August 29, 2013

she lives in my everyday...

Last night she was in my dream. I think she was dancing.  I just remember seeing her, and turning and telling Christine I see her!  There's Ann!  It was a gift. 

At home I expect to see her... I have notes from her tucked on my desk, in my bookshelf.  When I see her beautiful handwriting or my eyes pass over our photo perched on the piano, I smile, and thank God for our friendship, her love.  It has been a year since her words popped up in a text message, since I saw her face smiling or felt her arms around me.  But these pieces keep her close... and they remind me of how much she taught me along her path Home. 


While we were away this summer, at the youth gathering, God caught me off-guard.  Twice.  He showed me a glimpse of her face, of her heart.  Both times my eyes flooded with tears that shook my soul... thankful and sad and filled with joy.  {I think only God can mix this recipe!}  The first came with laughter... smack dab in the middle of the Skit Guys performance.  Eddie was portraying a high school student, and Tommy, his mother.  He started in finger wagging and say Now Skippy, Oh Skippy, you listen to me Skippy...  Oh he sounded just like Ann!  She was always, always gracious and kind, but everyone has their someone who gets under their skin!   The second time God showed Ann to me, Bob Lenz was talking about his Mom and her battle with cancer.  I was already thinking about my sweet friend, when he got to part of the story just after his Mom passed.  After she took her last breath, Bob's father raised his arms over his head and cheered... because cancer didn't win.  And oh I have to believe that with my whole heart... that God beats cancer every time He scoops our loved ones into heaven and heals them in His arms

But it broke me.  There I sat, my youth in front of me, my husband to my right... and my heart broke open and the tears cried ugly.  My body shook, and all I could do was cover my face and let it happen.  And still, I praise His name, and thank Him for breaking open heaven and letting me see the face and heart of my sweet Ann...

and I think to myself, it's a wonderful world...
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August 27, 2013

making the most of the beach pass...

Glaring at perhaps the ugliest cupcakes I have ever frosted, I finally came up with an idea.  An idea that had her cozying up to me on the picnic bench.  Watching what I was doing, her chin hovered over my shoulder, so I tilted my head and our cheeks brushed.   I couldn't see her face as I took each cupcake out, sunk a colorful safari animal in and set it on the stand... but I could almost feel her smile...

She is an amazing lady, this Mom to two and Gramma to four... and I am so honored to have her as my example to live by {although she won't like that I said that!}  I love to make her smile... and on occasion, cry {but only the good kind of tears!}  I'll never forget the day she told me that I knew what love was all about... we were sitting in the van going around the circle down by the back barn and I had just put her feelings above my own.  Maybe I was twelve, and while I don't recall exactly what I said... I felt as if she had handed me the world with her words.  I suppose, right then and there, she also anchored my life-long people pleasing ways...

For the rest of the evening we played on the beach... swooshing away tiny gnats and digging our toes into the sand.   Laura + Gramma settled in to chat about all things zoo while the rest of the kids dug for coquinas in the surf.  Tina + I chatted with Bob while we watched the sun sink low, and the evening sky made us ooo and ahh...


We have tried to make the most of this beach pass that expires nine months before we thought it would... and if we calculate by the number of visits, we aren't doing half bad.  But if we calculate by memories made and moments together, we are so far ahead of the game...

At the beach, life is different.  Time doesn't move hour to hour but mood to moment. 
We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun...
-anonymous
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August 26, 2013

when all you can do is cheer and trust...

The weekend was a craze of joy, laughter, uncertainty and tears that flowed for all kinds of reasons.   Laughter, expectant joy, what you thought and what isn't, and feeling a pain that isn't yours {yet you'd carry it if you could.}  But this heart, with some urging from above, knows that to focus on the joy is best, and leave the rest to God.  I trust that He has it all under control, and thank Him now, even before the dust settles.
: :
And so, the joy...
Friday afternoon we watched as the rain came down and wondered if the night would clear.  Eyes kept watch on the sky and radar... and we headed a few miles north with umbrellas and raincoats.  We arrived to clear skies and less heat, and settled in to watch the first football game of the season... you know, for half-time.  This is our sixth year of cheering on the marching band, and I never thought I'd think it, but sometimes I don't get as excited as I used to.  But entering the stadium and seeing our band in the stands, dressed in their finest green and black, I fell in love all over again.  And from my seat, I caught a glimpse of that boy I love, his head peeking up over his bass drum.  And then again, I found myself tumbling into love all over again. 


Thankfulness abounds...
-being able to find my son on the field, carrying that #3 bass drum
-cheering for the marching pride
-a quiet Saturday morning with time to plan
-kids off to a movie on their own and dinner out for the grown-ups
-playing cards, winning a few hands
-sweet compliments about my children
-songs and stories wrapping a thousand words of prayer around my heart
-the card he chose for her
-attending a baby shower for a young lady who was in our first youth group
-catching up with a family I haven't seen in so long
-catching up with a friend I hardly ever have the chance to chat with
-a quick phone call and plans to meet
-knowing that she makes it to church
-trusting that God has a plan and knowing that He can bring beauty to every situation
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August 23, 2013

friday letters {the anniversary edition}


Dear Eric,
Thank you...
For twenty-one years.
For putting up with me, for loving me. 
For our children and the life we have made together.
For laughter and silliness and happy and sad.
For knowing me... and for knowing what I need to breathe, even when what I need is exactly the opposite of what you want. 
For trust and faith and... napkin roses.


Dear Laura & Camden,
I am so amazed by you... not once was there a pout or a complaint about us going to Disney World without you.  Thanks for not asking what we brought you... since we didn't. Oh, well, wait... there was free soap at the hotel!  But really, remember this. Remember that it is okay, and necessary, to take time for yourself and your spouse... that it is not just the kids that need to laugh and play!  I promise you that someday you are going to need this time...

Dear Angel {that was his real name!},
Thank you for finding us a reservation at Be Our Guest!  I loved how excited you were to find it!  I had faith that we would get in, but I never dreamed that we would have a reservation in hand before we even stepped into the park!  I hope it was okay that I jumped on the bed!


Dear Animal Kingdom Lodge,
Dumela! Thank you for welcoming us, even though we weren't sleeping there.  You were a shelter from the rain, a lovely sight for my whole being, a place to sit, rest and enjoy.  We loved touring your restaurants and discovering that you have gluten-free zebra domes!  And Chef Vicky, you are a star... our anniversary breakfast dessert was a beautiful start to our amazing day!



Dear Belle,
What fun to chat with you in France! 
Everything you told us about the Beast Castle was true!  It was amazing and beautiful!


Dear Mad Hatter & Fairy Godmother,
We could hardly believe your sweet personal anniversary wishes from way up high in the parade!  We thought we had the perfect spot... and it turned out that we were right.  You helped make it oh-so-special!


Dear Beast,
Your castle is magnificent. Just stepping in was like being whisked away into the fairy tale!  When I spotted you in your study, I think I exhaled... I was so hoping to meet you!  And our meeting was so much more than I could have imagined.  A kiss on the hand, and a warm embrace.  {sigh}  Perfect.   And dinner!  We loved our little table for two, set with a flickering candle and red rose napkins.  The food was divine... and the grey stuff?  I no longer need to ask the dishes...


Dear Eric,
Yes, you, again...
I may love the Beast, but you are the fairy tale that God wrote for me. 
You are my love story that never ends...



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August 22, 2013

his favorite part...




We saw him fill five tall canvases over five days.  Paint splattered and smeared, sometimes scooped and splashed.  Once in a while a brush drew a delicate line, a small detail bringing life.  Wonder and anticipation filled us, eyes trained on the creation... waiting for the moment when we could see.
 
It was Camden's favorite part of the National Youth Gathering... watching the Jesus Painter create on the stage, waiting with suspense.  The face of Jesus. His outstretched hand. The art of love and grace. I loved sitting beside my son as he watched it all.  Cam had the chance to meet Mike Lewis, and shake his paint stained hand.  The Jesus Painter also signed the print Camden bought.  I think about this piece of art... what it speaks, and where it will go.  I think this is a forever piece... one that will always be part of Cam's home, and heart.  
 

Jesus is the artist, We are the brush. Art is is our gift, our ministry and the medium by which we impact the Kingdom for God’s greater glory. Art is our way of bringing faith to life in living color. 
Our relationship with God is personal.... Our Struggles are personal. Our worship is personal.
When we see our relationship with Christ played out on a canvas, we realize just how personal
our faith really is; just how much we have truly been given.


While we can only attain an incomplete picture of God’s glory, we are dedicated to painting
the most powerful portrait we can find this side of eternity. Our mission is to bring people into
an intimate worship experience where the relationship with our Savior becomes personal.
And our hope is that when we come face to face with the greatest love the world has ever known,
we will respond as King David, saying - “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”  
-Jesus Painter Ministries
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August 21, 2013

it takes patience...

 
Sometimes it takes a lot of silly to get one great shot... and sometimes they even make me give them the look... but I am counting my blessings {again} that I did get that one great shot.  But these... they make me recall the laughter and the fun we had getting there...

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August 20, 2013

what i've been missing...

Before heading home from our anniversary trip, we drove two hours north... to get our girl.  It was a long ride there and home, but oh it was worth the miles and the exhaustion!  To feel her arms around me and have her hang on just-a-little... I think we both needed that.  She told us she was really missing the cat... but what I think she wouldn't admit was... she was really missing her brother.  And me?  Most of all?  I think I have been missing them together

Saturday morning, I heard their chatter spilling out from across the house.  From her room, then his, and back to hers.  Words tumbling over each other, laughter, and occasionally a squeal.  I have counted my blessings again and again that they share this friendship... and once, twice again, over the weekend.  I think I knew that they would miss each other, but what I didn't realize was how much I would miss their togetherness...


These blessings spun around my heart all day yesterday, but I write them, to seal them in, on a Tuesday...

-a wonderful anniversary celebration
-the excitement i read in her text as we were on our way
-just wrapping our arms around each other
-seeing her be wrapped in her daddy's arms
-her happy conversations on the way home
-the marching pride preview
-her joy at seeing her brother marching with a bass drum
-his smile from the field when he spotted his sister
-passing notes in church (me, too Kerry! me, too!)
-celebrating 61 with a beach picnic and bright safari cupcakes
-listening to her "talk zoo" with her gramma
-cousins digging for coquinas
-safe travel, to and from, and back again
-his successful first day of junior year
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August 14, 2013

life lately...

We are heading out to celebrate twenty-one years of us.
Twenty-one years of life that often look just like this...


...or maybe just a little messier...
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August 12, 2013

when monday finds you smiling...

Once in a great while, I feel like I am super-woman, invincible... and I am amazed at the way it energizes me.  Pantry cleaned out, dinner cooking, tomorrow's dinner set to go in the crockpot, egg muffins in the oven for the week's breakfast, and laundry taking a last tumble around in the dryer.  Oh! And my dining room table is looking ship-shape {that is a biggie!}  When I have all of these things in place, it makes me want to do more... like straighten the pillows on the couch before bed.  I wonder if anyone can keep this pace without burning out.  I might make it through the week like this... but only because it is a two-day work week and Eric & I are heading out of town for our anniversary Wednesday...


Even if I can't keep it up {ha, ha!  I know I can't!}...there is still much, so much, to be thankful for!

-rainbows galore on a ride to town
-a heart shaped, potato chip love note
-clean pantries and some donated food
-so much water!
-hearing my in-laws stories from their Alaska anniversary trip
-camden drumming
-...and the breeze that was unbelievable on an August evening!
-a successful recap of the youth gathering at church
-my two guys, watching the redskins
-a little help from a friend
-21 years
-getting excited for disney {again!}
-five shooting stars...
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August 08, 2013

the process...ing

Sunday our Youth is presenting to the church... a recap about our trip to San Antonio.  I think I have to write the program... but I am still trying to find it all in my head and heart.  Some people work best under pressure.  And some only work under pressure... that would be me.  But this is one of those times when I am just not ready.  I need to soak myself in the information and the memories, and let them juice around.  The church is going to want to know more than we ate Tex-Mex food eight meals in a row, but at the moment I'm hungry and my head can't get past a grand craving for tamales....

When I flip back through the photos, I see what I need... and know that God has not hidden what I need to know.  It is all there, in almost-living color...

...I just need to sort through my hundreds {and hundreds} of photos. 
If only I still had access to this thinking cap I borrowed from some {mortified} teen boy...


That is MY kind of sombrero!!!!
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August 07, 2013

only a few more minutes of summer...

Camden started back to band camp this morning.  I would have made him squirm for a picture, but I was running late for work, and he was far too quick to shout goodbye and head out the door.  Even though he has been driving since January, I felt strange that he was driving himself to camp, and that it doesn't matter when I leave work, he'll make it home on his own.  Weird, and wonderful.  And a little bittersweet.  He is half-way through high school... and each day he checks off the calendar, chips away at making the half,  three quarters...

I was glad the other morning, as Eric and I headed out for a walk, that Cam wanted to join us.  It seems it is my never-ending quest to spoil him with as much time as he will allow, and summer is slipping away...


As we walked the shell covered path, Eric jokes that he needs to train his eyes to spot the smallest things... so that he can be the star spotter next summer in Africa.  Camden is actually almost as good a spotter as his Dad... and my head turns right and left to see the baby alligators they are pointing out. 


Though they are small, I walk tall and narrow, and in the middle of the path... the mama must be near, and I picture her propelling herself from the waterway with her mouth wide, teeth bared.  When at last we made it to the boardwalk, my soul let out a sigh and I strolled with ease.  Butterflies flittered and grasshoppers rested still, with wide eyes.  Red bloomed in the wild and interrupted the green with an extra splash of beauty...


When we had walked as far as I was brave enough to go, and were looping back to the car I stopped and listened.  The loud buzz of insects had softened and I could hear a rushing rumble break the quiet.  Louder, closer... what is that?  And then we spotted the rippling on still water as the rain moved across the land and over us.  With a smirk Cam asked should we run?  But ever the Myth Busters fan, I already knew what he'd say if we did... so we walked, a little quicker, in the rain,  hoping that we were, in fact, staying just a little dryer....


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August 01, 2013

she is becoming...

I asked her to send me a picture of herself... after a few weeks of us being just three, I was starting to miss her face.  When it came through I was motivated enough to figure out how to capture a screen shot on my phone... I wanted to keep her close

 
As May melted into June, we hardly texted, and spoke less.  It was me, trying to give her the space she has needed... and she, blossoming into who she is supposed to be.  My heart did not ache for her as so many had predicted, but that was okay... I am pretty sure we both knew we needed the distance. 
As the Disney celebration approached, I hoped and prayed she would be able to join us... and when the news was yes, my excitement started growing.  We chatted that week... about what she should bring, what she needed from home, and all the logistics of getting her where she needed to be, and it was good.  Her voice was only joyful, and confirmed my no news is good news theory!   My heart was soft and the aching was beginning to set in... and I wondered about the girl, the woman, I would see.

Eric took the day to drive out, pick her up and bring her to Disney.  When I put my arms around her, I felt love and joy and completeness.  She looked like my same Laura... but within her eyes I could see... she was more.   He leaned into me and whispered she talked the entire ride!  Two hours.  If she has something to say, it is usually me who hears the story, and so for her Daddy to have the first shot at hearing a six week recap was... a gift.  A stunning, unexpected gift.  And when she told her tales, her entire being was alive with light, and my heart melted all over again. 


The semester is coming to a close... finals are next week and as she is studying like crazy, I'm praying.  One result could make or break her lab grade, but I don't think it could break her.  She has loved, loved, this semester and all that she has had the opportunity to learn!  I hear a confidence and a joy in her voice that comes from deep within... and I am in awe of her.  It takes such courage to go and be and do... a courage I'm not sure I have ever possessed.  So I pray {and pray, and pray}, and hand it over to God.  He already knows just what she needs, and has been providing it with every breath... I am oh-so-sure He will not stop now... not ever.
 
...be strong in the Lord and never give up hope,
you're gonna do great things
I already know God's got his hand on you...
lyrics... the words i would say by sidewalk prophets
 
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