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Author Archives: Rebecca Greebon
As many of you know (and the rest of you can probably guess from the blog name), our family spends a lot of time outdoors – most specifically in or near the Guadalupe River. My husband’s family has owned property on the river for over 50 years. It’s a gorgeous five acres with 300+ feet of riverfront, rapids across from the sprawling yard, a duplex of two cabins and even an old-fashioned molasses press in the front yard.
We spent many a summer there during our college and dating years, as work and school allowed. My first tubing trip down the river was quite the ordeal, especially as I was the only girl on this journey. Without going into too much detail about our misadventures, let me just summarize the lessons we each learned.
1) It is not a good idea to go on a river trip with a group of boys if you are the only girl. Ever. This only ends well in the movies.
2) A strapless bikini is not the best wardrobe choice when tubing down rapids.
1) In a full out, head-over-heels tumble down the rapids, never choose rescuing the tube containing the beer cooler over the tube containing your girlfriend. That, too, only ends well in the movies.
2) Trips with girls are more work. Period.
See? College kids can learn outside of class….
Over the years, the groups that joined us on our river adventures grew and changed. Couples broke up and new couples formed, people moved into or out of our lives, weddings changed the rules for some, graduations happened and grown-up jobs were sometimes less flexible in their understanding of our need for river fun than were our previous positions as wait staff or personal trainers.
The river changed as well. Drought years made it slow and sluggish, making the trip long, hot and (in rare cases) boring. There were years it rained all summer, and we shivered in tubes and rafts, determined to hold fast to tradition and float in spite of the unpleasantness. Some years it flowed faster and fuller than others. I will never forget the summer it overflowed its banks, and after the tragic drownings of some kayaking tourists, was closed for the season. Far be it from us to let a little thing like safety in prevention of serious injury or death stop us from having fun. We spent that trip body surfing the rapids. While it was one of the dumber decisions of our lives, guardian angels worked overtime and in spite of a couple of close calls, we all made it home. It also provided one of my favorite pictures of my husband, so I’ll share it with you.
Those are five foot swells he’s shooting out of….
When I think of Gregg, the boy I fell in love with – who introduced me to the river that was to become our first home together and who opened my eyes to a new and crazy brand of fun, I think of this picture. I see this portrait of the man who would ultimately become my soul mate and partner, the father of my children and head of our household, and it makes my heart smile. What a great definition of freedom and fun and in-the-moment living! It’s a beautiful reminder of a time before parental worry and career stress, the weight of heavy expectations and shouldering the responsibility of providing for a family. Back then, we were invincible, no matter what anyone told us to the contrary.
Lady Antebellum has a song called We Owned the Night. I love these lyrics: “And for a moment, we made the world stand still. Yeah, we owned the night.”
I loved those days. I loved the innocence and freedom we had. I love the stories and relationships that were born from them. I love the growth and changes we experienced through them. I love that we survived them. And, let’s be honest, if I catch our kids pulling even half the stunts we did up and down this river, I will skin them alive. If I’m being totally realistic, knowing my kids (especially the younger two), I should also know they will probably come up with even wilder and crazier stunts to pull. They are made up of half their father’s genes, after all.
And that’s okay. Because my little river rats deserve their day in the sun. They, too, need to create memories that make them alternately cringe in shame or laugh until their sides hurt. They need their time to make the world stand still, to have mental and/or literal snapshots to look back on and cherish with a smile in their hearts. They need to know how it feels to be young and free and invincible, and to find the beauty in the joy that brings. Because there will come a day when remembering how it felt to be that alive, that full of energy and hope, will be all that sustains them. There will be moments in their adult lives when looking back at the shenanigans of their younger, brighter, braver selves is what it will take to shore up their walls and replenish their reserves as the weight of the world crushes and drains them.
This river is in their blood. They need to form their own relationships with the entity that is so much a part of their lives and heritage. They are starting early, beginning a kinship and comfort level from such a young age. They have many years of escapades ahead of them.
And when my daughter goes on tubing trips with her college boyfriend, she’ll be the one rescuing the tube with the cooler as she calmly navigates the rapids. Of this, I have no doubt.
Solidarity, sisters. At one time, we each owned the night.
I did something last night that I don’t do nearly as often as I should. I played with my daughter. Before anyone gets worked up about that statement, let me clarify. I do play with her often. I do spend time with her and love on her and talk to her every day. I do all the stereotypical “good mommy” things.
This time, however, we really played. We played her games, her way, in her timing. We sat together on the couch, facing each other as she curled up in my lap. No television. No radio. No phone or computer. No distractions. No agenda. No time limit.
We played “grab my nose”, tickle time, and complicated versions of patty cake. We played “Rock, Paper, Scissors” followed by a new version titled “Fire, Water, Paper” (it was interesting). We sang songs, both existing and original. We laughed until we both had tears in our eyes and our bellies ached. We wiggled every tooth in her mouth individually and pondered which ones were loose, which one might fall out first, and the risk versus reward of trying to catch the Tooth Fairy in the act.
We had a long discussion on the merits of staying little instead of growing up. She was quite patient with me as she explained that she can’t stay in Kindergarten forever, even though I asked her to. She has to grow up and lose her teeth and grow big ones like mine.
She had me in stitches with her impressions of “mean girls” from the movies. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen this kid cock her hip to the side, snap her fingers overhead and say, “Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen.” I nearly wet my pants. And I literally could not catch my breath through my laughter as she switched into an English accent for the next five minutes of all our dialogue. This was followed by a conversation almost entirely comprised of spontaneous song lyrics in the place of speech.
I love this child beyond description.
She’s funny and interesting and creative. Her thought process fascinates and entertains me in equal parts. She’s growing so fast, and throughout the evening, I kept catching glimpses of her in years to come through her movements and expressions and tone. It was beautiful. And terrifying.
She’s graduating from Kindergarten today. In a few minutes, I’ll wake her up and start this very special day in her life. I’ll feed her breakfast and help her put on the new dress we picked out together. I’ll listen to her tell me all about how excited she is, and how she’s nervous because so many people will be staring at her as she crosses the stage. I’ll nod as she reminds me to leave her hair down so her graduation cap stays on.
On the drive to school, I’ll have the image in my head of her “rehearsal” last night. Of how she walked me through every step of the ceremony, complete with barstool stand-ins of the principal and assistant principal. Of her smile when I announced her name so she could practice walking out and shaking hands with the “administrators”. Of her stern admonishment to hold my applause until after the whole class was done, and her giggles when I asked if I could bring a cow bell.
I’ll sit with my husband, boys, and family members with nervous anticipation in a cafeteria full of others doing the same. I’ll juggle cameras and kleenex, trying not to drop either.
I’ll wave my arm in a manic frenzy when she walks in, and wait for her face to light up when she sees us. I’ll clap and cheer and cry more tears than I care to count.
And when it’s over, when the smiles and hugs and pictures are complete, I won’t have a Kindergartner anymore.
So, I’ll cry more tears.
Because this is all at once a small thing, and a big one. Because she’s my baby, and she’s not a baby anymore. Because her transitions and graduations only get bigger from here on. Because the years are flying by at increasing speeds, and as much as I want them to, they just won’t slow down.
Because the night before her next graduation she’ll be too big to sit in my lap, and it will be here way before I’m ready.
I’m grateful it’s not here, yet. I’m grateful there are still plenty of opportunities for cuddles, kisses, and make-believe. For games, songs, laughter, and accents. For sitting in laps and memory building. For writing new chapters and growing along the way.
I am determined to soak up and store as much as I can, with all of my children, over the next years and seasons. To slow myself down, even if I can’t decrease the fast march of time. To cherish all the moments, big or small, special or mundane, celebrated or not….even the ones that break my heart. They are all part of our story, and it’s my favorite one of all.
We can always add accents or theme music along the way.
As usual…I had a totally different blog post in mind to kick off the #fangirlyourfriends series. Alas, sticking to a plan is not my forte these days. So we’re gonna punt here. Welcome to the jungle, friends.
I met this amazing woman when I went to Buda for the For the Love launch party (Actually, I met a ton of amazing women, one group of whom is blowing up my Facebook messenger notifications as I type this with the most entertaining thread you can imagine, and I am trying to be responsible by ignoring the dings as I attempt to get this written and posted. It’s easier said than done, folks. These chicks are hilarious). Now I’m distracted and looking at my phone again. Darn it.
Where was I?
Ah…yes. The lovely Corie Clark – a phenomenal entrepreneur and gifted leader with a heart of gold (and fabulous planners, organizational tips, and goodies in her online store. You can check them out here). In addition to the many hats she wears, I have to add pom-poms. The girl is the ultimate cheerleader, and she proves it in her #fangirlyourfriends post and movement. The post on her blog (click here to see it) explains all the things beautifully, but I’ll give you a peek.
“We can fangirl a little. We can be inspired and find ourselves in awe and wonder of what we see God doing in someone else’s life. But instead of buying in to our celebrity culture and putting that person on some man-made platform, why don’t we try and take what’s inspired us and weave that into our own lives so that we can share it with our community. Instead of always looking at that “celebrity” look up to God and then out to your people. If we’re so focused on whom we’re fangirling over, we’re missing out on what’s happening right in our own little worlds.”
Her premise is to take the spotlight off celebrity and big names, and instead shine it on the amazing women in our lives who are doing life with gusto, kicking butt and taking names. Women who inspire us on a personal level, who love us when we’re unlovable, comprise the village it takes to raise our children, keep it real no matter what, and offer us everything they’ve got: from carpool help to homemade meals, from shoulders we can cry on to a smack up the head when we’re rotten…..followed by a hug and some chocolate.
I love having women in my life who embody the word “girlfriend” in the truest sense of the word – with all of the love and amazingness and non of the catty competition.
Do you know women like that? Better yet, are you one?
I strive to be, I really do. And lucky for me, God knows what a slow learner I am, so He chooses to surround me with great examples of how to be a woman worthy of this distinction. I could do fangirl post after fangirl post, not running out of material any time soon. And I will. We’ll be walking this topic out together, friends.
It’s only fitting that the first episode begin with the original player in my life of strong female role models and women who’ve taught me the meaning of fierce love.
Today would have been the 88th birthday of my Medzma, my incomparable grandmother; a woman whose zest for life, love for God and heart for others left a mark on this world that will fade about the time the sun does. She was one of the brightest lights of my life, and the day we lost her was my darkest to date. I usually circulate my original post about her (The Thing About Grief) on her birthday, but this year, I’d like to do something different. I think she’d be tickled at having the status of my first #fangirl moment. As I wrote in the afore-mentioned post:
“My Medzma, my grandmother, was one of the absolute most important, influential, amazing, beautiful, strong, incredible influences on my life. She was, literally, a force of nature and explosion of life, love and energy. No one who met her could ever forget her. Anyone who spoke with her was instantly mesmerized. Everyone who knew her was completely in love with her, none more than I, her first grandchild and namesake.
She was unafraid.
She was unconventional.
She was uncontrollable.
And she was unapologetic.”
I’d say that’s worth a fangirl moment or six…..
My mom and I will meet for lunch today. We’ll toast her memory. We’ll laugh at the memories of her many and varied antics. We’ll cry more than a few tears, and wish for the impossible (just one more moment, one more hug, one last glimpse of her smile, smell of her perfume, or peal of her laughter) as we blow out the candles of her honorary cake. We’ll take a deep breath and wipe our tears, grateful for the lessons she taught us and traits she passed on. And we’ll find a way to keep going, keep growing, keep living.
She’d accept nothing less. It was her way…and now it’s ours.
And in spite of this hiccup, this moment of sadness that overwhelms me if I dwell in it too long, I can’t help but smile. Because my zest for life, my love for others, my tendency towards some pretty out-there antics of my own come so clearly in a straight shot from her. My daughter even more so (get ready, world). I find that to be such an amazing thing, an incredible gift.
Naturally, it makes me want to share. So, let’s do some gift-giving together. Leave me a comment with your fangirl story, complete with hashtag. I’d love to hear it, and so would more people that you’d think. I’ll be doing a giveaway of one of Corie’s #fangirlyourfriends mugs – each story gets an entry.
Solidarity, sisters. Let’s hear it for our girls.
Its that time of year again – time to say goodbye to 2015 and look ahead to 2016 and all the growth, changes, and challenges it will bring. How does this keep happening so fast? Why do the years fly by at increasingly alarming rates, refusing to slow down, even for a second, and let us catch our breath? It’s slightly terrifying, this march-turned-sprint of time.
I keep seeing the ads for organization, planners, courses on goal-setting and finances and career advancement. I am watching those around me or on social media pick their word for next year (there are even stamped bracelets or pieces of jewelry you can buy so you can wear your word as a constant reminder). Normally, I’m all over this.
I just can’t bring myself to go there. Not yet. Not right now. Maybe I’m lazy. I’m definitely unmotivated. I know there are things I want to accomplish, and areas I need to improve on. I’ve got to get better organized, with sharper goals and detailed agendas. I haven’t even started a list of words to narrow down. I have no desire to do so.
Because I’ve spent the past week watching movies, cracking jokes, eating poorly, building toy houses, chasing pets, going on random outings, avoiding this blog and all writing projects, making popcorn (a lot…and often), singing silly songs, reading stories, staying up too late, and marvelling at the freedom of an unfettered schedule.
I don’t even know where my to-do notebook is (sadly, I’ve surpassed the simplicity of a list; it takes a three-ring binder now).
This holiday season was definitely one of my favorites, and the more I reflect on it, the more true that sentiment becomes. We hosted multiple Christmas celebrations in our home (which is pretty much par for the course), but didn’t travel, so things seemed less chaotic. Because of schedules, the fact that we had to plan more gatherings meant they were smaller….and while we are all over the more the merrier, it was kind of a nice change, making the season seem gentler somehow. We’ve spent more time together, just the five of us at home, and that was needed as well.
It’s been beautifully peaceful, and relatively drama-free. That’s always nice.
Lest I seem to be waxing overly poetic or painting a scene that seems more idyllic than it really is, rest assured I’m not trying to sell you a picture of Hallmark commercial perfection. We’ve had to swallow our share of the bitter with the sweet. The holidays still feel incomplete with the absence of my grandmother, and I shed more than a few tears at that void this season, as I’m sure I will continue to do for the rest of my life. We had moments of mourning – our beautiful youngest “brother” (so close a family friend, we’ve always considered ourselves to be siblings) would have been 28 this Christmas were it not for the car accident that took him three years ago; our dear new friends left our home Christmas day to visit their son’s grave, a brave Marine who lost his life in the line of duty 18 months ago. We experienced a painful family estrangement that none of us saw coming, and doesn’t look to resolve any time soon. We’ve got a kid on antibiotics and a septic system that imploded.
It’s not all glamour over here.
In spite of it all, however, I stand by my earlier statement. The brief moments of pain have only served to accent the appreciation I have for the magic of the season. We’ve gotten to meet and make new friends, experience memories in the making, and see different faces around our holiday table.
Our children are safe and healthy and happy in their home and with their family. The peals of laughter coming from every corner as a result of the antics of our new kitten have made the chaos of another pet a non-issue.
Their joy at having loved ones surrounding them, and at being tucked within the bounds of the security that brings has refreshed me in ways I didn’t know I needed.
Every year, I find new facets of the Christmas story to learn from or focus on…and this year is no different. I keep getting stuck on a simple phrase in Luke. Of course, it involves our girl, Mary.
Luke 2:19 – But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
I’ve been doing a lot of pondering myself. And the more I ponder, the more I find to treasure. It’s a fabulous way to wind down the year, and I am grateful beyond the telling for this reality.
I may not know exactly what growth and changes will make my top priority file, and I may not have a word of the year picked, but I do know what I want to hold on to….and how I want my family to feel about and with me. The fun and the love and the joy have to stay. Period.
And so I think I’ll decide, at least for now, not to let the what-ifs of tomorrow steal thunder from the blessings of today. I think I’ll rest here a while, in this place, with my thoughts and musings and gratitude. I think I’ll live in the moment, these last days of 2015, and be present and engaged with those around me.
It’s a simple goal. I don’t even have to write it down.
Solidarity, sisters. There’s still room for bonding in this goodbye.
Yesterday marked the end of my first forty years on this earth. Or, I guess we could say, the beginning of my second forty years on this earth. Either way, it was my 41st birthday. I can’t believe I just typed that.
For those of you who’ve been with me for a while, you may remember my reaction to turning forty last year. If not, you can check it out here. In a nutshell, I didn’t handle it with the greatest of maturity, at least not at first. Let’s just leave it at that.
This year, however, I am older and wiser and much more mature. Ok, I’m not, but I didn’t flip out about the older part, so that’s a start. Plus, I had an amazing day. How can I complain? How can I be anything less than ecstatic at a day filled with love and cards and messages, surprises (many of them quite sparkly) and calls, singing voice mails and hugs and laughter? I am blessed beyond the telling by the people who surround me, who make up my tribe and lift me up while keeping me grounded.
Even our favorite sushi chef got in on the action at lunch yesterday, gifting me with this gorgeous and delicious concoction. Check it out.
As I celebrated throughout the day, surrounded by friends and family, I kept finding myself in a state of bemused wonder. What an amazing thing it is to love and be loved. We can never forget that, or take it for granted. It’s pretty much the point.
Recently, the women at our church completed the Seamless Bible study by Angie Smith (I cannot recommend this one enough. If you haven’t already, go get it.). One of the points she makes in it is that throughout the Bible, when there is a 40 year stretch, it’s always a time of learning. I found that incredibly interesting. So as I round the bend, coming out of my first time of learning, I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned so far.
Life is as precious as it is unfair
Acknowledging both of these truths helps the bitter with the sweet. We aren’t promised fair – we are promised meaningful, blessed, hope-filled, purposeful, God-ordained, and many other descriptors…but not fair. Along the way, we hopefully find joy, peace, community, fun, adventure, and Calling. But, fair? Not a factor. Never has been, and expecting it to be robs us of the amazingness that is.
Seasons don’t last
None of them. Change is as irrevocable as it is inevitable, and when I let this scare or intimidate me, I miss out on new blessings and opportunities. When I cling to how it’s always been at the expenses of what could be, I minimize where God’s taking me or those around me. It’s not always fun – aging isn’t easy for me, that’s the diva talking. The stretching and growing of relationships doesn’t always go the way I wish it would. I can’t always see the finish line, and even when I do, I’m not necessarily on track with the end point anyway. I’ve learned that seasons of crippling insecurity, heartbreak, or disappointment often preclude my times of greatest joy and growth, and serve to give me empathy for others as well as the ability to recognize this struggle in them. They stretch me in ways I’ve never wanted, and force me to view things through a lens of increased patience. I’ve learned to enjoy the good times, power through the bad ones, and get ready…because I never know what’s around the corner.
My agenda can wait
This has been a tough one, and I’m far from done learning it. I’ve always been a task-driven individual, but the longer I live, the more I’m discovering that people outrank my to-do list….without exception. I may not get this one right (confession – I don’t get this one right more than I care to admit), but I know it to be true. My ability to multi-task and my energy both have limits, which never ceases to surprise me for some reason. I’m becoming less organized and able to juggle details, which is shockingly frustrating, and I openly ask for grace and prayers in this area. On the other hand, my heart for people has grown exponentially. I love the whole messy lot of them, and just want to make that clear to everyone in my life. I can’t stand the thought of broken hearts that come from the insecurity of not seeing your self-worth, or an inability to accept unconditional love; of loneliness that is a side effect of tenuous connection to others and fractured family or community ties. My husband and kids need me to live this every day. The people I do life with need to see this as the norm. They need to know that I can take my eyes off of my list long enough to really see them, and that they are the priority. If that means laundry doesn’t get put up, or the entryway isn’t painted, or my blogs are published late….well, what else is new?
People are broken
Including me…and that’s ok. God makes no bones about the fact that He knows this, He sees this, and He loves us anyway. He’s also pretty clear that we are to love each other in spite of the mess. Hurt is inevitable in this life, and the more connected to others we are, the more vulnerable we are to becoming collateral damage as they blow through life. It doesn’t make it right. It certainly doesn’t make it easy, especially when the source of hurt is someone dear to your heart. The choice is simple – be right, or be connected. We rarely get to do both. And chances are. we’ll spend a fair amount of time on both sides of that fence, so be careful how quick you are to lock down the decision.
Wonders never cease
While I could wax poetic on this one for a good bit, the current example I’m living will do. My family is full of surprises. They are funny and spicy and often impulsive, with big expectations….such as coming home with a kitten as a surprise and expecting me not to freak out. Apparently, the plan is that even though my entire existence up to now has been clear in knowing I am not a cat person, the next time of growth will be spent learning to become one. I think we were all taken aback by my lack of negative reaction. It was getting down to the wire on pet begging from Drew, and my choices were this or a parrot. I think I picked this battle wisely, don’t you?
Mostly, I’m just grateful
I really am. I’m grateful to God for every day, every person, every gift, every opportunity in my life. I’m humbled that He has chosen me as His daughter. I’m blown away that He loves me in a way that, when I catch on and hold to, allows me a sense of joy and purpose and connection that boggles my mind.
It’s a good life.
And so, my theme for Year 41 of Rebecca’s Time on Earth will revolve around one of my favorite verses.
James 3:13 – Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.
Wisdom, and humility…shown in a good life. My good life, filled with so many good people and so much good love, under the sovereignty of our great God. Not a bad way to kick off the next phase.
Solidarity, sisters. Let the new Time of Learning commence.
It’s always interesting when I reflect on the timing and effectiveness of life’s lessons. I use the word “interesting” loosely, as it makes me seem more mature than I am…and since some of the words that come to mind when I get one of those lessons don’t belong on your screen. Anyone else feel me here?
I recently received a communication from someone dear to me, in which she decided to make clear every single thing that has ever bothered her, specifically about me, but also about select members of our family. It was, let’s just say, a less-than-pleasant experience. I was shocked. I was hurt. I was indignant. And I was angry.
It took me completely off guard. And while I have managed to block out some of the more hurtful phrases, the one I couldn’t (and still can’t) get past was the bold statement, “I deserve better.”
Because my immediate reaction was, “No, you don’t.”
And once my vision cleared and my blood pressure started returning to normal, I had to pause for a moment of self-reflection. (I really hate those, by the way.)
Nevertheless, while this letter wounded my heart, it also sharpened my sense of “self”. How many times have I entered or left a situation with a list of all the ways I deserved better? How often have I forgotten just how fortunate I am? If we’re looking at hard truths, I’m certainly due my fair share.
This moment of self-reflection through reality-tinted glasses, while oh-so-fun, gave me a thought:
What if we took the word “deserve” out of our vocabulary, unless it’s preceded by the word “don’t”?
None of us actually get what we deserve – thank goodness. In our heart of hearts, in the deepest places where we hide our most secret thoughts, we breathe a sigh of relief. Because we know the truth. We know who we are, and what we’ve done, or said, or thought. We know what we really deserve…if we’re honest. And what we really deserve isn’t unending grace and love. It isn’t a life of freedom and second chances and opportunities. It isn’t an open invitation to eternal joy and paradise. We don’t like to focus on that part, do we?
When we, as flawed people, use the word deserve, our focus is on the human element. We go one of two places with this. “I deserve”, which leads us to entitlement and accolades based on accomplishment. Or “they deserve”, which often takes us to judgment and an anticipation of punishment. We’re looking at the end game here on Earth instead of opening our minds to the big picture. We look sideways, instead of up, wondering “What did we get? What did they get?”. It makes us cocky. It creates competition. It gives birth to dissatisfaction, and often greed.
We are called to be grateful, not dissatisfied, and certainly not competitive or covetous.
Colossians 3:15 – Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
The addition of “don’t” changes our focus from “I deserve better” to “I don’t deserve that”. When we change our language (inside and out) to don’t deserve, we can focus on the divine. It shifts us from entitlement to gratitude, and puts our hearts in a posture of humility. We become thankful for grace and all of our blessings, or express sorrow for crummy circumstances.
The tension comes when we look at what we consider to be fundamental human rights.
- I deserve to be happy
- Children deserve to be safe
- People deserve to be fed, or healthy, or treated with dignity
We can still apply our new vocabulary here.
The truth is: no child deserves to be neglected or abused; no one deserves to be cold, or homeless, or hungry; we don’t deserve to get terminally ill, or injured; we don’t deserve tragedy or pain; the French didn’t deserve to be victims to acts of terrorism; the Syrians don’t deserve the horror they are living; victims of sex-trafficking don’t deserve their plight.
Are we starting to get onto the same page? Does it change your rhythm a little to phrase it this way?
In all of Scripture, there is not a condoning of the “I deserve” school of entitlement. Even the life of Jesus and story of the cross revolve around what he didn’t deserve as opposed to what he was due – and let’s face it, if anyone who ever lived had rights to that parade, it would have been the Son of God.
Isaiah 53: 5-8 – But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought our peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He died a death he didn’t deserve, so that we could receive the gift that we don’t deserve.
He was God, and yet, there is no mention of him deserving better than the simple life he lived and brutal death he endured.
Philippians 2:5-9 – Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.
Despite all of this, we never hear how richly he deserved what came next.
Philippians 2: 9-11 – Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Nary a “deserve” in the whole passage. In fact, the focus is still on the Father; the accolades still aimed at His glory.
There’s a very clear message here for us. There’s an expectation of how we are to view ourselves, and example of the attitude we should embrace.
It gets so very tricky.
I’ll give you an example:
The desire of every mother on the planet is to raise healthy children. It’s a basic wish, and the hope of all our hearts. My secular job revolves around parents who face the other side of that coin. I’ve spent 16 years working with families going through the pain of raising children with broken bodies and minds. They are amazing people, kind people, good people, faithful people. Their kids are beloved and special, and precious. They don’t deserve the hand their dealt, nor have they asked for it.
And as much as I love/adore my three kids and think they are pretty great, I know this to be true – they don’t deserve their amazing, talented bodies and minds any more than the children I treat.
There but for the grace of God go I.
And as we raise our kids, as we watch them and celebrate them, encouraging them in every endeavor and phenomenal achievement they head towards… Their father and I have one over reaching goal: to be sure that they never, for one second, forget to do all that they do in the name and to the glory of the One who dealt them these cards.
It’s all from Him.
It’s all for Him.
Ephesians 5:19b-20 – Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The more gratitude I embrace, the more joy I find. The more joy I find, the more gratitude I feel. I find myself celebrating the little things…and not just for me or mine. It becomes easier to celebrate for and with others as well.
The cycle continues in this big, beautiful circle that brings me closer to God with every repetition of the rounding.
We shine brightest with His light when we are filled with His joy.
We are most filled when we let go of ourselves – our pride, our competition, our dissatisfaction or self-proclaimed sense of what’s “fair” and lift up a simple thank you. It acknowledges God’s gifts and the trust we have in His provision for us. It brings to the forefront of our minds His sovereignty. It reminds us of who He is.
I am grateful His is who He is, and chooses what I don’t deserve over what I do. I know who I am. I know, in my innermost secret places the wretchedness of my heart. I am grateful to be loved in spite of it. I am grateful Father wants me to find joy in His love, and in the love of and for others. I am grateful that here go I, in this time and place, in these circumstances, with the people in my life – because this is where He placed me, with specificity and purpose. So, this is where I’m supposed to be.
Here is where my focus should be – on the One who loves, who created everything and let’s us take part, who is waiting patiently for us to grow up and do our part and live our purpose, then join Him for an eternity of joy.
It’s a beautiful life…even when it’s messy, or less than perfect, or hard, or criticized. Those things do not diminish it’s value, or mine, or that of those who surround me. We are loved. We are precious. And I am incredibly grateful.
Solidarity, sisters. Grab a hand and give thanks.
James 1: 2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I’ve never liked this verse.
Yet, today, as I look at it with a fresh perspective, I am trying to change the angle and deepen my understanding. Maybe there’s something here I haven’t paid attention to before. I’ve been know to miss a thing or two (or 20). So, I put my focus on the word joy, and went back to Kay Warren’s definition of it. She says:
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”
Ah….that changes things a bit.
Joy: the deep-in-the-gut peace of knowing, without a doubt, that He’s got this. He knows exactly what’s going on and what’s about to happen. He holds the outcome in His hands (along with the whole world, no less). And His heart is 100% for me.
Let’s go back and read those verses again with this focus.
The trials are there to prove this – to my fragile little heart, to a broken world, to the souls around me who desperately need a sign that shows them the light, and to the dark shadows that threaten to overwhelm us all.
I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to celebrate it, at least not in a conventional way.
I have to walk through it.
I can choose to do so with confidence and strength and peace, or I can do so with bitterness and fear and doubt. The circumstances may be beyond my control, but how I approach them is absolutely not. It’s a choice, plain and simple: look up or look down; head held high or posture of defeat; shine with His light or be crushed by the dark.
It’s a process, this completing of our selves. There’s a point to the pain, and if we can remember that, we can fight through anything, carry any load, conquer any fear. It won’t be easy, but it will always be worth it.
James knew this beyond a shadow of a doubt. It’s why he opened with it. No pain, no gain, kids….and oh what a gain we’re in for.
Solidarity, sisters. No one gets stronger by lifting feathers.
I love the holidays. I love fall weather. I love family gatherings, drama and all. I love to cook. So, all-in-all, this is win-win for me. This year, I had the added excitement of embarking on a new adventure – I joined the family hunting trip. Ta-da!
I’ve wanted to attempt deer hunting over the past couple of years (which, I realize, seems in direct opposition to my whole “I’m not a country girl” thing). I like learning new things and I’m curious as to what all the hoopla is about. Between toddler duty and letting kids have their first hunts, I usually end up giving my spot up so that someone else can have a shot (no pun intended). So, this year’s plan was “Mommy gets a deer first.”
Don’t hold your breath, kids.
We headed west Friday – locked, loaded and ready to go. As we drove in our unusually quiet car (we only took Luke and the dog, the two younger kids stayed behind), my mind drifted back to my very first deer/hunting interaction. It was with Gregg, of course, and even though it was almost 20 years ago, I remember it with complete clarity.
We were freshmen in college and had been “hanging out” without actually dating (whatever that means) for a month or two. Translated, we were still too cool to make the first move, but in the “I need to impress you with how irresistible I am without seeming to try too hard.” Gregg was at his house which, to my mind, was out in the country and I had driven over to “hang out”. We couldn’t go anywhere because he had shot a deer the evening before and it was hanging, field dressed and ready for him to skin and quarter. Naturally, the super cute Wonder Girl persona I had cultivated prompted me to volunteer my services and help him out. After all, I was dissecting stuff in Anatomy lab and pre-med at the time. How hard could this be? Plus, for all my insect and scorpion phobias, mammals don’t make me squeamish. And Gregg looked as impressed as he did shocked, so I figured it was the right call.
We went out to where the deer hung and, after a brief “Aw” moment, I was ready to work. Gregg gave me a small handsaw and began reciting very specific instructions, which I actually listened to without allowing myself to become overly distracted by his dimples. Or height. Or muscles. Did I mention he was really cute? Believe it or not, in my younger years I was way more focused and less ADD than I am now. I blame the children for this loss.
Sorry, I digress. See?
Instructions: I was the quarterer, which meant I had to remove the legs (if you are squeamish, you might want to skip ahead. If you are a card carrying member of PETA, just skip this post altogether). The method I was to use was to saw halfway through the leg tendons, twist and pull, popping the leg off. Repeat for each leg. Gregg did the actual skinning, and was impressively fast at it, until he got to the head/neck area – he then sat on the ground to work with more precision (obviously, the deer was hanging upside down). This was my cue to being working on the hind legs. Show time.
As I stated earlier, this was a time in my life where I was incredible focused and very literal. I took the handsaw and sawed through exactly 50% of the tendons with extreme specificity. I may have even counted fibers. So far, so good. I carefully set the saw down, reached up for the leg, twisted and pulled. Nothing. Hmmm…. I twisted a little further and pulled with more force. Still nothing. I repeated the twist/pull pattern with incremental increased in force for three to four more repetitions. No luck. The leg was still firmly attached.
And now, it was personal.
I had followed the instructions without deviating and it was not working! My type A personality could not reconcile this, so my mounting frustration may have made me a tad irrational. I totally forgot about Gregg’s presence and became completely immersed in the woman versus deer leg struggle for dominance. Bring it on, Bambi!
I raised all the way up onto my tiptoes, wrapped both arms around the leg and turned my body so that the deer leg was positioned under my armpit and lodged against my ribs. I placed my foot on the tree trunk, braced myself and started yanking with my arms and body while shoving my foot against the tree for leverage. I’m pretty sure there was grunting. I struggled this way for a good minute, hair whipping wildly, tree bark flying, the deer swinging back and forth…..until, breathless, I realized two things: 1) this deer leg was no closer to coming off at this point than it had been before I started and 2) Gregg was still there. Oops.
I slowly turned my head and lowered my gaze to see him sitting – stunned, silent, not moving at all, as he stared with wide eyes at the lunatic hanging on his deer. After an awkward pause, he asked, “What are you doing?” There really was no dignified response here, so I simply said, “Twist and pull.” We learned that day that I was not strong enough for the 50% rule. My success rate with the other legs went up exponentially when I sawed through 90% of tendons instead.
Fast forward 20 years to the inaugural deer hunt. We dropped off our stuff, our son (he had no interest in going since the focus was not on him…so much for supporting Mom) and the dog, then headed to the deer lease. I was quite excited, although more than a little apprehensive, truth be told. I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion how busy we are, and the holiday season only magnifies this. While I have shot guns before, it’s been a while. With our crazy schedules, we never got around to practicing with the gun I was actually going to use. So, when Gregg handed me the gun and said, “Ok, babe, rack a round and put one in the chamber”, I just sat there blinking at him. I mean, really. Who did he think he was talking to? Where would I have just picked that up as a skill? This was probably his first red flag. The second came as we were exiting the vehicle and I turned to him with the question, “So, where exactly am I supposed to shoot the deer?” Nothing like waiting until the last possible minute to get the basic info.
We set off on foot across the lease and I felt pretty official in my black wool beanie, five layers of clothes, Gregg’s camouflage vest and a rifle in my hands. This particular lease doesn’t have many deer blinds and we got there after the feeders had gone off, so the plan was to walk the lease and find deer to hunt. This requires stealth, a good eye and quick response time. Perfect. Sounds like a recipe for success to me.
Still, I had promised to be a good sport and follow directions, so I squared my shoulders and soldiered on. Gregg led the way and we wound our way throughout the terrain. It was really fun. There was wildlife everywhere – we saw jackrabbits and hawks and foxes, and there was a veritable cacophony of birdsong. It was so great to spend time, just the two of us, enjoying nature and fresh air. I almost forgot we were stalking deer. Almost…..the gun wasn’t exactly light. At intervals, Gregg would turn to me and do the two fingers at his eyes, then at me, then out at the clearing. I would nod and look around dutifully. He would motion to get down. I would duck and squat. He also did a whole bunch of other signs that made no sense to me whatsoever and I couldn’t begin to guess at their meaning. I just kept nodding. He seemed so excited to communicate in that way, I didn’t have the heart to burst his bubble.
As the sun began to set, we became resigned to the fact that this trip was unlikely to garner the result we had hoped for. We began walking back towards the suburban. All of a sudden, Gregg started flapping and pointing wildly while squatting and motioning for me to do the same. Okay! Okay! I got it. He duck walked/ran over to me, put his chin on my head and began speaking under his breath. I thought this was a great trick, by the way. I know, focus on the point. He had spotted a doe in the field across from us. Sweet! I turned to look where he was pointing. Nothing. He pointed again. Nothing. Again. Nothing. What the heck was he looking at? I mean, the man can’t find his keys when they are six inches from his face, but he can spot a partially hidden deer at 200 yards?
He told me to sneak along the fence line past the bushes and I should be able to see her. Ok. Got it. So I slowly began this awkward lunge/squatty/duck-like walk along the fence while hiding behind the bushes. It was ridiculous, and only the thought he would kill me if my laughter scared off the invisible deer kept my giggles at bay. I stopped and stared. Nothing. He pantomimed for me too look through the rifle scope to see if it would help. Oh, my gosh. Have you ever tried to do that? How does anyone see through those things? Gregg snuck over to me, told me not to put the scope so close to my face or the recoil would give me a black eye (great, something new to worry about) and said there were now two deer. Because I was having so much trouble seeing them, he would go around and see if he could “encourage” them to come towards me by making a little noise on the other side. What?!? Then, he says, “This means you’re gonna have to be quick, Bec. I mean, no hesitation. Click off the safety, get your gun up, aim and shoot. They’ll be moving, so you won’t have much time.”
Again, who does he think he’s talking to? It’s like he’s never met me!
Needless to say, this plan was not successful. I never did see the deer. Maybe they flew away…..Christmas is coming, you know.
Walking back to the car, we each spent a few minutes in our own thoughts. I was a little disappointed, but still had fun. My main concern was that this had to be the most boring hunting trip ever for my husband. The man has been hunting his whole life. He doesn’t even rifle hunt anymore, preferring to use a bow. Here I am, candidate for Clueless Hunting Rookie of the Year. Gregg was walking a few feet in front of me. He paused for a moment, turned, and said, “I can’t tell you how happy I am that you came along. It means so much to me that I got to share this part of me with you.” I felt my heart lift, my spine straighten and my face break into a smile. As he turned to keep walking, he casually tossed out, “And you look really cute in that hat.”
Victory!! As far as I’m concerned, this hunt was a roaring success. Any time a good-looking outdoorsman walks away from an empty-handed hunt with a smile and a compliment, noticing your adorableness, you’ve won the day.
After all, isn’t that what we all hunt for throughout our lives? Aren’t we tracking down people and occasions that leave us feeling loved and beautiful and worthwhile? We equip ourselves as best we can to find positive reinforcement and incidences and individuals that are able to celebrate our relationships over our results and our company over our competence.
This is why community and friendship and sisterhood are so important. We were created to embrace them…and each other.
So celebrate that every opportunity you get, and even stepping outside of your comfort zone won’t feel so daunting, I guarantee it. It made a cold, intimidating hunt much more enjoyable.
Getting to watch him walk around in front of me in his jeans was just a bonus.
Solidarity, sisters. The hunt is on…..
Come on, now, friends. Finish that one with me. In unison, everybody!
When it rains, it pours!
It’s been a bit of a rainy season around here. First, let me say, thank you so much for your patience! It’s been a long three and a half weeks of waiting and wading through all the issues that come with a site crash and attempted retrieval/repairs. Those of you who’ve been tuned in for a while know how much technology and I don’t get along, so I won’t belabor the point. Let’s just say, this incident has done nothing to repair that rocky relationship. We’ll leave it at that.
I had all kinds of plans for a profound and amazing post to re-launch a season of fabulous and funny blogs….and then the rains came. We got pounded here in sweet little New Braunfels and the surrounding areas….as tends to happen. This time, to add to the fun, a tornado showed up as well. Schools closed. Roads were blocked. The river rose and flooded, causing damage and flashbacks. All plans and events were cancelled. Chaos ensued.
Naturally, any hope of accomplishing anything outside of chasing and/or entertaining kids and river watch/clean-up was squashed over the week’s end. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a crisis. We were lucky this time, and did not sustain damage to the actual river house itself (water stopped a mere eight steps from the front door – how’s that for a close call?). Our neighbors didn’t get to dodge that bullet, even though the river returned to its banks relatively quickly.
We have wonderful friends who showed up to check water levels and help clear debris, and many others who called or texted to check in and offer to help. Bless them all. It makes such a difference, and we are well aware that being loved like this is an amazing thing.
It definitely switched my focus to being grateful instead of frustrated.
Once we got everything cleared away and relatively organized, things started flowing (no pun intended) in the right direction. Weather cleared so that Halloween plans could go through. Gregg took Drew and headed to West Texas for their hunting excursion. Luke got prepped and set for his night of middle school shenanigans. I helped Emry get ready, and the Pink Power Ranger and I were ready to party. We left for fun with friends, dragging teenage boys in tow with promises to feed them and then drop them off at their party (I may have had a few small heart palpitations, since this was my first run at not helping chaperone). They were even good sports about posing for a picture or two.
Despite all the craziness, running around, and managing of kids at multiple locations (one of which took forever to get to due to residual road closures and flooding, yet we did prevail…parties stop for no man around here), things were going relatively smoothly. At least, until it was time for Pinkie and I to head out to get the boys. As I said my goodbyes, she walked around the couch to get her candy, or say her farewells, or whatever she needed to do in that moment. Suddenly, there was a chorus of, “Emry’s bleeding!”
She came walking towards me, blood running down her head and all over her hands, tears pouring down her sweet face. For the love…. We’re still not sure exactly what happened. She wasn’t running. She didn’t fall. There was no wrestling or rough-housing, and not another child near her. She said she just sat down and leaned forward, hitting her head on the coffee table.
And busted the skin above her eyebrow open to the bone.
It was so random. Sadly, after my initial shock, I remembered that I was probably due an incident of this proportion given that my husband was out of town, and we all know how that goes around here. Off to the ER we went, with Emry lamenting that she “wished I never sat down.” I guess her take-home lesson interpretation is to never stop moving…
Kudos to a wonderful staff. From check-in to nurses to the doctor who ultimately sewed her up, everyone was so kind and patient and gentle with her. She was a trooper, not a tear was shed once we got there, and her primary concern was the color of the stitches (she was quite adamant that she needed white, we compromised with blue). We texted Daddy and big brother pictures of the procedure (I’ll spare you those), and ended up with four stitches above her eyebrow.
The rest of the weekend we laid really low. Both mama and daughter were exhausted, and frankly, I don’t know that I could have handled any other surprises. It seemed safest to just not leave the house until Monday morning. And even though she looks a bit like a tiny prizefighter, she was off to school with her usual verve; with the addition of a swollen eye and Hello Kitty bandage. We specifically picked out one of her birthday shirts that says “Sassy and Fabulous” on the front in gold letters, because if you’re going to show up to kindergarten with stitches and a shiner, the world needs you know that you are definitely those two things.
I’m hoping to channel a little of that this week.
I’m grateful to be back in the proverbial saddle, blogging and posting to you fabulous people. I’m grateful to have survived another bout of single-handed parenting. I’m grateful that Halloween is over, and that there are wonderful souls out there who believe in giving away quality chocolate. I’m grateful for amazing friends who help clear flood debris, pinch hit to grab kids in an emergency, attempt to help glue gashes shut, and hop in the car for a midnight ER ride involving a child that’s not their own.
I’m even grateful for the time change. It’s nice to get kids off to school while the sun is up.
Here’s to all of you, sassy and fabulous, bruises and all. Thanks, as always, for joining me on this ride. Drop me a line to let me know you stopped by. I’d love to hear from you. I’m sure you have a story to share.
Solidarity, sisters. It’s great to be back.
It’s the fourth week of school, so you would think that I’d be over crying at drop-off. And yet, I am not….which is actually kind of surprising, considering I’m not the most sentimental of moms and this is our third time experiencing the whole Kindergarten thing.
I blame it on turning forty. The hormones, the exhaustion…I’m just a mess.
I cried again this morning – I just can’t help myself. There’s no winning here. Of course, I cried the first day. Thank goodness Emry pulled herself together before getting out of the car. It was close, and had she dissolved into tears it would have been over, ugly cry and all. I cried the second day, because I dropped her off with her brother, and they held hands as they walked into the building. I cried the second week, because after some small hesitation, she turned and walked into the entrance closer to her class per her brother’s orders. I cried the third week as she bounced out of the car, running with confidence to her door, backpack and curls bouncing in tandem. And I cried this morning, as I have done every time she turns and holds her little hand up to say “I love you” in sign language.
This year may kill me.
It’s been an unpleasant surprise, this overly emotional response of mine. Like I said, she’s our third kid. We’ve done the Kinder transition before. This is not new, or scary, or intimidating to us as parents. She’s an incredibly smart and confident child. She doesn’t cry or ask to stay home. She’s enjoying her friends, loves her teacher, and is so excited to be a big kid that she basically bubbles over with the enthusiasm of it at all times.
I’m ready for her to be in school. I’m over the toddler thing (no offense, mothers of littles and those just getting started. It’s all precious, it is. But when you’re done, you’re done. I’m in a place where I no longer have the energy or desire for that phase of life. We all get there at some point). I love that she’s learning new things and making new friends. I love that she loves to do her homework, and has to pull every single thing out of her backpack to review it the second she gets home. I love hearing about the cafeteria, and which specials class she attended, and who played with whom at recess. I love that we are in a daily, structured routine, and she goes to school each day just like her brothers.
She’s a big girl now.
And I think that’s the part that’s getting me. Because, as emotional as I was when our first child went to Kindergarten, I didn’t fully know what that meant. I didn’t realize how fast the time would fly. People tell you, but you can’t properly grasp it until you live it. It feels like I blinked one day and “poof!” – Luke’s in middle school. My mother told me this would happen on his first day of elementary school. I was horrified, and a little upset with her for the cruel honesty.
I’m ready for her to be in big kid school. I am nowhere near ready to poof her into middle school.
The night before the first day of school, I stood in each child’s room, praying over them as they slept. I stayed in Emry’s the longest, not because my boys are less important, but because her life change moment was the biggest this time. Her curls were spread over her pillow. Her backpack was full and ready to go. Her outfit and shoes were neatly lined up by the door. She had both hands clasped under her face, tightly holding her snuggle blanket to her chest. It’s an image I’ll treasure forever. My eyes filled with tears as they traveled over her face, drinking in each detail. Then, I found myself smiling, as I noticed the final touch. Her teacher had handed out “magic confetti” at Meet the Teacher night, promising it would chase away all the nervous or fearful thoughts for good sleep before their first day. There it was, her sparkly charm, placed carefully on her pillow for maximum effect.
My heart lifted at the sight. Yes, she’s a big girl. But she’s still got room to be my baby; to cuddle with teddy bears and blankets, giggle at butterflies and believe in magic and fairy tales. I’ll be encouraging those things with all my might. There’s no need to hurry through the stages.
And I’ll cry at drop-off tomorrow, I’m sure. That’s okay. It’s a mommy’s prerogative, and part of my growing up process as well.
Solidarity, sisters. we all grow up sometime.