Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Delighting in this Day

Summer has come and gone.  We are on week two of school now and trying to get used to the routines again.  The other day I posted something on facebook that seemed to strike a cord with people.  I got phone calls and messages from people who said .. "I needed to read that".  One person called and asked if she could use it as a guest post on her blog.  I said "of course" ... which only reminded me that I had a neglected blog and that maybe I could post it on here too.  Here you go ...  and hope your year has gotten off to a great start!

Delighting in This Day

One day last year my daughter Brittany was swimming in a swim meet which was very important to her. She wanted to do well and trained hard all season. As the day unfolded we realized it was not going  to go like she had hoped. To say it was not her best swim was a total understatement. She did so poorly her coach suggested having her tested for mono as he felt something must surely be wrong.
Her disappointment after the meet was great.  In fact, it was the only time I ever saw/heard her cry about a sport. My husband Bill and I felt helpless in what to do or say and we were both sad right along with her.
Later that night as we were discussing how the day went. I told  Bill that I had texted Brittany a Bible verse early that morning. He said he had done that as well. When we asked each other what verse we had each sent,  completely randomly, we had both picked the exact same verse.
Psalms 118:24. This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.
It still seems so crazy to me that of all the verses in the Bible we both sent that one to her. I was so glad we hadn't sent one about winning the race or anything like that… Because that didn't really matter. What mattered at the end of that day ... When she was discouraged and sad and wondered if it all had been worth it .. Was right at the heart of that verse. Regardless of what that day brought, it was the day the Lord had made...and whether we liked that day or not, we could rejoice in it.
We weren't happy rejoicers. We didn't think it was great to be rejoicing...look, we didn't even feel like rejoicing...but it was the day the Lord made and that was a good enough reason to rejoice.
The literal Hebrew definition of rejoice is "to delight in God's grace". So it wasn't even that we had to say "awesome, great day!" (because it was not) ... but we could know God was gracious towards us, towards Brittany.
There are plenty of other times when we've wanted to yell "man down!" in our family and we've shed tears and questioned why or wondered what we could have done differently.
But then we remember..."this is the day the Lord has made (despite what happens) and we will rejoice (delight in God's grace) and be glad in it.
Shed your grace on us Lord. 
We need it and will delight in it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What I didn't read in any of the articles about sending a child to college ...

This time last year I was in the "end of senior year" frenzy.  It was the "last" time to do lots of things, the first time for prom and of course, graduation.  I remember reading/seeing lots of articles on how to survive sending your child off to college.  Some were funny, some eloquent and many thought provoking.  

Since it's that time of year again I’ve noticed the sharing of many of these articles again.  Many of my friends, who are in the midst of the senior year send off festivities for their own children, are starting to feel emotional as they think about taking their children to college for the first time.  As much as I’ve read about college send off (and yes, it can gut wrenching), I’ve seen far less written about “picking up”.  And, trust me, no one is more surprised than me that I've found that part to be emotional too.

College drop off seemed to be one part expectation of the new beginnings for my daughter mixed with too many more parts of anxiousness about what those new beginnings meant.  Anticipating drop off I kept thinking about the morning our whole family loaded up our Suburban and took her, our firstborn off to kindergarten.  She had new shoes and a cute red dress. She had picked out her own backpack and lunchbox … she was set and ready to go.  As we were making our way towards the school I turned around in the car to give her one last instruction.  I was going to say, “Don’t forget to sit at the front of the bus on the way home”, but my throat caught and I knew I couldn’t get the words out without crying. 

So I let it go and hoped and silently prayed she would remember all the things we had talked about in the first five years of her life. 

I had to trust that she knew what to do.  

Before our family got out of the car that day we said a prayer for her.  We then walked her in and she began her new school kindergarten adventure. Turns out that was the LONGEST day I could ever remember.  I wondered what she was doing, who she was playing with, if she liked it, and if the other kids liked her.  A little after three on that hot August day, a smiling little girl got off the school bus beaming with pride, independence and confidence.  The day had been a huge success.

Come to think of it, taking her to college began much like taking her to kindergarten.  Our family loaded up the Suburban with everything she needed to start her new life in college.  She had a new bedspread and towels and a few new outfits for “game days”.  As we set up her room there was so much I wanted to say … “do you know how often to wash your sheets, don’t walk at night alone, eat breakfast” … and on and on I could have gone.  But just like that day in kindergarten, I had a catch in my throat.  So I hoped and I silently prayed that she would remember all the things we had talked about the first eighteen years of her life.

I had to trust she knew what to do.  

Moving in was relatively easy.  We got her room set up, had lunch and needed to make one last, quick trip to Target to pick up a desk lamp for her dorm room.  We found the  lamp she needed and walked towards the cashier to pay.  You should have seen me on the way to the checkout.  It’s funny looking back … I was picking up anything and everything and asking, … “Do you think you need this?  Do you want one of these?  Do you want snacks for your room?”.   And with each “no” she said her tone became a little firmer.  She clearly wanted the lamp and wanted to leave.  Her dad said something to me like … “Nerves are kicking in … its time for us to go”. 

So we drove back up to her dorm and I realized we were just dropping her off.  In my head I was screaming  “NO! No … we can’t just pull up in front of the dorm like a carpool and drop her off.  There’s supposed to be a “moment”, right?”  But we pulled up in front of the dorm and her dad got out of the car.  He went around and opened her door and prayed a prayer over her.  It was beautiful really.

He said “Amen” and I thought that was it. Until (thankfully!) I remembered I had left my phone cord in her dorm room.   I’ve never been so glad for my forgetfulness as that very moment because it meant I got to walk back in the dorm with her for one last goodbye.  The goodbye “moment”  I was wanting.

I got my phone cord and took one last look around at my baby’s new room.  I turned to go and her roommate’s mom, who was dropping off her third (and youngest) daughter, asked me if I was ok.  Up until that exact moment I had been fine. Anxious, to be sure, but ok.  Right then the tears began to well up and they spilled over.  This was goodbye.  Caroline and I walked to the stairway and hugged one last time and she turned and went off to begin her new college adventure.  I walked down the stairs feeling a bit smug perhaps that I had nailed the college drop off.  A catch in the throat but not too many tears.  Then I saw some of her high school friends in the lobby and I cried real, sloppy tears.  (The funny thing is one of the girls called her mom later and said “Why didn’t you cry like her mom did?”  HA!)

The car ride home was fine.  Our second daughter didn’t say much.  Our third daughter was excited to be moving up from the back row of the Suburban to the second row and her 11 year old brother was THRILLED to have the whole back row to himself.  We got back to Houston and drove straight to a Chinese restaurant we all enjoy and for the first time said “table for five”. 

The new normal in our house took some getting used to, for sure.  I didn’t like walking by her empty room and not seeing a “lived in” look.  When I went to the grocery store I reached for things only to realize that she was the only one who liked it and therefore I didn’t need to buy it anymore.  It was those kinds of things that caught me off guard.  The first few days just felt weird.  No other way to describe it.

But the days she was gone turned into weeks and then into months.  Now a full college year has gone by and we are making plans to go pick up her stuff.  She won’t be coming home until mid July as she is heading straight from school to the camp where she will be working this summer.  We are all thrilled about this summer adventure for her.

But this is what I’ve learned after year one.  This is what I never read in any of the "how to survive" articles.  I’ve learned it was just like kindergarten.  I had to trust it was going to be ok.  And the girl whose stuff we are picking up is more confident, more independent and more radiant than the one we dropped off.

Going to the University of Texas was not where I envisioned her going to college. Up until spring break of her senior year I thought she would go to go to the college where my husband and I attended.  Once she made her decision however … and every moment since then, it has felt right.  UT has far exceeded my expectations.  I knew it was a prestigious university but what I didn’t realize was how kind the students, the dorm directors and administration would be to us.  I didn’t know there would be a group of “Texas parents” that would answer any/every question.  What I didn’t realize was how much I would enjoy watching my daughter embrace college life.

As fun as going up for a football or basketball game has been, the best day I spent on campus since drop off was one day in March when I drove up for my daughters birthday.  She had to “squeeze in” a quick lunch with me because she had class and dinner with friends and was meeting some other friends for cake on the state capital steps.  It was that day that I saw how happy she was at UT.  She told me all about her spring break trip with Young Life to Florida the previous week and how she had seen friends get baptized in the ocean while dolphins jumped in the background.  I drove home that day so filled up with how good God has been to us, to her.  How faithful He has been in taking our trembling hands and hearts and saying “trust me”.  

I cannot begin to count the times I truly felt the Lord was whispering to me “I’ve got your girl”.  It's a lot, at every turn.  There were a few times I even questioned Him on it because I thought He was letting me/her down.  But He wasn’t.  

Because her college experience was going to be different than mine, I had a fear of the unknown.  Looking back, that unknown has been a wonderful new adventure for us.  We have learned to love new things, a new place … yes, even a new school. 

So last week, while standing in line waiting on my order at the deli counter, I opened an email from the Scottish Rite dorm with “move out instructions” in the subject line.  I honestly thought I was going to burst into tears.  These were different kind of tears though.  Tears of pride that she finished strong, tears of sadness that her first year in a dorm I grew to LOVE was over, tears of thankfulness at God’s protection and provision for her, tears of joy for her new opportunities, experiences and friendships she has found … and tears of relief that all of those times God whispered to me that “he had my girl” and to trust Him … He meant it.

He has my girl.  He has me.  And a year I thought was going to be scary and unknown has become a memory of something loved and cherished. So here’s one more thing I think those articles forgot to mention … Pick up is amazing. 

Hook ‘em!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Because the internet asked ....

Yesterday I had the privilege of going back to Baylor University and speaking at an event for the Theta Kappa chapter of Chi Omega.  I was initiated there in the spring of 1987 .... in other words, a LONG TIME AGO.  The girls could not have been nicer and we had a lovely time. 

When they invited me to come they asked if I could tell them a little bit about my speaking and how my experience in Chi O has helped with what I do.  While I was preparing it occurred to me that perhaps one of my first public speaking "opportunities" was back in the spring of 1987 during pledging.  We had a "get to know you" event in the Barfield Drawing Room (which just so happened to be the same room where last nights event was held).  That day I "won" the "You have the most embarrassing moment" game and  I "got" to stand up and tell the whole chapter my story.

I was going to stop there last night but then I saw the looks on the girls  faces and asked ... "you want to hear the story, don't you?"  And they overwhelmingly said they did.  It was an unplanned "extra, added bonus" in my speech.  It's only been told to family and a few trusted friends and once at a PTA meeting.  In other words, not a lot.

When I mentioned the story on facebook today I almost immediately began getting texts that said .. "DO TELL".

So, here goes, right here on the world wide web ...

I was in the 8th grade.  EIGHTH.  That's important to note because this kind of thing should not happen to anyone ... much less an EIGHTH grader.  

My mom bought me a new pair of pink, wool pants with a flare legs (remember it was the early 80's although I'm not sure these were a good idea even then).  They had an elastic waist and I'm pretty sure they came from the JC Penney sale rack.  Apparently I thought they were snazzy because after I tried them on that night I decided to wear them to school the very next day.

I took off the pants, showered and the next morning put the pants back on for school.

I went to the bus stop just like any other day.  I went to first and second period and everything was fine.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Third period everything was fine too .... until ...

I was just sitting there in French class minding my own business.  Actually I was probably day dreaming. Our desks faced each other with a big aisle down the middle.  I felt something in my pants just above my knee and began to kind of kick my leg.  To this day I don't know why I didn't STOP.  But I kept kicking until all of a sudden OUT OF THE BOTTOM OF MY PANTS FLEW MY UNDERWEAR from the day before.  

OH NO!!!!!!!!! OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And they weren't just any old panties ... y'all (and this is where the story gets REALLY bad) ... they were GASP .... Raggedy Ann and Andy panties.  WHY DID I (an EIGHTH GRADER) HAVE THOSE?!?!?!  Someone tell me!??!?  

And so I did what anyone in that situation would do ... and I started acting like they weren't mine.  I said "EWWWWWW" and "GROSS" and made a scene while fervently praying  that no one would ever know they were mine.

The teacher called the janitors office and, as if to add insult to injury, I KID YOU NOT ... he came down to our classroom with TONGS.  HUGE tongs.  GIANT tongs.  And he scooped up my panties and they have never been seen again.

The end.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What's the Answer?

Yesterday at breakfast I asked Jacob what he wanted for dinner that night. (The very fact that I was thinking about dinner before 8 am is a flat out miracle).  I still haven't made a "big" grocery store run since our Spring Break trip and it's been slim pickings in the food department around here.  

I knew I was going to the store later and was hopeful he would tell me just the thing to make.  He suggested something that only has three ingredients so I said "PERFECT".  In fact, the recipe calls for a pound of hamburger which (miracles abound!), I just so happened to have in the freezer, already browned.  I set the meat out to thaw and knew I'd pick up the other ingredients after my exercise class.  

By four o'clock I had dinner prepared.  As in READY TO EAT.  

And I waited.

I waited because Bill usually calls about 4:00 and asks "what's the dinner plan?".  I'm pretty sure this started because he grew tired of walking in the door after work and asking the same question only to see  me get a panicked look on my face when I remembered that I meant to think about that earlier.  

I was so excited to actually have an answer for him ... but he didn't ask. 

We were meeting up at 5:00 at the middle school track meet.  Savannah made it to finals in hurdles (so proud and amazed at her jumping over those hurdles!  I can barely walk without tripping and she jumps over hurdles and makes it look easy).  

Still Bill didn't ask about dinner.

I was about to burst because I had an answer!

While I was driving home I called my mom because SOMEONE needed to know I had made dinner early!  HA!

Finally when Bill got home he asked and I think I saw a little shock and awe (and probably relief) on his face when I had an answer.  (yay me!)

And speaking of having an answer ... I've been writing sessions for a womens retreat on hope.  Today I was reading 
1 Peter 3:15-16. 

It says ...

     Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  

Basically Peter is saying ... if anyone asks you about your faith ... know the answer.  Be prepared.  Don't wing it.  Don't "think about it later".  

As fun as it was to have an answer for Bill on our "dinner plan" ... how much greater to have an explanation for the hope I have in Jesus.

I want to always have an answer for where my hope comes from.  

And I WISH I always had an answer about the "dinner plan".

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hello and Merry Christmas!

Well hello there dear blog readers.  I've missed you.  A lot.  I love to write but I also love my family and they keep me busy.  I'm hoping to write more ... be looking for it because I'm feeling kind of  "bloggy".  

I taught Sunday School this morning and I told our class that we love Jesus but we lost Him. (More about that in the links below). He is gone, can't find Him anywhere. When I looked up what I had written I realized two things:

1.  He's been missing for two years.  I thought it was only one.  Time moves quickly.  I've GOT to find Jesus!

2.  I never published the 2013 missing Jesus blog I wrote.  I think I just forgot to press "publish".  So I've done that now.

I'm going to keep looking for Jesus everywhere.  

And I might just go buy another one for my nativity set.  (hopefully I'll remember!).

Merry Christmas friends!

2013   "An Empty Nativity"     Read it here 

2014    "We Lost Jesus"            Read it here

We lost Jesus.

February 16 and I have just put up the last of our Christmas.  As in ... the very last.

Late, I know.

It was really just one thing.  Everything else has been put away for a long time ... except for our nativity scene.  

You see, we lost Jesus.

Somewhere I had read (pintrest maybe?) where families put baby Jesus away when they set out their nativites.  On Christmas Day they put him in the manger ... symbolizing that he is born.  I thought that was a great idea.

At least a great idea until Christmas Eve came and we couldn't find Jesus. 


Just so you know ... and not to point fingers, but Bill hid him.  And he has a pretty good (bad?) track record of losing things he has hidden.  We will forever be looking for the baseball Bill caught at Jacob's first major league baseball game.  

The last seven weeks or so we've been looking for Jesus and try as we might, we just can't find him.  So, I told the kids ... "we are putting the nativity away but we are still going to be looking for Jesus".

All year.

Until we find him.

And what is so great is this ... we ARE going to find him one day and he is going to have been here all along. 

And I just think that is very cool ... a metaphor really ... of our lives.  And how we can look and look ... perhaps in all the wrong places for Jesus.  We can become frustrated with how things are turning out.  We can wonder where he is and why he isn't showing up.  We can think he isn't there.

And then, one day, we'll realize ... he's been there all along.

I will be looking for Jesus this year.  And even if we find that small plastic Jesus that completes our nativity ... we will keep on seeking him, looking for him in the details of my life.  

Friday, May 2, 2014

For all the breakfast planners out there ...

Sometime last year I began asking my friend Elizabeth about her "meal planning".  I'd text her on Sunday nights and ask her what "our" meal plan was for the week.

The first time she answered me I was SHOCKED because her meal plan included breakfast.

And y'all ... I have never given a second thought to what we were having for breakfast before I stumbled into the kitchen any given morning to make something while my people were dressing.

And by "make it" I really mean put out the cereal bowls.

When I called to tell her about my breakfast "meal plan" she said her family rarely eats cereal.

I couldn't believe it.

And while I have yet to embrace an "official" breakfast meal plan strategy ... I have felt quite fancy serving my sausage grabbies.  A friend gave me the recipe and said they can be made the night before and they freeze great and you just pop them in the microwave to heat.  I haven't actually frozen any yet because they get eaten too quickly at my house but for the "freezers" out there ... this recipe totally will work for you.

My friend Janet gave me the recipe and said she grew up having these for breakfast and sometimes even for dinner.  Bill takes them to the office in the mornings and warms them in the microwave there and eats them as he plans out his day.  Jacob has them as an after school snack quite often ... and my dad had one as a late night snack ... so, as you can see, they are very versatile. :)

It's not exactly a RECIPE recipe because it only has three ingredients ... but it's good and my family likes it.  I've given the recipe to neighbors and they've liked it and last weekend I made them while my parents were in town and my dad asked for the recipe. So dad ... here it is, as you requested.

And, BEST PART, they are SO easy.

Here's what you need:

You also need a bag or English muffins but I don't have any and I'm not going to the store before next week so you are just going to have to picture it in your head, ok?

The recipe is called "Sausage Grabbies" and if I was the Pioneer Woman I would make them and take lovely pictures of each step and the photos would make everyone hungry .... but I'm not the Pioneer Woman so what you see is what you get.

Here are the steps (again.... picture them in your head):

1.  Brown the sausage (I use Jimmy Dean reduced fat).  I brown two pounds of sausage and drain it and put in a bowl.  I add one or two jars of Kraft Old English and mash it all together.  (The original recipe calls for one jar of cheese to every one pound of sausage but when I reduced the amount of cheese no one seemed to notice).

2.  Take a spatula and smash, stir, mix the cheese with the sausage until it's melted and distributed evenly.

3.  Open each english muffin and put on a pan.  Spread each muffin half with the sausage mixture.

4.  Place in oven on broil for 2-3 minutes.

5.  Enjoy

Slice up some fruit and you have breakfast!

Tell them it was on your "meal plan".