Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wednesday Wonder - Health!

Ok, short post today...
No specific person I'm bragging on, but instead praising God for HEALTH.
We've had a week and 1/2 of high fevers and all that accompanies them, keeping the kids home (and should have kept Corbin home) from school. The flu? Who knows, just glad it's leaving. We're hoping everyone will be back at school tomorrow.
In the meantime, I'm grateful for two precious friends bringing meals(!), Daboo dropping off movies and snacks, and a sweet Tanglewood friend bringing make-up work (for boys) and Starbucks (for mommy). Thank you, thank you. In the meantime, we've actually kind of enjoyed our time laying on the couch and watching movies together, though I'm ready for a hiatus from the Disney Channel.
Blessings of peace and good health to YOU!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wednesday Wonder - Nik

How does she think of these things?
Walking into Atlee's 6th birthday party last month, Basden ran to join the girls on the living room rug decorating an enormous wrapped box with glitter, markers, stickers, and all things girly. The moms visited, toddlers prattled around, and the girls remained enthralled decorating that big, beautiful present.
It was a spa party (or Pet Shop judging by the gifts!), which Basden kept referring to as a "spy" party... and Nikki had brought in a couple of friends to treat the girls with manicures, pedicures, and fancy makeup.
After Atlee opened her gifts and hugged each friend, Nikki simply brought over the glorious present the girls had worked so hard on.
"Ok, everyone, are you ready to see what's inside?"
I noticed one girl actually hold her breath with anticipation.
True excitement.
With the go ahead from the party mom, the girls tore into the box.
The room filled with squeals and ripping paper.
Finally, one girl pulled open the top of the box.
Disappointment filled their little faces.
Nikki showed mock surprise, and she quietly said, "Oh my goodness, it's empty! What a beautiful gift, but there's nothing inside."

She walked across the room and lifted a plain, unadorned brown cardboard box.
"Do you want to open this and see if there's anything inside? I know the box isn't as beautiful, but maybe there's something in here for us."
Again, the girls clamored to open plain box and discovered colorful packages containing crafts, sticker books, candy and party favors. Laughter and delighted squeals again filled the room.
Nikki (quietly, as she does everything quietly) finished the object lesson, explaining that we can't always tell the value of something from the outside. While the first box got everyone's attention with it's beauty and sparkle, it held nothing for us. But the simple, rather ugly box offered abundant treasures.

My friend Nikki is a constant source of creativity and inspiration, especially when it comes to parenting, marriage, and decorating. Oh, and cooking. And menu planning. And obviously birthday parties.
And she is a loyal friend.

Some of my favs about Nikki...
- For decorating inspiration, she pages through "Shabby Chic" and "Domino" side-by-side. Her furniture is rearranged a little differently every time I visit.
- My only friend besides Paulette who regularly prepares authentic Greek food. Yum.
- Jeff and Nikki left the comfort of our well-established, fantastic church nearly four years ago to help plant our current (beautiful!) church, Trinity Chapel Bible Church. It has made all the difference to walk alongside the Anderson family in this process.
- She inspires me to take time with my kids and enjoy them by simply modeling this with her own family.
- Upon meeting Nikki, you might think she's quiet and shy and maybe even a pushover. You'd be wrong. She's actually very spirited, has definite opinions, and is good at saying "no" to events and activities that might threaten their family's guarded schedule.
- She and Jeff regularly invite their neighbors and new families at church for dinner or to spend time together. They truly foster community with those around them.
- After 5 years of friendship, I have never heard Nikki raise her voice. But just wait til she gets going on the passport story - you must ask her!
- She and Jeff share a great marriage, and just being with them makes you appreciate and desire to prioritize your own marriage.
- As described above, she takes simple every day things (birthday parties) and adds some depth and focus on what's really important.

I could go on... and on... this girl's got too many qualities to highlight here.
Nik, thanks for your friendship, you are a "vital" friend in my life.

** Look for my Wednesday Wonder posts (most weeks!) - please forgive the cheesy name - as I highlight inspiring friends and people in my life... enjoy! **

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wednesday Wonder - Dad’s 60th

We celebrated Dad’s 60th birthday a few weeks ago.
A significant effort, considering that in the last year, BOTH of Corbin’s parents turned 60 without so much as a card from us, and their 40th wedding anniversary rolled by without notice. Oops. I’m still blaming Cameron on the whole anniversary thing, as she’s the daughter and should have alerted us all, but she scoffs at the thought that I would even begin to assign her that responsibility.
So a couple of months ago we realized that Dad’s 60th birthday coincided with everyone filing into town for Christmas this year. All three of my brothers and their families traveled from Tulsa and Atlanta, so the whole gang was here to honor Dad on this milestone birthday. We celebrated with a great dinner downtown Fort Worth and then met up with some close family friends afterwards for dessert. Very fun, a special time with lots of laughing and warm fuzzies that accompany both Christmas’ approach and being with much-loved family.
Mom asked each of us in advance to bring some little trinket that reminds us of Dad, something significant symbolizing our relationship with him. She plans to take these gifts and arrange them in a shadow box, treasured knickknacks that symbolize 60 years (so far!) of a life well-lived.

One of the more colorful gifts included a giant needle. Luke reminded us of Dad’s “McGuiver-ish” resourceful avoidance of the emergency room one cold December night after gashing himself with a knife. Long story, but that particular Christmas Dad managed to stab himself in the thigh right as we were piling in the car to travel to South Texas. After a little rummaging through Mom’s sewing kit for a needle and the crowded bathroom drawers for dental floss, Dad sewed himself up and the inch-deep incision healed rather quickly without wasting time and money at the emergency room. Yuck.
Trey brought an entire box of trinkets - he couldn't decide on just one character quality. Stories of rebuilding car engines, flying adventures and remodeling projects abounded. But at the core of Trey's "presentation" was a heart-felt gratitude for Dad's time and instruction, combined with a heaping acknowledgment of our father's oft-said "I'm proud of you, son."
It was especially touching to hear my three sisters-in-law speak of Dad’s impact and influence, neat to see Amy, Julie and Crystal feel embraced by Dad’s gentle spirit. The common themes communicated around the table centered on Dad’s hard work ethic, his creativity and that "proud of you" thing.

I brought along a pen for Dad, symbolizing his writing gifts passed on from Granny. But before the pen idea, I had been looking for peacock feathers (looks like I could have brought both - and more - had I followed Trey's lead). Proud as a peacock. I've always felt that from Dad. Always known that he believed in me and held more confidence in me than I have in myself (I understand that a little more now as a parent). But what HUGE benefits for a girl to grow up in her father's shade, knowing that she is not only loved and protected, but also doted on and believed in!
Before our dinner together I scanned about a hundred e-mails in my "Cappy" folder, e-mails saved from Dad, thinking I might highlight and pull out specific times he's told me, "You're a great mom... You're doing a good job... You are handling this great with the kids..." But there were too many. No way I could capture them all.
Interesting that my siblings and even their spouses have heard those sentiments from Dad through the years. Tell you what, with our family's quirks, this "proud of you" thing from Dad covers a lot of imperfections. Gives us wings to fly. The pilot extraordinaire knows how to launch his own kids.

In the coming weeks that little shadow box will take it's place on a wall of my parents' new home. If I know my mom, it will hang in an easily visible yet not-too-prominent place. I imagine it'll get a little dusty over the years, with passerbys hardly noticing it from familiarity. But the treasures it shelves are not simply constrained within the glass box. The value and instruction and creativity will continue on to Branson's children, Bogan's grandchildren, and even Marshall's great-grandchildren. James generations will be "launched" to love through Cappy's influence, just as we were launched from our grandparents and great-grandparents before us.
One parting thought... Dad, we love you. We're proud of you. You're doing a great job!

Dad recently wrote a fantastic "memoir" post, Providence... a great read.

** Look for my Wednesday Wonder posts (most weeks!) - please forgive the cheesy name - as I highlight inspiring friends and people in my life... enjoy! **

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Home Decorating

I’m thinking a lot about our home lately. Maybe it’s the assurance of Spring soon emerging now that the holidays are over, or perhaps it’s due to the great sofa sitting in my garage begging to be recovered. Our master bath desperately needs some love and updating, and in the last month or so little fingers have gingerly peeled off a 6-inch portion of toile wallpaper (as evidenced above) in our downstairs bathroom. We’ve had several color swatches inconspicuously painted on the exterior of our garage for a couple of years now, the trim expectant for new, more interesting colors. Our amazing backyard could be even more amazing if we chose to invest some time and money into it, but then again, that takes time and money.
The list goes on.
Lots of ideas for our home. Lots of wish-lists and to-do lists, and even some goal-lists now with the new year. But what swishes around my mind constantly is not so much the actual decor of our home. Instead, it’s what I envision for our home’s fragrance and atmosphere: an inviting, safe and thrilling dwelling for the precious people who inhabit it. Domino and Country Living are of no help here. What I desire for my family can surely be accomplished without new paint or light fixtures, without new wallpaper or a bathroom remodel.
What do I dream of for my family, for my home? Our reality is clutter, noise, and lots of dishes dirtied every single meal. It’s piles and piles of paper, skateboards littering the driveway, and the boys begging for the Wii rather than books. For this girl who loves order and cleanliness, I’m realizing that people laugh more when rooms are messy. Don’t understand the science behind that, but it’s true. I would never want anyone to feel uncomfortable in my home (our children included!) because it’s too “together.” Yet it’s a constant tight-rope act to find that balance of keeping some order (so important to me) yet letting go of it so my family feels completely comfortable and at peace within the walls of our home.
A few days ago I posted on the impacting novel, “The Shack” by William P. Young. He describes a garden that took my breath away - it paints a vivid picture of how I envision our home:

“As he rounded the trees, he saw for the first time a magnificent garden and orchard somehow contained within a plot of land hardly larger than an acre. For whatever reason, Mack had expected a perfectly manicured English garden. This was not that!
It was chaos in color. His eyes tried unsuccessfully to find some order in this blatant disregard for certainty. Dazzling sprays of flowers were blasted through patches of randomly planted vegetables and herbs, vegetation the likes of which Mack had never seen. It was confusing, stunning, and incredibly beautiful.”

So, English garden? No. The constraint would be stifling for all six of us. Perfectly trimmed hedges and a politely blooming landscape? Not likely. But a garden exploding with laughter and brilliant colors? Now, I can get excited about that!
On a practical sense, what does that mean for me and how I envision our home?
- Laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.
- Safe. A secure place for open communication that produces love and squashes shame. For our kids to know they really can talk with us about anything... even when (especially when!) it’s uncomfortable for us.
- Christ-dwelling. An environment where the King of Kings is not only welcome but present. Even when (especially when!) Mommy’s mad or exhausted, or when kids are bickering. A place where we worship in the midst of real-life dailies.
- Romantic. Victorian wallpaper? Um, no. By romance, I’m referring to the beauty of marriage, that our kids will be enveloped with a healthy, authentic picture of marriage. My blogging friend Llama Mama recently wrote about romance in her post entitled "Rome Ants," and this is what I’m talking about. Helpful here that I’m married to the man of my dreams.
I am reminded often that it’s a gift to be married, a privilege to raise these treasured children, and an undeserved bonus to have a home to call our own.
Lord, help me to be a wise steward of all You are entrusting me with... thank you that You are my personal Decorator. Your presence overshadows any meager attempts I might make to prepare a beautiful home for my family.
And one more thing, Lord... if we go to the trouble of re-wallpapering the bathroom and little fingers again find the seams, will You remind me of that “lots of laughter” thing??