Thursday, April 24, 2014

Favorites

These are some of my favorite pictures so far this spring:

 This is just a small taste of how BIG her personality is.  :)


Our doggies.  They love each other and this is how they sleep these days.   

 GOOOOOOOAL!!!!!! If only I'd have gotten a picture of her face afterwards.  Priceless...


Leadership Day at school.  Bella and 2 of her friends after giving us a very informative presentation on the endangered Gray Wolf.  Don't they look grown up?  And...ahem...doesn't someone look a little...TALL. 

 Hopie on Leadership Day after giving a very informative presentation on Figurative Language.  I learned a lot.  She's also looking very grown up these days.  We're wearing the same shoes and rapidly approaching the same height.  Any tips on slowing this train down??? 

Ava and Noah...her bestie.  They matched on Easter and it was too cute! These two are gonna take the world by storm! 


What a gift to be at the adoption finalization hearing for these dear friends!  I balled my eyes out, of course...cause that's what you do at an adoption finalization. Welcome to your forever family, Ariana!  

We are enjoying the warmer weather, fun family time, and time with good friends.  Next up...a trip to Texas for Ava and I and the count down to the last days of schools.  Yipee! I LOVE this time of year!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lose Your Bacon

Don't worry this isn't a post about dieting! Frankly, even if I was dieting, I would never lose my bacon. It's delicious.  ...Now all I can think of is bacon.  Where was I?...oh yes...

A few weeks ago, we had our 10th annual YoungLife Women's Retreat at Trail West in Buena Vista, CO.  It is one of my favorite times of year.  Time to laugh and worship and be with friends, old and new.  And time for silence.  Oh the blessed silence!  The two and half hours of complete silence is one of my favorite part of the weekend.

During the weekend, my friend Ginger had a little part for those of us on the planning team to play. She wanted us to sing a song at the end of the weekend to wrap things up.  And she wanted us to sing it loud and proud and with abandon.  She kept saying, "I want you to lose your bacon."...which you can only really appreciate when you say it in kind of a southern accent. "Lose yer bacon, yall!"

Later, as she and I were talking, I confessed a weird little problem.  I love to sing.  Singing in a casual way with friends...I could lose my bacon.  At home or in the car, by myself (a rare thing to be sure)...I am guaranteed to lose my bacon.  But, anytime I sing in a way that is "performing", my chest gets a bit tight and I can't breathe properly...which makes it really hard to lose my bacon or anything else for that matter. And I can't sing they way I'm supposed to, with the kind of support my body needs to do what it's been gifted to do. That makes my dream of performing in musicals really difficult. Seriously...it's on the bucket list.

But, it's not just performing.  Last week, we had a training at church for those of us who help lead music from time to time.  The discussion led to closing our eyes during worship and how, though sometimes we close our eyes in authentic praise, part of our job is to interact with the congregation. To invite them along as we worship. How can we do that if we are closing our eyes for an entire song set?   In fact, that can make it seems as if we are alone with the Lord and others aren't invited in (not to mention that it can make you dizzy...I've experienced that first hand.) I shared with the group that I had recently become convicted that most often, I close my eyes in worship because I am uncomfortable with my own expressiveness.  I want to lift my hands, and I know at that moment, with it welling up within me, that I must!  But I am embarrassed of myself, embarrassed and worried about what others might think, so I close my eyes.  It's a bit like a little kid covering their eyes when they get in trouble and thinking they have disappeared. Silly. The problem is, it's not just silly.  I know that I am bound by the fear of man.  And now that I know, I can't just stay there.

As I talked a bit more with Ginger during our weekend, we discussed how much we worry about what other people will think. She asked me what I was hearing in my head when I performed. I knew immediately the voice I hear. It's one that says to me, "You are an impostor and everyone will know it. You are not a performer."  In worship, that voice says "You are NOT free to do what comes naturally. It's embarrassing."

So, I've been sitting with the Lord and asking him about it.  Not because I want everyone to think I am awesome when I can belt out notes in the middle of a performance or because I want to put on a show when we sing at church, but because I want to be free.  I want always to be offering up my chains to the Lord and asking him to set me free, even when those chains are just an inability to be silly. Do I believe that he wants to free me, even from something as small as that? I do, because chains are chains. And I don't think God desires us to be bound by anything.

I'm learning that freedom is the beginning of worship. That the freedom to present our bodies, our gifts, our talents, our hearts as a living sacrifice, without restraint, is rooted in trust and in an understanding of the character of God. And that always leads us to worship. I'm not completely sure how to get there when I'm in a group, though.  So, I keep sitting and I keep asking and I think, in a way, that alone is doing the work of releasing me.  As I sit and learn of him, my heart becomes softer, the fear of man begins to fall away and I become enamored with who he is. I worship, with no one watching but him. I set aside some of my chains and pray that he would help me not to pick them up again. Sometimes undoing takes time.  But I am an eager pupil, and He, the most patient of teachers.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What came first? The chicken or...um...something else...

This conversation with Hope in the kitchen last night had both of us laughing.



A: Hey!  Yesterday I cracked an egg and it was a double yolk!  So cool!

H: (wide-eyed) Mooo-oooom...you should have heated it up in the microwave so it would turn into chicks.

A: Hope!  That's not what turns eggs into chickens.  An actual hen has to sit on them.

H: Well, then you should have sat on it, mom. I think I've just seen people put a warm light on them, though, and it works.

A: Hmmm...I think you're right. But, that wouldn't work for these eggs.  They need to be fertilized first and eggs from the store aren't fertilized.

H: Well, then you should have taken it to the bathroom and put it in the toilet and gone to the bathroom on it.

A: (looking increduously) What?!?

H: Well, like we use cow manure to fertilize stuff in our garden.  Maybe it would work with the eggs.

A: Umm...yeah, it's a different kind of fertilizer.  Fertilized by a rooster. A boy chicken.

H: What does the rooster have to do?

A: (thinking, thinking, thinking)........honestly I have no idea.  I don't really understand eggs.



I should probably go and look that up.

And also, these are the latest photos of my grown up girl.  I think maybe she could win a beauty queen contest...but that's just her mother talking.  Oh...and the 20 people (it seems like) a week that look at her, and then double take and say, "Honey, you are BEAUTIFUL!"  To which she shyly replies, "thank you," and then looks at me as if to say, "how embarrassing..."  Get used to it, sweetie. :)






And maybe I could win some kind of photography award.  Yep, that's all me people.  Well, me and a very fancy camera that basically does all the work for you.  Well, me and a fancy camera, and a beautiful subject, and about 1,000 pictures taken from all different angles so that I can find 3 or 4 that don't have shadows or squinty eyes. (Okay...maybe one random person if you look hard and maybe a little bit of a squinty eye.  Quit being so critical, people!) Yeah...I don't really understand photography either...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Grace of Growing Old

I will always remember her best in the kitchen, quietly moving from one dish to the next, everything expertly timed.  Butter beans, corn bread, turkey, potatoes.  Oh the potatoes.  I can remember one meal where she made three different kinds of potatoes...hash brown casserole, mashed, and potato salad...just because one of us had said we liked those best.  She did that with pies, too.  Everyone always got to eat their favorite pie at MeeMee's house, even if we all came at the same time.  Cherry for Melodie and my cousin Britt, chocolate for Amy, apple for me.The kitchen was her comfort zone.  It was the most natural expression of her love for us. And we ate it up...literally.

MeeMee has always been old to me.  Nobody would love hearing that, but it's true.  When you're a kid, grandparents just seem old.  (Sorry mom and dad...I'm afraid that means my kids think of you as old....even if you don't, and even if I don't.  They're wrong, though.  You're still young bucks!). Maybe that's why it has been such a surprise in these last couple of years to see her health deteriorate and her mind begin to go.  I guess I had been lulled into thinking that, "this is what old looks like." This grandmother who expertly prepares meals for the whole family and takes us to church, introducing us to all her friends. But things have started to change.  She's 95 after all. She has trouble getting out. Going to church is difficult.  Going to the store seems impossible.  Getting out of her chair or out of her bed is easier with someone else there to provide a steady hand and an extra push. And she is not happy about it.

I can't blame her. There is so much about this that is not fun...for anyone. The big picture feels daunting and overwhelming and sad.  But, if you squint a little, you can see that there is grace in growing old.  Those of us close to her are reminded, in the midst of all she cannot do right now, of when she did it all.  It sharpens our memories of her and makes us grateful for all she gave us.  And if we can embrace it, there is something sweet about the stillness of her life.  There is no rush to move forward for MeeMee.  There is only today. And yesterday.  And so there is a lot of remembering, of listening to old stories, the same ones told over and over. And a lot of just sitting together. There is grace in remembering that a person's value remains intact, even when the most they can do is just sit with you.  There's good in remembering how to just be with someone without requiring anything.  That is grace.

In the midst of it all, we are also learning to listen to what is underneath her words of bitterness or despair and to love her by answering the questions she is truly asking.  "Is this too much to ask of you?" and "Am I still valuable?"  My parents and my aunt and uncle have taken the brunt of her frustrations, and continue to answer, "We love you.  We want to care for you." This is grace.

When I talk to her on the phone, MeeMee often says to me, "I don't know why God still has me here on this earth." I understand her sentiment.  My PaPa went to be with the Lord seven years ago.  It has been a lonely seven years.  She usually finishes by saying, "I guess He knows best, though. There must be some reason."  And I know she's right.  There may be a whole host of reasons.  I know at least one of them, though, is that she's here for us.  She's here to teach us about grace. And we can all stand to settle in and learn a little more about that.




Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lupita Nyong'o on Beauty

I love this.  And she is more eloquent than I, so there's no need for me to expound on her four and half minute speech.  One of my many favorite lines, "...I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy." Oh friends...may we understand beauty better.  For ourselves.  For our daughters.  May we not be seduced anymore.