Friday, June 30, 2017

Pensacola Rocks!

By now, most Pensacolians have heard of Pensacola Rocks!

It's such a fun thing that is happening in our town,
and other towns all across America - just a bit of joy to spread.

People are painting rocks and leaving them for others to hide, 
who them enjoy them and re-hide for someone else to find.

My very favorite rock so far:

One of our Hillcrest Connect Group leaders, Chad Picou,
painted this beauty, and included all the Hillcrest contact info on the back!
His wife posted a pic on Facebook, I gushed a bit,
and they made my day by giving it to me on Sunday morning to let me hide!

Lana & I hid it in Hobby Lobby on Davis this past week!
Chad & Michelle - I think we should make these in bulk!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

A selfie, and a poem.

One night on our vacation in Laguna Beach 
a few weeks ago, I took this selfie.
no makeup, no filters, no children or husband 
or anything to hide behind.
just plain old me.

and sure, I see the wrinkles and sun spots and freckles -
I'm not as young or beautiful or thin as I once was, 
I know.

But when I look this picture,
I don't feel disappointed at all - 
I just feel so content and relaxed and at peace.

I had spent this entire day with my people:
we had Thomas' donuts for breakfast,
my phone was on airplane mode,
and my book was never far from my side,
and we played an epic game of baseball on the beach as the sun went down.
It was Lana & Dan vs me & Tucker,
and if our ghost runners would have been just a bit faster,
T-bone and I could have won it all.
We laughed a lot during that game.
We laughed a lot during that whole day.

Suddenly, or maybe it's been over the course of years...
but nonetheless, the time is here

when I care more about the dimple in my son's cheek when he grins at me
because I'm racing around the bases with him
than I do about the way the backs of my thighs look
without shorts on...

when I care more about floating in the ocean with my girl,
talking circles about nothing, and listening to the waves,
than I do about any notification that is alerting alerting alerting....

when the simple pleasures of watching my husband bait his hook
and eating a tomato sandwich on fresh bread
and finishing a book in a day
are enough to fill my soul to the brim.


    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story. 
    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 

    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism. 

    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    it is as perennial as the grass. 

    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself. 

    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

    Therefore be at peace with God,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. 

    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy. 

    Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Chip Boes basketball camp

 Lana just finished up a week at Chip Boe's Championship Basketball Camp. 
We signed up on the recommendation of Lana's basketball coach this past year,
and we could not have been more pleased!

This is a highly structured skills camp,
with lots of focus on the individual player.
It is staffed entirely by adults, very experienced basketball players and coaches.  
There's lots of fun, but no goofing off,
and the point of the week is not to entertain the kids -
it's to coach them.

I think every child would benefit for a week with Coach Boes,
even if they're not into basketball - 
there is a focus on discipline and listening and character
that every single child could benefit from.

Just listen to Lana's takeaway from the week: click here

Tucker is already registered for the last week available.
Lana would go back, too, except she'll be at Centrikid.
She's getting him ready, though:

The Pribbles!

This past Wednesday night, our home was filled to the brim with so much love!
The Pribbles are in town for a few weeks,
and agreed to join us for dinner with a "few friends" 
and tell us about their life and work.

Like cold water to a thirsty soul, is good news from a far country. (Proverbs 25:25)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

VBS: Galatic Starveyors

Tonight was Family Night at Hillcrest VBS!
We love our church!

Family Night after party!
Almost every person in Wild Honey tonight was a Hillcrester.  :)

Throwback Thursday: the house that built me.

Ingram Hall
University of Mobile

This is where I lived from 1999-2002.

This is the first place I ever lived without my mama.
(for the record: I didn't get too crazy.  
It was only 45 minutes away from her.)  

This is where I made the best friends of my life,
ones I'm still friends with today,
ones who know the real of me, and love me anyway.

This is where I learned to laugh,
and be compassionate,
and find joy in all the moments:

the reading in the sunshine on the lawn,
the daily meals in the Caf,
the very first season (and many more) of Survivor in the lobby,
the early morning and Saturday classes,
the skipping class to go to the beach,
the late night walmart runs
the smell of Farr gymnasium basketball,
the love of Aunt Bea,
the safety in a girls-only dorm,
the board games in the study rooms,
the writing of thousands of study notecards with the roomie,
the hiding of a kitten in the dorm room,
until you get busted by the RA,
who happens to be your best friend,
the weekend mission trips called Urban Plunge,
the making peanut butter sandwiches in the lobby 
to take to homeless people downtown,
the whole time praying no one takes a picture 
because you know your mom will kill you,
washing dishes in the bathroom sink 
because neither of your roommates will,
learning how to really do your own laundry,
borrowing clothes and makeup and tissues when you need a cry,
playing board games until the wee hours,
yelling at people talking in the hall
because you're student teaching and have to wake up before dawn,
mud fights in the rain with your one-day-husband,
before you imagined he would ever be that.
so much joy in this place.

This is where I made dreadful mistakes,
almost took devastating life paths,
experienced incredible loss.
This is where I learned what I was made of,
and it turned out to be pretty sturdy stuff.

This is the house that built me,
in many ways.
I look at this picture,
and feel nothing but deep, deep gratitude.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A little something I've gotten wrong a thousand times.

Jen and I don't line up theologically very often these days,
but this is good, practical counsel.

A little something I've gotten wrong a thousand times. Parents are human people, which was a strange thing to figure out as an adult. I never thought of my parents as real people - they were just parents whose job was to center their lives around me. 

But now I know: human beings. Prone to all the ordinary, awful things humans are prone to - anger, exhaustion, frustration, disappointment, fury. It's no joke trying to rise to your highest self during this parenting gig day in and day out. Nothing has held up a mirror to my best and worst self more than parenting. Not even marriage.

I've found a few tips to avoid the meltdown, the mom eruption:

Walk away. Seriously. Go to your room. It'll keep.

Take very, very deep breaths and count to 22. I don't know why 22. But I'm usually better by then.

Send your cherub to his or her room before saying any more words. It'll keep.

Stop talking until you've put a snack and two drinks on the table between you and the offending child. Something about a shared table can flip a switch. Just dump some cookies on a plate. At the very least, it will freak your kid out.

Just quietly leave the place. Your kid coming unhinged at the park? Load up calmly and go home. Your silence and resolve make it clear who the adult in the room is.

Start singing. The more absurd the song, the better. It will shock your kid out of their spiral and will absolutely make them laugh after a minute or two, no matter how hard they try.

Just stare blankly and steadily at the kid. Whatever crazy awful thing just came out of his or her mouth deserves a long, uncomfortable, silent stare. This is a game of chicken. Don't lose.

Get a q-tip and start cleaning out your ears. Tell your child: "Wow, I must really need to clean these suckers out, because I am positive I didn't just hear what I think I heard out of your mouth. Let me get these silly things back in working order and REALLY hear what you have to say."

Feeling less whimsical than that? Try this: "You get exactly one do-over on what you just said. I will erase your first version completely and replace it with this new one you are about to try. Take two. You get one second chance. Make it count."

Last, sometimes we know the kids are exhausted or stressed or ten hard things have compiled and they just snap. We get this. We do this too. So when it makes sense, offer crazy, unexpected, unearned grace. Don't try to resolve the thing. Don't try to tie it with a bow. Don't wait for them to fix it or be sorry or admit their error. Just absolutely let them off the hook, tell them how much you love them and you're sorry they are having such a bad day, and let it go entirely. I've seen this work almost more than anything else. When kids get a pardon instead of a sentence without deserving it, they can hardly believe it.

We can do this, mamas. And when we blow it, we apologize and move on. IT'S THE BEST WE CAN DO. Grace. Let there be grace.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Review: Israel - God's Heart

Last fall, I traveled with a group from Hillcrest to Jordan and Israel, and to say that the experience of being in that part of the world changed me forever is an understatement.  For weeks, I couldn't even really put into words the great beauty of those countries and the time I spent there.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures:

the food.  the people (who are nothing like the media would have you believe).
the Dead Sea.  the language, the one Jesus would likely have spoken.
the rich heritage.  walking where the Savior might have.
It's nothing short of life-changing.

My husband is preparing to leave soon for a couple of weeks in the same part of the world, and I am simultaneously thrilled for him, and incredibly jealous.  I would go back in a heartbeat....move there with our family, live among the people, soak up the glorious richness there.  I fell in love with it.  Does it make any sense to be homesick for somewhere you've never lived?  I don't know, but it's how I feel.

So when I opened this book and saw the beautiful photography of the landscapes that are forever etched in my mind, it took my breath away!

See it for yourself here:

The author does a good job providing historical context to the places pictured, and the Biblical interpretation is a nice touch, but the real star of the show is the beautiful aerial photography that captures the vistas of the geographical place that is most central to the lives of believers.

This beautiful book will have a permanent place on our coffee table,
and makes me feel a little closer to the places I love so much.

Here's all the info you need to get your copy:
Israel-God's Heart: Landscapes and Legacy of Israel 
(Skypics Israel, November 2016)
Soar across the skies of beautiful Israel and visit contemporary and historic sites beckoning visitors to stay and explore.

The beauty of Israel from above is captured by top aerial photographer Ron Gafni.  As you sweep over ancient ruins, fly high in hot air balloons, and view vignette's of Israel's modern lifestyles, Holy scripture will also come alive. Author Kathleen Barrett offers reflective narrative with scripture pointing to God's redemption plan for the world.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased personal review.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

50th Anniversary of Battleship Crewmates

Each year, the USS Alabama Battleship welcomes aboard several girls as "Crewmates," and they are honored to serve in a public relations capacity for the Ship, all over the state of Alabama. The first year of the Crewmate program was 1967. My year was 2000! It was so fun to travel with friends and participate in sharing what the USS Alabama is all about, and the scholarship provided to us as Crewmates was deeply appreciated!

This year is the 50th Anniversary of the Crewmate program!
Today the Battleship hosted our families for lunch aboard the ship, and tonight we celebrated with dinner, in honor of 50 years of Crewmates! 
Loved getting to be with 100 other Crewmates - it felt so patriotic!

Tucker found all the spots for the troublemakers!  Coincidence?!

We spent several hours touring the boat!  
We all loved climbing and exploring and reading the interesting facts. 


Then tonight, April & Dustin kept our kiddos 
so we could come back for dinner in the hangar!

Kerra and I are the only 2 from our year who were able to make it -
she hasn't changed a bit!

What fun memories!  
We were so happy to be a part of the reunion today.
Here's to 50 more years of Crewmates!