Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Taco Meat and Leggings with Ruffles

Two quarts of taco meat.

Two trays of baked ziti.

Two loaf pans of chicken spaghetti.

One plate of brownies.

Hi, I'm Jill. I'm a Southern Baptist woman. I make and take food to show love.

Only a few more days until I get to deliver the food to someone I love . . . Chris. It's been six weeks since we've seen his face in person. That is the longest time I've not seen him. Yes, we have Facetime and yes, we text and share pictures. But, hugging him in person and watching him eat a home-cooked and transported meal is what I will be doing this weekend.

A six-hour drive with a loaded ice chest and bags full of favorite things -- chewy Chips Ahoy and fruit snacks to name a few -- plus some other goodies -- pictures of his sisters and some nifty Texas Tech coasters is what is on tap this weekend. It's parent's weekend. There are plenty of events, meals and t-shirts to be had up in Lubbock. There is even a game. I think we'll be just together. OK, I'll be going to Wal Mart, washing sheets and towels, cooking for a tailgate and watching the girls swim at their Bubba's resort. I don't think I'll be at a parent's weekend event with a name tag talking to strangers about my son's year so far and his plans for the summer. I don't think I'll pay $30 for the t-shirt and casino night combo. And, I am not certain we will be buying tickets to the game. (Why on earth would I cheer for another Big 12 school?)

I am 100 percent sure I will be happy just being with Chris. Watching him with his sisters and hearing his stories about school will keep me entertained as much as any football game.

Not really. I mean, did you watch my Bears almost beat Oklahoma Saturday. We were there. Details that we left after halftime, but I was the driver and the highway was going to be closed in Austin and I didn't want to be out on the roads super late.

How did I not stay!?!?? We were 0-3 going into that game. And, it wasn't like we had lost to Alabama, Notre Dame or Michigan. Nah, we had lost to schools that aren't known to be football powerhouses. We lost to Duke. In football.

Each season, I say, it's our year. Except this season, I knew it would be rough. I believed we would lose some games, but we would win the requisite six to  go to a bowl game. I knew it was a rebuilding year. Let's be clear -- this rebuilding was starting from the foundation. It has been hard watching my Bears not win.

Then, Saturday, we scored. We sacked the quarterback. We got a turnover. We threw the ball deep and struck quickly. We converted third downs.

So, we lost. And, we are 0-4. Because my hope springs eternal, I fully believe we will be in the Big 12 championship game because we will win out since the game plan is finally solid. Oh, Bears, why does this happen?

How did we get to Waco last weekend and are now headed to Lubbock this weekend? Fourth part planning with a car that gets some fantastic gas mileage.

Waking up early last Saturday was tough. Getting to Waco early in the day to spend time in one of my most favorite places was the bonus to the alarm clock sounding at a time that is before our school morning time. We went to the Silos -- with all of America. I mean, the people. And, the people. Buying so many things. In 45-minute wait lines for cupcakes. It wasn't busy because of game day. The clerk at the seed and garden shop, that was about the size of my covered back patio and full of more people than I've ever put on said patio, said every day is packed. Every day. Joanna and Chip are killing it.

After the Silos, we went to the Suspension Bridge and took in an impressive art installation. We then hit campus, visiting the bookstore, seeing Judge Joy the bear, walked around the Student Union building and found the locker room for the Acro and Tumbling team. Camille now, like Caroline, wants to go to Baylor. (Smiles)

Then, we went to the stadium which required a lot of walking on a very warm, day after the first day of fall day. We tailgated, ate hamburgers, drank many bottles of water and took advantage of every give away -- Whataburger frisbees and koozies, Baylor keychains and paper fans, pom poms and green and gold necklaces, Sic 'Em towels, free t-shirts. Lots of stuff that wasn't going to fit in my stadium-sized approved bag.

When you arrive to a game early, you also get to participate in the Bear Walk where two darling cheerleaders told my girls they could grow up and be cheerleaders one day, too. Caroline asked one of the girls if her hair was fake -- hair spray, sweet girl, lots and lots of hair spray. It's Texas. It's a humid day in fall. It's cheer hair.

Bear Walk isn't about the cheerleaders. It's about the players. They come off their bus and make their way down this path -- the Good Ol' Baylor Line, perhaps -- and high five every person along the way. The Adams' girls were in and kept asking if we knew any of these guys. When a coach came up and briefly spoke to them, they later asked if he knew their daddy. I said no, not every coach knows each other. (I secretly wished he did because maybe G could have a job at Baylor and all my hair spray dreams could come true and I would be in Waco again. I rubbed my eyes from the sweat dripping off my forehead and remembered, G would never, ever live in Waco.)

Gas in the car, cash in the wallet, comfortable shoes on our feet, extra ponytail holders in my purse and PJs in the travel bag happened because of planning. Even our timing from one venue to another was planning. I had mapped out the day. I had read the game-day central emails. I had spent my week prior fourth parts getting ready for game day.

This upcoming Lubbock trip with a Texas Tech game day has also required some planning. My fourth parts have been prepping meals. All are frozen. All are hearty. All are favs. All are labeled with cooking instructions. (I forgot to write on the plastic lids to remove the plastic lids, but surely my son will know that, right?)

I'm pulling the girls out of school Friday so we can get on the road. I've scheduled work calls so I will be working. I'll get cash. I'll make sure we are packed Thursday p.m. The ice chest will be packed Friday morning.

It seems so easy when you write it. But when you are trying to figure out what clothes to bring because it might rain, it might be in the high 50s or mid 70s and you may or may not go to the game . . .it's a challenge.

Even with all our prep and my organization, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to wear during the day Saturday. I have my game outfit (or tailgate outfit, if we don't go to the game), my PJs, my car outfit (will be worn both up and back) and my Friday night dinner outfit. Trying to figure out what we will do Saturday is a challenge. I think the Windmill Museum may be on the docket. Random, yes. Interest piqued, of course. Instagram worthy, absolutely.

Truth be told, I've been dying to wear a new pair of leggings I bought during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Black leggings with ruffles down the side. Not all the way down my leg, please, give me some credit. The ruffles are a few inches long from about mid-calf down. Super cute. Curses. I've no shirt to wear with them. I've been on the hunt for a long, loose, but not too loose, thick-ish, but not too thin, v-neck or even scoop neck, long-sleeve or even 3/4 sleeve length white t-shirt. I'm exhausted thinking about it. Shouldn't this search be easy. I've got the internet. I have a ton of boutiques in my various social media feeds. I have friends who have the shirt I'm looking for. Yet, I cannot find one.

Really, should a mom at parent's weekend be wearing leggings with ruffles while she visits her 20-year-old son. Absolutely not. So, why do I want to. Why do I want to find cute outfits to wear out and about in Lubbock. Who cares? I really don't. So, why?

I know why. I want to appear as if I have it all together. I want the casual, care-free, effortless, just threw it together look. I want other college parents to think I am able to raise twin girls, be married to a high school coach and pay my son's tuition on time (so far so good on that one). No, no, I don't. I really don't care what other people think of my parenting or my marriage.

I care.

I want to be pulled together. I want to show my children you can be effortless in life and come out on top. I want them to know while some things are hard, really hard, there are other things that just don't need to matter. My outfits. They don't really matter.

This massive amount of fourth-part planning I've undertaken the last couple of weeks has been laser focused on something I care about. I've been trying to pull quite a bit together to be ready to get to something that matters.


I mean, I have missed him. I don't cry like I did his first semester away. I don't get sad as often. Maybe I'm missing him because well, he's moving to a new phase. He has less than two years of school left. He's planning a summer internship. He's not coming home as much. He's grocery shopping and cooking.

This weekend, I'll be cooking. I'll be wearing boots with a jacket. The girls have a few choices of outfits -- all include leggings and jackets, too.

Once we get there, I won't be thinking about my outfits. I won't be worried that I don't have the perfect shirt to go with leggings that have ruffles. I'll be wondering how I can slow down the clock so that we won't have to leave on Sunday. I'll be wondering how Chris is settled into a new apartment. I'll be wondering why I'll cry on the way home.

Fourth part planning also means having some tissue in the car. It also means planning to stop at a Diary Queen on the way home for some ice cream to make us feel better.

And, it means knowing that he has some good food to eat for a few weeks.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Lasagna Roll Ups and Succulent Soil

As this weekend comes to a close and I'm sitting here listening to the Emmy red carpet commentary, I look back to the two days and think 'wow.'

Both Saturday and Sunday came with 8 a.m. alarm clocks signaling a wake up time. Aren't the weekends meant for sleeping in . . . or at least if you have to get up, you can lounge around in PJs for a bit? Not at the Adams house.

Solid fourth part planning helped us get out the door for a wedding shower for our sweet MacKenzie. I was able to run by Bed Bath and Beyond after work one day earlier in the week and with registry in hand, found our gift to give to the bride. While I did forget tissue paper (thank goodness for all the gift bags I've kept lo these many years), we were ready to go to get out of the house around 9:30 a.m. for this morning shower.

We were only able to stay for a bit because well, gymnastics. We were there long enough to learn all about succulents and realize we need the decorating help of our dear friend. She had succulents planted in clay pots, bread bowls, hanging pots and even sitting on top of the beautiful cake. Caroline took away lots of tips, realizing that any part that breaks off can be tossed into another pot and saved to grow into a full succulent. 'Cut side down, mom.'

Y'all, this house was gorgeous. Our friend combines antiques and more modern farmhouse-like pieces into this truly warm place where not only parties are brilliantly put together, but family is first. This shower was for a woman who we have watched grow up. Her parents are mentors to G and I. Gosh, mentors is not big enough a word for who they are and what they mean to us. The host of the party and the decorator of the home is another woman I've admired for years. She and her husband are also so dear to G and I. We've watched both couples raise their families with Jesus at the center and fun surrounding everything. They are as real as real as can be and as full of faith as people strive to be.

Our friend, the party hostess, served a brunch that was delicious, and I know, took a few hours to put together. She added some party touches -- a chalkboard welcome sign and darling wedding dress garland -- along with her signature decorated cookies (we took three home). She did this not to show off or demonstrate her amazing skills, but to show love. To show excitement. To show joy over this upcoming marriage. Her fourth parts over the past weeks to put on the shower were probably wasy to her because she knew the outcome would be so sweet. Not only did we all appreciate every detail, but also the feeling of family.

Isn't it always a study to figure out that definition of family. Obviously, there is the family to whom you are related. From spouses to children to parents to siblings to cousins and all those in between, we have family. We have events, traditions, parties, goings ons and gatherings that celebrate family. We tell and re-tell stories. We laugh, we cry. We remember. We reflect. We create new memories. We make new moments.

Those aren't the only people that make up our family. The Adams have quite a few families. We have our co-workers, our friends, Celtics' players and parents . . .and our Lee family. G has the coaches and I have the wives. The girls have the families of the coaches. Chris also had the coaches (I think they yelled at him a bit as they encouraged over the years). G also has the players. And, I have the player's moms. I had my varsity moms and three of those ladies are women who walked long days with me -- decorating lockers, making boutonnieres, putting together Saturday lunches and cheering (yelling, hollering) louder than most any mom should be allowed.

So when your tree falls down because of the Harvey winds and for a few weeks you have an oak on your fence and swing set, those extended family members come through. Today, we had a couple of coaches and a handful of varsity players show up to chain saw, pole saw and trim the tree. Our family.

And, because I channel Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights on an almost daily basis -- hair notwithstanding -- I put the 'hey y'all' into overdrive and because of some fourth part planning, I had all the fixings for a meal for these helpers, our family. Pioneer Woman lasagna roll ups made the menu along with the best boxed brownie mix from Ghiradelli. A few loaves of bread, a caesar salad and chocolate chip cookies were ready when the boys were.

Let's be clear, I had loads of other activities to take care of this weekend. Camille had a meet that took about four hours Saturday. I had to do the HEB order (fourth part planning meant Saturday order for Sunday morn pick up). We had quite a few loads of laundry and we needed to finish our bucket list -- play with baby Grace Sunday afternoon.

Oh, and we needed to run by Home Depot to pick up succulents and succulent soil. In the midst of rolling up lasagna and chopping romaine, we potted succulents. My sugar mold and a piece of pottery became the home for seven succulents. I also used a couple of my Oui yogurt jars for windowsill succulent plantings. Misted and sitting in the right kind of soil, we had the plants taken care of before the players arrived and got to chopping and trimming.

While the weekend was busy and we finished other projects along with taking care of regular Saturday and Sunday activities, we had really what you would call a family weekend. My sister and her family, plus my parents came to Camille's gymnastics meet. We watched G's football game until the end Friday night and saw him off on the bus after the game. I sat with my friends (who also happen to be wives of coaches) at the game and caught up on everything baby (two of them are expecting) and even saw one of my varsity moms at the game. My girls and I went to the shower of someone who is an important part of our family and we were at a house that was made for family (thankfully, we are a part of that tribe).

And, today, we played with the newest member of a co-worker and friend's family. This baby is just the cutest. She laughs, picks up everything she can and then puts it in her mouth. She squeals in the swing and wants to be held as she takes a bottle.

Her name is Grace. That, according to some web sites, means 'God's favor.' When you see her smile, you can see God, plain and simple. You can see His design. You can see his sovereign-ship.  In Psalm 127:3, we read 'children are a heritage from the Lord.' To me, this means children carry on the legacy of a family. They represent their parents and those that have lived before them.

Just as Grace will represent her parents, my children will represent G and I. MacKenzie reflects her parents -- partly because she looks so much like her mom -- and she has their humor, too. She also carries their faith.

These boys that came over today to help us show the heritage of their parents. We were so blessed to have them at our house if even for just a few short moments.

What a weekend. Yeah, Baylor and Lee both lost. But, we won. We were surrounded by family . . . and what a heritage.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Party of Five and Game Film

College football season is one of my most favorite time's of the year. College basketball is right up there, too.

We are two weeks into college football season. And, my beloved Bears are (oh, this is hard to write) (really, I cannot believe I'm typing this record) (come one, do I have to write it) not doing good.


I cannot remember the last time we lost our first two games of the season. These are pre-conference games. Baylor is consistently skewered for playing 'easy' season starters. I naively thought these first two games were going to be walks in the park. We have a new coach. We have new energy. We have a defense. We have a rosy outlook.

Oh, I was promised so much. All of Baylor nation got behind those PR spins and we were in for this era, this Rhule.

Not so much.

We didn't go to the game this weekend. We did visit my fair school and favorite place last weekend. Here or there, a loss is a loss. It stings. It is not fun. I do not like losing.

I don't like planning a fourth part for a loss. I do like planning a fourth part for a fun trip and bumping into friends and getting to eat at George's or eating tailgating kind of snacks at home.

I'm going to have to rethink my Saturday fourth parts. There are two, maybe three more games we will get to Waco to see. Those two, maybe three games will more than likely be tough to watch. But, I'll be there flinging my green and gold and sporting nifty outfits to reflect my support. Inside, I may be crumbling.

Yeah, these are the feelings I have over college football. My feelings over high school football aren't as strong, but we do have a team we root for because G coaches there. I cheered a little more loudly and with more exuberance when Chris played there (I mean, duh). I still cheer. This year, we've had two games and both deserved some cheering.

The first game was a Thursday on TV. Because of Camille's gymnastics, we couldn't get to the game, but I planned it out and we were able to watch the game from home. It was a come-from-behind win. The second game was on a Saturday. (What happened to Friday night lights?!) With my high school football season organization skills on point (not my first rodeo), we knocked out a lot of activities and made it to the game early enough to wish G good luck. Another win. A big win. We stayed the whole game. I knew through watching my Twitter feed and Gametracker there was no need to rush home and watch the other game I wrote about earlier. (When we left the Lee game, I think Baylor was down 7-17. I'll leave that there for you.)


While I recover from Baylor losses, G reviews game outcomes and readies for the next game with the other Lee coaches. It's called film. Watching game film. Reviewing plays over and over. Watching film from the upcoming opponent. Figuring out an approach. Creating a game plan.

G gets home late from games. We are all asleep. Then, he's out the door early the next morning to go watch film. When it's a Saturday game, that means he misses church. So, that means I'm solo directing 'let's get out the door' maneuvers. Getting dressed, doing hair and fixing breakfast are all included and a part of that agenda. Silently reminding myself that a fourth part will come motivates my efforts.

I wonder what our game film would look like. I wonder what the plays would be that we would keep and those we would change. I wonder if some are standard, go-to schemes.

Y'all know I like a good Netflix series. I can binge with the best of them. I love to watch TV. Fall fourth parts when G has film or a JV game or a Varsity game we don't attend, I like to watch a show. During these last two weeks and the August weeks of two-a-days, I watched Party of Five. Six seasons of about 20 shows each. If you are doing the math, that's 120 hours of television viewing. That's a lot of film. That late 90s show had a hard to deal with issue each week. About four seasons in I wondered when the family would catch a break. It seemed as if every time they got their feet underneath them, something would cause a discussion on the need for a second mortgage taken out on the house or someone not fulfilling a dream to move out of the house. I wanted the family to watch the film so they could change or at least predict some of the happenings they experienced.

My husband watches game film to adjust and adapt to another team. He watches to understand where his team has strengths and weaknesses and how those will present against the upcoming opponent. He also watches to determine who is going to do some extra bear crawls at practice. (OK, not really, but if a kid gets an unsportsmanlike penalty, I think tire flipping is on order.)

In my mind, I watch replays of our frenetic mornings and days to figure out how to improve. I think through what works and what doesn't really help.

After Paul had watched Timothy in his young ministry and he knew he might not make it back to Ephesus for a while, he wrote Timothy a letter. This first Timothy (1 Timothy) letter was intended to develop him and help him work on that growing church. There were issues with false teachings and for Timothy, those were a challenge to his charge of spreading the gospel. Paul asked that Timothy devote himself to the public reading, preaching and teaching of the scriptures. He told him to be diligent.

'Watch your life and doctrine closely' begins 1 Timothy 4:16. Paul wrote this to encourage Timothy to live his life as a believer. As others watched and heard him, Timothy needed to live the life inspired by Christ that he committed to do.

When I re-watch my days and when G reviews his players' performances on film, we both then do something with that information. I reflect and then, work toward improving my attitude and planning. G takes what he sees and creates a game plan.

We watch to make sure we don't repeat the same mistakes. We watch to make sure we continue to use our strengths to help others.

We have a ministry. It's not as big as Paul or Timothy, but it's a size God gave us. G ministers to those players day in and day out. He is teaching and coaching football, and sharing his doctrine. I have my own Party of Five, three of whom are learning and watching my life and doctrine. On these mornings where we are needing to get out of the house or evenings when we are trying to get to games, my girls watch me.

Our challenge each and every moment of each and every day is not fitting in a fourth part. Our challenge is more of taking our film and making necessary adjustments to that our doctrine, our story, our life is one others can watch and desire to learn more about.

This Party of Five needs to diligently devote itself to living a life that inspires others.

Wonder what our record will be at the end of the season?

Friday, September 1, 2017

Gas Shortage, I mean, Outage and T-shirts

We are tired in this house. First week of school will do that to you. Add to that a longer gymnastics schedule four nights a week and a televised Thursday night football game and you'll understand.

No, that's ridiculous. Those things don't make for the kind of tired we've felt this week. Our tired is because we've been watching non-stop coverage of the damage Hurricane Harvey did to our beloved Texas coast. We're tired because of the emails, the emotions, the calls, the texts, the images, the videos, the tweets and all the social media posts we've been following this week.

But let me be clear, our tired pales to what family, dear friends and work colleagues have suffered through and experienced this week. When water is a foot or two deep in your home, when your roof is leaking, when your power is out, when your car is underwater, when you can't get to the grocery store and when you worry if the water is going to recede in time so that releasing water from the reservoirs doesn't affect you, you are truly tired.

I've cried this week and been so sad. I've prayed. Our family has made financial contributions to disaster relief organizations and we've bought needed items for those staying at shelters.

Again, my tired and my family's tired is not the tired those in Houston, Rockport, Port Aransas, Beaumont and all the towns in between have felt.

It's the first week of football season so usually our fourth parts are dedicated to prepping for game day. Planning outfits, arranging babysitters and hanging burlap door hangers in the shape of footballs for both G's high school and my precious Bears are how fourth parts during football season should be spent.

This week's fourth parts have been spent figuring out where to give money, what t-shirt I should buy to show I support recovery efforts and where to buy gas.

Oh, yes, because of potential damage to refineries in the gulf -- thanks Harvey -- gas getting to us has been slower than usual. And, media or no media -- the industry is now so readily blamed for everything (an industry of which I was a part of and still claim as my first love) -- people made a run to gas up.

Let's be clear. G Adams is quite a preparation kind of guy, so we had gas in the cars before the hurricane hit. With a week of driving under our belt, we needed gas. OK, I had around 1/3 of a tank and so did G, but still, we needed gas. As did all of San Antonio and the surrounding areas. You know what that demand means . . .a gas shortage outage. Yes, I know the lilies of the field are dressed and the birds are fed, but I hit a panic as I searched for gas.

Each and every gas station I drove by had those little yellow, plastic bags wrapped over the pumps indicating . . . shortage outage. Deep breaths.

At work on Friday, a colleague (and friend) and I used gasbuddy to track stations with fuel. That site wasn't really my buddy, but after worrying and having a few raised voice kind of conversations with my husband, we found a gas station. The downtown HEB had gas and a short wait. We couldn't get there fast enough. I waited all of 16 minutes to fill my tank (I think I put in around 13 gallons) and drive off to head home.

Whew. That emotional roller coaster of wondering when, where and how I was going to get gas wore me out. I am tired.

It's been a week. We are worn out. Please know, I know, we have not experienced the tired so many in Texas have. My heart breaks over the tragedy and loss. Bible verses and hymns are there to claim, but how do they truly soothe.

Each morning, the girls and I do a kids version of Jesus Calling. I do my own and then, we read their version together. Yesterday, when we had no more adrenaline and first week of school excitement to get us up in the morning, the devotion reminded us of depending and leaning on Jesus for strength and guidance. 'He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. . . but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.' Thanks Isaiah. That wrap up of chapter 40 helps. Chapter 40 actually begins what is known as the Book of Comfort portion of Isaiah. It was Isaiah's message of indicating God's people and the exile was over. It was about comfort.

Words are words, I know. A t-shirt with Texas Forever, Texas Strong or We are One is just a shirt with words. No matter where the proceeds go and no matter what color, cut or the sleeve length is, a t-shirt is just a t-shirt. Yet, for some reason, I became obsessed with trying to find 'the one' that I really liked. At one point during the day, I even said out loud, 'it's a shirt so who cares.'

Then, I bought one. Maybe the search for the shirt took the place of my worrisome search for gasoline. Maybe the hunt for the right words that reflected how I felt about the hurricane and its' aftermath was a substitute for my hunting for a picture of our cherished Island Retreat to see if there was damage. Maybe my looking for the right charity for the t-shirt proceeds to support was my attempt at soothing those who all I could offer up was prayer because I couldn't take them a hot meal or rip out wet dry wall.

Maybe that's what Isaiah did when he wrote about hoping in the Lord. Maybe he wanted the nation of Israel to stop searching for help on their own and so he wrote the words of comfort.

The t-shirt I ordered reads 'We are One.' That message of unity spoke to me and I believe, it shares what I want to do. I want those who have had such loss to know that I will stand with them and be with them and support them and help them as best I can.

When it was finally my turn at the pump this afternoon, and I got out to start the gassing up process, I noticed it was quiet. Yeah, there were engines running and people driving around, but it seemed so still. It wasn't a harried experience like I had seen on television or read about. People were pleasant, waving to each other and smiling.

Was this our chance to remember and reflect that God does provide our strength and is our portion.

Was it a reminder that we should 'go out in joy and be led forth in peace.'

Was it a moment where I knew my search should not be for the perfect t-shirt or gas station but, rather for that rest in Christ where the peace that passes all understanding can be found so that I can not grow weary.

And, not experience a shortage or outage in my spirit and walk with Him.