Sunday, January 12, 2014

This is Not the End

The past many months I feel I've been holding my breath.

Life has been -- dare I say it... good.  Granted, there was a death in the family, and yet another death in the garage (via a car accident only days after the death in the family), so it's not that there haven't been some gray areas, but all in all, it's been good.

My kids are a blessing.  A is talking and hugging and into everything, and she's just gorgeous, let me tell you.  I don't know that you can understand it outside of being a parent to a girl.  Lord forbid someone ever tell her otherwise, after I smack the stupid out of them I'll mention the way she shrugs her hand around when she's explaining something, or the way her smile reaches her eyes, so sincere.  I'll tell them how sweet her voice is when she talks and how contagious her laugh is.

And B, B has been more loving and cuddly than he's ever been.  Just the other day I was able to drop him in his classroom for school (dad usually does this), he ran off from me, as he usually does, to go play with his friends.  At one point, he turned around and noticed me signing him in and he ran back through the room to give me a big hug.  He's learning to read.  Heavens.  How did we get here?  He's got glasses that somehow make him more handsome than ever.  He has to be one of the sweetest, most caring kids I've ever met.

I'm blessed I tell you.

My husband works hard, is attentive, loves his children, and helps without grumbling (most of the time :) ).

We have a vacation planned for the year.  The first. family. trip. ever.  (for JUST our family).

Between all of the above, and the absence of health issues among other things, life just feels good.

I'm so fortunate to be led in worship by my husband each week.  Today we sang this chorus:

"All I know is I'm not home yet,
This is not where I belong,
Take this world, but give me Jesus,
This is not where I belong."

And I felt God whisper to me, "It gets even better than this," and I know it's true.  I know that despite the current absence of difficulties and the enjoyment and contentment I feel right now (which could change tomorrow, I remind you), none of it compares to the beauty, excitement, fulfilling pleasure that will be standing in the presence of Jesus someday, and for that I'm thankful.

I'm thankful that as good as life feels now, one day it will be immensely - and eternally - better, not to be dampened by the threat of looming circumstances, but a forever reality of living in what we can only know now as 'the best is yet to come.'

Until then - I'm forever grateful for a loving God who not only saved me, but lavished upon me such rich blessings.  Even if I'm stripped of them all tomorrow, I'll know that I've been given much more in this life than I've ever deserved, much more than I could ever earn, much more than I could have ever dreamed of.

He is good.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

And the World Keeps On Turning...

I once was foolish enough to believe that having kids would keep me young.

I can't even say that's worked in a physical sense. Carrying two children has widened my hips, added an inch or two to my waistline (not that the cookies and doughnuts I craved with A didn't help that some), and given me, what I would like to call, premature gray hair.

As much as it didn't work in the physical, it's had the opposite effect in the here and now.  I'm pretty sure time sped up X2 when B came on the scene.  In infant-hood the constant spitting and crying made days and nights turn into a mush of weeks and months, though feeling like an eternity at the time, passing still at the speed of light.  It brought a new meaning to the words 'don't blink'.  I seriously had a nightmare that I woke up, B had moved out, and my life had passed before my eyes.  Unfortunately, I think it's going to be prophetic.

Fast forward, and A is now the age B was when we made the big move.  It seems unreal.  She was 6 months old at the time, and to her, our 'here and now' is probably all she will ever know... unless God pulls the proverbial 'welcome mat' out from under our heels and moves us on at some point.  (No visions of that in our own personal futures.)

To know her, A that is, one would believe -- I mean, hook, line and sinker -- that she's a Texan by birth.  Now, to my Illinois friends I know they don't get it.  To be honest, I don't either, but there's something about being Texas, as in, not being illegitimate, born on the soil, that matters.  (Side story: People who have been born and raised in the state but have to move away for a time have family SEND SOIL to put under the hospital bed at the birth of their child so they can be born over Texas soil. True story.  Nuts.)

Anyway - A is this sweet little thing full of spunk and sass who can rock out her cowboy boots with a bright pink top and a string of {fake} pearls.  That's my girl.  If we could just figure out how to make big hair, that'd top it off.

And the thought of it has left me feeling, well, a bit unprepared.

There's some major differences between 'metro' Texas and rural SoIL.  Here's what I've come up with:

I grew up in a town where you could literally ride your bike around town all day and parents not worry.  Everyone new everyone.  Dad probably had updates by the minute over a land line phone as to which house my Schwinn was passing in real time.  Many of the kids starting school new each other when they started school.  Now, this wasn't so much the case for me, because I was an implant from a neighboring town, but I did know a neighbor.  For fun, well, you rode your bike, or made mud pies, or caught fireflies after dark.  I know more than once I had a bullfrog tossed at me.  Our parents hand built swing-sets in the backyard and sleepovers were at least a monthly thing.

As we got older, hometown football games were second to church (for some), 'backroadin' was still something all teenagers did (and didn't always mean you were making out with someone in the dark).  Wal-Mart parking lot was the place to hang out, and Lord forbid you want to find a job.  You had two grocery stores, two hardware stores, and a handfull of fast food restaurants to choose from.  Job hunting took just a short stint in the afternoon, and if you had to 'hunt' at all, as everyone 'knows' someone, they landing a job may be harder than you think.

Still - people still hunt for their food.  Not all of their food, by any means, nor the majority of it, but I don't think I've ever even heard people talk about eating quail, duck, or even deer here.  Not saying I love it, but it's a nice option if finances are ever tight.

Rather - here I worry about my own decent neighborhood for my kids to ride their bikes.  It's going into two years in the same house and I barely know my neighbors names, and one... only one... child that will be in my son's grade as he enters into Kindergarten next year.  For fun, we have a gajillion options: trampoline park, bounce houses, aquariums, museums, bike trails, shopping malls, Legoland, zoos, gardens, airports, art studios, kid gyms, rec centers, the possibility of your child playing any sport known to man... and the list goes on.  Swing sets are bought at Lowes or WalMart.

Football games are still prime for the pickin' here, but backroading, good luck finding some.  I'm honestly not sure where teenagers hang out here, but I'm guessing all of these homes with home theaters is the place to be.  I've never seen kids sitting in the back of pick-ups with the radio on.  (We really did grow up the epitome of most of the country songs out there...).  Jobs.  Geesh.  Where would you start?  More than once I've thought to myself, "Wow, if I would have lived in this town as a teenager, where would I have started???"  Name a fast food place, it exists.  All of those museums, gyms, art places have to have people working.  Name a major retailer... we have it.  Just tonight we ate at The Corner Bakery and there was a guy - Trevor - busing tables and I thought to myself, "He doesn't really look like he loves it here... I wonder why this is the restaurant he chose to apply at?"  Because seriously... choices.

Like I said, we may have a Cabelas and Basspro close, and people here are packing heat more than I care to think about, but I've never been offered venison in a meal.  In fact, I'd bet I know more vegetarians / vegans here than I knew non-hunters back in my old home town.  Never thought I'd say that.

I hadn't really felt culture shocked coming in, to be honest, but I still have many uncertainties in raising my kids.  I can no longer 'fall back' on parenting the way my parents did, even in a moment of uncertainty, because my playing field is so utterly different.  What would have been being majorly over-protective in my old hometown has to be common place here on some levels.

And still - the world keeps on turning.  Days pass, my babies grow, decisions are made, just in suburbia rather than rural America, and I keep praying that each one is right.

Until Next time -

Monday, January 6, 2014


I almost don't know where to start as I begin this blog.  For those who know me, you know it's hard to render me speechless... really.  I'm not sure that my not having anything to say, though, is the problem. Rather, too much to say... too many remarks... too much - dare I say it - HOPE - for the new year, and if you really do know me, you know I have hope in one thing and not much else --- Jesus.  

Yes, as having been described by my own husband as a person who 'doesn't even have a glass', let alone I be lucky enough for it to even be only HALF empty, hope is, well, not something that has come easy for me.  I tend to want to not set my own proverbial bar too high, as I'd rather surpass my expectations rather than take a chance and fail.  I've had plenty of experience on that front.  

And - though I have a whole quiver of resolutions this year - my hefty resolution - the only one that really matters, is that I kiss my husband at midnight on 1/1/15 knowing that my. life. mattered., and that I tried things, gave them my all, and if I failed... by golly, I went down fighting.  

I want to see it in my faith, my family relationships, my health, my work, my FUN, my aspirations... I want it to cross the whole gamut of who I am... of who God has made me to be.  

Let me say this loud:  I'm tired of merely surviving.  I'm no longer okay with just getting by.  

No - I want experience, great love, and maybe a few accomplishments under my belt.  I want to surprise myself.  I want to work hard and reap the rewards... even if the reward is just to finish.  

That last part was difficult to type (and even more difficult not to erase).  When your mantra has been why do it at all if you can't do it well... it makes the mere idea of finishing not seem so glamourous.  Don't get me wrong, I've never expected to be the best at anything... but to not be the worst would be awesome, and this year, one thing I'm going to do is run a whole, blasted, 5k (the bar is low here, folks) without having to walk ANY of it.  Keyword... RUN.  I've done a 5k.  In fact, I did two last year.  I walked one completely to walk with my family, and I ran / walked one earlier in the year.  But I couldn't run the whole thing.

Something else.  I'm tired of just looking at the scale.  Sure, I *cough* still have the 6 pounds or so I'd like to lose, and it's still on the list.  But you know what, I need to be building some strength.  Before, I was perfectly content to eat better and be a bit more active and watch the scale move down some, but this year I need to tone up and work hard, and if that means not getting below 130, but my clothes fitting better and my energy levels spiking... so be it.  

I'm going to finish a book, and I'm not talking about reading one.  Here sits the girl who thrives on, relishes in and hopes in a good story.  I have an abnormal desire to meet authors and imagineers that have been dead for decades.  I fantasize (I don't use that word loosely), about writing a great novel... and I'm not talking Twilight here (and I like Twilight), I'm talking timeless.  But my biggest fear has been to write it and to have no one to read it.  As if, in the writing there is no satisfaction but in being read, but I'm overcoming that this year.  I'm working my tail off on that novel, and from that point forward - it is what it is.  I won't one day regret that I never tried, and that is enough for me.  

I don't want another year that goes by that feels like 'we survived another year'.  I want to toast my sparkling juice or whatever beverage I may choose and say, "honey - this year we lived," and hopefully, repeat it over and over and over again, forevermore.