Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Rest of the Story

A few days ago, I posted this video on facebook--basically a year in review:  http://flipagram.com/f/hjMrUkIO2a

And I love it.  It makes me smile to see the pics of moving into our new house and the baby swallows and my girls throughout the seasons.

But it's not the whole story.  While moving into our "house in the country" was a huge highlight, the year itself was hard.  Hard for many reasons. 

I  didn't blog a lot this year. I didn't post a lot of it in deference to those around me who don't want the world to know what is going on and honestly, I didn't handle things very gracefully most days (just ask my kids).

My mother-in-law battled and beat breast cancer this year.  While I was scared for her, I was also scared for me--she does a LOT for my girls.  And did I mention we moved and I needed her help more than before?  We weren't allowed to share it with some of the family (she didn't want to worry or scare them) and I found myself walking on eggshells--fearful I would slip when I shouldn't.  Instead of being sad for her, I was mostly shallow and worried about me. 

While I love my job, somedays, it's really hard and this year had several of those somedays.  Even though it's ministry, it's not always just a feel-good time, sitting around a circle thanking God for all the answers to prayer.  I've been doing the same thing for 7 years and had to  take stock and see if God was still calling me to it. I had a lot of tough conversations with myself and God for a good portion of the year.  The good news is He made it clear to me that this is what I'm called to--for now.  While I wish I could map out the rest of my life, He doesn't do it that way for me.  He purified my motives and is still working on me in how to be a good employee.  He gave me several opportunities to sit back and just be proud of being a part of this church and staff. 

Marriage has not been hard, per se, but I am constantly fighting the battle of believing the best and not falling into a rut.  I also struggle with figuring out our own "normal" and not copying what others are doing--or discounting what we are doing.  We had a great "date day" system going at one point, but it didn't happen much this year.  Many days, it's the survival mode of divide and conquer.  And I miss the days of just going to the grocery store together (even though back then, they drove me crazy because I felt it was inefficient). Complacency sucks me in every time and is something I have to fight against on a daily basis.

It's been a hard year of figuring out friendships--who I can say what to and how to be authentic when I have to hold confidentiality.  Honestly, I sucked at it this year.  And I'm not quite sure how to make it better.  I constantly grieve not having that one friend like I had growing up.   I have lots of great friends, but not that "bosom  buddy" Anne of Green Gables talks about--at least not one that lives close to me that I can talk to on a daily basis.  I've let people move out of my life that I probably should have held onto tighter.

Parenting is a daily struggle that I always feel like a failure in.  I'm either too strict, or too lenient.  Overbearing or too-hands-off.  I'm not a lovey-dovey kind of mom.  My girls go to their dad when they want sympathy.  They don't hold back their feelings (I wonder where they get that from--must be Brian) and I struggle with wanting to know them and just wanting them to do what I say.  The video doesn't capture the yelling matches or door-slamming or mean comments.   Or the fact that I suck at building my girls up and instead like to point out how they could do things better.

All that being said, I read this really great post this morning about falling forward:  http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/12/how-to-move-forward-into-the-new-year-when-you-feel-like-you-failed-the-last-year/

Falling forward into the new year and more importantly, falling forward into the arms of Jesus--who's always waiting for me.  I'm not sure yet what I will do differently in 2014 and I don't have a word or phrase yet, but these verses speak to me:

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
~Phil. 3:13-14

Here's to not only falling forward, but straining forward...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Elfin' the Night Away

I caved.  I was getting important things at Target like chips and dip and cereal and then I made the mistake of going by the Christmas aisle.  And there she was--sitting at the end of the shelf and calling my name like the stupid Pier 1 commercials.

I picked her up and put her down probably 5 times.  We did really great with Hunter, our Dude on the Shelf, last year http://aroyaltradition.blogspot.com/2012/12/introducing-hunterthe-dude-on-shelf.html.  We didn't really need an elf--especially not a girl. 

But I did it anyway.

So now, I have this elf, who has not made her appearance to my girls yet and it's already Dec. 2nd.  And I see all the cute facebook posts y'all do with your elf zip lining and getting into all kinds of mischief and then I hear the others who say the elf is only there to report back to Santa and shouldn't be doing naughty things.

What's a mama to do?   My girls don't believe in Santa anymore (*sniff sniff*) so I can't hold the whole "be good or Santa won't come" thing over their head. I think I can be creative, but now that I have this elf, I'm not sure what to do with her?  Should she just spy on my kids or do naughty things?  And if she does naughty things, what's the justification for them?  Did she escape from Santa?  Were her parents too strict and now she's rebelling?  Is she trying to impress a boy elf or giving in to peer pressure from the popular mean girl elves? 

Right now, she's under my bed and I'm having visions of her coming alive at night and strangling me.

Please help a mama out and tell me what to do here, people!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Let us be Thankful Boys and Girls

We took my dad to lunch today for his birthday and my nephew came home to spend the night with us.  As I've been cleaning the kitchen to get ready to make it messy tomorrow and folding laundry and making up the guest bed for Josh, I've had the song "Let us be Thankful Boys and Girls" by Billy Crockett running through my head.  I could only find a cheesy YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pH2f7GXhOw with the melody, but here are the lyrics:

Let us be thankful boys and girls
for eyes and ears and toes
and puppies with wet noses
 
Let us be thankful boys and girls
for lessons we have learned
and love we have not earned
We follow the bear of amazing grace
Oh, let us be thankful boys and girls.
 
Let us be thankful boys and girls
for kisses on the mouth
and teenage heartbeats pounding
 
Let us be thankful boys and girls
for lightning in the sky
and laughter in the eye
We follow the beat of amazing grace
Oh, let us be thankful boys and girls.
 
For all that brought us here
And all that will see us through
The passageways of life
that lead to You,
Lead us to You.
 
Let us be thankful boys and girls
for a little common sense
and painted picket fences
 
Let us be thankful boys and girls
when packing up the plans
in rented moving vans
we follow the beat of amazing grace
Oh, let us be thankful boys and girls.
 
Let us be thankful boys and girls
for Mendelssohn and Brahms
and shadows growing longer
 
Let us be thankful boys and girls
for years that slowly go
and grandkids we can hold
for memories to keep
and sorrow running deep
We follow the beat of amazing grace
Oh, let us be thankful boys and girls
 
For all that brought us here
And all that will see us through
The passageways of life
that lead to You,
Lead us to You.

Let us be thankful boys and girls
when hope is not enough
that death can't bury love
 
Let us be thankful boys and girls
for wine and bread and hymns
remembering again
we follow the beat of amazing grace
Oh, let us be thankful boys and girls. 

Praying you have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, too.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Peaceful Overwhelmedness

I'm up early this morning. You could say it's because my husband wasn't As quiet as he thought he was before he left for work. You could say it was because I went to bed early last night and my body doesn't know what to do with more than 6 hours of sleep anymore. But I choose to believe that God woke me up this morning for a purpose.

It's been a crazy few weeks. Twenty two days ago I wrote my last post about a God-sized task. Five short days ago, I was wallowing in fear again, questioning whether He was going to provide.

But this morning, the first thing I saw when I looked at my phone was a post by my sweet friend that said "Lovepacs-Frisco has packed all 287 boxes feeding 472 kids this Thanksgiving!!"  Yep, you read that right--almost 300 boxes packed in 2 weeks.

So I'm choosing to believe that God woke me up in the darkness of the early morning to remind me of His faithfulness. HE loves these kids more than You or I can even fathom. He loves me too. Just as much. And His way of showing love to me isn't by providing me a box of food through strangers, but by showing me how HE will provide and I just need to trust Him.

To let go of my pre-conceived ideas of how things should look.

But not stop ASKing Him to do big things.

To believe that He will answer.

So the fact that all boxes are packed and waiting to be loaded into cars tonight shouldn't surprise me. And truthfully, at this stage, it doesn't. But I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say I had some angst along   the way to get to this point.

But for now, I am peacefully overwhelmed by His goodness, grace and mercy.

And for me, that's what Thanksgiving is all about.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A God-sized Task

 
A friend of mine called it a God-sized task today.  When I first heard the initial numbers this morning, I thought the same thing--only a big God can do this.  This afternoon, when I heard the next set of numbers, my heart started racing...Did we bite off too much?  Are we going to be able to live up to our word?  If it's this much now, what will it be like next month as we gear up for Christmas?

If you know anything about me, you know how near and dear to my heart Lovepacs is.  It seriously brings me life every time I leave a meeting or talk to someone about it.  It's one of those weird "this is what I was created for" kind of things.  Do you ever have those moments when you KNOW you are doing exactly what God has for you in that moment?  I do with Lovepacs.

This morning, I thought we would be feeding @300 kids in Frisco.  This afternoon, I learned that it is over 400.  Can you imagine?  In a city like Frisco, there are 400 kids who may not eat over Thanksgiving break.  400!  That's almost an elementary school in itself.  And that's only the 10 neediest schools.  There are still 43 other schools!

So, I admit, my faith wavered for a minute.  But then I remembered that I serve a BIG God.  And I KNOW He loves these kids more than I do.  And I am confident He is working in lives all over the city of Frisco and will be prompting people to give. 

And those 408 kiddos will not go hungry this Thanksgiving. 

If you would like to be a part of helping to feed these kids, please go to our website at www.lovepacs.org or contact me at angel@lovepacs.org

LoBlack heart (cards)epacs exists to be an expression of God's love by engaging our communities to serve children in need.



Monday, August 26, 2013

Sitting in Puddles

It's the first day of school at a new school for both of my girls.  You can't tell it in this picture, but they are both a little scared--Caroline cried last night and Hope talked faster than an auctioneer this morning. 

As I left Caroline in her class, I had to hold back the tears--so silly--she's in 4th grade--it's not like this is the first time I've done this.  But, it is the first time for her to be on her own without her big sister.  Her first time to ride the bus home from school.  Her first time to not know anyone in her class. 

After dropping off Hope, I started to tear up again and prayed that she wouldn't get nervous and would be able to get her locker open. 

And then I came home and cried a bit as I was putting their sheets in the washer.  I really am glad school has started.  We Royal girls thrive on routine with just a little spontaneity thrown in--not the other way around.  And summer had been full of twists and turns for us--many good (like our awesome house), but I don't think we have had a week that looked like the previous one all summer.  We didn't do as many fun things as I had hoped.  We had some curve balls thrown at us that prevented us from playing as often as we should. 

But, as I told Caroline last night, we can't live in the past--we have to make the best out of today.  If there was something we felt like we should have done yesterday, then we need to do it today.  Ain't nobody got time to sit and mope. 

So, here's to the 2013-2014 school year!  I pray it is one of precious new beginnings for our family!

But in the meantime, I still feel the need to think of my girls like this so I don't cry anymore:

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sparrows and the Hairs on my Head

We have this nest on our front porch. Before we moved in, we noticed a couple of sparrows sitting in it and later saw some broken eggs in the yard and babies peeking out of the top of the nest.  A few weeks later, we saw even more babies and we finally figured out that the sparrows must have shared the nest and this was a second batch of babies.   

Last week, we noticed one on the ground and decided to put it back up in the nest so that it would be safe at night from a hawk.  Then we realized that all 4 babies were out.  So, Hope and I got Brian's tall ladder, figured out how to extend it, and she climbed up and put each baby back in the nest. 

The next day, they were all back down again, so we just made sure they were safe behind the big flower pot at night.  In the morning, I watched one take wing and fly off.  The next day, the girls saw another one do the same.  The last two, stayed huddled together for a few more days, until, they finally flew away, too. 

I've never really paid attention to sparrows, but I know that they are mentioned in the Bible a few times.  I read these verses this morning:

"Are not 5 sparrows sold for 2 pennies?  Yet not one of them is forgotten  by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Don't be afraid; you are worth more than  many sparrows."  --Luke 12:6-7

We loved those baby sparrows.  In fact, we really miss not having them on our porch.  We cared for them, were eager to check on them each morning and evening, and we were so very excited when we saw them fly for the first time.  If we felt that way about them and God created them, how much more must He love them?   AND, even better, He tells us that we are worth more than many sparrows. 

Such a great word picture for me and my girls about how deep and wide His love is for us. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Remembering that He's Alive

It's the week after Pine Cove Base Camp, and I still find myself mourning the fact that they aren't here anymore.  It's really pathetic.   I'm not quite sure why I get in such a funk after they leave and just mope around--except that maybe it's because the counselors model what it looks like to view things of earth as temporary and things of heaven as eternal. 

This morning, my Bible study was on 2 Corinthians 4 focusing on the last 2 verses of the chapter.  These are verses I always use in ministry and even used for the PC counselors last Friday on a little treat I made for them. 

But, despite the head knowledge, I don't always live like it's true. 

I pray that today, when I remember that Jesus is alive, I respond like this:



video

Monday, June 10, 2013

He loves me like Jesus does???

I love this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGF6c0tjAgI 
It came on the radio the other day and here's the conversation that happened in our car:

Me: "Do you love ME like Jesus does?"
Brian: "Yep."
Me: "Really?  I'm not so sure you do."
Brian: "If I didn't, I'd have left your butt a long time ago."
Me: laughing uncontrollably

I love this guy!  Always keeps me giggling. 

This, my friends is what makes marriage fun. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Whatever You're Doing

Do you ever feel like you are at that in-between place?  That place where you know you're on the right path, but your destination is still too far away.  You can see the outline of the sign, and can kinda make out the words, but the number of miles to get there is still blurry. 

I feel that way in several different areas of my life right now.  Except that it's not really a destination sign I'm looking for--life is not about getting to one place or the other.  The journey is what's important and the learning along the way. 

It's not a place of being "stuck."  It's not a place of clear direction either.  It's just...in-between.  The place on the road when you've left one city but haven't gotten to the next and the only thing you see are the mile markers on the side of the road which confirm that you are moving.

What I've found is that those in-between places are when I talk the most to my God.  When I ask for direction instead of charging ahead or looking behind.  When I let go of my plans and fears and hopes.  When I move to the hum of the engine and don't try to cover it up with the radio or a bunch of other noise. 

And rest--even in the chaos.

That's where I am right now.   And this song speaks the words better than I can say:


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

If I had a Million Dollars

If I had a million dollars...

I'd hire a personal chef.
Who is also a nutritionist and makes calorie-free yet yummy food.
And loves to grocery shop.

And of course, I would feed all the hungry kids in the world and make sure they all had clean water.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lucky Number 13

A year ago today, Brian was in the hospital (this pic was taken only hours before that hospital stay).

The reality of losing him totally rocked my world. It stopped me in my tracks of holier-than-thou-ness and made me truly appreciate what a gem I've been been given. This past year has been the best in our marriage so far--probably the best year together since we met 16 years ago this week.

Today, we celebrate our 13th anniversary. Thirteen years since I walked down the aisle and promised to love him in sickness and health and for richer or poorer (although, we both giggled at the richer part).  Thirteen years since we decided to put someone else's needs and wants before our own.  Thirteen years. Not long to some, but it feels like a lifetime to me.

I have a hard time remembering life before Brian and yet, I had 25 years without him. Twenty five years to never know his kisses.  Twenty five years that I missed out on watching him ooze grace on all those around him.  Twenty five years to never know what it was like to share a bathroom with him.  Twenty five years in which I knew I was missing something but didn't know what.

This post has been sappier than most--even for me--but it needs to be said. When I am gone from this world, I pray my family sees this post. I'm not good at showing love. I'm good at writing it, but my actions are not always consistent with how I feel. I pray they will see this and know that even when I didn't show it, I was utterly overwhelmed at the goodness God bestowed on me by giving me Brian.

May lucky number 13 be our best year yet!




Sunday, May 12, 2013

One of the 99

This week, my Bible study has been in Luke 15. Lots of parables there. And I love the stories of Jesus pursuing the one lost sheep and running to meet the estranged, prodigal son--as long as I see myself as that sheep or son.

But most of the time I don't. I see myself as one of those 99 sheep left alone or the older brother working while party preparations were being made for his disrespectful little brother.

I'm steady and faithful. Not exciting. Not overly fun. Not really rebellious (even though I don't always follow the rules). I'm the person you ask to remind you to do something. I'm the one who offers to feed your dogs when you are out of town.

And lots of times, I feel like I am one in the middle of many. One that God does not need to worry about so I'm lost in the midst of the ones we do need to be concerned about. Insignificant. Small. Forgotten.

I have so much of the big brother in me that its scary. Can you imagine what was going through his mind?  His little brother runs off--leaving him with more work and probably putting the family in financial stress since his dad gave him his part of all he had. Then, after busting his tail in the field all day, he comes home and finds out that his father has given his punk-brother a robe and ring and instead of working, everyone has stopped to prepare for a party. For the least deserving person. The person who could care less about all that he--the big brother--had struggled to keep from losing the whole time his brother was partying.

I want a story like that lost sheep and little brother without going through getting lost/hitting rock
bottom. I want to be so grateful for what God has brought me through without having to go through
anything hard.  I want to feel as loved as that sheep and little brother did. I want to not be angry or disappointed for feeling jealous.

But then, maybe in that cynicism and guilt, I AM the one, the little brother.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Let me see Redemption Win


This morning I woke up tired.  Worn.  And I was debating whether or not to post this song on facebook:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUEy8nZvpdM

I was worried that it would seem like a plea for sympathy, but I also wondered how many others felt the same way this morning.  This song just leads me back to my knees--maybe it would do that for others, too and encourage them in this day to day living we do.

And then, I saw this post on our Lovepacs page:

Lovepacs Summer Loving - Lovepacs is so excited to be serving kids through Summer this year. Partnering with the schools' free lunch program, Lovepacs will provide Weekend Bags for children to carry home on Fridays to provide breakfast, lunch, and a snack for Saturday and Sunday. We need your help to make it happen!
$5 will feed one child for the weekend
$60 will feed one child all summer
Checks made out to Lovepacs may be mailed to 6405 Stewart Blvd, The Colony, TX. Donations may also be made through Paypal at donations@lovepacs.org

The words from the song, “Let me see redemption win” came to life in me.  And the tired feelings are still there, but the joy of being a part of something bigger than me overwhelms the worn. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dear Stupid Terrorist

Dear stupid terrorist,

This will be my one and only acknowledgement of you.

You probably think that you got away with something yesterday--that you sent the world into chaos. But you didn't. What your act of terrorism did, is to unite a people--to allow our nation to rise above their circumstance and truly help others.

Over and over, I keep hearing and seeing the words Mr. Rogers gave us--that in every bad situation, we should look for the heroes.  And we are.  And they are definitely present.  And we will continue to do this instead of focus on the destruction.  And we will see many whose acts of courage will far outshine and get more media coverage than your selfish little act will.

That's what Americans do.  Tragedies like this serve to help us forget our petty politics and band together.  They serve to remind us of how strong we are as a nation.  They remind us of how much we hate the evil in the world and will battle against it. 

So, just like Satan in the garden of Eden, you may be thinking you won--that evil prevailed.  But, we know that this IS NOT the end of the story.

Because at the end of the story, God WILL win the war and good will triumph over evil. 





Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Grace and Mercy of the Father Displayed in a Husband

Husbands are a lot of things.

Most people don't think of grace and mercy when they think of their husbands, but I do. I'm good at law. If I'd have been alive in Jesus' day, I probably would have been a Pharisee.

But not my husband.

He would have never been with the men trying to stone the adulteress. He wouldn't have stoned Stephen. He wouldn't have beat the Jewish slaves to get them to make bricks faster.

He is the epitamy of grace. He shows mercy more than any other human I know. He's not a sissy and doesn't get walked on--which is what I typically think when I envision a grace-filled person.

He treats people as equals--even when society tells them they are not. Seeing him do this with a mechanic who spoke very little English a few weeks ago gave me chills. Not only did he treat him fairly, he shook his hand and looked him in the eye. He treated him with respect.

He does it to our children. While I threaten and always have a consequence ready, he asks and jokes and they do whatever they were asked while laughing (most of the time--they ARE kids).

He did it to me just today. Instead of yelling or getting angry over the fact that he had to drive down to Dallas to get my broken-down car (which looks like it was because of something I did) he just did it and joked with the girls about farts on the way home.  I would have made sure he knew how inconvenienced I was. I would have made him feel stupid.

But he never does that. Not with me. Not with our kids. And not with strangers.

He models grace and mercy. And through him, I get a glimpse of what a loving and good and kind Heavenly Father I have.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I Cried.

I cried today. Twice.

The first time, I was sitting in church and we were singing about how much He loves us--my favorite line used to be "if grace is an ocean, we're all sinking."  But today the line "I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves me" moved me.

I'm good with regrets. Hindsight is 20/20 and I tend to live in the past and wallow in what I should have done better. So, even though I've heard those words many times before, they hit me today in light of our new house and what feels like a fresh start.

The 2nd time I cried was when we were at our new house and the girl next door came outside and we found out she was the exact same age as my Hope. I've been praying specifically for God to provide friends for both my girls, but with Hope starting middle school, I've been a bit worried about her. To see how excited she was and watch them chit-chat, brought tears to my eyes--which then made my mother-in-law tear up too (and made my husband laugh at me).  That God would care enough about my family to not only provide a friend, but to give us one right next door is amazing and I find myself crying again as I write this.

There were also 2 little girls from down the street who Caroline played with. They were younger but so sweet and happy that I couldn't help but smile in their presence. She went down the street to play in their yard for a while and I had no fear about letting her go. Words can't describe how I felt about being able to do that.

So, even with the nasty-smelling carpets and junk in the yard, Fairview Farms is already home. I know there will be challenges and the kids we met today may all turn out to be mean or weird, but, for tonight, I'm basking in the goodness of the way He loves me.

And looking at this picture of our house makes me giddy with delight in that!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Savor

Tonight is one of those nights I don't want to forget. 

One of those nights when the goodness of God is so huge and obvious to me.

One of those nights that I want to savor every second of, so that I remember it in darker times and it strengthens my faith.

One of those nights that I see pieces of His puzzle come together--even though the whole picture isn't done, I see a corner coming to completion.

I've seen him take selfish desires of mine and not only grant them, but purify my requests in the process. 

I've seen him answer prayers that I was scared to pray--just in case He said "No."

I've seen him draw people to Him in spite of the me getting in the way.

And I'm just gonna sit here and dwell in it for a while because it's good.

And I'm grateful. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

T Doesn't Know Jesus

One of the girls' friends--let's call him T--asked me today if I believed in heaven and if so, what did I think it would be like.  He's a 10 year old boy who doesn't have a clue who Jesus is.  When I asked him what he thought happened after people died, he said he just thought it went black. His parents think that, too, he said.

I shared the Gospel with him and he didn't know what sin was. He was interested but also distracted. And I kept thinking "Will his parents let him continue to play at our house when he tells them what we talked about?"  Will they think we are weird?  

Or, is he the reason we have lived in this house, on this street for 13 years?  God does things like that. He pursues the one. I believe He is pursuing T. 

T told me he believed in God. And he was really excited when he found out we went to church. I invited him to go with us on Sunday and gave him the church website so he could show his parents. And I told him Brian or I would talk to his parents later this week. 

How many more kids live on our street and in our neighborhoods who don't know Jesus?  Who don't realize that things don't just go black after you die. Who need to know that there's a God who loves them so much that He gave up his own son?  

I'm praying for T and his family. And I'm praying for me--that God would open my eyes to the many Ts who live around us and use me.  That He would pursue them and use any means necessary to bring them to Him.  And especially that T would know Him before we move. 

Do you know a T?

"In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. ". Matthew 18:14

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ashes into Beauty

I've always said "Parenting is NOT a one-size fits all."  Actually, I'm sure I heard/read it somewhere and it just stuck--that's too great to have come from my little pea brain. 

But we try to make ourselves fit in to a certain stereotype--even if it's the stereotype of being a rebel who doesn't have a stereotype.  And when we don't measure up, we look around and criticize others who aren't measuring up in areas that we feel like we have handled. 

It's a vicious cycle.  I've read several posts this week that were amazing.  And it gave me hope for us.  The first was written in rebuttal to another (which I won't post because I don't want it to get any more clicks than it already has--if you haven't seen it and want to find it, you will): http://ww.growinginashrinkingculture.wordpress.com/.   Another was a great post for moms of daughters--not beating each other up, but encouraging us to stand up for our girls: http://wearethatfamily.com/2013/03/raising-daughters-in-a-world-that-devalues-them-7-things-we-must-tell-them/

But this was my favorite: http://www.cheetosforbreakfast.com/2013/03/a-letter-to-young-mothers.html.  Such great wisdom in this little post and something I WISH an older, wiser mom had told me when my girls were little and I stuggled (esp. the time that my oldest threw a fit so loud at church that I thought it was CPS knocking on my front door later that afternoon to put me in jail and take my kids for being such an awful parent). 

These women said things much better than I ever could so I won't add anything totheir eloquence. 

What I will say, is that as I was praying this morning (btw--I was praying selfishly for a house for me--nothing for anyone else at that point), I heard this song and it moved me.  And reminded me that I will never measure up.  And there was a relief in that--not guilt, because He will take my ashes and turn them into beauty.  Take a listen (better yet, watch--esp. the last minute and a half--you will see what the foot of the cross looks like):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk7_SBxYSZs

I pray that I support the moms around me and that every time I start to judge (it's a lot more often than I'd like to admit), I would go to the foot of the cross on their--and my--behalf. 

And remember that He wants to win our hearts and take our ashes. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Could God be like a Soldier?

I've been reminded several times in the last week of what a sacrifice our soldiers and their families make for me and my family. It overwhelms me. The thought of putting other families' freedom in front of being with my family is unfathomable to me.

A friend posted this video and at first I didn't like the song chosen and felt like it was comparing these soldiers to God. But then I stopped and just listened and watched. Be ready with a Kleenex. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fyx0Yb5aGU

"Just as I am" was an altar call song for me growing up. We sang it every Sunday. And, on occasion, I truly meant the words. But seeing them in this context, made me ask myself if I am willing to throw myself with utter abandon at my "Daddy" like these kids did?  Do I cling to him?  Am I overwhelmed with emotion just to be in His presence?

I've always struggled with viewing God as good and kind and loving (I get the just and wanting us to grow part of Him). Seeing this video, put a new picture to that view. I pray that I will be like the boy who would not let go, and the little girl who kept laughing and touching her daddy's face.

"Running to Your Arms"(aka Forever Reign) has come alive for me in a new way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f3sNiYpuF4




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Humbling Opportunities

This week, I've been completely humbled. In a good way.

Our Granny had surgery almost 2 weeks ago and was finally able to leave the hospital on Saturday, but she can't go home yet. She has to stay in the Dallas area. 

Since the girls and I are on spring break this week, we made plans for me to hang out with Granny on Tuesday while Mimi took the girls to the American Girl Doll Store. Honestly, from the beginning I KNEW I got the better end of the deal. 

Until Mimi asked me to help Granny with her shower. To say I was NOT looking forward to that part of my day was an understatement. So I hoped that it would be done before I got to the house.

No such luck. At least, that's what I thought at first.

But it wasn't horrible. In fact, it reminded me of what I am called to do.

I am called to love the person that God puts in front of me. Doing tangible things for that person is icing on the cake for a "doer" like me.  By helping Granny with her basic needs, I was loving her.  And without trying to over-spiritualize a simple shower, I need to say that it was a great reminder to me of WHY we do for others. Out of love--not for recognition (seriously, who's gonna praise me for washing Granny's back and feet?).

So often, we make serving this big thing. We start off doing it for the right reasons but they quickly get diluted and west art trying to get credit for our service. In fact, I almost didn't write this post because I was questioning my motives--since nobody saw me, was I writing this to make sure someone knows?

But my reason for writing this is to remind my girls that serving isn't always glamorous but it's sooo worth it. Don't miss the opportunities that seem beneath you because those turn out to be the best ones. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hair Washin'

True Conversation last night after the girls had baths:

Me: Caroline, why is your hair dry in the back?  Did you wash it?
Caroline:  I was supposed to wash my hair?  But I took a bubble bath!
Hope:  I rubbed the bubbles on my head, that's good, right?

Just when you think you've taught your kids the basics, you might want to review them...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

B-I-G Moves

Once again, God is showing up in BIG ways. Just when I start to get complacent and think I have things figured out, He reminds me of just how UH-MAZING He is!

Just over a week ago, doors opened for Lovepacs (www.lovepacs.org) to be in not only some Frisco schools, but also a school in Little Elm.  For THIS spring break.  And not only did doors open with counselors, the community, once again, responded.   They have collected food, delivered Lovepacs, packed boxes and spread the word. 

And here’s what I think is the irony of all of it.  Our original goal with Lovepacs has been to feed hungry kids.  Pretty simple.   But we also have prayed for ways for the Gospel to get into these kiddos’ lives. 

What we didn’t expect is how the Gospel would spread among the people packing the boxes.  Many don’t believe in Jesus or if they do, some just don’t make time for Him.  Lovepacs constantly walks that fine line of not offending people but also not backing down from the Truth that the founding families stand firm on. 

If you’re reading this, would you please take a moment to pray for all involved in Lovepacs—the people packing, the people collecting, the people giving, the counselors, and of course, the kiddos receiving the boxes?

“Lovepacs exists to be an expression of God’s love in The Colony and surrounding communities.”

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I Dare Ya!

We went to dinner tonight for an early birthday celebration for Caroline. As is usually the case, one of the girls had to use the restroom halfway through. It's times like these I'm thankful they are both girls so that we can send them together and Brian and I can have a couple minute conversation while they are gone--we can cram a lot in those few minutes.

When they came back, they were giggling. As they were in the stall, Caroline dared Hope to fart--which Hope did...rather loudly. I'm not sure whether to be more embarrassed that these are the things my sweet almost 9 year old dares her sister to do, the fact that my beautiful 11 year old could do it on cue, or the fact that there were 2 little girls in the stall next to them who had wide eyes when my girls came out.

Lesson: Never play truth or dare with the Royal girls unless you have a nose plug.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bread and Butter

Every now and then my PWT (that's poor white trash for those of you North Dallas peeps) side pops out. I try to hide it but when it comes to comfort food, it peeks its head out for all to see.

I was tired tonight. And I really had no good reason to be tired but when you're tired, reasons don't matter anyway. I came home to dinner in the crockpot (yay for planning ahead) and sat down with my roast. As I was eating, I knew something was missing but I tried to ignore it.

Finally, I got up, grabbed a loaf of bread, pulled the butter out of the fridge and proceeded to have a piece of bread and butter with my dinner. No fancy rolls or even French bread--just plain ol Braums wheat bread and Land o Lakes butter.

Some days, there's just nothing better than the basics.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Orange Tour 2013 Learnings

I’ve always been honest in saying I’m biased.  I have favorites.  The reThink organization(www.whatisorange.org) is one of my favorites and has been for over 10 years now.  For the past several years, the staff of reThink has traveled around the country to put on a one day event for church leaders—focused on family team staff and volunteers. Most of these are quotes directly from Reggie Joiner, Sue Miller, Carey Nieuwhof, Amy Fenton-Lee and Jeff Henderson. 

Here are some of my take-aways from yesterday’s conference in Dallas:

·         We have 3 possible responses to change: 1) Ignore it and drift nowhere, 2) Hold on and let it drive you where you don’t want to go, 3) Make an adjustment and use it to get where you want to go.

·         Leadership is leveraging change so you can move in the direction you need to go.

·         When you lead change, you decide to make adjustments to present methods for the sake of a sacred mission.

·         Only 25% of our families in America are the traditional mom, dad (who are married to each other) and kids.

·         Children will one day decide what they think about Church based on how the church treats their parents (and vice-versa)

·         We need to be willing to change anything we have to for the sake of the mission.

·         The greatest enemy of your future success is your current success.

·         The audience’s interest is directly tied to the presenter’s preparation

·         We can’t get so accustomed (and caught up) to “Sunday’s Coming” that we forget the POWER of the message.

·         Great leaders think more than they react.

·         If we’re reacting, we’re not leading

·         It’s just as important to know what you are not as knowing what you are.

·         1 Thessalonians 2:8—“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become  so dear to us”

·         The concepts in “Lead Small” are amazing!

·         It’s not our job to make everyone the same.  The Bible says “LOVE your neighbor” NOT change your neighbor

·         You should be packing a student’s (or kid’s) bag the day they enter your ministry.

·         We HAVE to lead in TEAM!

·         The best leaders call out the best in their teams—they don’t just let them slide by.

·         I should always be thinking “What can I do better for my teams to fly?”

·         When making a big change, always start by telling volunteers what they are doing right.

·         Helping kids engage is as easy as dollar store “tools”—there are too many tips I learned here to list!!!!

·         There was no way for Jesus to do what he did without getting messy.  The same applies to us.

·         Jesus didn’t die to make us HAPPY.  He died so we’d be FORGIVEN.

·         Jesus didn’t call us to follow him to safety.  He called us to take up a cross and engage in mission.

·         We have 2 choices:  1) We can protect them or 2) we can engage them.

·         This generation will never understand until they experience.  They won’t love until they serve.

·         When it comes to discipleship, it’s less about how many attend your programs and more about how many engage in the mission.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What Happens when you take your Kids to the Store with You


When you take your kids to the store with you, you just might end up with these beauties:



What's even worse is when YOU are the one who spots them and points them out to your kids...

Do Something Amazing


Beginnings are fun.  We all look forward to the beginning of a marriage.  The beginning of a new baby in the house.  The beginning of school.  The beginning of a new year.

New things are exciting, but if you’re like me, the newness wears off after a while.  With children, we don’t give up on them, but the joy of the newness starts to get drowned out by the lack of sleep and the many other demands on our time.  We stop dreaming and start living in the “good enough.” 
How do we get over that hump?  Many marriages fail because we aren’t willing to continue dreaming.  How many times do you remember starting a semester determined to study hard and get great grades, only to find yourself doing enough to get by?  Have there been times when you’ve given in to your kiddo because you just want to survive the night?

I could give you a bunch of “holier than thou” ideas here on how to not let these things become ordinary—how to stay amazing.  But, I don’t think we need one more person making us feel guilty because we don’t measure up.

So, I’m asking you.  And I don’t want the “church” answer.  We all know we need to trust God—that’s a given.  But I think He gives us opportunities to do amazing things. So, here goes…

·         What do you find hardest to continue to do after the newness wears off?  How do you push through when it gets monotonous? 

·         What amazing thing do you think God is calling you to do today?  This week?  This year?  In your lifetime?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pay It Forward 2013

Several months ago (ok--really a year ago), my friend Rene posted this on her facebook page:

"Pay It Forward 2012:
I promise to make something handmade for the first 5 people who comment.  They, in turn, must post this and make something for the first 5 who comment on their status.  The rules are it has to be handmade by you and they have to receive it before 2012 ends...it can be as simple as making a friend a cup of coffee."

I always like a free deal, so I responded. And she made me something incredible (you can see it here: http://craftyrlb.blogspot.com/2012_06_01_archive.html.) 

But I never followed through on my end of the bargain and 2012 turned into 2013.

So, six months later, I’m ready to do that.

Comment here and I will make you something before the year is up (see how I’m giving myself a whole 12 months). I can’t promise it will be as cool as what she made me, but it will be handmade by me and will have love and prayer put into it (depends on how much I like you as to just how much love-ha!).

At this point, I won’t limit it to a number of people, but just know, if I get a big response, it may be a while before I get yours done. I had these great Christmas presents I was gonna make for friends and family this past Christmas, but was “banned from crafting” by my sweet hubby trying to keep me from becoming a vampire. So we’ll see how it goes…

So respond here if you want me to make something. You don’t have to put it as your facebook status that you will do the same, but I’d love to see you pay it forward in some kind of way—you decide how.

Happy 2013!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Forgiveness

I read a blog today about making forgiveness one of  your New Year's Resolutions.  Letting go of grudges and moving forward.  Easier said than done, but anyone who has ever done it will sauy it's worth it and life is so much better when you do.  It's just getting to that point of being willing to forgive and not hold anything back that's hard.

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have & it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”
—Mother Teresa