Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Practicing Gratitude 10.21.14

- A few days in Austin with Corbin - thanks to amazing grandparents keeping kids - what a gift to not worry a bit, knowing they're having more fun than if we were there.

- Time with heart friends in Austin: visting with Carlos and Kelly in their home; Kirsten, Brandon and their kiddos for lunch; Kristin Cowden and her kiddos in their home, and several hours with Shaun and Christina for dinner last night. Your timing, the way you orchestrate the events, just precious. Thank you.
Time with Kirsten - and ALL the Dickersons!
Photo creds to Christina - lovely dinner!
- Shaun's encouragement. One of the kindest men we know. So grateful for their friendship ~ a gift not just of like-mindedness and encouragement, but they're just plain fun. A gift to laugh so hard with another couple.

- Getting to see Raven and Lily storefront in Austin and meeting Kirsten's staff - I could have taken one of everything.

- A few hours alone in a corner of the hotel lobby.

- Getting home to Hud's football game, a gift to have all the grandparents there

- A (big) "no." Choosing to see it not as rejection, but as protection.

- That we can trust you, Lord, with disappointments - You see the road ahead, and we can keep our eyes on You for direction.

- Dress-up day at McLean
Nice legs, Hud.
- This crazy gal. I'm enjoying the pups more as they're getting older. Whew - that first year was insanity.

- Essie (and friends) constantly playing school. Find these all over the house.
My fav - the "good day" column v. the "horable" column
- Papa interrogated by PHS police (Asst Principal, anyway) when trying to get Bran for an early dismissal. Bran's hilarious text to me describing the scene - and Jack Sparrow (!) Thank goodness for Papa's sense of humor.

- Papa attempting to take the boys to fish on lake Grapevine when they were off of school Monday. Winds were too strong - bummer. But Papa's willingness to cancel an appt and take the boys is huge. Rain check.

- Bran's first Paschal homecoming
Headed to the varsity game
- Homecoming - "1st date"

Pics and dinner downtown (thx for organizing us, Tami!)
What a great group of girls

Parent paparazzi

Proud Mammas

- An unexpected sussy for Essie that Sarah dropped by - a darling, sparkly dress for no reason at all except to be twinsies with Avie. So thoughtful and made Esther's (and my) night.

 - That our (huge) elementary school feels small because of our amazing, staff, families and teachers.

- Swimming in October

- This coaster in our Austin hotel - yes and yes.

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

Friday, October 17, 2014

Advice to our Younger Selves

We've shared monthly dinners now for more than fourteen years. One gal spearheaded this dinner club all those years ago, realizing that as our lives began splintering apart with attending different churches, the influx of babies, moving into different communities and attending various schools, we needed some sort of glue to intentionally maintain our friendships.

Last week we crowded around the coffee table on my back porch, shared a meal of mostly appetizers (we never even moved to the set table), and settled into the warmth of rooted friendships. In early years, we set themes, flocked place mats with pre-printed questions, and attempted to instill some lively formality into our get-togethers. But somewhere around year two or three, we chucked all the "extras" and streamlined the dinners to just being together.

The only rule - which I love - is that these dinners are not potluck. Meaning, the host prepares it all, but they only have to do it once a year. Of course we've jumped in and helped one another during busy seasons, but for the most part, one night of the year we have the privilege of hosting our girlfriends, and the other eleven months we just show up - make up or not - and share in great conversation and great food.

Some of us are foodies, some are not. Sometimes it's a homemade spread, other times it's Pei Wei takeout picked up on the way home from work. But every time, it's familiar friends gathered around a table. These dinners are the primary way many of us connect through the year.

So last week found us gathered on my back porch around bowls of chips and a skillet of green chili queso. Amidst catching up and enjoying the beginnings of a cool front rolling in, this question surfaced:  
"What would you tell a younger version of yourself? If you were speaking to a group of younger women in their 20s and 30s, and could share one message, what would it be?"
The responses were so great, I decided we need to take this group on the road.
Or at least to my blog.
So after our conversation died down, after the dishwasher was filled and humming late into the night, I jotted down some of what was shared. 
In no particular order, here you go:

Be prepared for God’s twists and turns. Life won’t look like you expect it to, but God has a good, perfect, and acceptable plan. You can trust him.
This from our friend who knows what day of the week March 5, 2016 will land on. It's an uncanny gift. She's type A, highly productive, highly intelligent, put together. She shared about her darling little girl. This friend wanted and expected two healthy children. Her youngest was born with some special needs, and she and her husband have deftly maneuvered their daughter's healthcare since she was born. This little one is a complete, radiant joy. But her little life has provided our friend a significant opportunity to relinquish control.

Look to elders for advice, more than peers
25-year-olds should not be leading church-type seminars.
The rest of us laughed and wholeheartedly agreed.

Love wins. The Lord will never leave you.
"When I recently looked at my driver’s license from 10 years ago, I wanted to say to that younger version of myself, “I’m so proud of you.”
This friend would have never dreamed she’d endure what she’s endured over the past decade. But love wins. The Lord never left her. She doesn’t know what’s ahead, but knows the Lord will be faithful.

Your identity must be solely in Christ.
Stay in God’s word in order to have your identity in Him. 4-5 days a week, 15 min in God's Word. Soak it in to keep your eyes and heart on Him rather than on yourself and our the world. It's the path to peace.

That early season of motherhood is difficult ~ you will get through it and find yourself again. 
Babies are just plain hard. Those years of caring for infants and young toddlers just might wipe you out; the tyranny of the urgent, constant messes, no time to yourself, always feeling scatter-brained. It seems impossible at the time, but it has an end. And you will see your familiar self one day. And you are given permission to admit that season is HARD.

Be intentional with decision making of where your time and energy goes.
The decisions just get harder and thicker with the years. Start now, know that it's a tradeoff - a yes to one thing is a no to something else. Not only that, but the choices you make now lead to directly to your future.

Compare and Despair.
We are bombarded by the temptation to constantly compare ourselves to our friends, our acquaintances, and people we don't even know through social media. Instagram, FB and Pinterest, etc. can be dangerous. Go forth with your own decisions in confidence. Love God, Love his Word.

Hold on to Bible as true, inerrant word of God.
This world is shifting. The church is shifting. But God's Word stands firm forever. Hold tightly to His truths without wavering.

Choose Jesus!
If we believe God's Word is true and believe His Word is from Him, then in doubt, struggles, etc. - all those things we question about our life when circumstances are not what we like or want - choose Jesus and what He says to us through His word.  He has proven Himself faithful EVERY SINGLE time, so why believe otherwise?  His promises are true.

The experiences of these women cover the gamut: significant financial stress, sickness, unemployment, raising lots of little children, singleness, infertility, loneliness, adoption, marital separation, moving, changing schools, difficult extended family issues, and the list continues. But the threads of what each person shared wove a radiant faith tapestry; given the wide berth of personalities, situations, and the passing of years, each woman gathered around the table last week senses an urgency to proclaim God's goodness, his nearness. And the beauty of these women is deepening, not fading. The years of growing stronger faith muscles leaves them more lovely than before.
I sought the Lord and he answered me; 
He delivered me from all my fears, 
Those who look to Him are radiant... Ps 34

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Granny's Peanut Brittle

Gladys Pearl James ~ not just anyone can wear the name Gladys Pearl. Or in my opinion, James.

This fall marks eighteen years that Gladys Pearl, my Granny, has been delighting crowds in heaven - and delighting herself in the Lord in the process. Even though she's been gone nearly two decades, I sense her presence regularly. She is such a part of me, and of my dad of course, and her legacy spills into our family's sense of humor and spunk.

This treasured book of Granny's poems is one that my big brother Trey bound for all the family members in her last years. Years ago I posted one of my favorite of her poems, Wonderful Me, and here's another favorite she wrote about my dad. A couple of things by way of introduction:

1) Besides her intelligence and crazy hard work ethic, Granny was stunning. Even in her seventies she watched her weight, greeted her days with makeup and fixed hair even if she didn't leave the boundaries of her south Texas ranch, and always looked to me like a supermodel.

2) Granny adored, absolutely adored my dad, "Billy." They were cut from the same cloth. She was always amazed when dad actually understood (or pretended to) something my Pappy said or did. As I've grown older, I've realized that it's not so much that my dad understood my Pappy, but rather chose to live with him in an understanding way.

Love you, Granny, miss you and your wit and your raucous laugh. I always, always knew how deeply loved I was by you.

Peanut Brittle

Back at the old house
In a bowl on the blond buffet
An eight inch package of peanut brittle
lay unopened day after day.

Its presence never discussed
I knew it was there but I didn't care
Never touched it except to dust.

We took Billy to the airport
And put him on a plane
Kissed him good-bye with a wave and a sigh
And went back home again.

I walked into the dining room
All bent on desperate fling
Unwrapped that bar of candy
And ate the whole thing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Practicing Gratitude 10.13.14

- These friends (and some others not pictured) on our back porch for dinner. Lovely evening, lovely friendships. So grateful for these foundational friends. Also thankful for the privilege of extending hospitality.

- Our Christmas in Cowtown tradition ~ missing half a day of school to shop together. This year we got Daboo and Mama along for the outing.

- Ryan and Jordan, your work in their life, their hope in you. Great expectations. 

- Your Word as a solution to loving people well when my flesh just won't do it. This morning it means dwelling on these Scripture to rid resentment:
Phil 4:8-9 - Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy - think on these things... brings God’s peace.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Eph 4:2-3

- Nay Nay's birthday, an excuse to get together with the Wolfes and so many great families. Love little Nathan.

- Basden playing volleyball - she absolutely loves it. We've held the girls off from doing many organized sports, but Basden was r-e-a-d-y for her own team.

- Continued Panther football successes, continued physical protection, thankful.

This kid. Special.
#27 - Branson - he's pretty special too.

- Cardinals success and protection as well...
Getting the tackle
Trying to avoid the tackle....

- Sweet attitudes to spend their weeknights at football fields

- A great community (and fantastic moms) to share the stands with

- Basden's fascination with styling hair - even her own. This gene passed straight down from her Auntie Cameron. 

- Friday early morning practices, cup of coffee in hand, sitting alone in the McLean stands watching. And that I can take the time to be there.
Hudda - #42 practice jersey
- A Sunday afternoon fishing ~ thankful to Mike for using his lake!

- This cutie; an everyday scene from my view. So thankful she's only 8. My little sidekick.

- All dressed up, breakfast after practice, ready for game day.

- Then getting home more than 14 hours after being dropped at school... late night dinner without even taking backpack off first. Then, without complaint, on to finish homework. Very full season, grateful for his diligence. 

- Agh! That Jill is expecting - who hoo!

- Shirley Mama's service celebrating her beautiful life. Can't quite wrap my mind around her earthly absence. Incredible legacy through the Hotchkiss family. Two of Shirley's life statements that have stayed with me: "It's more important to be kind than to be right." And, "One of the kindest things you can do is to listen to something you already know." 
Essie's tender heart to pray for Shirley and the Hotchkisses

- An hour or so at the park with Daboo and Essie practicing her soccer shots. A real treat to have that un-rushed time.

- Friday morning donuts (thanks, Marty!)

- Sunday afternoon Ranger game (tickets given to us, thank you, Dr. Nelms) ~ and running into the Anderson men - a treat.

- Bran taking ownership over his schoolwork; adjusting to high school work load.

- Basden getting to host CCBC's Fishstix (5th and 6th) group for a girls night out. Sweet girls, hardly knew they were here. Our youth leaders rock. Not only in regards to pouring into kids, but also cleaning up after parties (!)

- Kevin taking Hud and his middle school friends to lunch every Thursday. And that he did it with Bran the past two years before this. So grateful for Kevin, Ryan, and Michael, Mitchell, Coach Manks (and more) from church committed to building into our boys.

- ALL of my kiddos getting up and out the door Friday morn - after getting home last night after 11pm. Absolutely hated waking them. Basden was up by 5:30am to study for a test, Hud left by 6:15, girls went early at 7:20 for Basden to take that test, and then Bran went by 8. Goodness. With Corbin in Dallas, I'm extra thankful for a smooth morning.

- Anticipating Thanksgiving with my brothers and their families. Cannot wait.

- My poor Baylor pumpkin - Oct Texas heat is a little too much.
Posting this on FB got me into some trouble - all those TCU fans (my DEAR friends!) making fun... but our Bears pulled through
- WOW - Sic Em Bears. What a crazy, crazy game v. TCU last Saturday. Goodness gracious. Always, grateful to be a Baylor Bear.
Headed home to watch the big game. Had no idea the range of emotions ahead...
Bears did not disappoint. In fact, they pulled off a miraculous last ten minutes.

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