Saturday, December 31, 2016

Fixing and Bible Journaling

I received some clever Christmas gifts this year. Some were inspiring -- gym bag, workout pants and a French word-a-day calendar. Some were helpful -- a foam roller mat, jewelry organizer and magnetic note pads. Some were meaningfully (is that a word) unique -- a Texas Tech James Avery charm, Trader Joe's pomegranate body butter and Bloody Mary mix.

One was seemingly so simple, but perfectly suited for me -- a box of pale blue, Southern phrase pencils. Pencils with dark lead waiting to be sharpened. Phrases on point (like the pencils will soon be) such as just darling, goodness gracious and oh my stars. Straight from Nashville and Reese Witherspoon's store, Draper James, these pencils are waiting for big things in 2017. And, I can't wait to use them to write in this upcoming year.

It's a year of change for us. I've potentially a new role at work that I found out about the last work day of 2016. Chris moves to Lubbock for school. Camille starts on a gymnastics journey that isn't unusual, according to many, but new to us. Caroline aspires to run barrels (after she trots them, of course). G and I have big birthdays this year. (I can't write the number yet, but it is out there, staring me down, greeting me and waiting.)

It's also a year of fixing. In the past, our family has had a phrase or word for the new year and we apply it to the resolutions to which we aspire. This year, it's 'fixing.' No more putting off projects, moving broken things to the side or stacking up to dos. We've got screens to replace, ceilings to paint, clothes to be mended, necklaces to repair and laptops to clean. Lots of fixing that has been put off too many times, too many days, too many weeks . . . you get it. We've procrastinated and now 2017 is for fixing.

(I wonder if a Draper James pencil from sweet Reese would read fixin' to?)

(Not only did I receive clever Christmas gifts, I am clever.)

(Maybe I should sharpen one of those new pencils and get to writing. Or writin'.)

There are other things to fix that aren't so visible. We need to fix our church going (or goin') and find a place that matches who we are and where we are. I need to fix my sleep patterns without relying on sleep aids and medication. We need to fix our schedules to include more family and downtime -- how that will fit in, I'm not sure. But I don't want it too broken before we fix it. We need to fix our finances and be better savers -- the 529 we have will only last so long.

These fixes are not hard, not impossible, but they do require thought and planning. I'm thinking future fourth parts will be writing down (with the pencils) how to best fix things. A way to do that is to write in my new Bible. I've not had a new Bible in years. And, because of meeting a very inspiring, clever woman this year, I've discovered Bible journaling. With some Christmas money, I bought the Inspire Bible. To say I'm intimidated as to how to start -- I mean, I can draw a cross and a vine and maybe a heart -- is an understatement. But, I can't wait to start. I've got those new pencils, some flair pens and will be buying some official Bible journaling pencils (remember my affinity for Amazon Prime?!) so I can get going. Fixing that walk with Jesus, right?

And, this fixing business isn't new as my Bible or my pencils are . . .there are a few references in the Bible to fixing. Maybe they aren't technically repairing something as I'm hoping to do in the new year, but these verses really do help us fix our ways.

Hebrews 12:2 'Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.'

2 Corinthians 4:18 'So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.'

Deuteronomy 11:18 'Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.'

Proverbs 4:25 'Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.'

In this new Bible, I can journal and maybe I'll try and start with these fix verses -- a good place to start for 2017. But, I'll use my special new pencils so I can get it right -- or at least be able to erase in case I need to fix my work.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Amazon Boxes and James Avery Charms

Merry Christmas. Yes, let's celebrate the birth of Jesus and acknowledge Him as our Savior. Truly, the greatest gift from God. Sharing that story is paramount to any other activity on which we spend our time. Go tell it on the mountain. Talk about it over the dinner table. Shine that light.

Now, we can transition to another great gift this holiday season. The gift of Amazon Prime. How did we do Christmas before the joy and pure beauty of two-day free shipping? For this Christmas, I received at least 15 Amazon boxes. Some had one gift enclosed, others had several.

I began my Christmas-gift planning in November. I knew most of the gifts I needed to buy. And, I started ordering. Most every other day, there was a box on my porch. Either it was waiting for me at day's end or I would hear the 'ding dong' of the doorbell announcing an arrival.

When, Christmas lists were written and other requests made, I could pop on no matter the time of day or night and put in another order.

Easy, breezy, lemon squeezy ordering, receiving and then, oh yeah, organizing and wrapping. OK, those last two aren't so easy or breezy, but the first two, yep. Easy. Breezy.

It's $99 for the year. That's it and you can order as much or as little as you want (need?!). What. A. Bargain. What. A. Gift.

Christmas morning at our house starts around 7:30 a.m. The girls are not the earliest risers, but they do get up and go when it comes to greeting the gifts. This year, the girls were really into the Elf on the Shelf, Santa and decorating. Before anyone worries, we started off the day with a conversation and Bible study on why we celebrate Christmas. Both girls nailed it and are available for quizzing.

The gifts ranged this year from favorites of a hot glue gun and Julie the American Girl doll to Season One Shopkins (it's a miracle was the exclamation) and gymnastics mats. A Whataburger Yeti, a Fitbit Blaze and a gym bag were other favorites from the non-little ones.

We have so much and the gifts are really just icing to the blessing we have already received.

This year involved quite a few transitions. Best friends moving. Changing colleges. After-school activities. All required major planning and scheduling. Fourth parts still took place but some days there seemed to be little time for the joy of nothing (remember, watching Bravo is my nothing). With the transitions, there were some anxious moments, some tears and some serious praying.

While we do have our Savior and are encouraged (no asked) to cast our anxieties on Him, as a mom, there are days, times, moments where it is much easier to sit in the anxieties than trust in something greater. Melatonin, Tylenol PM and Unisom always help, but so do friends who care and the word of God.

In a few weeks, we have another transition. Chris is moving to Lubbock to attend Texas Tech. He's thrilled and so confident in this decision. He's a different kid. Not the same one who went off to school last year. And, this isn't the same situation. No more football and no more weekly visits to watch games. He'll be six hours away. He'll be living in an apartment. He'll be starting to 'adult.'

I've wondered if this was the right move and if it was at the right time. Things are falling into place so I know it's right. Plus, we continue to receive confirmation from God that it is the right move and right time.

And, then, I open a gift from Chris this morning. It's a Texas Tech James Avery charm. He bought it. He wants me to put it on my charm bracelet right away. He's proud. He's ready.

So, we pray for our hearts to be ready to accept Jesus and his blessings. We pray that we can proudly (without boasting) share the story of Jesus' birth, death and resurrection. We pray that things are done at the right time and according to God's path for us (rather than ours).

Then, you get a simple gift. A simple charm. Something bought with pride. Something paid for after a lot of hours at a retail job. Something he wants his mom to wear.

That's way better than Amazon Prime.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

6:10 a.m. Flight and Work Friends (who are friend friends)

Nothing like a mid-week wake-up at 4 a.m. for a 6:10 a.m. flight. Ahh, work travel. Yes, I earn points and yes, I get peanuts and a free drink every once in a while, but waking up in the 4s ain't making it fun.

This week is one of those plum ol' busy weeks. With the usual activities of school, work, tumbling, horse riding, gymnastics, laundry and making dinner, we had a couple of new entrants on the schedule. The familiar bounce of high school basketball made it's way back. With that, we get an out-of-town tournament. Not for me, but for G. (Hey, that rhymes). Also, Chris and I head to Lubbock for his Red Raider orientation. Guns Up? Wreck 'em? New slogans to learn and a new drive to learn.

Easy to solve those traveling parent issues because I have and a sister in town and some amazing babysitters. Someone to get the Camille to gymnastics with Caroline in tow, check (thanks Jessica). Someplace for the girls to spend the night Thursday, check (thanks Julie and Andy). Someone to watch the girls Friday p.m. until Chris and I arrive home, check (thanks Avery and Natalie).  Joy that my children are being taken care of and tended to. Whew.

But, wow. That's a lot of planning to put into play. Finding the people to help is almost the easiest step. Again, I'm super blessed because I have a sister, a bevy of babysitters and my parents in town. I can usually, almost pretty much always, find someone to help drive, go, watch, etc. Now, I'm jinxed, right?!

It's the other stuff which ranges from the letter with the insurance card lining out the attendees to my children can help with medical decisions in my absence to packing an overnight bag. Oh, but wait, there's school and activities. That means lunch stuff needs to make its' way to my sister's house and the clothes and the hair bobs. Oh, and the Advent calendars because that started today and my girls are not missing a piece of chocolate on day 2 (in the morning, don't judge).

It also means leaving notes and checks and keys and lists for the sitters. And, it means texts galore. Yeah, I over prepare. Have you read this blog?

Oh, and the packing and planning for Chris and I to get out of here -- hoping I have the latest shot record for this orientation and really know how to make this drive to a new place.

Can you understand why the 6:10 a.m. flight really didn't come at the ideal time?

I'm going on an OK amount of sleep from last night but know a six-hour drive will sap some of that energy. But I've planned a stop along the way where Chris and I can eat.

In a Christmas miracle-like fashion, I did get a fourth part yesterday and each day this week. I watched a little TV most nights, read and the best fourth part was last night on the return flight home (delayed until 8:05 p.m. -- it was a loooong work day).

I traveled with two work friends who are also my friend friends. We haven't sat on the same row on a flight in a while and it was pure joy. We had good gossip to cover (I prayed for forgiveness last night) and work stuff to discuss. So productive, so fun. We laughed hard. Like I had tears rolling down my cheeks at one point. We even dressed a like yesterday - black and white. Dresses and skirts and we usually are the pants' travel crowd -- which would have been black by the way.

Earlier in the work day, I did have lunch with a work friend who is a friend friend. Man, if she would have been on that flight home, we would have truly been in hysterics -- but she would have had to sat on our laps or across the aisle and we would have shared our crazy all over the place. She was wearing black and white, too, by the way. And, a dress. Wow, that's nuts.

With all the planning for this busy week and the work trip, my perfect fourth part was at a work lunch and a work flight home. No cocktails were involved but because we were all a wee bit tired, the laughs and the stories flowed instead. To let you in on how trusting these friendships are, one of my travel mates grabbed my phone to go through my Facebook to find something (maybe someone!?). No worries.

Please know, all four of us have had tough times with each other. Strained relationships and difficult conversations have played out between us. And, we still are friends. I trust the three of them on any and all projects at work. I trust them with confidential information about my work life.

I also trust them enough to ask them to watch my girls and hold the letter of medical decision making. I could easily add them to my bevy of babysitters. They would do it. Planning would be required as they all go in many directions themselves with their families and their home lives. It could be done.

Those are some good friends. Even at 6:10 a.m. (which by the way, all of them took later flights -- one even the night before -- thanks for that solo flight at the crack of dawn?!) and at a work lunch and at a delayed night flight home.

Guess what? They all encouraged me for this six-hour drive I make today and are praying me safely through it. And, most importantly, praying me through this chapter and latest change in my life.

Good friends. Friend friends,