Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Shack

Years ago a college professor encouraged me to write letters in my prayer journal from God to me. That’s right. To write out what I think the Creator of the universe would say to little ‘ol me. I’ve done that off and on for about ten years now. Usually these “letters” are simply love notes from the Lord, reminding me that He loves me fully and that He created me exactly to His specifications... the Psalms are a handy reference tool here. There’s no theology check like writing from God’s voice, trying to imagine His thoughts. It’s quite revealing to see what I believe about God when I take on what I presume to be His voice. Interesting. And it alters my perspective to try and imagine His responses rather than focusing on my own narrow thoughts.

So this idea of writing in God’s voice is not a new one. Authors throughout time have written from God’s point-of-view. But here’s an interesting read not like any book I’ve devoured before.

The Shack. A must-read. Came to me highly recommended, and I’m passing it on with a hearty thumbs-up. William Young artistically penned an intriguing story where God - the Trinity - brings about healing in an unspeakable tragedy. He reveals Himself through the Trinity to his main character, Mackenzie Philips, a father of five struggling with the murder of his young daughter.

Knowing the events that would unfold in The Shack, combined with my propensity to fully engage emotionally in really great books and films, I felt a little fearful about even reading the novel. But as Young masterfully mixes humor with intensity, he leaves us without excuse to read his story. And because I have not personally experienced struggles near the magnitude as illustrated in this novel, it offers me an opportunity to go to the depths with Mackenzie and then to experience his healing as well.

My favorite things about The Shack:
- Lyrical, illustrative writing - excellent.
- Humor. Just when you think you can’t read any more “heavy,” Mackenzie or God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit says something particularly clever and funny. Not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny, but something to produce a smirk.
- Creative imagery illuminating how the Trinity presents itself to a modern day man. Did I say creative??!
- Not condescending - Young assumes the reader is intelligent and therefore doesn’t spell everything out. Kept me wanting to turn the pages.
- Even without the experience of personally suffering deep, soul-wrenching loss, the communication between Mackenzie and the Trinity resonates with me on a deep level. Anyone who reads this story - Believer or not - can glean an intimate understanding of the Lord’s innate love for us as His children.

This is the kind of story I can’t get out of my mind, the kind that swirls in my imagination during and after I’ve finished it. Hardly forgettable.
So, what are you waiting for?! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We'll try again later...

This morning the girls took a long bath. I took advantage of their preoccupation to put away laundry and straighten up the kids' rooms a bit. After 40 minutes of splashing and pretending, the girls hesitantly got out and dried off. While drying Basden's long blonde hair and smearing her body with yummy-smelling lotion, I once again used the comfortable, teachable moment and pointed out that no one except mommy and daddy touch her certain places, and that's only for cleaning. She quickly reminded me that both grandmas can help her in that way, too, but nobody else. "Only 4 adults," she concluded, "oooh... and of course Santa!"
I think she missed the point.

p.s. - For any concerned folks... we haven't even visited Santa this year, she's just got Christmas on the brain!
p.s.s. - I feel slightly inappropriate about posting this, someone let me know if I've crossed the line!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Messy Essie



"Messy Essie" as Basden calls her... this is how we found her last night in the sun room. Always an adventure.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Joy's day



A couple of photos to share our recent celebrations. We moved from Hud's camo to all things girly for Basden Joy's "Sparkle with Joy" party.

In addition to Basden's party, we enjoyed our 2nd annual "birthday tea party" with her sweet cousin Nettie May, who turned 4 just 13 days before Basden's birthday. Darling time, already looking forward to next year. Happy birthday, sweet girls!

PS - For those of you wondering about the absence of my "Wednesday Wonders" this week and last, I guess you've figured out I'm taking a break! Hopefully the WW posts will return, but not likely until after the holidays. Thanks for checking in...

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Skin

I took the kids to the zoo today. Gorgeous weather, with everyone out of school for Thanksgiving. And even though half of Fort Worth had the same idea, it was a great outing for our little family. I enjoyed having the kids to myself - I was able to purely focus on my own little ones without the distractions I often feel when we're with friends.
Our favs:
Bran- hippo (licking it's own poop, no less)
Hud - meerkats (big surprise)
Basden - turtles (watched them up close in the herpetarium)
Esther - don't know what her fav was, but she definitely didn't like the large lizards two inches from her nose licking the glass separating them. Ha!
The majestic Asian white tiger paced right in front of us, steadily meeting eyes with the kids as it passed back and forth. We watched a baby kangaroo snoozing in the sunshine, only to open one lazy eye and happily nod in our direction. Hudson almost passed out with amazement when an enormous eagle spread its wings and sauntered across a tree branch. Loads of God's creativity on display for us at the zoo today.
My fav?
In the snake house - herpetarium - we observed a snake shed it's skin. What a vulnerable, intimate privilege for us as spectators. This was actually our second time to catch a snake at just the right time, rubbing it's smooth, scaly sheath against the rough bark of a limb to rid itself of its former wrinkled saran-wrap. Not a quick process. Mesmerized, we watched patiently as the snake coiled itself around several branches before proclaiming liberty from the old skin. Celebration erupted on our side of the glass.
My thoughts immediately shifted to the beauty and creativity of God's design for this simple animal. And what I stand to learn from observing. What would it feel like to have brand-new skin?
Today was one of those "don't like myself too much" days. I feel out of shape from not exercising regularly. Haven't been careful with my eating, so I'm sluggish and tired. I've been spending more money than normal with parties and hosting and gifts in recent weeks. Besides just the physical, my thoughts the past few days have been negative and my responses curt. It's weighty and slows me down. Like crinkly old skin that needs to be shed. The new, shiny skin is sure inviting.
I'm recognizing the need for self control and sacrifice in the dailies of my life.
Thank you, Lord, that you give me new chances. You are generous to provide reminders and motivation for shedding old habits and forming new patterns. Just like that snake getting rid of the excess, You can help me get rid of unnecessary baggage. I'm reminded too, that the snake welcomed change and something new that would inevitably bring him more comfort and freedom. Let me not fear change and hard work!
And one more thing... does this mean next time I should bypass the ice cream parlor after leaving the herpetarium??

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hud's Birthday Campout






A few photos from Hudson's 6th birthday party last night, very fun! Corbin and I enjoyed the boys a ton, and Hudson felt very celebrated getting to have his buddies over for the party.
A few highlights:
- Our friend Jeremy came to the rescue, loaning us his (brand-new!) fire bowl, and the boys had a blast roasting marshmallows
- Corbin's "flashlight hide & seek" game, something he came up with at the last minute that worked magic with the kids!
- Cappy in the tent scaring the boys telling "The Big Purple Toe" - I hadn't heard that story in over 20 years! Basden was so scared she climbed out of the tent and into my lap. Wishing that Trey, Chris & Luke were there to hear it.
- Hud's grin while we sang Happy Birthday
- Hud's grin while he opened his gifts
- Mom came by and helped decorate the campout cake, turned out adorable. Again, Hud loved it, which made it a success.
Now we are switching gears and headed into Basden's birthday week, down comes the camo and up goes the glitter...

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Decline in Perfectionism

With each child's addition to our family, my perfectionist tendencies are decreasing. You should see Hudson's Kindergarten party invitations we sent out in August. If you compared his to the ones we did for Bran two years ago, it's a hoot. Great intentions, but not the follow through. And I have to say, there's a freedom and liberty that comes with letting go of having everything just perfect.

We are entering "tax season" for the Wilson family. Just celebrated Daddy's birthday and Halloween, and now we're preparing for Hudson's and Basden's birthdays this weekend and next week, before spending the week of Thanksgiving at the lake with both sets of grandparents. Hud will have an outdoor camp-out party complete with tents and sleeping bags, flashlight tag, frito pie and s'mores over the campfire ("what campfire?" you ask... somehow Corbin is going to build a (legal?) fire pit in the lower part of our yard between the time he gets off work Fri and before the party starts at 6:00), and an amazing campfire cake. Well, we'll see how amazing it turns out to be. The concept is amazing.

Basden gets to celebrate a couple of times. Her sweet cousin Nettie May is coming from the mountains for a girly tea party to celebrate both girls' birthdays, and then we'll also have a handful of girlfriends over for a "Sparkle with Joy" party. Think Fancy Nancy.

So... I have lots and lots and lots of thoughts and ideas for these parties.
And I can even cram in most of the preparations.
BUT, I've sensed the Lord's cautioning all week. Last night leaving Fuddrucker's for our 2nd end-of-the-season soccer party this week, He nudged me, "Is it really worth taking 3 kids into Target after dark to buy supplies for a GREAT party favor, but one that will take literally hours to make?"
I promptly thought, "Of course!"
So He insisted, "No. I was hoping you'd have enough sense by now to come to this on your own. No more projects for this party. My thoughts trump yours."
(With hesitation) "Ok."
The amusing thing is that we already have party favors. But this new idea was even better than the others - original and personalized - and I had convinced myself that it would be the party of all parties if I could pull this other favor off. But God said no. That's the pattern for me right now. Pushing, pushing. (And I wonder where my son gets it?)

Instead of running in circles wanting everything to be perfect (original and personalized!), I really long for a satisfied heart. And nothing satisfies my soul like resting in God's Word, and the way He makes it seep into my heart. My friend Krista just posted a great resume' of God's work in her life through Scripture, and the importance of His powerful Word in our lives. And just yesterday the Lord directed me to a passage Corbin and I can pray over our oldest that makes me cry, simply because it's so perfect. But I have to be quiet and still before Him if I want to discover the beauties in His Word and in hearing Him. Well, last night I heard Him pretty clearly in a car of wired kiddos pulling out of Fuddrucker's parking lot, but then again, He spoke loudly.

Two verses I've come across today that quiet my heart and remind me of the necessity and beauty of being still with Him:

Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. Ps 39:6


How do you like that? Bustles about in vain... sadly that describes much of my efforts in parenting and in life. And who is the recipient of all this "work?" All my kids want is to play a game of Candyland or Scrabble. Or to watch them skateboard. Or just blow bubbles in the front yard. Just last night while reading with Hudson, Basden took my chin in her hands and turned my face to hers, and she said with a gentle smile, "Mommy, reading is a good thing for us to do."

He who dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty.
Ps 91:1


Not brain surgery. Abiding brings rest. You'd think I'd have learned it by now. But instead of just feeling desirous of rest and communion with the Lord, I am ravenous for it.

Thank you, Lord, for your availability. For speaking to me both in the chaos of sugar-high children and in the stillness of our living room. Thank you for nudging me down a path of less perfectionism and leading me to laughing with and enjoying my kids and husband. I know I'm going to continue to need your gentle (and not so gentle) prodding. All I desire is rest in your Shadow!
(and by the way, Lord, you know what I'm thinking for Basden's party... are we still a thumb's up on that?)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wednesday Wonder & A Perfect Stocking Stuffer



When you think of a stay-at-home mom who loves gardening, oil painting, writing, and photography, and who happens to be gifted and accomplished in each area, do you wonder how she does it with three young boys?
Now add to that list Olympic trials, international fashion modeling, a degree in Mechanical Engineering (from Perdue) and experience with a Fortune 500 Company. Yikes. The resume' might be intimidating, but the girl is not. Meet Jennifer King, one of the kindest and most interesting friends I met at Mt. Hermon last Spring. We sat next to each other during a meal, and I was excited to learn that this young mom juggled life with 3 kids who are similar ages to mine. Little did I know at that point the depth of her talent...
Click on Jennifer's site, and don't miss the unbelievable photos of flowers and landscapes - and then look again knowing they're all from her own backyard!
The most impressive things about this girl is that she's as down to earth as they come... it's exciting that Jennifer's thoughts and perspective are now available to women everywhere through this One Year Devotional.

Check out Jennifer's new book, The One Year Mini for Busy Women.
Just released last month, the book is a 365 day inspirational, published by Tyndale House Publishers. Congrats, Jennifer, proud to call you friend!

** Look for my Wednesday Wonder posts week - please forgive the cheesy name - as I highlight friends and people making decisions in light of God's leading... enjoy! **

Monday, November 5, 2007

Must read

This posted yesterday by Kyle Ogle on his caringbridge site...
Be sure and go to his journal from Sunday, Nov 5th.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Clean

We are not typically a "bathe our kids every night" family.
Shocker, I know.
But given the effort involved, combined with our full evenings, we just never got into routines of bathing our kids every single night.
Things change when your boy turns 7 and runs hard at recess every day. I can't imagine sending our eldest to school without a bath at this point, I don't think his tablemates could make it through the day. He can shower completely on his own now, and it's a nightly ritual we don't skip.
I've noticed on my late-night rounds, tucking & kissing the slumbering children, that Bran smells of lavendar shampoo - clean. It's a wonderful smell, and I go to bed feeling that somehow deeper sleep and sweeter dreams come with freshly-washed bodies.
So last week was a rough one with this little guy. In a nutshell, Bran is giving us opportunities to pull in the reigns of discipline a little more tightly. Not fun, but necessary. I had to follow through with some very difficult consequences one day last week, and within minutes of executing them, the "old Branson" I hadn't seen for weeks reappeared. Amazing that this stuff really works.
That night I sneaked into his darkened room well past midnight, checking to make sure he was snuggled under his covers. No bath that evening. But as I stood on my tiptoes and stretched across the top bunk to kiss his cheek, somehow his smell was more clean and fresh than it had been in months. He was clean from inside out, and it smelled beautiful.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cappy, Cake & Costumes

Ok, so it's Wednesday, and I have about 2 minutes to write this blog in the midst of our Halloween festivities! My Wednesday Wonder will have to wait... meanwhile I'll post some highlights from our last few days. Enjoy!

Cappy with his (other) brown-eyed girl

Corbin turned 37 on Saturday... we celebrated as a family over breakfast before soccer games. Ha!

Corbin's b-day dinner hosted by our great friend Gregg Foster - amazing dinner with amazing friends! (and amazing lemon cake - thanks, Joyce & Krista!)


Trinity Chapel's trunk-or-treat... Hud and Bran were UT quarterbacks. That's darling Atlee Anderson with Hud - I was surprised she made it through the evening without Basden sneaking her ruby red slippers.

The Princess & Paulette trick-or-treating

Didn't take little Essie long to figure out where the candy was!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday Wonders - A Time of War



Our friends Darla & Kyle wrote this on their CaringBridge site a couple of weeks ago. We were at Baylor with Darla & Kyle, and they are incredibly attractive - they draw others to want to be near them. I didn't know Kyle well at Baylor, he was a senior my freshman year, but even then I observed the deep admiration many people held for him, my husband included. Ditto for me regarding Darla. So 11 years ago Kyle was diagnosed with cancer. He has sacrificed much in the various stages of this battle, but their family emulates real faith and genuine wisdom. Kyle recently underwent a risky treatment in Boston and is awaiting further (very major) surgery in the coming weeks.

Darla's words...
"So tomorrow is D-day for this trial. Kind of sums up how we feel - got drafted young (no one asked if we wanted to fight!) have our parachutes on, flying over the ocean, waiting for the green 'jump' light. We don't know the specifics of what is ahead, just an unseen enemy that is tough as nails and rocky terrain full of traps and obstacles. Our cause? Our family! The enemy’s record? At this stage in the war - undefeated. We jump with hope, not necessarily in the outcome, but in the cause. Our family is, and will always be, worth the jump. The outcome is, and has always been, out of our hands.

Our hope has to be broader than the outcome of any single battle or we are all lost. We believe the War that matters was won when Jesus chose to die on a cross so that we could be forgiven. Doesn't mean that our 'D-day' doesn't scare us. Only fools run into battle without fear.

Going behind enemy lines,
Darla and Kyle


My friend Courtney is recovering from last week's major surgery at MD Anderson for melanoma. She is 34 with three darling kids who happen to be some of my kids' very best friends. This is a new diagnosis - about 2 months - and she's on her 2nd surgery. Significant life changes since she found out about the cancer. And a long road ahead. One of the things I've been most touched by in the past couple of months is the tremendous support rallied around Todd and Courtney and their family. The network of friends and acquaintances who are covering them is beautiful.




And our dear friends, Blake & Rebecca Holmes, are in the throes of fighting four-year-old Gage's Leukemia. Blake happens to be a pastor, and the Lord had such a strong calling on his life I often wondered in college if he would forgo seminary and just start preaching! (it's been known to happen...)

Here's part of a post from Blake:
After a 6 hour visit at the clinic today, Rebecca, Gage and I all returned home exhausted. Gage wanted to go ahead and take an early bath so he could just rest the remainder of the day. As I was getting him dressed, our conversation went a little something like this:

Dad: “Gage, I sure am proud of you. I know today was tough, but you did a great job. You are a warrior.”

Gage: “Thanks, Dad.”

Dad: “Because you have done such a good job taking all of your medicine and going to clinic, your blood is becoming strong again.”

Gage: “So, my leukemia isn’t going to come back again. Right?”

Dad: “Gage, you don’t need to worry about that. You are kicking leukemia’s butt.”

Gage: “But . . . uh . . . Dad, leukemia doesn’t have a butt. Only people have a butt.”

Dad: “Yes. I suppose you are right, Gage. Probably shouldn’t have said that word either.”

Gage (laughing): “You said ‘butt’ . . . kicking leukemia’s butt (giggle) . . . kicking leukemia’s butt (giggle) . . . kicking leu—”

Dad (interrupting): “Gage! Let’s not share that word with your sisters. Or, your mother for that matter . . . “

Gage (still laughing): “I’m kicking leukemia’s butt . . . “

On the road to a cure...
BH

Unfortunately, these aren't the only people in my life who are immersed in a time of war, specifically regarding cancer. But I encourage you to read their stories, log onto their websites, you'll be changed.

Father, thank you for these dear families. Thank you that you created them exactly to your specifications. I pray that you as Commander in Chief guide and direct them medically, physically, emotionally and spiritually. As the Ogles say, we pray for healing this side of Heaven.

** Look for my Wednesday Wonder posts week - please forgive the cheesy name - as I highlight friends and people in my life making counter-cultural decisions in light of God's leading... enjoy! **

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bran the Author



Branson walked into the kitchen the other day and found me bent over my laptop.
"What are you doing, Mom?"
"Writing a story, B."
"Is it for your blog thing?"
"Yep."
"If I write a story will you put it on your blog?"
"Yep."
10 minutes later the rough (& final) draft landed on my desk.
So...here ya go, Bran. Keep up that writing thing...

Me and My Friend Hudson Key.

Once upon a time, my friend invited me over. His name was Hudson Key. First,we had an airsoft war. He hit me on the shoulder. I sed, “you are dead!” So I got his machine gun and hit him on the leg. And he sed “I give up!”
So then we got on our skeateboards and I got on his bike and went off the ramp and did half a front flip and had no helmet on. My shoulder was gushing blood out. So I never went off a ramp on a bike again!
REAL STORY

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday Wonder - My college roomie Kirst


As I write this, my dear friend and college roommate, Kirsten, is packing her bags for India. She's leaving her pastor/film director/writer husband with their two young kiddos for two weeks as she leads a group of 10 people on this Justice 4 India trip. Their focus includes (1) working alongside a human rights agency that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression, (2) helping a ministry located in the heart of a slum community who run a school, health clinic and training programs for women, and (3) spending time in the Himalayan Mountains with Indian friends who encourage and train pastors of small house churches in various villages throughout the region.
As challenging as this trip will be, Kirsten is absolutely in her element. Missions of any sort are what makes this girl tick. I have seen her cry deeply over the injustices people have endured. Seen her angry over the suffering of others whether in her own backyard or across the world. And I've had the privilege of watching the Lord's transforming power in her life, refining her into the woman she is today.

I remember the first time I ever met Kirsten. Actually, I observed her from afar before we ever met. On stage, in front of thousands of incoming freshmen and returning Baylor students, Kirsten spontaneously acted out a part in a skit that was, well, rather attention-getting. We'll leave it at that.
I had no idea this tall, beautiful, outgoing girl whom everyone on campus seemed to know would become one of my roommates through the remainder of college.

Kirsten came to Baylor from Katy, TX on top of the world. Everyone knew her and everyone loved her. Her contagious laugh and wide grin allowed for flowing friendships. Grades came easily, and sororities fought to gain her loyalty. By our sophomore year, Kirsten's stable, financially secure family began to crumble. Long-distance phone calls increased and tension mounted as Kirsten dealt with emerging family difficulties from a hundred miles away.
By our junior year, Kirst had become the central point of any real communication between her mom, dad, and younger sister. Having lost everything back home in Katy,
both her mom and dad relocated to other parts of the country. Any valuables Kirsten hoped to hang on to - high school yearbooks, treasures from her girlhood - filled one large cardboard box which she stored under the staircase in our apartment.
Over and over again we watched as the Lord stripped our dear friend of material goods and relationships. Not easy. Looking back, it was both a privilege and a burden to go through those years with Kirst.
To give you an idea of her character, Kirsten worked multiple part-time jobs and paid off all the school loans accrued after her parents’ divorce before she even graduated from college. Even with the gravity of those years, she laughed a lot and kept us laughing in the process. The Lord truly provided her great joy in the midst of deep pain.

Kirsten took a year to work alongside a ministry in Tallin, Estonia, and spent some time in Africa before graduating with a degree in education at Baylor. Thus, a life-long love for overseas missions was solidified, and in the past decade Kirsten has made many, many trips across the globe with her best traveling buddy (& husband), Brandon. Their son, Mason, just turned seven, and Mei Li, adopted from China, is nearly four.

I’d love to tell you that the road since college and marriage has been easy for them, but the Lord continues wield his chisel, sculpting them into the people he intended. Brandon (also a BU grad, a fellow English major) is hands-down one of the most creative people you’ll ever meet. He has worked in the film industry since attending film school in New York after college, and now refers to himself as the “reluctant pastor” of a growing church in the heart of Hollywood, Ecclesia Hollywood. In their early years of marriage, my roommates and I would tease Kirsten and Brandon that one day they’d live in LA and work with the homeless by day and walk the red carpet by night.
Somehow they’ve actually made this happen.
Many of their international trips have a combined purpose of working alongside a ministry while filming (amazing!) documentaries. This Justice 4 India trip will be interesting as several of the people going from Ecclesia are involved in the film industry and have been invited to spend some time with believers in the Mumbai film industry.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes that “the missionary message is the limitless significance of Jesus Christ as the propitiation of our sins, and a missionary is one who is soaked in that revelation.” Kirst drips with the reality and knowledge of Christ’s sacrifice and gift for us, and it influences me deeply. Thank you, Kirst, for your obedience and love for the One who so lovingly created and refines you. You are beautiful!

** Look for my Wednesday Wonder posts week - please forgive the cheesy name - as I highlight friends and people in my life making counter-cultural decisions in light of God's leading... enjoy! **

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A good man is hard to find



"How in the world do you do four?" is the typical response when people ask how many kids we have.
My answer? Simple. "Marry up."
Take today - a fairly typical day in the Wilson home...

This morning Corbin let me sleep, happily (yes happily, that's not an exaggeration) getting the kids fed & ready for church. I got myself dressed, while he got, well, the other five in our family ready. (This was after our late night at the Jump5 concert last night...and you can imagine his enthusiasm for that - yikes)
Returning home, he fixed lunch for everyone so I could get our crazy house back in order after a couple of full days. Sabbath would be restful for no one - especially not me! - if we had to spend it in our tornado-strewn downstairs.
We then spent the afternoon (3 hours) at an 8-year-old's birthday party - as a family. Getting home and helping kids get ready for bed, Corbin went from bath time to taxes. Due tomorrow. Ugh.
Realizing he left some important financial papers at work, he left at about 9:00pm to go get them. Once there, he call to ask if I'd seen the papers, because they were nowhere on his desk. Uh oh. Hmmmnn... did I put them in the big pile on the counter while cleaning up this afternoon? So sorry, sweetie. Looks like you brought them home afterall.
A stop by Braum's for milk, back home to finish taxes, and time for bed. Afterall, it's only midnight.
Oh, and somewhere in there - after taxes - he made four lunches for tomorrow.
What did I do all day??

Corbin could write an interesting "Father's version" of the William Tell Overture. I think I might be afraid to hear it.
The crazy, wonderful thing about Corbin is that he's not pouting about his weekend. True, clamoring with every adolescent in the metroplex after 4 (very talented) kid-artists isn't his favorite way to spend a Saturday night. And sifting through the dailies of life with 4 small children requires putting aside his own agenda. But Corbin is the real-life servant husband and daddy, and it shows day in and day out. Makes my job a lot more enjoyable than it could be.
What benefits there are to marrying up!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wednesday Wonder - New Baby in the Family!




It's official, Corbin's sister, Cameron is pregnant! The Benjamin-4 will transition next Spring to the Benjamin-5 when they welcome the 3rd little one, an adopted baby she has the privilege of carrying and giving birth to. Always one to live a little outside the box, Cam (& Alan!) again embraced adoption, but this time in the form of implanted embryos... Several pregnancy tests and sonograms later, this little one is steadily growing in her mommy's womb. Amazing!
Cameron spends her days with 6-year old Foster and (nearly) 4-year old Nettie May as she teaches them to get milk from a neighbor's cow, participates in an organic food co-op, deepens and grows their home church, and stays tan all fall and winter with their hot tub swimming. She also continues to teach childbirth classes in Taos and serves as a Doula to women in the area. Cam bends over backwards to friends and strangers alike in the Valley who might need a confidant, a clean house, a babysitter, or life coach. She carries much influence, and is a great friend to me. Keeps me out of my "Texas box," whether I like it or not.
Cam - we love you and are praying for this precious little one, we are so excited for a new cousin. Hang in there with all this journey entails... we're with you.

** Look for my posts each Wednesday - please forgive the cheesy name - as I highlight friends and people in my life making counter-cultural decisions in light of God's leading... enjoy! **

Monday, October 8, 2007

Lake Highlights







A few highlights from our weekend at the lake...
- Getting out of town! Relaxed time with kids and no deadlines.
- A tiny black kitten crawling into Branson's lap early one morning... the kids fell in love with "Abagail" and played with her all morning until Corbin returned her to the neighbor. Before taking her home, Corbin introduced Abagail to Yukon. Under the watchful eyes of all 4 kids, Yukon sniffed the tiny kitty and reared back before engulfing her entire head in his mouth. THANK YOU, Lord, that he didn't bite down! Basden screamed, and it took a little time for Hudson to decide if he still loved Yukon after all that. I've never seen such a tiny kitten hiss with that much passion.
- Mommy using an entire box of kleenexes... when will the ragweed end?! The kids get a kick out of calling me Rudolph.
- Watching Branson "ollie" on his skateboard about 100 times.
- Bran and Hud flying down the driveway on a dilapidated bigwheel - hilarious and scary at the same time. Daboo cackled watching them. As long as they wore their helmet, veered to the left at the end of the drive, then dodged the big rock in the yard, they were fine. This almost fit into the category of extreme sports.
- Watching boys play "King of the Float" for an hour, battling with pool noodles on a trampoline float in the middle of the lake. Basden fell asleep all cuddled up to me in a raft with Corbin.
- Big breakfasts (thank you, Chef Daddy!)
- Playing checkers and Monopoly - our boys are growing up.
- Attempting a family devotional Sun night... both boys were horrified upon hearing of Jim Elliot's death at the hands of Auca Indians and wanted to know if Aucas live anywhere near the lake house. It was interesting to discuss with the boys why Jim & his friends didn't retaliate with their guns while being speared in the jungle, very counter-cultural. Nothing in our world encourages that kind of sacrifice.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wonderful Me



My Granny, whom I wrote about in a previous post, died eleven years ago today. And let me tell you, she died fighting. Cancer did it's dastardly work on her body for a number of years and she fought it tooth & nail with a healthy diet, exercise, and ferocious optimism. And an amazing laugh.
The following is one of the many poems she penned. I'm including the Headnote, because it reveals her resilience and tenacity.


Wonderful Me

Headnote: Smarting from my husband's remark of "Aren't you going to do the other side?" after I had completed the admittedly impossible task of clearing the tall and partly seeded grassburs from the patch between our mesquites and the oak by the highway. I felt driven to write an angry response to this attitude about women but decided instead to write something that I could use to build me back up after he tore me down.
This should do it.


I can work like a field hand with pitchfork or hoe;
I can mow or edge or prune
And make it more effective
At the right time of the moon.

I can learn from the slowest mental case
Or stimulate the smartest
Or laugh aloud at boredom;
At living, I'm an artist.

I can wage a war with the grassburs
And ignore the ridicule;
I can drip with sweat til it blinds my eyes
Then languish in my pool.

I can make something of nothing
Or make-do when I must;
I can really pinch a penny;
I can survive on dry bread crust.

Or I can delight the hungry crowds
With hearty home cooked dishes
Or play most gracious hostess
And cater to their wishes.

I come by my talents naturally
From the finest of the fine
What a blessed thing to follow
In the line of Caroline.

I can sing and dance and write and sketch
I can play and sometimes win;
I can thrill to the touch of attentive males
Whether stranger, acquaintance, or kin.

I can jog three miles in the heat of the day;
I can ride and swim and dive;
I can swap tall tales and listen well
And charm any man alive.

I can lull a fretting child to sleep
In a matter of minutes or less
Or soothe a frightened, snarling beast
Or make a thief confess.

I can talk to crowds, control their thoughts,
Awake their admiration,
Or humbly bow before my God
In prayerful meditiation,

Or talk with Him, solicit help
And feel the exultation
Of surging power that accompanies truth
And dissipates depression.

I'm wonderful when I'm with God;
When I am One with Him,
I'm capable of anything:
Dear God, help me be slim.
- Gladys James


Missing you, Granny!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Quote of the week...

Last week Hudson attended an after-school activity. He had begged to go since school started a few weeks ago, but as Branson has never shown interest in being a part of the weekly "Thursday Boys," I felt hesitant in sending Hud. Alone.
So last week as Thursday rolled around and Hudson again asked to join the group, Corbin and I agreed. Off Hudson marched - unaccompanied - to join the throng of boys gathered after school.

Two hours later, I picked up an enthusiastic 5-year old with a grin from ear to ear. "Mom - it was so fun, the most fun thing in the world besides going to Heaven!"
So... guess who else showed up at Thursday boys today?
Let's just say Hudson isn't always in Bran's shadow...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Big Weekend

Last weekend I attended the North Texas Christian Writer's Conference. I found out about it this summer and Corbin pushed me to register - what a guy. Yet another weekend he got to maneuver 4 kids to soccer games and birthday parties... with a little help from Daboo!
The beauty of this particular conference is that it's two days long, close-by, and affordable. Perfect! Highlights from my time...
- Amazing teaching. A great faculty with more than 50 seminars to choose from. Frank Ball, the conference director, has a heart for helping writers improve their skills. Unlike many other conferences around the country, he keeps this one exempt from publishers, editors and agents. It changes the mood a bit when all 200+ attendees are there simply to learn, rather than pitch projects. Interesting.
- Favorite instructor - Britta Coleman. An adorable A&M grad, mom of two, who happens to be a gifted teacher. Full of passion and authenticity, her classes went from full to overflowing by the end of the conference - standing room only. I came across her web site/blog this summer and was looking forward to meeting her, but I had no idea how much I would enjoy her, and I'll tell you, I'm inspired! If you haven't read Potter Springs, put it on your "next to read" list. I've just begun to delve into this fiction novel, but already can't put it down.
- Running into Renae Brumbaugh, a fellow writer I met last Spring at Mt. Hermon. She is darling and offers a fantastic smile. Check out the daily devotionals posted on her blog, and Renae's 1st book of devotionals is in process of publication.
- Also met a precious gal, Sonya Judd. Now if Sonya had a blog or website, I could send you to her! (No pressure, Sonya...) She's one of those people that after a 5-minute conversation, you don't really believe her story. Amazing, amazing. Add to that a two-year old daughter and one-year old twins, and it's unbelievable that she attended the conference. Something tells me we'll all hear more from Sonya in the next couple of years...
- Time with my sweet friend, Alyssa. She was brave to join me in attending the conference, and brave, I might add, to let me drive. When I called Corbin for directions (Sat morning, on the way back to the conference...) he asked if I was in Granbury... back story there. Anyway, my favorite thing with Alyssa was simply
hearing her laugh - she's got a great one!
I love hearing the stories behind the conference attendees and why they're writing, the passion and direction guiding their pursuit. Continuing to hone in on my direction... but I'm certainly encouraged by this crowd!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bragging Rights



Ok... at least it's not bragging on my kids (this time). There's hardly anyone in the world I'm more proud of than my big brother, Trey. Check out his latest award... his 2nd year to receive this nation-wide "40 Under 40" honor. This from the kid who hated to read novels yet could reprogram anything electronic at age 3. When I read his response to "the biggest change in the next five years..." (see article), I am propelled back to days in high school when he tried to explain to me the workings of a carburetor.
Way to go, Trey - love you and am proud of you!
Also - check out DARLING Marshall when you have a moment.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Don't Miss This!



Attention all Fort Worth moms, if you can be there, BE THERE. If you've not had the opportunity to meet/hear Joe White, president of Kanakuk Kamps in person, he is amazing and captivating and just a lot of fun. I'll be there, hope to see you. Spread the word, it will be a precious, very fun and fantastic morning.

Tues Oct 2nd
Southwest Christian Prep Campus -7001 Benbrook Lake Drive
10:30-12:00

See you there!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Remembering 9/11




A journal entry written to Branson the week of 9/11, 6 years ago this week...

Sept 16, 2001
My sweet boy,
This has been a difficult week. So difficult, in fact, that it's taken me 5 days before I could write to you about it.
Last Tues, 9.11.01, our country was attacked by terrorists. I barely knew what the term terrorists meant until this week. Several groups of Islamic extremists hijacked American jets and proceeded to crash them into the two World Trade Center towers in NY, the Pentagon in D.C., and the 4th plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, possibly headed for the White House before passengers on board worked to gain control of the plane (or at least cause the hijackers to lose control). Thousands and thousands of Americans were killed . The news reports have been mind-boggling.
It's difficult to explain my emotions, especially concerning you... this little blonde, curly-headed 19-month old, running around with a big grin and not a care in the world. You are so beautiful, so curious and bright-eyed, it saddens me to think of how dark this world can be.
God's Word continues to renew my hope, especially through Psalm 46. He is in control, He knows. Daddy and I continue to pray that you will come to know Jesus at a young age. Not just for salvation, as that is our greatest desire for you. But also for the confidence and hope the Lord offers despite living in this crazy world.
We love you dearly, Bran, more than we could ever put in words. We will always love you.
Mommy

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the Holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at the break of day.
Nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolation He has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.
"Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.


Lord, we pray for our country today, for those moms and dads, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, grandparents and dear friends who continue to grieve the deaths of the victims. We pray for the hundreds of thousands affected by the ensuing war that continues even now... we believe you are the Lord Almighty, that you will be exalted in the earth. We believe you are with us, we thank you and praise you for your presence. You are our refuge and strength.

And Father, we continue our prayers for Branson, as well as for our other precious little ones... that as they grow older and their naivete' fades, that you will continue to reveal yourself to them as their refuge and strength!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Lessons from Hudson




Our baby boy started kindergarten this week. Hudson may not be the baby of the family, but he certainly is our baby boy. I was dreading Hud starting school more than I did Branson two years ago, something about that 2nd-born, sensitive spirit. He's already asked me to be his teacher for 1st grade so that he can "spend every day with me."
You see why he has my heart.
And yet I think he's ready to spread his wings a bit.

Basden and I went to recess Wednesday just to observe things. As she played on the playground with all the big kids, I noticed that Hud never left her side. He coaxed her down a long, winding slide, helped her across some monkey bars, and followed her every move. Finally about 20 minutes into recess, he ran to me and asked, "Mommy, do you mind staying with Basden for a little while and I'll go play with my friends?"
With the flash of a lopsided grin, he was off... leaving me touched that he felt responsible for taking such good care of his little sister.

In his first few days at school, Hud is bringing profound little nuggets of truth home for the rest of us.
Last night he saw me packing lunches and stopped me in the process.
"Mom, I can't take peanut butter sandwiches anymore in my lunch."
"Why not, Hud?"
"Becuase there's a boy in my class who's allergic to peanut butter."
"Oh really? And your teacher says you can't bring pb & j anymore?"
"No, the teacher didn't say anything, but he has to sit far away from anyone who has peanut butter. And that makes me sad. So I don't want to take it anymore."

I think this is what Paul might be referring to when he says,
"Everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible - but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
While it's permissible for Hudson to take peanut butter sandwiches (his favorite), he is choosing not to for the good of one other little boy, to protect his feelings and to be able to sit by him.
Thanks for the good word, Hud.

Friday, August 24, 2007

More from Napa...

Highlights from our past couple of days in Wine Country...
- More Peet's Coffee... and hopefully more to come
- Wine tastings at Peju Province and V. Sattui. Corbin still gags when tasting a Merlot, which no one around here seems to understand (at least he's discreet)
- Lunch yesterday - solo(!) - at a little bistro by our hotel
- Tour and wine tasting at the Robert Mondavi winery. What an empire. Incredibly educational and overwhelming how much effort goes into each bottle of vino
- Learned that the mixing of the wine with air (by swirling the glass) is sometimes referred to as "volatizing the esters..." I almost fell out of my chair. We'll most certainly be using that term in our family. I can hear it now... "Branson, quit volatizing the Esther!"
- Dinner at a tapas restaurant in downtown Napa last night. Corbin was overwhelmed - he got to order SIX different dishes. All these gourmet dishes in small portions, I had more fun watching him than eating my food.
- I've learned that my favorite wine is a cabernet, which also happens to be Napa's specialty. Of all the whites I've tasted, they just don't do much for me.
- I've also learned that wine makes me terribly sleepy. After a couple of tastings at different vineyards, I'm sleepy girl. Corbin is pumping me with coffee and diet coke to keep me awake.

We head home tomorrow, back to the reality of all things crazy. Esther's happy screeches, Hudson starting Kindergarten Monday (!), Branson adjusting to his braces (yes, I did say braces, he got them last week! Another post for another time... can't believe I'm an orthodontist mom, yikes), and Basden's happy demands for costume changes on the hour. I wouldn't trade it, but whew, this vacation is restful!
Again, a HUGE cheer for Charles & Jamie for letting us flee town kid-less. How many times have they enabled us to do this kind of thing?! We are profoundly grateful.

Parting deep thought... on the Mondavi tour, someone asked about the drip irrigation system they use. The tour guide (who loves his job, by the way) explained that they try not to water much, that they want the grapevines to struggle. If they water them too well, the roots get lazy and quit digging deeper. He explained that they want the vines to struggle for deep roots rather than staying shallow, as deeper roots produce more fruit and a fuller-bodied grape. Hmmnnn...
I've seen this modeled in my home my entire life... something about that "letting your kids struggle" thing. Thoughts??

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Blogging from Napa

So here we are in Napa Valley for a few days... in Corbin-esque fashion, I had no idea where we were headed until we arrived at the airport early Wednesday morning. While getting coffee in the terminal (at the crack of dawn), I heard the flight attendant call out "Gate 36, now pre-boarding for San Jose airport." Ah-ha...my first clue.
We spent the childless flight reading magazines, arrived in San Jose to rent a very fun silver Mustang convertible, and headed north on 101 to San Francisco.

Highlights:
- a very hot Peet's Coffee au lait
- cool breezes, enough to pull out my sweater
- ferry ride to Sausalito, with a yummy italian lunch & a great boutiques
- passed Alcatraz on the ferry ~ what an intriguing place
- Pier 39 & Fisherman's Wharf (hadn't been there since Kirsten & Brandon's wedding 10 years ago)
- people watching, people watching, people watching
- Union Square - wow! Thank the Lord for a husband who enjoys shopping!
- Coffee & Ipods everywhere...even couples walking hand-in-hand wore headphones while holding a cup of Starbucks
- Dinner at Sam's Grill in downtown San Francisco, a really cool seafood place with individual rooms per table. My seabass was better than Corbin's sole, but barely.
- Driving north to Napa Valley, where we'll spend the next few days. Corbin is in a conference here for work, so I get some much-anticipated quiet time. (Thank you, thank you, Mama & Papa!!)
More updates to come...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Great New Read...


I'm reading a fantastic book right now, Authentic Parenting in a Post-Modern Culture, by Mary DeMuth. I had been anticipating the release of this book (July 1, Harvest House) as Mary authored both "Watching the Treelimbs" and "Wishing on Dandelions," two fiction novels I read earlier this spring.
Why am I drawn to Mary's writing? Because I am drawn to Mary. Having also written Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God and Building the Christian Family You Never Had, she dances between the worlds of fiction and non-fiction. Mary is an attractive person in the true sense of the word, meaning she attracts others effortlessly. Her writing naturally follows suit - it attracts and delivers a genuine message.
In my Kanakuk days, camp director Joe White often taught us that the best coaches were those who struggled as an athlete. If all athletic ability came naturally, it was sometimes more difficult to know how to teach kids, because you never had to actually learn specific techniques and tricks. It was encouraging to me that I didn't have to be a super-star athlete to teach kids about their sport.
In a similar vein, Mary did not grow up in a spiritually & emotionally harmonious home, which is something she writes about with candor. So the fact that she is writing (and selling!) parenting books illustrates this truth - that through her suffering and wandering, the Lord has divinely taught Mary and her husband some foundational truths and insights to pass on to others. And she's faithful to that calling.
So... her newest book, with the potentially controversial title, is a great read. Just for the record, Mary is a fan of absolute truth, which the postmodern movement doesn't necessarily embrace. Mary's opinion is that "our children will meet this shifting worldview no matter what our opinion of it is..." Her insights are all the more relevant as she and her husband spent the last few years with their children in France, a hotbed of postmodern culture. And rather than ignore the shifting culture, they are navigating their family through the changing waters with open communication, lots of laughter, and intentionally creating their home as a safe haven. One of my favorite facets of the book is the emphasis on allowing ourselves as parents to be taught by our children rather than solely instructing them from our set perspectives.
To order an autographed copy of Mary's book, go to relevantblog.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Missing my Bro



I miss my brother. That's what it comes down to.
Chris is AMAZING. He will turn 30 in a week.
And here's the kicker - I don't know what to get him for his birthday. Yes, he's hard to by for, not because he has everything, but because he is so stinking contented.
I recall grocery shopping as a kid, mom keeping up with 4 bustling children clamoring for "Skittles! Doritos! Dr. Pepper!" When Mom said no, the rest of us whined and begged. But Chris would look up at her with those big blue eyes and respond with a genuine, "That's ok, Mom, I don't need it."
So it's his birthday, and what bothers me most is that I don't know what to get him... because I don't know his life! He & his darling wife live in Atlanta, along with my brother, Trey, whose life & family I don't know as well as I'd like either. I've got this really smart sister-in-law and brand-new nephew Marshall... I'd simply like to know what flavor coffee Trey orders at Dunkin Donuts, and whether Amy TIVO's "Grey's Anatomy" or "The Office." Or neither. Or both.
And did I mention Luke & Julie in Tulsa? Bogan is RUNNING, and he simply doesn't know his Auntie well enough yet (though he does give me lots of quick grins!).
I'm not talking a disconnect, I'm talking distance. Nephews we don't get to see on a regular basis, adult co-ed softball games we've never attended, Sunday lunches after church we're not eating together.
And this is just the beginning. This week I want to be in NM with Corbin's sister. She's got a major few days coming up, and it would just be good to be there. Papa should be taking Hudda on his rounds through town with FJ, and Mama & Charlie should be playing with Confederate soldiers. Little Riv spends his days all the way in Seattle, with the best head of hair you've ever laid eyes on. He should be in a Clairol commercial. And I've spent like 15 days with him in his life.
So... I know there's not an answer to all this. I know that's why we have Heaven to look forward to. A big, big house with lots and lots of rooms... a big, big table with lots and lots of food... a big, big yard, where we can play football... and no guessing on the perfect birthday gift.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Birthday Girl




Our baby girl turned one a few days ago... I've had a full week and haven't slowed down much to think through how I feel about this milestone birthday. It's a little more "milestone-ish" than normal for me, just knowing that this is our last "1st birthday" to celebrate.
I caught part of an interview last week with Martin Sheen, and when asked how he felt about raising 4 kids, he responded, "The only regret I have about having 4 kids is that we didn't have 4 more."
Absolutely.
When I look at these precious children, part Corbin and part me, all so different yet all very "James/Wilson" - I can imagine the joy it would be to add even more to the mix.
So I asked Corbin what he thought about Sheen's comment, and he smiled that little smile that told me he his cup more than runneth over.
Then I considered Esther's unbelievable ability to screech louder than should be humanly possible (she really has to clear her throat after screeching, even happy screeching... she can - and does - turn every head in a restaurant), and I find myself smiling that same little smile as Corbin's...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Writer's Tag...

Spaghettipie tagged me in this writing questionnaire. Here goes...

1. What’s the one book or writing project you haven’t yet written but still hope to?
I've started the outline & would love to write "What my Mother-in-Law Did Right."

2. If you had one entire day in which to do nothing but read, what book would you start with?
"Loving Soren" by Caroline Coleman O'Neill, a friend I met at Mount Hermon. It's sitting on my nightstand and I can't wait to start it.

3. What was your first writing “instrument” (besides pen and paper)?
Typewriter. I remember winning a word processor at my high school prom's after party, and I was thrilled to take it with me to college. I could write a whole line and view it for editing before typing it out. Imagine editing line by line!

4. What’s your best guess as to how many books you read in a month?
2-3.

5. What’s your favorite writing “machine” you’ve ever owned?
Without a doubt my handy-dandy MacBook.

6. Think historical fiction: what’s your favorite time period in which to read? (And if you don’t read historical fiction–shame on you.)
My absolute favorite genre. It would have to be WWII, what an amazing time. With the war going on overseas and the depression here, that generation's resilience inspires me. My favorite series is Bodie and Brock Theone's Zion Covenant. Amazing!

7. What’s the one book you remember most clearly from your youth (childhood or teens)?
Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cinderella, Cinderella...



Corbin and I took Basden on a date to Bass Hall last week... Cinderella was in town. Basden was beside herself.
The show started at 7:00, babysitters were to be here by 6:00, and Corbin decided at 5:00 to go find his little girl long white gloves (she'd been asking for them for weeks, no specific connection to Cinderella). As you can see from the photos, he had some success. He came home not only with the gloves, but also a dress to go with them. Basden produced the necklace and tiarra from her costume box... and her grand stairway-descending poses were of her own volition.
Something tells me Hudson may not get into character quite as much for the Wizard of Oz...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Our Friend Fred

My kids spent the morning at a nearby church camp.
Since they returned home, Basden has been repeating "Fred" in a lyrical tone.
I keep asking who Fred is.
"You know, Fred," she responds, a little annoyed.
So Hudson enters the kitchen singing, "I am a friend of God... I am a friend of God... I am a friend of God..."
And before he finishes, Basden pipes up, "He calls me FRED!"
Got it.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Only in Texas

Two signs at a rest stop on our way home to Fort Worth from Amarillo last weekend...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Beautiful Smiles

What do you do with all those Christmas cards and photos once the holidays are over? I know it's the middle of summer, hardly time to be thinking about Christmas, but in my dining room sits a nice little stack of candy-cane, holly-and-berry, and Baby-Jesus-in-a-manger cards with photos of smiling families wearing coordinating red and white snowflake sweaters.
What to do with all the cards and photos? The cards I can part with, as expensive and gorgeous as they are. I appreciate them for a moment and then into la basura they go. But the photos? Unbearable to throw them away, even for this minimalist. I can just imagine all the effort behind getting the dog to smile, much less the two squirming kids. All those smiling faces.
A few years ago I came up with a plan. I purchased two large poster frames, filled them with those smiling faces, and hung them side-by-side in our breakfast room. There - LOTS of smiles to greet us each day. Smiles literally from around the world, many belonging to dear friends we rarely talk with, but somehow that once-a-year communication keeps them close. Beautiful smiles, white teeth smiles, a child missing his front teeth smiles, and the never-got-around-to-getting-braces smiles. But all the same, hopeful smiles looking toward the holiday season and an exciting new year.
I took down the posters today to change out photos. This has not been an annual event. In fact, I haven't touched the posters since I first hung them.
In 2003.
A few things have changed.
"Wow, look how this family has grown," I thought.
"Oh my, did they divorce two years ago, or three?"
"Look how darling he is as an infant... and now he's at Children's in Dallas fighting cancer, 4 years old."
The photos drew me in, and I started looking more closely. Spent a few more moments processing the smiling faces and considering what 4 years has meant for this particular family, for this missionary, for this cousin.

A radiant bride, clutching hands with her groom, their arms raised in jubilant triumph among floating flower petals... where has 4 years brought them? Through depression, marriage counseling, deep Bible studies with a deep church family, now raising two young boys. Beautiful.

A dark-headed single guy with a sly grin sporting top-of-the-line camping gear... this beloved friend was killed last year in a one-car accident on an icy Sunday morning, driving to church to deliver a sermon. Beautiful.

The artsy black-and-white photo of an L.A. film director and his striking wife... he now calls himself "the reluctant pastor" as he shepherds a growing church in the heart of Hollywood. They have recently uncovered a diagnosis for their China-adopted daughter's detachment behavior, convinced their 6-year old son that he is indeed human and not a super-hero, all the while leading mission trips to India and Africa. Oh, and on the side, he's still directing projects for an international music diva.

The 4-year old girl leaning on the fence of her family's new home... I have yet to hear her speak, but I know she does, more and more. Her family, her teachers, her friends have shown her Jesus in their patience, their encouragement, and their understanding. Beautiful.

The family of five (seriously) dressed in coordinating fair isle sweaters... there is a fourth baby now, and one of the boys has been diagnosed with a serious chronic illness. Much fear and uncertainty for the days ahead, but also a commitment to their marriage and dependence on God's sufficient grace. Beautiful.

Another family of five swinging and grinning on a hammock... 4 years has taken them to a new city, away from both sets of grandparents, to pastor a church and buy a home in the hood. No kidding, I think their new house costs about 50 K. Beautiful.

A single twenties-something girl with bright eyes smiling into the camera, the words and logo of her ministry imprinted on the photo as a reminder to pray for her... she continues as a single thirty-something with bright eyes, continuing to serve in the same ministry. Beautiful.

A toddler and her barely-older brother, both toe-heads with matching smocked Christmas outfits... they, along with their baby sister, have since endured a painful divorce and now live out of state. Their mommy is exhausted, but strong and dedicated, and overflows with Jesus. Beautiful.

A couple from the Northwest with gentle smiles, his head cocked back from the camera, her arm swung lazily around his shoulders... they've endured two cardiac valve replacement surgeries since this photo was taken, one of which occurred a month before their son's birth. Now they juggle a a two-year old boy wonder, a new baby on the way, and medicine/lifestyle choices to keep daddy's heart beating regularly. Beautiful.

I could go on. Every photo carries a story. Amazing what 4 years can bring.
A friend came by this morning and told me of a book he read recently, "A Change in the Flight Plan." It was written by a physician/recreational pilot after receiving an ALS diagnosis. My friend then read me the Scriptures he clings to as his wife currently fights ALS. She was diagnosed less than a year ago, and now she struggles to pull a blouse from her closet. Yet her spirit is strong and accepting, filled with supernatural peace, supernatural joy. Beautiful.
In the midst of growing families, job changes, cross-country moves, devastating illnesses, new babies, cancer, and blended families, I can see God in these photos if I look deeply enough, take the time to notice. And those smiles? Beautiful.

On judgment...

We must be aware of believing that it is okay for us to condemn as long as we are condemning the right things. It is not so simple as all that. I can trust Jesus to go into the temple and drive out those who were profiting from religion, beating them with a rope. I cannot trust myself to do so.
- Dallas Willard

What would it be like to live a life free from judgment and assumptions about others? What benefit could my judgment possibly play in leading to others to Christ? Somehow Billy Graham has preached the Gospel for more than 6 decades all across the world without people feeling judged by him.

1 Cor 4:3-5
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait til the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

Judge nothing. Judge nothing. Judge nothing. If Christ commanded it, then perhaps it's possible for this to go from my head to my heart...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

10 things I love about summer in the mountains




1. Lazy, uninterrupted days with family
2. Wildflowers, wildflowers, wildflowers
3. Gorgeous weather with daily afternoon thunder showers
4. Watching movies during afternoon thundershowers
5. Taking naps during afternoon thundershowers
6. Fishing for crawdads... and Uncle Clinton cooking them
7. S’more quesadillas
8. Watching lightning dance across the mountains and over Eagle Nest Lake
9. Sipping hot coffee on the porch while snuggled in a blanket...in July
10. Eagle Nest’s 4th of July parade showcasing candy, bubbles and the Wilson clan in Alan's new truck

Monday, July 2, 2007

Sirens

Something I read today in a Bible study by Angela Thomas:

Every time I decide it's time to store up treasure in heaven, I am making a conscious decision to sacrifice treasure on earth. Maybe it's the treasure of a clean house, or the treasure of leisure, or the treasure I deposit into the bank. There is always a trade off. I ask God to give me a righteous balance. I need a Holy Spirit siren to go off inside my heart when I have not attended to kingdom treasure.

Oh, this resonates with me. Something important to me is invariably sacrificed when I take time to sit down one-on-one with my kids, or help a friend when it's not terribly convenient... and as selfish as I am with my time, my spirit is not content unless I'm making spiritual deposits. Lord, please help me hear those Holy Spirit sirens...and help me to heed them!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Summer in Somerset

A friend recently asked me to recall a memorable childhood summer. I sifted through memories of swimming, swimming, and swimming, our backyard pool filled with my brothers and friends of all ages from dawn to dusk. I thought of 100 degree Texas days when I thought the heat might actually melt my purple jelly shoes to my feet. But when it came to recalling one specific summer, it was an easy choice...

I was about ten years old when Granny invited me to spend two weeks of the summer with her. My brothers weren't invited, nor my parents, just me. Given the throng of our cousins and large family that typically gathered at the South Texas ranch, to be there by myself and have Granny's undivided attention was a real treat.

I'm sure we ate beans and tortillas every meal, I really don't remember. But I would remember if it had been something different, as that's the only meal Granny seemed to serve, period. And we all loved it. I especially loved the tortillas... big surprise.

Each day we walked up and down the dirt road from the house to the big oak at the highway. I forget how many laps made a mile, but Granny knew, and we walked 3 miles every day. I don’t remember constant conversation on those walks, though we would not have been at a loss for words. Being outside in nature was soothing for her, therapeutic, and she simply appreciated a slight breeze, the tall green grass that didn't have to be mowed, and swaying mesquite trees that provided pockets of shade in the sprawling front lawn.

We swam in the pool each evening and performed water ballet routines under the watchful eyes of cattle and horses grazing just beyond the barbed-wire fence. Granny's long, slender body every bit as agile as mine, I thought of her as a modern day Audrey Hepburn. Hair pulled back from her face, cheekbones prominent even without rouge, I can still see her sitting gracefully on the side of the pool with the silver Somerset water tower and huge oak trees framing her silhouette.

Granny told and retold stories, and I listened with delight, even when I already knew the ending. I’m sure I told my share as well. Granny appreciated stimulating conversation, so much so that she could dialogue with, laugh with, and even argue with animals to keep her mind sharp. Even though I offered a mere decade of insight, she was interested in my thoughts and opinions on things like politics, relationships and movie stars.

We stayed up until wee hours of the night, and I mean really wee hours... we read aloud to each other from her stash of books and magazines filled with quotes, quips and jokes. She laughed loud and long at the jokes I read... as I would come across ones that amused her, I read them over and over again, her laughter never subsiding. She loved the written word, and in those midnight hours we celebrated the beauty of poetry and prose alike.

Granny told me later the highlight of our time together that summer was when we went to her weekly painting class, and her teacher recognized me as her granddaughter. "You must be here with Gladys," he said when he saw me, though I’d never met him before. Granny got a kick out of the fact that our resemblance was so strong.

I look back on that summer with great tenderness, grateful for the time Granny poured into me, and for the intimacy that comes with shared interests. And grateful for a strong resemblance...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Learning Cents


I spent a little time yesterday talking money with my 5-year old son, Hudson. He has accumulated a little stash from gifts and the tooth fairy, and I attempted to help him divide his goods into piles for spending, saving and giving.
He wasn't a fan.
He was ok with spending, and even saving, but the giving away part really bothered him.
I had not anticipated that response (I'm a slow learner).
So we put the money aside and came back to it later, giving Hud some time to think on things without getting upset. He still wanted to know how he would get more money once he gave the dedicated amount away. I assured Him that God would provide more, especially if he gave with a cheerful heart.
Hudson paused for a moment, then looked me straight in the eye and asked, "Are you sure about all this? I really think money just comes down from the sky or something."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Weekend Snapshots



We spent last weekend at my parents' lake house, and Corbin even took an extra day off work to extend our "vacation." Two snapshots here sum up the weekend - Corbin fishing with the boys, and Cappy with the princess on her coach.
Our favorite Basden-ism lately... right before a meal is served she climbs onto her barstool, throws her arms out in dramatic flair and announces, "The Beauty is going to pray." I have no idea where she got this. Corbin rolls his eyes, telling me he knows exactly where she got this...