This evening held one of the scariest hours of my life.
Well maybe it wasn't an hour. It was more like sixty seconds, but I was scared out of my wits (lit•er•ally).
Thinking wasn't an option. Instinct grabbed the reigns.
I was the kind of scared I get in dreams where some sick deranged maniac is trying to get in my house at night. The door won't lock and I can't scream.
The difference in my worst nightmares and the quick scare I experienced tonight is that in dream state I'm paralyzed. Tonight I sprung into plan-less action.
I was at Central Mall this evening with Hallie and her friend. I sent them to the Target Starbucks while I ran to TJ Maxx. I found a cute Monster bowling set for a little friend who's celebrating a big occasion tomorrow. I checked out twenty minutes later, knowing it was nearing time for church.
Heading back to Target I saw two ladies in dress clothes and heels running frantically. They yelled across the mall "Don't go to Target. There's bad stuff happening in there".
Without pause, I started running in the direction they were escaping, I yelled back to anyone. "My daughter's in there!"
I was scared, but more than that, I was determined. I WAS going to Target. Approaching the entrance I could see a scuffle between several men and a flash of handcuffs wildly following a man's flailing arm.
As I got closer I could see the offender's free hand go toward his pocket, afraid he might be reaching for a gun.
Of course she was fine. She was way better off than I was. It took a few minutes to collect myself. I did manage to go find and purchase a table runner. (Retail therapy at its finest)
Now? Am I ok?
It depends on the definition of ok. The last news post I saw on Facebook earlier today was a report on a mall shooting in San Antonio that had little to no information as to loss of life. There's news like this too often.
More than the sinking feeling of dread concerning the world's safety, tonight, I'm reflecting on the fragile, yet fierce condition we find ourselves in, as parents, when our kids meet harm or even if we percieve harm.
Parents are crazy.
When parents believe their kids to be in danger, it's not that they think they're invincible. It's not that they think they'll be safe. There is little thought and often no plan.
We'll put ourselves in harm's way.
We may unwittingly (or purposely) put another in harm's way.
If you hurt our kids, we may hunt you down. I remember a time my dad got in the car to go find someone who'd intentionally hurt one of his kids. Lucky for us all, he didn't find him.
Sometimes our love as parents is wise. We put great effort and thought into caring and guiding these precious beings we've been entrusted.
Sometimes it's blind. They're the closest thing to perfect, we think.
But I saw tonight. A parent's love is wild.
God help us, our kids and those who come between us.
Suffocating hugs are in unlimited supply at my house tonight.
It's Inauguration Day. Many of us are positioned at one end or the other of the feelings spectrum. Minus the elements of nervousness and shock, our feelings likely resemble the way we felt election night. Some of us feel hopeful and proud; others hopeless and disgusted.
While we’re up in our feelings may we remember to behave beyond them, letting love inform and drive us.
Love is patient. Today I will suffer ill remarks and indignities doing my best not to let irritation well up.
Love is kind. I will speak love-inspired truth, or I will keep quiet.
It does not boast, it is not proud. I will not flaunt victory be it small or large.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. I will open the door for the guy with the “Make America Great Again” hat, as well as, the woman with the “He's Not My President” t-shirt.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. I will recognize evil that's pretty packaged and I will not cheer for it.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I will keep hope, trusting that God is working for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
I will not be a clanging cymbal or silently simmer.
There’s just one rule, really.
Today I will love.
I will love.
I will, in prayer and with God’s help, LOVE.
Our oldest daughter, Hallie, turns sixteen in a little over a month. A week or so ago I asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday. Ever since, her wheels have been turning.
We're at one of those weird stages where both her taking a trip to the zoo to feed the giraffes (like we did this past summer) and getting her driver's license are both age-appropriate. She's a girl and she's a young lady.
Trying to narrow down her birthday idea list has proven to be a chore. As of this morning, after much contemplation, the short list included a shopping trip, a trip to the zoo or re-decorating her bedroom.
When she mentioned fixing up her room I instantly groaned inwardly. This idea involves painting again (Please no!). She wants to string up lights (Really?). She also wants a new bedspread (I like the one she has).
Come on...no redecorating.
Since lunch I'm singing a different tune. Eating the last bite of her rice, while we watched Netflix together, she looked up and in a few quickly executed sentences crossed another birthday idea off the list:
Hey Mom. I was thinking. I'm not sure I want to redo my room for my birthday. I'm only going to be here a couple more years. There's really no point.
Talk about a punch to the gut...
It's funny how quickly one's perspective can change. Now I'm finding myself wanting to help her redecorate. Let's paint. You said you liked pink? How about "Fairy Pink"? "Sweet Taffy"?
Maybe we can do that AND take you to the zoo. We can eat cotton candy and ride the carousel.
We can just keep riding the carousel and never get off.
I mean, is sixteen really sweet?
I kind of think sixteen stinks.
It's an invitation for our daughters to have their hands on the wheel, to set the wheels in motion (soon by themselves). It's a provocation for our little girls to decide where they're going and to think about someday leaving.
How do you gift your girl for her sweet sixteen?
I'll leave that up to you.
I just may once again embrace a delicate shade of pink and a paintbrush, making sure that for however many years she has left at home, and even after she moves away, that she feels at home. I'll gift her with permission to preserve girlish fancies; twinkle lights and pretty covers and the knowledge that she's still our princess.
Time gives, or does it steal? It just depends on how you watch the clock.
Everytime we've moved into a different house I've had a simple checklist of things the house mustn't have to be considered for purchase.
- Paneling. It makes the room look dark and makes me feel like I'm suffocating.
- A planter. Two of our houses have had a brick planter in the entry way. I think they're bulky and weird. And I can't grow plants. And fake plants? That's like inviting company to walk into a lie right when they come in the front door.
- Wallpaper. It's like a house tattoo. It's wall art that's too difficult to remove if you ever get tired of it.
Every house we've ever bought prior to the one we live in now has had at least two out of the three. We did good when we bought our current house five and a half years ago. No paneling. No planter. But minimal wallpaper.
Because as The Rolling Stones remind me, You can't always get what you want.
Our wallpaper is gone (except for the wallpaper in one bathroom... I want to remember where I came from.)
The past couple of days Jason and I painted most of the downstairs without damage done to either the house or our marriage. For most of you this may be a menial task, but I'm messy; so messy that I was put on roller only duty. Edging requires a steady hand, and more importantly, a patient hand. I've neither of those.
I did, however, get moved up to edging duty by day two. I couldn't decide if I was proud or perturbed as rolling duty says progress whereas edging duty is monotonous like peeling potatoes for a family of six when you were a kid with one of those old-timey peelers. Peeling gets no credit when the potatoes taste good.
How about I get to the point.
So we're for hire.
Rate: $100,000/hour or a $1,000,000 flat fee per project (up to four rooms).
Availability: Seeing that this project took us more than five years to get to, our first available dates should be in January 2022.
Or... Here a few tips, for free.
- Qtips are not efficient paintbrushes for small spaces.
- When your husband/painting partner tells you to get the excess paint off your roller and you don't, just to exercise your adulthood, it will leave roller marks and a permanent reminder that he was right.
- Your old stuff that seemed to match fine just prior to your paint project will seem out of place. Your white baseboards will turn grundgy and will beg you afterward, Please paint us too.
- Count how many light and electrical outlet covers you have, as well as pictures on the wall. They're a lot more fun to take down than they are to put back up. Strongly consider how badly you want to paint or think about whether or not there's room in the garage for all those pictures you didn't feel like putting back up which coincidentally need to be updated anyway.
- Don't wear your favorite jogging pants to paint.
- Take some ibuprofen or Tylenol before you get started. Pain is a part of painting.
- New decorative pillows are cheaper than paint.
A little peek at our remaining house tattoo (bathroom wallpaper)
We've only put one room back together so far. We're being thoughtful of one another and letting each other rest.
I had a hankering today for a tasty frozen fruit dessert (that I'd just been introduced to hours before). After grabbing Hallie from the high school we trotted over to Market Basket to get the ingredients (except I forgot the Cool Whip and accidentally picked up a family size bag of Doritos we didn't need).
In minutes we were in the check out line; my eyes instinctively dropping down and to my left. You know what's there don't you?
I looked at the trusty old rack holding issues of Southern Living and Texas Monthly. I think I glanced at a yummy looking dish on one cover, but I can't be sure. My eyes are typically averted, focusing on the more interesting magazines right above. I need my weekly shock.
My Granny instilled in me a fascination for big news. She kept a current copy of the Enquirer, or other tabloid, in her bathroom. Nobody was ever able to do their business in less than fifteen minutes when they came to visit Granny.
Now, just so you know.
OK tells us that Angie is seeking revenge on Brad by stealing his clothes.
Drake and J. Lo are heating up.
While these tidbits are fascinating, one headline stole my attention. It was the latest dish on Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) and his wife Anna.
Get ready for it.
I kind of wish I'd bought a copy now.
Are they reporting this as bad news? I don't need the details. I mean, I wouldn't stop you if you started telling me, but (hypothetically) I don't need to know if the nanny is trying to steal him away or if Anna just can't handle him being an uninvolved dad.
All I know is that tabloid covers are usually reserved for bad news, unless you're the guy that lost four hundred pounds in eleven months.
Chris and Anna fighting to save their marriage?
This is good news. That is, if it's really even news at all.
They probably are fighting just like most couples do.
Please inform me if your experience is different, but couples fight. Some fight fair and some don't, but husbands and wives do squabble and disagree.
(So if. ...scratch that...) when we as couples fight in marriage, here's the big question
Are we also fighting for our marriage?
That's what the article title suggests Chris Pratt and Anna are doing. They're fighting to save...
Are you fighting to save?
Or are you just fighting, with little intention and effort in place to improve the situation for the both of you.
Maybe you're not fighting at all. Maybe you've resorted to silence or to going your own way.
A good and necessary battle
- Requires that you remember you're on the same team
- May require recruits (a counselor, trusted friends who love you both)
- May involve individual loss or defeat for the sake of a war being won for the marriage.
- Is best fought with God in its center
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12
Battles are fought and lost. But we ought to be warring for our marriage.
Sign up as a recruit for the marriage of loved ones. Be faithful for them in prayer.
Here's to twenty plus years (and still fighting).
Thank you for the gift of a son.
May he choose adventure based on your map.
I pray that, even with a map, he'll ask for directions.
Help him to choose role models that bear your image.
May he follow those who will teach him to lead.
May failure teach him.
Teach him that fear can be a friend who reminds him to pray.
Help him learn that honesty and compassion don't always come easy; Godly character needs God's help.
Teach him to work hard and trust harder.
May integrity speak louder than the voice in his head that tries to deceive him.
When he chooses wrong, may integrity not let him alone.
Teach him the difference between courageous and cocky and between arrogant and secure.
Help him to know what it means to stand out in a crowd instead of standing with the crowd.
May he never be to old to play,
Never be too preoccupied to be curious
And may he never be so accomplished that he stops being amazed.
May he never be too proud to say I was wrong, I'm sorry.
May laughter escape his lips but only to stick around. May it bring cheer to those around him. Remind him to share it freely.
May he understand that growing comes from building others up.
Teach him that meekness seeks no attention, while weakness hides or calls attention to itself.
Teach him that strength need not boast
And security need not prove itself.
May he treat all girls, not like he treats his sisters, but in the way he ensures others treat his sisters.
Help him to listen when he thinks he already knows the answer.
May I be his number one fan as long as he needs me to be.
May my replacement someday be a bigger (and better) fan than I am.
Teach him to be grateful for scars. They're a reminder of wounds that have healed. May they serve as pages in his story that he's glad have turned.
Teach him there's never an occasion not fit for prayer.
May his desire to know you more, never stop growing.
Dear Good and Gracious Father,
Thank you for the gift of a daughter.
Help her to be wise and cautious so she won't fall.
But when she does stumble, may she look to you to help her up.
May the mirror not be the place she searches for beauty.
Make known the difference in pretty and beautiful; giving each its proper place in her life.
Help her not to mistake a unique physical feature as a blemish.
May she embrace the way you made her; only seeking to eliminate that which isn't from you.
Help her to see flaw in others as opportunity for encouragement.
Help her to see flaw in herself as opportunity for improvement.
May she be reminded that you prefer to carry her sin and shame instead of her hiding it or hanging on to it.
Help her to forgive and to know she is forgiven.
Rather than foolishly praying that she's not tempted, I pray she'll recognize temptation and flee from it. When she doesn't, call her away.
Teach her that fear can be a friend who, when approached correctly, will point her to you.
May she properly feed hunger.
May she be spiritually well-fed but never think she's full enough.
Make her a better friend, Lord, and thank you that on lonely days you are her friend.
May she seek your instruction more than YouTube.
Be her counsel even when she forgets to seek help. When she forgets to ask for help, please remind her.
Convict her when she looks for answers in wrong places.
Let love, though only four letters, be the biggest word in her life; a small-packaged force that sustains and drives her.
Make known to her the difference in counterfeit love and love that comes from you, the only legitimate source.
Help her know that obedience and respect are roadsigns on the path to healthy independence.
Keep her mindful of the obvious; that freedom is found in dependence on you.
Allow her to see how her yesterday informs her tomorrow.
Let her cast away that which you see as futile.
Help her cherish those things in your treasury.
May she realize that dangerous isn't always bad just as safe isn't always good.
More important than her knowing her potential and her tirelessly striving to reach it, may she rest, knowing her potential is found in you.
I pray for the one you have planned for her, but may she and I both always realize that there's no one more for her than you.
May she first see these things in me.
I got some mention-worthy gifts at this year's end. I'm a happy girl to be taking these things along with me into 2017. Here are a few things I'm excited about.
- I got a new Giving Key necklace. If you don't know about Giving Keys, they're actual keys engraved with a word that signifies a spiritual virtue. This is my second Giving Key on account of my giving the first one away. (That's what you're supposed to do). You attempt to better live out "your key word", and then you give the key to someone else. This time my key says Peace. This one will be a toughy as I'm a worry wart. I also frequently describe my brain as Richard Scarry's "Busytown" (Even though I cease productivity, my brain hardly ever rests). Peace like a river hardly ever "attendeths my way".
- I may have this peace necklace for a while. When you see me, say a little prayer for me that I'll better spend my time with The Prince of Peace -allowing him to settle my insides.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
- I got dinner pants (jeans) for my birthday. That's what I call them anyway (besides calling them friend). They're really for after dinner. I have a problem with all of my other pants in the period that directly follows any time I eat. The place where the button fastens starts to protrude like a sharp-shaped outie. It's neither attractive or comfortable. My (after) dinner pants skip the button altogether. They're nice and stretchy and keep my stomach looking slightly more flat. I can eat dinner without having to change into pajama pants afterward (or else my workout pants that are hardly familiar with exercise).
- I also got a new email address that will help us be more easily connected. Jason wrapped up this beautiful chalkboard art done by Janaye at Chalk This Way to present the gift. When I opened it, I was misty-eyed at its beauty before I realized the significance of the gift he had given me. My posts are easier to manage and it's also now easier for readers to subscribe to God's Girlies. (Just look below).
- Oh yeah, the Chimp, my new friend... Mailchimp is the name of the new service that will make emailing and subscribing a cinch for you and I both. In just the past two days I gained dozens of new subscribers, something I've struggled to do in the past four and a half years. Have I ever mentioned that Jason is my favorite person?
- This website has a fresh face too. Check out Gabbing to His Glory. It's updated. I have a new family picture where the kids'smiles are without baby teeth (Kind of sad, but I'm pretty proud of how they're growing).
For those of you who have subscribed in the past, you will be automatically receive posts through Mailchimp now. The old email service will still also send you posts until you unsubscribe. You'll just have to click on the post that looks like this and hit the highlighted blue unsubscribe button. It will send you a confirmation email. Then you'll be set.
The one you keep (sent through Mailchimp) will look like this.
If you've never subscribed and want to, here you go...
Last year I got in on one of those sweet Pay it forward chains where I payed for the coffee for the people in the car behind me. That kind of thing makes me smile, just like participating in Operation Christmas Child, The Angel Tree and other giving opportunities do.
There's no time we're better about spreading a little happiness than Christmas.
All this giving reminds me of a man whose story takes place on the rooftop. His goal? He wanted to get into the house below. Contrary to what you might be thinking, he wasn't wearing a red suit and I highly doubt there was ho ho ho-ing.
But you know the story. It goes like this.
Luke 5:17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
Then Jesus told the man to get up, take his mat and walk. He was two kinds of healed.
This guy met (and was healed by) Jesus, but it's also mentioned that this guy had good people.
They didn't buy him Starbucks, give him a gift card or bake him a loaf of chocolate bread. (Well maybe they did. If they did, good on them.)
(But even if they did, in addition,) They executed a much better giving plan.
They battled a bustling crowd to get their friend right before Jesus, knowing Jesus was just what he needed.
(When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles)
Their persistence led to the physical healing they sought for their friend.
Their faith led to something much greater; the gift of eternal life. (When Jesus saw their faith...)
Three rows on the string of lights wrapped around our palm tree out front are already out. They're lacking a proper connection to the light source.
Like other lights, their glow is borrowed and temporary.
Dimming light isn't the only kind of light we're bearers of.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
So don't stop at Starbucks. Or giftcards. Or making smiles on Christmas morning.
Our friends (and those we haven't met) need more.
God has granted his children a constant and everlasting light source that He intends for us to share. May He grant us (along with it) persistence and the power to always believe.
- Who needs you to believe (on their behalf)?
- What friends do you have whose light is dim from loss and heartbreak?
- What about those who stumble in darkness, not yet knowing The Light? Will you take them before Jesus?
This little light of mine is connected to something much brighter.
There are two classes I probably should have failed in high school
- Home Economics
I was lost in both.
Let's just say that in Computer class, I was lucky that I had someone sitting beside me that knew what they were doing.
In Home Ec, my mom helped me sew an apron for a major project. Then there was that other project where our childcare skills were assessed. My child (Cabbage Patch baby) was doll-napped from my locker, resulting in a bad test grade. At Christmas time, while in Home Ec class, I got caught with cookie dough on my face while my group was supposed to be baking for Open House (I also got caught lying, saying I hadn't eaten any). Things didn't go that well. It didn't help that my teacher didn't like me.
This all brings me to the reason for this post.
I can't be the only one out there who isn't Martha Stewart, or the Pioneer Woman (though I'd like to be her).
I can't bake. I've tried. I can make chocolate chip cookies, but that's because I observed my mom making them from the time I was in the womb. Can I bake anything else? Not so much.
I've tried this week. (See below for a picture of a few of the ten mini chocolate bread loaves I attempted.)
I determined today that not all people are cut out for baking. That's why I decided to make this here handy flowchart so that you too can decide whether or not you should be spending your precious hours before Christmas in the kitchen. Just think of it as a gift of confirmation; for some, the gift of freedom.
Like I mentioned, I'm not skilled at the computer either so my attempt to make a flowchart on Excel failed. So I drew it for you. I know it's kind of small. Hope you have good vision.
(I just noticed a yes that turned to a no up there on the left. I guess that's in case you thought you had time to bake but then realized you didn't. Yes....mm...No....-Don't bake).
Should you really be baking? Let me know your results.
P.S. Anybody need a couple of packages of sugar and flour and some Christmas sprinkles? I know somebody who's getting rid of some.