Tuesday, September 18, 2018

You Mean that was on Purpose?

"Wait a minute, they moved your daughter into a difficult roommate situation on purpose??"
"Yep, they want to induce the struggle, they want to see their real colors surface so they can work through it."

This from my friend whose daughter is living at Heartlight, a Christian boarding school. Following a parent visit we got to hear about this precious gal's time so far, what she's learning and how the process works. Heartlight's approach to this roommate / living strategy struck me as such an unnatural, undesired, yet incredibly productive technique.

In light of just moving our oldest into college, choosing good roommates is table talk around here. Last summer Bran was placed with two amazing baseball teammates, and we were beyond thrilled on that drive home from Waco ~ what a gift! And then again this fall, moving into an apartment, placed with another teammate of his choice ~  a gift. It is such a priority to know our kids are in a solid, comfortable, uplifting living situation.

And yet ~ at Heartlight ~ they are purposely moving teens into potentially difficult living situations, on purpose, switching around throughout the year, over and over again?

How much do we desire comfort and peace and calm? Even knowing God's economy of the importance of struggle, I am still batting it away, anxious for it to be resolved. Looking for a soft place to land ~ certainly for myself, but even more for my children. My MO is taking Herculean leaps for my kiddos especially to avoid the struggle, to be comfortable and released from difficulty.

However, those leaps for comfort - it's just not realistic, and it's also not the best.

Being intentional to build in struggle ~
This is what my dad intended with my brother Trey's first car. Bringing half the money to the table AND rebuilding the engine.

This is what my friend Ginger imposed when her 7th grade daughter posted on her mom's Facebook account last week, asking friends and family what small jobs she could do to earn money for a Lauren Daigle concert ticket. Instead of just being happy her daughter wants to go to this concert, instead of just buying a ticket, she's allowing her daughter to earn it.

This is what Michael Phelps' swimming coach imposed in his Olympic training - actually stepping on and cracking Phelp's goggles before a race so that they would fill with water and teach him how to race blind. That came in handy when Phelps’ goggles filled with water at the Beijing Games, in a race he won.

All of these parents and coaches know that increasing the struggle leads to increased success - to perfecting perseverance through overcoming unexpected difficulty.

For the kid who has to earn his car, his concert ticket, while their friends have things handed to them.
For the college student struggling with a difficult roommate and loneliness, when it seems everyone else is happy and thriving.
Can you imagine Phelps' response when he realized his coach actually stepped on his goggles?

As an adult who's been walking with the Lord for many years, I can often wrap my mind around the importance of struggle. And with time I can usually accept it in my own life.
But I'm seriously lacking the desire to impose it on my children. To even watch it.

Just this morning a friend pointed me to James ch 1 ~
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds. 

What if we personalized it a little ~ 
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when your children face trials of many kinds. 

Now I'm getting a little uncomfortable. But let's be reminded of the result -

the testing of your (their) faith develops perseverance. 
And not only that, but

perseverance must finish it's work so that you (and your precious kiddos) may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

A couple of weeks ago I endured a difficult experience with our youngest daughter. After a week of 7th grade volleyball tryouts, Essie was disappointed not to make the A team. She cried a little and then pulled herself together, making the best of B team. As Basden tried to encourage her, "At least you'll get lots of playing time, and you can work your way up to A."

Turns out, week of the first game, not everyone on B team earned a jersey. Essie fell among the "plain clothes" crew. This resulted in more than a few tears, as she truly cried off and on all evening, surprised and dismayed that she would be in plain clothes at the first home game, not allowed a uniform, standing in shame as one who just wasn't good enough. At one point that evening she looked at me with watery eyes and said, "Mom, why is this happening to me?"

When I texted my parents not to come in for the game, as Essie would not be playing, my dad immediately responded with,  
"Well, now we get to watch Essie grow."

Certainly I have the years under my belt to recognize this is 7th grade volleyball. But even so, I was hurting for my little girl. Attending the packed gym for the A game, followed by the B game, with Esther watching and not participating was killing me. I was touched by my friend Anne's sensitivity as she came and just sat with me, her own daughter on the court with the A team. And afterwards, for the group photo, the uniformed girls waved over those without for the group picture - such a kind gesture.

But what I learned, and what I shared with Esther, is that I was more proud of her for getting through that evening, cheering on her friends and teammates, than I would have been had she served 25 times on the A team. And let's be honest, it's not just Esther's heart the Lord is working on (!).

Corbin and I will continue figuring things out with our parenting. Asking God for that wisdom he promises to "give generously" when we ask. But in the meantime as we all face discomfort, our unique struggles, it brings such comfort to know that this vice is - yes, on purpose. Difficult roommates, difficult marriages, difficult extended family, difficult financial strain, difficult health issues... they bring us to dependence on the One who is able to do more than we can ask or even imagine.

I'm definitely not planning to step on my kids' goggles. But I'm learning to watch expectantly when they have to swim with their eyes squeezed shut. We can practice gratitude for the many, many gifts that are not hard at all and just plain fun, and we can also thank God for the struggles that build perseverance and make us mature, complete.
May HE be our safe place to land ~ on purpose!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

All We need to Know Today is Today

"Have y'all decided when you're going to move in?" This from the project manager of our painting company, who has become my new BFF, in regards to the house we bought last winter.
"Well, no, because it's just today. And all I know today is today."
He looked at me a little funny, and then I continued, "You see, I don't know the answer to that today. Today I just need to admire all these new white walls and white cabinets, but I definitely don't need to decide if we're moving in."

Did I mention he looked at me a little funny?

Today is just today, and when asked whether we are actually moving or not, I don't have that answer yet. We bought a new home last winter and promptly put ours on the market, thinking it would sell quickly. And yet now we've been the proud owners of two lovely homes in Fort Worth since February. The "new" home needs some interior paint and updates, so we're tackling those projects and looking at what makes the most sense from here on out.

Two homes = two lawns, two pest controls, two mortgages (!), two pool companies, two sets of water heaters and air conditioners and appliances to get to maintain... one of the biggest lessons I've learned this year is no home is meant to be kept show-worthy. Note to anyone reading this (and to my future self) ~ if you are living in your home and it's not currently on the market, please release yourself from keeping it show-worthy and pinterest-appointed and magazine-clean. I'm about to release myself of all those things and our home IS on the market! Embrace the clutter and piles that you and your family leave scattered throughout, it's a privilege not to have to keep things perfectly orderly and minimal.

In the midst of this transition, there's such a desire to know what's ahead. Goodness, lots and lots of decisions seem to hinge on that! But honestly if the Lord has whispered one concept over and over through 2018, it's been to stay in today, and rest in not knowing what's ahead. Just do today.

All we need to know today is today.

In the 45 times we've shown the house (for real, 45 times), when I battle "wasting my time," the Lord reminds me that I don't need to concern myself with the why. Or even with the end result. I need to concern myself with working hard and resting in HIS result. He has provided me time to clean and vacuum and skim the pool. And then He's provided more time to do it again. He continually provides energy, hope, motivation, laughter, and again, time - I just need to do my job and trust Him, even when it feels unproductive.

All we need to know today is today.

Obviously this is the theme of my year. I've literally written one other blog post in all of 2018, and it was titled, "Stay in the Moment." Yeesh.

If you walked through the day by my side, you'd hear my deep breathing in and out. Not quite a lion's-roar-breathing, but audible. I've warned my kids not to be worried, that my breathing is not frustration or anger, but it's the way my body involuntarily responds to layers of stress, good and bad stress ~ decision-making and processing and keeping up with all we Mommas get to keep up with. But I know myself well enough to know that when I'm driving around and can hear myself breathing in and out, it's definitely a "deep" season.

And it's not just home-related issues that remind me to "just do today."

Our commitments ~ these past couple of weeks, like most everyone, I've been entering upcoming school and church and sports events on our family calendar. I'm pretty sure most every evening between now and June 2019 has an event attached, and not only are the calendar days full but there are some stark, important conflicts. If you were sitting right here by me as I'm still adding events to my calendar, you'd hear my deep breaths in and out.

School ~ the big question that everyone seems to be asking our girls is if they're staying at their current schools. Since both boys moved themselves to Southwest Christian School during high school, naturally our friends are asking if Basden and Esther are staying in their public schools. The answer? Yes - for today! I wish, I wish I had a crystal ball that showed me what this year holds, but my Heavenly Father sees fit that I only get today.

Our kiddos ~ I find myself actively working towards gratitude and against worry. This is why I love keeping that ongoing gratitiude list - making a choice to give thanks for the good and the hard. If they weren't all teenagers I could write pages for EACH child and what I'm choosing to trust the Lord with - but they do have their own little lives and a certain right to privacy, so those things get to be listed in my journal and not here. But the point is, over the years now (thank you again, Ann Voskamp!) I've seen that choosing gratitude dissipates worry, even when my children keep giving me so many opportunities to trust and not know what tomorrow will bring!

Let's be reminded that when Jesus spent the afternoon on a crowded hillside, sharing his heart with people who were hungry for wisdom and comfort, he told them (commanded them) not to worry:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
More than 2000 years ago even JESUS knew that every single day is a "deep" day ~ deep enough for taking slow breaths in and out, deep enough to require mental gymnastics for figuring out groceries and meals and transportation for our families, deep enough for loads of decision making, and deep enough to hand over burdens for loved ones that we simply cannot carry or solve.

My favorite part about this passage is what comes before it - that our Heavenly Father knows our needs and that we are so valuable to Him (more valuable than the rest of his creation - the birds in the air or the lilies in the fields) that He knows and generously gives us what we need.

And here's the craziest thing about choosing all we need to know is today ~ it's a lot more restful and a lot more fun. Once that two-second decision is made to take a deep breath and not have to know, to not have to reign King (or Queen) over tomorrow, it opens up freedom and releases us from so many to-do lists and duties that may never even need to happen.

Rest. Breathe. Maybe even laugh.

And for the record, since I'm about to hit the "publish" button on this post, I'm about to get to really practice this. We'll likely list our current home back on the market after a little break, and you can think of me vacuuming and clearing clutter while taking deep breaths. And maybe meet me for coffee in between.

And at that point you can gently remind me ~ All we need to know is today!

Friday, May 25, 2018

How Does it Feel to Have our Oldest Graduating?

Today is the day.
The hundreds of times we've been asked over the last year, "How do you feel about your oldest graduating?" culminates with today - graduation day.

Bran leaves in a little over a month for college, and for the first time since he was about eight years old he has the month of June off of baseball. He's footloose and fancy free for the next five weeks and is taking full advantage of it. Lots of trips with lots of friends and we're not sure how he's going to pay for all of it (!) but he'll figure that out along the way.

So - how do I feel about our oldest graduating - it's been difficult to express an honest, thoughtful answer. These last few weeks especially as I've considered how to process my emotions, attempted to frame my thoughts in a blog post, I keep coming up empty. Until this morning, it hit me like a ton of bricks:


That's it. The good and hard, the calm and chaos, the super happy and super sad, simply grateful. And that's not a reflection of my ability to be thankful, but God's grace in showing me time and again that He is delighted when we acknowledge His hand in ALL THINGS. And we can trust him.

With marker events like this graduation day, it's helped to be in a habit of thanking the Lord regularly for the good AND the hard. I haven't posted my "practicing gratitude" lists in awhile, but they are on my pages journal document morning after morning. Thank you, Ann Voskamp, for putting words to and teaching me the importance of this practice. Life changing.

So here we go - practicing gratitude this morning as I think on TODAY - Bran's graduation day!

- Let's start with Eph 3:20 - praise God that He is ABLE to do more than we can ask or imagine... He is able and he did it. A couple of years ago we never dreamed this boy would be ready. But he is and it's God's grace. We are not nervous, not holding our breath, just incredibly excited for his next adventure. God could not have lined this up in a more miraculous way, and in the process grew Bran up in remarkable ways.

- Just last night Bran was named Tapps 5A All-State First Team. What an honor and again, praise God for a great school, great team, and great pitching season

- Our home of 16+ years on the market - I think we've shown it 37 times in the past few months (not kidding that's the actual number) and we have not found our people yet, but they're around the corner. I've thanked God regularly for selling this house in his time to the right family, and totally feel His hand in it. In the meantime, we love this home. Love being here and the swimming pool has been FULL the last couple of weeks. We thought it would sell quickly, but it been a gift not to feel kicked-out and rushed into a new home. With every time I've cleaned and vacuumed and set out Topo Chicos, I have been reminded of how much I love this home and that it'll be a respite for another family soon

- Thank you, Lord, that we get to pay double-mortgage and keep up with contractors and maintenance at two houses. Grateful for all things

- Bran and Hud having this past year at SCS together. I do hope to write more on this, one of the very best gifts of the year. It looked a little different than we thought it would primarily because of Hudson's injuries (shoulder nerves through football, broken wrist and surgery going into baseball) but both boys had a fabulous year - together. I am so so so so thankful for this

- Krista hosting a huge grad party for Bran last weekend, in the middle of her own May, along with Sarah, Nikki, and Kellie. These dear friends have been just that - dear friends - since our kids were tiny (or before). Our school / church circles don't all line up but our hearts sure do. It was a special evening getting to see so many people who mean so much to us! And - Krista - those green and gold tortilla chips!!
Them are some faithful (& fun) girlfriends


- Volleyball - more competitive than I expected for 6th graders -  our very last YMCA sport has come to a close for our family - truly the end of an era (grateful for YOU, coach Mallory!)

- Miklunceks throwing a rather amazing DGB party
Don't tell anyone that DGB is originally Dynamite Glitter Bombs - cool for 3rd graders but not so cool for 6th

- Basden (and Hud) getting to go on our church's "Bridge" overnight - lots to look forward to with HSM

- All four grandparents just took a bucket-list trip together - 3 weeks in Germany and Isreal. And they still like each other. They toured the new American embassy in Israel the second day it opened, after an all-night Syrian airstrike fireworks show not ten miles from their Sea of Galilee hotel

- Just last night - Basden received a leadership award at her choir banquet. And even more, she and Aidan got to say a few words to honor Mrs. Adair. There is no one like Mrs. Adair. She is kind and gifted and I am so very grateful Basden (and Hudson, and now Essie) had two years under her guidance and teaching and LOVE. What a gem.

Nettie May is in town!
- Corrie. Amazing Corrie and meeting with these 6th gr girls early on Thursday mornings for Bible study

- Taryn. Amazing Taryn meeting with 8th gr girls on Thursday mornings. We are poured into to overflowing

- Hud finished up spring football - he loved it - and finally felt like himself on the field. Makes me so happy already thinking about football season. That he gets to be under Coach Flowers for another two years - more than we can ask for. Hud also worked his tail off finishing finals and is looking into a weekend of their first Cats baseball tourn this weekend - woo hoo!

- SCS athletic banquet, and truly surprised with a huge honor for Bran - LOTS of great athletes in that room. Grateful for new AND old friends at SCS - more than we could ask or imagine

- Cam and Alan and kiddos here for graduation - offered to stay in their 5th wheel at a KOA, and I took them up on that with house showings (two just this week), but now that they're here we realize that's totally ridiculous and the pool house is calling their name!

- How happy it makes Basden and Nettie May to be together

- Aunt Julie is coming today!! with Bogan and Broderick from Tulsa - what a sweetheart!!

- Bran having the last full week with nothing - done with school, done with finals - just getting to enjoy friends and some down time

- Basden't 8th gr athletic awards - Sportsmanship for VB

- Two nights ago - Steve and Lisa Hotchkiss setting Branson up to host a "GRAD-itude" family dinner in their home - this is truly worthy of it's own post, coming shortly. Unbelievable, incredible evening

- Shane Naterman looking directly at Bran last night while giving his senior chapel speech, "Success will come on the field, but real success will come in the dugout." A good word for both of us

- How fun and totally crazy that Trey and Amy's fam gets to celebrate Adeline in Georgia!

- So much to celebrate in May, esp sweet Ava!

- And John! (And Ash and Chrissie and Marty...)

- Basden's 8th gr Florida trip - her highlights were swimming with dolphins and eating squid eyes (!) - and no-stinking-way-rombutans

- Senior Sunday - Michael Burr - celebrating him on to a new role - what a fabulous man of God - and great friend. Especially grateful for breaking bread last Sun evening around Electra's table, lovely

- Essie finding out her cheerleading big sis - who is a very generous big sis! And that Coach Ryan, in the midst of all the other end of year stuff, made this happen

- Well how about this??!

- Moms in Prayer - getting to pray over our 8th graders as they move to high school; Brad Deal joining us, we love him so much!

- Lots going on with FWISD that feels heavy and I don't know quite how to process all of it, but the Lord knows and is going behind and before us, equipping us along the way

- Slime. Somehow, even in May, there's margin for Essie's slime

- Spring Choir concert for both girls

- My friends sending pictures and giving me updates when two awards programs / end-of-year events conflict and I can't be at everything, means so much

- Senior chapel

- That BRANSON and JACKSON are going to BU together as college athletes!! Cannot get over this one

- Senior pics, senior announcements, senior poster, yearbook pics, senior pictures photo book, father's day photo gift, senior year photo album... there's probably a few more things but by God's grace (and Zazzle and Costco and Shutterfly) they're all DONE

- A highlight of the past few weeks - Elvia and I scrambling to get this house clean for a showing (rapido!) and then fleeing the house to get our nails done

- One of our biggest highlights of the past few months - and I don't have a pic - but Kathryn. We are in love with her

- And just this morning, Dillon showing up from Austin for graduation with BU cookies... Sic em!

- (drum roll).... can we say Baylor ACADEMIC scholarship???!! We've come full-circle... Eph 3:20 more than we could ask or imagine.  Thank you Lord!!