Monday, June 23, 2008

Bridging the Gap

This has been a wonderful evening. Trevor's paternal grandmother has been visiting for about a week now, and we asked the family over for dinner tonight. I was off with the kids today, so it was no problem for me to cook dinner for everyone. I made a roasted pork loin, smoked Gouda potatoes Au gratin, green beans, butter beans and biscuits. I also had some fresh tomatoes that a patient gave me from his garden as well as fresh cucumbers.

Everyone enjoyed dinner as well as the Texas sheet cake I made for dessert. If I had been asked 6 weeks ago if I would truly enjoy spending an evening with my in laws, I would have responded very negatively. It would have been an evening to be suffered through and the source of stress and tension.

Enter God.

Trevor and I had noticed a growing distance between us and his parents for several years. Because of the distance, we took every single thing they did far more personally than we should have. We could never seem to bridge the gap between us, and it was causing serious problems with our relationship. My heart broke to see Trevor feeling so angry and hurt, and it made me angry that my children were not able to have a relationship with their grandparents.

Without rehashing things that make no difference now, we were barely on speaking terms with them. The straw that broke the camel's back came several months ago, and we had roughly 2 conversations with them since that incident. Looking back, I'm sure that they were not even aware that they had done anything to offend, thanks to our passive-aggressive approach.

We knew that something had to give. We knew that we could not continue on like we had been and still be walking the Christian walk. We knew that Trevor had to have a conversation with his parents, and we felt sure that it would not be easy or well received.

Lucky for me, we have what we call "The In-law Rule" in our family. This means that in laws are not responsible for having deep conversations about behavior or any other topic that might cause stress and tension. Those conversations are the responsibility of the natural child and other siblings if necessary. I had a conversation with my own father several years ago about some things that were bothering me, and Trevor and Ronna were outside the entire time. Patrick was the one who stayed with me for support.

So Trevor went out to their house a few Sunday afternoons ago. As soon as he left the house, I called Mama and Daddy and Amber and David. Patrick and Ronna already knew his plans, and were praying for him. I sat down in my arm chair and began to pray. I prayed that God would give him the right words to heal the relationship and to show them the depth of his pain and resentment. I prayed that they would be receptive to what he had to say and that the conversation would not be bitter.

As I prayed for Trevor, I also began to realize that I needed to pray for him to have an open mind himself. I prayed that he would be open to whatever response they had to him and that he would be gracious and forgiving. I prayed that God would have His hand over Trevor for the entire visit.

Praise God, He answers prayers! When Trevor got home 3 1/2 hours later, he was all smiles and had so much to tell me. His parents listened to what he had to say, and they had some things to get off their chests as well. They covered every single topic that had bothered Trevor, and they didn't hold anything back. They spoke to each other like loving adults, and were all willing to look at things objectively.

The bottom line was that pretty much all of our issues were due to miscommunication. Each time one of us was misunderstood, the gap widened between us until it became impossible to cross alone. I am convinced that God bridged the gap for my husband and his parents that Sunday. He made it possible to heal a relationship that I had all but given up on. That just goes to show how much I know! With God, anything is possible.


So, because of that beautiful reconciliation, we have been spending a lot of time with his family. Not just spending time with them, but truly enjoying ourselves with them. We've been able to let down the defensive wall that we had built around ourselves and get to know them all over again.

These are some pictures from Saturday. We had a fish fry out at their house and had a wonderful time. I just wish I had taken some pictures of all the Canasta playing that was going on!!

Click to play Fish Fry

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturdays

The Champion

I am a total child of the 80's. I spent my junior high and high school years listening to Def Leppard, The Police, Chicago, Richard Marx and Journey. I remember when Contemporary Christian music really began. I live in the Houston area and remember when KSBJ (the now powerhouse Christian radio station) came on air. Back then, it was all light rock, easy listening...nothing like contemporary Christian music now.

But it was no wonder as the genre grew that it produced artists that appealed to teenagers of the time. I spent many a summer choir tour with my church youth group singing along to Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Al Denson, Gabriel, Wayne Watson and Carman as loud as we could. I have so many of those old songs on my iPhone, and every time I hear one I get really nostalgic for those days.

During the time when I was finding my way through the difficult labyrinth of my teenage years, these songs grew my faith in a way that defies explanation. And I remember the words to these songs as well as I remember the words to the hymns that I love so well. Completely different feel and sound, but still edifying and important. So you will forgive me if my song today is a bit dated.

I can remember thinking that this was such cool metaphor for the sacrifice that Christ made for us...and it is peppered with phrases from the time period. Seriously, Christ tells Satan to "go ahead, make my day" which made us howl with laughter. It's not completely biblically accurate, but not in a way that damages the gospel in any way. My friends and I listened to it over and over again to memorize the lyrics so we could perform the song for each other verbatim.

Anyway, I'll stop rambling about it, and get to the song. I'm not posting the lyrics because it's a song (well, it's mostly spoken, but you get the picture) that needs to be heard and not read. The video I found is mostly a black screen with a few random bursts of light and imagery, so don't think something is wrong with your video player.

It's long (a little over 8 minutes) but I think it's worth it. I still get chills when I hear it and I hope that you'll give this old relic a chance to speak to your soul about the spiritual realm and the warfare that continues to rage around us every day. Warfare that continues, but that we have ultimate victory over because Jesus is the champion!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Life Will Never Be the Same

My parents have a timeshare, and they took Nathan and Grace with them to enjoy a week of fun in the sun. This particular timeshare had an indoor water park, which the kids enjoyed immensely. According to Mama, they liked the water park with all the water slides, lazy rivers and whatnot, but what they really loved was the pool near the cabin.

Click to play Tyler

They had the best time swimming and playing together, without having to listen to me yell at them to be careful and stop running. I was not there to yell at them to stop having a good time running, because I was at home with Trevor enjoying the sound of, kids running.

We ate out every night and came home to a house that looked exactly as we left it. No stray Lego pieces on the floor. No random parts of a dollhouse under the kitchen table. Just furniture and 2 cats.

Two sad, lonely cats I might add. We are clearly not as entertaining as the kids when it comes to keeping the felines happy.

While I'm on the subject of sad and lonely, I suppose I should include myself and Trevor. We enjoyed our time together, but the life we had before children is gone and we like it that way. Sometimes we moan and groan about never having a moment of peace, and about how we can't go out at the drop of a hat, but the truth is, we wouldn't trade it for the world. Our house is not home without Nathan and Grace in it.

People always say with a tone of great foreboding that your life will never be the same once you have kids. I always say it with joy and happiness to newly pregnant friends. Of course your life will never be the same. Just like when you left home for the first time, or when you got married. Life was never meant to stay the same. God intends for us to grow and expand, so that we can be used by Him.

Do I miss the days of deciding to see a movie at 9pm Friday night and just going? Sometimes. Do I miss being able to read (or sew, or visit with a girlfriend) all afternoon with no interruptions? Of course. But the joy of having a child love me unconditionally far exceeds the fleeting happiness that comes with those other things. Given the choice, I'll take those sticky hands and dirty faces any day of the week.

We're Missing a People

That's what Gracie said on the way home from Trevor's parents house this evening. We were asking her if she was excited about Nathan coming home tomorrow, and after she enthusiastically answered in the affirmative, she told us we were missing a people.

Yes. Yes, we are.

We are missing a people in our family, and his name is Nathan. He has been gone for roughly 3 weeks now. He spent the first week in Washington, DC with Patrick, Ronna and Benjamin. He came home long enough for me to wash his clothes, repack them and send him on a trip with Nannie and Papa to Tyler for a week. He came home for one night, and then went home to Louisiana with Mama and Daddy for a week.

I am ready for my baby to be home.

I'm ready to tuck him in again at night and to be the first to greet him in the morning. I am ready to see his clothes mixed in with ours when I do laundry, and for there to be four dirty plates after dinner. I am ready to play a rousing game of UNO and to hear about the latest level he's achieved on his GameBoy.

I am ready.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Playing Catch Up

I looked at the date of my last post, horrified to discover that it has been an entire week since I've written anything. It's not that I don't have material...I just don't seem to have the time.

I am a list maker. I have been known to make lists of my lists, depending on how busy I am. So, due to my lack of energy time, I am making a list of things about which I want to blog.


1. Nathan and Grace's trip to Tyler with my parents.

2. Our reconciliation with Trevor's parents.

3. Linda's visit last Friday.

4. Father's Day.

5. My struggle with anger and selfishness.

6. The excitement of beginning a new Bible study with Linda via email.

7. My journey down the treacherous path playing Canasta with Trevor's family.

8. The seemingly insurmountable stack of books that I have laying on my table waiting to be read. (Thank you Linda!!)

Oh, this list could go on and on, but I think I'll stop there. I may or may not ever get around to posting about all of these things, but I feel better for getting them on a list. Now for the surprisingly satisfying task of crossing them off, one by one!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Trip in Pictures

Click to play Trip to DC

He's Home!!!

Nathan is finally home! I picked him up from the airport yesterday morning, and it is so good to have our little family intact again. As I was waiting for him to come down the Jetway, I could barely contain my excitement. When he caught sight of me, he bolted for the gate and fell into my arms. I didn't cry when he left, but I couldn't help the tears of joy as I held him again.

He talked non-stop as we walked through the terminal to the baggage claim, the words tumbling out and spilling over as he told me about his trip. You would never have guessed that he called me 4 days into the trip, sobbing so hard I couldn't understand him, because he was so homesick. He spoke like a seasoned traveler about the plane ride and all of the things that he did with Uncle Patrick, Aunt Ronna and Benjamin.

When we turned down our street, I saw that Trevor and Gracie were waiting outside for us. As soon as I stopped, Nathan threw his door open, tumbled out and yelled for Gracie as she was running for him. It was one of the sweetest things I've ever seen. For all of their sibling bickering, pushing and shoving, they truly missed one another and were glad to be reunited. As they hugged there in the front yard, I quickly prayed that they would be blessed with the kind of relationship I have with my siblings as an adult. Loving, close and always there for each other.

After saying his hellos to Gracie, Nathan turned his attention to Trevor and ran to him for a big hug. He was so overjoyed to be back in his own house with his family that he could barely stand it! We all felt that way. We couldn't speak fast enough to do all of the catching up we wanted to do!

Last night, Nathan and Grace wanted to sleep together, so of course we let them. I'm sure the newness will wear off soon, and they will be fussing again, but I'm enjoying this new found peace for now. As I closed my eyes to go to sleep, I gave a happy and contented sigh that my entire family was safely tucked their beds and looked forward to a deep sleep.

It was one of the best nights of sleep that I've ever had.


Right before I turned out the light I half-jokingly asked Trevor what in the world I was going to do when Nathan went to college, if I had trouble sleeping while he was on temporary vacation? He logically pointed out that I had many years before that happened (clearly, he is not a mother), and had to worry about it.

But, having him home for now made for a really great night of sleep, and I'm happy to have him home. I have a ton of pictures that Patrick and Ronna sent of the trip, but I haven't had the time to do anything with them. Until I can get them in order, here is one of my favorites from his trip to the Mall.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturdays

He Will Hide Me

I love the story of God hiding Moses in the cleft of the rock to protect him from seeing God's full glory. It shows much of God's character in one story...loving, protecting, holy and righteous.

12 Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’
13 Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”
14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.
16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”
17 So the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”
18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”
21 And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock.
22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.
23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:12-23

This song by The Perrys is one of my favorite southern gospel songs. Every time I hear it, I feel comforted and safe, knowing that my God will hide me when I am too weak to go on. He imparts strength to the weak and help to the helpless. Even the great men of the bible cried out to God for mercy and help.

Click to play He Will Hide Me

I am Job lying helpless
Suffering loss, but not hopeless
I am David, crying
Mercy, Lord, on me!
I am Elijah in a cave
Dreading the light of day
I am Daniel, humbly bowed, faithfully

I am Paul in a prison,
Lifting praise to heaven
I am John, cast out but not down
I am Moses, seeking shelter
In the cleft of the rock
Here I am Lord,
Hide me again

I finally made it
To the cleft of the rock
I'm glad for I can no longer stand
Many times I will struggle
To reach that old rock
But He will hide me again and again

Now I'm safe from the stanger,
Safe from the danger,
That would try to do me great harm;
I am wrapped up and warm
In the love of my master
I am resting while I lean on His arm

So I'll stay a little longer,
Until I am stronger;
When all of my healing is done
The ravens will feed me
And His hand will keep me
And hide me until I can go on

He hideth my soul,
In the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry thirsty land
He hideth my life
In the depths of His love
And He will hide me
Again and again.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I Miss Him

Oh! How I miss him. Nathan has been in DC since Friday, and the house just doesn't feel the same without him in it. My routine in the morning is not the same. Coming home is not the same. Dinner is not the same. Bedtime is not the same.

The worst time of the day is when I close my eyes to go to sleep. It's my habit to think of the kids right before I fall asleep, because it's only when I reassure myself that they are safe and sleeping soundly that I can drift off. But the past few days when I've closed my eyes, all I can see is his empty bed and felt this feeling of emptiness. It's like I'm homesick for him.

I know he's safe. My brother is from Texas. He owns a Glock and has no problems using it to defend his home and family. My sister-in-law would throw herself in front of a truck if it meant saving Nathan. No, he's safe with Patrick and Ronna. He's loved, cared for and well-fed. I'm not worried about him at all.

But I miss him desperately.

I miss his quick little smile and the way he says such funny things. I miss the smell of his skin and the feel of his arms around my neck when he hugs me goodnight. I miss his nightly mantra: "Goodnight, don't let the bedbugs bite, sweet dreams, see ya in the morning." But I don't see him in the morning. I get up, get dressed, get Gracie up and going and start my day without him.

I try to quell my homesickness for him by calling Ronna at least 43 times a day for blow by blow updates about his visit. She patiently tells me everything that has happened since I called 22 minutes ago, and never makes fun of me, because she is a mom too.

On the upside, it's been fun spending some one-on-one time with Gracie. We celebrated her 4th birthday last weekend, and I realized that this was the first birthday she has ever had to herself with us. Nathan was the firstborn, so he had 3 birthdays with us before Gracie came along, but she's never experienced that. We enjoyed being able to focus on her and give her some much needed attention.

We've played games, and played outside. I didn't want to go to work yesterday because I was having such a good morning with her, that I didn't want it to end. I would have given almost anything to stay home and play "Hippomapotamus" with her. (Hungry, Hungry, Hippos) She has been so much fun to be with the past several days. I think she's enjoying this time with us as well, although she misses Nathan. She wanted to say the blessing at dinner last night, and the entire prayer was an entreaty for God to keep Nathan safe while he was at Uncle Patrick, Aunt Ronna and Benjamin's house and while he was on the plane. It was so sweet.

(Has anyone ever wished they had a video camera rolling during prayer time? My children say some of the sweetest things when they talk to God.)

Anyway, missing Nathan is about to become a bigger part of my life. When he gets home this weekend, I'll have just enough time to wash all of his clothes, repack them and send him off on vacation with my parents for a week. They are taking Nathan and Gracie to Tyler where they have a timeshare with an indoor water park.

When they get back, Nathan will go back to Louisiana with them for a week and Gracie will stay here. He will effectively be gone 3 weeks, before he comes back home for the rest of the summer. The good thing is that I will be off the Monday and Tuesday of the fourth week, so we can do some fun stuff together and catch up.

So, I need to go to bed and get some sleep, but I'm dreading all that homesickness when I close my eyes. The best thing for me (besides taking a nice dose of Lunesta) is to pray myself to sleep. It's the only thing I can do to clear my mind and bring me peace.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Job Well Done

I've been meaning to post these photos for several weeks now, but have been so busy that I kept forgetting to download them from the camera. Nathan was so cute helping Trevor...

Click to play A Job well Done