Do Hard Things

“Do hard things!” That’s what we teach them.
Going into one of the largest and most prestigious tournaments in Texas, the Lady Titans hoped and anticipated that “hard thing” to be fighting their way to the playoffs, one game at a time, ultimately to the Championship!
However, the Titans have been faced with something MUCH harder! The girls lost the game that would put them into the playoffs.  What now?
IMG_4478Hearts are broken. Legs are weakened.  But spirits must not be shaken! These girls must finish the tournament strong, continue to play with all their hearts and give all they’ve got. All for consolation? No. All for the Lord.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for The Lord, not for men…” (Col3:23).
Yet another life lesson from the Hardwood!
It’s time to do hard things, girls…The Glory of  The Lord is your strength!

 

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Very Last First Game

Tonight our college boy hits the hardwood to play his very last “first game” of his college career.  Bittersweet.  My heart aches to see this chapter coming to a close. There are so many things I could say, but I’m just going to leave it to him.  He said it best below.  He wrote the following to himself for inside his locker to be read before every game.  We love you, son and couldn’t be prouder.

Senior Year

This is the last chance to pour your heart out for the game you love so immensely! May you not hold anything back! At every moment go all in and all out!  Make it count! Finish with no regrets! This is for all the times early in the morning at the gym all alone. This is for all the times in the dark driveway shooting before the sun was up. For all the times you were shooting so badly you started throwing the ball at the goal and punting it into the air. It’s for all the heated arguments over a disputed call in one on one or pickup. For the little kid that you used to be who had this dream. For all the kids who never were able to see this dream come true. For all the people that said you never could do it, that it was impossible.  For your parents, who always supported and believed in you even when you didn’t believe in yourself.  For all the time that was sacrificed in the gym instead of being with family and friends. For all the coaches that impacted your life so positively. For all of your teammates and the family bond you have built with them. For every game you have played. For all the blood sweat and tears you have passionately poured out for the love of the game. Lastly and most importantly this year is for God, because without his gift of hard work and ability you would not be where you are today. Play for Him tonight and let everything you do be for his glory!

Tanner #22

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

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The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh…

 

Hazel died today.  Twenty-five years ago, this summer, the Captain and I married and twenty-five years ago, this fall, Hazel came to live with us.  She was a year old, but she was like new and she was the answer to one of our first married prayer requests.  It may seem a bit dramatic that I speak of our Kenmore dryer with such sentiment, but please indulge me.  Not only was Hazel an answer to prayer, she gave twenty-five years of faithful service to our family. 

We married in June of 1986 and lived in Tyler, Texas.  Our Saturdays were often spent in the humid heat of our apartment laundromat placing precious quarters, which could have been grocery money, into the machines.  A few months later, when we moved back to West Texas, it was no small thing that we had $200 with which to purchase our very own washer and dryer for our duplex.  We were rich that day.  Nevermind that we were shopping at garage sales.  We sat together on the edge of our tan hand-me-down sectional sofa and prayed before we set out.  “Lord, thank you for this money.  You know how much it is.  Please help us find a washer and dryer that has not been sitting in someone’s backyard next to their old commode and broken down Chevy.  Amen.”   The first sale we went to was in a duplex and everything in it was for sale.  The lady had a sad story and was moving abruptly,  taking nothing with her.  She had a brand new (less than a year old) Kenmore washer and dryer and she was asking $500 dollars for the pair…about half what she had paid.  We had $200 and not a penny more.  This Kenmore pair was not for us.  As we were leaving, we overheard a man telling the owner that he would be back on Monday to pay one lump sum for all that had not sold on Saturday.  We took a chance.  We told the lady that we knew her washer and dryer were worth far more than we had, but that if, on Monday, she had not sold them, please consider our offer.  We gave her our number and asked her to call us if our $200 would be of more value to her than lumping her new appliances in on the pay-one-price deal the man had offered.  We did not expect to hear from her.  The rest of the day was spent looking at washers and dryers, within our budget, that looked like Methuselah himself may have been the previous owner.  We went home tired and dejected.  Monday morning she called.  The lady with the Kenmore wanted to sell the set to us for $200!  

The washer served us well for the next twenty years.  But Hazel, she was with us for a quarter of a century!  She finally kicked the bucket this morning after a long period of knowing it would be “any day now.”  Hazel had been making a really obnoxious clunking noise for some time.  We couldn’t carry on a conversation in that end of the house while she was working and if the phone or doorbell rang, everyone knew to go stop Hazel.  It was time for her to go. 

Hazel dried all those size 3 clothes that I wore on our honeymoon and she dried all the newborn baby clothes and “burp rags” and the only place our first newborn would sleep during those early weeks was often on top of Hazel, where he was lulled by her humming.  It was only natural that he would share a room with Hazel when his siblings moved in to our tiny house.  Hazel moved with us when we left our home of fourteen years and she never missed a beat when we plugged her into her new home.  Hazel dried football uniforms and tennis shoes and many different sizes of basketball uniforms and Nike socks.   She was faithful.

For the past several years, I have been constantly reminded of God’s faithfulness and His provision every time I used my dryer.  I became sentimental about my dryer and I named her Hazel.  God has answered many prayers in our marriage and family since that weekend twenty-five years ago and Hazel has been a constant reminder to me of God’s love and grace.  I’m sad to see her go.  Maybe when my kids read this, they will better understand why I was sad this morning when there was no longer loud clunking coming from the utility room.  The Lord providith and now the Lord taketh away.  I will miss Hazel and I will, forever, think of God’s faithfulness every time I dry clothes.

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Claire Bear

I ordered boys.  Six of them.  The first one arrived without surprise.  A few years later I was in delivery, ready to meet his little brother.  His name was Samuel…….until the bottom half of “him” arrived!!!  What?!!  But…!!!  Wait…!!!  Well, we changed Sam’s name to Claire Elizabeth and I began recovering from the biggest shock of my young life.  I had a girl!

On Claire’s first night in this world, I slept very little.  My eyes were fixed outside the window, the night sky alight with diamonds, brilliant and shining.   It was nighttime, but it was not dark.  I lay there, my mind as far away as the bright crescent that illuminated the night.  “I have a girl.  I have a girl.  I have a girl.”  I repeated it over and over, out loud, in hopes of comprehending the fact.  I had “ordered” boys and I was stunned, though filled with excitement.  I had a girl.  A daughter.  Her name was Claire.   

Claire:  bright light, illustrious, luminous, brilliant.  The spiritual connotation of Claire:  shining Christ’s light.

My baby girl had the fairest skin; her tiny head was covered with soft, loose, light strawberry curls; her eyes bright blue.  Everything about her exuded her name’s meaning.   That didn’t even occur to me as I lay there that early June night, mesmerized by the brightness, thanking Jesus for the gift. 

{It’s not in my comfort zone to brag and carry on about my kids.  I’m far more likely to give the “little angels” (*said with sarcasm*) a hard time, knowing full well they know exactly how I feel about them.  Claire is no different from my other offspring in that she has her fair share of shortcomings.  She is a lot like her Momma and there is plenty of room for “tweaking”.  However, in honor of her turning eighteen, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and I’m going to crow over her a bit.}    

In celebration of your eighteenth birthday, Claire Bear, here are some of the many ways you ILLUMINATE my world:

Claire is a songbird!  She loves music and is forever singing, belting it out through the house.  (Her voice is beautiful and will be sorely missed when she leaves the nest…if her Daddy ever lets her.)  Claire’s perpetual song, however, has been known to give her cause for embarrassment.  Like the time she didn’t know that an athletic trainer and his cousin were at the house and her serenade came pouring into the family room from behind the shower curtain and under the bathroom door.  It may have been less humiliating had she not been in “concert mode”.

Claire laughs easily and often.  I love that she can laugh at herself…like when she serenades strangers or discovers something stuck in her front teeth after meeting a new friend.  (Even when she took out the $900 basketball goal while backing out of the driveway, the embarrassed laughter that lights up her face eventually came out…though it wasn’t until after her Daddy laughed.)  Most often Claire laughs at Tanner and Tess.  Her brother and sister are the funniest and she adores them.  Claire is charmed by fun, light-hearted people and is naturally drawn to them.        

Claire is tough.  She’s not likely to cry when she gets hurt, be it physically or feelings.  She’s tough, thanks to basketball and brothers I guess.  We rarely see her tears…unless it’s regarding her passions.   

Claire is very passionate!  If she cares deeply about something or someone, she feels it with intensity and can’t hide it.

Her passions?

  *Jesus.  She loves Him and her heart aches at the thought of a lost soul.     

*Family.  Claire has a long fuse and doesn’t anger easily.  But if you want to see her temper, mess with her family.  She loves spending time with family and when her brother is away at college she misses him like nothing else.     

*Friends.  Claire would lay down her life for her friends and makes herself vulnerable by opening her heart to those she loves.  They are worth the risk.    

*Basketball.  Where to begin?  The loss of a very important game hits her hard (there may be tears).  Being selected All-American out of over 300 girls overwhelmed her with gratitude and humility (there were tears).  She is fiercely loyal to her team and teammates.  When she plays her last highschool game, at her last National Tournament, she will feel it in the depths of her being (there will be tears).

Claire is a Romantic.  She awaits her prince charming, her knight in shining armor, patiently {*Take your time, Sir Knight, just hurry*}.  She is conservative (a.k.a. old-fashioned) when it comes to being romanced.  She may drop a few hints, encourage him along the way, bat her lashes, but her prince better be charming…and valiant enough to “come calling” on her (… and her Daddy), because she won’t be chasing after him!  Claire doesn’t date yet, by her own choice, though you can be sure her Daddy is in full support.  Her fairytale romance just might be falling *madly in love* with her best friend and, at just the right time, being *swept off her feet* to live *happily ever after*.          

 A dear family friend, who has known Claire forever, recently sent me the following text message:  “Thinking of u so much.  Watched ‘Tangled’  last night!!! WOW!!! Claire’s the star of that show!!” 

Maybe so.  I think I’m going to grab some popcorn and go watch Tangled again, I’m curious.  

Thank you, Claire Bear, for lighting up my life!  

  Two year old little stinker.    

      “I went to a Chinese restaurant to buy a loaf of bread, bread, bread…”

      Sisters.

    Claire’s big brother.  Her “knight” …until the real one comes along.

Hiking Colorado.

    Finding Claire like this more often these days than usual.

           “Let me see your grill…”

               My girl.

     

Backstage…before the play.

Juliet and her mom… “The Suess-ification of Romeo and Juliet”

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A Tribute to My Hero…

Happy Birthday!

I’ve never really been one to use the phrase, “my hero is…” and couldn’t even fill in the blank that easily, if asked.  However, I’ve found myself thinking, time and again, in recent years, “Wow, he amazes me!”  The oldest of my offspring, that is.

Sparing the details, I will say this…if I were asked to choose a hero, I’d pick him.          

 *Hero–noun,  1.  a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.*

I have watched, quiet and helpless, as my son has worked, endured, persevered and thrived.  He has not only pressed on through situations that would have driven me to curl up with a blanket over my head, but he has come through with dignity and earned respect.  Most impressively, I have never, ever heard him complain.  My oldest boy has shown strength of mind, body and character that I can’t help but admire. 

He is strong with a strength I didn’t, and wouldn’t still, know he posessed had he not gone out and faced the world.  He has some stories to tell and I don’t know the half of it.  I feel sure God will use them, everyone, someday.     

It’s interesting, to say the least, watching our children become adults.  There are times when I look back on this boy’s raising and thank God he made it to adulthood, especially as the *unbeknownst-to-Momma* tales unfold around the dinner table.  “You what?!  When?!  Where was I?! Why on earth would you throw a match into a puddle of unknown liquid to see if it’s gasoline or water…inside the garage!?!  Have you no brain?!” 

All those years my Grandma use to say, “Lord, have mercy!” and  I thought it was a figure of speech.  I’ve learned otherwise.  It was a fervent prayer and I pray it often.  And you know what?  God answers it!

My little boy, now my big college boy, is all grown up.  That doesn’t mean he is fully mature.  I think he may never be.  Come to think of it, do boys ever really grow up…fully?  A part of me hopes not.  I love the funny, if pesky, side of my college boy.  He brings laughter and fun to our family, though it’s sometimes accompanied by sisters screaming his name.  While at school, he lives with his eighty-something year old grandma, by his own choosing and doesn’t have to be told to go to churchHe takes his little brother and sister to “do things” and kisses me goodbye when he leaves the house (though I do sometimes have to remind him).  He buys sterling and diamond-ish earrings for his sister’s birthday, endures American Idol while college basketball is on the other channel, and always chooses to see the best in people.       

I could write a book about my children’s shortcomings; they reflect my own.  But in spite of it all, God has turned my big boy into a *make-his-Momma-proud* young man.

  Happy Birthday, Sporty!  You are a hero in my eyes!     

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Today…Tess Turns Sixteen

Tess Mess (where do ya suppose she got that nickname?) is Sweet 16!  Is it possible?  Where has the little girl gone?  I will say this again in five years, no doubt, about the young lady that was once sweet sixteen.  So, I shall keep my eye on who she is right now, today…

Today, she is quick witted and it sometimes gets her in trouble.

  She can laugh at herself and when she does, her face lights and she looks a bit shy and embarrassed.

  Today, she smiles in spite of the  *shocks* she wears in her mouth

She sees beauty in an imperfect bracelet made by her *baby* sister.

Her older sister is her best friend and it really mattered that her big brother be home for her birthday.

Today, she wants to spend the whole day with family, as long as it includes Mexican food.

She loves Jesus and wants a devotional book for her birthday.  

She is not perfect.  She can be a stinker.  She is a bit too much like her Momma at times.

But, she is an easy-going peace maker, which makes it easy to overlook her shortcomings. 

Today she is *sweet sixteen* and we celebrate her! 

The gift and blessing that she is…

Today!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEET GIRL!

We thank God for you!

   

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True Beauty

Since before they could walk or talk, I have hoped my babies would grow to understand and believe the truth about beauty.  The Enemy is brimming with lies on the subject and he has a mass marketing agency in our culture, through which to sell them.  He’s good.  He’s really good.   

A few days ago, after a two and a half hour procedure, my middle-most girl met me in the waiting room of our orthodontist’s office.  There was a a river of tears welled in her eyes and when she tried to speak, the dam broke.  Tears spilled, rushing down her cheeks, finding their way to the floor.  It was a river.

My girl was devastated and had not an ounce of clarity.  She was ugly.  She would never get married.  

I will laugh about this soon.  My girl will laugh about it one day.  I should note, for perspective’s sake, that my daughter did not come out with braces on her teeth.  No.  That would have been “normal” and she would have been less stunned by the change.  Instead, she came out with an “I-can’t-believe-that-fits-in-your-mouth” sized shock absorber-looking contraption that we have come to call *shocks* (pun intended). For the sake of time, and lack of words, I will just say that the *shocks* altered my girl’s facial structure, smile, and chewing ability (try chewing only up and down, no side to side jaw movement…we chew a lot like cows, I’ve realized, but that’s not my point).  Her reflection was not her own.  The girl in the mirror was strange and distorted.

The whole way home she cried and I prayed.  My prayer was choppy and desperate.  Lord, use this in my baby’s life.  Help her to believe Truth.  Forever change her.  Help her to see herself through Your eyes.  Lord, teach my 15-year-old what has taken most women a lifetime to learn; that true beauty is unfading, eternal and comes from within.  Lord give me wisdom.  Lord have mercy.      

When we were back to the safety of home, we talked.  I talked.  She listened between sniffs.  I said nothing new.  I’m hoping, however, that what had once been just words, now had more meaning

God says that our lives on earth are but a breath.  One breath.  How long, according to our culture, does a woman get to be a beauty?  Through youth and into young womanhood at best?  After that, it’s all about procedures and products.  For a small fraction of her life…a fraction of a breath…a woman gets to be beautiful.  The conclusion I draw is this: cultural beauty is skin deep and no one gets to keep it.  IF you were “lucky” enough to be born cute, you get to be beautiful for a little while, until the next group of cuties come in to replace you.  But still our culture urges us to chase after physical beauty and hold onto it for dear life.  Even as our physical beauty is fading at a rapid rate, The Enemy says, “Don’t give up!   Compare yourself to the younger more attractive woman, critique her, compete with her!”  But we can not win.  Whether lost naturally by aging or abruptly through an accident, beauty, according to the world’s definition, will not last.  Period.  “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting…” Proverbs 31:30. 

Contrast that to a woman’s true beauty, which is poured out by God into the human heart.  It is unfading and grows more beautiful with age and wisdom.  It is the mark of a woman who fears the Lord.  True beauty comes from within and radiates out.  1Peter 3:4 tells us that beauty doesn’t come from outward adornment, instead “…it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  Did you hear that?  It is of “great worth in God’s sight!”  AMEN AND HALLELUJAH!    

My girl sat through my ramblings like a champ, as I poured out my heart and soul and everything else to her.  Then she decided she was ready for Mexican food.  A day or two later, my middle-most beauty came out with duct tape over her mouth.  It said, “Under Construction”.  Maybe we’re going to survive this after all. 

There is a road ahead.  We have not arrived.  But I’m hoping that, in the end, our girls will know that the physical beauty our world holds dear has no eternal value; that real beauty is on the inside and never fades.  It’s the truth.  BELIEVE IT!

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