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Year: 2010

Backwards and Forwards …

Backwards and Forwards …

When I checked this morning I saw that I had posted a whopping four times over the last month.   

You know what that means, right?

It means we’ve been living a lot of life … so much life that I never had time to write about it.

Although New Years Eve is often a time of retrospection about the past year I thought I’d just go over the last month….seeing how I’m behind and all.  I will leave the introspection about the future for tomorrow. 

For starters, there were programs.  Jacob and Savannah sang in the Children’s Christmas program at church.  

Then … the highlight of the school year for 4th graders at our elementary school is when they perform the Nutcracker for the parents and students.  It is a big deal and they work on it the entire fall.  It is so well done and fun to watch.  Savannah, like her sister Brittany before her, was a flower.

One night we went to our church’s Living Nativity where Jacob and his buddy rode a camel …

We put up a bit of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree …

Brittany and I made pan after pan of these:

In retrospect, I don’t think they turned out very well.  And I cannot say if we will ever attempt it again.  They were from the Pioneer Woman’s cookbook and I may not be enough of a pioneer to pull these off.  Brittany and I enjoyed a lot of time in the kitchen though!

We enjoyed the taste tasting too …  🙂

Bill took the Jacob and Savannah to see Santa and a 3-D Christmas light display one night:

The next night a snow hill was added there so we went back with our friends the Browns and Lackeys.  Snow Hills in Houston!! 
It was “snow” fun!
After the snow, we went back to the Browns house for our annual Christmas pageant.  It almost didn’t happen as the kids are getting older but Jacob pleaded his case before Tommy Brown that he deserved to be Jesus in this years rendition … as so it was accomplished in those days that Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem and Jesus came along too (it was a bit of a different version) …

And just like in years past, there were angels and a star …

And we always have lots of shepherds …

And this is where Jesus went a little crazy …  :).  I think Jacob enjoyed being in the limelight.  Or maybe he was rejoicing with the angels.  Whatever it was, we all had a good time.

The next day was Christmas Eve which means Christmas Eve service.

After church we went to Olive Garden for dinner and it poured down rain.  When we got home Savannah wanted to make cookies for Santa.  She ended up cutting out each individual letter by hand. 

It was fun to work with my little “Santa” …

She worked very hard and ended up with these …

Christmas morning we slept until 10:00 (I LOVE MY KIDS!!!) and awoke to find Santa had answered Savannah’s request and brought a hamster.  The Baergs, once again, have a live animal to take care of.

We all enjoyed the day …

Oh, and there were stockings.  The funny thing about the stockings were that at my moms house they have similar stockings only with their names on them.  Bill’s mom has stockings with their names on them too.  When Jacob saw that our stockings had no names on them, he was heartbroken.  So, we made names for them.  I loved them!

It was good.  Very good.

Afterwards, I made Christmas dinner complete with my first ever cheese grits (turned out fab!).  We even used our Christmas china.

It was our very last Christmas in this house.  We would have loved to have had or been with family but it didn’t happen this year.  But truly, we enjoyed the day.  We stayed in our PJ’s and played and slept and relaxed.

And late Christmas night Bill took the girls over to the new house … 

Merry Christmas to us all!

And, speaking of the new house … on the 27th, demolition started.  It is crazy to go over there now and see how it looks!  We’ve spent much of the last week buying appliances, picking tile, looking at front doors … the list is endless.

On this New Years Eve we have much for which to be thankful.  We are excited about 2011 and all the changes it will bring for our family and grateful for all the Lord has done for us.  

Happy New Year to you all!
Sharing your story

Sharing your story

I love to tell stories.

The funnier the better.

I have encouraged all my HBU students to share stories as part of their public speaking … and have told them it makes them more relateable.  At least one student got it because on the last day of class she brought me a Starbucks cup with a liner on it that said … “Share your story”.  She told me it reminded her of me.  🙂

And tonight when I went to a party in my neighborhood, I was telling a friend the story of our new house and she said … “have you written all this down … because you need to”.  

I have wanted to write down the story but have felt like certain chapters needed to be finished in the story before I wrote about it.  The story will continue for a long time we are certain, but I’m ready to tell the beginning.

There have been lots of hurdles … the latest being our home inspection today of the house we are selling.  Bill and I were like cats on a hot tin roof.  Having someone come and look (for THREE hours) at every nook and cranny in our house felt, to me, like those people who say they fear speaking in public in their underwear.  It felt really exposed.  Like what if the house imploded or something?  We worked hard, we had things fixed, carpet stretched, walls painted, we cleaned and we prayed.  Bill came home from work for the beginning of the inspection and we made tons of jokes about not saying things like … “aww, that old thing … it’s never worked right”.  Or, “jiggle it just so and you can make it work”.  You know, no RED FLAGS!!  
And when the inspector left he said … “I can tell this house has been lovingly maintained”.   And I said “whew” and threw up a silent “thank you Jesus” … and decided to start writing the story.
Here is the thing I want you to know before you read a single word though.  God wrote this story.  He’s still writing it.  This is not our house.  It is His.  We prayed specifically that there would be no way to explain our getting this house except that He did it.  And I laugh every time someone says … “how did y’all get that house?  We never even saw a for sale sign”. 

Tonight when my friend heard a few of the details she said … “this sounds like a God thing”.  And I know God saw my heart smile … because that was an answer to our prayer. 

So here it is … God’s story of our house:

347 Cinnamon Oak – Chapter One
 Bill and I moved to Houston from Nashville 15 1/2 years ago.  We had a dog, a couch, and a few pictures to hang on the wall.  We thought our house seemed like a museum.  A chair here and there and a some pictures on the wall.  We bought a dining room set and a kitchen table and began the process of filling up our house.  Before we knew it, we had filled it with FOUR (beautiful) kids.  

And our house was full.

VERY full.  

And we had always thought we’d move at some point … upgrade to something a little bigger.  But instead of a bigger house, we got a bigger family.  (I’d make that trade again any day!).  
We looked at other houses.  LOTS of other houses.  We made offers on two of them but it didn’t work out.  Prices in the area rose to points where we thought it would never be within our reach to own something bigger here.

And we looked some more.

There were times it was discouraging.  There were times I gave up.  There were days we questioned why we hadn’t moved out to the suburbs when the kids were little and we hadn’t yet made such an investment in the community.  There were days we wondered aloud why God wasn’t working it all out.

I VERY VIVIDLY remember one day last spring going on a family bike ride along the bayou.  You get on the bayou near our Gretel house and ride it right past the neighborhood we had long prayed and hoped to live in.  We had biked by it and prayed, driven through it and prayed (begged) and yet nothing.  We had even sent letters to 3 homeowners in the neighborhood and talked to two homeowners at their doors who basically said … “get in line behind the host of other people who also want to live here”.

On that particular day, for whatever reason, I told God I didn’t care anymore.  And God knows my heart and I don’t have to explain myself to Him, but I did anyway.  And I told him not to think I was mad about it.  Not at all.  I told him I was just tired of trying to make it work out.  I said I was tired of looking and that I was perfectly content to stay right where we were.  I remember saying something like … “honestly God … I’m not mad.  I’m fine.  406 Gretel it is.”

And within weeks our phone rang.  It was a friend that I hadn’t seen in years.  Our daughters went to elementary school together and then they had switched to private school in middle school.  In fact I hadn’t seen her since a day three or so years earlier when I saw her at the nail salon and said …. “oh Lucinda, it’s so funny I’m seeing you.  Bill just wrote a letter to your next door neighbor telling him that if he ever wanted to sell that we would be interested in making an offer”.  

Coincidence that I ran into her that day, I think not.

Because when she called she said … “did you and Bill ever buy a house”.  I said … “no, of course not”.  🙂

She said … “well,  Mr. Reeber, my next door neighbor that you sent the letter to a few years ago, passed away.  His six children are here and they’d like to move their mom….you should call them.”  

We waited a few weeks and one Saturday morning last May, Bill got up and said … “I think I need to go see Mrs. Reeber today”.  And so he went and knocked on her door.  She asked who it was and Bill said … “I’m Bill Baerg, (so sorry for your loss), I had sent your husband a letter ….”

And Mrs. Reeber opened the door and said … “are you the man who sent the picture of your family?”  

“Yes mam”, he replied.

“Well, my husband had your picture on his desk.  I had wondered what had happened to you.” 

And she said she would give the letter to her children.

It was a weird feeling because we didn’t know if it would be days or weeks or months (or ever!) when we heard from them.

The next night we went to our home group and on the way home Bill said … “let’s go by the house and pray that if this is what is supposed to work out, that it will”.

And as we were turning into the neighborhood … the phone rang.

We both assumed, seeing how it was 9:30 on a Sunday night, that it was the kids calling … in a fight.

Instead it was one of the daughters who said … “my mom gave us your letter and we don’t know when it will be, but when we do sell we would like to give you the first opportunity to buy our home”.  

So we turned the corner, parked in front of the house and said … “ok God.  Sounds like you’ve got this.  Don’t let us get in the way.  Don’t let us work this out, only you.  Stop us if it isn’t right.   Give us peace … and oh yeah, THANK YOU SO MUCH”.  One of the things I remember Bill praying that night was that it would be as much of a blessing to Mrs. Reeber as it was to us.

Sometime in the summer the son called (they had 5 daughters and one son) and said they had realized we had never been inside the house and he set up a time for us to come over.  That is so funny to me now that we were already in love with a house that we had never been inside.  

And we went and we loved it probably more than we even thought we would.  It was exactly what we wanted and had prayed for …. 4 bedroom upstairs with 2 baths, master bedroom and bath down with another guest bathroom.  And BIG CLOSETS.   I NEEDED BIG CLOSETS.  

In the kitchen Mrs. Reeber had a round kitchen table.  I love round kitchen tables.  Whenever we go to a restaurant I feel so happy when we are seated around a round table.  So I told them it didn’t so much matter about the house, but could I buy the table?  Turns out Mrs. Reeber offered us the table with the house.  
She also told me one day that a friend of hers had told her that she needed to leave her house with a blessing and she kissed me on the cheek and said something about giving us that blessing.  So that round table … it’s my table of blessing.  And I hope and pray my children have fond memories of sitting around that table enjoying the blessing of family and that they know and remember what God did for us.

And there are about a million details I could tell you and I’m sure I’ve already forgotten many of them.  Things like Jacob telling the son, when we were standing in what will be Jacob’s room … “Mr. Reeber (Chuck) , my friend Jack lives in that house over there” and pointed out the window.  Chuck said … “Jacob, my best friend growing up lived in that house”.  
Things like how the (literally) hundreds of times I have driven through that neighborhood hoping against hope that “the” house would come for sale, I never really noticed 347 Cinnamon Oak Lane.  Then one day Bill came home from taking the kids to swim team and said … “I saw a house I want to send a letter to … it just seems right”.  I made him drive me by it, for approval, and he sent the letter.  I love that he was the one that found it … because trust me, I’ve been the house hunter.  I could go on and on.  At every step we’ve had assurances and blessings.  
One of the biggest blessings for me has been the peace that Bill has felt about it.  I know how much he has wanted us to have a new house and I’ve known the stress it’s been of trying to figure out how to make it work.  And crazy things have happened … when no one could get a loan without selling their house first, we could.  When Bill didn’t feel comfortable starting the remodel and we decided to wait until our house sold, we got an offer two weeks later.  In a bad economy in a neighborhood with lots of homes for sale (including our exact house), we got a contract on ours.  
There were nights Bill and I were both afraid.  What if our house didn’t sell and we paid 2 mortgages for an extended period.  What if, what if, what if.  A very wise friend said … “instead of clinching your fists in worry, open your hands in praise”.  And sometimes we had to pry our hands open, but that is what we did.  
And on the day we were leaving for Thanksgiving (when the very last thing I wanted to do was show the house), we had a showing.   A realtor wanted to preview the house for his client.  He liked it and brought his client while we were in Arkansas.  After Thanksgiving we were in the “holiday lull”.  People told us over and over that houses don’t sell during the holidays.  Wait til Spring they’d say.  And yet we knew we didn’t have the luxury of waiting until Spring.  We had 2 mortgages, water bills, electricity bills, etc.  
Just before I left for the mother/daughter retreat, the realtor called and said his client wanted to see it again on that Saturday.  That meant Bill was in charge.  He was more than capable (in fact he had the house looking better than I ever did!) … but it still felt weird to leave him with that responsibility of taking care of the kids, shuffling them to their activities … and oh by the way … have the house spotless.

That Saturday afternoon while Savannah crafted away, I said out loud to anyone who was listening … “I’m going to go back to the cabin to see if Bill sold our house”.  I was just talking.  I mean they saw it at noon and it was only 3:00.

And when I got to the room and checked my text messages, I had one from Bill that said … “CONTRACT IS ON IT’S WAY”.  

And a weary family was rejoicing!!

It is no small thing to leave your house show ready all the time.  I have done more crazy clean ups than you can imagine.  I have put clothes in the dishwasher and stuffed food in the dryer.  We lost the printer cords for weeks and still haven’t found the TV remote.  There are things I wonder if I ever will find again.  

And so that is the beginning of the story.  It has been a blessing to us and Mrs. Reeber has told us it was also a blessing to her to know who she was selling it to, to not have to “show” her home to a bunch of strangers, etc. 

God is writing this story … and I think I’ve said this before, but His are always the best ones.

 ” Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21



SO funny … last Thursday night I spoke at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Nassau Bay, TX. 
Only I thought I was in League City, TX. 

I had on my schedule League City,  I thanked the audience for inviting me to League City … I even went so far as to tell them I had never been to League City before.

And afterwards a sweet lady came up to me and said … “honey … did you know you still haven’t been to League City?”.
Of course I didn’t know that and quickly asked her .. “WHERE AM I?”.  She informed me that I was in Nassau Bay.  
I have spent a good part of the last four days wondering why I thought I was in League City. 

There is no explanation which is kind of the story of my life.  🙂

I died out laughing though on Friday morning when, at breakfast, Jacob was laughing and then stopped abruptly and said … “remind me again why we’re laughing”.

It was if at that very moment I knew he was flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones.

Saturday we had a schedule of epic proportions.  We literally had every minute scheduled from 7:00 AM until 9:00 PM.  One of those events was a Cookie Exchange with Brittany.  I thought it was for Mothers and Daughters but apparently I read the invitation wrong because I was pretty much the only mom there beside the hostesses.  I don’t even know how I got that wrong either!! 

Anyway … cookie exchanges STRESS. ME. OUT.

Especially when my rule following second child kept saying … “store bought cookies are cheating Mama”.  All I wanted to do was buy sugar cookies and dip part of it in white chocolate and sprinkle some crushed peppermints on it.  I thought it would be cute.  She thought it would be cheating.
I bought refrigerated cookie dough since that passed her “approval” but the cookies we made were paper thin so we had to eat them.  Not fluffy enough to serve.

So instead we made 3 ingredient cookies.  How hard could it be, right?!

I ruined them.  I RUINED THEM.  THREE ingredients and I ruined them.  We placed a pretzel down and then put a Hershey kiss on top (Rolos are actually better but I had Hershey kisses).  You are supposed to put them in the oven at 250 degrees for a few minutes and let the chocolate melt and then when you take them out put an m and m on the top and squish it down.  That sounds very good and easy in theory.

In reality, I forgot they were in the oven so they cooked too long.  Instead of the chocolate melting to a puddle, it hardened up.  That made me think they weren’t cooked so I left them even longer.  When I finally pulled them out they were like big clumps of soot or something.  Gross.  We salvaged what we could and I made some more after Brittany went to bed.  

Then we walked into the party and Brittany set our cookies down right next to these:

I’m pretty sure that little snowman on the lower left is looking over at my cookies thinking .. “oh dear”.  

I might not ever go to another cookie exchange again.  Or if I do, I’m making these snowmen.  They are cute!!

Oh, and we did get a Christmas tree which is sitting in a bucket in our backyard.  Here’s to hoping it gets in and decorated before Christmas!

And to hoping that no one asks who made the burnt-ish cookies at the cookie exchange!!

Ridding the World of Ugly Christmas Trees!!!

Ridding the World of Ugly Christmas Trees!!!

My house still doesn’t have a Christmas tree. 

It’s on the agenda for tomorrow.    I have been too afraid to pull down the boxes for fear that someone would call and want to see the house.  Now that we have taken down the “For Sale” sign that has decorated our yard for the last two months, I told Bill it is time to “Haul out the HOLLY, put up a tree it’s time to DECK the HALLS again NOW!!!  For we need a little Christmas, right this very minute … we need a little Christmas NOW!”

Or tomorrow as the case may be.  

And, just in time for my decorating, is something I’m so excited to tell you about.  It’s an iphone app that tells you how to make beautiful Christmas trees.  And don’t be sad if you don’t have an iphone because you aren’t totally left out … read on.

First, last year I flew out to Midland, TX to speak at a wonderful women’s event hosted by Crestview Baptist Church.  It was SUCH a fun trip as I got to go to my favorite Christmas store of all time … Miss Cayce’s Christmas Store (trust me … you want to click on that link and see their GORGEOUS displays).  It’s the kind of place that makes you gasp as you walk in the front door.  I literally spent hours in there poring over all the beautiful trees, decorations and the creativity and inspiration that were everywhere.  I bought some sprays (picks) for my tree there that I think TOTALLY TRANSFORMED my Christmas tree.  I bought them in the store and they mailed them to me in Houston.  I was so excited when these arrived:
  My “designer” sister Deah came and added ribbon and stuck the sprays in and it was my most favorite tree I’ve ever put up.  Here’s what it looked like:

The “decorator” star on the top was made by my Savannah.  I’m sure a gorgeous bow with picks around it would be more “finished” but I love my homemade star.

So anyway … why am I telling you all this?!?  Well, because the owners of Miss Cayce’s (Becky and Kathy) have a new iphone app that, when downloaded, will give you step by step directions on how to create GORGEOUS trees.  There is a even a tutorial on making bows that I almost think a “craft-tarded” person like myself could make.  (Thank you Allison for understanding my craftlessness and sending me the craft-tarded word!).

There are tutorials on where to put the ornaments, videos on choosing the theme of your ornament, where to place your tree, tree selection, ball placement and selection, etc..  Under the bow section you can look up and see how many bows your trees needs based on it’s height and how much ribbon you would need to buy to make that number of bows.  PEOPLE, that is NEWS YOU CAN USE!
Their ad says:   Create showroom quality Christmas trees without hiring a decorator! Show Me Decorating gives you step by step instructions to Ideal for decorating the most important part of Christmas decor: The Tree! Pick from themes like “Winter Whimsy,” “Be Jolly,” or “Royal Red & Gold,” and many more!

I should mention here too … Becky and Kathy aren’t just two people who like to put up Christmas trees.  In addition to their store, they have decorated the State Capital of Texas for many, many years, homes and ranches around Texas as well as been featured in Southern Living and Texas Monthly magazines.  What I’m saying is … they know what they are doing.  
And, since I feel like I am probably the last person in America to put up a tree, you may be saying … why do I need that now?  I’ve already put up a tree.  But here is the deal … the app is available through TOMORROW for only 99 cents.  Next week it will be $5.99 so it’s kind of like an after Christmas sale before Christmas, but you have to act fast.  

So what if you don’t have an iphone?  If you have a Android or other Verizon smart phone there will be an app coming out next year for you.  

Can’t wait … or have a phone that just does things like CALLING, not to worry.  The Miss Cayce’s Girls have a video called “Show Me Decorating” that you can order online here.  It will give you all the information the app will give you … it just costs a little more (but think of all the money you are saving by not having a smart phone!).

The owners of Miss Cayce’s like to say they are “ridding the world of ugly Christmas trees … one tree at a time”.  

I know they helped me last year and today I downloaded the app so I can learn even more.

You can see the app here or search for it in the app store.

And if you download it on your iPad, it means you have an iPad and I’m totally jealous.  It’s on my Christmas list.  

Feel free to send me pictures of your tree! Better yet “like” Miss Cayce’s on facebook and upload your pictures to them (Debbie Gaudin … send them a picture of your tree right now!!!). My mom sent them pictures of some of her decorating earlier this week.  In fact … the “Mississippi turkey” that my mom made at Christmas came off their facebook page.  I’m telling you … good stuff.

Off to watch some more videos in preparation for the Baerg Family Tree Lighting tomorrow!


The fastest review of fall you’ve ever seen …

The fastest review of fall you’ve ever seen …

This fall has been somewhat of a blur.  I seriously can’t believe we’re weeks away from Christmas.  Didn’t I just send my babies back to school?  And yet as I look at my calendar, my “to do” list and listen to Christmas music, I know it really is Christmas.

But the fall has been filled with activities … many of which included cleaning my house.  Day after day after day.  In late September we put a “for sale” sign in our yard and … as you know … it was about that time that our printer cords disappeared.  For those of you who have asked … we found them in the game cabinet … which means one thing and one thing only … we threw them in there as we were racing around getting ready for a showing.  We threw things in the dryer, in the washer, we put things in the dishwasher that didn’t belong there … and I’m quite sure we will never find all the things we stuffed here and there.

But with the return of the cords comes the downloading of the pictures.  There are too many and it would take too long to show them all but for the sake of documentation, here is a summary:

1.  Savannah turned 10.  I’m not sure I ever showed that although it happened before the loss of the cords.

2.  Savannah was an m and m and Jacob was Luke Sky Walker for Halloween (I figured out by looking at the pictures that the cords were lost in late October … after we went to the pumpkin patch but before Halloween – not that it matters one single bit … just thought I’d tell ya).

4.  Thanksgiving was fun!
It actually kind of looks like only Bill and I and maybe my dad are having fun, but really … we all did.  🙂
4.  Remember when I told you my kids were hanging out of our new magnolia tree?  Well, here it is:

And these were the neighborhood kids who joined them:

And it was at that very second that I lost the keys to the new house.
But I think you already knew that.

So glad it is Christmas and so glad I have pictures again!

Speaking of Christmas, come back tomorrow … I have something cool to show you.

Choosing Joy … even when there is glitter everywhere!

Choosing Joy … even when there is glitter everywhere!

I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the Crier Creek Mother Daughter Retreat over the weekend.  Thank you to those of you who prayed for that event, for me and for the women who came.  I loved meeting all the moms (and their daughters!) and getting to know many of their stories.

I especially enjoyed hanging with this girl …

Savannah is holding one of the MANY crafts she did over the weekend.

The first thing we made was a coffee filter wreath.  I had to keep reminding myself during this craft that the theme of the conference was to “Choose Joy”.  Because, really and truly, there is not much about crafting that brings me joy.  Stress, yes …. joy … well, I have to choose it.  🙂

Thankfully when we were making the coffee filter wreath, a sweet family had mercy on Savannah and I and helped us along in our project.  Had they not extended that kindness to us, it is quite possible that Sav and I might still be sitting there right now staring at our unfinished wreath.

I must say, I’m pretty proud of how it turned out …

No one is gonna confuse Savannah and I for Martha Stewart … but we did all right.  

The next day she decided to make a Christmas tree out of a magazine.  It was kind of fun until we had to use an ENTIRE can of silver spray paint to coat it.  There was a moment where I thought I was gonna be too high from the fumes to actually do the evening speaker session, but it all worked out.  
There were so many fun moms and daughters there.  Here is one of them.  She has a really cool way of compiling her pictures of the retreat on her blog.  I only know how to upload them and put them individually on the blog.  I think she must be “craftier” than I am … hers look cute!

Speaking of pictures … WE FOUND OUR PRINTER CABLES and can download pictures onto the computer again.  Of course, I forgot to take my camera to the retreat so all I have are these from my camera phone … but still … it’s so exciting!!  
On a side note … kind of a cool story … on Saturday we got a contract on our house!!  Yay!! I was actually in the craft room and said … “I think I’ll run back to the cabin and check and see if anyone has bought our house”.  I was kind of joking (and ok … I needed to get out of the craft room for a second!!!) … but when I got to the cabin, I had a text that said … “contract is on it’s way!”.  That was the same day Bill found the missing cables and we really needed them to be able to print out the documents! I love seeing how God is working out every single detail.  

I really feel like we had a little Christmas, Savannah and I, as we went on a hayride and sang “Jingle Bells”, we had hot chocolate, and really and truly treasured the time we had together.
That’s what Mary, Jesus mother, did in Luke 2:19 … she treasured up all that was happening in her heart.  The stinky animals, a manger for a crib.  It wasn’t perfect but she was holding the Saviour of the world.

And I want to be like Mary this season and remember to treasure the special moments throughout Christmas and through the New Year.  

Yes, even the moments that include glitter.

It’s like a guest post …

It’s like a guest post …

This weekend I am speaking at the Pine Cove/Crier Creek Mother Daughter Weekend.  Savannah is going with me and I can’t wait to spend some one on one time with her.  I have only been to Crier Creek in the summer so getting to go right smack in the middle of the year is going to be a real treat!  
Here is the thing though … I can speak all day long (or all weekend long in this case) to moms … but I don’t have much experience in speaking to the 12 and under crowd.  I’m a little nervous and praying, like always, that God will fill in what I am not.  

Since I will be spending much of today preparing, I thought I’d offer you a “guest post” of sorts.  I had mentioned in a Sunday School lesson a few weeks ago that one of my favorite blogs is called “Stuff Christians Like” and it is a satire that I think is hilarious.  I gave some examples of my favorites like “Wondering if you could get out of the way if a stereo speaker fell from the ceiling at church“. I kid you not … in our new sanctuary I think about this all the time.  Those speakers are suspended by what looks like a string and I’m convinced it’s only a matter of time until one falls.  I tell Bill I won’t sit in the center section so I won’t have to worry about it.  He just rolls his eyes and says that where I sit has nothing to do with the speakers and everything to do with the fact that we sit in the back because we are ALWAYS late (three cheers that it will be 30 minutes later come January!!!!).   

Another good one was “Christian-fying up your house if the pastor comes over“.  That’s just funny.

Anyway … the writer of the blog is Jon Acuff and he now works for Dave Ramsey.  He has a book by the same name as his blog.  It’s on my list of books to read.

Every now and then though he writes something markedly “unfunny” but very profound.  I thought today’s post was just that.  Perhaps you know exactly what he means by “the soft x”.

This is a link to his blog, but I’m also pasting it here … in case you aren’t prone to clicking over to read things.

I think this is really, really good.

And after you read it if you’ll throw up a prayer that I can hold the attention of a room full of 6-12 year olds, I’d appreciate it.  🙂

The soft X.

I cried in the Chicago Airport.
And these were not tough guy, lumberjack, I just punched a mountain lion in the face with my bare fist kind of tears. These were sad and tired and give up tears.
I was flying home from a conference in Chicago. I had been the closing keynote speaker and it had gone really well. That’s not what I was crying about though. I was crying because of what I knew would happen when I landed.
I knew I would take the train to my car, grab work clothes, change in the handicapped stall and then disappear into a sea of cubicles. I didn’t hate my job, not at all, it just wasn’t what I felt called to do. The Stuff Christians Book wasn’t out yet, but the site was doing well. I had this completely different life starting to develop and it was hard to go back to work and act like Chicago had all been just a dream.
This was long before the opportunity at Dave Ramsey. This was a doldrums period where I was just writing and writing and writing, but things weren’t happening the way I thought they would.
I sat in meetings about TPS reports and budgets and would get frustrated with God, wondering if he even saw me. Wasn’t he the one who put this burning in my heart? Wasn’t it his call that I was answering? This wasn’t how life was supposed to go.
Have you ever felt that way?
Has there ever been a situation where you had an expectation that you felt like God simply wasn’t meeting? I think most of us have experienced that.
Right now, someone reading this blog is mourning a marriage that fell apart. You wanted to be the first in your family to have a grandkid for your parents, not the first to get divorced.
Right now, someone is in a gray cubicle and the degree they got, the passion they followed in college is a million miles away from how they spend 40+ hours every week.
Right now, there’s someone struggling with an issue that refuses to release it’s talons even though you’re occasionally able to shake it for a few “good weeks.”
Right now, someone had to send out wedding cancellation notes, because it’s off.
Right now, there’s a man who feels a lot less than a man because he doesn’t have a job and can’t provide for his family.
Right now there are a million different versions of “Don’t you see me God?” happening. And so we doubt and get angry and lonely. But we are not the only ones with expectations that go astray.
In Genesis 48, the same thing happens to Joseph, of the double rainbow coat fame. He has brought his two sons to his father Israel for his blessing. We don’t understand this culturally because we don’t really do this anymore, but this was a critical, massive thing that was about to take place. Manasseh was about to receive Israel’s blessing. That was what should happen. That was what Joseph expected.
Joseph the faithful. Joseph the former slave, former convict, former saved all of Egypt from death and destruction. Joseph had a great track record at this point. He was a deeply wise man of God. He knew what was about to happen. By lineage, by tradition, by faith, Manasseh was about to get blessed by Israel.
Only he doesn’t.
It doesn’t happen that way. Instead of doing what he should have done, Israel crosses his arms and forms an X, placing his hands on the heads of the wrong children. He blesses Ephraim, the wrong son in Joseph’s mind.
And in 48:17 we see what happens: When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.
Joseph has lived his entire life with one belief about how a blessing is passed down. This is his, “I got my Master’s Degree in teaching, I should get a teaching job” moment. This is his, “People get married after college, that’s what they do,” moment. This is what he’s always been ready for and it goes the exact opposite way.
So Joseph, like me or you trying to fix a mistake, says, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
And how does Israel respond? Does he say, “Oh, I am failing of sight and made a mistake?” Does he reply, “Thank you for correcting this situation?”
He says simply, “I know, my son, I know.”
And that is an incredibly tender thing to say as someone’s expectations crumble.
And I think it’s something God still says to us, even today.
“I know, my son, I know. I know, my daughter, I know. That thing you wanted is not going to happen. Not the way you’ve always dreamed. I know this hurts. I know this stings. I know you feel like I am distant or not aware of where you are and who hurt you and what you think life was supposed to be like. I know in moments like this you doubt that I can count the hairs on your head or have your best in mind. But please, I am not done. I have barely started to reveal your life to you. I am the God who satisfies your desires with good things. That is me! And when it comes to your hopes and your fears and your dreams, I know, my son, I know.”
I think of this moment as the “soft x.”
I think of the tenderness of Israel with his arms outstretched and crossed. I think of our desires and our dreams and the times they don’t work. And above all, I think of a God who wants to tell you he hears you, he loves, he knows you. He is not disconnected or disinterested in who you are and who you want to be. Today, he says,
“I know, my son, I know.”
An escape plan for Thanksgiving …

An escape plan for Thanksgiving …

Well, it’s been awhile since we’ve had the Suburban out on the open road.  We loaded up last week and headed for Arkansas.  I told Bill I would pick him up around noon at his office downtown.  Bill works for a very large natural gas company.  Ever since 9/11, oil and gas companies in Houston have changed the design of many of their offices and are very, very tight on security.  
What I’m saying is that I haven’t been to Bill’s office since 9/11 that I can remember because it’s too hard to park, get into the building, etc.  It makes those airport scanners look like a piece of cake.  Pulling up to the curb, even for a second, will result in a security officer coming to the car and asking you to move.  (Years ago you could pull into a driveway under the building and wait as long as necessary … gone are the days.)

Wednesday I called Bill and told him we were almost there and he headed down to the street.  The outside of his building is undergoing MAJOR renovation and there is scaffolding everywhere.  In addition, jackhammers were tearing away at the surrounding concrete.  We saw Bill but he was walking to the opposite block so we quickly pulled into a partial drive at the front of his building and Savannah jumped out to yell “Daddy!!” so he would know where we were waiting.  For reasons still unknown to me, I decided to grab something from the back of the Suburban.  When I opened it all manner of suitcases came rolling out onto the street.  I silently hoped  no one would think I had a bomb in that luggage though I doubt the pink suitcases with green polka dots looked very suspicious.  I quickly put them all back in and raced to the front of the car before the Department of Homeland Security was called out on us.  

As I got back into the Suburban I could hear the jackhammers working and noticed that Jacob had rolled down a side window.  As Bill rounded the corner suddenly Jacob began to scream… “DADDY, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.  THEY ARE SHOOTING AT US!!!! RUN!!!!  RUN!!!!!! RUN!!!!!!!!! THEY ARE SHOOTING AT US!!!!!!”
Do you know HOW MANY people were standing on the street corners and in front of the building at that exact time?

A lot.  That’s how many.

Needless to say, we got out of there as quickly as we could.  
And the thought of ANYONE seeing corporate, calm Bill jumping into a Suburban full of screaming kids yelling “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, THEY ARE SHOOTING AT US” which then screeches out of town on two wheels makes me double over in laughter.

Bill just says … “yeah, real funny” and I’m sure wonders if this little incident will come up at his next review.  

About three hours down the road we decided the coast was clear and so we stopped and filled our tummy tank.  Running like a bunch of terrorists had made us hungry.

We were also the loudest family in Whattaburger.  Go figure.

We finally made it to Arkansas and had a WONDERFUL time.

I made my first ever pumpkin pie and Bill declared it “very, very good”. Yay me!

I also made a REALLY terrible broccoli rice casserole.  I have thrown away the recipe forever.

My mom made a “Mississippi turkey” which is a turkey put in the oven with some veggies around it and cooked really high for an hour or so and then you turn the oven off and it continues to cook in the oven all night long.  My mom made it PERFECTLY CLEAR that under NO UNCERTAIN TERMS were we to open the oven until morning.  

Of course I told her that I did … just to see what she would do.  🙂

The turkey was delicious.  Unfortunately Brittany never tasted it because she had seen it before it was carved.  When she sees a bird that still has it’s legs on it she literally cannot eat it.  I learned this the hard way when I bought a rotisserie chicken.  She loves chicken but once she saw it whole, it was a no go for her.  But … my mom also had ham so Brittany didn’t starve.

During the weekend, the cousins enjoyed hanging out ….

I got to hang out with some friends, shop a little and then we climbed a mountain.

Pinnacle Mountain.

It was quite exciting.

Not quite as exciting as the whole “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE” event but still a really good time!.
72 hours later …

72 hours later …

This is how it went down ….

1:00 Bill and I go to the title company and see this sign:

 It was official.  We were closing on our new house!!

Bill looked a little pale during the whole thing and I asked him several times if he was doing o.k.   You know … needed oxygen or anything.  🙂

We both signed 4,722 dotted lines … then I had to sign them all again because I hadn’t added my middle initial even though she had told me to do that.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a detail person, right?!?

2:00 Bill and I go “celebrate” by going to Einstein Brothers for a sandwich.  

2:30 Bill leaves for the airport to go to Dallas.

3:30 Title company calls and has the keys to the house … owner signed later than we did due to a late arriving flight.
4:00 Savannah asks me if we can “go home”.  It is music, sweet music to my ears.  

5:00 Take Jacob and Savannah to new house!!

I wish I had a picture (actually I do but it was taken on the camera that needs cords and well … who knows when we’ll ever see those again), but literally within a minute of getting there four neighborhood kids ran over and asked if they could climb our tree and 30 seconds later there were SIX kids perched like monkeys hanging out of our magnolia tree.  One kid shouted … WE LOVE THIS TREE.  I think they’d been wanting to climb it for a long time and trust me … that tree is OPEN FOR BUSINESS.

It was a sweet moment.

We walked around inside for a second and then realized Savannah was about to be late for her dance class so we buzzed down the street to drop her off.  On the way back I stopped and dropped off a bag of donations for Boys and Girls Country, a charity in Houston.  When I got back to the house I realized I couldn’t find my keys.  I had locked the twist lock on the back door and had no way to get back in the house.

I called Bill later that evening and told him I had good news and bad news.  The good news was that our kids loved playing with everyone and it was so fun and so good.  The bad news was that I had lost the keys.  All five of them on a key chain with the country of Ireland on it.

I figured they would show up.

24 hours later … still no keys.

48 hours later Bill breaks the glass on the door trying to get in.  He kept telling me he could NOT BELIEVE that his very first home improvement project in the new house was to fix the door he had to break in to in hopes of finding the keys. 

Unfortunately there were no keys in the house.
72 hours after losing the keys I told Bill … “my project for today is to find those keys!”  I had already alerted the Boys and Girls Country organization because I wondered if they had fallen into the donation bag.  

The first place I looked was my purse.  I literally stuck my hands in the pouch that holds the phone and THERE THEY WERE … Bill saw the whole thing.  The funny part (or not so funny, depending on how you look at it) was that I had already looked in my purse three times.  And it is not a big purse and it is really clean right now.  

But here’s the deal … and I hope you don’t think I’m trying to rationalize it away (I KNOW it was crazy on my part!) … but those weren’t our keys.  We kept saying that it was really putting it into perspective for us.  That house is God’s house … we’re only there to open the door.

But we do need the keys to do that … and so we’re really glad we found ’em!!!!
There has been some drama …

There has been some drama …

On Monday we were supposed to close on our house at 3:00.  
Turns out we didn’t.  
More than a little drama!  I will spare you the gory details but suffice it to say  Bill and I had to do a little good cop/bad cop with the mortgage company …. and, for the record, I was the bad cop.  

We are now set for Thursday.  Eek!  We’re about to have two houses.  I was reading to Bill last night about worry and how we shouldn’t do it … you know the whole … “Do not worry” theme in the Bible …. and all Bill could say was “Preach it Sistah!”

In other news, we have a cool Dodge Ram 450 white truck in our driveway.  It has a backseat and it is awesome.  Bill rented it today to drive to San Antonio on business.  Tonight he picked the kids up from church in it and THEY. THOUGHT. IT. WAS. THE. BOMB.  Bill let them ride in the back down our street and he might as well have said “let’s take this ride to Disney!”  It was hilarious.  Caroline really, really wants a truck for her 16th birthday (is that a Texas thing because I most definitely didn’t want a truck on my 16th birthday?). 
In fact, I got a yellow Volkswagen convertible when I turned 16 and it was THE COOLEST CAR OF ALL TIME.  My friends and I drove everywhere in it.  I had to buy my own gas and if I didn’t have any money, they’d chip in.  We once scrapped up a whopping 27 CENTS to get that car up and down “the drag”.  It was always a good time.  The stories I could tell …

Anyway … Bill gets to keep the truck until tomorrow and I think Jacob might not be able to sleep tonight anticipating riding in the big white truck in the carpool line tomorrow.  I’m just happy to have the morning off!

That is about all my news.  Brittany placed 12th (out of A LOT) of girls Saturday at the South State Gymnastics meet so she is an alternate.  Her coach wants her to go because if two people get scratched, she is in … we’ll see.  I’m proud of you Babs  … “you went a long way baby!”

Last, but not least, real butter is now following me on twitter.  
I think that is hysterical.  
That’s all folks~