Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What's Right in Front of You

 There are so many things I want my children to experience. Too many things, things we can’t get to.

I want them to work with children in low income neighborhoods. I want them to experience mission trips both locally and out of the country. I’d love for them to rub elbows with some special needs kiddos through our church’s respite care or another venue. And not just serving, but I want them to experience Young Life camp and Kanakuk and other ministries close to my heart.

But with what we’ve already committed to - sports and church and friendships and never mind school work - it’s stressful to think of squeezing even more into an overflowing family agenda. As I’ve wrestled through which "good and influential" activities to try and make happen, a process that engulfs me every August, I felt the Lord’s nudging in the last few days:

“Just do what’s right in front of you.”

What? Just what we’re already doing? That may not be enough, it may not stretch us enough to learn what we need to learn...”

“Hush, child, and simply do what’s right in front of you.
I will put My Agenda in your path. When you said yes to two CCBC residents living with you for a year, you did nothing to make that happen. I brought them to you, and look how Chase and Connor have enlarged your heart and home. When you said yes to taking a group of girls to Young Life’s Frontier Ranch this past summer, you did nothing to pursue that. I planted it in Lianna and Aaron's hearts who were then obedient to ask you. And look how I again enlarged your heart and home. Rest in gratitude for your full life stage. There may be a time you will actively pursue new ways to serve others, ultimately serving Me. But in these days of overflowing relationships, just do what’s in front of you. I’ll make sure to keep you saying “yikes” (thanks, Bob Goff) to new and surprising opportunities."

This is the message rumbling around in my heart the past couple of weeks. And it’s a restful one.

So now I'm asking God to equip me day by day, strength by strength, to say yes to what's right in front of me.
And already, in an invigorating way, I'm thinking, “yikes!”

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

He Needed That

Image result for home run

“Whoa!” The ball sailed over right field, a solid home run. I glanced back toward the hitter’s mom with a big grin and congratulated her son. The two-run homer gave us the lead, as well as shifted our team’s momentum and energy in this otherwise slow, stifling hot summer game.

“Thanks, he needed that.”

I nodded in unspoken understanding, and turned back to cheer as both runners rounded the bases for home.

“He needed that.”

Gosh, don’t they all? The ones who are hitting, the ones who aren’t, the ones who are committed to colleges and the ones who have yet to. Doesn’t matter if these kids are seven or seventeen.

“He needed that.”

Just a brush of success, preferably with a dollop of fortune on top. We so long for our kiddos to feel encouraged. For external success to build them up. That “need” might be getting called off the bench and into the game. Or like this teammate of my son’s, a ball soaring over the right field fence. It might be an A, or even a passing grade, on a looming exam. Receiving the sought-after invitation. Or perhaps a need so basic as a loyal friend, for goodness sake.

After a particularly difficult season for one of my boys, my dad called me one evening and said, “He needs to go bowling.”
“Bowling. You know, it’s the kind of thing we do once every ten years. So we never get good at it. And then when we do go it’s with a group of friends, which shows off how terrible we are. He needs ten strong bowling outings. Ten good games to battle all of the failures and frustrations he’s endured lately.”

We never did go bowling, but I got my dad's point. I sure kept my eye out for those ten good outings. A success streak. We were so desperate at that point, I would have taken a “decent” streak.

Because believe me, he needed that.

And then the Lord did it. In ways that I could not ask or even imagine, with people and situations I could have never constructed, God provided a streak of successes. It was mostly gradual, with some explosive victories for good measure, along with occasional setbacks mixed in. We at times felt like two steps forward, one step back, but thank goodness for those steps forward!

It grew my faith to watch the Lord work in my son's life. In areas where I felt helpless, the Lord knew exactly what he needed - the good and the hard. He still does. And my faith continues to grow as I see the Lord working in each of my children's lives, trusting that He knows what each of us need.

As parents we have tremendous power to hold steady and encourage. Our attitude and words are powerful tools that can frame acceptance of the difficult things, as well as project good things ahead. We get to be the adult and rise above our own fear, or disappointment, or embarrassment, and hold steady that this is their life and the Lord is with them working it out.

Last week’s homerun was a concoction of that player’s steady practice, faithfully stepping up to the plate, getting the just-right pitch and hitting it just-right, ending in surprising success. The same at-bat could have been a strike-out.

And we get the privilege of leaning in and walking with our children - homeruns and strikeouts - and praying for creative parenting through it all. Always, always leaning in. With guidance and boundaries that will often not be popular. Using every ounce of our energy to listen, listen, listen. To say "yes" and laugh hard every chance we get. And then to trust the Lord with their hearts and lives.

He needed that.
And I needed that.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Practicing Gratitude 6.28.17

- CCBC Kids Kamp - I'm always amazed with the way our church body - young and old and in-between - comes together to make this week happen!
Coming downstairs to find this the first morning, Essie made sure we all knew what our day (week) held
Day 1 ~ here we go!
Bran & campers in action
Hud's group, getting to lead alongside his buddy Jack
one million% in her element
Essie - last year as a camper- with the amazing Hannah and David as leaders
Our fearless crew - a joy to work with all the teen leaders
Hud in the lip-sync contest... not his fav but he rocked it

5/6 worship is incredible
- Not having to set my alarm for 5-something (which is unusual, just had to get up that early a couple of days) but sleeping in a little this morn after not having a chance to do that yet this summer

- State Twirling Competition in DeSoto
Vicki with her girls - we have the most fabulous teacher in the nation
Modeling - she is darling but more of an athlete than a dancer... some room to improve in this category - ha!
The dress ~ an early bday gift from Daboo ~ she looks amazing in the yellow

Sporting a new costume

An end-of-year gift from coach Vicki... even monogrammed!
Vick's Chicks

car rides home are way more fun with twirling friends (and thanks for the ride, Landi!)
 - SCS 7 on 7 football ~ with our boys on the field together

- Getting to spend an entire day set aside with Basden and Esther - no friends. After my week and Frontier + a week of kids kamp + a full State twirling weekend, I was missing them so much:  Indoor rock climbing; La Madeline tomato soup and Caesar salad and strawberries romanoff; bowling; Wendy’s frosties, jewelry making, and movie night with popcorn

- Rock climbing - Basden not wanting to go rock climbing AT ALL, but absolutely loved it ~ with lots of success! Esther felt “stretched” and admitted it was good to feel that way. And I felt adventurous
Dyno Rock

La Madeline ~ there's a reason why we shouldn't take selfies in the first place
What's worse - mom taking selfies or dabbing? (or fidget spinners??!)
- Signs of summer - our days may not be lazy, but at least some of the hours are

Nothing beats 10-year-old Wii Mario Cart
glitter girls

- Bran and Hud flying to Utah to meet Corbin, easily navigating the airport with me just dropping them off (they looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if they needed me to park and walk them in)

- An unexpected “I love you” text last night from one of my boys

- Mama’s text - God loves to talk to boys when they’re fishing - even big boys. I can hear that song playing in our Wren home all those years ago

- Who hoo - Harper is home from camp - longest 2 weeks for Basden

- Our homemade version of Strawberries Romanoff ~ yum

- When I asked Hudson to be home by 3, he pulled in at 2:58. Such a reliable kid. And snapping this pic, it hit me that after mid-November I probably won't see him on his bike much anymore

- That Essie and her friend wanted me to swim with them yesterday- asked me several times. And naturally, I was intending to use that time by myself in the house. But it was so worth cannon-balling into the pool and playing Silent Categories with them

- A summer morning with several hours ALONE at home (which is how I got this post written)!!!

- How much Essie loves to clean the kitchen sink

- That Corbin was smart enough to tack on a fishing trip for him and the boys after a conference in Park City, Utah

Park City at dusk (pc Branson)
when Bran said he caught Jonah's Whale
Hudson's dinner one night in Utah - a bacon burger with two separate grilled cheese sandwiches as the buns

- Camp Joy - oh what fun! The skills it’s producing in Basden to be a counselor and help design camp each summer, and Essie gets to have a ball

- That Proverbs 27 is amazing. How is this text still so relevant and applicable?  Esp love v. 14 ~ If a man loudly blesses his neighbor in the morning, it will be taken as a curse. AMEN. I can’t believe this is in the Bible

- Learning to compartmentalize frustration and anger from the responsibility of parenting. I'm the adult here. Parenting is my job and I don't need to be surprised when it's difficult or draining (thank you, Mark Gregston and Paul Tripp ~ I hear you in my head during these episodes)

- Thank you, Heavenly Father, for sustaining me during moments I don’t "feel" sustained, but I know you’re doing it. And then for the times when I actually do feel it

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

You are God's Workmanship

For YOU are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do.

For You are God's workmanship.

For you are God's workmanship.

For you are God's Workmanship.

Last Sunday after the worship, after the graduating seniors (what seemed to me about thirty of them) took the microphone and shared a word of encouragement to the younger students, after our high school ministry celebrated Senior Sunday with students filling the room and parents lining the walls... this was our youth pastor's charge to the students:

You are God's workmanship in Christ Jesus.

Several of the students' words were emotional, but it was Michael's firm charge that put a lump in my throat (ok, and perhaps I got a little teary before that too). Michael repeated it several times, slowly and deliberately.

You are God's workmanship in Christ Jesus.

What if we lived like we believed it?

You ~ yes, you. And me. Not just Adam and Even and Noah and Moses. You and me in 2017.
God's ~ the Creator, the King of Creativity, the Perfect Artist.
Workmanship ~ creation, showpiece, work of art.

Several years ago we took a family cruise and enjoyed the evening shows with a cast of highly trained singers and dancers and musicians. They entertained our packed theater throughout the week with lavish costumes and choreography. One evening, however, we crowded around the circular bannister fifteen stories up as the ship's crew put on a "pre-show" in atrium. We peered waaaay down as guests circled the railings on every floor, our eyes trained on the modest stage at the bottom of the cylinder staircase. We strained to hear several comedians in broken English, endured a few dance groups, but then she emerged ~ a young woman in a simple white dress. She was introduced as a cabin maid. But when she sang out in clear, perfect pitch, her song floated up that staircase and into the hearts of all those within earshot. We were mesmerized. It was a privilege to hear that young woman's song. I imagined her days and weeks spent hidden behind quiet duty, living in cramped quarters with hundreds of other crew from small countries across the world. But given a few brief moments to shine, she shared the gift of her voice. What she was created to do.

You are God's workmanship in Christ Jesus.

I saw it recently in an elderly woman behind the counter at our neighborhood Braums. Running in to grab a gallon of milk and a few groceries, I ordered a limeade with soda and extra limes. I paid and moved over to wait, and the older woman never even looked up. She shuffled around, making my drink to order without hardly a glance my way. I wondered what circumstances put her, advanced in years, behind a fast-food counter. She shuffled back, handed me the hand-made limeade, and I took a sip as the next customer moved up. I'd made my way nearly to the door when she hollered over to me, “Well, do you like it??”
She looked straight at me with an expectant grin, her clear blue eyes boring straight into mine, waiting for an answer. 
“Yes m’am, absolutely. It’s perfect.”
She nodded in approval, flashed the rest of that big smile, and then got to business with the next person in line.

You are God's workmanship in Christ Jesus.

It's why we love to watch American Idol or The Voice. It's why Britain's Got Talent's Susan Boyles garnered more than 207 million views in her audition video. It's why we ESPN streams constantly on our TVs and devices. It's a privilege to get to see people do what they were created to do.

Tall, short, thick, skinny, athletic or not, musical or not, brilliant or not, God created us as His workmanship. What freedom. If we believe His Word, we can be confident that our bodies, personalities, minds and hearts were crafted to precision for the specific works He planned in advance for us to do.

What is it that we were created to do, whether in our twenties or fifties or eighties? What is it that our children were created to do? Not once they're grown up but right now ~ as children and teens ~ what is their little corner of creativity to offer?

May we rest in God's great, unique creation of us, and then ~ let's get after it! Because we, my friends, are God's workmanship in Christ Jesus!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Practicing Gratitude 3.24.17

- Several days with Brogdons here ~ extended our Spring Break half a week!


 - Basden’s school choir ~ Superior sweep yesterday. Mrs. Adair is absolutely amazing and a GIFT. Brought all the kids kolaches yesterday morning (has brought them donuts in the past), took loads of students to and from Dunbar throughout the day and evening to compete, makes her class a safe place for the kids

- Hud’s shoulder - separated AC joint - that according to Dr. Conway yesterday, he’s out for remainder of the season. He was hoping to be back practicing & playing Monday, such a disappointment. Thank you Lord that you are WITH him and are growing/ teaching him during this time. PHS baseball coaches. That we can practice gratitude in all things.

- Science fair - one of my absolute least favorite things. But already I'm thankful for it. Thank you that Essie is working by herself - she was so disappointed not to be included in a group, and I was disappointed for her. But it gave us a chance to snuggle on the porch last night and work on it - that was awesome. She's motivated and likes her project, and if I can enjoy science fair then You are truly a God who can do more than we can ask or imagine.

- Bran's SCS baseball team - that he's enjoying the team and coaches so much, Grant's steady cheering; playing TVS the other night and getting to see so many dear friends - these boys are growing up
Nico pitching to Bran
Bran pitching to Brock
Extra fun to have the Brogdons at the game
Brock, Bran, Miguel
- Coach Howard taking the time to actually develop these boys are players - skills and mentally - has taken the time and energy to truly train Branson through errors and mental mistakes and I'm so grateful. Coach Duran, Coach Wimpee, Coach Higgins... Bran couldn't ask for a better coaches

- Nikki's prophetic text

- “Jason” - our Roomba - vacuums my downstairs almost every morning. I don't have to practice being grateful for Jason

- Awful parenting nights. Thankful in all things. That you are a God of second, third, fourth, fifth... a million chances.

- Looking forward to working CCBC Kids Kamp with teens (and Chrissie!) again

- Transparency among our Bible study ~ Lori's leadership, Lysa Terkeurt's teaching ~ "Finding I Am"

- Basden’s easy, easy personality, makes everything so smooth

- Some big decisions we're chewing on ~ that we can trust Your wisdom and guidance when the way forward seems murky

- Spring Break ~ we’ve come a LOOONG way from this time last year. I see your fruit in our family, Lord, and while we are always incomplete, thank you for showing up and growing us towards You

- Twins at the park
These two both bring so much joy!
- Sweet Essie and how much I love snuggling with her in the mornings


- FRIDAY.  We made it through another week ~ and this Fri morn is especially wonderful with the rain. Enjoying a cup of hot coffee and being snuggled under a blanket on the back porch ~ truly a gift

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12