Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nothing is Impossible...Right???


Many of us have watched “Facing the Giants.”  We know the tag line in the movie, “With God, nothing is impossible.”  We probably believe it to a certain level.

But then there are those times when we doubt.  When we aren’t sure God thinks it’s important. Or that He even notices us struggling in the valley, trying to get to the base of the mountain to climb it.  Or that we want our impossible thing for the “right” reason.

Every year, I have to evaluate my faith during our Christmas pack for Lovepacs.  It’s usually a few weeks out when I start to feel the panic taking over.  When I start to give in to those whispers that say, “Yes, I know He CAN, but WILL He provide?”  It comes after an “easy” season of Thanksgiving when the donations pour in. And after we step out in faith to commit to more schools.

I’m in that place right now.  That place where fear keeps me up at night, wakes me in the morning and invades my thoughts throughout the day.  Have you ever felt that feeling?  Yours is probably not about Lovepacs.  It may be about your kids or your marriage or your job. 

What I have found is that Satan loves fear.  He likes for us to live in it.  And he often throws it at us—just like he did Elijah—after a mountaintop experience.  And, even though I try to pray, these thoughts commandeer my prayers and I find myself more stressed afterward than before.  And I imagine him doing his stupid little happy dance.

So, for me, I am claiming Scripture today.  Over and over, I will repeat it in my head, out loud, as I’m driving, as I’m showering, as I’m typing. 

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 4:19 NIV)

And as I pray it and say it, I am emphasizing the ALL.  And imagining my house to have 41 FULL boxes like in the picture above.  And me and God doing OUR happy dance.  Will you join me and do the same?


 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Clothe Yourself

By the title, you might think I'm gonna rant about the skimpiness of what people wear.  Nope. 

This morning, the verse in my Bible study was this:

"Therefore, as God's chosen people,
holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with
compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness,
and patience."
Colossians 3:12

I've seen this verse many times, but the word picture stopped me in my tracks today. 

I envisioned a closet and all sorts of dresses, shirts, pants, skirts--and don't get me started on the amount of shoes and other accessories I envisioned...  All for me.  All chosen and waiting just for me--no sharing with my daughters allowed.

For those of you who are moms, do you remember when your child started wanting to choose her own clothes?  Do you remember telling her that you bought those  red-stripped leggings to go with a cute red top--not the hot pink one with stripes she thought she needed to wear that day?  Do you remember how you let her wear it anyway.  And then made sure your own clothes matched so people didn't think you were colorblind? 

I can just picture God furnishing our closet with all of these clothes: compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility, patience.  But, we like to shop for ourselves,  and sometimes anger, jealousy, bitterness, pride, unforgiveness and impatience make their way in amongst the others.

So we pull out mis-matched clothes and try to wear them.  But like a navy shoe with a pair of black pants, it just doesn't work.  They don't go together.  But, like us with our children, God doesn't force us to wear His stuff.  He puts them in there for us.  And makes sure they are clean  and ready to wear.  But we have to put them on.  He gives us that choice. 

This made me think twice about the way I got dressed this morning.  And because I am not just loved, but DEARLY  loved, I counted my blessings to have those items available for me to wear from such a compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient God.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dear Coach


We have been blessed to have some amazing coaches in our daughters' lives.  People that spoken into my girls in a way that I couldn’t.  I’ve also heard the horror stories of coaches who have damaged kids by their words and actions. Here’s what I want to say to coaches everywhere:
 
Dear Coach-
Thank you for the time you put into our daughter
…for believing in her and helping her to see what she is capable of
…for pushing her through her fear
…for your patience when she still doesn’t do the move you know she should do
…for building her up with your words
…for just plain smiling at and laughing with her 
 
Thank you for understanding that she’s just a kid
…and we need to work together to protect her body from injury
…and she’s gonna have days where she just doesn’t want to put forth the effort
…and that her needing down time doesn’t mean she doesn’t still love the sport
…and that by trying other sports, it may strengthen the love she has for the one you coach
…and making playing your sport fun—not just competitive
…and that the values you are instilling in her on the field will help her throughout the rest of her life
 
Thank you for putting up with us parents
…and know that while we act like we can coach better, we know we really can’t
…and know that we are committed—even during those times we have to choose family over sports
… and dealing with me yelling at her to “Take the shot” when you’ve coached her to play as a teammate and not a ball-hog
…and know we love that you are a “2nd voice” in our daughter’s life
…and know that we support you—even when our daughter is mad she didn’t get to play as much as she thought she should have

 
Sincerely,
Parents of crazy hormone-imbalanced girls

Things that Bring me JOY


We are a month away from November when all the gratitude posts start and I have mixed emotions about them.  I love that we take the time to look for things to be grateful for—I mean, really—is it that hard to find 1 thing a day when we’ve been given so much?

It also makes me roll my eyes and makes me want to make a sarcastic list—kind of like this one: http://aroyaltradition.blogspot.com/2010/11/my-non-sappy-thanksgiving.html.  And I laugh at my cousin who posts that she’s thankful for vodka (after all—she does have 6 kids!).

BUT….I also have random thoughts on days about things I love that I should probably share.  Things that encourage me and may also encourage someone else.  You know—those things that make you smile or give you an extra skip in your step, or even bring on a few tears because of the depth of emotion they make you feel.

So, here’s my list…

·         Ellie Holcomb’s cd“As sure as the Sun.” I first heard “Broken Beautiful (#3) on the radio and wrote it off as one of those “too happy kind of songs.”  And then I listened to the words---------------and they reached me in a dark season.  As I’ve moved out of that season, I find that the words to all of the other songs on this cd, speak to me almost as deeply.  Maybe because they are all taken from Scripture and talk about the beautiful way God loves us and rescues us and just speak TRUTH.

·         My animals.  I know this borders on the “roll your eyes” line, but if you know me, you also know I’ve never really considered myself an animal lover.  But y’all, I find myself getting offended when people talk about how dirty chickens are.  They obviously don’t know mine!  And how do you not love 2 big yellow labs who always love any attention you give them? I feel a sense of peace when I’m sitting in the backyard , petting them (yes, chickens DO like to be petted) and my heart overflows with gratefulness.

·         Nights at home.  I’m a doer.  I like to stay busy and absolutely love getting involved in a new cause.  But, those nights when we can just eat dinner as a family and watch TV or sit by the fire pit in the backyard?  Those fill my soul in a deep way that I need, but don’t realize how desperate I was for them until I have them. 

·         Amazing women leaders.  God has used women in my life in a big way.  Which is kinda ironic considering the fact that I haven’t seen my mom since I was 14.  He has surrounded me with women who lead and LOVE in so many different ways—some out front, some alongside, and some from behind. Because of the internet, I’m even able to learn from those who live in California and Tennessee and Austin.  Women are amazing and watching them step out in faith and owning who they are in Christ makes me feel like I'm gonna burst!

·         Having my daughter’s friends over for dinner.  Yeah, yeah, yeah--I know I should put out an effort every night to cook a good meal for my family.  The reality is that if I do it 2-3 times a week, its success in my book (the other nights are why God gives us leftovers and sandwiches and frozen pizza).  On Wednesdays, one of Hope’s friends comes over after volleyball practice and I take them to church.  The dynamic of having someone else at our dinner table reminds me of the gift of hospitality God has put inside me.  This will sound goofy, but it makes me giddy to plan what we are having and to buy the lemonade she likes and acknowledge to her when she says you bought it for me, didn’t you (in an off-side joking manner) that YES!  I did buy it specifically for her.  The other element is that I get a front row seat to watching my daughters interact with their friends.  I just love it!

·         Fridays.  Yep.  I love Fridays.  I love the thought that I have time all alone.  I’ve always thought I’m an extrovert.  And part of me is—I get lots of energy from being around people.  But I also love that time when nobody else is in the house except me and Spot the turtle.  I can turn my music up full blast.  Or not at all.  I can read or clean or text or play cookie jam on my phone. I can write cheesy blog posts.  Or dream about what I would say if I were a fabulous blogger.

BY no means is this list exhaustive.  And you probably noticed I left out the obvious ones—Jesus, my family, the Bible.  Of course those things bring me joy more than anything I’ve listed above.  But they border on the sappy and I just can't do them justice in one little blog post.  They each deserve their own book.

What things bring you joy?  I want to hear about those weird things—not the obvious ones…

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lovepacs-Aubrey…Are you crazy???


Yep, that’s what I’ve been saying to myself the last few months.  And I thought I had talked myself out of jumping into anything new.  I have enough on my plate.  My daughters play too many sports right now.  My husband works too many hours.  My job is all over the place.  And I need time to play with chickens and collect their eggs…

But, when you have opportunities put smack-dab in front of your face, you have 3 choices:

·         Ignore them and always know you were disobedient to the Holy Spirit

·         Dip your toe in and do it halfway

·         Jump in with all that you have

My response the last year has been #2.  Kinda mention Lovepacs to people.  Talk about how great it would be to do it in Aubrey.  Plan to call our school counselor. 

But God is not always a God of logic.  He’s a God of faith. 

So I’ve moved from # 2 to #3 and I’m scared to death.

What if it totally flops?  What if nobody donates food?  What if I can’t find volunteers to help pack and deliver these?  What if the community doesn’t accept it because I’m still new here?

But, then, I step back and realize this is NOT ABOUT ME!!!  My job is to be obedient to what God is calling me to do and trust Him for the results.  Sound familiar?  I’m sure I’ve blogged about this before because I am constantly battling it!!!

Sooo, if you live in or around Aubrey and you want to help feed kids over long holiday breaks, I’d love to have you jump in with me and my family.  We have already talked to one school counselor and potentially have 30 kids who need food over Thanksgiving break.  I’m still scared to contact any other counselors yet—you can pray for courage for me.

For more information on what Lovepacs does, go to www.lovepacs.org.  It’s an amazing organization that started 4 years ago in a little community and has spread to feed thousands of kids.  To join in with Aubrey specifically, like the facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/lovepacsaubrey/

Lovepacs exists to be an expression of God's love by engaging our communities to serve children in need. 

"At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality."        ---2 Corinthians 8:14

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Chicken-Butt Eggs


We love our chickens.  I know this may sound crazy, but they have as much personality as our dogs.  And now, we are starting to reap the rewards of having them: EGGS!!! 

The other day, Caroline and I were playing with the chickens and collecting eggs.  As we were walking back into the house, I asked her if she wanted me to make her some scrambled eggs.  She had this very hesitant look on her face and asked if I was going to use the eggs we had just collected.  I told her, "Yes," and she made that face kids make when you try to make them eat broccoli.

Here's how the rest of the exchange went:
Me: "What's wrong? You realize these eggs are not fertilized so we are not eating baby chickens, right?"
Caroline: "Yes, but it's just weird to me to eat these.  They came from our chickens' butts!"
Me: "You realize ALL eggs come from chickens' butts, right?  Even the ones in the stores. 
Caroline: "Yeah, but we don't KNOW the other chickens."
Me: "Yes, but isn't it better that we know where ours come from and know how good our chickens are?"
Caroline: "Yes, but the ones in the store have all the extra added stuff in them."
Me: "And that is exactly why these taste so good and are better for us--they don't have all the extra preservatives and stuff in them and we know what our chickens have been eating."
Caroline: "Well, it's still just weird."
Me: "Maybe a little, but I'm hungry."


And the circle of life goes on and on...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Things I discovered while Cleaning out my Office

I've spent the last couple of days going through piles of papers.  Seriously big piles.  Piles that completely filled the tall recycle bin in our copy room.  Papers that I don't need anymore and probably never really needed to keep in the first place. 

And in the process, I discovered a few things...

  • I'm a hoarder of office supplies ( and folders, labels, envelopes, etc.--you get the drift...)
  • I like fun-colored/printed folders
  • Calendars dating back to 2011 (yes, calendars is plural there--just don't ask)
  • Some sweet, sweet thank you notes
  • A napkin with training plans/philosophies on it (which, have all been implemented at this time--yay, God!)
  • Lots and lots of old "Maps" (our name for a weekly schedule) with hundreds of volunteer names on them
  • Precious artwork and notes from my daughter
But, the biggest thing I re-discovered is that I am blessed.  Some days, an office job doing data entry sounds really good.  It's got a beginning and an end.  It can be compartmentalized and not thought about again when I get home.  It might not take as much energy from me.

But, it would take me away from people.  Back in 2006, I remember being asked why I wanted this job--did I realize how hard it would be working with people day in and day out.  My answer then is the same one now.  "Yes.  People are a lot of work and it will be hard.  BUT, they also bring a lot of joy--more than a spreadsheet--and the rewards far outweigh the words."

Moving on/over is sometimes hard, but if we don't move, we stagnate.  And stagnate water not only looks ugly, it stinks. 

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"  Isaiah 43:18-19a

P.S.  Reading back through this, I want to clarify that I am not leaving Bent Tree; I am simply shifting my focus from what I've done for the past 8 years to helping to build the Kids ministry on the Frisco campus.  I'm cleaning in anticipation of an awesome replacement for me in Carrollton.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

He Knows my Name

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in His hands.

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go.

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call.

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in His hands

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Remember Who the REAL Enemy Is

Remember who the real enemy is.  A friend of mine reminded me the other day of that line in "Catching Fire" and it has popped up unexpectedly in my mind several times since then.  Here's a quick view of it in case you've been under a rock the past few years and haven't seen it yet: http://youtu.be/rwxcNayRTI0

It's so easy to get caught up in our conflicts with friends, spouses, co-workers, kids, etc. that we lose sight of the bigger battle.  Ephesians 6:11-13 reminds us of this:
 
"Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

Can't you just hear Satan (in President Snow's voice) saying, "Let it fly!"?  Let it fly at the people around you who love you the most.  Let it fly on the unsuspecting customer service rep.  Let it fly on your boss.  Even let it fly on yourself.  But the real enemy is not any of those people. 

Praying for you (and me) as we put on our gold bracelet/armor--that we would not get so far into the details that we forget who the REAL enemy is...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Doing

It's funny what we spend our days on. The things we think are so important in the moment. The ways we get consumed with doing.

God has been showing me a lot this past few weeks about what is truly important to Him. And the conclusion I am facing, is that all my doing just spins me further from Him--even when it's things I think are FOR Him. The doing that requires it to be about me. And my desires. The doing that keeps me too busy to sit and seek His voice.

Just over 2 weeks ago, I entered a contest to go to Rwanda and part of me was hoping to win so I could change the world. Sounds silly now when I put it on paper, but I REALLY wanted it.  I realized this morning that the contest ended yesterday. Obviously, I did not receive enough votes to even be in the running.

But I'm okay with it. In fact, the thought of leaving the country and my family right now fills me with angst.   Because, while a worthy thing, it's not what God is doing through me right now.  It's so easy for me to "save the world" but ignore my family. I'm embarrassed to admit that. That I let myself get caught up in the plight of orphans in another country and am not as accessible to my own children as they want/need.

But God, in His grace, gives wake up calls and second chances. He reminds me of my calling as a wife and mom.  He pulls me up and gives me a glimpse of His perspective. And it's not always what I thought it was.  Or dreamed it would be. But it's oh so much more beautiful!

And through it all, He loves me. And calls me His. And never disowns me. Or berates me. He just shakes His head, smiles and opens up His arms wide. Waiting for me to stop doing and just be. To be still. To be with Him. To be comforted. To be loved.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Broken Beautiful

I know that I don't bring a lot to the table
Just little pieces of a broken heart
There's days I wonder if You'll still be faithful
Hold me together when I fall apart?

Would You remind me now of who You are?

That Your love will never change,
That there's healing inYour name
And that You can take broken things,
And make them beautiful

You took my shame and You walked out of the grave
So Your love can take broken things

...and make them beautiful, oh-oh
And make the-em beautiful oh-oh...
And make them beautiful-oh

I'm better off when I begin to remember
How You have met me in my deepest pain
So give me glimpses now of how You have covered
All of my heartache, oh with all Your grace

Remind me know that You can make a way

That Your love will never change,
That there's healing inYour name 
And that You can take broken things,
And make them beautiful 

You took my shame and You walked out of the grave
So Your love can take broken things

...and make them beautiful, oh-oh
And make the-em beautiful oh-oh...
And make them beautiful-oh

You say that. You'll turn my weeping into dancing
Remove my sadness and cover me with joy
You say your scars are the evidence of healing

That you can make the broken...beautiful

Cuz Your love will never change,
And there's healing in Your name
And You will take broken things
And make them beautiful

You took my shame
And Youw allied out of the grave

So Your love can take broken things...

...and make them beautiful, oh-oh
And make the-em beautiful oh-oh...
And make them beautiful-oh

You make us beautiful oh-oh
You make us beautiful-oh

The Broken Beautiful by Ellie Holcomb



Friday, May 16, 2014

Birthday Love

It's not even 10am, but it's already been a fabulous day!  It's the day we celebrate my birth--42 years ago.  And I have a secret to tell...even though I don't always act like it, I REALLY like gifts.  In fact, it's really embarrassing how much I like them.

And I got a great one from my family this morning--a charm bracelet I've wanted for years.  I can't wait to get my first charms on it and start adding to the collection.  Charm bracelets tell stories and if you know me at all, you know I have this deep love for stories!

But, the charm bracelet wasn't my favorite gift. While it's a pretty hard one to beat, I realized how much more I loved the words/non-words I received from my favorite Royal people.

Caroline wrote me this note:


I know it's hard to read (surely I don't need to remind you of my lack of good picture-taking skills), but I am the shell to her turtle.  And for those of you who don't know, turtles are her most favorite thing in the world.  And her hands were covered in marker afterward--be still my heart!




After a rough start to the morning that began with tears (those of you with pre-teens who don't like to get out of bed in the morning will totally understand), my Hope, who never posts selfies with me, posted this on her Instagram:
And if that weren't enough to have me in puddles, my hubby, who hates making lunches and only does it when I'm stressed and running really late, got out of bed before me and helped the girls to make theirs so I didn't have to.  No pics on this one because he doesn't like me to make a big deal out of the little things like this he does and snapping a pic would have ruined the moment. 

And, not to be left out, my sweet friends who I ADORE working with, snuck in to Tin Star earlier this week and decorated "our" table before I got there.

And yes--that is my favorite flower--beautiful hydrangeas!!!

Throughout the morning, my phone has also been blowing up with facebook messages.

Words bring life. 

In the past couple of years, I've not made it a priority to tell those I love "happy bday" and celebrate/mourn with them as intentionally as I have in the past.  I've got lots of great excuses that I tell myself when I feel that Holy Spirit twinge to reach out:
  • I'm too busy
  • They won't even notice if I don't say anything--everybody else will cover me
  • But what happens if I do it this time and forget the next time--will they read into it
  • What if I didn't say anything on their best friend's birthday--won't that friend feel left out?
It's crazy!!  And yes, that's just a snippet into my narcissistic mind--scary, huh?

Anyway, my socks have been blessed off and it reminds me that when kindness is shown to you, it makes you want to show it to others. 

So, it's time for some intentional and spontaneous life-giving words to start coming out of my mouth...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What I wish I'd have said

So I got this wild hair this morning and entered a contest for a trip to Rwanda with Jen Hatmaker, Jenni Allen and a bunch of other really cool people.  I thought about it for a few hours, but when I sat down and did it, I was impulsive.

I wrote a "funny" piece about why they should pick me.

I posted one of the most unattractive pictures of myself for the entry.

And, after I posted my plea for votes on facebook, I immediately regretted it. 

I had 350 words to sell myself.  And for those of you who know me, I'll spend the first 500 words of a conversation apologizing for not being "enough", dropping the ball, being mean, etc.  So, only giving me 350 words to tell why I "deserve" a trip like this is crazy--like there's a way to deserve something this amazing!

After I hit send and almost broke my arm reaching back to pat myself on the back for putting myself out there, I read some of the other admissions. 

And I looked at THEIR pictures. 

And I realized, I am the longest long shot there is to win this.

Really. 

This is not just me being humble.  I'm a bit embarrassed and feel the need to apologize to them for wasting their time when there are so many others who have a bigger platform and would probably do more with it after a trip like this.

I wish I would have told them about my heart for Lovepacs and how I KNEW God wanted me to take a step of faith to send that very first email to friends--the email that others were just waiting for because God had been stirring in their hearts, too. And that now I'm along for the ride while He does amazing things through community.

I wish I had told them that I have this far-fetched dream of writing and traveling the country to advocate for those less fortunate for me.  To explain WHY I feel the need to be a voice for others--even though I do a poor job of it for myself. 

I wish I had told them I lead a ministry of kids and adults and students who all change the world each and every week and that I get a front row seat to watching God work in and through them.

And I sooooo wish I had sent in a better picture.  Really--a double (maybe triple)-chin picture of me holding a chicken???  What was I thinking??? 

But I didn't do any of those things.

And I DO really want to go (along with the rest of the country, I'm sure!). 

So, would you help me out and go vote for me--if for no other reason than that you don't want to see me sitting there with 5 votes while all the others have hundreds and thousands.  Yep, after all I've done today, I'm not above asking for the pity vote. 

Here's the link:  http://www.noondaycollection.com/styleforjustice#view/23056/2105489.

If you vote, would you leave me a comment below, letting me know you did.  I feel the need to apologize to you in person the next time we cross paths. 

Much thanks!


Monday, May 12, 2014

Texting for Love

I read another blog post this morning with advice to younger moms.  And while I agreed with it, I can't help but wonder why we think we need to pass on things to people who are not asking for them.  Is it arrogant to think we have mastered something enough to tell others how to do it?  Or is it really just a blessing to people?  Will it give them hope or make them feel like a failure?

Often I think I have things to pass along, but I usually stop myself.  Will others roll their eyes and skip over it?  Will they wonder why I feel like I'm better/further along/more qualified to tell them something--something they already know and think it just plain common sense?

Obviously, I think about this too much!

Anyway, the last few weeks I've been doing this random thing with Hope that seems to be working.  It's not original--I'm sure I read it somewhere and didn't come up with it on my own, and you may already know it as well.  Maybe you've written a blog on the best way to do it and it went viral.  Maybe you taught a class to middle school parents and told everybody how to do it.  Who knows? 

Before I tell you what it is, let me give you a bit of background (how's that to keep you in suspense--and don't skip the next paragraph to get to the bottom and see if it was worth your time to read the paragraph before it--not that I've ever done that...).

I love my girls.  When I am away from them, I seem to love them more than my actions and tone of voice show when I am with them.  It's a struggle I've had since they were little and I would be so ready to put them to bed, but after an hour of solitude, I'd sneak in their room and look at them sleeping.  Somehow, I tend to react to them when we are together instead of responding.  I take things personally.  I lose my patience.  I yell.  I ignore.  I say snarky things. 

But, as I think about them when we are apart, I regret that I wasn't kinder.  Or more loving.  Or compassionate and empathetic.  Or engaged in what they were saying.  So I make plans to change that the next time I see them.  Sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate.  And, of course, I pray and ask God to work through me and push me aside.

In that moment that I am thinking about her, I've started texting Hope.  I apologize so much that I decided not to make the text about that.  I tell her I love her.  Or that she's beautiful.  Or that she's a daughter of the King.  Or that she's amazing.  Simple little words that elicit a response @ 50% of the time.  But I don't do it for the response.  In fact, I kinda like when she doesn't respond because I know that it moves her and she doesn't have words or emojis to explain herself. 

Maybe all it does is ease my guilt and give me a "paper trail" for when she's in counseling years from now.  But, as I send the text, I pray that my actions show her that I truly mean what I just wrote.  And I pray that it gets down deep into her soul and she believes it.  And, selfishly, I pray that it serves as a bridge in our relationship that will only get trickier as she enters these teenage years.

It's not 32 things to do or the best thing I ever did, but it's working in my house.  It may not in yours.  Feel free to try it if you think it will.

What 1 thing has worked for you in restoring/building up your relationship with your pre-teen/teen child? 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mama Who?

After almost 30 years, you'd think Mother's day would be easier.  Especially since I have daughters of my own and have never struggled with infertility or losing a child.  But I find myself on edge the entire day.  No matter how great my life looks--both from the outside and the inner circle--Mother's day is one I can't wait to be over.

This isn't a pity request.  We all have hard things.  We've all been let down by a human at some point in our life and have probably done our fair share of letting others down, too.

But it affects us.  To be rejected by someone close to you, just skews the way you view yourself--no matter how many times others tell you and even more importantly--you tell yourself the real Truth.  Because our minds are so finite, we attribute these human feeling of neglect and abandonment to a God who would never do that. 

I saw a verse posted today that I had never seen before:

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands"
Isaiah 49:15-16
 
 
God won't forget.  Not on Mother's Day or any other day of the year.  He SEES!  He KNOWS!!  And dispite all of our fears to the contrary, HE LOVES!!!
 
So whoever you are that is reading this--if you're the mom who left or the child who is still wondering, no matter where you live, or what you do, or how kind you are, or how mean you are,  HE WILL NOT FORGET YOU. 
 
Or me. 
 


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

#Morning Mom Fail

Today started out like most mornings.  I had good intentions, but mixing the muffins took longer than I thought it would so I was 9 minutes late waking up the girls.  Then I remembered it was trash day and as I was going to pull the overflowing bag out of the trashcan, I saw muffin wrappers and gum on the floor around it.  So I griped at the girls about the grossness of it.

Then I made lunches and griped at the girls because their lunchboxes weren't on the counter ready to go for me.

Then I heard the dogs whining, so I complained that nobody but me must love our dogs because they don't feed them.  After which, Caroline jumped up and got their food for them...and then left their cups on the kitchen countertop instead of putting them back in their rightful place.

Then we all headed out to the backyard to let the ducks and chickens out of their houses and give them fresh water--amidst my rushing the girls so they wouldn't be late for school.

It was time to walk out the door, but I was still trying to cut an iris and wrap it's stem for teacher appreciation week because I forgot to pick up a flower at the store last night.  Did I mention that I didn't see the note of what all we were supposed to be sending this week until yesterday--after I dug for it because I saw another mom in the grocery store (yes--I know, that would have been perfect timing to pick up a flower, but I was too busy searching for the tortellini in the deli section to make this amazing pinterest recipe I saw--which I never found so now I have diced tomatoes and sausage and am trying to figure out something else for dinner tonight).  As I was trying to pull the dead parts of the iris off, one of the blooms fell off.  No worries, there was still one left, so I cut it and made it work...until I was walking out the door and it broke off, too.

Caroline was outside instead of brushing teeth or hair so Hope made a run for the bus stop while I yelled at Caroline for being pokey and not having her priorities straight--which made her cry and go even slower, trying to wipe tears as she brushed her teeth.  We made it to the bus stop literally as Ms. Tina pulled up to the corner.  I yelled, "I really do love you!!!" out the window to the girls and headed back to the house. 

And felt like an utter failure.

I hate yelling.  And griping.  And nagging.  And laying guilt trips. And causing my beautiful daughters to cry.

But I do it more often than I like to admit. 

As I sat down with my own muffin (whose wrapper DID make it inside the trashcan), I saw this Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oQqnKm0jqM.

And to nobody's surprise, I cried.

I know I failed this morning.  But I wonder how many of these people's moms felt the same way most mornings?  How many of them worried their kids would grow up feeling unloved or unworthy because of the craziness of school day mornings.

And I wonder how many of my other mom friends feel the way I do today?  How many post the pinterest kitchen d├ęcor ideas when they have gum stuck to their kitchen floor and something sticky on the fridge handle that they are just too tired to  wipe off for the 4th time today? How many started out the day with a picture in their minds of the family sitting around the table smiling at each other over breakfast, saying please and thank you to each other (ok--I may have gone a little far on that one).

I have no wise words for you.  I can't tell you it will get easier.  Or that you will miraculously never yell again.  Or gripe.  Or lay a guilt trip. 

What I am clinging to for myself is the promise that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23) and I get a do-over (Thank you Karen for posting that verse this morning--it's my favorite)!

And that fills my heart with hope and peace and gratitude.
 

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's Just their Nature

Take a look at this sweet video:

Brian decided the ducklings needed to learn to swim this morning and then this evening, the girls were sad they missed out, so they had a 2nd swim.  I smile every time I watch these videos! 

As I was watching them take their first dip in their pond (i.e. my bathtub) this morning, I noticed a couple of things:
  • They didn't have to be taught to do what comes natural to them.  Even Itty-Bitty (as I call the smallest black one) paddled and floated right alongside the bigger ones. 
  • Once they realized they could do it, they were diving and swimming all over the tub!  They were so excited! It was as if they thought, "THIS is what I was made to do!"
  • They "get" community.  When we took the little one out to dry it off, the others started peeping loudly at us.  In fact, they all peeped until the 4 of them were back together again under their heat lamp.  They knew when one was missing. And when they all got back together again, all was right in their little world.

I know I sound like a crazy lady!  I can't seem to stop posting about these precious creatures!  I wish I could tell you that my posts were done, but the baby swallows should be hatching soon and Spot, Caroline's turtle, just came out of hibernation, so there will probably be more in the coming weeks.

The thing I keep thinking over and over is how fearfully and wonderfully they are made.  Even things like oil gland and sinuses on these ducklings just amaze me. If God loves these animals that much, how much more does He love you and me??? 



Saturday, April 5, 2014

This Life

Spring is my favorite season.  Even with the rain and tornadoes, I still love it.  I love the green-ness of everything.  I love that I can hear the birds on my porch again.  I love that I get to smell one of my favorite smells--grass that's just been mowed!  I literally get a tad bit giddy when I think of all that spring brings. 

Spring has brought a season of busy-ness to the Royal house.  On top of the 10 chickens we already had (which I have failed to blog about), we added 4 new ducklings.  I know the quality of the pic isn't the greatest, but you can see the first 2 we got sitting on my lap--which I absolutely love to do each night (and have not been pooped on YET--I'm sure it's coming). 

As much as I love our chickens, too, they are in the doghouse right now with me.  A few nights ago, when the tornado was coming our way, I couldn't get them in their house.  Finally, after chasing them in the rain and hail, I had to leave 2 to fend for themselves.  I could just see the headlines, "Crazy lady dies in tornado trying to save her chickens."  Even I draw the line somewhere.

Here are a few snapshots of our life the past month:

Caroline got to celebrate a dear friend's birthday AND ride a horse!
 
 
Brian brought 2 more ducks home a week after I talked him into the first 2.  It's amazing to see how big they get in a week!  I was also surprised that they don't quack at first--they "peep."
 
 
We actually got to enjoy soccer practice because the weather cooperated. 
 
 
I made some fun baskets for the weekly popcorn party Caroline's school does for the kids.  After helping to pop and bag the popcorn every Friday, I leave smelling like a movie theater, but I LOVE that our school does stuff like this for the kids!  It's such a moral-booster!
 
 
Brian  planted a few peach trees and a birch tree--AND surprised me with my favorite flower for our front porch.  I heart hydrangeas!
 
 
It's been a full month!  For someone who typically looks back and wishes I would have done things differently, I have NO regrets about our move.  I have been surprised at what an animal lover I have become and can't wait to walk outside every morning to see them all (except the ducklings who are still in our laundry room).  I know this world is not my home, but I am so thankful for the temporary digs I've been given and the people and creatures I get to share it with!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, March 27, 2014

What a Difference a Year Makes

A year ago, our sweet granny was having surgery to replace her aortic valve that had been deteriorating for years.  This picture was taken about a week after she got out of the hospital. 

Needless to say, it was a scary time and we all worried that she would not make it through, but without the surgery, she did not have much longer. 

God, in His way of handling all of the details, made is so that out of all the doctors in the country, the one who operated on Granny was the dad of a dear friend of mine.  A friend who had been telling me about this awesome new procedure they did to extend life on people. For those of you who don't believe in God, this is just a big coincidence--maybe karma.  But I KNOW that my God orchestrated it. 

Granny is back in town today to have her one year check-up.  I don't know about the rest of the family, but she surprised me with the way she embraced her exercises after surgery and worked to get back to her "normal" self.  Her 95 year old self has more energy and spunk than most people half her age--she's pretty amazing--and ornery.

So, today, I am celebrating life.  The fact that I still get those phone calls asking me if I've been shopping to pick out curtains and telling me we are too busy and that my "bedspread" is old and needs to be replaced and my kitchen "certainly is very red" and that even though I wasn't born into her family, I am hers just as much as the ones who were--all mean that I have this amazing lady in my life for another day. 

I am celebrating that this crazy Polish lady is still around to stir up trouble (which she does very well).  I am looking forward to seeing her and hugging her neck this weekend and cherishing the time we have together--she will be thrilled to see the small changes we've made to the house since the last time she was here.  I KNOW I will have to explain to her once again how much I hate shopping and haven't made time to do it.  And I know she will shake her head at our chickens and dogs and turtle and tell us the swallows on the porch sure do make a lot of poop. 

But isn't that what 95 year old Grannys are supposed to do? 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Birds are Back in Town!

We saw them flying around this weekend, but tonight, we FINALLY saw them sitting in their next!  I can't explain how happy this makes us!  Each (human) member of our family has snuck a peek at them tonight and closed the door with a smile and giddiness.  Ok, maybe Brian wasn't giddy, but he was just as happy to see them.

When we started working on our house last spring, they were flying around, singing and sitting on our roof and porch.  Before they left in the fall, 2 batches of babies had hatched out of this  nest--one of which we got to see learn to fly.  Even though they make a ton of poop on our front porch, there's just something "home-like" about having them live with us.  We missed them this winter and are choosing to believe it's the same family that's back again.  They are just as loud as my girls, so they fit right in!

Then, tonight, as we were sitting in the laundry room talking to the chickens (yes, they are STILL in my house--hopefully their coop will be ready for them this weekend), this one hopped up on Brian's lap.  See that red thing on the side of her beak?  That's new!  We noticed that her waddles are growing in!  Again, we all had to gather round to take a look and she even  posed for a picture for me.  I know they have birdbrains, but they've got some funny personalities, too.  Half of them have been named--Caroline's favorite is "Pecky" (named because she pecks everybody).  The babies are growing up!

Ok, so I just re-read this and some of you might think it's crazy, but yes, we talk to our chickens.  If you saw my facebook post, you know that I even reprimand them and call Brian their "daddy." 

We're just a little wacky  here at the Royal house, but I'm okay with that.  While it's not a farm, we may turn it into one before you know it.  Even though I'm the least "country-fied" (redneck might be a better term) in our house, I find myself constantly amazed at what an incredible Creator we have when I look at animals and see the cycle of life. 

And I'm still a bit giddy, myself about the swallows!





 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Gentle and Kind

In this day and age, gentle and kind are not words I use to describe many people.  Today, we lost--in my opinion--the gentlest and kindest of them all.  Grandmama Wade finally got to be with Jesus.  While I know she was welcomed with much rejoicing into heaven, my heart is heavy for all those she left behind.

As I was scanning facebook just a few moments ago, I was overwhelmed with the number of posts about her.  She was the most gracious woman I've ever known.

My own mom left when I was a teenager and I was blessed with some amazing women in my life.  Grandmama--who at that time was "Mrs. Wade, my pastor's wife" allowed me to sit next to her in choir and never said an unkind word about my lack of ability to carry a tune.  She had a strong alto voice--not one that she ever used to sing on her own (at least not in all the years I've known her)--but one she used to harmonize with others and make them sound better.

When my dad and her daughter got married, she continued to be as gracious as always to me. Christmas Eve and Easter were always spent at her house and she never made me feel like a "step-granddaughter."  Most of my memories of her are in the kitchen or sitting around the dining room table in her old house--not that she sat much--she was always the first one to hop up and get whatever was needed for the rest of us. 

I think the most poignant memory I will always carry with me is the love story she and Pal (her husband) displayed for all to see.  I've told some friends over the past few weeks that it reminded me of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.  Even Pal--a strong Baptist preacher--was gentle with her.  When her Alzheimer's first set in, I remember him caring for her in the same way she did for everyone else when she could.  The gentleness of it still brings me to tears and I pray that Brian and I are like that with each other in years to come. 

Needless to say, we are sad.  Even though her mind has been gone from us for a while, there was still some hope in the back of my mind that she would "wake up" and remember us again.  And while I know she is in heaven with that sweet smile on her face that I haven't seen in the past few years, I can't help but grieve the loss of such an amazing example of a lady.  A lady who loved those around her, but loved her God first.

She left a large hole on this earth, but I am thankful for the past 30+ years I got to be around her and pray that just a little bit of her legacy is passed on to my children.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Instagram Rules for Moms

I used to think I was really cool and hip (obviously I'm not because nobody says "hip" any more) when I first started using Instagram.  I'm  a witty kind of girl and love posting goofy pictures.

Then I let Hope get an account.  And I learned that I was really not as cool or as funny as I thought I was.  And there are things moms shouldn't do on Instagram.  I thought I'd pass on my learnings to all you other moms out there so you don't have to be schooled by your child.

  • Never, ever, under any circumstance, comment on your child's photo.  Even if they tell you to--don't--they will delete whatever you write.

  • Always "like" their pic.  I don't know why, but I've been told that I am allowed to like stuff and it's a good thing.

  • Never tag your child in one of your photos.  Again, she will have a serious conversation with you about the kinds of photos allowed.

  • This goes along with the above--never post any pictures of your kids without prior approval.  For some reason, they don't like others seeing them in their fox jammies if the braid in their hair is flipped on the wrong side of their head. And NEVER make a collage of all the selfies that you find of them on your phone.  Just. Don't.

  • Be prepared for them to tell you that "you sure do post a lot of pictures."  It won't be said in a mean tone, but the message that you're not "hip" will come through loud and clear.

  • Never, ever comment on one of their friend's pics.  This is even worse than commenting on theirs. Even if you're saying something nice or funny. 
Hopefully, following these rules will keep you in good standing with your child.  Does your child have an Instagram?  What rules did I miss?  Please share them so I don't stumble upon them on my own.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Olympics vs. the Church

A few nights ago, I was watching the Olympics.  And even though I knew which events Team USA medaled in, I still found myself captivated. 

During one point, a snowboarder fell hard--cracking her helmet and not moving for a bit. There was a camera on the other competitors waiting at the bottom of the hill to see if she would beat their score.  While I never want to see someone hurt, I was moved by their reactions.   They immediately gasped and you could see genuine concern.  There was no "Good!  She's no longer in the running to beat me" thoughts going through their heads. 

And when she made it to the bottom of the hill, they were there to greet her and hug her and check to see if she was okay. 

And then a friend posted this story yesterday: http://www.canada.com/olympics/news/canadian-coach-replaces-russian-athletes-broken-ski-to-let-him-finish-race.

This is why I love the Olympics.  People from all different walks of life come together and the love of a sport binds them.  It creates a camaraderie--even in the midst of competition. 

It gives me hope.  If the love of a sport can do that, how much greater can the love of Jesus do it?