The shepherds are such a fun geoup of guys! One minute they are “sore afraid” and the next minute they were saying “Let’s go see this King!”. They didn’t even hesitate, they were all in. Listen in as we continue to look for Jesus this Christmas season.
Sometimes we blow it big time. I imagine the innkeeper in Luke 2 felt that way. The King of the world could have been born in his inn and yet he told them he didn’t have room. But God always has a plan … and works the plan in spite of us. Listen in …
When we moved into our current house we began packing for the move as we packed up our Christmas stuff from the previous year. My husband wanted to make sure we didn’t lose the baby Jesus that went in our nativity scene so he packed it up in some tissue paper and hid it so well that we couldn’t find it for two or three years. We searched EVERYWHERE. At some point I told Bill … “maybe that’s the point, maybe we are supposed to keep looking for Jesus”.
I’ve made some videos called “Five Seconds of Christmas” to help us (me) look for Jesus throughout this BUSY holiday season. Things get so busy and so crazy .. and we need to intentionally make time (look for) for Him. Today we start with Mary. If the video isn’t showing you can access it here: https://youtu.be/U18Q2v9jh4M
My goodness! Where does the time go? One minute I was blogging and the next minute I was trying to remember what my password was because it had been so long since I had last posted. I don’t have any kind of explanation for where I’ve been except … life.
As they say …. life happens. 7th grade football season came and went and Jacob has now moved on to basketball. We made a few college visits with Brittany and watched her swim in some swim meets. We’ve been to Austin to see Caroline and had her here twice (briefly!) as she interviewed for summer internships (she got one!!). Savannah is always busy doing something new and had her first guitar lesson tonight. We went to Arkansas for Thanksgiving which was a blast and believe it or not Bill just told me today that I had logged more airline miles than him this year going to speaking events.
So yes, life. Grateful and enjoying each moment.
I did want to touch base quickly because starting tomorrow is “5 Seconds of Christmas” which I will be posting throughout December. That reminded me that I never posted “5 Seconds of Fall”. There was only one video called “Palms Up” and you can view it here:
More blogs to follow. Hope you will follow along with “5 Seconds of Christmas” as we “Look for Jesus”.
I may very well be the only person on the face of the earth who could injure their larynx eating a salad.
Not even kidding.
The doctor actually wrote down “injured larynx/vocal cords due to choking on lettuce” in my chart. I had to go to the doctor because I sounded like a robot. I could not make it better either. I tried being quiet for several days … barely spoke at all which is HARDER than it sounds (get it, haha .. being silent is harder than it SOUNDS) but nothing brought my voice back to normal.
First of all you should know that I eat salads VERY slowly. I don’t know why but everyone is always finished eating before me when I order a salad. Bill, Brittany and I had gone to College Station to do a quick campus visit at Texas A&M and on the way home we grabbed a quick salad. They had finished and maybe I felt like I had to hurry or maybe I laughed, who knows …. I really don’t know what happened but I had a crazy coughing/choking fit. For a minute I thought this might be how it all ended for me…. right there in McAllister’s restaurant. Thankfully I recovered only to realize my voice was drastically changed. And it stayed that way for days.
I’m happy to report I’m back to normal now and am free and clear to talk as much as I want.
Can you hear me now? (haha)
So before all that happened, September was THE busiest month in forever. I was out of town every single weekend. There are a million stories to tell.
We spent Labor Day in Arkansas taking Brittany to visit the University of Arkansas. A friend had some football tickets so Brittany, Bill and Jacob got to enjoy the game. If you haven’t called the Hogs at a football game you really haven’t lived.
We stopped back by Lake Hamilton on the way home and celebrated September birthdays.
The next weekend I flew to Birmingham to speak at Mountain Brook Baptist Church’s Women’s Fall Kick Off Event. I checked in for what I thought was my 9 AM flight only to find out I had actually booked it for 9 PM. The event was at 5:30 which means I had a HUGE problem. There was one seat left on a 1:00 flight that was SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS. I stepped away for a minute to see if any other airlines had flights going that would get me there in time (and to compose myself!) and would cost less and found none. I walked back up to the counter minutes later to purchase the $750 ticket. I was SO SAD that I was using our family’s money for my stupidity. The agent told me the seat had since sold and the seat was no longer available. I immediately asked Siri how long it would take to DRIVE to Birmingham but she emphatically told me I wouldn’t make it. I asked to speak to a United manager and she said there was nothing she could do. Flight was now oversold.
That was it. Over and finished. United Airlines said “sorry, see ya later”.
You have to know that at this point I was OUT LOUD praying for a miracle.
Thankfully God is IN THE MIRACLE BUSINESS. I was defeated and had no idea what to do short of buying an airplane. Then the lady who had checked me in that morning came back from break. I told her what had happened and she said “let me check”. She made a phone call and I kept hearing her say “you are so kind, thank you” to the person on the other end of the phone.
When she got off she said “you have a seat” and I started praising Jesus OUT LOUD. At this point $750 seemed like a small price to pay to my speaking engagement. I handed her my credit card and instead of saying “$750 she said $75. SEVENTY FIVE dollars (change fee) was all I had to pay. Thank you Jesus! When it was time to board they announced that the flight was oversold and they were offering people $1000 to take a later flight … it was crazy. I completely believe Jesus opened up that seat for me and hopefully somewhere, someone is enjoying their $1,000 United voucher.
It was a great event!
I also spent a FUN weekend celebrating my dad’s 80th birthday and my mom’s 77th birthday at my sister’s house in Mandeville, LA. We went to Commander’s Palace for lunch and had THE BEST DAY! It was a wonderful memory making weekend that I will cherish.
The next weekend I spoke at a church in the Woodlands and it was a fun, nearby getaway. I made it back late Saturday afternoon so I got to see Savannah and Brittany off to their Homecoming dance.
Speaking of Savannah, this was her SWEET 16 birthday. She is a joy to celebrate.
Somewhere in there I squeezed in a few days at a lake house in Austin with some Longhorn moms and a long weekend trip to Eagle Mountain Lake with my “Hilltop Honey” friends. Bill went to New York where (hysterically) he met James Corden of carpool karaoke fame and got to be in a skit with him at the NYSE which will air sometime in February. He’s a total star. And of course I mean Bill.
So between all the travel and THE LETTUCE incident it’s been a busy few weeks.
I’m looking forward to things slowing down and if (when) we eat out, I’m totally ordering a burger.
One spring morning as I sat at a stop light taking our then seventh grade daughter, Caroline, to school, she said … “Mom, when I close my left eye I can’t see anything”.
I thought maybe I had misunderstood her so I asked … “what did you just say?” She said it again … “when I close my left eye I can’t see anything”.
“Nothing” she said … “totally black”.
I calmly told her I would call the eye doctor when I got home while silently letting my mind wander to all the things I thought could be causing this problem.
The appointment was scheduled quickly and it wasn’t long before I was sitting in a doctor’s office where I was told Caroline was completely blind in one eye. There was a big, long word for what her condition was called. I remember hearing things the doctor was saying … “retina detached”, “nothing can be done after the age of 12”, etc…. but none of the doctor’s words were making sense in my mind that day.
It didn’t seem real.
Caroline played volleyball and basketball … how had we missed this?
In elementary school the nurse sent home a note suggesting we take Caroline for an eye exam, and we did, but somehow she memorized the eye chart while reading it with her good eye. She was afraid to tell anyone about the bad eye. The doctor passed her and said “no problems”.
And yet there we sat, two or three years later, pleading with doctors to help us find a way for her to see again. We researched websites, read articles and got second opinions. Each time we were told … “there is nothing that can be done. Protect her good eye”. They gave encouragement about how the brain would compensate for the blind eye.
We started to see it … she had no peripheral vision. I remember her asking a doctor … “can I still play volleyball?” and him replying “I don’t know why you would want to do that. It will be very challenging but it’s better than basketball since there will be less risk that your good eye will take an elbow”.
And with that she signed up for high school volleyball tryouts.
Caroline made the team and for four years played middle blocker. This position worked perfectly for her because balls came directly at her. The balls that came from the side … she couldn’t see them coming. She never told the coach about her eyes. Sometimes Bill and I wondered if we should tell someone but Caroline wouldn’t hear of it. During her junior year the coach found out … I’m still not sure how. During her senior year that same coach nominated Caroline for a city wide award for courageous athletes. Although she didn’t win, it was a huge honor to be nominated.
Sometimes I forget about her eyes not working the way mine do. Other times I remember and so wish I could fix it for her.
In John 9 there is a story of a blind man. The disciples asked Jesus “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” I guarantee his parents had been wondering the same thing … “why did this happen to our son?”. Then Jesus replied …”Neither. This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him”.
And that’s the thing … God uses all of us. The blind, the broken …. we all have “defects” but God has a plan and a purpose for each of us. Our purpose is to glorify Him. It’s something I pray over my children all the time … that they would glorify God in all they say and do.
Not too long ago I was thinking about how I wished things were different for Caroline. LITERALLY at that very moment, I saw a picture of her that I had not seen before from her summer travels. It was from her adventure at Victoria Falls in Africa. She and some friends had hiked up to the top of the falls and came upon a rainbow. This was the picture I saw:
There was my child sitting smack dab in a rainbow. I thought it was one of the most amazing pictures I had ever seen. How could I ever doubt the faithfulness of God?! He reminded me right there, in that moment, that He fulfills His promises. Beautiful promises. And I had a picture of my child in a rainbow to prove it.
“God continued, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living around you. I’m putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on the Earth.” Genesis 9:12-16
I’m so thankful for God’s promises.
And thankful for rainbows that remind us of His promises.
And if you look really closely at this pic you can see a double rainbow. God truly does more than we could ask or imagine!
One day Caroline will see with both eyes … but until that day my prayer for her (and all my children) is that God will use her to bring glory to Himself.
And we will both keep looking for rainbows.
PS Her sisters made a video of some of her trip pictures. You can see it here:
The first week of school is behind us and mercy if it wasn’t a long week. By Thursday I was flat out exhausted … and I wasn’t even the one going to school!
On Thursday I got this text from Brittany:
Four days into the new school year and I had already forgotten to add a sandwich?!? I didn’t even make it a week before the wheels fell off the lunch making train!
A few years ago I got a text from Brittany that said I had only given her bread. I didn’t really understand and when I asked her about it she said “MOM, my sandwich is only bread, no meat.”
Good heavens, how does that even happen?!
I know lots of people who have their kids make their own lunches. I think that is great! Those kids are learning responsibility and they have no one to blame but themselves when they show up at school with a lunch that doesn’t include a sandwich … I mean what is not to love?! I don’t think there is a right or wrong on making lunches.
But I must admit, I enjoy making my kids lunches. I mean I don’t LOVE it as in … “I can’t wait to make sandwiches and throw chips and an apple in a bag”, but there is something special to me about getting to hand my kids their lunches as they race out the door for their day. Maybe it was all the episodes I watched of The Brady Bunch where Carol Brady and Alice passed out lunches each day. I bet everyone in my house would get a sandwich if I had an Alice to help me!!
But here is the reason I make lunches for my kids. It’s simple really … it’s a “get to”. And before you roll your eyes, let me explain. They are going to spend the rest of their lives figuring out their lunch. I’m happy for the 13 or so years that I can do it for them.
One thing I try to do (it doesn’t always happen) is to pray for each child’s day as I make their lunch … what they will face that day, tests they may have … even who they will sit with in the lunchroom.
I’ve often wondered if the mom who packed 5 loaves and 2 fish for her son prayed over it that morning as she made it. Her son shared that lunch and Jesus used it to feed over 5,000 people! Crazy!
A minister at our church made lunches for his boys and every day he put a note that included a bible verse in his son’s lunches. I’ve heard his sons talk about how special that was for them.
Last week my sweet friend Mary Jane (who no longer has kids living at home) sent me a message that said this:
“I made my kid’s lunches every day and cried over each of their last lunches their Senior year. They each got a note in that last lunch that said “it has been a joy and privilege to make your lunch for the past 13 years”.
I almost cried reading it knowing I would be making one of those “last lunches” this year for my own child.
So, no, I don’t mind making them at all. As Mary Jane said, it truly is a “joy and a privilege”.
Our daughter Caroline had what can only be described as an EPIC summer. I’ve written a little about her time in Switzerland … which was incredible! She would text me from Switzerland though with countdowns for how many days left until she got to Zambia. She couldn’t wait to go meet “her kids”. Being there was a transformational experience, for sure.
We have filled up the last several days listening to her stories from her work there. The way Family Legacy runs is that orphans are brought from their “compounds” (slums) to go to “camp” for a week.
During this week they hear about the love of Jesus, have fun, they are fed and at the end of the week they go back to their compounds and share with the people in their village about the love of Christ. It is the gospel going forth in an amazing way!
Caroline got to take a group of boys (pictured above) through “camp” the first week she was in Zambia and the other weeks she worked behind the scenes. She LOVES these precious boys.
The children in each group are available to be “sponsored”. What this means is that after camp if they are sponsored they are given the opportunity to attend school which will be held in their compound. They are given uniforms and textbooks, etc. The cost to sponsor a child is $48/month. The sponsorships last (hopefully) until the child graduates from high school. One of the beautiful stories we heard was of a family who flew over to watch their Zambia “son” graduate from high school. What an incredible opportunity they had to see him fulfill his dream. When he received his diploma he turned to his sponsor family and moved his tassel on his mortarboard from one side to the other while looking at them to show his gratefulness for the gift of education he had been given. To read more about the sponorships you can find more information here: Sponsorship
Our family sponsors two boys, George and Robert. Caroline got to meet her “brothers” while she was there and gushed about how cute and fun they are. Every now and then we get emails from them and each summer can send them a small package. We are looking forward to one day hearing of their graduation. Here are our boys with Caroline:
Five of Caroline’s kids still need to be sponsored. You can see their sweet faces and read more about them here: Sponsor kids I am here to tell you it feels good to know that there are orphan children who are given an opportunity to change their life because of you. If you feel led to sponsor one of these precious children, pray about it and click on the link to select the child you’d like to send to school. These boys want, more than anything, the chance at an education. It will change their lives. They will change yours.
If given this chance at education and a hope and a future … well, it would really be the best “first” back to school for them EVER.
Literally obsessed. Night after night we stack up on the couch and watch whatever NBC picks for us to cheer that evening. Watching Michael Phelps win gold after gold (after gold) was so cool. And the Simone’s?! Katie Ledecky? They are all incredible!!! It’s truly amazing to see these incredible athletes do their thing.
There have been a lot of neat stories to come from the Olympics … Michael Phelps coming back after overcoming some personal demons, the 41 year old gymnast (Really?! Just wow) and many, many others. The story yesterday of the USA 5000 runner helping the Australian up after a brutal fall … that was the Olympic spirit at it’s finest.
But one of my favorite stories from this years Olympics hasn’t gotten much press but it is truly the story I love the most. It is the story of a swimmer from Spain, Miguel Navia who was set to swim the 400 meter freestyle. He was a longshot even to final but just getting the opportunity to swim in an Olympic race was a dream come true.
When Navia stood up on the blocks waiting for the signal to start he fell in. Literally fell off the blocks into the pool as the crowd gasped. What normally would be called a “false start” in other swim meets, in the Olympics equals an immediate disqualification.
Miguel slapped the water in disappointment, knowing he was done, and got out of the pool. The TV announcer said: “well, that’s the worst thing that could happen” as Navia gathered his parka and headed out of the swim facility in tears.
The crowd, in a show of sympathy, begins to clap and gave him a standing ovation as he exited. It was enough to choke up even those of us watching from the couch. I SO wanted him to have another chance.
The swimmers prepared to get back on the blocks when all of a sudden a huge cheer erupted from the crowd. The other swimmers looked around confused as to why they were cheering.
And then Navia re-entered the arena.
Unbelievably the judge determined that Navia did not fall in the pool as a result of his own error. The judges conferred and determined that “he had heard a noise in the crowd that caused him to false start”.
He was allowed to swim.
This never happens. No one thought it was going to happen … but it did!
Navia didn’t final … he was 8 seconds behind the swimmers who made the finals in the almost four minute race ,,,
But he got to swim.
And I think the reason I love his story so much is because it is our story. Each one of us falls off the block in our lives. We may feel like the announcer’s words … “well, that’s the worst thing that could happen” or feel like we have failed and have no chance of getting back in the race.
But because of God’s redemptive death on the cross … no matter what we have done, it is not the worst thing … he forgives us. As the Psalmist says … “he throws our sins as far as the east is from the west”.
He tells us to get back on on the blocks.
When circumstances aren’t what we had hoped or dreamed? It’s still not the worst thing.
Even then He tells us to get back up on the blocks.
He wants us in the race.
There are no gold medals or endorsements … but there is peace and joy.
We get to swim!
Enjoy your race.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Summer is quickly coming to a close as school starts for us next week. I see reminders everywhere … the stores have been selling school supplies and backpacks for weeks. I am enjoying our last remaining days before it’s time to start filling those brown paper sacks with lunches again.
Now that my kids are older, getting ready for school is a bit different. I have one child who will go back to college, one who is applying to colleges, one who is dreading Algebra 2 and one who will get to play middle school football for the first time this year.
When the kids were younger the big question at the start of the school year seemed to be …. “who is your teacher?” or “who is in your class?”. Of course everyone was excited and wanted to know if they would have a friend in their class.
Yet year after year we told our kids the same thing … it matters less who is in your class than who you are in your class.
Now that they are older, that advice still stands.
Maybe even more now.
So as we prepare to head back to school this is our message for our kids:
There are people in all of your classes who need a friend. Look for them and be that friend. Everyone needs encouragement. Some people will be having a bad day and some people will be having a bad year.
Love them all well.
Look up from your phones, sit by someone who is alone, invite someone to join your table for lunch or in your group for a project. Send a text asking a friend how they are doing. Bob Goff says “give away inexplicable amounts of love with tremendous courage”.
Yes, do that.
Make sure people don’t feel left out. It hurts.
Just because people aren’t in your “friend group” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be friendly.
Last week I was at your school and there were some girls from another country who were enrolling in the high school. It was obvious they were uncomfortable and unfamiliar with how things worked. I have thought about them so many times. Look for them in the coming weeks, make sure they can find their classes or unlock their lockers. They aren’t just getting used to a new school, they are getting used to a new country. What a privilege to get to welcome them here.
Maya Angelou said: “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel”.
That’s good stuff. Make people feel great.
It might just a smile or a word of encouragement … but it could make a big difference in someone’s day.
Be characterized by kindness. Be interested in other people.
Your teachers, professors and coaches need encouragement too. Teaching you every day is not for the faint of heart! They work so hard … please show them your appreciation.
And, more than anything, be a reflection of the Christ that lives in each of you to everyone in your school. When you shine the light of Christ, you will light up dark places.
Each of you make us so proud … for so many different reasons.
So now go, be the good in your classes and have a great year! Cheering you on in life is the thrill of a lifetime.