Sunday, August 27, 2017

Trash and Facebook Live

This has been a weekend of watching. We've watched a lot of TV, we've watched a lot of news and we've watched a lot of movies. There was also a fight on last night that was watched. I've watched a few workout videos (and did work out). We've watched cooking shows. We've gone outside to watch the skies. We've watched and watched and watched.

This morning, we're watching church on Facebook Live. Our friend, Ken Hicks, organized a church service from his home. Technology, right? He reminded us the church is people not a place. He encouraged us to remain in our PJs and watch while we are gathered around the breakfast table. He's not in his PJs. But, yeah, we are.

Because, again, today, we are watching.

Our skies are a little clearer, but now we are watching Houston weather. My sister, two cousins, one of G's closest friends and a load of other friends are there. They are in different parts of town which means different situations. My sister lives in the Heights. Thankfully, that means, it rarely floods since it is a bit higher than the rest of Houston. One of my cousins already has water in her home.

So, while we are watching church and listening/singing 'How Great is our God,' we also have an eye on the weather channel. And, we're using a laptop to scroll through Twitter and Facebook watching for stories on the weather.

Tomorrow, the 2017-18 school year begins. Typically, the weekend before is a flurry of activity. G is usually up at school watching scrimmage film and preparing for game number one. I'm usually scurrying around making the best plans I'll make all school year -- lining out fancy bento-like lunches, selecting five days worth of school outfits (with socks!) and talking hair-dos.

We did pick out the first week of outfits -- remember it's been raining with high winds and we are inside -- and we have a hair appointment today to have the first-day (hopefully, second and third day, too) braids done.

The lunch list is done. Before the rain started yesterday morning, I took care of a Magnum PI, Frida Kahlo look I was rocking and was able to dash into Trader Joe's for some lunch supplies. Remember, we are going fancy and bento and big this week.

(Week two of school will be a bag of Cheetos, a highly processed granola bar and a Nutella sandwich for each of the girls.)

(But for this week, it's hummus and hard boiled eggs and homemade pizza rolls and turkey wraps.)

(Chips, absolutely not. Organic pretzels, of course.)

Keep your eyes on the Adams' lunch boxes. Watch for that quick slide into pre-packagedness.

Again, watch.

While we watched the weather yesterday and walked outside a few times, it was only until G took out the trash. (The Petri girls . . we can fill a trash can like none other, we just struggle with taking it out.) As he rounded the corner of our house with a full bag of trash, he saw something that none of us expected.

A downed tree. A fallen oak.

On to the swing set. Not the new fence, not the house. I guess there was just enough wind to take it out. With offers from friends, we should have a fire wood sale sometime soon (when the wood dries.)

Watch for that. It will have to be a random Saturday or Sunday where there is no Lee game, no Baylor game or no film watching. November?

With us settling in for another day of watching -- with a brief trip to get hair done and maybe a quick run into HEB -- we might get a bit tired. We might get sore from just sitting. We might be over television (can you imagine the Adams' being over television!?). We might want to do something.

Ken is telling us through Facebook Live in Romans 15 and 16 that Paul encouraged us to walk among others and to be unified. He says to welcome one another and demonstrate the unity of the body of Christ. Right now, there's need to be addressed. We've watched the weather and the storm and the evacuees come from coastal areas. We've talked about texting the Red Cross so that $10 is donated. We've wondered out loud how we can help.

Our simple acts of serving can be a demonstration of unity. Yes, people will notice. People will watch. But we aren't doing it for recognition, we're serving because we are called to do so. Maybe we can do it from our living room. Praying, posting encouraging comments and collecting goods around the house to donate are all ways to serve.

It was hard to watch the reporting from one of our favorite places, Port Aransas. We were able to visit twice this summer and had tried to get back a third time. We are so familiar with the roads, the shops, the buildings and can recognize them even from an aerial or blurry, water-logged television camera. G is familiar with those waters because he has fished almost every inch of them around Port Aransas (and all the other places he tells me but I just lump into Port A).

When we watch the coverage, we are so sad. We see places destroyed. We remember we were just there. We wonder of other spots we haven't yet seen. We want to go down now for our third visit and help. We are having a hard time watching and not being able to do.

Ken said, 'This unity we are seeking, there are going to be people who claim faith in Christ and will try and get in and cause division.' Even at times such as these, we'll watch people who may be divisive. But, we can't judge. We just have to pray. We have to welcome others. We have to watch.

Romans 16:17 reads 'I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.'

Trash collection is tomorrow. We've accumulated a lot of the past couple of days. We can clean out a refrigerator because of bad food and because we are just snacking and eating as we watch weather coverage. Sure, I could write, get rid of those other things like 'smooth talk and flattery' that belong to those who don't serve the Lord (Romans 16:18), but that's too easy.

What's tough is watching for how we can serve and then serving. What's harder is watching for things to do that continue the work of Jesus. What's difficult is watching friends, family and fellow Texans struggle and suffer, and finding something that is meaningful.

Here's what you can do. Pray. Recognize those who are serving as Paul did in the first 16 verses of Romans 16. And, watch for those opportunities to serve and demonstrate unity.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Red Pencils and Shower Curtains

I perceive myself to be organized. I mean, I think I'm kind of on top of things most days. I've the calendars, notes and lists that demonstrate and scream 'organized.'

Yeah, not always.

If you look at the precious, little, perfectly sized entry way table, you would see stacks of school supplies. There's a beautiful pewter bowl from Mexico holding some, too. And, the monogrammed back packs and matching lunch boxes are on the hooks above the table.

Appearances can be deceiving. Because when you do a quick compare of the school supplies in my home to the list provided by the school district, you will notice a missing item. Four of them.

Red grading pencils. We need two each. We need four.

After visiting three Targets, a Walgreens and an HEB, we've batted zero. These things don't exist.

I should celebrate the finding of all the other items and making the purchase under $50. (Thanks to my sister-in-law and a $50 Target gift card -- the supplies were 'free.') Now, I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I did look really hard and far into that horse's mouth to see if there were a few red grading pencils hiding in there. Nah.

The following lists what we were able to buy in one shopping trip to Target. Remember, I've doubled the number because I have two children needing to be supplied up on day one of third grade.

48 number 2 pencils
2 boxes of 24-count Crayola crayons (none of those HEB or Target brands)
2 pair of 5"-pointed Fiskar scissors (again, with the brand name)
4 wide-ruled 70-page composition books (wide-ruled is another challenge to find when you are shopping late in the game, such as two weekends before school starts)
8 spiral notebooks
2 packages of 9"x 12" assorted, loose construction paper
2 boxes Crayola classic broad-tip washable markers (quick reminder there are about 15 variations of markers -- brights, neons, glitter and watercolor among them)
12 pocket folders with brads -- different colors (thankfully, I consider black and white colors because there are only so many colored pocket folders with the freakin' brads)
8 glue sticks (no brand requirement -- we went Target brand because well, cheaper)
2 plastic supply boxes 9" x 6" x 2" (yeah, specific measurements to hold pencils and the precious Crayolas)
2 packages of 12 count colored pencils (No brand requirement? No color requirement? Can you imagine the impact of varying brands and colors?)
4 packages wide-ruled notebook paper (again with the wide-ruled)
2 2" 3-ring binders -- no Trapper Keeper (right, we're spending that kind of money?)
2 sets of 8-tab dividers (conveniently and more frequently packaged in sets of five)
4 boxes 200-count non-scented Kleenex tissues (the brands, the brands)

Please know, we had a few supplies left from last year . . .a package of the loose construction paper, a composition book, a box of brand-name crayons, three pocket folders with the dang brads and two packages of the notebook paper. We also had to supply two rulers and yes, we had those from last year. In fact, I think one is from when Chris was in elementary school. Rulers last.

We did struggle with finding two bottles of 8-oz glue, but our babysitter stumbled upon them one day and scooped them up for us. Whew. Those first-day projects might not have been finished.

Then, there's the red pencils. Where or where are you red pencils?

Throughout the school supply finding and gathering, I've been putting a few things aside for Chris' new apartment in Lubbock. Remember, I'm organized. I had his bed linens and his bathroom supplies -- towels, bath mats, over-the-door hooks for the towels that really won't ever hang up but there is opportunity as indicated by the hooks -- all in those vacuum-sealed up bags. I even had the soap dish and toothbrush holder gently wrapped as to prevent those $1.99 items from breaking.

But where was the shower curtain and the shower curtain hooks. I mean I tore up looking in bags and cabinets. I even had my guys go into the attic because I just knew those two random items were up there in some kind of bin or bag.

Uh, no. I found them. They were deep inside one of the vacuum-sealed bags.

I've been worried about the shower curtain. Not because it was expensive or even a fancy design. It was a kids' shower curtain with a fish design. Chris liked it and because the fish were yellow, orange, light blue and gray, it added a bit of color to his gray towels, gray bath maths, gray soap dish and gray toothbrush holder.

I'm worried because I'm not going with Chris to Lubbock to help him move into this new apartment. It's furnished, so we don't need another car to haul up furniture. He's moved into an apartment before, so there's really nothing new to do except learn a new address and figure out what it is like to live with three roommates and not just one. The dishes, pots, pans, lamps and wall hangings have already been purchased and will be re-used this year. No need to buy new or help organize.

Remember, I'm an organized organizer.

I'm also a mom who wants to hang her son's shower curtain in his new apartment.

I'm not sure he knows how to do that. I don't think he knows how to hook the hooks on the bar and then thread the curtain through the hooks. I mean, these hooks.

I know there is probably a You Tube video or better yet, I know he is perfectly capable of hanging a shower curtain. But, I want to hang it.

He said it was my choice to go help him move in to his apartment. He said he was fine. He said he could do it and it was a long drive for us.




Proverbs 22:6 is the verse that so many quote -- 'train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.'

He's not old yet, OK.  And, just a few chapters over, there's a lot of verses about the wife of a noble character. So, there isn't a reference to hanging shower curtains or hunting down school supplies, but there are verses on her role. A role that is one to shoot for as long as it isn't being done just to be done or prove out worth, right?

It's about first and foremost, fearing God and demonstrating wisdom. All the work, the spinning of cloth, the getting up early and sewing are simply works. And, we all know what works get you . . . plain ol' tired.

We moms really want to be full of joy as we watch our children grow. We want that reassurance that we have trained them and we want them to arise and call us blessed (Proverbs 31:28).

We want to know that they know how to best use red grading pencils -- gently but firmly -- and that they know how to hang a shower curtain.

'Listen my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.' Proverbs 23:19

Godspeed little man on that path.

Godspeed on hanging that shower curtain.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cheetos and Bluetooth

Those days where the second part is full, busy, productive, tiring and you look back and think 'I got a lot of stuff done today' -- had one of those today. I gave where I needed to give. Asserted myself when required. Laughed when appropriate. Put on my serious face when it made sense.


Then, I got into my car and started to drive home and remembered this third part was fuller and busier than I prefer. Ideal third part is going straight home and not having to cook dinner. It's not having to pack a lunch or lay out clothes or organize for the following day. Today's third part was not an ideal third part. It was more like what my third parts tend to be most nights during the school year. Not during the summer. It's still summer, right?

Oh, my summer is kinda over. Not the reminder I wanted August 9.

I had one daughter at the gym where my husband coaches. First stop, park and get her. Second stop, drive and get the other daughter at a friend's house who served as driver and hostess this afternoon after horse riding camp.

OK, if today's third part requirement was just a simple two-different place pick up, I'd have been fine. Yeah, that wasn't all I had to do in the third part.

Let me back up.

I ate almost half a bag of puffy Cheetos this afternoon at work. And, toward the end of work, I started in on a bag of crunchy Cheetos. A few of us were trying to show how we ate puffy Cheetos which I interpreted as 'let's keep eating them until the other people in the room really notice and take in how you eat puffy Cheetos.' No one cared that much, but I couldn't stop with just one -- that's Lay's, but it still applied in my case.

I was eating Cheetos not because it was a part of my latest diet plan, but because they were at the table and I felt the pressure of the upcoming days at work. Big days a coming and loads of accountability I'm feeling.

I trust my partners at work, yes. I know they are capable of delivering to expectations, yes. But. This. Is. A. Big. Deal.

Pass the puffy Cheetos.

Then, let's add in a Reese's Peanut Butter cup because that's another junk food item that needs explanation to how you eat it, right?

Or, let's step back and realize that there is a lot of coordination of life occurring in today's third part and the next two days.

More Cheetos, please.

The voice inside my head said, put them down, so I didn't finish the crunchy Cheetos. I drank some water, chewed some gum and headed home.

As written above, heading home involved two stops. Both of which were on my way and rewarding in that I saw my husband before his evening arrival home and I caught up with a friend (driver and hostess).

(I've a lot of thank you cards to write in the next few days and some gifts to buy.)

(When your thank-you list grows long, you know you have been asking for more than usual from others.)

(My thank-you list is long right now. It's really long.)

But before I even put the car in park while at the first pick-up stop, I'm finishing up a work call. It's a static-y mess of a call where I think I hear my work colleague and I say things such as 'glad we are on the same page.' That makes me want to throw up that I actually use those words seriously.

At the start of the call that my colleague and I tried to have a couple of times during the Cheetos-eating part of the day, she said she hoped I could hear her through the Bluetooth. I said yes because yeah, I could at that moment. And, then, as the call went in and out of range and static, I gave. There were no puffy Cheetos in the car so I tried my best to listen. Even upon parking, I tried to hang on and did that pressing a finger into my other ear to really hear.

I think I agreed with my colleague on what we need to agree and then we hung up. I went about the rest of my third part and started the pick-up efforts.

Agreeing over concepts at work seems so important at times. It seems as if it is life-saving surgery. At times, I let the tasks of work overtake the necessary tasks of life. I get into a mode of my job is critical to life, rather than my life is critical to me. And, that is plain ridiculous.

I care about my job. I do. I know I am making a difference.

It's just at times, it tries to become larger than my life. It interferes with the third and fourth part. It becomes too much. And, I remember that I need to be making a difference not because I'm paid to do so but because I want to do so. I need to turn off work once I leave. I need to honor my family. I need to be present in this life that if I blink my children are off and on to the next chapter of their lives.

And, I know that my role as wife, mom, sister, friend, aunt, daughter and yes, employee can be fulfilled by being true to myself and God. He tells us in Colossians 3:23 to work at whatever we do with all our heart as working for the Lord, not for men.

Maybe that's why I get tired, maybe that's why I want people to hear my voice at work. Maybe that's why I'm on a Bluetooth call with a co-worker figuring out how and why we agree on something. Maybe that's why puffy Cheetos become the plug for my mouth.

I sometimes (ugh, do I write oftentimes) work for men. The literal sense of working for men, yeah, I do, but when Paul writes this letter to the people of Colosse he's writing to refute heresy existing in the young church there. He's writing to share that we can find completeness in Christ. We don't need the praise of man.

We don't need puffy Cheetos, either.

So, when, the girls and I arrive home and we create agreements around the remaining third part activities, I have to make sure I'm not just running a list of tasks to make work just be work. The list is long. Pick a leo for tomorrow. Start a load of laundry. Get dinner on the table. Pack suitcases for a couple of day's at Camp Grandmother and Granddad. Talk to my son about his apartment. Go through the mail. Run bath water and wash two heads of hair. Put together tomorrow's lunch and snack for gymnastics.

Reminder -- work with all my heart as if I'm working for the Lord.

Everyone pitches in and I can feel the fourth part coming -- it's RHONY season finale and I've the RHOC on DVR. Big, big fourth part. And, I've a new bottle of rose chilling in the refrigerator picked up from Trader Joe's yesterday.

I'm working. I'm working for my family because as a mom and wife that's my way of working for the Lord. I'm honoring that time. I'm reading Charlotte's Web with the girls.

I'm putting everyone to bed. I'm turning on the TV and I'm getting a fourth part.

Without puffy Cheetos, without Bluetooth.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Eyebrow Pencils and Cornbread

All of us recognize when summer is coming to an end. I don't mean the actual calendar date of when we are to claim fall over summer. I mean when the start of school occurs.

Some people know it comes by the turning of the calendar pages to August. Others know by the tax-free weekend sales and school supply displays at grocery stores. Many recognize the close of summer by the influx of school activity calendars -- that have dates beginning before school starts?

In my house, there are three activities indicating summer is coming to a close. The first -- a big work activity that happens mid-August every year. The second -- coaches school, freshman football camp and two-a-days. The third -- Chris goes back to college.



And, ugh.

This summer, we've had the bucket list, we've had family game nights and we've been to the beach twice. We've watched plenty of Netflix (Caroline has a goal to watch all that are in the kids' queue. Today, was Pee Wee's Big Adventure) and eaten more popsicles than I can count.

Yet, it's coming to an end.



And, ugh.

It's hot. Really hot. Hot as how my grandmother would describe the placement of Devine, TX, on this Earth -- either straight over hell or directly below the hole in the ozone layer hot. It's so hot, you don't want to be outside except when you are neck deep in a swimming pool. Or at the beach. (Oh, how I wish we could squeeze in one more trip.)

And, because it is so fire hot, we limit late afternoon activities. But, when we do have the need to get out of the house, we run those errands and get ourselves to the places where we need getting faster than well, someone trying to get out of the fire. It's hot. So hot.

This afternoon, after a day full of planning and organizing and re-planning and re-organizing my big work thing, I volunteered to pick up Camille from gymnastics. I knew I still had to do some work once I arrived home, but I needed to do a quick run to Sephora. It's in the mall. It requires parking in a parking lot that is out in the heat.

I had to go today because I had used every last drop of my foundation -- it weeps off my skin in this heat so I was able to stretch it because I don't use too much in these summer months -- and had a stub of an eyebrow pencil left. I couldn't even sharpen my pencil anymore because it was too short.

Apparently, Sephora was the place to be on a Wednesday afternoon.Air conditioning, maybe? All I needed was the foundation and eyebrow pencil. Everyone else in that store wanted to talk returns and product allergies and girlfriend gifts. My little gymnast and I navigated the tight product-laden aisles and waited in line. While it went faster than expected, it was still drawn out. Like my eyebrows will be tomorrow.

I'm not so hip that I blend two or three colors, use the liquid setting gel or even get a good brush in most days, but I do have a pencil. Maybe because I have those bald spots in my brows. Or those gray hairs.

These last few weeks have had atypical fourth parts. I've watched plenty of Party of Five on Netflix (oh, the fashions!) and played many card games with the family, but I've also been searching Pinterest for pink hair ideas. You see, while my brows are balding as I age, I have a dear, dear friend in the midst of chemo for her breast cancer and her hair will fall out and no stinking eyebrow pencil can help. The fourth parts of doing what I want to do have been that but it's also been praying for my friend and trying to figure out gifts and casseroles to take to my friend.

It all seems just not right. This friend also works with me and is very involved in the big work thing I mentioned above. I have told her countless times I don't need anything from her for work, I just need her. But, it's so nice to have her at work because she's a part of my band.

It doesn't seem right to be shopping at Sephora, watching crappy TV and thinking about backpack ordering and school supply shopping when my friend is . . . her life is forever changed.

It doesn't seem right to be thinking about my stinking selfish fourth parts when I need to be thinking of meals and care calendars and inspirational sayings to share with her.

It doesn't seem right that I'm frustrated I have to make homemade cornbread to go with the beans G made for dinner tonight rather than pop open a box of Jiffy cornbread mix when I should be frustrated my friend has to think about all the foods she can and cannot eat.

It doesn't seem right for me to be picking out just the right color of eyebrow pencil when she's looking at her new hairstyle in the mirror and wondering how it will grow back after her treatments are done.

It doesn't seem right that I'm continuing to claim the scripture that God works for good and that he has the peace that passes all understanding and we can cast our anxieties on Him.


That is right. I should do that.

I should be deep, deep in God's word as I pray for my friend. I should be even deeper as I speak to her about all that I know my mighty God can do. I should go way deep when we cry and pray together.

Yes, our summers are coming to a close and we all have different indicators. My friend is in a whole other season right now. It's not simply defined by a date on a calendar or the placement of the moon or sun in the sky. It's a season no one wants to be in, and yet she and her family are just starting to plan for it, shop for it and live in it.

Ecclesiastes 3 runs through the time for everything and a 'season for every activity under heaven.' You can hear Simon and Garfunkel singing now . . .'to everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season turn, turn, turn.' Right?

When you spend time in Ecclesiastes after you've read Psalms and Proverbs, you see it's the author (King Solomon?) trying to explain life. He's taking stock and looking around to then share that God controls and orders all things. In those moments of study, you want to get a little peeved because if you are in a season that is far from enjoyable or is extremely difficult to endure, you don't want to read that we just punt to God and all is for His purpose.

But it is. And when you sit and marinate in that and you really go deep, that's all we can think. We can't figure it out. We can't understand. We can't know why something bad happens to someone so good. My friend is really good. She's so good, she's great. We don't call her Wonder Woman for nothing.

We can recognize that God does provide, He does work for good and He makes everything beautiful in his time. He sets up this desire for eternal life in our hearts and soul wanting us to have him fill that -- where we ask Him for eternal life because he sent his son to die on the cross for us to save us.

He doesn't need eyebrow pencils. He doesn't need a good cornbread recipe.

He just needs our hearts.