something that will give me a starting place with some intentional words to say.  Something that will plant nuggets of truth in my girls' minds.  Something that will make me stop in my tracks and breathe in the wonder of what God really did on that night so many years ago.

And on top of all that, it's gotta be manageable.  There are so many great ideas out there, but I know myself and my family well enough to know we can't (or maybe won't is the right word) do something every night for 25 nights.  In fact, we had a week-long activity we did for 3 years and I always spaced it over 2 weeks because I KNEW we'd miss a night (and even then, I think most of those years we had to double up a couple of nights). 

There are lots of ideas for little ones.  But, beyond the Jesse Tree, there aren't a lot for older elementary kiddos.  If I'd have started thinking about this a few months ago, I probably would have created something to do--picked from the many resources and pasted together something that I call my own but which is really just plaguarized from others. 

But I didn't.  And I do have an idea, but it's a lot of work and I'm not sure I will get it done before Dec. 1st.  And it's a 25 day thing, but I'm thinking to make it simple enough to combine 2 (or 3 or 4) nights together, if needed.  Or maybe I'll just shorten it.

After talking it over with Brian a couple of nights ago, I had almost decided to quit.  I don't need an activity to help me talk about the meaning of the season, do I?  But then, last night I asked the girls about it.  They were excited about doing something--as long as it wasn't a "study" kind of thing.  They came up with some great ideas of wrapping up names and opening them and prayig for them that night.  And the first name they mentioned was Lovepacs which made me happy.  While I loved their idea, I kept trying to find a way to tie it to Christmas.

So what would you do?  Would you just go with their idea or would you find a way to make it intentional for the season?  Have you found anything that you are doing with your family this year?  If so, please share!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What Happens when your Kids don't want to Serve

I’m an activist.  Not the 60s and 70s kind of burn your bra type (I mean, really—who was for that?  I can guarantee you it wasn’t any woman with a cup size bigger than A).  Another way to describe my kind of activism is to say I’m service-oriented.  I like a cause.  I like even better to be involved in a community with a heart for a specific cause. 

Not all causes grab me—granted, I’m a sucker for many, but not all.  Lovepacs grabs me.  I think it should grab everyone (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT—check it out at www.lovepacs.org).  But, this post is not specifically about Lovepacs—so please don't tune me out if you're tired of all my fb posts about it!!!

Last week, we were getting ready to head to Lifegroup (a small group with some people in our community) and I guess I had failed to tell my girls that we were meeting at the Lovepacs headquarters to finish up some projects and make sure our shelves were full and ready for the Thanksgiving pack.  Hope was not happy.  Her exact comment was “Why do we always have to do things for Lovepacs?” But imagine it in a loud, yelling, 10 year old voice--complete with the angry, almost-teenager look.

I literally think my jaw dropped.  I looked at Brian and was speechless for a few moments (if you know me, you know that doesn’t happen often!).  When I recovered and was able to pick my jaw up off the ground,  I was indignant.  I mean, who doesn’t want to make sure kids have food?  Then I was worried.  Am I forcing my kids to do something they don’t want to do?  Is this my cause and not theirs?  Are my girls going to grow up resentful of the time and effort I spent on Lovepacs?  Would they see it as time stolen from them?  Then I was hurt.  I felt like it was a personal jab at me—a way for her to attack something I was passionate about to push my buttons (not that she EVER does that). 

Well, I calmly explained why we were doing it.  And I prayed.  For once, I can say, I took my worries to God.  I asked him to show me any blind spots.  I also asked for wisdom in how to navigate this moving forward. 

So we went.  And Hope had a blast.  Some of her time was spent serving—counting cans, shopping for veggies and pop-tarts, and sorting supplies.  Part of it was spent playing in the parking lot with the other kids.  But the thing that floored me the most was when we prayed over and dedicated our space.  We had a few specific things to pray (For our volunteers who didn’t know Jesus, for the business owner who was giving us the space for our headquarters—free of charge, for our 501c to come back approved soon, and of course, for the boxes and the kids who would receive them).  We asked for volunteers and Hope’s hand went up fast.  She specifically wanted to pray for the kids receiving the Lovepacs--and did so out loud in front of everyone.  To say I was shocked is stating it lightly.

On Monday, I gave the girls an option of staying home or coming with me to help with the 1st crew coming to pack.  They both were adamant that they wanted to go and help.  And they each packed 3 boxes on their own.  And were sad when Brian came to take them home.

So this story has a happy ending—for now.  But I’m not going to assume that will always be the case.  I’ll post more on some things that I feel like God is teaching me through it and through my own experience of growing up with parents who worked for a church.  Not that I think I have all the answers—far from it.  But I think we often hide these kinds of discussions with our kids because we’re embarrassed.  I mean, we are obviously a bad parent if our kids don’t feel passion toward something that gets our own hearts beating faster, right? 

Have you ever had a moment like the one I had with Hope?  One where you were shocked speechless?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dear Veteran


Dear Veteran,

I don’t know if I can even do justice to thanking you properly for what you have done for me and my family.  As I sat through the program at my girls’ school last Friday, I was moved by the number of you who attended and  the amazing pictures of you serving our country.

I was also moved by how “ordinary” you looked. 

You were men, women, young, old, black, white, Hispanic—and many of you were parents.

I can’t imagine the toll your job has taken on you and your family.  I can’t begin to even comprehend the sacrifice you made or the hardships you endured.

THANK YOU for allowing me to vote in an election for my president this week.

THANK YOU for allowing me to worship openly at my church this morning.

THANK YOU for allowing my kids to go to school without the fear of being shot at.

THANK YOU for allowing my family to sleep peacefully at night while you stay awake and watch our borders.

THANK YOU for protecting us so well that I take it for granted that we live in a free country.

I do know that freedom isn’t free and I am grateful to you for the price you pay so that my family can enjoy freedom.

Thank you seems so small, but I give it to you  from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Conversations with Caroline

C: "I need a band-aid--I scraped my toe on the sidewalk."
Me: "We need to wash it with soap and water first"
C: "I already cleaned it with water"
Me: "You just came in the house. You don't have any water outside."
C: "Yes I do. I used my spit."

Yep, those are my redneck children running down the street with no shoes on and spitting on their feet. We've got class in the Royal house.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Favorite Pinterest Quotes...Vol 2

As promised, I have found more great quotes on Pinterest:

Whoever said diamonds are a girl's best friend, didn't own a dog.

Laugh when you can, apologize when you should and let go of what you can't.

Life is better at the beach.

People will stare. Make it worth their while. --Harry Winston

Rock bottom is a beautiful start.

I like big books and I cannot lie.

The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. --Peggy O'Mara

Life is about using the whole box of crayons.

You're making it difficult for me to be the parent I always thought I'd be.

Do it with passion or not at all

Whoever said money can't buy happiness has clearly never been to Target.

Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.

Sometimes you just have to take a leap--and build your wings on the way down.

And if the music is good, you dance.

Stay tuned...I'm becoming a word junkie. Good thing there's Pinterest to feed my addiction.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What I Learned from Halloween

Well, another Halloween is under our belts--it might even be the last time Hope wants to trick or treat since shes getting to that tricky age where she's struggling with whether shes too old or not.

Here's what I learned this year:
  • If your daughter is starting puberty, be prepared for tears about her costume, her friends, her hair and anything else that comes up--right before you have to walk out the door
  • Changing costume ideas 4 times in 1 week is too much (especially when that's multiplied by 2 girls)
  • When friends invite you for chili before trick or treating, go--you won't regret it
  • It's okay to zig zag back and forth across the street and not trick or treat methodically
  • Mad scientist wigs are hot
  • There is such a thing as too much candy
  • Moms don't get scared when you jump out at them from behind bushes
  • Nerds don't wear make-up (actually, this is something I tried to teach Hope but I don't think she got it)
And the burning question that runs through my mind every year is...Who first thought someone would put a razor blade in their kiddos' candy?  Did that really happen or was that a parent who just wanted to "sort" the candy and sneak their favorites out of the pile?

What did you learn this year?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Favorite Pinterest Quotes...Vol 1

I've become a little bit addicted to Pinterest over the past few weeks.  I started out innocently searching for crafts to do/presents to make with the girls over Thanksgiving break.  I've found much more.

Here are some of my favorite quotes so far...

Remember to always be yourself...unless you suck

We'll live off love.  Not really--I'll starve to death.   --Phil Roberson

If you're always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.  --Maya Angelou

The greatest advantage of speaking the truth is that you don't have to remember what you said.

95% of the decisions in my life are based on whether I like the colors of something or if it's pretty or smells good.

When you look at a field of dandelions, you can either see a hundred weeds or a hundred wishes.

Dreams don't work unless you do.

You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.  --Plato

I have an irrational fear of wasting a good outfit on an insignificant day.

A man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the neck...and she can turn the head any way she wants.

You can learn great things from your mistakes when you aren't busy denying them.

Glitter is my favorite color.

Sometimes, when my underwear matches my outfit, it makes me feel like I really have my life together.

Some people need to change their facebook status updates to *Needs Attention*

A really good book doesn't need a bookmark because you'll never put it down  long enough to forget the page you were on.


Stay tuned for Volume 2--that Pinterest has a few good things on it...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Old Potholders

My potholders are ancient.  I seriously don't remember even buying any of hte ones I currently own.  And, they don't get washed as often as they should (said while covering my hands over my face in embarrassment).

They are those things I just never think to spend money on.  They work well enough and are hidden in a drawer most days. 

But they all have some type of hole in them.  Instead of throwing them away, I know how to hold it so that it holds the pan without me getting burnt. 

At least that works most of the time.

I know there's a spiritual connection I can make here, but I'm feeling a bit cheesy these days--like I'm trying to find something deep in the painting that is really just a big red splotch of color. 

So, I'll stop.

How old are your potholders?  How many do you have?  How often do you get new ones? 

Guess who "Graduated" from Speech?"

It's a bittersweet day at the Royal house.  Actually, turns out, I'm the only one who's bittersweet.

After 2 years of going to special speech classes twice a week, Caroline no longer qualifies for them.  I had her ARD (don't ask me what what stands for--I can never remember) meeting today and after evaluating her, she can now pronounce all of her letters--including those pesky "Ls" and "Rs."  She no longer needs speech class.

And I was happy.  But, as usual, I also worried.  Caroline LOVES going to speech.  She doesn't see it as a deficiency, she sees it as fun and a place where she is special.  I worried that she would be sad that she was done.  I even almost didn't sign the spot that said it would be immediate (I had the choice of it not going into effect for 5 days). I worried that she wouldn't feel special anymore.  I worried that without one-on-one attention in speech, there might not be anyone else looking out for her and she might become just another good kid.in the middle of 500 others.

So, I worked out this plan that I would pick up the girls from school and we'd go celebrate Caroline at her place of choice (not just because I was worried--I DID really want to celebrate her hard work, too).  She got in the car and was all smiles (after showing me her boot that had ripped today).  She chose to get frozen yogurt with toppings so we headed to Sweet Frogs and she got yogurt and a shirt so that she would remember the occasion!

The thing is, she was so stinkin proud of herself.  Her speech teacher let her choose from the prize box (she chose Bottlecaps--who doesn't love those!) AND she had Caroline's classmates sign her folder with sweet notes about how awesome she was but that they would miss her--even the little boy who drives her crazy wrote something so nice. 

All too often, we hear the stories of how kids are overlooked in the public school system and fall through the cracks.  This could have happened with us, but I followed my instincts and advocated for her until I had a teacher who saw it as well and she took up the battle.  I say "battle," but it really wasn't that.  Once she was tested, it was obvious she had a deficiency.  BUT still, the teachers and staff worked diligently with her.  They never made her feel less smart than other kids--even when she struggled with reading and spelling.  They loved her sweet smile with the dimple.  They encouraged her. 

I wish I could have bottled the glow she had after school today--words don't do it justice and I don't think a camera could have captured it.  I know this is cheesy, but it really felt like one of those glimpses of heaven God gives us every so often. 

Parenting is not always easy.  In fact, it's full of more hard times than I like to admit.  BUT, it's being a part of  moments like these that make the not-so-easy parenting times worth every bit of the effort. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Last Roll

We are down to the very last roll of toilet paper in each of our 2 bathrooms. Some people have phobias of height, some of tight spaces...I fear running completely out of toilet paper.

Seriously--I'm not joking or even exaggerating on this one.  Even though my storage space is tiny, I usually buy a big pack well before I run out.  This means that I usually have a few rolls that sit on the back of the toilet.

So, I guess I'm running to the store first thing in the morning.

Do you have any phobias?  If so, what are they.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What I woke up to


Here's what I woke up to this morning:

      

I don't remember Brian's alarm going off, him getting ready or these 2 characters sneaking into my bed (along with 3 pillows).  

Happy Monday, y'all!  

What's the weirdest thing you've woken up to?

Friday, October 19, 2012

I Need a Name!!!!

I posted months ago that I was thinking of starting a new blog--something more professional. I write for our church blog but sometimes, I feel like I need to tone down who I am when I do those posts.

Sooo, I've been noodling on a ministry blog for women who work/lead in Kids ministries in churches. It will be full of posts on balancing home and work, developing teams, leading up, working with people who don't always have the same passions as you, etc.

But, I need a name.

And I need some professional help designing it, but I'm cheap and don't want to spend a lot of money.   But I also don't want the font to change 4 times like this one does when you first open it.

What would you call it?

Do you know a blog designer who wouldn't take my right arm to set it up for me?

Any posts you would want to see?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This Week's Random Thoughts

Mrs. Green Jeans

Last weekend, I took my oldest bra shopping.  Yep, you heard me--we are at that stage of life.  There are many posts I'd like to do here on it, but I really don't want to embarrass her, so I'll drop it...for now, at least. 

Anyway, we found her stuff pretty quickly and I wandered over into my section for jeans.  Have I mentioned how much I hate shopping?  I absolutely dread it--no matter what kind it is.  I used  to like shopping for other people, but even that is a beat-down for me these days.  And yes, shoe shopping is included in the hate column--I know that calls into question my femaleness, but one pair of black shoes is really enough for me-as long as they are comfortable.

So, back to the jeans.  I couldn't find any regular jeans, but Hope found the colored rack.  She begged me--seriously--to try on the green ones.  After realizing I was actually dodging a bullet by not being coerced into taking the purple ones as well, I grabbed the green pair and headed to the dressing room.

They are a little too much.  And I only have 2 shirts that I know I can wear with them (I'm a mix and match queen when it comes to clothes--I like any new item to match 4-5 things).  I think I'm too old and big to wear something trendy--I've never been a "cool" person in my life--I'm a "classic" kind of girl. 

But, I walked out of the store with them anyway.  And Hope was so ecstatic--you'd have thought I won the lottery. And I got several compliments on them when I wore them (to which she smirked and said "I told you so!").

It sounds silly.  A post about green jeans.  But here's what I learned from it:
  • Saying "Yes" to your kids can benefit you as much as them.
  • Taking a risk every now and then reaps benefits
  • I don't have to dread shopping--my daughter's love language--I can celebrate the fact that I now have a personal shopper
And the thing that is slapping me in the face the most:

My 10 year old already has more fashion sense than I do. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Making Excuses

The other day, I found myself trying to one-up someone.  I'm sure this never happens to anyone else, but I find myself in this position at least weekly (probably daily if I were really honest here).

Instead of being happy and celebrating with the person talking about this great thing that had happened, I smiled and immediately launched into how great that was for her, but that doesn't work for my family.  In a few sentences, I belittled her joy and explained why we do it a different way and it really has a bigger impact this way.

When I realized what I had done, I was completely embarrassed.  In fact, I still have never gone back to apologize.  As I started my over-analyzation process, I tried to figure out why I felt the need to do that.  Here's what I came up with:

Insecurity. 

Fear.

Pride.

All ugly things.  I worry that because the traditional way doesn't typically work for me and my girls, it means that we don't know Jesus as well as we think we do.  I'm scared that others see and think that.  I'm also scared that others feel the same way as me, but aren't brave enough to speak up (which fuels my need to speak up more than I should). 

And, honestly, there are few things I hate worse than feeling like someone is better than me.  I know I should hate the fact that people die every day without knowing Jesus, and there is so much abuse in the world and there are hungry kids in every city/town.  And I do hate those things, but sometimes, not as much as I hate feeling small. 

Reminds me of something a friend of mine said in college--all sin is rooted in pride.  Sounds like it fits for me.

There's no bow on the end of this post--I have nothing to tie it up prettily with.  Just ponderings.  And prayers that God will grip my heart and close my mouth the next time I try to make excuses.    Feel free to pray that for me, too--Lord knows there can't ever be enough people praying for me.

Friday, October 12, 2012

No Room for Regret

I came across this "post" I had written on notebook paper while I was on vacation this summer that I had forgotten about. Better late than never to get it on the blog.

I woke up early this morning.  So early that it was still dark outside. I laid in bed and thought about walking down to the beach to see the sunrise, but by the time I finally convinced myself to get up and do it, the sun was already up.  Knowing I'd probably missed the best part, I headed  down to the beach anyway.  And I got a couple of good pics--including this one (which, yes, I did doctor in instagram to make it more dramatic, but isn't it worth it???)    


The moment my feet touched sand, rain started falling. I waited for a moment--hoping it would pass--but the sprinkles turned into big raindrops--complete with lightning--so I left and headed back to our home for the week.

Walking back, I started to think about how quickly our perspective changes.   Before I went to bed the night before, I noticed that I had a slight sunburn--as did both of my girls.  I wondered if we should stay inside today and take it easy--after all, we still had 3 more beach days. Wouldn't it be good to hang out at the house for a day?  The rain confirmed my plans for the day, but I was sad.

The rain reminded me that life is not always filled with sunny beach days, so we should grab them when they come and wring every bit of fun out of them that we can.  We should take our naps in a chair by the ocean rather than in a bed. We should bring snacks so we don't have to go back for lunch. We should enjoy every bit of the sand--no matter where it winds up.

And I learned: To live fully on the sunny days leaves no room for regret on the rainy ones.

If Ya Read it and You Know it Clap Your Hands (or just give a like)

Like many writers, I doubt my abilities. Some days, I think I'm amazing and others, I feel like I have nothing to say that anyone wants to hear. This is where you come in--I need your help. If you read my posts and you find them somewhat amusing or entertaining, will you "like" this?  Better yet, if you follow somewhat consistently, a comment on this post would just send me over the moon. 

I'm not asking so that I can get a bunch of pats on the back. Seriously. I'm asking because I'm debating about whether to become more serious about my writing. The fact is, many people out there think they are writers. And just a few of them have blogs (Ha!!!).  So I often wonder, "What makes me think I have anything to say that's not already being said/been said/will be said more eloquently?"

I've wanted to write a book since I was a kid--back when I dreamed about being a librarian (I thought being a librarian would allow me to read all the books in the library all day long).  I'm still not sure what I even want to write about--it will definitely be something I have first-hand experience with.  

I'm not saying I'm gonna stop blogging if I get no likes here, but knowing who is reading will help me define my target audience. It will also help me figure out whether to separate my "Royal Family" stories or to keep them because that's what's enjoyable about my writing.

So, what do ya think?  Will you help a sister out?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Blog Post A Day Keeps __________ Away

So, I've been way remiss in my writing the last few months.  It's not that I don't have anything to say and you obviously know that I don't subscribe to the "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" way of thinking.  I just haven't had margin.

Actually, I haven't made margin.

A lot of that is work.  A lot of that is just being tired.  A lot of it is a lack of creativity (going back to the lack of margin and tired-ness).  And the other lot of that is jut plain laziness.

So, I'm changing that.  Starting today, my plan is to write something every day until Thanksgiving.  I'll warn you now, it may all be crap.  But if I know I gotta do it, I'm hoping the creativity will open back up.  I won't do a 40 days of thankfulness kind of thing.  I won't do a picture a day--although, I DO want to do that one--maybe in December.  I'm not sure what kind of randomness will come out.  It could get exciting...or not.

So, if you are a friend who reads this because you love me, stay tuned and feel free to encourage me along the way.  If you read this to make fun of me, you can stay tuned as well--you may have lots to keep you laughing over the next month. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Duck dynasty makes me happy happy happy

I've posted before about how much I love the show Duck Dynasty. It makes me laugh out loud and that's a good thing.  In one hours worth tonight there were several one liners that I just had to share:
  • Hitting a deer isn't a wreck--that's food on the table. 
  • Better a good days catch of fish than a lifetime of crabs
  • It's on like donkey kong
  • I think there's a weight limit for ninjas
  • When you're 21 and still in high school, yeah, you're pretty good at stuff
  • If you combine the time you waste cutting grass with the time you spend shaving your face...
  • Hey!  You never insult a mans beard
  • Ladies and gentlemen: one more yuppie girl moved a little bit closer to being a redneck...there's still hope for America out there 
Going to bed with a smile on my face :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why I work In Kids Ministry

I’ve been paid to work in Kids Ministry for 6 ½ years --I say “paid” because I’ve been doing kids ministry since I was a kid—I just didn’t always realize it. 


The funny thing is that I’m not what you would expect when you think of a “Kid Person.” I’m not a warm and fuzzy, hug everybody type of girl. I have an interior design degree, not an education one. I prefer jeans and a t-shirt over a dress or jumper--and I seldom have a cute bag or accessory to match what I wear. When my kids get hurt, I don’t cuddle them for very long before pushing them back out there (I wish I did this last one better, though). I’m not the fun mom on the field trip—I make the kids follow the rules (but my girls still want me to go on them, so I do).

In fact, if you look at the way I parent, you would probably not want your kids around me. I make LOTS of mistakes. I yell. I pout. I promise consequences and often don’t give them. My girls eat fast food more than I want to admit here. We watch tv…a lot. I am not patient—especially when bedtime rolls around. I could go on and on, but you get my drift.

I never thought I would work in Kids Ministry—even though I did it in elementary school, middle school, high school and even college. In fact, I chose a summer job at Pine Cove working with the little ones over the cool older kid camps—for 2 years!!! I don’t know why that never dawned on me—looking back, the writing was on the wall (CUE Darth Vader voice here: ”It is your destiny”).

I think part of the reason is because I always thought that meant it was all about kids. You’ve heard the saying “I was a great parent…then I had kids.” That’s me. What I didn’t realize back then is that Kids Ministry isn’t all about the kids. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s just as much about the adults and students who lead the kids as it is the kids themselves. Everything we do at my job, has an ultimate goal that kids would know Jesus better. In my opinion, the best way to do that, is to surround them with adults and students who love Jesus.

If I can pray over a leader, send them a book to help them parent better, thank their spouse for sacrificing each week, make sure I know their kids’ names, go see them or send them a note when they are sick o grieving or celebrating, then I think our kids will benefit from that. I think, when someone is poured into, they will, in turn, pour back out. And if they don’t? Then they were the ones who needed to be poured into—they just didn’t know how to ask.

I truly believe that leading kids is one way God grabs our hearts and points out stuff we wouldn’t get otherwise. I think it reminds us of how simple this Christian life really can be, if we don’t complicate it with a bunch of stuff and rules and shoulds. I’ll spare you the “everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten” talk because I’m thankful I didn’t learn everything then. I’m thankful that God continues to open my eyes to things I have never seen.

And I’m thankful that he uses kids and the people who serve them to do that for me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Summer of 2012

Summer flew by way too quickly. I don't want to be one of those people who is always living in the past--wishing for something that once was. But I also don't want to take things for granted--skipping over them as if they are everyday occurances and will happen, well, everyday.




As my girls get older, time seems to fly by so much quicker. School years pass in a blur and the angst over which teacher they'll have seems to happen more frequently than once a year. Summer gets shorter and it seems like forever since that fun family vacation.



So, for the purpose of celebrating all the fun we had this summer and not mourning that it is over (even if I really am just a teensy-tiny bit), here's what we did during the summer of '12:



I had the opportunity to lead a mission trip and God stretched me in a big way. It was a great wake-up call for me--not to be scared of the future for my girls, but to be intentional with them while I still have influence. God also reminded me of how He chips away at the layers of paint to create something new in us.


Hope got her ears pierced (and immediately bought big feather earrings as soon as she could)!

The girls got a last minute spot at Fine Arts Day Camp at our church and had a great time with school friends who came for the 1st time.



There was lots of jumping on the trampoline with the water hose (You might be a readneck if…).



After a little bit of drama and much fear, Hope tried out and signed a contract for her first official Select soccer team--which qualified for Division 1.  Go FC Dallas 02 Blue!



We celebrated the 4th of July with sparklers and friends!


And made our annual flag cookie cakes a few weeks later because I wasn’t organized enough to do it on the actual date.



We did a lot of sleeping in.





And hanging out with lifegroup friends.



And soccer friends.



And volleyball friends.



And took a trip to the lake with family.



And the girls got to experience Pine Cove Base Camp. I’m still in awe as I look back on that week and am so thankful my girls got to be a part of it. Pine Cove holds a special place in my heart and it’s fun to see that transferred down to them now.



And we went on vacation. To Florida. To the most beautiful beach ever. And I still grieve the fact that I don’t have this view everyday:

sniff sniff


Caroline got her hair cut.





And, the very last day, we snuck away to the pool for one last hurrah.






And it was good.



Summer 2012 will go down as one of my favorites EVER! I pray that family memories will go deep and that my girls will look back on it as fondly as I do.


Monday, August 27, 2012

My Quiet House

While  I'm sappy, I don't usually get teary on the first day of school.  I love my kids, but I love that we live in a country where they get to go to school and have lots of friends and get on a  schedule.

This year, after I dropped them off, I walked back into my house and felt the quiet.  And couldn't help but feel a touch of sadness.  This is Hope's last year in elementary school.  Some of our best friends have moved.  Caroline no longer has to sit in the cafeteria with the little kids--she now goes to the gym with the big ones. 

And my house is quiet.

A month ago, I would have paid good money to have a quiet house.  Next week, I will be wondering why I was so melancholy today.

But for now, I'm moved by the stillness.  Not hating it or loving it, but still overcome with some unexplained emotion.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Twas the Week Before Kick-off

Twas the week before kick-off and all through the office
The color copier was down and I was trying not to cuss.

The carts were getting full with loads of supplies,
And I was filling up my small group leader board with a few last minute guys.

Training was happening and people were getting into place,
To begin this year—to start this race.

Prayers were being prayed, curriculum was being read,
Team notes were being sent and lots was being said.

The bagels were bought and people were lining up to be fed
But I was really just ready for bed.

As I remembered all He has done and who He has brought
I started to cry and since it was me--it was a lot.

I was overcome by the incredible commitment
From these volunteers, whom God has sent.

Once again, I realized how blessed I am
To work and serve alongside such a great fam!

There was a spring in my step and joy in my heart
To begin another year, to have a new start.

I prayed for this team, these incredible peeps
And asked God to make them stay in elementary for keeps.

At the end of the day, when all is said and done,
To God be the glory for these amazing servants, each and every one!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Who's a Leader?

Some people were just born leaders and others of us have to work at it. The funny thing is, that you can’t always tell who is who, but you can always spot a good leader. We have lots of talks on leadership in the Royal house. I have a 10 year old who was a born leader—one that no matter what she says or does, people follow her. I have an 8 year old who isn’t what you think of when you hear the word leader, but people are drawn to her and she always has a big group of friends.

For years, I’ve talked to Hope about making good choices and the implications on herself and others when she doesn’t. Sometimes she’s frustrated that “people always copy her,” but secretly, she wouldn’t trade it.

It’s just been recently that I’ve noticed Caroline’s leadership gifts. They are not the knock-you-down obvious ones like Hope’s. Hers are subtle. She will be a shepherding leader and lead others from inside the group—not in front of it.

Hope had the opportunity to go to a leadership thing last week for 10-13 year olds and she shined. As I was de-briefing it with a friend, I realized that my job as her mom was to teach her how to use her leadership skills at their maximum capacity—even though I am not the same type of leader that she is.

So, I’ve been very intentional with her lately. We talked about her KidLead class and why she chose to lead her group the way she did when it was her turn (which was utterly brilliant—she allowed people to use what they were good at to help the team), about how frustrating it was when her team didn’t listen to her and they lost (GREAT conversation about how to be heard and not pushy) and about how others led (was it effective? Would she have changed anything?). All amazing conversations where she was engaged and excited to discuss.

Because her gift is so obvious, I tend to focus on her, forgetting that Caroline is in the room. Last night, I was showing her a video I had taken of the counselors engaging their groups during worship. And Caroline was on my other side, listening and soaking it in, too.

And it struck me that while my job with Hope is to direct the skills she already has, Caroline needs just as much direction and focus from me.  With her, I need to teach her leadership skills (that will look totally different from her sister) and show her how to use them with her style.

I know that sounds obvious, but sometimes you gotta hit me over the head. As we were reading last night, I felt the Holy Spirit pulling out things in the book that were for Caroline as much as Hope. We didn’t talk about them before bed, but I’m looking forward to asking questions and hearing what she caught. I didn’t start reading “Kisses from Katie” to the girls because I thought it would give Caroline leadership examples. I’m reading it because 1) I’m trying to get my girls to start settling down earlier at night and it’s either read to them or yell at them for being crazy every night. 2) The book has been sitting on Hope’s dresser for several months and she hasn’t gotten past the introduction. 3) Caroline’s been begging to read it, but I don’t think she would comprehend it very well on her own—there are a bunch of big words.

But, once again, I’ve stumbled into something that’s working for now. Not sure it will work next week, but I’m learning that my job, as Hope and Caroline’s mom, is to take the opportunities that are in front of me right now and use them—not wait for the big moment I think will come next week.

Not rocket science, but some of us are slower on the take!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What's Love Got to do with It?

Brian and I have totally different sleep needs. I can go a week with 4-5 hours and he doesn’t last 2 days with that. Many nights, that means that he goes to bed while I sit in the living room and read a book, work or watch tv (between the heat and work frying my brain cells lately and the Olympics on, tv has won this battle a lot lately).

Some nights, our different bed times don’t bother me. But what I find is that if we do it for an extended period of time, I feel disconnected from him—even if I have spent the entire day with him. So, most of the time, I either stay in the living room and pretend not to be interested in the “Worst Tenants” show he’s watching (ok—confession—that show is a train wreck I can’t seem to turn away from!), or I go to bed when he does. It doesn’t mean we talk. Typically, at that time in the night, he has used all of his words for the day and I may babble every now and then, but I spend my energy on Matching and Scramble with Friends.

We had dinner—just the two of us one night this week. We even shared a dessert like they do in the romantic movies. And it was nice.

But I have to say, I know I’m weird, but I felt more content last night as I was laying in bed next to him, watching the Olympic swim team’s video to “Call Me Maybe” one more time now that I knew who most of them were. When I finished, Brian watched a video on zebra mussels that I pretended not to be interested in, but was actually fascinated at a couple of points. Not much talking between us, just being.

That’s when I enjoy marriage the most—not when I’m doing, but when I’m just being with him. Call me weird, or a homebody, or a nerd, but it works for us. What works for you?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Old and Forgetful or Miracle?

Having kids makes you crazy. If I was really smart, I’d do some kind of study on how many brain cells a person has before kids and how many after you’ve made it through each year of them. Someone probably already has done that—someone who doesn’t have kids and can remember 2+2 and algebra and dangling prepositions and all those other things we learned long, long ago.


But, as usual, I digress. Notice the picture. You’re probably thinking, “Ummm, Angel. It’s a couple of pair of tweezers. Why are you wasting precious blogs space writing about tweezers?”

Well, since you asked...

Several weeks ago I was going on a trip and could not find any of my tweezers. None. Zilch. Nada. I looked everywhere. I left thinking I would look again when I got home. Halfway through my 10 day trip, I looked in my make-up bag and found a pair. I sooo don’t remember packing them. I don’t know whether to claim it as a miracle (doesn’t God say he knows the hairs on our head? Maybe this was His way of telling me I had several eyebrow ones I needed to pluck immediately) or to chalk it up to being 40.

Then, I came home and a few days later, and another set appeared in my bathroom drawer—the same stinkin drawer I had dumped out several times before leaving on my trip and had not seen them. This time, I figured Brian or one of the girls remembered they had “borrowed” them and quietly returned them, hoping I’d be so overjoyed at the thought of “finding” them, that I wouldn’t think to question how they got there.

Yesterday, I opened that same drawer, and another set had appeared. I double-checked to make sure the ones I found on my trip were still in my new hiding place (if you have girls, you will understand why you need to constantly find new hiding places for valuables). They were.

I really think my girls are conspiring so they can declare me incompetent and steal the fortune in jewels I’m hiding. :) Really, they are probably just hoping for the Target and Sam Moon stuff in my jewelry box—they’re not teenagers yet.

If I were a glass is half-full person, I’d just be thankful that now I have 3 pair of tweezers again. Instead, I’m trying to figure out a way to rig a video camera up on the drawer to see if they stay in there.

They left for a short trip today and I just realized, they repacked their suitcases after I checked them last night. I’d better go take inventory—they might have stolen my blow dryer…

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Old Door = Lots of Work


As we were scraping the paint off of a door, one question came up over and over.  “Why don’t we just buy a new door?”  New doors are pretty and come in all kinds of colors and stains.  And this one was a lot of work.

If we would have bought a new door, here’s what we would have missed:

·         The chance to be used to bring out the inner beauty of the current door

·         The laughter and frustration that goes into scraping away the layers

·         The joy of seeing spots where the wood started to show through as we used chemicals and tools to get through 60 years of paint

·         The original character of the door to shine through

As we were reading the story of the adulterous woman (John 7:53-8:11), I was struck by the fact that God doesn’t throw us away and start over. 
He chooses to make us new. 
He is willing to keep scraping away until our inner beauty—who He created us to be—shines through.  Sometimes, it means using a chemical stripper that burns.  Sometimes, it’s surrounding us with a team of people scraping, laughing and commiserating together. Sometimes it goes quickly; other times, it seems like forever.

While I can’t relate to the adulterous woman in her exact sin, I can see myself being thrown in front of people—being called out publicly—for other things I’ve done.  How thankful I am that my God loves me enough to not stone me or throw me away and start over.

Lamentations 3:22-23

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”