Tuesday, November 29, 2016

a light that thrives

After a long day of editing, I was playing with a flashlight and long exposures and then I remembered I had read it just this morning:  "A light that thrives in the depth of darkness... It cannot be quenched."  John 1:5 the Voice translation

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

holey gratitude

Zeke had leaned back and propped up his feet the other day so I offhandedly got a glimpse of his worn out shoes.  I hadn't bought them that long ago and they were a quality brand but even so they were tattered and hole was on the brink of opening.  *mom sigh*

Boys are crazy rough on shoes.  And jeans.  Am I right?

But good golly, my sigh soon turned to heart swelling gratitude for my boy who can throw a football twice as far as I can- this boy who runs and tumbles and wrestles and moves with complete ease. What a gift, what grace.

Gratitude.  Just do it.  

Friday, November 18, 2016

on how it was all pieced together

Zeke and I were sitting at the kitchen counter at my mom's empty house waiting on the contractor to show up, passing the time with a puzzle.  There was that one piece that just wouldn't fit.  I kept trying to turn it this way and that way and but it just didn't look right anywhere. Rand, our contractor boss man (a friend who had known my dad and told me about it- so kind), shows up and walks around and then has some questions for my mom. As she's talking on speaker phone, Rand picks up that stubborn puzzle piece and puts it right where it needs to go, looks up, and voila.  House plans are final and everything suddenly comes together.  It's a go. 

Eleven years earlier, the road home to Shreveport opened up.  Jack and I had moved back home from Kentucky with our toddling, singing, dancing little girl and we found a cute little white house on a hill that would do just fine for the three of us.  It was just a mile or so from my mom's new-to-her house- the house that surrounded her with all its light in her dark time just after dad died.  We lived in that little house in a big way, stuffing her with our dinners and parties and laughter and prayers and memories.  But we also outgrew her over time, especially as the two baby boys we later welcomed into the world grew. With every year, the walls seemed to get a little closer together.  So we decided to move on and we put our little white house on the market and we showed our little white house over and over and over again.  And over.  And over.  Over 100 times.  Months of red lights turned into years.  It was a stubborn, very stubborn puzzle piece.

In the meantime, there was a family with a big blue house nearby and they needed to sell.  It was THE house for us- or so we thought, the house we would have bought had we gotten an offer on ours.  A mutual friend later told me that the owner of that house walked by our house for weeks praying for our house and for us and wouldn't you know it, just a little while later she sold that blue house?  To another girl named Candace!?  Her puzzle piece fell right into place but mine was still frustrating me just a little bit.

After a while, we threw up our hands and gave up.  Clearly, this wasn't working.  Until one day, I went over to my mom's empty house (she had moved to Texas after she remarried and had been trying to sell her house too to no avail) and I walked around and thought.  What if THIS was our house?  This beautiful old house with the big backyard and screened in porch? 

Well we all thought about it and then Rand shows up and puts his plan together and after we shifted some things around and added just a little bit, our house-home puzzle piece fit just right.  We remodeled this summer and moved in in July, officially closing on the house with our friend Ben Bethard as our title attorney. God's beautiful wink to us was not having to even put our house on the market again.  Some friends bought it for a rental property and we were able to just walk away from it, thankful for the memories but so crazy relieved to say goodbye.  When that piece fell into place, it was the easiest thing in the world- God's time. 

We'll pack this house full of memories, too.  We already have in fact.  We are settled and grateful, adoring our light-filled octagenarian house on Unadilla Street that fits us like a glove.

Thank you God and for your very best timing.  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

trials and truth

PLEASE watch this TED talk.  It's so great.  And basically, what's she's saying is this:

"Don't run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters.  As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure.  And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line- mature, complete, and wanting nothing."  James 1:2-4 The Voice translation

Kelly is preaching without even knowing she's preaching.  

I think about my friend in Egypt learning a new language and caring for her kids in a foreign culture. I think about my friend who now has to raise two kids by herself having lost her husband this summer.
I think about my friend whose mom just left suddenly to be with Jesus.
I think about teaching this to my kids, especially the one who struggles with anxiety.
I think about how starting a new business is trial-filled.

It's all about putting on that belt of truth that I learned about this summer.  Trials can FEEL awful but the truth is that trials are teachers and God will equip us in every way to help us endure.  He gave us bodies that respond viscerally to stress and hearts that have the capacity to persevere and grow in courage.  

I'm renewing my mind in truth today- not asking for trials, but when they come, I'm going back to James 1.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

she slips

"They try to stop [her]; but it's like holding water in cupped hands:  she slips through their fingers...that is how it is, having a daughter who is starting to grow up."  F Backman 

and I am SO PROUD to be this girl's mom 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place...

psalm 8:3

Monday, November 14, 2016

all our blurs

"I have no photograph of her that’s any good. I cannot even see her face distinctly in my imagination, Yet the odd face of some stranger seen in a crowd this morning may come before me in vivid perfection the moment I close my eyes tonight. No doubt, the explanation is simple enough. We have seen the faces of those we know best so variously, from so many angles, in so many lights, with so many expressions–waking, sleeping, laughing, crying, eating, talking, thinking–that all the impressions crowd into our memory together and cancel out into a mere blur.” CS Lewis, A Grief Observed  
My little sister and I discussed it yesterday- the further we get from his death, the more personalized our grief becomes.  What Dad was to me was different than he was to her than he was to Mom, etc. And Mom's right, he would be a lot older now and not the same as he is in our memory.  But that memory is still there and it's still as salient as ever and I can still hear his voice and I still get choked up thinking about how much he would have enjoyed these grandchildren of his.  Oh, how we miss him. It's his birthday today and had he not died in that accident 14 years ago, he would be 70 years old today.

the Syrup Festival in Henderson, TX

she was our Henderson hostess and it was so fun

treasure hunt on the farm complete with maps and compasses and teams

isn't she just lovely?

it was a GORGEOUS day in East Texas 

I used to pick wildflower bouquets like this when I was little at my grandparents farm so I just had the best time

And here's my step-father with 1 of his 2 granddaughters and his nine step grandkids.  Stepping families are hard and I feel sorry for him on a few levels because we all miss Dad and how can he begin to "step" into those shoes?  Of course he can't.  I'm sure he doesn't want or expect to.  But it's hard on those of us who miss our Daddy to forge a new relationship with our mom's new husband. 

But I also feel so glad for Buck at the same time, this man who knows grief better than I do, having lost one of his two sons and his wife so tragically. Maybe all the newer life periodically injected into his quieter life- maybe that helps on some levels.  

We all have a blur of a memory of someone we've loved and lost, but maybe the holding on to one another and the forging ahead and the pressing on and the gratitude for the past and the hope for the future- maybe that can help us all.  Not that we'll ever fully be free of the visceral flutter of grief pain in our hearts and stomachs until the age to come, but all of it is a balm for now, the gratitude for life today soothing the ache and strengthening our resolve to live out our days with grace and love for each other because it's all so very brief anyway.

Just my thoughts and my own grief observed today.

And thanks be to God for the beauty of our East Texas weekend together.