Friday, September 4, 2015

superstar

He's 5-years-old, his favorite food is a chicken sandwich with pickles, and he likes hockey "because it's a tough game."  His favorite thing about school is going outside and learning math.  He wants to be a hockey player, climb a mountain, and ride a rollercoaster.  This little guy is certainly full of life, certainly loved, and certainly bound for great heights! 

Monday, August 31, 2015

just do your best



On game three, day two of the Cabosa Cup soccer tournament, I was sitting at the edge of my seat, so sweaty but so proud.  And having so much fun.

My eight-year-old middle child, such a sweet spirited, sometimes-hesitant and always-cautious kid, was giving it all he had on the soccer field.  The score was irrelevant- Zeke was running as fast as he could, playing the best that he could and what else could you ever ask for?  I had watched from the sidelines too many times knowing he was holding back, not disappointed (after all, I share his middle childness and his hesitancy) but hopeful that one day he would give it all he's got.  That's all I wanted to see- Zeke having fun ("so much fun!" he said), doing his best, giving his best, playing his best.

so proud of this guy

It's so simple:  just do your best.

We're given an inhale as a gift.  We can exhale with our best effort as an offering of thanksgiving.

Our Father loves us fully when we're struggling and when we're on the bench and even when we throw up our hands, but I think He must really love it when we just do our best.  He's spoken it to my heart these past months and it's true:  You can't do everything, just do everything you can.  When we give it our all day by day and hour by hour, I think He must be smiling wide saying, "That's my girl!" I don't think He's ever disappointed in us as much as He's hopeful for us, that we would look to Him for strength and run full force the path before us.  Just doing our best.

Like Andy Stanley pointed out in our study last night, his invitation to in-the-midst-of-great-sin-and-shame tax collector Matthew was simple:  "Follow me."  Its simplicity is freeing, isn't it?  You don't have to be perfect or have it all together, you just accept the invitation to follow Jesus and you do your best minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.  You do your best for Him and when you fall down, you ask Him to help you up.

You just do your best.

Amen. 

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart..." Colossians 3:23

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"goodness occurred and he tasted it"


A jog to the church following the boys on bikes + a couple more miles with mom + an accidental wandering through the neighborhood 'cause the gate got left open + play with his other puppy friend Ruby Lou = Banjo's best day of his life.  August 22, 2015
 

The best and most creative, insightful description of animal consciousness I've ever read (and maybe the only one!?): 

"Mr. Bultitude's mind was as furry and unhuman in shape as his body.  He did not remember, as a man in his situation would have remembered, the provincial zoo from which he had escaped during a fire, not his first snarling and terrified arrival at the Manor, not the slow stages whereby he had learned to love and trust its inhabitants.  He did not know that he loved and trusted them now.  He did not know that they were people, nor that he was a bear.  Indeed, he did not know that he existed at all:  everything that is represented by the words I and Me and Thou was absent from his mind.  When Mrs. Maggs gave him a tin of golden syrup, as she did every Sunday morning, he did not recognise either a giver or a recipient.  Goodness occurred and he tasted it.  And that was all.  Hence his loves might, if you wished, be all described as cupboard loves:  food and warmth, hands that caressed, voices that reassured, were their objects.  But if by a cupboard love you meant something cold or calculating you would be quite misunderstanding the real quality of the beast's sensations.  He was no more like a human egoist than he was like a human altruist.  There was no prose in his life.  The appentencies which a human mind might disdain as cupboard loves were for him quivering and ecstatic aspirations which absorbed his whole being, infinite yearnings, stabbed with the threat of tragedy and shot through with the colour of Paradise.  One of our race, if plunged back for a moment in the warm, trembling, iridescent pool of that pre-Adamite consciousness, would have emerged believing that he had grasped the absolute:  for the states below reason and the states above it have, by their common constast to the life we know, a certain superficial resemblance.  Sometimes there returns to us from infancy the memory of a nameless delight or terror, unattached to any delightful or dreadful thing, a potent adjective floating in a nounless void, a pure quality.  At such moments we have experience of the shallows of that pool.  But fathoms deeper than any memory can take us, right down in the central warmth and dimness, the bear lived all its life."  C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength

Thursday, August 27, 2015

how much love

Happy birthday Meg!

"How Many, How Much"  by Shel Silverstein
How many slams in an old screen door?
    Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
    Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
    Depends how good you live 'em.
How much love inside a friend?
    Depends how much you give 'em.  

Happy birthday Korrie and Lee!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

a season


"No home is too small that one more cannot be invited.  Cozy is the new grand."  Jen Schmidt

 
 These past weeks, we've had birthdays to celebrate, food to savor, lessons to learn, eyes to look deeply into, battles to fight, laughs to share, hearts to spill, plans to make, and sun to soak up.  Time and space for reflection on it all is in short supply but hopefully that will come in due season.  Seasons change, you know.  They always do. 
 
 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

alacritous


alacrity: promptness in response,  cheerful readiness


They were ready this morning at 6:40 am- showered, dressed, full of breakfast, beds made, teeth brushed and lunches prepared.  It was alacrity at its finest.  Here's to the 2015-2016 school year!  May all your uniform shirts be spotless and your pencils sharp.  Onward!

Monday, August 10, 2015

"My Summer" by A.A. Chaney

We went to da beach.  We found a hotel, row 7.  I had fun body boarding.  Seeing jellyfish but not getting stinged by it.  Building sand castles.  We met our friends dere.  Seeing starfish.  Mom liked the hotel very much but dad didn't that much.  Splash part was fun but the pool wasn't that fun.  Souvenier City was super good, like, super really good, no better than super really good.  Mom hated it but I don't know what Dad thinked.  I liked seeing Kathy.  We see movies with her.  She took us to Air U, Dad took us to Air U.  Me and Anna Grace went to Altitude for a party but Zeke wanted to go, and den he get to go. 

Special thanks to big sister Anna Grace for recording this for me.  Two thumbs up.  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

the whisper in the waves



"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."  Jacques Yves Cousteau


Jack and I were discussing Psalm 8 this morning over our coffee and eggs (we do this every morning obviously, don't you?- j/k - I wish), and my first thought was about the first three words.  "Lord, Our Lord."  God is not just Lord, but our Lord.  We belong to each other.  It almost implies an astonishing propinquity or nearness which is kind of the theme of the whole psalm anyway.  How can the Lord be our Lord "when I consider your heavens, the works of your fingers?"  The edge of the Gulf of Mexico, our holiday home this past few days, is only the beginning and only one of countless ineffable works of God- how could this same Creator know and care what's on my mind?  Oh, but our great God does.





"The morning swim has the nature of a blessing to me, a baptism, a rebirth to the beauty and wonder of the world."  Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea


Jack took the ineffability point and ran with it.  Isn't our love for the beach because it is so vast and endless and maybe it reminds us of the beauty and grandeur that is the Lord, our Lord?

Great point, Jack.











our traditional photo


Fischers at Orange Beach - two thumbs up

The Gulf in Orange Beach- our favorite

We sit on the edge of the sea and we let the sound and the smell and the sight of it wash over our hearts and we are renewed.  We belong to each other and we belong to this great big beautiful God who whispers to us in the waves that He is the Lord, our Lord. And though His love is vast and ineffable, so is His love for us.  All of us.  Including you.


It's an especially important truth because life is not a beach.  Life is hard.  But he loves us still and he's with us and for us at the beach on vacation and at home when it's hard.   This is truth, a word to take home from our days at the sea.

Amen. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

farther and further

FARTHER denotes physical advancement in distance.

FURTHER denotes advancement to greater degree, as in time.  

(Via lessontutor.com)

We've been meeting at 5:30 am in our church parking lot three days a week for about four months now.  

When it comes to doing the hard things of life, farther and further both apply when we do them in the context of community, don't you think? 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

the long struggle short

If many aspects of your life seem like a long struggle, you're not alone. I feel that way, too.

I realize my life is pretty sweet and I need to get back on the gratitude train, but even so, some things just seem like permanent struggles, my own sin and shortcomings premier in the line-up.

But in my morning fill-up-my-cup spot, I was reading about the Lord speaking through Samuel, choosing David, and anointing him as King years before he actually took the throne.  I've read the story before, so I know there is a long struggle ahead for David. 

From my journal in which I ask lots of questions:

Why was Saul allowed to go on so long?  Why the long struggle with Saul and David?  Maybe God was building David's character?  

After all, "The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance.  The Lord looks at the heart."  I Samuel 16:7

And this:

"...but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."  Romans 5:4

And of course, the long struggle seems long, but it only seems that way.  We pass through life and learn and grow and then one Day the long struggle will seem like a whisper of a moment. 

In the meantime, we persevere and we gain character and we hope in the One who knows the struggle and will end it. 

Amen. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Dent cousins

Usually, it's moderately difficult to get these guys together for a picture.  But I think they might have sensed some sort of familial unity in the hot Texas air that day.  When I asked for a picture, I got it and even despite the long and harsh shadows of high noon, I like it. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

camp on the mountain


One night toward the end of the week, someone asked one of the girls in another church group what she had learned that week at camp.  She was holding a glow stick and made a profound connection right there on the spot.  "I learned that people are a lot like this glow stick," she said.  "They have a lot of potential, but they don't work (shine?) until they're broken."

Bingo.




Love this crew!












I thought camp in the mountains was going to be easy and fun and mountain-toppy.

Oops. 

Granted, Colorado in the summer is gorgeous and mountain biking was one of the most fun things I've ever done.  I developed a love for and a relationship with all the kids from our church which was and is supremely wonderful.  But I realized very quickly that this was going to be hard.  And that I was going to be broken.

From day #1 as a parent, you are no longer the kind of person that can leisurely stay up late without consequences so you don't.  Maybe every now and then you stay up a little past 11:00, but that is only because it is a VERY special occasion.  You think it's adorable how people might go to a concert that starts at 10:00, but you would never even consider it.  So that first night when we stayed up really late I realized that while I may be starting to come out of life-with-small-children, I'm still there.  I am way out of practice with staying up past midnight and definitely staying up past midnight a lot of nights in a row. And it broke me a little bit.

And besides the lack of sleep, I realized just how introverted I've become over the years.  The lack of time alone broke me a little bit.

And besides all the togetherness, I was grieving all week having just lost my grandmother.  It broke me a little more.

And besides the grief, Anna Grace got sick and my boys at home were at home and I missed them and I almost fell to pieces one night.   More breaking. 

So I was broken, stretched, tired, and short-fused through much of the week but as another one of the kids said to me that week (what is it with amazing insights of teenagers one minute and really corny laughs the next?), our God is SURPRISINGLY CONSISTENT through it all.  He's right.  The Lord surprised me with a valley experience on the mountain, but He is surprisingly consistent- faithful through it all.  Looking back, I learned that when He calls me to do something for Him, it might be beautiful and back-breaking all at the same time.  In fact, it probably will be. 

So yes, mountain camp broke me, but hopefully I can shine brighter these days for it.

After I catch up on some sleep of course.