Thursday, July 23, 2015

Brave New World

I have a confession to make. 

I think I'm having a mid-life crisis. 

Can you have a mid-life crisis at 38??

These past couple weeks I've felt myself slipping into a weird kind of depression. I couldn't put a finger on why exactly....there's no obvious thing going on to justify or explain it, so I chalked it up to the moving-to-a-new-town blues that I experienced after our move to Atlanta 5 years ago. There's a difference this time though. This time when I think about how I feel about our move here, I'm really happy. I love our new church and am so thankful to be here. Our boys are thriving. I feel like we are home. There are plenty of things about living in Georgia that we miss, but it didn't take long to realize that our recent move had nothing to do with the way I am feeling. 

So what is it?

There was a time in my life after I became a Christian that I hoped Jesus wouldn't come back until after my list of dreams was completed. I wanted to get married. Have a bunch of kids. Watch them grow up. Retire with my hubs and spend our days together. Have lots of grandchildren to spoil rotten. Then, after all that, He could come back for us. Regrettably, and embarrassingly, it took several years before I realized how wrong, how shortsighted that was. 

"Time is short. Eternity is long. It is only reasonable that this short life be lived in the light of eternity."  
~Charles Spurgeon

I'm a little restless. And trying to figure out why was maddening.

It's summer. Summer is supposed to be fun and carefree and full of pool time and snow cones and roller coasters and summer camp and lazy mornings and staying up late. 
But when the happy little world you live in is also the world where Planned Parenthood, ISIS, and racial tension exist, where police officers are vilified, where there are more orphans than there are families willing to care for them, where Donald Trump is trying to run for president (and scarily enough he's not the worst option)....it's all enough to make me realize that turning a blind eye to it all and carrying on with our summer isn't really an option anymore. 

So what exactly are we supposed to do?
I think it's time to get serious. To bravely take on things we've lazily allowed "someone else" to do. Watching and waiting for Christ's return is a good thing. It's what we're commanded to do. I've never been more ready for the new heaven and new earth He's promised us. But God hasn't left us here to just sit and wait. 
He's called us to step out, to be different. He's called us to live a life that makes people want what we have. 

This is my sister, Reagan.
She just got back from Honduras. A few weeks ago she was in Haiti. Through Tribe Alive (www.tribe-alive.com) she works with different charities here in the U.S. and around the world, helping develop better wages...to give women opportunities to provide for their families using the gifts God gave them. She's making a huge difference using her gifts to help others all over the world. God is using her to impact the world in an incredible way, and I'm so proud to be her sister. 

What is your passion? 


What is my passion? 
Yes, the day I became a mom, I felt that I had found my calling. I am so thankful that I get to spend my days with three beautiful, hilarious, creative, headstrong boys. Our testosterone-fueled home is my favorite place to be. And I can't wait for the day I get to finally see our two babies that are already in heaven. I firmly believe that those two little souls are waiting for us there. That God created them, and yes, that even though they left us so early (the first at 8 weeks, the second at 5 weeks) they each were just as much a life as their three brothers who I carried to term are. 

understand the value of being a mom in today's world. They need me. I need them. It's such an important job. And it's because of that passion that I feel this one:
More than 55 million lives. There is an overwhelming amount of hurt and pain in the world, but this is the thing that breaks my heart to its very core. 

You have to find the broken part of the world that speaks to you...the one your heart hears screaming the loudest. 

If I could single handedly take down Planned Parenthood, I would. From the looks of it, they might've taken care of that job themselves. Time will tell.  I may not be able to take them out on my own, but there is something that can be done. 

In my life pregnancy was a gift I got to experience 5 times. I had a loving and supportive husband and extended family. Our children were greatly anticipated and loved from the moment we saw the positive pregnancy test. We had the means to provide and take care of them. 

For many women, this isn't the case. And for those who find themselves expecting a baby but do not have the means to provide for him or her, far too often they seek an abortion, thinking that's the answer. 

It isn't. 

Study after study is finding that the aftermath of abortion is devastating. That the mothers who choose it struggle to recover mentally, to forgive themselves, to justify becoming a mother again. Google "studies on women after abortion" and you'll find article after article on this, not one with anything positive to report. 

My passion is to help these women see there's another way. There's help. There's hope. And if it's too late and they've already sought abortion to fix their situation...there's still a God who loves them, who will forgive them, who will set them back on their feet. 

I will never fully understand the boundless love of God....can't completely wrap my brain around the grace He so willingly gives each and every one of us when we believe. But He does. 

If we are to take on this fight to save babies from death we have to be ready to fight for their mothers too.

Starting tomorrow I get the awesome privilege of helping launch an orphan defenders ministry in our church. I don't even know what that's going to look like exactly, but the possibilities are endless. In addition I'm in contact with a crisis pregnancy center to volunteer there as well. 

I don't say any of this to brag about what I'm doing. Honestly, I'm ashamed that it's taken this long to do something. My hope is that if you're anything like me and you've waited to put your gifts into action, insecure and unsure like I was, that this will be the push you needed. Being an expert isn't a requirement.  Being willing is.  I'm trying to find the balance between keeping the world a safe, fun, happy place for our family and enjoying it with them while still teaching them to help those whose life isn't any of those things. The idea isn't to be a buzzkill on this beautiful life God has given us...but to love and soak it all in while helping breathe life into others who need love. And when that feels overwhelming, we have to step back and remember we're just one person...one person who can impact others one person at a time. 

What will your brave new world look like? 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Blurry

We've been in Missouri for over two months now...long enough to be unpacked, to be getting used to our new normal, and it's starting to feel like home. We jumped right in with sports and activities, knowing that is the quickest way for things to feel normal again. I'm falling in love with the beautiful farms along the winding roads, the sounds of cows mooing in the fields across from our neighborhood, the early morning songs from the birds who insist on making their homes on our deck...the smalltown-ness of it is proving to be what we needed, even if we didn't realize it right away. I wasn't sure what this transition would feel like...leaving Texas was horrible. Leaving Georgia was a different kind of hard. Our time there represents something huge for me~ that was our chance to show what we were made of. Proof that where God calls, He blesses. And equips us to thrive. So to leave it behind made me worry that I was leaving a part of me there...a big part of me I didn't know existed before. That place changed me...changed us in ways I never expected, and I think it's taken our move here to really see that. 

I've been somewhat transparent about what serving at our old church was like. At the risk of being disrespectful, I've been protective of my thoughts. What I feel is safe to say is that it was undoubtably....hard. It was there that I learned a tough lesson~ that you have to be very careful with who you trust, and unfortunately had a few times where I got to learn it firsthand. I know now that I gave up on that place about 3 years in; while still trying to be the supportive minister's wife, still half-heartedly staying  involved, I had given up. I fell short. I know I failed big time, because there's no doubt that the lesson would've been learned somewhere else at some later date, and I wish I'd had the faith to rise above it rather than succumb to it. 

Thankfully, in the midst of all that, there was good.  It was there that my love and respect for my husband grew even more,  as I watched him wake up before the sun every morning, make the long drive to work, and give his all to that place every single day. He loved the people. He did above and beyond what needed to be done. And he did it without complaint. He served happily. He gave all the glory to God. And I know he would've continued to do it again and again, every day, for as long as God wanted him to. All the while leading our family, loving us, being fully present. And then there were the neighbors and sports family He gave us there, knowing how much we would need them. They were what made it hard to leave...they were a gift. They are a gift. Yes, it was there God showed us that He had us...He was protecting us, and that if we would just trust and hold on, something incredible was just ahead. 

The biggest truth I learned from our time there is this, the thing I pray I never forget: we can worship God anywhere. It doesn't matter if the music style isn't your thing, or you don't feel like you fit in, or you are longing for a sense of community and it's not easily found in the building God called you to serve in. In the middle of what seems hopeless and broken, God can move. God does move. 
In a place that felt uncertain and unstable, that left me feeling insecure and confused, I found out what trusting in the God who never changes really means. And although I am so incredibly thankful for the church He has called us to serve in now, I know I wouldn't be appreciating it nearly as much had I not gone through what we did before. I appreciate the freedom I feel to worship here. I love the genuineness of the people here. I'm excited to serve and be a part of what's happening here. I'm in awe of the fact that this transition has been remarkably easy, and so thankful for another chance to do this right....to dig deep and invest in and love people the way God intended. I don't think it would've been quite this wonderful had we not gone through the hard stuff first. God is doing incredible things here, and the fact that He wants us to be a part of it? I pray I never lose the gratefulness, the wonder, the incredible, humble, "thank you, Jesus" that I feel now. 

In our time in Georgia, I let my people-pleasing self rule. It was exhausting. I lost the wonder, the gift, the grace that comes from following the God whose love is all-encompassing.  It's something I fear will have to continually be laid back down. May it never be something I stop fighting for. May it become easier to accept. 
I've made it hard, when it really is quite simple. May we never lose the wonder that is the undeserved love of God. May we be steadfast in any circumstance. May we be more grateful for the hard stuff we will inevitably walk through, and rest in the undeserved goodness He so freely gives. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ministry and Moving and Other Related Things

When we moved to Georgia nearly 5 years ago I remember hoping that our time here would be short.  Two or three years, tops.  I've often joked about the fact that you could see the skid marks on HWY 20 all the way from Fort Worth to Atlanta, which were from my feet dragging themselves here.  I've shared the burning bush moment I had with God about this whole thing, that it took huge, specific, and seemingly crazy answers to prayers before I felt sufficiently convinced that it was the right thing to do.  That part of the story I've carried with shame.  Shame that it took that much for God to convince me that this was indeed His will.  But over the past couple months I've been thinking on that some more, and instead of solely focusing on my insufficient faith, God has quietly shown me that it's okay to give myself a break, and so I'm choosing to focus instead on what a beautiful example it is of His boundless love for us.  That when we're scared and stubbornly resistant, He will go to great lengths to keep us on the path He's carved out for us.
 When the journey to Georgia began the boys were 8, 5, and 2.  We were nervous and excited, sad, but trusting that God had great things in store for us.  And did He ever. 

I can look back now at how His hand was in EVERY little detail of our time here. You see, God knew that this was not only going to be a tough move, but He knew he was calling us to a tough place to serve Him. So He surrounded us with neighbors who made us feel like family, on a street filled with boys who loved to play outside together.  Neighbors who hung around outside to talk while the kids played.  Neighbors who quickly became friends...friends who checked in on us.  Whose children became our boys' friends.  So what seemed like an endless search for the house we would live in was actually God orchestrating our move to the exact spot He knew we would need to live.  Beyond our street, there have the been the boys' schools (3 of them, to be exact, and each dear to us for different reasons), their ball teams (oh, how we are going to miss our Longhorn family), and some members of our church who loved us and made us family.  We have absolutely loved our time here, and looking back it seems that these 5 years have flown by faster than ever.

So in September when God began opening the door to a new opportunity, I wasn't sure. Again. The thought of starting over, of moving the boys to a new place once again...that part is harder now given their ages and how invested they are here with friends, sports, band, school activities, etc.  It's overwhelming.  How quickly we forget what God does for us, don't we?

However.
After one door after another has opened, we know God is indeed calling us out on a new adventure. Brian has accepted an Executive Pastor position at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield, MO.  We've been blown away by the community and how so many have gone above and beyond already to make us feel welcome and loved.  Brian and I are beyond thrilled to partner with the pastor and his wife there, and to join in the ministry with the rest of the staff...it's going to be an incredible adventure.  We're excited about being so much closer to our Texas and Oklahoma family and friends, and of course to be in my birth state and so close to family in Kansas City.  The state park where my family had countless reunions growing up, and that we've gotten to share with Brian and the boys now, where my Dandy taught Brian to fly fish, will be less than an hour away. Who would've ever thought it? Not me.

Our God works in mysteriously wonderful ways, doesn't He?

The transition out of our home in Sugar Hill is going to be rough.  Like I said, leaving our Georgia friends behind is going to be hard.  I'm just now really letting myself process that. Seeing your kids be sad about saying goodbye to their friends is brutal.  I know firsthand what that feels like, having moved a lot as a kid, and it stinks. When you're as far away from family as we are, your friends become a surrogate family.  Leaving those loved ones behind now?  Not sure how we are going to do that.  Makes my heart hurt. On top of that, we're going to be farther away from my sister, brother-in-law, and niece and nephew in VA, which I can't even let myself really think about yet. Yes, there is a lot we are leaving behind in this place that has been our home for 5 years...yet the boys still understand that the best way to live your life is to be in the middle of God's will, so they're willing to make these changes with us because they believe He has big things in store for our family there. Couldn't be more proud to be their mom than I am right now.  They've taught me so much about faith.  Are they sad?  Oh yes.  There have been tears and uncertainty, but still, their faith amazes me.  Only God.

Things are moving quickly here, and in just a couple weeks Brian will be heading to Springfield, with the boys and I joining him as soon as the house sells.  We ask for your prayers as we make this transition.  Lots to figure out in the next few weeks, but believing that the One who called us will also provide exceedingly, abundantly more than we can imagine, once again.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Popped


Stuck in the in-between. That's how I'm feeling these days. Days are long and busy, but the weeks fly by. Life is one big routine of school and homework and practices, weekends are filled with games and church and trying to cram in yard work and time with friends or maybe, if we're lucky, an actual date night. Looking at the calendar is overwhelming, and that is still while keeping with our rule of "one extracurricular thing per kid." And sure, we're together, having family time, but it doesn't feel like family time. It feels like another thing to check off our list.  I don't like feeling that way. These days are fleeting and I know I'm going to miss them. I love watching the boys when they're in their element. There's this amazing sense of pride and wonder as I watch the ones that grew inside of me use their abilities and talents, these people who are pieces of Brian and me...pieces of our parents and grandparents and sisters and brother...yes, it's miraculous when you really think about it. But right now I'm just so tired. And I'm working to get to a place where I embrace and enjoy it more and obsess over the busyness of it all less. But for today? 
Today I make another cup of coffee and plop down on the couch to watch re-runs of my old favorite shows....like "Reba" because I love seeing her make the best of tough real life things, or "Boy Meets World" because that show has parents who actually parent, and the kids mess up and things aren't always tied up in a pretty little bow by the end but it always works out at some point.  And because it has Mr. Feeny, and for the love, everyone needs a Mr. Feeny. Mine was Mr. Eklund, who I got the privilege of having for 4 different classes in high school, who I still think about with a smile, who pushed me hard, made me laugh, taught me more about U.S. History and World History and Art and Government and Economics (which was a miracle in itself because my brain isn't programmed for things like Economics) and who surprised us all with the big tears he wouldn't let fall when we graduated.  Yes, everyone needs a Mr. Feeny, and I'm praying my boys find theirs, that teacher who really lives for teaching, who wholeheartedly invests in their lives and shows them what getting an education really means....it's more than academic, and when a teacher steps in to make an investment like that, you soak it up. 

Watching seemingly silly old shows is comforting. It reminds me that none of us have it all figured out, and that's okay. We make decisions we think are best for our kids, for ourselves, for our family, and then send them out with one eye shut, cringing a little, hoping what we chose was best.

For these two, that meant starting at a new school this year. A switch from their sweet little private school where they started each day with praise and worship, to a big public elementary school where they don't. An excellent one, mind you, with teachers who are excited to teach and made us feel loved and welcomed instantly. A school with a different teaching method that appeals to the boys, one that is workshop style and project-based, more technology-driven...a welcome change for these two who thrive in a busy, out-of-your-seat learning style. We've seen how well that's worked for our oldest, and that helped.  But still, it's new. It's big. It's not the same. We miss friends from their old school. We miss not knowing everybody like we did. I battled with this whole "Why fix something that's not broken" mentality...why make a change when there's nothing wrong with where they are? But in my heart I knew it was what we were supposed to do. That doesn't mean it wasn't a tough change. They didn't know many kids, and I know even fewer parents. And we had to pop that safe, happy bubble that I worked so hard to keep them in. 

But guess what happened?


They did it.  And they're thriving. They've taken to this new thing in their life with grace and ease. It's been pretty remarkable, really. Of course there were nerves and uncertainty, but that has quickly been replaced with confidence and independence. Seemingly simple things like taking the school bus home does a lot for how they feel about themselves and what they're capable of. Conversations about dealing with a difficult classmate has yielded maturity in making other decisions during the day. Teaching how to handle choices that are made and what having to stay true to a commitment means, even when it's hard and you want to quit,  has made for a stronger, more self-aware little boy, who is now embracing that choice with a new attitude. 
But for all the things they're learning, it might be me who is dealing with the greatest learning curve. I'm realizing that it's not my job to make their lives perfect. I can't do that anyway. My job is to be their safe place when they get home...the place to fall, to celebrate, to unwind, to learn how to handle what life throws at us. 
I want them to know that no matter what happens during the day, they know where their people are. Their Dad and I? We're right here. 
We need to see that they can navigate this world. We have to teach them that. Protecting them from experiencing things that aren't perfect and happy wasn't the right answer for us. Keeping them safe? Of course. Making sure they have the greatest education within our reach? Absolutely.
But with that comes letting them venture out of these boundary lines I inadvertently drew when they were very little. It means letting go a little more than what feels comfortable. It means trusting them to the One who created them, the One who knows them and yes, loves them even more than I do. And to quote Hunter when we talked about this, "Whoa. That's a lot of love." Sure is, buddy. 
We're trying to raise men here in this house. And this "Be brave and strong and courageous. Seek adventure and truth" paper? It's now hanging on the wall outside their bedrooms. A reminder to all of us about the life we pray they will lead. A life we hope they see us leading. 
I don't ever want to hinder what God has created them to be. I don't want to squelch the beauty that is being a boy, but I fear that I have time and time again, partly because raising boys was uncharted territory for me,and partly because I'm a worrier. A worrier who really wishes she wasn't, who daily has to give stuff over to God, the One who has it all under control anyway, way better than I ever could.  I don't want fear to prevent adventure. Mine or theirs. 
So we're taking this adventure one day at a time, realizing that our days look a lot alike right now. They're busy and full and it's easy to lose focus when you feel like you're in the trenches and doing good just to get from one thing to another on time. But there's more to life than that. 
Be intentional. Make yourself stop for a bit. Really look at your kids and listen when they're telling you something important. Do that while they're little so they want to keep talking to you when they're older. This is what I'm working on today. Trying to remember that what we need to do isn't always as important as what we want to do. 
Because if we keep ignoring the need for fun and adventure, we might miss the best parts. At the same time, if we get bogged down in the everyday-ness of life, we're going to miss the beauty in that too. We can't let that happen. 

Pop that bubble, and trust all is well, one day at time. You've got this.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Bird


November. My favorite month of the year. My favorite boots become a wardrobe staple once again, my crockpot use is on overload, I rediscover the fact that I really do like to bake after all, the trees are red and orange and yellow...it's one big pile of happiness. And my house? It loves Thanksgiving too. ;)
Or maybe it doesn't have a choice. Whatever. November is the month I try to make all about being thankful. That moment we pause and breathe for a bit....because we can. 
So I decorate big for Thanksgiving, keeping Christmas at bay for just a little while longer....not because I don't like Christmas. I LOVE Christmas. Also? I love this bird on the mantel, who I'm pretending is a baby turkey. ;)But I don't love that Thanksgiving is seemingly skipped over. It's important to be thankful. Purposefully thankful, and while it's something we try to work into the every day, we forget all the time. The toy catalogs are arriving in our mailbox daily...corners of pages are folded, gift wishes are circled and starred. I can't do much to stop that....well, I guess I could, but I won't. I have happy childhood memories of doing the same thing when I was a kid....going through that giant Sears catalog page by page. :) I don't want to squelch the magic of wishing and giving, so instead I spend this month trying to instill thankfulness into the hearts of our boys, so that when Christmas comes, it hopefully carries over.
I'm stepping things up this year. Getting a little more aggressive in the purposeful-ness. I downloaded this leaf template at www.marthastewart.com, then traced and cut about 25-30 leaves using basic cardstock. 
Then at dinner last night we took turns writing things down...serious thankfuls, silly thankfuls...all important though. 
Then I tied all of the leaves to this Blessings garland that is across our mantel this month.
My hope is that it will serve as a reminder of all we have to be thankful for...we've learned throughout our life together that there is always something to be thankful for, even if you have to look a little harder sometimes. While sometimes it's easy to think of something, it's during the times that are harder that I think we appreciate our thankfuls all the more. 
So even if you're one of those who are already full speed ahead into Christnas decorating, take time this month to remember what Thanksgiving is all about. It's more than pilgrims and Indians, the big, stuffed bird and pumpkin pie, and gearing up for Black Friday (which I love, btw)...take time to pause and breathe a little before then. 

*Disclaimer for all my non-crafty friends:  I'm a decorator. This kind of stuff is fun for me, and I love any excuse to decorate our home. BUT....there are other ways to do this. Make a list of thankfuls. Do a paper chain. Stick the leaves to a wall in your home. Or? Just talk about it at dinner, in the car, wherever.  How you do it is irrelevant. :) Happy November!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Love and Loss: A Summer Forever Etched in My Memory

This morning my dad called to check in, asking if we were going to actually slow down for these last couple weeks of summer.  I laughed and told him that yes, we had very little planned for this week and next, and that that was probably a good thing.  It's been a whirlwind of a summer, and although that wasn't my plan in the beginning, I'm so glad things worked out the way they have.
 Very early yesterday morning I watched as this girl, one of my best friends in the world, drove away, her minivan loaded down with luggage, crafty gear, and her 3 darling (and very sleepy) little girls, headed back home after spending a week here with us. I'm grateful for the sacrifice (of time, car mileage, and money) she made to make this happen.  I love that our children love each other like brothers and sisters.  I love that we are making memories with them, memories that they will carry into adulthood.  I love that Amanda understands as I do that we have to make the most of the moments we are given....and as overused as YOLO has become, that we share that theme when it comes to how we do life, and the experiences we want our families to have.
 Yes, it's been a fun summer.  A summer full of travels and family and friends.  It hasn't been a restful summer, but after a weekend of reserved downtime where I actually did nothing, I realized that I don't do well with nothing.  I truly do thrive in the chaos. I'm happier when there's a plan....when we're busy.  At the same time, I know the importance of quiet time....of being still. Sometimes during the still moments God shows us things that are we need to do differently.  Sometimes then He calls us to do something new...something that may seem scary.  So I think I use the busyness to avoid that.  It's unwise, so I'm working on being ok with the quiet, and the realization that God also uses those times to just let us rest and reflect on the good.  I'm learning to treasure those moments and crave them as much as I do the crazy-full-scheduled times. To find the balance between the two.  I have a ways to go with all that....but we're getting there. (**case in point: right now I'm blogging, and my house is in desperate need of cleaning.  You can call it procrastinating, or you can call it getting some much-needed downtime. It doesn't take away the fact that my house is a wreck, but I'm realizing that sometimes some things have to take a backseat.  Sometimes it's more important to sit here snuggled with my littlest guy while he has some chill time too.  Pretty sure I'm not going to regret this:)




Late Saturday night I received a text from my sister that my favorite radio jock had passed away very unexpectantly.  I'm heartbroken.  That may seem silly because I never had the opportunity to know Kidd Kraddick personally, but it's not silly to me.
 This guy has made a mark on my life.  He was a forerunner in my "Be the Good" lifestyle, and one of the inspirations for why I do it. I've listened to him since I was 11 years old.  I literally grew up with him as a staple in my morning routine.  Kidd was the funniest person on the radio. He and the rest of his morning show crew played a part in naming Hunter. After Harrison's insistence that our 3rd have an "H" name like he and Hud, they were talking about what a "hot" name Hunter was, and I was sold.  Lol...we had already chosen it, but that was good confirmation, right? ;) When we moved here over 3 years ago, I was so thankful to be able to listen to his morning show online each day.  I found comfort in all of their funny catch phrases...."Boogaloo!" and "Love yours!" (when a caller would say "love your show!), "Have a good circus!" and the thing that was said at the end of every show: "Keep looking up, because that's where it all is." It gave me a feeling of normalcy when so many things didn't feel normal yet. Especially during those first several months when I was so incredibly homesick, he made me feel like we were still home. It truly helped me adjust to living here, and I will forever be thankful to him for that. 

Kidd was also one of the most generous people I've ever had the opportunity to learn from.  His Kidd's Kids charity (you can learn more and take part here) has sent thousands of disabled and terminally ill kids and their families on an all expenses paid trip to Disney World for a magical week free of hospitals and tests and scary stuff every year for the past 21 years. He made a difference in so many lives....he taught me the importance of doing all I can to help others.  To not avoid difficult things...to face them head on.  To look at (instead of trying to avoid) people who are hurting, to smile and sincerely show that I care. To do what I can to help.  This is huge.
 Realizing today that he's brought another lesson to the surface, one I would rather not have to reminded of.  Life is short.  No one knows how much time we have.  This is the second reminder of this reality I've had this summer...two lives cut short. That in itself breaks my heart. We have to make the most of all of our moments.  To make our mark here.  It's why we are here.  When you stop to think about the scope of that responsibility, it's overwhelming.  Makes me want to shut down, crawl under my covers, and hide.  So I don't try to think too hard about it, instead trying to stay in tune with Jesus and trust Him to show me, one thing at a time.  Making myself be quiet, to listen for His voice...to make my walk with Him the priority. To take care of and love my family hard. To stand beside my husband and be a true partner in the ministry that God has called us to.  To make time for friends that need encouragement.  To push forward with this Save the Storks ministry that has quickly become near and dear to my heart.  To realize when I need to rest, to shut out the world for a bit, to give into my introvert-ness and not feel guilty about it. And to be on alert for when other opportunities arise that I can help with. If I can do this with the half the amount of humor and compassion that Kidd Kraddick did, then I think it has to be good, right?
 For these last couple weeks of summer we're going to make the most of our moments.  I'm not quite ready to have 7th, 4th, and 1st graders just yet.  We've got more pool time to have,
 more dreams to pursue,

 some football to play,
and yes, it's already time to hit the ball fields with this group of boys again.  Love this baseball family. :)



I encourage you to do the same...to treasure the moments that make your family yours. Listen to what your heart says....find your thing and do what you can to help make it better.  Just as important? Let yourself mess up.  Don't feel like everything has to be just right. Be quiet. Be funny.  Live big.  Love bigger.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Freeing Up the Gypsy

It's been another gypsy summer for us. Suitcases left in our bedroom between trips, waiting to be filled up again. Or in other words, I just didn't feel like lugging them back and forth between there and our basement every time. ;)  It's been a happy, busy kind of summer, spending most of it in other places, away from home.  We've loved every minute of getting to travel, seeing places we've never seen before, with people we love very much.  Living away from our family and lifelong friends is hard, and I've learned how important quality time really is.  We don't kid around any more....taking advantage of opportunities to see each other, to travel together, to make quick weekend trips to celebrate milestones, watch baseball tournaments, to allow for an anniversary getaway....yes, quality time has taken on a whole new meaning for us now.

It's also been (another) summer of life lessons for me. Something I have fought, and am still fighting a little....but slowly learning the beauty that lies within feeling completely free on the inside. Worry and fear have been a lifelong struggle with me....I'm a helicopter mom, a worried wife, a nervous Nellie in the truest sense of the word.....and it's what I dislike the most about myself.
Earlier this month my mom and I took the boys to Florida.  It was H3's turn for the summer-after-kindergarten-trip-to-Legoland (a Mimi and Papa tradition). :) We spent a few heavenly days in a hotel on the beach (my version of heaven on earth). The timing didn't work out well with my Dad's work, so I ended up going with my mom to take the boys.  An unexpected vacation for me, and although I was bummed for my dad that he didn't get to go (they would have had so much fun all together), I was thankful for this extra time with my mom.  And although it rained on us during most of the week (which provided some of the best moments of the trip, oddly enough) we were blessed with a few hours of sun on the day we'd set aside to spend on the beach. In between building sand castles with the boys, and playing in the water with them, searching for shells, I had a few moments to relax in a cozy loungechair and reflect.
My favorite thing about the ocean is watching the tide come in. I'm amazed by how the water knows when to stop. I love how it washes everything away, smoothing out the sand....making everything new again. Ready for fresh footprints. More sandcastles to be built. Little treasures left behind for us to search for...each shell prettier than the last. 

So I sat and took in all of this, watched my boys happily playing, and felt the most relaxed and worry-free that I have in a very long time. And even when that was interrupted by a minor emergency (Hud got cut by some rocks),  even that was somewhat miraculous when a total stranger stepped up to help me while Mom ran to get band aids. God was smiling on us....reminding me that while He's controlling how far the water comes in, He's also giving us some gorgeous sunshine, while at the same time showing me that there are still good people in the world who are willing to drop everything to help when they see a need. 

He's the ultimate multi-tasker.  :)


And yet, even as I'm reminded of all of this, I still try so desperately to hold on to everything God's given me....to control, to check and double-check that the people in my world are ok....so much so that I'm consumed with worst-case-scenario when I can't. At some point after becoming a mom, I convinced myself that responsible parenting = control-freak parenting. That if I wasn't worried that I obviously didn't care. 
There's got to be a happy medium here. Somehow it has to be possible to be caring and responsible without letting the worry of what could go wrong completely consume me. Anyone out there want to help a girl out?!?

And so my greatest fear is that my ridiculous worrying is going to ruin these boys that God, in all His wisdom, (I keep reminding myself of this) blessed B and me with. God picked me to be a boy mom. To raise these 3....these amazing, sweet, rambunctious, hilarious, creative, testosterone-fueled little men-in-the-making...into just that. Men. 

I really don't want to mess that up.


I've had opportunities to be pushed out of my comfort zone a few times this summer. Most of those times involved our oldest. 

He's been a world traveler this summer...going to London with B's mom, staying behind with baseball friends in Tennessee while B and I traveled back and forth to be there for his games, flying by himself to Texas and back for extra grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins time...yes, plenty of opportunities for me to come to grips with the fact that I can't always be there to hover and make sure he's ok. 

Was I good at it? Nope. 

But I got better. Or rather, I'm getting better. 

I found myself checking in less than normal (for me) but more like a normal person would ;) as this summer has gone on. More proof? Hud is finally going to play tackle football this season...something he's been asking to do for a couple years. I kept using the excuse that he needed to be older, but who am I kidding? I needed to trust. 
I'm still trying to figure out that balance of responsible parenting vs. relaxed parenting. I have a ways to go, and any advice/prayers/wisdom would be greatly appreciated and taken to heart. 


But if there's anything I have truly learned, or rather realized through all of this, it's that I learn more and am so much more in tune with God when I shut off all the background noise. 

After this weekend, I'm taking an indefinite break from the internets. ;) I miss the stillness of sitting with a good book. The pure happy on my boys' faces while we play a game or watch a movie together. And I'm never going to find any real fulfillment from how many "likes" I get on a Facebook post. I'm tired of letting my phone run my life, and we only have about 3 weeks of summer left. Gotta soak it up. 
                 (Mimi and Harrison:)

There's this 1000 piece Coca-Cola puzzle sitting unfinished on our kitchen table right now. At this rate we're never going to have a meal at that table again if we don't knock this thing out. And then we will have to glue it together to hang on the wall, because this thing is going to take a village to finish, and then we're going to celebrate big. A glorious reminder that we're not quitters. That we can do hard things. ;) Hopefully for me it will serve as a reminder of what I learned this summer. 
I have some quiet moments on the porch with my Jesus to catch up on, some friends to meet for coffee, some scrap booking to do, a couple books to finish, some phone conversations with loved ones to have, and some evenings of cozy talks with the hubs on the couch to enjoy. 

The suitcases are back in the basement. The memories are filed away in my mind and heart (and hopefully soon, in our family books too). Ready to make the most of these next weeks....letting my boys be boys, sitting back to watch God work....trusting He will show me in the quiet places just how to be the wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend He wants me to be. The one they all need me to be. 

Freed up gypsy? Here I go.