Friday, May 30, 2014

Practicing Gratitude 5.30.14

- Time with Paige and her new family. We wouldn't have guessed 22 years ago (!) sitting around in our Kanakuk (Kanakomo) cabin that we'd be getting our families together all these years later for a Memorial Day breakfast. Or maybe we would have.

- An afternoon with the Gerrishes

Amazing Corbin. Just a few hours after our pancake breakfast with Paige and Gregg, he was at it again, setting up a full buffet for Memorial Day lunch. He makes it look so easy.
What great people ~ all of them!
Ga Ga for all ages
Allison keeping up just fine
No competitive spirits here
So, so grateful for Luke, Vince and Paul. A privilege to call them friends.
- Essie reading Peter Rabbit books to me in bed ~ her sweet little voice that's still so young

- Bran's comment driving on 8th Ave past Baylor All Saints hospital ~ overwhelmed thinking of so many suffering people right in that concentrated area of hospital district. Grateful for his tender heart. Or perhaps his hypochondria bent (!)

- Summer still lurking just around the corner... but swim weather is HERE

- Essie and Harrison

- Mom and Dad's anniversary this week - 44 years!

- Papa and Mama's anniversary this week - 45 years!

- Driving up and seeing them dressed like this - both in poodle skirts ~ waiting for me so I can watch their "show"

- Block party - Bran and John helping our adventurous neighbor on the slackline at his request - even though his wife said no!

- Basden's 4th grade awards ceremony ~ complete with an ironic "perfect attendance" mix-up!

- A very startled Bran (and Hud) woken from deep sleep as three men and a 6' tall gorilla crashed into their room and woke them by grunting and jumping on Bran's bed at 6:15 last Tuesday morning. To say that our church high school leaders surprised Branson is an understatement. Still giggling as I type this...

- Feeling protective over a friend's child's feelings. Helpless, but trusting the Lord to work it for good.

- Hud's 6th grade awards ceremony - the culmination of a zillion hours he poured into schoolwork this year

- Getting to host Basden's end-of-year class party ~ sweet kids from Mrs. Jenkins' class

Brooke life-guarding for us. All grown up as a U of A SOPHOMORE. I remember her well at Essie's age. Another reminder of this quick passage of time.
We are loving Ga-ga!
- Summer baseball in full swing... no pun intended

My fav thing about this pic - Bran in uniform by the dugout, hollering advice to Hud on 1st base
A common sight
Another common sight ~ the little sisters entertaining themselves
- Basden in FishStix (5th & 6th group at church) - none to soon for her.

- This Scripture. That it's backwards to my thinking, and that the truth of it is actually quite liberating. But desiring weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, etc. does not come naturally:
To keep me from becoming conceited... there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Cor 12:7

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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wednesday Wonder - Catherine's Steady Prayers

By 9:30 Monday mornings I'm almost always ready. Coffee percolating, music playing, prayer sheets printed and ready on the ottoman tray along with extra pens...

I'm always touched by the women taking time on a Monday morning to attend our Moms in Prayer meetings - specifically, an hour praying for our children and schools. Week after week, they keep coming. Even the Monday after Christmas break, when all we want is a moment of solitude to get the house back in order. Or the Monday after spring break, recovering from travel or a week with a flexed schedule. Or even Mondays in May, a full season brimming with parties, read-ins, field days and all the post-STAAR extras.

But one friend in particular has truly ministered to me through her commitment to our Moms in Prayer group. Catherine comes faithfully each week, and she has missed one week in the past two years. I first met Catherine at our middle school Moms in Prayer group, as her youngest daughter is Branson's age. But interestingly, it's our elementary prayer group that she attends so regularly.

Catherine's sister-in-law, Merritt, passed away two summers ago, leaving her then-7-year-old son, Sam, an only child, to the care of his daddy, Catherine's brother. In addition to helping out in practical ways, Catherine is committed to faithfully, regularly pray for her nephew. Just a couple of weeks ago during Moms in Prayer as we spent time thanking God for things He has done, Catherine thanked God that she and Sam enjoyed their Cub Scouts family camp-out even though it rained both nights.
Say whaat?

After we finished praying, I made a bee-line to Catherine.
 "I'm sorry, did you say you spent the weekend at a camp-out in the rain?"
She grinned."Yeah, but it went really well. We got pretty soaked, and it was a little cold, but we had a great time."
Uh huh.

This camp-out was sandwiched between Catherine's twelve-hour shifts working as a physical therapist with stroke victims. As a single mom, Catherine has made tremendous transitions over the past few years to care well for her own daughters, and more recently for her nephew and brother. Week after week, after working on Sunday nights, Catherine comes to prayer on Monday mornings, then goes home to sleep.

Our group has prayed for Sam, now nine-years-old, for the past couple of years. According to my very general calculations, that works out to about 72 weeks of specific Scriptures prayed over him by name. Really it's 72 x 2, if you count Catherine's prayers and her partner's prayers as we break up into pairs each week and repeat Scripture over each others' children. So this little guy has been prayed over approximately 144 times, and that's just in our Moms in Prayer group alone.

I asked Catherine what motivated her to follow through so faithfully in her prayers for little Sam - to come every single week to a prayer group where she didn't even have a child in school with the rest of the women. Many of us have a difficult time carving out prayer time for their own children. 

Catherine answered very sincerely and somberly that in a conversation shortly before her sister-in-law died, Merritt asked Catherine to care for Sam well. Catherine feels that the torch was passed to her, and that this is what Merritt wanted most for her son.

Catherine knows Sam's physical needs will be met. He of course has his dad, and a community of extended family, teachers and friends willing to pitch in and help. But in terms of prayer, Catherine's bright eyes lit up when she said she has the privilege of helping lay a spiritual foundation for her nephew's life. She said may or may not see immediate answers (and often she does), but she has experienced the power of prayer in her own life, and is honored to cover Sam's life now as well.

Renee, Catherine's daughter who just finished her sophomore year at Cornell
Catherine and her younger daughter, Gabby
Catherine has taught me much about taking prayer seriously, about being committed regardless of busyness and fatigue and even the despondency that accompanies difficulty. She's also opened my eyes to sacrifice and commitment to children beyond our own. That's one of my favorite things about Moms in Prayer ~ it creates an awareness to so many children and families in our communities beyond the walls of our own homes and even churches. Very grateful for Catherine's bright eyes and bright heart. We will never know this side of heaven all that her prayers have wrought.

I love writing these "Wednesday Wonder" posts, because when I see people doing extraordinary things, I want to shout it from the rooftops. Or at least from my little blog! The people I highlight here are "Wonders" in my eyes because I see God's work in and through them ~ His work transforming the ordinary to extraordinary. But it typically takes a willing heart, some risk, and an offering of "yes" for Him to transform.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Galveston or Bust

We took a rebellious family vacation last weekend. Rebellious in that we struggled against the tyranny of school, baseball, field trips, Stanford testing, etc. to take a couple of days at the beach for our family. In the aftermath of a full April and May, and then looking ahead to a summer of (overlapping!) baseball and football, Corbin and I felt confident that our family was due a get-away.

So even in the vice of schedules and expectations, we rebelliously took a few days and escaped to the beach. A generous friend offered us the key to their beachfront home in Galveston (again), and we took off running.

Around midnight Thursday night prior to leaving town, I almost threw in the towel. Packing school lunches for Friday, I began listing to Corbin all the reasons why it wasn't worth it to leave town. He simply smiled and agreed with me that YES, parenting is hard work, and reminded me that YES it would all come together. It was when he said there was absolutely no reason to meal plan for our trip - that we could just wing food and groceries along the way - I was sold.

Basden and I spent Friday and Saturday in San Antonio for a school Honor Choir trip, so Corbin and the other kiddos literally met our bus on the side of I-35 in Salado Saturday evening. We transferred our suitcases from the under-bus storage to the back of our suburban, and we turned off the big freeway onto smaller, two-lane highways leading to the Texas coast. As is our tradition, we clamored onto the beach barefoot even before unloading the car upon arrival. This particular full-moon-lit night we stormed the beach at about 2am. Simply smelling the salty air diminished any burden of making the trek. Regardless of the beach, whether the Florida Coast or the Texas Coast, the sea is the sea. Grand and awesome and spell-binding.

Our first evening there, Bran kept bugging Corbin to check out a near-by inlet he'd seen on a map on his phone. Sure enough, our little neighborhood was just down the street from Galveston state park where fishing was encouraged. Bran caught his first ever Redfish.
Essie has no idea how good she's got it with such a patient, helpful big sis
The seaweed was at first disappointing and a little icky, but the girls figured out how to creatively enjoy it

A day of fishing. Boys re-booting with some down time together doing something they all three love
What a weird-looking fish (and a scary-looking fisherman!) Sheepshead, evidently.
 Corbin waking up early, investing $$ on guide ~ choosing to spend down time with his boys in this sometimes "intense" season of parenting
Pretty good bounty

One of my very favorite things ~ watching the girls play together
Cackling with joy
One morning as we ate breakfast in the house Basden said, "Hurry it up! There's a beach out there and I'm not on it!"
What could be more therapeutic than running sand between your fingers?
In her element
Girls playing in sand together all day- freed up mental space, just the two of them, creative, working with hands. Restful to body & spirit.
What I don't have pictures of:
- Skip Bo tournaments ~ Dad correcting Mom's version of "Skip Bo on steroids"
- Donuts, Daddy's big breakfasts, and sandy picnics
- Playing in the waves with the girls (even when I'd rather be reading). But afterwards convinced that our play time was actually much more fun!

This print hangs there in our physician friend's beach house, and I think it's just the plain truth:
"Once a year... all humans should force their way to the sea and walk humbly into the water... for it will more greatly improve the mind than any treatment devised by any branch of medicine."

And if that's not enough, here's another reason it was worth the effort. These two pictures were taken just two years ago on the same beach. I cannot believe the difference in the kids (especially Hud) in just two years. These days are just passing more and more quickly. 

Thankful for time away - just the six of us - a respite to get us through the end of the school year. Thankful for generous beach home owners. Our last night at dusk found me relaxing in a beach chair, soaking up wind and waves, a little chilly in my fleece with a mug of hot coffee while watching girls play in the sand. With a greatly improved mind and heart.
Until next time...