Sunday, August 24, 2014

Changes Ahead

In 1997, Larry and I stumbled into the doors of a precious church in town.  From the moment we walked in the doors, we felt at home.  We were welcomed, nurtured, taught and loved through the early years of our marriage.  Our young marrieds Sunday School class was far more than a group of people we spent an hour a week with.  They were our best friends, the ones we desired to spend time with over anyone else, the moms I did play dates with and Bible studies with.  These were the men Larry hung out with for Guys' Nights and those he studied the Word with.  They were our closest companions and some of our biggest cheerleaders.  They were the ones we would call late at night with prayer needs and those who would show up at our door with food in times of crisis.  Larry was a deacon and served on the missions board.  I was involved in the ladies ministry, worked in the nursery & preschool departments and taught VBS.  In late 2004, we said goodbye to the sweet souls there and moved across town to another church where Larry would serve as a pastor for the next 4 1/2 years.  We desperately missed all of our friends in those early months, but in time, our new church became 'home.'

In the spring of 2009, Larry stepped down from his job at the church.  God was calling us in a different direction, so we followed.  It was a hard, painful road back into 'regular' life.  Larry grieved the loss of that part of his identity.  We mourned the loss of the ministries we had helped start.  We missed the families we had served and become so close to.  But we knew it was the right thing to do.

We returned to our old church.  It seemed the most logical, simple transition.  Upon arriving there, we realized that nearly the entire congregation was different.  Only 1 staff member was the same.  We questioned if this was where we should stay, but determined that any church we attended would be the same --- we'd have to adjust to new church members & staff anywhere we went, so it was time to settle in & get used to a new body of believers.  We were anxious to get involved again and become a part of this old, familiar, warm place.

Around the 1 year mark, Larry voiced a concern that maybe this wasn't the right church for us after all.  It just didn't feel right to him.  He struggled to "fit".  He didn't feel connected.  He was having a hard time finding his niche.  We tried several different Sunday School classes and small groups, but couldn't find "the one" where he felt the most at home.  As the kids and I got settled into a routine of serving and involvement, Larry floundered, but he was willing to "stick it out" for our sakes.  He was happy that we were all plugged in, filling a role in ministry of one sort or another.

In the coming few years, he quietly suffered.  I nudged him to try becoming involved in one ministry or another.  I urged him to seek out the staff & try to connect with them.  I called his old guy friends and asked them to seek him out & help him find a way to get involved.  I kept pushing for him to make it work.  As the years passed I grew more deeply involved in women's ministry, the preschool department, relationships with ladies of the church, but he became more & more lost in the crowd, feeling like an outsider.

I guess I knew a long time ago that I should probably submit to his leadership & move to another church with him so we could find a place where he 'fit', but I kept closing my eyes or shoving my fingers in my ears, trying to ignore the facts.  I figured as long as he didn't push the issue, I'd just try to keep tiptoeing along until it came up.

In May, Larry reached a breaking point and announced privately to me that he just couldn't keep going.  He felt lost, abandoned, disconnected from everyone and lonely.  He was silently suffering and he had grown weary of trying to force something to work that didn't seem like it ever would.  He said that he didn't want to ever go back.  He was ready to move on and find a new place.  I couldn't blame him.  Five years is long enough to feel out of place and incomplete.

And so, today we spent our final Sunday at the place I've known as my church home for 12 of our 20 years of marriage.  I am a little sad, but more than anything I am at peace.  I know that following my husband to a new place  is right.  I know that submitting to his leadership is so very freeing.  I know the search for a new church will be hard, and possibly LONG, but I ache to spend my Sunday mornings next to Larry, worshiping and learning by his side.  I am also anxious to make this move & get it over and done with, so pray with me that God helps me relax and rest in this journey.

The kids know we're making a move and they have a whole range of emotions about it.  They understand WHY we're moving.  They agree that it's best for us to find a place where we can ALL feel at home & plugged in.  But of course leaving behind something comfortable is always hard.  Pray that God helps us find a place where they can get settled in quickly.

I am not gonna lie.  This is a hard move.  But it's the right move, so I'm game.  Father, lead us.

Postscript:  I feel like I should note that we are not angry with anyone at the church.  We are not disgruntled or mad.  We do not intend to destroy the church's reputation or gripe about them at every turn.  We have just realized it's not the right specific church group for us anymore.  Fortunately we live in the Bible belt where there is another church on just about every corner.  There are plenty of others to choose from & we trust that God will lead us to the right place.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer 2014 Re-Cap

Summer is not over yet.  I do realize this.  But starting tomorrow morning, we have school-related stuff almost every day until the first day back, August 25th.  It's been an odd summer.  Let me back track a bit.

On May 26, Larry's dad passed away.  We had the funeral June 1.  The next couple weeks were a whirlwind of emotions and handling business and just trying to survive.  (That's him with Samuel in 2003.)

The first week of June, Savannah began a new job in a local doctor's office.  She was 'done' with fast food and the restaurant where she worked was closing for remodeling so she took the chance to look for a new job and found one she loves!  She's working in medical records, filing and offering help/support in whatever way she's needed 20 hours a week.  It's been a wonderful job for her this summer.  The office manager is a friend and said they could be flexible with her schedule when school starts, so they will work around whatever her class schedule requires!

For the first week & a half of June, Sam traveled with my parents to Yellowstone.  He loved the destination!  All the days in the car were a little boring, but he enjoyed seeing the wildlife and the mountains and the snow when they got there!  He took this picture of a moose (elk?) on the side of the road while he was there.

Starting the 2nd week of June, Sam attended a daily boot camp sort of thing for our school's athletes.  From 7-9 AM each morning, he sprinted and lifted and jumping-jacked (is that a word?) and jogged and sweated.  Obviously, he did not get much of my DNA because he LOVED it.  He did this Monday through Thursday for almost all of June & July.

On June 22, my sisters and I hosted my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party.  It was a great party with lots of guests.  Unbeknownst to everyone, we also hosted a guest with a super-friendly case of head lice that quite a few of us caught....and thus began the epic head lice battle of 2014.  Two and a half weeks (and about $450 later), we got rid of the bugs.  I'm still paranoid and have the girls check my head at least once a week when I have the tiniest itch on my head.  You just don't overcome that fear for a while!

Throughout June and July, Sarah and I did a little local mission work with the church's middle school youth group.  It was so fun to watch these 6th-8th graders reach out to kids in the community.  Then the third week in July, Sam went on his first mission trip ever with our church's high school youth group.  They worked in West Dallas helping with a ministry there called Mercy Street.  I helped out with a meal ministry a few times throughout the summer as well.

Larry & I took a short weekend trip to the town where we lived when we first got married and enjoyed re-visiting a lot of the places we knew so well 20 years ago.

Aside from all that, EVERY weekend all summer long, we have traveled to Larry's dad's house to work on preparing it for an estate sale and eventually to sell the house.  I've been SO proud of the kids stepping up & helping.  We still have a few more months worth of work to be done, but there has been a lot of progress made.  I suspect we will be ready to do the estate sale by Christmas, or maybe early Spring.  We will probably sell the property next summer, but that's just a guesstimate.  It has been both hard work and a process of unwrapping lots of memories.  I feel privileged to be able to help Larry do all of it.

Somewhere in all of this busy-ness, summer has just flown by.  I keep thinking that things are going to slow down and I will actually pause and enjoy some quiet, peaceful summer time....but at this point I don't think that's going to happen.  In some ways, that makes me sad, but it's time to realize that we are moving on & fall is upon us!  And while I will miss the relaxing pace of summer, I do look forward to scenes like this one.  {Wait....I didn't have a relaxingly-paced summer.  ha ha}

Tomorrow morning, Samuel starts football 2-a-days (although it's just once a day, so I'm not sure why people refer to it as "2 a days".)  On Tuesday, Savannah and I will visit the junior college where she'll go this fall to buy her parking pass, get her student ID and buy her books for classes.  And later this week, I register Sarah for school.  One day next week, I register Sam at the high school.  (Can we just stop for a second and pause. I said High School.  Give me a second while I go cry.)

Oh, and did I mention that Savannah is turning EIGHTEEN this week?  I don't know who this kid thinks she is, but I did NOT give her permission to turn into an adult just yet.  I'm still reeling that she's gone & grown up on me like this.  I still monitor what she watches on TV, y'all.  I may suffer a bit of denial in the coming months when I am suddenly knocked out of being able to see medical records without her permission.  Mind blowing, folks!

Seriously, I couldn't be more proud of her...and on Wednesday, we shall celebrate with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cake balls!  She's a MAJOR fan.

Between all that, a couple doctor appointments (check ups before school starts) and a week of inservice for me, BLINK....summer's over.

Friday, August 1, 2014

If I were honest...

Are there people in your life that you hang around with simply because of the way they make you feel? You know the ones. Every time you see them, they are warm & kind, they tell you how great you look (and they're totally sincere about it, leaving you to wonder about the visual health on those bad hair days). They smile & listen to you whine and gripe and fuss and they pray for you in the most beautiful, eloquent way. They always want to hear how your kids are doing & how your family is. When they hug you, you FEEL the hug all the way to your heart. They offer to babysit your children for free & when you pick them up, they've fed your children wholesome meals, led them in a short Bible study and taught them a Bible verse to the tune of their favorite songs. Oh, and they played games all day and took the kids to the pool without ever breaking a sweat or knocking a single hair out of place. Yeah, you know that person in your life. We all have one. Or two or three.

These are the same people that, if you really dig deep, you realize you don't know much about because you're always letting them fill you up with compliments or kind words or you 'let them' listen to you far more than you listen to them?

This coming week, find that person and spend some time listening.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

We Want to Know--Wednesday blog meme

Just another old, fun survey thingy that was saved in my blog drafts.  I love finding old posts I never published before!

1} You have been asked to give a 10 minute speech to teenage girls. What is it about?

Abstinence.  Not giving your heart away to every guy you date.  College decisions.  Their self-worth.  Crap...I can't decide.

2} Do you have a pet? Tell us about them. No pets? Why?
Yes, one dog, a basset hound.  She is precious & we love her.  BUT....I guess I have to own it.  When she dies, I don't really care if we ever get another dog.  Honestly, they're just a lot of work & they are expensive to take care of.  I don't DISlike pets, I'm just getting old and realizing that NOT having one is easier.

{3} What is the biggest inconvenience about the place you’re currently living?
Really?  Not much of anything.  I like where I live.

{4} What do you think is the single best decision you have made in your life so far?
Marrying Larry.

{5} What are the THREE "nevers" of your life? (things you would never do or have never done)
I can't answer this.  I've learned over & over that you can never say never.  It always comes back to bite you in the rear.  You just don't know what the future holds.

But I'm pretty sure I'll never own a pit bull, will never get a master's degree and probably won't ever be rich.  And I'm OKAY with all three of those.

We Want to Know (WWTK) blog meme

I STARTED writing this post in July of 2010.  I found it today in my drafts that never got published.  It's been fun reading through old posts like this one.  Fortunately I didn't have to edit much to make it up to date!  Enjoy!

My bloggy friend Rachel always had the most fun blog hops/memes/surveys (whatever you want to call 'em!) on her blog, so I used to steal them from her & repost them here. Her blog is where I first saw the Friday Five posts and I love the questions!   Rachel died a couple of years ago, so finding this old meme from her blog makes it extra special.

{1} What was the last thing you searched for online?

a map to a restaurant I visited a couple days ago

{2} If we visit your home state, what is one MUST we should do before leaving?
Well, they always say that to be an 'honorary Texan' you have to kiss the Alamo. (Same for new Texans!) So let's do that!

{3} What do you think pharmaceutical companies should invent a pill for that isn't on the market yet?
The magic pill. You know, the one we're all wishing for. The magic pill that makes you lose tons of weight with absolutely ZERO side effects in a reasonably short period of time.

{4} When was your first kiss? Was it good or bad?
Depends on which one you'd call my first.
When I was in preschool, I had my first boyfriend, Aaron.  He kissed me one day on the playground.
In 7th grade, I had a boyfriend on the school bus who gave me my 'real' first kiss.

{5} What is your guilty pleasure TV show that you can not miss?
Alright, this one is tough for me.  I honestly don't watch much TV at all, so I don't have a particular MUST SEE show.  But I will say that during the Dancing With the Stars season, I love watching it & try not to ever miss an episode.

Eating Tape & Dryer Sheets....really?

How many of you have stumbled across the odd show on TLC called "My Strange Addiction"? It is like a train wreck. You just have to stop & watch it when you flip through the channels. Or at least I do! I am intrigued by the (very) odd things that people find themselves addicted to.

I've seen one young, pretty girl who was addicted to taxidermy. She carried around large ziploc bags & rubber gloves everywhere she went to pick up & carry home any small dead animals she happened to find. I once watched an episode where the woman interviewed ate dryer sheets, and another where the person ate tape.

I have to wonder how on earth these people initially discovered these things they are addicted to. I mean, really, did you put a dryer sheet to your nose to sniff it one day & accidentally bumped into your lips? And it tasted good? How does one start these obsessive behaviors?

As quick as I would like to judge these people for their seemingly odd behavior, I have to step back & realize that I have plenty of little quirks of my own. Maybe nothing as quirky as picking up dead animals & taking them home to stuff them, but quirky still.

Maybe what looks really WEIRD to me isn't so weird to someone else.  Maybe MY odd behaviors would look like dryer sheets and taxidermy to others.  And I guess I'm okay with that.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Early 20th Anniversary Weekend Get Away

In August, Larry & I celebrate twenty years of marriage.  Since our anniversary falls during the week that I go back to work for in-service at school, we decided a couple months ago that we'd do a little weekend away in late July to celebrate early.  At the time we planned the trip, Larry's dad was still alive and we had no idea what the future months held.  Since his dad's death in late May, we have all been working every weekend at his house, cleaning up things, getting it organized for an estate sale, working on the property, etc.  Larry has spent more time than the rest of us, dealing with legal matters and helping out the rest of his family who live in the same area.  So this weekend when we left town it was as much about our anniversary get-away as it was getting away from all the hard work he's been doing for months now.  He needed a break.

On Saturday morning, just before lunch, we left on our great adventure.  Our destination was Nacogdoches, TX.  This is where we lived when we first got married.  We thought it would be fun to spend the weekend there and reminisce.  On our way there, we stopped at this pretty church & cemetery.  We're weird like that.  Old churches and cemeteries are so interesting to us.  We have no particular connection to either, but it was a cool place to stop and look around briefly.  It's okay.  You can think we're strange.

After our visit at this stop, we continued on our way to Nacogdoches.  This was our home for the weekend.

This was the view out our window---notice the deer feeder in the field?  We watched for deer all weekend but never spotted one.

Upon arrival, we promptly took a nap.  I know, I know....we're old!  ha ha!  Later Saturday afternoon, we hopped in the car and went for a drive around our old stomping grounds.  It was fun to see how much has changed...and how much hasn't!

If you're not familiar with Nacogdoches, TX (pronounced Nak-ugh-dough-chiss) it is the home of Stephen F. Austin State University.  I attended there in the Fall of 1994 when we lived there.  We roamed around the campus for a while, getting lost in all the new paths and buildings that have been added.

We went to Beall's and bought Larry some sandals while we were there and stopped at Family Dollar to get a curling iron for me because I forgot mine.  Aren't we romantic?  Can't you see the flowers & balloons & little smiley faced sunshines all around us?  ha ha!

And don't forget the stop we always make on every trip. Bookstore!!!!

I got these.  (I'm almost finished with Bossypants.)

After the bookstore, we went to the apartments where we first lived after our wedding and found our old apartment.  Great memories!  This place was where we spent our first four months of marriage, in a tiny 500 sq ft apartment.  I found a floor plan online and it can't convey well enough how tiny the apartment was--but it was perfect for us!  {Note:  Our apartment was the flip-flopped version of this floor plan, but it's the same place none the less.}  We had to be sneaky when we got there.  We weren't sure if the current tenants were home or might be freaked out that we were tip-toeing up to the door to get a picture.  ha ha!

We eventually found a place to eat and roamed around some more before finally heading back to the hotel about 6:00.  We laughed that we must be really old and boring.  I dozed off reading my book while Larry watched some TV for a while.  About 8:00, we (woke up) decided to go out for some ice cream, so we headed into town and found this humorously-named frozen yogurt shop.  It was yummy.  I really have no idea why it's called this.  The yogurt was made with regular milk.

Sunday morning we slept late and then headed out for brunch.  I had a not so lovely experience with a really greasy piece of zucchini there, but the rest of the meal was good.  We roamed around the SFA campus a little more after brunch and found the Arboretum.  I had seen it mentioned online and wanted to find it.  I'm so glad we did.  It was really nice.  I'm sure that it would be even prettier in the spring when all the flowers are blooming, but it was nice this weekend, too!  There are trails to walk through the flower garden part, then another trail through the "Shade Garden", which was really nice in the heat.  If you live within a couple hours, I would recommend it.  It only took us about 45 minutes to walk through it, but if it was a little cooler we would've stayed longer and enjoyed it more.  In the spring, there would've been more to see, too, so it would take longer to walk through all of it.

(Remember, it's late July in East Texas.  It was about 400 degrees at about 1:00 PM.  Sweaty selfies rock!)

After the arboretum we found some cold drinks and air conditioning for a while, then headed out again to the movies.

In all our driving around town, we found several really pretty churches.  These two were my favorites!  These are pics I found online because I didn't get a chance to snap a picture when we drove past.  This first one is Christ Episcopal Church.  The second one is labeled with its name.

After the pretty church hunt we went back to the hotel to swim.  It was nice.  The water was just the right temperature and the 2 kids and their dad left to go back to their room just as we got there.  When you can have the pool all to yourselves, that is the perfect time for swimming!  Hush up about my sock line!

This morning we made our way back home.  It was a little sad to leave behind our weekend of sleeping late and taking naps and remembering the "good old days" in Nacogdoches, but reality called and it was time to return.

Tonight, we sat around with the kids and watched Monsters University.  It was good to be home, snuggling with them on the couch, watching an animated movie.

For those of you who knew about this little detail, our kids survived!  Since Savannah will be 18 next week {let's not even talk about that!} we decided it would be okay if the kids stayed here alone.  We left money for dinner Saturday night, tickets for the movies yesterday and a long chore list to be completed while we were gone.  Somehow we returned to a still-standing house and no one had bruises or stitches.  Could it be that they're really growing up & learning to get along?  For those of you who were watching out for them, calling & checking in and praying for them to be smart & safe while we were gone, THANK YOU.