Still in the Globe

Team Boyd is still hanging out in the snow globe.  Life is calm and settled one moment and totally shaken up the next.  Whether it is a moment of peace and quiet or one that warrants a referee jersey … we are holding on …. and trying to take note of all there is to learn.

With each high and low that I take time to notice and process … God, so faithfully, teaches me wonderful things.  But … He doesn’t take away the laundry piles that keep my thoughts in short segments … so, I will stick with the “cliff notes versions”

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Chapter (oh … lets start at) 46 :    Invasion

There are two places I seek refuge.  A long walk unplugged.  And a long bath behind a … actually two locked doors.

Now a days, I have an entire herd of prehistoric animals to relocate in order to find solitude.  Most times my heart smiles as I scoop them all in the toy basket that nests next to my tub … but there are plenty of times it frustrates me to no end and they are swept to the ground without a care.

No place is untouched by the five kiddoes we are raising.  While I do mourn the fact that toys are scattered everywhere, our furniture will continue to be stained and teens simply do not put things away … it is a reminder that this is what it looks like to be ALL. IN.  

We are silly to think that our house will be unscathed by the romping and rough housing and toys of our kids as we live within the same walls.

And we are crazy to think that our hearts will be unbruised and unstretched and left alone as we love our kids with all we have.

I hope that I allow our home and our heart to be  invaded by our kids.  Though I whine about it often, I hope deeply that they continue to leave marks and memories every moment we are together.

While I endeavor (mostly in vain) to stay tidy and keep it squeaky clean with happy hearts and teachable moments abounding, the truth is:   there are dinosaurs invading every nook and cranny of our home and my heart.

And it is my choice as to how to treat those “dinosaurs”.   God is using those invasions to remind me that it’s not my space.  It’s not my life.  It’s not my agenda.  It’s His.  

When I remain thankful for the good and the bad, when I remember who is invading our hearts … then it becomes purposeful and easier.  And I sure find pleasure in the dinosaurs … and all they leave in my heart.

CHAPTER 47: Stinky Face

I OFTEN find myself at my wits end not knowing how to love our youngest.  Actually, if I am honest, I could say that about all my kids.  And they could say it about me.

One night, as I was really wrestling with the characteristics Mark has and how I didn’t feel like I was loving him as I should, I half hazardly picked up a book to read to him.

I love you, stinky face.

“Mama said, ‘I love you, my wonderful child.”  
But I had a question.“Mama, what if I were a big, scary ape?  Would you still love me then?”
“If you were a big, scary ape, I would make your birthday cake out of bananas, and I would tell you, ‘I love you my big, scary ape”
“But mama, but mama, what if I were a super smelly skunk, and I smelled so bad that my name was stinky face?”
“Then I’d plunk you in a bubble bath!  But if you still smelled stinky, I wouldn’t mind.  I’d whisper in your ear, “I love you stinky face”

Mama continues to remind the little boy that she would love him through ALL worst case scenarios.  Swamp Monster.  Green Alien.  One eyed Monster.  And she lovingly meets him where he is.  Loving her son for who he is.   Yuck and all.

I barely made it to the end.  I was sobbing through this silly kids book as it was blatantly obvious what God was reminding me to do.

Love him like he is.  He will not be like any of the other kids.  And they won’t be like him.  

Just love them like they are.

It will be different for every single one of them.

And it will have to be done with the Love of the one that Loves Me so well.

If Jesus can love me … prideful, judgmental, lazy, highly impatient gal that I am … in such creative and intentional ways, then I KNOW He can equip me to do the same.

*the book was one that was given to our youngest by his birth mom.  It’s like she knew I was going to need a little extra help with him.

 
CHAPTER 48: Take a Hike

I have been encouraged by folks that care deeply about me to find something to do for myself.  Shockingly, as self centered as I am, that was a hard task.   So, I decided to take a hike.  Literally.  I heeded the wisdom and have made a long long list of hiking trails to conquer in the next year.

My biggest takeaway thus far:  The woods are a mess. 

They are totally disorganized and never tidy.  They are dirty and never put together.

The rock cliff never says “oh I’m sorry I am so old.  I haven’t had time to get something new.”

The cave full of daddy long legs never once hides what we think are unwanted guests.

They never ever consider putting on their “very best” … because they ARE their very best.

And they are simply doing what they are created to do:  causing people in their midst to think about their Creator. 

Not once do I enter a trail or canyon and have expectations of anything but to see Gods glory.   And not once have I left a trail having compared myself to the beautiful surroundings I have been in.  There is some great perspective under the canopy God has created … a good place for our souls to dwell.

 
Chapter 49:  Average Mom

End of school math story problem for you:

A mom receives TWO phone calls from the bus driver AND the principal about unacceptable behavior in one child.

Another child of the same mom is presented with a high honor the same days.

What is the average score of the mom?

Let’s say she is an average mom.  And I am the queen of the club.  And becoming quite content there.

Because the sun will set as it does each day.  Awards will be filed in the “keepsake box”.   Consequences will be  fulfilled.   And no matter if it was a “high” or “low” of the day …  I remain proud of each one of my kids.

 

Chapter 50:  A story for later.

Junior High kids make my arm pits sweat.  I have a hard time being around them.  Actually, I just have a hard time watching them.  They make me uncomfortable.  I have grown greatly in this area as we actually own two junior highers  ourselves.   But, I still chose “outside chaperone duty” at the dance, because I don’t think I could have  handled being deep in the mix.

So, welcoming crew we were.  It was quite entertaining to watch the kids arrive at the dance.  Some solo.  Some in groups.  Many entered with confidence.  Many looked as anxious as I was.  But they all made the decision to get dressed, get in the car and go.   Some went with abandonment, some went with a bribe.

We teamed with some friends to welcome the kids and check permission slips.   The other mom told me how she simply told her son he was going.  He would have been way more comfortable and content at home or the movies that evening.  But her reasoning was awesome.

It will be a story for later.  

Whether it is the best.night.ever.  or a total fail.  Decades from now, he’ll be able to say “I remember the 8th grade dance” and then share his experience … grand or dismal.

The things we experience are vital parts of our story.  They are the moments that make us.   Some will build us up and some will seem to tear us down.  Some we will be proud of and others we will want to hide.   They will put color and depth into the story God is writing in our lives.

I treasure the example this mom set in expecting her kiddo to go and experience.   So often, we want to make each experience magical and perfect.  We want to (and some work hard to) protect our children … and ourselves … from uncomfortable situations.  Heck, as adults we can maneuver situations so we are comfortable.

But we NEED those moments.  We need to learn how to maneuver through them.  We need to see what they will teach us.  And we need stories for later.  Stories that might make us cringe or die laughing.  Stories that might encourage someone else or just remind us that we are far more capable than what we think we are.

Let the experiences flow as they may … (with plenty of parental wisdom emparted to the young and naive) … because we all will cherish the stories for later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Foggy Vision

A few months ago, I succumbed to purchasing my first pair of glasses.  The real ones.  Not the dime store “readers”.    I am trying to wear them all the time, but it is hard.  The very thought of them reminds me that I am old(er), therefore I just don’t want to wear them.  But to see better, I need them.  I have begun to master the “progressive prescription” and don’t bob my head as much as I used to. They simply have taken some time to adjust to wearing.  But, there is this one thing and it gets me every single time:  The Oven. Without fail, I go to pull something out of the oven and WHAM … the glasses fog up.   If I would simply remember to shield my glasses during that one task, my vision would remain clear.  But I don’t. And the kids giggle every.single.time.

Rounding out of the holidays and into the New Year always feels like my heart is foggy.   But it seems like this first week, the eyes of my heart have been showing me some good (and hard) stuff.  Each day, one task, one thought, one event has stood out … and in those standout moments there has been a bit of clarity. (you can read those ugly and lovely, ridiculous and serious thoughts below)  It is clear that God is consistently at work in our lives and He is ready to back it all up.  He backs it up with those sweet truths I learned when I was younger and my vision wasn’t so foggy.  His Holy Word.  We just have to remember to continue to shield our hearts with those truths  so we can see clearly. While I begrudgingly had to adjust the vision of my eyes at forty five … I want to so badly continue to find joy and life while adjusting the vision of my heart!

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January 1st  Visit HEB three times today.

Today, I realized the obvious:  I go to the grocery store too much.  Way. Too. Much.  I know the names of over half the employees, I can lay out a list according to where it is in the store, I know the peak times and the low times, I know when they stock and when they need to restock.  I go to the store a lot.  Mostly because I don’t plan well. And while it drives me crazy about myself.  I hope to be different in the days to come as it would be a better steward of my time to plan, right?  But until then … I am (almost) always glad to run into a friend, help someone, lend an extra smile or kind word or just have a good visit with Gail at Lane Three.   She really is the sweetest.

Hebrews 13:2  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

January 2nd  Don’t get a hair cut. 

I am overdue for a haircut.  And today I figured out why.  I don’t like getting my hair cut for one reason.  (ugh).  I don’t like looking at myself in the mirror that long.  Phew.  That was a bit harder to write than I thought. I thought it on Day Two and pushed it down into my heart.  Doesn’t the Evil one want us to do that … push down his lies, so they stay with us and fog the vision of our heart.  Well pooie on you, Satan, I spoke that one outloud. This one is a work in progress … 

Psalms 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

January 3rd. The kids go back to school. Do a happy dance.

I LOVE when school starts.  I am not ashamed to say it.  I love it when I come home to an empty house.  Make note that this is coming from the gal that thought she would/should homeschool.  While, I treasure our two weeks at home for the holidays and delight in each game played and puzzle put together … I love when school starts.  And I am equally glad when the summer begins.    When I see that some moms are sad that there kids are leaving and a twinge of guilt sets in.  I worry if  my kids are in enough activities (when actually they are in … well, hardly any).   But somewhere in the quiet of my home, I am beginning to settle into the amazing way God shows his creativity and intentionality.  He has made sure that each of our lives look different.  Even though we are all on the same planet, not one family has the same ebb and flo, we aren’t in the same season, and never do we have the same outcome this side of heaven. We all go about it different and that is okay.  He even made it so that  the blessings and burdens could never match up. When walking with Him, it’s easy to see.  When comparing to others,  it is hard not to want and wonder if you are in the right place. Daily, I breath prayers to live well in the season He ordains for our family.  Right now, I am just really really glad that it is the season that the kids are in school … and learning not too feel guilty about that!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

 

January 4th.  Balloon Release.

I think it gets harder every year to celebrate the life of Kayleigh, our sweet five day old friend that changed so many lives.  The memories, the relationships, even the adrenaline of those days seem to fade just a bit.  Four years ago, we were desperately leaning on to Jesus and looking for and finding Him in the craziest of places as we treasured each precious moment with Kayleigh.  Going through tragedy with a friend is never ever something we wish for … but the depth of relationships, the goodness of God, and the lessons learned are something we would never wish away.  Oh, to look intently for Jesus in the hard hard seasons and the easy ones as well.

Matthew 6:33  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

January 5th  Gotcha Day.

A year ago, we adopted Mark and Roman.  For me it’s hard to celebrate that day.  While we are ever so grateful that we are a family of seven…there was tremendous loss for our sons to get to this point.    There is tremendous loss in millions of kids in our country.  And well, we need to do something about it.   Not just “we” as in Team Boyd.  But by “we” I mean “us” the living, breathing, “have more than we know what do with”  us.  I know fostering and adopting scares the kapooie out of most everyone.  I get it … it scared me.  And yet … it changed me forever.  I would never ever want the boys to have the life they were headed for … even on the days when I long deeply for how “easy my life was with three kids”.   WE (as everyone that has the ability to read this) has AMPLE resources to give to foster agencies …  financially, mentoring, donating clothes, furniture, sharing a meal, volunteering, fostering … and the best … adopting.  It is time for us to do something about our kids without families.

James 1:27  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

 

January 6th. Throw a shower 

 I have struggled with the purpose of prayer.  I find it hard to believe that my requests, whether whisper or begging, can change God’s course.  I trust Him.  I don’t always like what He does.  But I fully trust Him. I have seen my wavering heart become strong in His plan and purpose through prayer.  Call me greedy … I just call God giving.   I saw it on day six of the New Year. Four of us were decorating for a shower, we stopped and prayed for a friend going into a serious heart reboot.  A most unlikely of places to stop and talk to God … but we did.  And He listened and calmed my heart.  Another work in progress … maybe I will pray while I get my hair cut.

Matthew 6:9 ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

 

January 7th    Research Sinkholes.

 As a child I used to spend hours worrying about what I would do if I came across quicksand … or worse, if I fell in!!!  I spent time planning my escape and would approach sand boxes with extreme care.  Now, I worry about sink holes.  Seriously.  Sinkholes.  They swallow cars.  And the people in them.  At least now, I long for heaven … I guess a sinkhole could be a memorable way to go.

Matthew 6:25-34 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 

January 8th    Look at life.

The speaker at church had us share our New Year Resolutions with a neighbor.  I was silent.  I don’t like resolutions because I never ever keep them.  Never.  Ever.   Setting my sights on an entire year makes me shut down.  I am more of a moment by moment gal.   It’s cool to take the everyday, right now moments and trying to see what God is up to.   Some moments are crystal clear.  Some moments just fog up your internal glasses..  Some moments are revealed right then, some moments are revealed years later.  Some moments have instant resolution, some (a lot) are a work in progress. 

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

How is your heart vision going into this year, today, this next moment?
There is alot to be seen … let’s be looking!

 

Comfort

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I thought some about comfort today. It began right after I was asked to scoot my seat up in the car so the person behind me could have some extra room.

Usually that would bug me and I would whine about wanting to be comfortable. But today, the view while driving was spectular and the company was good (which actually means we had a tv in the car and the kids weren’t fighting)

For me, comfort comes in the form of mashed potatoes, well worn yoga pants, healthy bank account, safety, freedom, Kleenex, a good friend and a thousand other things that try to fill a hole I  can’t.

My mind wandered tonwhat God said about comfort…(it wasn’t his favorite pair of jeans and chocolate)

It was this:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

It makes me wonder: When did comfort go from something only met by the Eternal to something only sought by the temporal?

Life isn’t about living it easy.  Life is about living it Loved.  Knowing that when circumstances get a bit hard, The One that loves you deeply is with you.  I think it looks a bit like these …

Comfort.. true, everlasting, unexplainable comfort shows up as the student giving their lunch away to someone that doesn’t have one. Sure their stomach might feel uncomfortable…but their soul feels and gives comfort.

God’s sweet refuge calms the family that shakes up their home and schedule and very existence to bring in kids with no one to love them. He pours comfort upon each person in the most uncomfortable of circumstances

The grown adult that decides not to chase the status that promises social satisfaction, but instead begins to gather the ungathered and give them a glimpse at comfort that only the Lord can give.

Or like what our family saw tonight at our Aunt’s memorial service, Comfort because she is in Heaven. We celebrated her life that she lived because she was a great woman. But even better was that we celebrated and were comforted in her death because she is with Jesus. A month before she died, she accepted Christs sweet and saving gift.

Marsha was not made comfortable in her battle with cancer but she was comforted by Christ.

You and I are not meant to live comfortably…but yet we are overwhelmingly comforted.

I am fairly certain that the sweet and true and faithful comfort that the Lord abundantly gives FAR outweighs mashed potatoes, yoga pants even my freedom and friends.  It provides a rich life that is like nothing this world has to offer.

Let’s not strive to live comfortably, but to live Comforted.  I imagine life will look differently and God will do some amazing things through us and is us all.

 

 

The Farkle That Went Wrong

In the world of T Bar M Camps, a “farkle” is a game of rock, paper scissors. It is used to make decisions, decide who goes first and occasionally (well, often…) fun and harmless stakes are at risk.

Don’t be fooled…camp traditions don’t end when the campers go home. So, one fall day … a few years ago (ahem, quite a few), it was quite normal for me to strike up a challenge with one of the directors’ kiddos. A six year old. No worries. I’ve got this. She’s six. I can win this farkle.

The rules were established. Rock beats scissors, scissors beat paper and paper beats rock. Best two out of three.

The stakes were set. She wins and I eat an ant from her brother’s ant farm. 

Harmless. It was a simple, fun game to pass time while babysitting for my friends. Even if I lost, it still seemed harmless. A little itty bitty ant vs. me. Harmless.

On three … Rock versus paper. One point for Kelli.

One, two three … Paper versus rock. One point for Staci

Tie Breaker … Scissors versus rock. Serve up the ant.  

I must admit, even though I lost…it was worth it to see the celebration dance of my blue eyed, blond haired little friend.  You would have thought she had just won a gold medal in farkling the way she paraded around the house in utter delight with her big win.

By this time, the excitement  in the house had grown and the other siblings had gathered around. The chanting began, “eat the ant, eat the ant”.

Bryan, the older brother, took an ant from his “farm” and served it up to me on a small plate. They were so giddy with the way this was unfolding.

I took the ant between my thumb and finger to put it in my mouth. I squeezed it a tad bit before releasing…just to make sure nothing live was crawling around in my insides.

One, two, three…down the ant went. The cheers erupted, my face winced a bit. But all in all, the interaction with the little bitty ant and me was quite uneventful.

Until I got home.

About two hours later, something hit…the sharpest pain I have ever experienced in my stomach. I laid on the couch in a huge amount of pain while begging my roommate, Jamie, to spray ant killer down my throat. (disclaimer:  we didn’t.  It was a momentary, pain inflicted idea that went nowhere.)

How in the world can one little bitty ant bring so much pain? My insides were in pain. My eyes were watering. I was in fetal position on the couch. One seemingly harmless decision rocked. my. world.

When it was all over, I had survived the great ant attack on my stomach without spraying insecticide in my throat, going to the doctor nor any long term physical consequence.

But I did realize one thing… Ants are a lot like sin .

Let’s not let the little temptations and excitement of the moment fool us, we need to be aware that all of our decisions are important. They are either life giving or life paralyzing. When we choose to follow Jesus in every small way, it brings great joy. When we don’t, it can put us in a spiritual fetal position on the couch!  May we be aware of every little thing we put in our hearts.  

Romans 6:23 cuts to the chase on sin, “The wages of sin are death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.

Death or free gift of life? Man, when it’s put that simply…it’s easy!

Let us choose wisely in every little decision we make. (And of course, choose your farkles carefully too!)

Even the little “ant sized” things can bring seemingly death or absolute life!

A view from the Bench.

“A view from the bench” sounds nice.  It makes me think about the still, perfectly placed benches at the park … where the best breeze, the best view can be had … and usually the best thoughts become your companion.

img_5267-1A few months ago, that picturesque thought was not what it was in my heart.  The word in my heart was:  BENCHED.  I had been benched.  I thought it was just for a weekend, but it seems to be the word of the season.   Boo.   No one likes to be benched.  Benched means you aren’t in the game, you aren’t where the action is.  Benched means you are just sitting.

The word “benched” became my word of the season when one of my favorite weekends of the year had arrived.  We had prepared and planned and prayed for the 200 plus guests that were coming for a weekend away.  I treasure seeing what the Lord does in these family camps.  I love the front row view I get to have.  I worry that I won’t get to visit with each guest because I know the relationships can be so rich.  I LOVE these weekends.

Until the stomach bug hits.   And then I found myself benched.  Benched completely from the weekend.

Its one thing to be sat down, timed out, silenced by a coach, teammate, leader … you can get mad at them.  You can roll your eyes at them.  It seems justified to stomp your feet as you leave.

But to be benched by God.   Ugh.  Somewhere we were told that you aren’t supposed to get mad at Him.  But I did.  I was not happy at all that I had been benched by the great Almighty Coach.  I pouted my way into a funk.  I doubted my purpose on the Team.  I rolled my eyes at Him and barely wanted to listen to Him.  My spiritual arms were crossed and my eternal bottom lip had assumed the position. 

And that is where the lesson (the oh. so. painful. lesson) begins.

It seems that I can handle BIG lessons a little easier.  People rally.  Meals are delivered.  We are dependent on God.  Nothing else matters except Him.  It is more natural to put all of life on pause and fix your eyes just on Him.

But these little lessons … UGH, these little daily lessons (#*@!) … slow to learn, small to see and oh so significant when we (finally!) catch a clue.   And because our Lord is faithful (ONLY because He is faithful) I am beginning to see a much better view from my bench…

This season my bench is the driver’s seat of a car.  I spend most of my day shuttling kids in twenty minute increments all over Comal County.  And we aren’t even a “busy” family … but a few activities here and there keep us hopping.  I am not alone, I know.  I see a kajillion other parents darting about town.  But I feel alone.  Alone in my car and in my heart trying so hard to piece together moments and thoughts of what I should be investing in.  My identity is not at ALL what it was even three months ago.  In other seasons, I could spend chunks of time diving into good rich time with people, writing, reaching out, serving … investing in things that I felt made a difference … eternally. But not this season. This season is choppy and seemingly insignificant.

Allison’s (my daughter) bench is on the sideline of a court.  For a girl that has never played volleyball, she found herself on the A team … well, on the bench of the A team.  She gets on the court a bit … but mostly on the bench.  We trust and support the coaches, but her expectations just aren’t playing out like she thought.  I suppose expectations can be benched too.

Meanwhile Libby’s ideas are seeming to get benched.  (Sorry dear daughters … seems that “my lesson” is bleeding into your lives). She has great ideas and is a “ready to go hard worker” that just isn’t being utilized right now.  She is feeling unheard and not fully a part of a team she serves on.

And all the while, God is sitting right next to us, right where He placed us and showing us just how to sit gracefully and take it all inHe is like the father sitting next to the child, delighting in pointing out all the marvelous things while sitting in His presence.  (of course, like any child … it takes a while for me to stop squirming.)

He is showing Libby how to follow.   She is seeing that people can only learn to lead if they have followers.  The idea of being a strong and good follower, silent supporter, cheerleader to the coach is seen as  very valuable now. And she is realizing that some good ideas might be really great ideas later … hold on to them.

Allison has shown us all how to be the best seat warming cheerleader there is.  No one jumps higher or cheers louder than her.  Her purpose in wearing the jersey and stepping into the huddle might not be what she thought … but it sure has a place on the team.

And me … God is sitting right next to me on that dang benchAnd he invited some friends to join us … Mary and Martha.  Man, they show up a lot in my lessons … and I roll my eyes at them a lot too. Martha and I, like most women, are kindred spirits … we get things done.  Mary, I love it when I choose to be like you … sitting and soaking in Jesus.

There is a time for me to be the host-est with the most-est, in the thick of the action, in the lead of the game, tending to the masses.  And there is also a time for me to be sitting still … this time in the front seat of the car (thankfully without the stomach bug).  The action is simple and in small segments, the audience is just two or three and there is no doubt that the purpose is eternal.   My position and role in the game of life looks different than it has in the past … but my purpose hasn’t changed:  still loving God and loving others. 

And, ya know, I am becoming okay with it, dare I say even seeing divine purpose in it (gasp).   I still wear the Jersey.  The Coach still has me in the huddle.  I am still on the Team.  Fellow players need a pat on the back and a water refill and I want to be ready for them.  The coach needs to teach me some things by allowing me to simply watch.  The perspective is different from the bench, I am seeing some fabulous moves I had never seen before from teammates.  Ideas and disciplines are being sharpened.  And whenever the next season rolls around I will be ready to be all in.

I am allowing some of my plans, dreams and goals will be benched for later … they can wait … some ideas are really better later anyway.

Right now, I will enjoy the view from the bench.

*Luke 10:38-42,  Ecclesiastes 3, Psalms 46, 1 Corinthians 12:12-28

We have changed.

After school today, Mark (our five year old caboose), asked me to swing him.  Without a skipping a beat or giving a second thought, I put down what I was doing and went outside to swing him with joy in my heart.

I didn’t really notice the joy or ease in granting his simple request.   But somewhere in our simple quiet time together, I remembered the burden and blech I had in my heart last time he asked me to push him on the swing.  And realized we have both changed quite a bit.

Just under two years ago, when Mark and Roman came to live with us, there is no way I would have chosen to go swing Mark.  In fact, I  would have chosen most ANYTHING not to be with him.  I knew he wanted to swing.  I knew that swinging was actually calming and smoothing to him.  But there is no way I would have done it.   He was angry, weary and hurt from the previous situation he had come from and it didn’t take me long to become angry, weary and hurt from him bringing all that into my heart and our home.

I wouldn’t go swing him. I didn’t go swing him.  But my friend did. She came over many times just to swing this angry young boy so that this angry, exhausted mom could just breathe. It was a simple, selfless way to help me and Mark.  And it was part of joy being refilled.

Never on those days would I think I would ever have joy with Mark.  Ever.

But God knew I would.  God was already changing both of our hearts.  He was filling our hearts with Joy.  It didn’t happen over night.  It wasn’t always pretty.  But moment by moment, choice by choice, day by day God softened Mark’s heart and God softened my heart.  And with each of those changes, He began to fill our hearts with Joy … unshakable, “only God can do it” Joy!  You know how I know He changed our hearts?   Because I love this little guy so very very deeply … and I have a hunch that he loves me too. (crazy huh?!)

It made me think as we continued swinging … what is in our lives today that we think we can never have joy in again?  Who can we call on to help push us through those weary days?

Know this … God is in the business of restoring Joy.  Let Him do so in your life and let him use you in the life of others
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*before I pushed “send” on this … Mark came in and threw an ugly fit.  And guess what?  I still have Joy.  God restores it well and He restores it for good.

 

 

spectacular lessons in simple life

While I haven’t been writing much about our Snowglobe life lately … God sure has been writing  in my heart.   He reveals good, good lessons in simple, simple ways.

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A Really Good Walk

As Roman and I were walking home from the bus stop, he said, “I can’t wait to die.”

You can imagine how my heart stopped and my voice cracked when I asked, “why, Roman?”

“So I can see if I get to go to Heaven or you know … ‘down there.”

“Well Roman, we get to know that before we die.” I replied.

We paused at the intersection and  I explained how the other side is heaven and how wonderful it was, how much we want to be there and how much more God wants us to be there with Him.   Roman agreed and smiled as he looked across the street at our imaginary heaven.

I went on to tell him that there was no way we could jump from this curb to that curb.  And what is worse, is that the street between us and the other side was really a HUGE HUGE pit that we couldn’t see the bottom or the end.

“That’s the bad stuff we do.  The sin, right?” Roman added.   My heart sighed.  He is getting it.

“What if I told you that God thought it was so important to Him that we get to the other side that He built a bridge for us.”

“Is that when Jesus died?  Is He like the bridge?”  YES!

We paused to wave at the bus and say hi to the UPS delivery man and kept walking and talking.

“It’s easy to walk across a bridge, Roman.  We don’t have to do anything but trust.  Just put one foot in front of the other.”  I continued.

So we did, we kept walking hand in hand as he repeated the prayer that confirmed his salvation.

In a ten minute walk, the mundane turned to miraculous … the simple turned to spectacular … a small jaunt turned to an eternal walk.

I don’t mind walks from the bus stop so much anymore.

 

Aladdin and Communion

As I was sitting in church explaining to Roman about communion that we were about to take and how important it is and how we need to be thoughtful and thankful and how it is special and how we will do this and take this and then we will come back together as a family and pray and it is so special and …

Um.  Oops.  I think our unknowing five year old, Mark, just snuck in with another family and grabbed some bread and chugged some juice.

Parent. fail.  In my mind.   But not in Jesus’ mind or the folks I sit next to during communion.  I am ever so grateful for the grace giving, arm lifting, cheer giving people that we walk alongside of when our Aladdin character shows up to the communion table to steal some bread.  They reflect Jesus well and simply smile with grace our way.

I imagine Jesus would smile with grace when things like this happen.  And I hope and pray I would turn and do the exact same thing.

 

They Surprise You

It was Allison’s turn.  Her turn for the TALK.  You know … the s_x talk.  I was headed up to my parent’s to visit, so I asked Allison to go … quality “one on one” time and yes … time for the TALK.

I assumed she would want to get it over with, so as we were pulling out of town I began to have the TALK.   It didn’t last long.  Her hand went up.  Her voice was stern as she laid out some rules.

“Oh, not yet.  There will be some boundaries and some rules.” she said.
” #1.  Do not look at me while we have this talk.
#2.  Do not use names.
#3.  You have five minutes, that is all it will take.
#4.  We will begin this talk five minutes before we arrive home … Wednesday.”

Silence.  Silence while I tried to control the laughter that was welling up in me.  Whoa.

It sounded like she had done some thinking about this little talk we were going to have.  Come to find out she had been coached by her sister.  Discussions have been had, confiding had occurred, a club had been formed. (I can’t tell you the name or what was discussed … I spit swore that it would remain a secret)

You know what?  I was so very grateful.  I tend to only hear the fighting that occurs in the girls part of the house, but their seems to be more going on.   They are talking.  Older sister is leading and mentoring and investing.  Younger sister is listening and asking.   And my heart is full.

We remind them that they are best friends … and somewhere in all the fighting, they are getting it.

Thank. You. Lord.

Goodbye.

It has occurred to me that I haven’t had many people in my life move away.  This, I have come to find out, is a tremendous blessing … until it happens.  Twice. In one month.

This sudden shock to my system has caused me to vow in my heart to never get close to anyone in the military.  I promised to begin distancing my heart from anyone loosely looking for a new job.  It is safer that way.  It will protect me from the ugliest, snottiest, loudest of cries you have ever seen.

But it also will keep me from blessings deeper than I can ever fathom.   By stepping into relationships, you step into adventures and lessons that you simply cannot replicate.  You walk with friends through heartbreak of infertility and hope and joy of adoption.  You cry and you laugh together.  You encourage and admonish.  You agree and you disagree.  You learn unimaginable things by watching them and heart changing things by listening to them.  Heck,  you sign papers that if you die … these people get your kids. Because you trust them.  You treasure them.  You love them.

And when they move, you miss them.

I know this to be truer than true … it is worth it  … so worth it to know and to be known by people that make you better … whether it is for three years or forty three years.

I suppose I won’t actually distant myself  from people that bring me closer to Jesus … I’ll just slit their tires.

Gifts

Quite unexpectedly we received the news that Robert’s Aunt Marsha’s cancer had returned and it was not good.  Within hours, family made plans to gather in Northern California.  It was important for us all to be together this particular Mother’s Day weekend, there were gifts to be given.  Gifts that could never be wrapped.

Northern California is a LONG way from Texas … and an impossible last minute trip for a family of seven  … until a gift was given.   A gift that was entirely from the overflow of a heart.  Before we knew it, tickets were bought for us and our tribe of seven was on a plane to join the family.  It is humbling to receive such generosity, yet it is precious to see that graciousness given so freely.

When we arrived, the gifts continued to overflow.  Hospitality the size of Texas was wrapped up and given.  Hands worked together to prepare and clean up meals.  The gift of listening to the words that will forever be gifts in our hearts was present.  Silent prayers were lifted up as gifts and hugs enveloped the hearts that were hurting.

All of these gifts were not given by one person.  Each person that walked through the door had a different gift to bring.  It was a sweet celebration as we saw each package unwrapped … each with different wrapping, each gift a different size, each gift thoughtful and intentional.  We all bring a gift to the party.  And they all look different.

While it is very hard and humbling for me to receive such a generous gift of travel to California … I found myself inspired by the heart that gave the gift.  It was natural, it was freely given, it was the overflow of their heart … it was a gift they had been given to give away.

I found myself praying and searching  my own heart as we traveled that weekend … what gift do I have to bring? 

The list of gifts can be long … washing dishes, smiling,  financial support, listening, praying, the Message of Eternal Life,  laughing, playing cards, cooking a meal, truth, grace, encouragement.   The gifts that God gives us to give away is endless when they are given in love.   It makes sense … His love is endless.

No matter the situation … what is the gift you have been given to bring to the party?  It is needed.  It is important.  God has given it to you to give away.

 

 

Cliff Notes: Still in the Globe

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Still in the Globe.

Things are crazy and loud and messy in our snowglobe of a life.   Just drive by our cul-de-sac and you will witness it for yourself.  We are indeed a sight to see.   As things have settled down with meetings and paperwork post adoption, we have begun to let extra curricular activities jump back into our schedules.  While we hold our time dearly and guard our schedules closely … we still have alot going on.   Heck there are seven of us … and the two leading the pack are extreme extroverts and gatherers!

One day, I was barking at everyone in our home … okay, it might have been a week.  It was the classic “mom meltdown” of “I’ve dressed and fed everyone but myself!!!!”  (metaphorically, of course)

As I retreated to my bedroom regretting my actions.  I realized, what I have read and heard  and even taught about for ever … I needed to take time for me.  Ugh.  That advice drives me crazy.  I feel so guilty!  It seems so greedy.  So full of myself.  So extravagant.  And plus,  I truly love to do and help and be with others.  But guess what?  They will not love to be with me if I am Captain Cranky Pants.   Duh.

So,  Still I will be.  I have committed to make my heart still (and sometimes my schedule too).   To read for leisure.  To take long walks and not feel guilty.  To spend time alone and soak in what the Lord needs to tell me.  To say no.

Leisure is needed … for me and those around me.   Leisure doesn’t mean gluttony and self centered, it means freedom from the demand of work or unhurried ease.    Did you read that … freedom from the demand of work.  I am the only one that puts the demand of laundry to be done and the house to be cleaned on myself.  And it’s a joy stealer for all of us.

For me, “leisure” is a place to breathe, permission to let a few things go,  time to step back and see what God is up to in my life, refueling so that I can indeed be more effective in what I am called to do.

Some examples:
1.  I went on a hike with friends  … in the middle of the week … with no purpose, (Crazy, I know).  That time together became extremely purposeful.  Our conversation was encouraging and absolutely turned all of our hearts to the Lord that loves us.  I was so much more effective for my family that evening.

2.  Laundry has literally been piling up on my couch all week.  But I have lingered at meals longer.   And (surprise) the kids have no problem getting it from the pile when they need it.

I imagine I won’t be a seamless transition, my old self will sneak in, I will get snippy.  But I know what is good for me and those around me … so, I will be still. (and I will be okay with that).  And He will be more glorified.

“Be still and know that I am God”  Psalms 46:10

Stored up in My Big Toe

Sure, I have been known to be a tad bit controlling.  I can concede to that thought about me.   Through the toddler years, I felt myself let go of that unfortunate trait quite a bit.  I mean, really … who can truly control their toddler children??  Marriage has taught me to let loose of the reins (aka let Robert pry them from my hands).  Fostering had me throw my hands wide up in the air and let all my controlling natures blow away with the wind.

And then, our oldest daughter got her drivers permit.

And out of the depths of my big toe came an unbelievable desire of control that I can not begin to bridle.

There is the obvious need of control. The desire to control whether I live or not as my fifteen year old takes our lives into her hands behind the wheel. of a car. in traffic.

Then there is the not so obvious.  The real root of the control.  Me.  Remember when it was  just easier to clean that teach your kids to clean?  And what I mean by that is, teach your kids to clean and then go back and do it again the right way.  Control.   My house.  My way.  My standards.  My schedule.

It’s the same thing … except clorox wipes in the hands of a toddler can’t cause grey hairs, ulcers and resurrect the cuss words that you buried after fostering.   I find myself just wanting to drive my car, at my speed, my way.   And it isn’t pretty.

*i imagine notable moments that show me an eternal perspective will come from these driving days.  i’m just not there yet … i am huddled in a tight ball in the passenger side of MY car. 

 

Where your Thoughts Lead

As ironic as it is that I am teaching my daughter to drive, it is also ironic that I am on the “marketing team” at Camp.  I am often stopping the meeting to ask what that acronym means or catch up on twitting, googling and a million other things.   I am apart of the team because I love to connect people and life.

Recently, we had one camp mom post about camp on Facebook.  We were able to see that her post led a friend to our website.  While on the website, her friend looked around and ultimately registered her child for camp.

One post led to a move to a new place that led to a commitment to camp.   Her one little post moved her friend into action and ultimately into commitment.

It got me thinking about the power of what I post.   Are the things that I am saying, showing, talking about and displaying pointing those that see them to action that leads to good and healthy commitment?   Or are they causing others to doubt, compare, covet, stumble?   Is what I post something that brings joy and life?  Do the things I think are important enough to post move friends to action and ultimately into commitment  with Jesus?

 

Simple Advice:

It is one of the sweetest sounds to here Mark and Roman call us Mom and Dad.  Roman began calling us by our new names about two weeks after adoption, Mark about two months.  When their hearts released them to claim us as that their actions followed suit all. the. time.

I was surprised at how my heart saddened a bit when Mark finally claimed me as Mom.  It was the final movement from his birth mom.  That’s hard.  I still communicate with her and hear her sadness and regret.  I mourn for and with her.  It’s something I never thought I would do.   I never thought I would continue a relationship with her.   Until it dawned on me, we must realize that their parents are part of our story.  We must also realize that God has asked us to love them.

Roman gets it.  He was copying a painting that hangs on our wall one day.  It simply said, “love God, love others”.   He came to me and said, I want to mail this to my dad but I need you to help me add something.   Together we sounded out and wrote the words that Roman wanted his dad to know.  “God loves you.  Make good choices.”

The relationships might be messy, but the way to go about them is simple.  Love  like Christ loves us.

**God is continuing to shape  Mark’s  heart … his simple rules for life are a little different …  “no pooping in pants.  no peeing in pants.  no showing your chi-chis”.   If you remember, Mark’s beginning months … you will know that we are in AWE of how far the Lord’s love has brought this messy little relationship 🙂

 

 

 

The Garden of Easy

They call themselves the “Creek Gang.”  It is a magical Huckleberry Finn Little House hybrid of a daily adventure that happens in the creek bed behind our home.  Each day, the children of our cul-de-sac run right through the front door, grab a snack and run right through the backdoor.   On Saturdays, we don’t see them for hours except an occasional random request for twine or a certain size board.caps for sale

For months they have been creating clubs and forts and a life of their own.  It began in the front of our home … in the tops of the trees.  It looked a little like the children’s book, “Caps for Sale” when you drove up … monkeys hanging from every branch.  The clubs divided into boys and girls and moved to either side of the house.  Somewhere in the midst of the long afternoon days, the gang moved to the creek bed.

The girls fort morphed into quite a utopia.  It was really quite amazing.  Right along the bank of the dry creek they had a “world” with all they needed.  With a few bricks and sticks they made shelves to hold all of their thingamajigs.  Tables and beds were created and even decorated with fresh berries and twigs.  It was home to them.  It is was their very own world and to them it was perfect.  The burdens of homework, chores and balancing friendships couldn’t reach them here.  It was their Garden of Easy.

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They never needed our help or our advice.  They simply knew how to do it all on their own.  Roles and rules were created in unison by the creek gang.   As parents, we did ask they remember the standard rules of share, be kind, clean up.  And then added one more:  Don’t make the dog bark.  

I suppose when you are lost in your utopia of play and enjoying life completely, you don’t always hear the dog barking.   It becomes the background noise.  With such a playful kind dog, there was never a fear or worry that the dog was barking.  He was there and he was fine.  But he was barking. Therefore, the creek gang had no choice but to relocate their “world.”

For the girls, the change ahead seemed impossible.  They cried themselves to sleep.  For the mom, I realized it is a good, good lesson.  It is part of life and it is up to me to gracefully cheer them through this move down the creek.  It must seem silly.  It’s just a fort, but in the huddles of our homes that evening was huge heart break caused by neglecting one simple ask.  Don’t make the dog bark.

As we slept, God continued to unfold His plans.  He started by bringing a rain that filled the creek and washed everything that had been created.  As we awoke, smiles didn’t come easily as the thought of afternoon playtime was going to be a little more work and a lot more disappointment than usual.  As the kids went to school, I headed to the creek.   I thought I would just clear some areas and move their belongings.  But God thought He would clear my head and move my heart. 

I started clearing out a new area for the kids.  It was full of debris and rocks and sticks and briars.  So many briars.  I cut and clipped and removed piles and piles of briars.  My hands were bleeding and stinging from the work.  And I knew that even if I removed them, the root was still there.  The briars would come back.  It would eventually become a wonderful fort by the creek, but the thorns would remain.

As I moved into the original fort, my heart was sad.   It was indeed a darling little world they had created.  I hated for them to leave it, but still I began moving their things to the new area.  It was what needed to happen.  It was without a doubt the right thing to do.  So, back and forth, up and down the creek bed I tromped through mud, tripped on rocks, ripped my shirt and carried each and every stick, rock, treasure and part of them down the creek.

The pricks from the briars, the dirt and the sweat, the heavy loads, the sadness of sin had everything in me come to a complete stop.  I stopped in my tracks and soaked in the very holy moment I was standing in.  And I was overwhelmed with the most foundational thing I have ever heard.  The Gospel.  The sweet and simple gospel that I take for granted every single day.

Just as the dog barked.
Just as Adam and Eve ate of the Tree.
Just as I chose a stinky attitude about (oh, just about) a thousand things. 
There was sin. 
There was a point where an ask was made and we just didn’t do it.

Just as Adam and Eve were ashamed and grieved for what they did, so do we. 
I do not like the way I feel after I am short with Robert, I am sad for how I treat him. 
The girls were sad they didn’t pay attention to the dog and the one rule.  
We grieve deeply that we let the perfect moment or ideal world slip through our fingers.

As I carried item by item down the creek bed, I could not help but think about how Jesus carried sin by sin to the cross.
I was in pain. I was bleeding. I was dirty. It was not easy maneuvering through the water and rocks. 
But I did not want my daughter to have to do it.  So, I did. 
And so did Jesus. 
On such a grander and deeper and precious level, He didn’t want me to carry my burdens so He did.   

This afternoon, I will sit down with the girls.  I will give them instructions.  They will be shown the new boundaries of where they can create a new wonderful place.  I will remind them that even though the thorns have been removed … they can return, so be careful.  I will give them a basket filled with water and work gloves and cookies … tools for their new endeavor.  And I will cheer them on and joyfully watch them create new and wonderful things because that is what they are created to do.  They have hard work ahead of them.  Work that they can enjoy and see become fruitful if they keep their hearts toward the One that created them.

I imagine that God had some instructions and His own version of a basket of tools that He handed to Adam and Eve as they began their new adventure in a not so perfect world. He knew they too had hard work ahead.

He hands us instructions and encouragement every day.   Instructions and promises from His Word.   My basket filled with the people in my life, His abundant peace and love and hope for the work I have outside of the “garden of easy.”

And when I listen to Him, He helps me with the thorns and reminds me what I need to do to live an abundant life.

“I have come so that you might have life abundantly.”  John 10:10

Not ready for these seasons

I love the changing of seasons … from spring to summer to fall.  (we don’t have winter in Texas.  well, maybe for a day or two).

When the season of life changes, I mourn the old for a bit … but truly embrace the next one and what it will hold.   I really love life and even the twist and turns it provides.   But lately, I have been asked to step into a season that messes with “life”.  And  I have realized that I am not really embracing it well.   (And it seems like Allison is dragging her feet on her new season of life too).

Black Dress

Phone talks with my sister happen when kids are in school.  Not on Friday afternoons.  So, when I see her name pop up on my screen, I know it’s not good.  And it wasn’t.  Our dad had fallen on Thursday and by Friday things just didn’t seem right.  We didn’t know much except that he is being airflighted to Harris Hospital because of a severe brain bleed.  (I know there are fancy medical words.  Conahan girls don’t use them).   Within thirty minutes, kids are farmed out and I am heading home to throw a few things in a bag.  After I throw the most recently laundered outfits in a bag … I look at my black dress and reach to take it.  That is where my thoughts are going.  Am I am going to need a black dress before I come back home?  It’s strange how I feel calm, but am so scared.  I hold it in my hands and think a million different thoughts.  And then I put it back.

I know where my black dress will be when I need it.  And I know where my daddy will be when Jesus needs him.

I can let go of some things when I know exactly what I need.  I can let go of the black dress in my hand.  I can let go of worry.  I can let go of fixing things.  I can let go of what causes me to doubt.  I let go of all of that and because all I really need is Jesus and to trust Him … no matter what.

So, I left the dress … because I trust Jesus in whatever His answer is.

We are so very grateful (in fact, we are giddy, smiling and ready for the road ahead with JOY) for  that His answer for my dad is more life on earth.  And we are grateful that when His answer isn’t what we want … He will carry us through that too.

(While I trust Jesus with all things that a black dress represents … I don’t trust Robert in picking out any clothes any day for me … I did leave my shoes and accessories hanging all together)

 

Chic-Fil-a:  you feed our tummy and our soul

When I returned from my trip to see Daddy, Robert and I went to Chic-fil-a for lunch.  I had sunglasses on due to the Hill Country allergies and the massive amount of crying I had been doing.  I was not a pretty sight.  After we ordered, I stepped over to the other line to hug and visit with a friend.  She said to me, “I am so sorry to hear about your dad” and we stepped aside to discuss the details.  Robert and I sat down, she left and lunch continued on.   A kind man that has served at our Chic-Fil-A came to our table.  We were expecting for him to ask to get us a refill or take our trash.  But he didn’t.  He looked at me and said, “I believe I heard you say you lost your father.  I am so sorry.”  I let him know I hadn’t, but we do have a tough road ahead of us.   He sheepishly … or more likely humbly … handed us meal coupons and said, “this won’t lighten your load, but perhaps it will help.”

And we cried.   Oh Chic-fil-A, we love you.   What is it that makes someone step out of their role, take a risk to comfort someone they don’t know, to lend help with the basics, to simply love “one another”?   It has just got to be Jesus.

I pray that I am as bold as this man was.  That I would risk being misunderstood to simply check on a hurting person.   I pray I will walk like Jesus.

The List

Though she looks like Ramona Quimby most of the time, our Allison is an organized planner that always has vision.  I found this list on her desk:

January To Do List

  1.  Get closer to God
  2.  Be nice to Roman
  3. Don’t  turn into a teenager.

I adore so many things about this list.   I love that she thought about such things. I respect that she realizes what is important … important enough to write it down.  I am challenged to make my lists as simple as hers … not grocery or to do list … but eternal things.   And I giggle and amen #3.  Hold off that season as long as you can,  Allison.  Please. For my sanity.  For all of our sanity.
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