Friday, March 30, 2012

Two and a Half!

Well, this weekend marks the official two and a half mark.  If the second half is as hard as the first half, then you may have to wipe me up off the floor!  As you may have read, we're dealing with potty training, big kid beds, and an assortment of other two year old challenges.  Nevertheless, every day is a gift and the trio always does something precious and endearing just in the nick of time (there is a REASON God made two year olds so cute -it's the only way we'd keep them in the house!).  So here's my random assortment of observations from the deck of two-and-a-half:

1.  Being Bossy.  Good heavens these children are bossy.  From what I understand, I was a fairly bossy child.  Now I was incredibly obedient (unlike MY two year olds), but I've always wanted things a certain way and have expressed that way to those around me.  Funnily enough, the baby is the bossiest.  His favorite commands are:
Right Now Mommy - for example, I tell him we're going to the zoo this weekend, and his immediate response is Right Now Mommy!  Everything has to be RIGHT NOW!  (It is said in adorable toddler voice - ryenow mommmmie.)
Sit Down Mommy - If I'm feeding them dinner or in the play room, the baby wants my attention and his command is a persistent Seedown (his take on Sit Down) until I comply. 
Lay Down Mommy - See above except this one is given at bedtime or naptime when I put them down.  None of them want me to leave so they in unison instruct me to lay at their bedside.  You can imagine what a time suck this becomes if you do it twice a day. 
Read The Book Mommy - Fairly obvious what this one is all about.  It comes out, "reeddabouk."

2.  Being Inexplicably Hysterical.  Luckily this one word, hysterical, encompasses the many ways in which the behaviour exhibits itself.  It can either be that they are super funny, which they are.  It can be that they are inconsolably upset, which they are.  It can also be that they are fuming mad. 
My mom taught them this song, Ida Mae, which is not widely popularized, about a skinny lady who goes down the bathtub drain.  You should see there faces when they get to the part of the song that says, "Oh my goodness, Oh my soul..."  They clasp their face in their hands and shout out, "ohgoooness, ohsoul..."  Hysterical!  On the flip side, the eldest cried uncontrollably for half an hour at dinner time this week for no apparent reason other than he wanted me to hold him instead of serve his siblings their meal.  I was worried he was going to throw up he was crying so hard.  And when the little lady did not help pick up and only the eldest got a treat for helping, she punched him in the face.  Are you kidding me?  Of course we immediately sent her to time out and afterwards she had to apologize to him, but c'mon.

3.  Being Mimics.  Bray and I really have to watch ourselves.  While neither one of us are prone to profanity, there can still be other words that they just pick up.  The baby especially just parrots back everything we say.  I did have a slip a couple of weeks ago when we were getting ready for church.  I was solo with the trio and we were running behind, which I hate, and my little man had a big blow out in his church clothes.  As I was trying to clean it up, a da#*@t slipped out.  Don't you know he just started saying it back - and we were headed to CHURCH!  I said, oh I meant to say do-dah.  Luckily, he bought that story and started saying do-dah - thank heavens!  (From now on out I can assure you that I WILL be saying do-dah.)  They're little sponges and even learning how to say longer and longer sentences. 

It is definitely a crazy time, but also really fun.  I learn right along with them and am amazed at how quickly they are changing and learning and understanding.  I am hoping that they are a little less defiant in the months to come.  This testing boundaries phase is acute, although I understand from moms with older triplets that the two's have nothing on the teens!

(For those sweet friends visiting from my sorority sister's blog, Kelly's Korner, here's some shots of my trio, for more photos you can click on Wordless Wednesdays:)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gratitude Unpacked

Driving into work this morning, I saw sunbeams streaming through broken clouds.  Have you seen that before?  Where it looks as though God is parting the sky to show you His glory?  It wasn't the first time I'd seen heavenward beauty, but it never ceases to amaze me.  I catch my breath and think, wow, I worship THAT God

It also got me thinking.  I am so grateful.  Of course I'm grateful for the big things with which God has unloaded His bounty in and on my life.  But I'm truly grateful for the small things too.  As I rounded the corners downtown and saw the sunlight reflected in towering glass buildings, I realized that, deeper still, more blessings underpin the smallest things for which I am grateful.  Here's some of that gratitude unpacked (and this is just what I came up with in five minutes using only blessings from this morning):

1.  I had an amazing cup of coffee. 
What's behind that ONE blessing?  My coffee maker and coffee grinder work.  I own them because I could afford them.  I turned them on because I am fortunate enough to have electricity, something millions of citizens worldwide don't have.  That electricity runs through a home which is safe and secure.  I had time to make it this morning because Bray helped out with the kids.  Five blessings hold up that one small item of gratitude. 

2.  I came up with a title for my second book. 
What's behind that ONE blessing? I thought of it in the shower which I used after my work out and many people don't have a hot shower in the morning with quiet around them that gives them time to think.  When I told Bray to get ready because I had a title for my second book, he asked, "what's the title for your first book?"  (Which I promptly told him.)  But it was also an underlying blessing because I have a darling husband that I can share my dreams with and who makes me laugh AND gives me some perspective.  I get to write the chapters for this second book idea on a computer - I have one at work and one at home. I get to attend a writers conference in July because we can afford to book a flight and hotel and get me there.  More blessings unpacked.

3.  I had a relaxing drive into work.
What's behind that ONE blessing?  It was relaxing in part because of that good coffee and hot shower, but also because I have a car.  One I never have to worry about turning over when I put the key in the ignition.  One that helps drown out the roadside noise.  I was able to listen to uplifting music on the way that was piped straight into my car for my ears.  I had that drive because I was going to work.  A job in a nice building with a lovely office where I do work that does not put my life or emotions at risk at any point.  Wow, think about all those blessings holding up that one small grateful thought. 

4.  I looked good en route. 
What's behind that ONE blessing? It's no news to regular readers that my weight fluctuates.  Some months I work out more than others and some months I eat more than others and I have about three dress sizes in my closet that reflect that fact (occasionally a fourth).  But I have all those clothes, in two closets, and am blessed beyond measure (and am constantly reminded to share those blessings).  I then put on skin creams and make up and brushed my teeth, all which cost money, in a well lit bathroom with plenty of towels and water.  I had three hysterical (funny not crying) children running around my feet that applied a little make up to themselves, yet I came out without one stain on me and incredibly happy that I have three little ones to run around my feet while I get ready.  I was able to go to boot camp this morning and work out so that I could get in better shape (and get into one of those smaller dress sizes)

5.  I have a fun lunch out planned with two of my dear girlfriends. 
What's behind that ONE blessing? I have a job where I can go out to lunch when I want to go.  I can purchase a meal at a restaurant.  But most importantly, I have a stable of incredibly smart, funny, gifted, supportive girlfriends.  I get to hang out with two wonderful ones today, but I got to see another one Tuesday night.  I see yet another one this weekend and a different one next weekend.  If that is not the biggest unpacked blessing of all, then I can't think of what is.  God has blessed me with mom friends, career friends, Godly friends, and all sorts of combinations of friends.  It restores my spirit each time I am with them.   

Psalm 147 - Praise the LORD.  How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

Colossians 2 - So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Psalm 100 - Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Colossians 3 - Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Energy Reboot

I've only been intermittently energetic for the past three years.  Being pregnant and having triplets can really take it out of you.  However, I feel like I turned a corner in 2012.  I have historically been a fairly energetic, multi-tasking, driven person.  But survival mode sure can drain your energy.  Your capabilities.  Your drive. 

When I met with a partner and mentor in our California offices last week, she talked about this phenomenon.  She comes from a very different perspective/background than me, but she was pretty on point about this.  She said, when you aren't capable of taking on any new challenges or developments growth, you send that message out in subconscious ways.  When you shift, and your body and brain are ready to restart and take a new step out, then that message gets translated and the "universe" begins opening doors all around you. 

Never has that been truer than now.  There are so many amazing opportunities presenting themselves that fall right smack in the middle of my "Promised Land."  They are true to my interests, passions, and talents.  And the encouragement and opportunity is converging to not only open the doors but to push me through them.  People comment on my positivity and enthusiasm.  I feel ready to take on these exciting new changes and opportunities. 

BUT.  Did you see that one coming?  Well, I don't want to put it there, however it is a very important but.  One I encourage anyone out there to put at the end of a sentence about an opportunity presenting itself.  If you're coming out of a desert place, and warmly embracing the lushness on the other side, then I applaud you and share your excitement.  BUT....don't forget to ask yourself these all important questions before you take off at warp speed (like I often do):

1.  Am I sure this is a God-thing?  I absolutely believe some opportunities have been graciously given to me by God, but I know that sometimes I can allow the momentum of the "opportunities" to sidetrack me from where I am supposed to be heading.  I keep saying yes because it sounds cool and full of promise, the snowball keeps growing, yet I don't recognize the choices are veering off course and dangerously near a cliff.  Make sure you do some serious soul searching with each new door or window that opens before you.  You can even pray, as I have, that divine intervention shut doors and windows you shouldn't go through.  Stay true to the path that God is leading you on or else there will be a lot of back-tracking at some point up ahead. 

2.  Is this going to take me away from my number one earthly priority, my family?  The reality is, for me, I have a great husband and three quickly growing toddlers that love me and need me PRESENT.  A speaking opportunity one night may be perfectly okay and even great, but that same opportunity one night every week won't be.  A trip out of town may be good and a blessing, but one every month wouldn't translate well.  It is NEVER a good opportunity if it takes you from your family repeatedly when those moments are precious.  If you're a mom with young kids, then they need you in person to hug them and encourage them and discipline them and take care of them. 

3.  Is it just about me?  Sometimes, these new options that become available are really just a play to my pride.  One of my real weakness.  That pride is my Achilles' heel.  And it has been for years.  A "yes" to this new circumstance might just be about me thinking, Oh what an honor, Wouldn't this be so great to do, Think of who I'll get to hang out with or where I'll get to go.  There's nothing wrong with getting enthusiastic about an honor or a trip, but if it's you just wrapped up in a bad case of vanity, that good fortune may be misfortune. 

I'm thrilled to have a new lease on life.  To be coming out of hibernation.  It's a gift.  It's just a gift with choices that I need to consider with my eyes open.  I must remember to take direction from God who wants me to continue to walk down a path designed uniquely for me by Him that will maximize the best outcome for me and all those I hold dear.  He wants the best for me.  He wants the best for you.  It just may look different than what you or I see for ourselves. 

Ephesians 1 - I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

2 Chronicles 26 - But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.

Obadiah 1 - The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights...

Jeremiah 29 - For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD...

Friday, March 23, 2012


Oh what darling children I have.  I have MISSED them this week.  California was great, as you've probably read, but boy did I miss my babies.  I got in last night/this morning at 1 a. and raced right into their rooms.  Is there anything more gorgeous in the world than pink-cheeked toddlers sleeping like little angels?  It was all I could do not to shake them awake. 

I got up this morning at 6 to shower for work so I'd be ready to play with them when they awoke.  Well, when they still weren't awake by 7 am (and I had to leave by 8), I just went in and crawled into the toddler bed with my big boy.  Even though he was sound asleep, he grabbed my hand and held it.  Heart.  Swelling. 

Finally, the little lady started rustling and I hopped over there to smother her in kisses.  She woke right up and was DELIGHTED to have me home.  I got lots of hugs and kisses which woke up the baby which resulted in more hugs and kisses and that woke up the eldest which resulted in a big pile of hugging kissing Vincents on the nursery room floor.  Bliss.  They were not ready to eat breakfast, they wanted to cuddle and read, so we did just that for a half hour.  More bliss.  Then I rolled out the presents (which were small but a MUST) and that was met with great delight.  We moved on in to breakfast and did an advance review of our fun weekend plans - Easter bunny and egg hunt tomorrow and the zoo on Sunday!  Never have you seen such happy little toddlers.  They couldn't wait.  The only bummer was me having to leave, and when our nanny arrived, God bless her (and they love her), they all said, "Noooooooooooo."  But they know I'm back in town and am NOT getting on a plane any time soon so they did allow me a temporary escape upon multiple oaths of a speedy return.  Wild horses couldn't keep me away.  I 'm counting down the minutes. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cali: Day 4, Renewed Purpose

It's funny.  What started out as a comedic view of California versus Texas, much like my London travel journal, turned into something entirely different.  Yesterday, I wrote some thoughts about the striking homeless situation here in San Francisco and beyond.  Today, instead of reverting back to my light-hearted observations, I feel compelled to share what a success this trip has been.

The first year after I returned to work from maternity leave, work was all about head-down survival.  The second year (last year), it was more about the grass is greener elsewhere coupled with a sense of being somewhat lost in what I was doing and why.  Only God knows what I will end up doing five or ten years down the line, but He has definitely shown me over the course of this trip why I am where I am and reminded me how much I can love this job.  I've been engaged with such different people, with different backgrounds and work, but they are all so interesting and have some wonderful ideas about opportunities up ahead.  I have had lunches and coffees and drinks and office meetings from L.A. to San Francisco and have gotten to see some of my favorite people that I used to see more often in the pre-kid version of me. 

I've been reading this great book simultaneously that has reminded me what a gift I have been given to be able to pursue my dream, writing, while helping fund our family's activities through a wonderful flexible interesting job.  A job that puts me in positions to write and speak which is exactly what I love most.  I could be in a job where there is no overlap between my dream and my desk, yet here I am in a job that capitalizes on my strongest skill set. 

I leave California re-energized.  Ready to tackle new projects and challenges with renewed energy and interest.  I leave thankful that I have the opportunity to reinvest in work that is fulfilling.  And I hope that being reconnected and reinvigorated will pervade every area of my life.  Apathy in one segment of your life can quickly invade every area.  So can energy and enthusiasm.  Hopefully this time away and fresh perspective will add a sense of dedication and excitement to my work as a mom and a wife too.  What an unexpected gift this week in California has been. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cali: Day 3, The Need

I realize that these travel journals lean toward the comedic.  Yet I was literally propelled out of bed last night with a force beyond myself to write this post regarding an observation I made after I landed in San Francisco.  I was always struck, whenever I traveled to our San Francisco office, by the number of homeless so visible on city sidewalks here.  It's been a few years though, and nothing has changed.  Some of these people clearly are struggling with mental illness and wander through the streets talking and approaching you.  But last night I was struck more by what I saw than what I heard.  There was a man walking down the sidewalk in long denim shorts.  It's chilly here in San Francisco.  Fifty degrees or so.  And this man's legs were bare from nearly his knees to his ankles.  What caught my eye though was the state of the exposed portion of his calves.  Black and blue.  What I can only describes as near holes in his legs with bruises and damages and injuries that I couldn't imagine the cause.  The only word that sprung to my mind while I was typing this post was "brutalized."  It looked as though his legs had been through a war. 

As a mother of three, often bruised, toddlers, I reach for band-aids and Neosporin and kisses to fix boo-boos.  But here was this man, picking up tid-bits from the sidewalk, nearly side-swiped by my cab driver as he stepped off into the street, who needed so much more than that.  He needed a doctor.  And I wanted to take him to one.  Someone to tend to his wounds to keep them from further infection.  Someone to bandage his injuries, partially for healing and partially so I wouldn't be forced to look at them 

I found an article, as I was writing my post, that said the number of homeless hit a record high in San Francisco last year.  They are home less.  Without a home.  I can't fathom that.  No matter how poor we were, we always had a roof, even if it was with my grandparents.  We always had an option.  In reading the article about the homeless, the one this man with the beaten legs had triggered me to search for, I discovered that there are 1.5 million children in American without homes.  These are kids without a home.  Can you just take a minute to internalize that statement?  While your children are tucked in their beds, there are millions of Americans without a home, a roof, a bed, a bathroom, a doctor, a safe place?  The wait list, WAIT list, for a shelter in San Francisco is six months.  The wait list to find a temporary place where you can sleep on a cot and take a shower is SIX months.  Six. Months

It's not just San Francisco.  It's everywhere.  But this man, with no access to a home or a doctor or a band-aid, reminded me that it's in my backyard no matter where I am.  That person, the nameless guy with the sign at the intersection, he has a story.  He has a need.  And we've all become immune.  Or at least I have.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cali: Day 2, Rabbit Trails

I am going to make my random observations on Los Angeles in today's post, but first I have to run down a rabbit trail.  Lest you think I overstated yesterday's observation that my bright green coat was out of place, I got THREE more confirmations last night that it's not easy being green.  As I was walking to the hotel from the office, a homeless man, who arguably sees more of L.A. pass by than your average Los Angelinian, remarked on the greenness of my coat as I passed him (he liked it!).  One block further, I was walked down the street by a solicitor (for a good cause) because I looked so friendly in my green coat (and she liked it!).  Then, if that wasn't enough, I was greeted in the lobby of the L.A. Live Marriott by green pillars everywhere.  What was this?  Had they heard I'd brought kelly green back into fashion in L.A.?  Oh no, the Herbal Life conference was in town and there was green everywhere.  On t-shirts, on pillars, on programs and bags.  The desk clerk remarked, as he checked me in, that I could probably get free herbs or supplements or whatever they sell because they would think I was one of their own with my bright green coat.  I would like to point out that my coat was clearly SO bright, that even with all of Herbal Life's brightest representatives in town, the solicitor and homeless man still felt that I stood out in green.  I can't make this stuff up.  I am telling you, I got more attention than the woman on my flight that had a see-through white top and navy bra and micro mini navy shorts and tights on - I assure you, SHE would have gotten more attention if we were in Houston. 

So, now that I've finished with my rabbit trail, I really have enjoyed the people I've had the chance to talk with here.  Folks aren't much different than we Texans regardless of the stereotypes (of both).  And here's my random observations from the day: gas is in the $4.50s here - yikes, no wonder they all drive smaller cars; pizza from California Pizza Kitchen really is better in California (I don't normally eat at chains when traveling but it was a necessity today at lunch); and Pasadena has cross walks that go diagonally across intersections, how scary is that?

Until tomorrow, signing off from the West Coast.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cali: Day 1, The Landing

So for those of you that have been with me for a while, you remember my homesick musings from London during last summer's week long work trip abroad.  For those of you new to this little blog, for each of my five days working in that English metropolis, I posted ruminations and reflections, including a wayward attempt to BE Jane Austen. 

While my trip away from home this time is not nearly as dramatic, I thought it would fun to work up a similar travel journal for my California commentary.  I have to work out of my company's L.A. and San Francisco offices this week, so my travel schedule was brutal in order to maximize the time I could spend with the kids.  Flying out at 6:30 a.m. this morning enabled me to make Sunday night dinner with them, and returning at midnight Thursday allows me to be home for Friday breakfast (plus a Tuesday evening flight to get from LA to SF). 

First, let me say there's no possible way I can be as witty today given the extreme state of sleep deprivation I am currently experiencing (I'm actually just going for coherent with today's musings).  Second, one might think that there's just no difference between L.A. and Houston like there is with London and Houston, but one would be wrong.  (Although there's less likelihood I'm going to get steamrolled crossing the street like I almost did in London, good grief.)

1.  You might think, unlike New York and London as I reflected last year, that color would be all the fashion in Los Angeles.  Oh. No.  Does anyone wear color anymore?  While my canary yellow has been retired since London, my absolute favorite jacket in the world is a kelly green swing coat that I WON from Neiman Marcus (where I couldn't afford to shop).  So I thought to myself as I packed, this is the power jacket you wear for your first day back in the LA office
I am like a pimple on your forehead.  I stick out further than Pinocchio's nose.  At one point, another female colleague and I had lost our two fast walking male colleagues at a red light (they'd sprinted on ahead while we judiciously waited), and they finally turned around and realized they were a full city block ahead of us.  I commented, as I waved to them in my very loud green coat (and they IMMEDIATELY spotted me), that I felt like a tourist where now everywhere I go I wear these neon jackets so people can find me in a crowd.  Remember when your youth group went to Disneyworld and everyone wore matching day glow orange tees?  Well, I'm the equivalent in professional attire, apparently, when I travel. 

2.  How is it 50 degrees in LA while it was 74 when I flew out of Houston?  A colleague from LA thought it odd that I posited this question, but I'm sorry, don't you all just have visuals that it's 80 degrees and sunny year round in LA?  I realize that's probably San Diego instead, but I was still taken aback. 

3.  While not really that odd, given the geography, how cool is it that this is my view from my office today (there's no way I could give the mountain range the credit it deserved, it's much prettier in person)? 

4.  L.A. looks an awful lot like any city in America from the freeway (minus the palm trees, that's pretty LA).  I passed Lowe's, Target, Starbucks, and all the usual suspects.  However, I did notice a lot more "juice bars" in my passing observations of strip centers, but other than that, I could definitely find myself some hairspray or toothpaste in a pinch.  One yummy difference though that I've already participated in (likely the result of my 4 a.m. wake up call), "minor" chain coffee shops.  These coffee shops are apparently L.A. specific, and even pricier, but they still put coffee in ceramic mugs (if it's not to go), and my super delicious latte had quite extensive scroll heart art work in my foam topping.  Now that would be the end of me if I had one of those down the street.  I'd go broke.  Serious perk of L.A. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow's observations of the cocktail hour - if I stay awake.  Until then, from 90210 (or thereabouts), I'm out. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Momma and Her Boys

I love all three of my kiddos.  There is something so uniquely special about each one of them and I connect to each one on a different level because of how they are designed.  With that said, I connect with the boys differently than I do with little bit.  She is fiercely independent.  She doesn't really need me by and large (according to her).  I am useful to her, but there's no clinging and cuddling and shadowing to the degree there is with the boys. 

The boys, right now, adore me.  They cry when I leave for work.  They constantly want to cuddle.  They beg to sleep in our bed.  They are VERY affectionate and always doling out hugs and kisses.  I sometimes forget about this stark contrast, but I was reminded last night when I had just the boys and Bray was at the farm with the little lady.  (He tries to at least get to the farm with them one-on-one every year - it was her turn.)

I remember I couldn't wait to have a little girl and dress her up in bows and dresses and play baby dolls and take tea and see the Nutcracker together at Christmas.  But let me tell you, these boys can wrap me around their finger and there's not the conflict that, even at two, can crop up with a momma and her daughter.  We had such a sweet time last night.  We went to dinner and came home to read and play.  They just wanted me to stay in their room to sleep, and when I tucked them in they wanted to follow me to my bed to sleep.  They are the most precious little darlings even though sometimes I want to lock them in a room with all their crazy antics.  The baby remembers my favorite flower and my favorite fish and always points it out in our books.  The eldest is constantly giving me pretend coffee refills from our play kitchen because he knows mommy loves coffee (and he helps me make it for real on mornings we have time).  They ask for hugs and squeeze me like I am the best award in the world.  They say "luv you," and "dive safey mommy" (that's drive safely mommy for those of you who don't speak toddler), and they pray for me at every meal time prayer (now, to give credit where credit is due, so does my sweet little girl). 

I love the individuality of my relationship with each of the kiddos even though they are a triplet set.  But last night I was reminded of how good God was to give me some boys to love on me - first thing in the morning and last thing at night. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Through the Tears, the Vision Reappears

I'm sitting here, at my desk, typing these words with tears in my eyes.  There's always been a part of me that's wanted to be a writer.  I've been keeping a journal since I can remember and writing short stories since way back.  I've written everything from letters to boyfriends, fiction projects with friends, devotionals for women, and, obviously, blog posts.  I love to write. 

But every increasingly, particularly since the summer of 2010, I've felt called to move more into ministry as a career.  Writing, speaking, and all that goes with that.  It's a very impractical calling.  It comes with a significant pay cut if I ever acted on it.  And while I felt that calling strongly last year, I've struggled more with it this year because of the reality of what it would look like.  How radically our lives would change.  As the reality set in, I felt myself taking steps back.  Doubting what could actually happen.

I felt a radical shift in my mentality today though.  Last spring, I saw that Lysa Terkeurst/Proverbs 31 was putting on a conference called She Speaks for aspiring Christian writers and authors in North Carolina.  It looked so interesting but it fell on Bray's big surprise 40th birthday party weekend so I didn't look any further.  Well, yesterday registration opened for the 11th Annual She Speaks conference this July.  I started reading about the break out sessions and the leaders and I wanted to go SO badly.  But it is expensive.  It is far away.  It entails me spending a weekend away from the kids.  So I thought it wasn't really practical for me.  I talked to my dear friend who's a Christian writer and asked if she would consider going, and she would, and we both decided to at least talk to our husbands about it. 

I printed out all the materials, price shopped hotels in the area, and took it home.  After the kids were down (loosely, they were behind the baby gate in the room is about all), I went into Bray's office and made my pitch for consideration.  I told him I didn't want an answer now but just to think about it and let me know given the budget implications.  Well, he just said right away, "GO!"  I said, "but it's expensive."  But he just came back with, "GO!"  When I priced flights this morning and saw how pricey it would be to fly to North Carolina I emailed him the update and asked if he wanted to reconsider.  All he said in response was, "BOOK IT!" 

So I mapped out all the courses I wanted to take, researched the speakers and topics of the ones that conflicted (some of these break out sessions have five choices, and I'd like to go to THREE of them!), and went on-line to register.  I can not describe to you the overwhelming emotion I felt as I started clicking my selections:  Writer Track, I would like to meet with a publisher, place me in a Writer's Peer Evaluation Group, and then the break out choices like From Blog to Book Deal, Reaching Today's Busy Woman, Writing Out of Your Passion, Expanding Your Ministry........  I think I cried with every single click.  It felt like I was actually DOING something to follow my calling.  Like God had just opened this amazing door to actually pursue this writing thing and Bray had pushed me through it.  His still small voice saying to my spirit, if this is what I have in store for you, I will make it happen.  Trust Me. 

It is terrifying.  Just the thought.  But it's also the most exciting thing I could imagine.  And I can still ONLY imagine it.  Last week, at Beth Moore's final bible study session, she said, "You are safe, even in the middle of a war, when you are in the center of God's will."  She said that some of us are trying so hard to stay safe, that we could be sitting on our couch eating a ham sandwich and choke and die.  If we'd stop trying to keep ourselves safe in our own strength, even when that means running from God, and just follow the path He has for us, then we will be safe in the center of His hands.  In the center of His plan.  In the center of His will. 

I'm not at the center right now, but I feel like at least I just made a u-turn and stopped running from it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Smiling Defiance

Our bedtime routine, now a month into big kid beds, has not improved.  If anything, it's worsened.  Particularly since they won't nap for us on the weekends now (they do it just fine for my nanny of course).  Bray and I have somewhat different theories on how to resolve the issue.  My theory is throw the little lady and baby back in cribs because at least when we had cribs only the eldest could get out once we put the mattress on the floor.  It seems to me this is the only way to preserve our sanity (and get some rest).  His theory is to beat them at this game because to revert back to cribs would only show that we've lost to them.  I think we both have valid points. 

Now they can climb over the safety gate that traps them inside their room.  This is our last defense.  Their door won't stay shut since we've disabled the locks (so they can not, once again, lock themselves into their bedroom), so the fairly indestructible safety gate is what contains them for the two hours or so that they play and jump and destroy their room instead of going to bed.  They started escaping this weekend.  They help one another over the gate and leave the eldest to get out last because he's the most capable of escaping on his own.  They've gotten into serious trouble for this, and both Bray and I have taken turns at being the heavy in response. 

Last night, it was nearly 9 p.m. and I was sitting in the comfy chair in the family room cutting and labeling their Easter pics (which we had taken this past weekend) for mailing to family and enjoying a little brainless t.v. with a glass of wine.  I was actually fairly immersed in the task at hand and had largely tuned out the mayhem in the other room (I can hear it through the house, but not through the monitor because they've destroyed that).  But then I heard a little sound that seemed a lot closer to me than their bedroom all the way down the hall.  I looked up and saw the baby sitting on the small sofa in the living room, leaned back, legs kicked up, ankles crossed.  He looked at me, grinned, and waved. 

Smiling defiance.  Defiance is not an evil three-headed boil-encrusted monster in our house.  It comes in the form of some darn cute toddlers.  But it is still defiance, regardless of the preciousness of the exterior package.  He had gotten out of bed, despite orders, climbed over the safety gate, despite orders, and run into the room to climb on the couch and enjoy a little late night t.v., despite orders.  I couldn't laugh despite my natural inclination.  Because, truly, it was funny.  But it also was naked disobedience.  And the baby is the absolute worst right now at this tactic.  Pulling the most charming adorable tools out of his toddler box and employing them while doing the exact opposite of what he has been expressly instructed/warned/threatened not to do.  All to show that he can do exactly what he wants to do all by himself. 

His smiling right at me even though he must have known he was going to get into trouble got me thinking.  I'm no better than he is sometimes.  How many times have I done something directly opposite of what I've been explicitly told to do by God?  I do it knowingly, but then sometimes I smile at God and say, essentially, "but look what I was able to achieve all on my own.  I know this isn't what you wanted me to do but look at what success I achieved.  There couldn't really be consequences, right?  I've done this big thing all by myself...."

But there always are consequences.  For the baby or for me.  And if the disobedient actions are repeated, the consequences become more and more severe.  We've not figured out the most effective course of discipline for our trio yet, but God's had a lot more practice.  Unless I start acting like an adult instead of a two year old, I'm going to reap consequences that are far more severe than the struggle I have with obedience.  Not to mention, following the path God has set out for me only leads to greater joy and fulfillment.  He sets rules for the same reasons I do - to keep our kids safe, secure, rested, and growing greater in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.

I John 2 - My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One....if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

Jeremiah 7 - I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.

Luke 6 - “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Galatians 5 - You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?  That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to Get to San Antonio

My husband, in addition to being easy on the eyes, is also wise.  Last winter, we were having a number of little fights about fairly inconsequential stuff.  The kids were about 14 months old and we were struggling with how to make sure I was communicating relevant stuff he needed to know (or do) without bossing him around and micromanaging him.  Something that neither of us wanted.  As we were discussing the issues surrounding that particularly thorny issue, he made a very wise analogy which sticks with me today.  He said, "I don't mind you telling me to go San Antonio.  I just don't want you telling me how to get there." 

Communicating the WHAT was not the issue.  Communicating the HOW was the issue.  So from then on I was perfect and never ever told him how do anything ever again. 

If you just fell out of your chair laughing hysterically, then that was a perfectly appropriate response.  I still fail miserably today.  Now, part of the success story is that I can at least RECOGNIZE when I am telling him how to do something that a perfectly responsible 40 year old man could figure out for himself.  But sadly, I've not stopped doing it.  Entirely.  Yet. 

This struck me because a couple of days ago Bray had to go spend the day downtown for work.  This is my normal commute, and I proceeded to tell him how to get to where he was going even though he already had a route mapped out.  And when he didn't jump around and say "thank you wife for that wonderful instruction on how to drive my truck this morning," I proceeded to criticize his route for lack of efficiency. 

Let's just take a minute to reread that.  What the heck was I thinking???  I have a husband who was born and raised in Houston, often travels for his job, is a better driver than I am, and I'm picking a fight over the way he's going to drive into town.  Was I high?  Had I popped one too many Zyrtec?  Had my sleep deprivation led me to misunderstand what he was saying? 

This the best part though.  And proof that God is ALWAYS teaching us a lesson, even in the small stuff.  Bray had proposed taking Westpark to 59 and I'd proposed driving in on I-10 (this only means something if you live in Houston).  He left the house and I followed shortly after him to drive into work myself.  There was a massive accident on I-10 that was causing folks from the west side to spend nearly two hours to get into downtown.  So, are you ready for this, I had to take Westpark to 59 (HIS route) to get into work because of the horrific traffic on my route.  I'm not suggesting God had His hand in an accident on the freeway, but I'm just suggesting He allowed me to learn a lesson from the circumstances of the morning.  Ouch. 

I like to be in control of any given situation.  I'm ridiculously scheduled and planned.  But unless I remember to let my husband be the man in the relationship, then I'm going to be in a whole heap of trouble.  I'm comforted by a poster I used to have in the '80s: Be Patient, God's Not Finished With Me Yet.  Thank heavens. 

If you're married and trying to control the dickens out of the HOW of the way your husband gets to San Antonio, then I encourage you to take a step back with me and let him make his own decisions.  I assure you, I'm writing this post as my own accountability tool because admitting you have a problem is half the battle.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Funny Bits

Here's my funny bit random observances of 29 month old triplets for your reading pleasure:

1.  I tell the kids they are so funny.  Because they really are.  So little lady runs around the house saying, "mommy funny," "daddy funny," "Mimi funny," you get the idea.
2.  The baby loves animals - well they all love animals but the baby knows ALL their names.  You can engage him in conversation about mundane animals like cows and horses of course, but between books and the zoo outings, we're often talking about meerkats, rhinos, giraffes, ostriches, yaks, crows, turtles, crawfish, leopards, okapis, toads, bears, or kookaburra birds (and yes, he says each of their names clearly enough to know exactly what animal he's discussing). 
3.  They remember people vividly now.  When my friend Amy came for a visit, the eldest kept running circles around her (literally) saying, "Haaaallloooo Amy" - he still runs around the house saying, "Haaaallloooo Amy."  The baby remembers a visit of a couple months ago with Bray's good family friends, Peggy and Joey.  Joey instructed the kids to call him Unc because all little kids do, so the baby talks about Unc and Peggy and even includes them in dinner prayers periodically.  And the little lady was so taken by my dear friend Kellie's visit this weekend, who came from Fort Worth with her nine year old son Grant, that she wakes up and goes to sleep saying, "Kellie Grant."  (Well, it's more like kely, ant, but you can figure it out.)
4.  They've gotten to be good pray-ers at meal times.  If I start serving food at dinner before opening with a prayer, they put their hands together in prayer pose and say "PRAY!"  I go down the line and ask each one what they would like to pray from - the little lady is always the most generous, praying for "mommy work, daddy work, Mimi work," her brothers, and so on.  The boys tend to be more focused on animals, including the cows and bulls at the farm (and even the tractors) but they do throw in grandparents and school friends from time to time.
5.  They adore brushing their teeth.  When we went to fluoride toothpaste at the beginning of the year we had to try out a few kinds to find one they'd like.  There's a blue one with Buzz Lightyear we found for the boys (they don't know who is he is mind you) and a red Strawberry Shortcake for little bit -but now they all want BOTH toothpastes on their toothbrushes which they proceed to suck the daylights out of before even getting around to brushing it on all their teeth. 

It's always something fun and they are so adventuresome.  Even with the exhaustion of all the big kid bed business going on, I never fail to see how beautiful and interesting and unique they each are.  They still love to be held and kissed and hugged and I know that doesn't last forever. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Channeling My Mimi

This weekend was long and I was exhausted, but it was so fun because one of my closest friends came to town with her son (who's like my own) to hang with me and the kids.  We were VERY busy - from bouncy house birthday parties to zoo outings we were on the go.  Regardless, two of the three did not nap yesterday so I was wiped out by dinner.  Blessedly, I had a peaceful close to the nuttiness of the weekend. 

The little lady was inconsolable by 6:30 last night so I asked her if she wanted to rock.  My mom was visiting so she hung out with the boys while I took little bit and wrapped her up in my arms in the nursery and rocked.  I always sing little songs to them, but all of these old hymns started coming out of my mouth.  Trust and Obey, I Surrender All, In the Garden, What a Friend We Have In Jesus, all came out as clear as a bell, one right after another.  I could hear my grandmother, my mom's mom, singing those exact same songs.  I could see her sitting in her living room at her piano playing and singing in this absolutely perfect voice.  My Mimi.  She was always my port in the storm.  The stillness in gale force winds.  Right up until she died in 2004 - literally, she was smoothing my hair out of my eyes the week before she died even though she didn't know my name.  Right about this time of year, eight years ago, after a long battle with Alzheimer's. 

But I know that she's in Heaven.  And I know that she sees my beautiful children.  And I felt her singing those words right through me last night.  After I sang them to little bit, who was asleep by 6:45 p.m. (a miracle beyond words), I sang the same songs to the eldest who had also missed his nap and he was down by 7:15.  I rocked and sang to the baby last, and he was asleep before 8 p.m.  As you may have read, that's the earliest nighttime we've seen since the crib conversion.  A gift from my sweet Heavenly Mimi for the night.  And her songs, her rest, gave me peace and rest. 

If you're not familar with the songs, I share a few of my favorite lyrics with you tonight, in hopes it will bring you a similar measure of peace:

From In the Garden And He walks with me and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.

From Trust and Obey:  Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

From What A Friend We Have In Jesus:  What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!  What a privilege to carry, Everything to God in prayer!  Oh, what peace we often forfeit,  Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Turning Clutching to Releasing

I've been in a tizzy. I'm planning a very large event for an organization and chair a committee of 40 women all involved in the planning. There are big pieces of the pie and little bitty pieces of the pie. You would think that with such a large committee of female professionals I wouldn't have my finger in every piece of the pie, yet here I am elbow deep in pie.

If you've not caught this from reading, I'm a bit of a control freak. It kicked in after my parents divorced and has been in overdrive, in various forms, ever since. That's 25 years of me being a little uptight and anal. So when this event really kicked into high gear I've been quite vocal about making sure my exact vision is executed - on things as big as fundraising and as small as font in a program. Mind you, I have some rock stars on my committee who are very capable yet I go stepping on toes and sticking fingers in pie.

I had gotten particularly worked up Tuesday during a site visit when there was an issue with the venue contract. From the site I went to a live Beth Moore bible study. It's been great, and I always come away with a fresh perspective. Well, this week was no different (although the bolt God hit me with technically had nothing to do with her message, funny how that works).

This is what I came away with: God has this event under His control because whatever comes from it will go to save women and children who are being battered.  See, while an industry group is hosting the event, all the proceeds are going to Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse. This organization rescues battered families.  Last year alone they helped over 1500 families. Their funding continues to be cut and our group is coming in to help raise funds for them.

This is what came to me: Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

You know what's been missing from all of this freakish planning?  God.  The organization putting on the event is not religions, it is industry specific, but that doesn't mean that God can't be in the middle of it using His people to be His hands and His feet.  Of course, I still have to work to make sure things are done, but I don't need to wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night.  He will bless this.  Don't I know that, "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Rom. 8:28)

If you're in the middle of clinging, clutching, controlling something today - your work, your kids, your schedule, your husband, your project, your body, your closet - then it might be good to take a step back. If you're doing a God thing, He will bless it.  If you're not doing a God thing, maybe you shouldn't be doing it.  (And by you I mean ME!)

I remember being caught in the middle of a major tornado in downtown Fort Worth and pulling into a parking garage right before it hit the attached building. On the radio, Twila Paris was singing God Is In Control. Sometimes, when everything else in our life seems to be spinning out of control, we clutch, white-knuckled, on to something that we have control over.  I felt that way during that tornado.  I feel like that again.  But it doesn't do any good and it only serves to give us ulcers and insomnia.  Listen to this song on a loop in your head if you’re over-controlling somethng today, and then hand the reins over to God (He’ll do a better job anyways):

This is no time for fear
This is the time for faith and determination
Don't lose the vision here carried away by the motion
Hold on to all that you hide in your heart
There is one thing that has always been true
It holds the world together

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
Oh, God is in control, oh God is in control

He has never let you down
Why start to worry now?
Why start to worry now?
He is still the Lord of all we see
And He is still the loving Father
Watching over you and me