When the Same Old, Same Old Feels New

  I drag my heels in the face of change. 

I’d be happy as a clam if I could have a “Dark Chocolate Chunk and Oats” granola bar with an ice cold Dr. pepper every day for breakfast for the rest of my life. 

I bring a picture of the hairstyle I want to Ashley, my stylist, just about EVERY time I go see her. I noticed recently that all the pictures really look the same. New picture, but same hairstyle. 

  
Ashley always kindly looks at the picture even though it looks the same as the ones I handed her six weeks ago. She styles my hair the same way she did the last time. I give her my credit card to swipe, grab my trusty hoop earrings out of my purse and put them back in. 

I get in my car (Ashley doesn’t know this part). Immediately I look in the mirror on my windshield, and then I fix my hair. I poof up the left backside, the place I’ve had poof for twenty years. I swipe my bangs to where they fall across my right brow exactly where I want them to. At times I’ve even tucked away hairspray, so that the moment I get in the car I can put my hands in my hair, fixing it just so,  and then freeze it that way. 

Around two years ago I decided to color my hair. My silvers were showing.  My friend Tammy requested a picture. I sent one. Her response? “It looks EXACTLY the same.”

I don’t like change that much.

 Well….

I like it when it’s a change I like. I like it more when it’s a change I’m in charge of like choosing to go to the New Mexican food joint in town or a new series to get hooked on, on Netflix. 

At the risk of making you groan and roll your eyes, I’ll bring up one more time that things have changed for my family in the past week. 

Hayden’s new room is in Huntsville. He’s starting classes at Sam Houston University tomorrow. I haven’t heard his obnoxiously loud laugh in three days. The light from underneath his bedroom door no longer keeps me up while he’s awake at midnight watching podcasts. Its dark his side of the hall. 

Hallie started high school yesterday. She can take driver’s ed in mere months, though she doesn’t care to.  She’s more like me than I realized. Yesterday she wore a black tshirt and jeans. This morning she was looking for another of her black shirts (out of the six plain black shirts she has) to wear today. We’re not emo. There’s just something comfortable about a black shirt. It’s a fade into the familiar when you’re diving into the unknown. 

That’s why I was surprised when I felt joy this weekend in the midst of one of the biggest changes I’ve faced to date.

 We walked back into the much quieter house Saturday night after leaving Hayden behind in his new dorm. An old friend of his had shown up before we left. They were eagerly setting up Hayden’s Wii, ready for an epic Smash Brother’s tournament or something. He was happy. He’s ready for this. And somehow, mixed in with my sadness, has been a peace that lets me know it’s time for him to start this new chapter. 

  
I walked Rylie to school this morning and I could swear that the new morning sun waved warmly at me promising a good day even though things are different. 

I dropped Hallie off at school for her second day realizing she’s just as nervous as she was yesterday. I remind myself that loneliness and fear are two friends that point us to a God who wants to fill us with Himself. 

And he does! 

When we look to Him he takes our fear and loneliness and fills those spaces. 

A friend brought me flowers today!!

See, I am doing a new thing! It springs up; do you not perceive it?I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

For the first time I’m finding joy in folding clothes; listening to the dryer make its round;metal buttons clanking against its side. I’m learning there’s comfort in the most mundane of things like old same-old hairstyles and that song you can listen to a hundred times because it speaks a message that never gets old. 

I the LORD do not change Malachi 3:6

I’m grasping the beauty in things that don’t change. And I’m learning to look to God for peace finding joyful surprises at the things that do change. 

I can’t not mention that we have awesome friends who have prayed for us, hugged us, called or texted to check in, knowing that new chapters can be hard. And for those of you who didn’t know, I’ve made sure to tell you a thousand times starting last August when Hayden began his senior year. I know that this bubbling joy I have in this newness is due in part to friends like you. God is good all the time. 


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The Secret to Raising Kids (Another List)

It’s 1 AM. I’m not only awake. I’m having a confident moment. 

  
It’s strange really. We dropped our oldest off at college yesterday. One could say this is when the real test begins. 

A gentleman at the check-in table on the first floor of Hayden’s dormitory held a small yellow envelope over our kid’s open hand and shook out two keys that Hayden would solely be responsible for. 

 That made me a wee bit nervous. 

Parenting makes me nervous. I have anxiety that takes residence from my shoulder blade up to my neck. Parenting can be a pain in the neck. 

Besides making me nervous, “Momming”,  means that I deal with feelings of inadequacy. These feelings range from guilt and fear to desperate and deranged. 

Our girls start school Monday. 

What will Hallie do when she finds out that many people in High School will continue to identify her as a preacher’s kid much more than they will see her identity in Christ? 

Will she feel ignored, misunderstood? Or will she seek to find her full identity in Christ, not anxious about how others perceive her?

Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above…..v.3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

How important will “fitting in” be to Rylie? 

 How will I react when once again my best-thought out advice regarding friend trouble and a homework tip is met with an eyeroll? 

Will I crumple in self-doubt when one of the girls behaves in ways contrary to what we’ve taught them….their whole lives?

I do my own evaluations when it comes to “Momming”. Jason is my partner in parenting but thankfully he doesn’t critique my mom skills. I do though as I suspect many of you do. 

I‘m rather hard on myself and see the future of my children hinging solely on my ability to parent perfectly. 

But you know what? Right now I feel great about parenting. Even though I learned something at a wedding that we attended yesterday after dropping Hayden off at college (it was a long day). I haven’t taught my youngest how to sit like a lady yet (She was man spreading in a skort at said weddung, good thing we sat in the balcony).  I also just this weekend taught my “now high schooler” how to fix macaroni from a box.

These less consequential shortcomings and the bigger parenting failings I haven’t mentioned won’t stop me from sharing the secret I now believe I have, the secret to raising kids. 

Neither will the fact that the proof isn’t yet in the pudding. Who knows what the two younger will do when they get older (one has mentioned a tattoo) or what the oldest will do with that new set of keys he just got handed. 

I’m sharing anyway. 

The Secret to Raising Kids

1. Love them. Love them at their best and even harder at their worst. Don’t just love them with things, but with words and deeds and with your time and attention. 

2. 

3.

4.  Be an example. –This in no way means that you will do everything perfectly. Challenge yourself to be patient concerning that frustrating experience at CVS (even when you get back in the car and the cashier is out of earshot). Too many times we’re unconcerned with the little ears still listening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself being the example of humility as you share your mistakes with them. Other times you’ll forgive them without hesitation or a lecture when they’ve owned a mistake they made. 

5.

6.

7.

8. Have parenting mentors. Carefully choose people who you know will encourage you and invest in your children. Listen to them. Confide in them. 

9. Look to the word. I wouldn’t much need a parenting book if I’d be more diligent in studying the word of God. He has much to say about how we should parent our children and what it means to be an example for our children. 

Philippians 2:14-16 

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.

Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.    

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15. Pray. I still have a ways to go in raising my kids but I can tell you that my prayer life grows as my children do. I pray for their well-being.  I pray for guidance. I pray desperately, sometimes only using one word. Other times my requests are lengthy. Be thankful in your praying so that your talks with God will be more than just requests. Listen in prayer

I know….I’ve got gaps in the list. 

The secret is in the gaps. 

I type all of these words madly in the post-midnight hours after being figuratively hit in the forehead with the knowledge that GOD IS IN THE GAPS.

 In his grace and in his love for our children He fills in the places we can’t and the places we don’t. 
The gaps are there to remind us of the important equation in parenting-

God + What we’re able to do….

 Equals more than enough, 

Even with regrets because you’ve goofed up big time when you allowed your kids to do something you shouldn’t have let them do. 

My grace is sufficient for thee 

2 Corinthians 12:9

The partnership we have with God keeps us going  when we realize we’ve been too busy for our kids or when we’re scared senseless, clueless how to handle bad news we just received about trouble they’re in. 

We can rest a little. We can live with the fact that we might not be our kids’ favorite person for the time-being. We can hand over our anxiety and seek peace even when we can’t fix it.  We can quit evaluating ourselves quite so harshly.  

And in those rare moments where we feel we’ve earned a parent “gold star” we can be mindful not to take too much credit. 

 We can quit trying to be so creative and heroic at filling in the blanks. Those gaps aren’t always gaps. 

Sometimes they’re God spaces. 

  

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A Thursday for Your Thoughts; These Little Hands 

A Guest Blog by Jennifer Horner

                                        These Little Hands

  
These little hands made by God’s touch,

  
 These little hands I love so much.

 These little hands will grow in grace,

   
 These little hands will touch my face.

These little hands so sweet and pure,

  
These little hands trouble will lure.

These little hands can’t hold it all,

These little hands will likely fall.

  
These little hands will grow in size,

  
These little hands will wipe my eyes.

These little hands will go to school,

These little hand will try to act cool.

  
These little hands will cover a sob,

These little hands will work a job.

These little hands hold a mother’s embrace,

These little hands trials they’ll face.

These little hands will hold another,

  
These little hands will miss their mother.

These little hands will join in marriage,

These little hands may push a carriage.

These little hands will one day grow old,

  
These little hands will have stories told.


No matter what these little hands may go through in life,

Just remember to give Jesus your heart, your stife.

Never Let go of the big hands that created you,

and sent His only son to die for you.

Go through life holding the Saviors hand,

and He’ll lead you to the promise land.



About Jennifer:

Jennifer is my baby sis. She’s a constant source of laughter and care. She and her husband Brandon have three little sets of hands they are leading. She makes a mean coconut pie. She loves Jesus, Old movies, “I Love Lucy” and a cold Dr. pepper. 

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Leaving the Nest; A New Soft Place 

 

College orientation at SHSU

 My car has the scent of new carpet in it.  I have a four foot by six foot rug rolled up in back. It’s for Hayden’s dorm room. It was my idea.  An area rug wasn’t on his list. 

 I told myself I wasn’t going to write about this. I said when I wrote about his graduation that it would be the last sappy post I wrote regarding the matter of my son entering adulthood and leaving his room; his room which is custom-designed with the desk he built, book-ended with two rusty old lockers disguised by silver spray paint…….

his room…littered with gaming magazines and the chair railing beside his bed plastered with chewed gum that prevented him from ever waking up with gum in that beautiful head of hair.  

 

I told myself I wouldn’t subject Facebook to another cliche post about “moms who are sad that their babies are growing up” and how “time really does fly”.  

But I lied. 

I also told myself I was going to handle this “moving off” thing like a champion and even took Hayden shopping for dorm stuff on the Saturday of tax-free weekend. 

That didn’t stop me from menacingly shaking my fist at the friend I saw in Wal-Mart when she said “I know what YOU’RE doing…” 

 “Don’t bring it up,” I said, as if my ignorance with a cart of full dishes, cleaning supplies and “all things leaving” could equal bliss. 

I know he’s leaving. 

I was reminded when I came home last week to him packing boxes (without even asking me first!). 

So since the reality of his leaving is sinking in like a ton of bricks, I’ll face it like every other mom and dad who are facing it and like those who faced it last year or twenty years ago. 

I’ll cry in my bedroom when nobody’s watching. I’ll help box up the new toilet brush I bought him and the Lysol wipes…..and the blue Dawn (the only dish washing soap that helps oily ducks). 

I’ll teach him how to sort clothes and remind him that he can call if he’s not sure which wash setting to use. 

I’ll get the SHSU Mobile App on my phone and look (and maybe memorize) the upcoming activities on campus for the next few weeks. And I’ll give him advice on which activities will be helpful like the one where the upper classmen offer you a Coke and show you where your classes will be. 

I’ll drive around (for the next week anyway) with his new area rug in my car and smell its newness which fills me with an equal portion of sadness and excitement. 

I got that carpet with the notion that the bare new floors on which his feet will tread might need a soft place. As his mom, I’ve always thought myself to be his soft place to land, even in times of tough love and discipline. 

I’ll still be his soft place. But this soft place won’t be the same as my cushy hip he used to rest on. I carried that boy on my hip until his legs hung past my knees. He’s outgrown the soft place as we know it. 

I’ll still send him more texts than he wants. Home and chocolate chip cookies and milk (all the milk he wants) will be here waiting for any chance he gets to come back. He’ll ALWAYS have his place here. I’ll go there too. 

But he has places to go and a new soft place to land. It’s not just four foot by six foot. God has reminded me already that his presence goes where I can’t. He has reminded me of this more times than I can count- on the kids’ big test days and days where they face challenges I can’t help them with (not including prayer). 

God is the soft place.  He has always been. 

It’s just that a mom’s soft place has a way of being imposing, so much so, that God can be hard to notice. 

My prayer is that Hayden will discover the shelter he has in his Father. I’ve got some discovering to do too. I pray that I will not just know, but experience the peace that comes through faithful prayer and faith-fuller answers from God.

The Lord is near. 

To Hayden

And to me

To those of you who moved your kids off last weekend and to those kids who may be filling up boxes as we speak (without even telling you). 

God is our soft place with dimensions much bigger than what you and I can fit in the back of our car. 

Change always has something to teach us. 

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

  • I apologize for any fist-shaking you may have encountered or encounter in the days to come. I apologize for the public tearfulness that’s bound to happen on a lonelier church pew in the Sundays to come. I know THAT I KNOW, I’m not alone. 

 

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More Trivial and Life-Changing Stuff from Across the Waves

 

  
I’m afraid you’ll find me talking about the trip we took at the end of July for some time to come. My eyes beheld beautiful, splendid things in Turkey and Greece. Rome and Israel provided arresting images too. These places captured my heart and disturbed my spirit to the point of earnestly seeking to be renewed. I got the chance to do just that with Jason and Hayden (who were also baptized)and with old friends and new at the Jordan River where Jesus too was baptized. 

  
….I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

The following is a mixture of the inconsequential (yet delightful) as well as those things I experienced which have brought new meaning to life

  

The Pudding Shop found in Istanbul right across the street from the Blue Mosque was once known as a famous hitch hiker bar. It was a place where hippies who had lost their traveling buddy could meet back up. Those who visited could meet other travelers and study maps. It was also a place where notes could be left for those following behind. 

  
If you look closely you can see a hand behind the bars being placed in the “Mouth of Truth” /”Boccaccio Della Verita” , a movie made famous by Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in the movie “Roman Holiday”. Sorry for the lousy picture. It was taken from a moving bus.  Tradition says that if you put your hand in its mouth while telling a lie, your hand will be bitten off. In the 90’s movie “Only You”, Robert Downey Jr places his hand in its mouth but gets to keep his hand even though he’s a liar, a dreamy liar…..but a liar. 

Here are Umbrella pine (also called stone pine) which have been used ornamentally in Italy for the past three hundred years but are described as an invasive species in South Africa. What some consider trash, others consider treasure. Pine nuts come from the umbrella pine and small species are used for Bonsai.  

 

If you’re looking to adopt an exotic feline or canine there are plenty of both roaming ….everywhere. They seem pretty happy though, and pretty well-fed. 

  
We noticed that headless statues are common. It’s believed that soldiers knocked off the heads  or sometimes arms when ransacking a place. 

  
I’ve gotten nothing to say about this picture. Except that I’m glad I’ve got to share authentic Italian pizza with him,……and LIFE. 

  

  
Here’s the Sistine Chapel. I told you in my last post that picture taking on the inside isn’t allowed. This shattered my life’s hopes and dreams (we’ll at least one of them) so I just took a picture of the outside. By the way, you should check out my last post with more riveting facts and awesome pictures if you haven’t yet. 

Michelangelo painted its ceiling on his back wearing a crown of candles at times to help him see. After painting much of the ceiling, he was escorted back twenty-five years later to paint the altar wall depicting the second coming. It took four years to paint.

  Most characters including Mary were painted nude which motivated the Cardinal and Monsignor Sernini to start “The Fig Leaf Campaign” which would have the work removed or censored. A quick study revealed that the Pope’s Master of ceremonies, Cesena, also condemned Michelangelo’s work for its nudity saying it was better befitted for a bathroom.

 Michelangelo executed his revenge with a well-placed fresco using Cesena’s face on the body of Minos. He included donkey ears and and painted a serpent around the body. That lady and gents is still on the altar wall in the chapel. 

So bad. 

Michelangelo’s most treasured work wouldn’t be the phenomenal paintings found in the chapel, but a sculpture chiseled from marble depicting Mary holding Jesus after his death. It’s the only piece he ever signed, which he said he regretted later. It stands in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican with bullet proof glass in front due to a crazed man hacking up Mary’s arm and nose years back. Her nose has been restored with a piece from her back. It’s a powerful piece called Pieta.  

 

We learned that Necropolis is an ancient cemetery whose name derives from the term “city of the dead”. Those buried were buried outside the city as opposed to tombs within the city. The word “cemetery” in Greek means “sleeping place”. When I go, I’m glad I’ll be placed in the latter. 

Here’s another statue of Peter in St Peter‘s Basilica in the Vatican. A constant line of people flowed wishing to rub his feet. Hayden noticed that his toes are barely noticeable at this point having been rubbed smooth. Peter is my favorite. 

  
  
In our arrogance we think we’ve advanced so far because of our intelligence. But let me just say that the work of the ancients was pretty brilliant too. I stayed humbled on this trip. This is part of a Roman bath house. The stones were covered by a floor. Hot water underneath brought about steam through these stones providing a sauna for the men. 

  
It was on this stone road that Paul was beheaded. 

  

The mosaic pictured here (which looks more like a painting) is on the Basilica of St Paul and was made using more than one million pieces.

  
Here’s another mosaic done on the inside with a “mere” 60,000 pieces. 

  

The devotion evident in sculptures, paintings and architecture we saw makes me question my five second prayers, quick scripture reads and my attention to God which is so quickly diverted. These artists seemed to know better how much is due such a beautiful magnificent God. 

  
Besides a quick blog post, a breath of thankfulness, a Sunday at church, singing along with songs of worship on the radio….

What is due? 

As the old hymn says so well…

Were the whole realm of nature mine, 

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine, 

Demands my soul, my life, my all

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Our Trip to Israel

 

I caused congestion in the produce aisle in HEB yesterday. I was getting groceries and happened to see a church friend who either, not knowing or forgetting how I love to talk, asked me how our Israel trip was.  “It was amazing,” I said.

But what does amazing even mean?

I counted at least seven glasses upstairs in the kids’ rooms yesterday even though I’ve told them not to bring drinks upstairs. That’s amazing to me. Amazing is vague.

So I had to tell her a little about the trip and how it still has my mind boggled consuming my thoughts even in the wee hours of the morning. And then I talked with her doll-eyed boy about the snack tray he munched on which included tiny nacho chips and race car gummies. Then I moved on so traffic could flow more freely by the avocados.

I saw three more friends while shopping yesterday who commented on the trip. I tried to keep my words to a minimum because who wants to be in HEB very long. But each time I was dissatisfied with my having to describe a trip that changed my life in only a few words.

That’s why, once again, I’m thankful for having a space to write out my heart’s clamoring.

With this post I’ll start out light because thoughts of the trip still float dizzily above me like a kaleidoscope of butterflies uncontained yet begging to be noticed.

There’s more to come though.

Here are a few of the things I learned on our trip to Israel which also included days of wonder in Turkey, Rome and Greece:

Turkey is beautiful and colorful and altogether visually stunning.

In Rome, you should never say “Ciao” to an acquaintance and definitely not to someone you’ve never met.

Gelato is nothing like jello. How could I have ignored this stuff at Rao’s so long? Why didn’t anyone tell me?…

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The Circus Maximus wasn’t a circus after all, but an ancient stadium used for chariot racing which held 150,000 spectators. Because of its genius, it became a model for Roman circuses throughout the Roman Empire.

All hotdogs are not created equal. Never, never get one while you’re in Rome. Do as the Romans do. Eat pizza…..or gelato.

Neither are all toilet seats created equal.

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 You can’t take pictures in the Sistine Chapel.

I now understand the meaning of Rome wasn’t built in a day.

 

 

 

“Prego” means “you’re welcome” which is funny when you think of the spaghetti sauce. I can picture a healthy Italian in a white apron handing me a jar of Prego saying in his thick accent “Here’s some Prego,……you’re welcome!”

In Greece I learned that the marble steps leading to the Parthenon are slippery and just how quick Jason and Hayden can be to pick me up when I fall.

I learned that the Greek get it right when it comes to Greek salad. They leave out the lettuce and go straight for the goody.

I discovered that graffiti can be beautiful particularly by a gigantic set of “praying hands” on the side of a hotel in the center of Athens. The “Praying Hands” as they’re fondly referred to are pointing down instead of up toward heaven. These are the hands of God reaching down.

I learned what Falaffel is and that Israeli people eat a lot of chickpeas between Falaffel and hummus.

I learned that, like in Egypt, Israel has mountains of dirt, and is as hot as southeast Texas. I learned why scripture containing reference to  “water springing up” and “living water” held such important meaning. I learned that I am often inattentive to my thirst and fill myself with things that don’t satisfy.

I learned TWICE that you DON’T cross your legs in the Greek Orthodox Chruch. Sheesh! Some people are slow learners.

I saw an actual ancient manger that wasn’t made of wood supported by legs.

As we traveled past the back door of Syria and into Jordan and the West Bank I was reminded that it’s sometimes in the darkest places where God’s presence is the strongest.

I remembered why I love Peter so much, a man who was willing to die for Christ yet denied him three times. He lived a life of commitment to Jesus that was often clouded by humanity.

But more than anything I learned that my mind can’t contain how big God is and how good are his ways. Throughout the trip I couldn’t get a tune out of my head that I think more encompasses my feelings than any words I could come up with. It’s a song by Addison Road.

Guess I thought that I had figured You out

I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about

How You were mighty to save

Those were only empty words on a page

Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be

The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

So What do I know of You

Who spoke me into motion?

Where have I even stood

But the shore along Your ocean?

Are You fire? Are You fury?

Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?

So What do I know?

What do I know of Holy?

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Happy Sister’s Day

So……It’s Sisters Day. 

I had no idea until I was scrolling through the feed on Facebook instead of folding my laundry that was on its second round of drying (to smooth the wrinkles that formed when I didn’t get the load out yesterday). 

Sisters Day is the first Sunday of August.  I never knew. And because I’ll probably forget this fun fact before the next Sisters Day comes around,  there are a few things I guess I should say. 

 

In honor of Sisters Day I used this picture (which is great of you two) even though my hair makes me look like a rooster.
 
To my sisters, 

You were my first best friend. And now decades later, with hundreds of miles between us, you’re both still my best friend. 

I’m sorry for borrowing your clothes without asking (and sometimes ruining them like the time I burned a hole in your suede vest). 

I forgive you too, for things like taking credit for nick-naming our first nephew Rufus when you know good and well that I came up with that name. I forgive you for throwing a chair at me when I wouldn’t let you out of the room and also for the time when we were little and you wouldn’t let me sleep with you and I got stung by a stinging scorpion because I was crying on the floor. 

I think it’s cool how we know each other’s looks (even though sometimes your look means “What are you thinking wearing that get-up?”) There’s also the look that tells me “Yep. You’ve lost it…” when you witness me overreacting with one of my kids. You know my looks too like the one I make when I’m thinking about laughing at something I think you said wrong. 

I wish we lived closer to each other. 

I take comfort in knowing I can tell you anything. Thanks for answering my lengthy texts and for staying on the phone with me when I’m down. Thanks for keeping secrets and trusting me with yours. 

Looking back, I think it’s cool the way we shared our birthday parties (since our birthday was two days apart). 

Thanks for being our life-sized doll when we wanted to put your bangs in high ponytails and stretch out your ears because we thought it looked funny. Thanks for dancing “the Chinka” for our friends and making them laugh. 

I think you’re brave. 

Thanks for making me an aunt. My heart is full of love and bursting with pride  for every niece and nephew. 

Thanks for French-braiding my hair over and over even though I’d complain that you pulled too tight EVERY TIME. 

Sorry for those times I burned you with the curling iron. 

The way you call me “dork” is kind of like a term of endearment. 

My fond memories are too many to count like the times we’d pretend to put makeup on each other using just our fingers and a little imagination. 

I love thinking back to the times you would pretend to be “Jo” from Little Women or the cowardly lion from “The Wizard of Oz”. You were always good for a performance. 

Thanks for giving me awesome brother-in-laws who I call my friends too.

The older we get the more I think resemble mom in both how we look and how we act. 

Thanks for being an awesome aunt to my kids. 

I skipped my Sunday nap to write this and almost got overheated in the garage looking for pictures of us (Which by the way are too few). 

I’m glad you’re my sister even though I’m always too busy talking with you about what’s going on in our lives to actually say it. Surely you know. 
Even though it sounds hokey, know that I love you always. 

Happy Sisters Day.  

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My Friend for Every Occasion

I almost got run over this week at Market Basket. I was in the checkout lane looking down (at my phone I’m sure) when an elderly gentleman started backing up on one of Market Basket’s scooters. A guy behind me shouted “He’s fixing to run over you!”  I sidestepped with my little red basket reserved for the “under ten item shoppers” and barely escaped a broken toe. I thanked the guy behind me. 

  
Seconds later, I heard the guy behind me say something. Assuming we were now friends, being that he saved my toe, I turned around ready to respond. He wasn’t looking at me but instead toward the rack of gossip magazines that Rylie calls out as sinful on every visit as she’s straining to see Ben Affleck’s new girlfriend on the cover of Star. 

“Was he talking to me?”, I wondered. There was nobody with him or behind me but he hadn’t acknowledged my turning towards him. I turned back around and stared at my phone again. 

Again he spoke and again I turned backward to face him, my new friend. I looked at him hoping he would repeat himself rather than making me ask him what he’d just said. This time he turned from the magazines and looked straight at me, but instead of repeating himself he looked at me like he was wondering why I was looking at him. 

Then he spoke…

-Only it wasn’t to me, but somebody in his ear. He had one of those darned Bluetooth things that I wasn’t aware of, on account of I forget about those things. He hadn’t been talking to me at all (except for the toe-saving exclamation). 

Now I felt like the man on his scooter who was a little unaware of his surroundings. 

There are a couple of things I can think of that lead to this and other near accidents in front of me and the misunderstandings behind me. 

I need to look up. I have become obsessed with looking at my phone. It’s my go to for information, entertainment and companionship. (Sad, I know.). 

 My phone tethers me in more ways than I’m aware. I answer every text like quicksilver. You’ve checked in somewhere on Facebook? I know where you are.  Yet I don’t know that the gentleman in front of me is careening toward my person with his scooter which makes a noise loud enough noise to hear if you’re paying any attention, which brings me to 

Problem #2

I can’t hear. 

If you know me at all, you’ve probably heard me say something like 

“Can you tell me again.” 

“What’s that?”

“One more time?”

I’ve learned to read lips which works well unless you’re the kids in the back of the car, you’re the person on the other end of the phone, or you’re the guy behind me in Market Basket trying to have a private conversation on Bluetooth. 

These two problems have caused me some embarrassment, feelings of isolation and on many occasions discouragement. 

My problem isn’t limited to a phone habit or bad ears, I wish it was. I have small vision and a listening problem. 

By forgetting to look up, my vision is short-sided. I only see what’s right in front of me.  My iPhone, yes, but more often my circumstances, keep me from seeing the bigger picture, the brighter picture. My focus is like the metallic ball in a pinball machine, small and unguided. 

I’m fixated on the sink full of dirty dishes that were all clean an hour ago. Im aggravated that my choice for the ESPN award isn’t the one chosen. I’m worried at my kid’s unexplained fever. I’m agitated that CVS doesn’t have my prescription ready AGAIN at the promised time, as if that has grandiose eternal significance. 

Now about that hearing problem. It ties in closely to what I see, or don’t see in front of me.  I can’t help what I can’t hear. But I can help who I listen to.  I can pay attention to the words on the lips of the One who speaks that I may hear.  I can disregard the voices that aren’t meant for me, instead choosing the one that calls me to look up  giving me the proper perspective in which I can view all things. 

He has words of advice and encouragement with which he wishes to fill my ear and wrongly focused heart. His words remind me he is my friend. 

He waits for me to put down my phone, my worries, my frustrations and my preconceived notions. He desires that I depart from my routine, my company and the misleading voice in my head to look to him and the word he has for me. 

Unimposing, he waits. 

God has every intention of being my Bluetooth. He’s the one in front, looking out for me and the one behind me. And he ALWAYS has a word for me. 

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Planned Parenthood- One More Reason to Fight It

  
Ever heard of Dr. Deborah Nucatola?

 I hadn’t before today, but her name is now one I won’t forget. She’s the senior director of Planned Parenthood who is responsible for overseeing medical practice in PP’s clinics. WND Health reports that she has held her position since 2009 performing abortions and training new abortion doctors on babies up to 24 weeks. …Stick with me. 

  An undercover video released today by the Center for Medical Progress shows Nucatola speaking candidly with undercover actors. A man and woman pose as buyers from a human biologics company interested in buying organs (belonging to unborn babies who are being aborted). 

Nucatola discusses how Planned Parenthood sells the parts of these destroyed babies, at times using partial birth abortions to do so. If there is any question, this is indefensible,  not to mention it’s unlawful. On this video which can be found on YouTube, Nucatola shares with the potential buyers (posers) how abortionists cover up this illegal practice. 

These organs are said to be harvested for use in scientific research. 

In the video she chomps salad while describing the violent nature in which this procedure is performed, nonchalantly detailing how the baby is “crushed” leaving necessary parts intact, including the head. 

Planned Parenthood, the organization supposedly FOR women, is making profit off selling the body parts of their children.  

Several sources (including the the YouTube video with Dr. Nucatola) and a link with a petition will be on my Facebook wall. I don’t talk about abortion often publicly because it’s something I’m most passionate about and I tend to speak with less composure when I talk about it. But this makes me sick and I can’t be silent. 

I’m guessing we won’t hear a lot about this from the mainstream media being that it doesn’t fit their agenda. 

I might not have brought it up myself had there not been something we can do about it. 

Obviously we can pray.  We can pray for the hearts of expecting moms who find themselves in often tumultuous situations where they believe, many times they’re encouraged, that there’s no other way for them other than an abortion. We can pray for those who facilitate abortions, in any capacity.  Pray that they would have a somber realization of what it is they’re participating in. 

Pray for those who are Pro-Choice. Pray that their hearts would come to an understanding of what constitutes life. Each life has value and that life exceeds a choice. 

Pray for Pro-Lifers; that they would advocate, empowered with courage to speak words of wisdom and love to those with whom they have contact. 

Pray for those who have a vote that impacts the lives of the unborn (which is really each of us). Pray that the cause of the unborn would find root in our hearts rather than being something that sparks a fury that fast fizzles when we scroll down to some other horrifying piece of news. 

And, finally, sign the petition found in the WND post on my Facebook wall. I’m trying to get a direct link here. This petition asks congress to investigate Planned Parenthood regarding the sell of these organs from the unborn.  Surely we can do that. 

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Church Camp Prayer List

Hallie is not camp material. She doesn’t like loud music, she’s a picky eater, and probably most contrary to camp-loving, she has serious space issues. 

  
No lie. Her first sentence as a toddler was “I need my space”. I don’t remember the other two kids’ first sentences, it’s just that her’s was important. She had a five-and-a-half year old space-invading, hug-loving brother. Before we taught her how to say “I need my space”,  she would scream and swat at Hayden like he was a gargantuan blood-sucking insect come to sap her life. She reacts that same way on the inside to most social activities. 

But she left for camp this morning along with eight other teens. They’ll be at DBU for the week. I took her shopping a few days ago in hopes to get her excited about the trip. I bought her a Marvel t-shirt (she’s a big Marvel fan), some gum, and some Pringles. Sour Cream and Onion Pringles are one of her love languages. Solitude is another of her love languages. 

At least she’ll have one of those with her on the trip. 

Here’s the crew. Pray for them. And see what I mean about the “space issue”?

I’m guessing the Pringles will be gone by tomorrow; the rest of the snacks will probably last a couple of days if she keeps them hidden like the strawberry yogurt she sneaks behind the pickled okra in the fridge so Hayden and Rylie won’t find it. 

The snacks will quickly disappear, but I’ve made a list of things I pray she’ll bring back with her when we see her at the end of this week. 

Here’s the list in case you want to join me in asking God for these things for her (and, well,  the other kids too). 

I pray that she’ll learn to experience God alone in a crowded room. 

-That she’ll better learn that she’s never alone even when she’s the only one in her room. 

My prayer is that she’ll learn that “God is bigger than the Boogeyman” like Veggie Tales used to tell her. 

May she learn to hear him better when His voice is small, but sure. 

I pray her desire for his word and her desire to obey it will grow. 

Of course I think she’s beautiful.  My hope is that she’ll hold fast to the kind of beauty God describes in 1 Peter:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…..Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 

I pray that she’ll learn that worship can be practiced when you’re out of your comfort zone (in her case maybe touching shoulders with some gregarious fella who wants the whole world to hear him belt out “I can only imagine……..yeah”). May she learn that worship sometimes best happens when things aren’t comfortable. 

May she find new courage to carry to high school that will help her make new friends and find her English class the first day. May that courage remind her to be a friend to all.

I pray that her heart will grow in its desire to serve. 

Never be lacking  in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Romans 12:11

I pray that she will come to know God more intimately than she has before; that all the space in her heart will be occupied with new things from Him. 

I know that’s a lot of stuff to ask that she comes back with. But she did take four big bags. 

That’s plenty of room.

  

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