Monday, July 25, 2011

My Church Family

Church families can be wonderful, messy things.  I have deeply loved all 6 church families of which I have been a part.  The down side to loving something deeply is that you can be hurt deeply.  It's the risk of living in community and it happens.  There have been a few moments in my life when it has taken all my strength and courage to walk back into church, to smile at people, to continue to love people. I always do, though (and not just because my husband's job depends on it).  I always walk back in because the hurt and the risk are worth it.  As part of the body of Christ I'm not sure I could walk away now even if I wanted to.

In August of 2003 Taylor and I lost our first baby.  I immediately went back to work, but church was a different story.  I wasn't really mad at God - I never expected to be exempt from suffering - but I didn't necessarily feel like worshiping Him either.  And then the thought of facing all those people who loved me and hurt for me - I couldn't do it.  So the first Sunday after the miscarriage Taylor went alone to church and I stayed curled up in my bed all morning.  By the second Sunday I knew I had to face it.

I don't remember much about that Sunday, but I do remember standing in the sanctuary during the worship service unable to do anything but weep.  All around me my brothers and sisters were singing, but my tears were all I could offer God.  It felt good though, as if I could somehow rely on those around me to offer what I couldn't in that moment.  Over the years Taylor and I have reflected on that day and realized what a sacred moment that was.  It is a picture of what the body of Christ truly is when we step in and even worship for one another - offer praises when others can't.

Yesterday was another similar moment, but this time I was the one who was able to sing.  Yesterday more brave souls gathered up their broken hearts and stepped into church to face the family and the God who loves them.  Yesterday I stood on the front row and sang to God about how He was good and merciful.  Maybe they were able to offer these praises to God, but my guess is that tears were all they had to offer. I offered my praises to my God, but also on their behalf.

It's a good reminder for those days when I wonder what God was thinking when he set up this crazy thing called church.  It's not perfect, it can be painful, but it's good and it's worth it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beaver's Bend

After a fun week at the beach, we left on Saturday and stopped over in Vicksburg again to spend the night.  On Sunday Taylor, the kids, and I drove up to Beaver's Bend in Broken Bow, Oklahoma to meet his family.  We stayed there until Wednesday to celebrate Poppa's 60th birthday.  It was beautiful and very relaxing.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Gulf Shores, Alabama

We left Vicksburg on Saturday morning and were in Gulf Shores, Alabama by late afternoon.  Gulf Shores is our favorite beach destination and we went with our favorite vacation buddies, the Hamiltons (who are now also the Walkers and the Bortzfields).  We grew up vacationing together and though we've added a few to the original 8 we still love being together.  The last time we were all together at the beach was 3 years ago.  We had such a great week!
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 On Thursday I traveled with Mom, Dad, and Lindsey to pick the kids up in Shreveport and headed on to Vicksburg.  Lindsey and I had the kids and we were attempting some unsuccessful geocaching when we had a blowout.  Not fun - but a really nice man with his 4 kids stopped to help us in the 104 degree weather until Dad could get there.  After a slight detour into Monroe to get the tire fixed, we were back on our way and arrived at my grandparents' house in Vicksburg just in time to enjoy a sweltering Mississippi evening.

 Playing Frisbee with Paw-Paw

 Friday, July 8 was Sophie's 7th birthday!
 They love any excuse to ride the golf cart - even taking out the trash

 Since we had not been very successful at geocaching thus far we decided to try our luck in Vicksburg.
 We found 2 in town that day.
 Sophie and Grandma
 We can't go to Vicksburg without fishing, no matter how hot it is - and it was hot and humid.
 JC would rather catch crickets.
 She caught a birthday fish

That evening we went over to my Aunt Carol's house for a party celebrating my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary, Sophie's birthday, and my cousin Lauryn's birthday.
 Playing with Uncle Chuck
 Beautiful cakes
Birthday girls

It all began with these two
The whole family

Thursday, July 21, 2011

American Girl Store

 We are back from our many adventures as we crisscrossed the south.  It all began on Friday, July 1 when I packed up the kids and met my parents at our usual half way meeting place.  They took the kids back to Weatherford with them that night.  The next day they stopped to visit Mimi in Fort Worth before heading on to Dallas.

 Aunt Edie was at Mimi's, too!

 Thanks for the birthday money, Mimi

In Dallas they met Taylor's parents at the Galleria.  While the boys went and played, the girls went to the American Girl Bistro and store.

Sophie and G-Momma
Enjoying lunch

Sophie and Grammy

All out of birthday money!

It was a great birthday treat for Sophie.  Then they got in the car with G-Momma and Poppa and traveled on to Texarkana for a few days of fun with them.  Sophie got a little sewing machine for her birthday and she and G-Momma spent most of their time sewing.  John Curtis stayed busy playing and talking Poppa into buying him new Imaginext toys and candy!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Snapshots of America

 as I experienced it this 4th of July weekend...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Drippings of Grace in a Dry Land

 It is HOT and DRY in Texas.  Here in West Texas, just driving around town is depressing.  Due to watering restrictions patches of dirt are cropping up everywhere.  Grass that is hanging on is pretty much brown.  Temperatures well over 100 since April have become the norm, yet they can put you in a bad mood.

Yet everyday when we drive home these beautiful sunflowers peeking over a rock wall wave to the kids and me.  We comment on them almost every time and they bring a smile to our faces.

Taylor often quotes C.S. Lewis in calling these moments "drippings of grace".

We've discovered a hummingbird living on our backyard. One day recently it was a "cool" 96 degrees, about 10 degrees cooler than the norm.   I spotted him that day.   I'd seen a few in our backyard this year, but they are so tiny you don't usually notice them up in the trees.  Unlike the blue jay that hangs out around our house and demands our attention with its vibrancy, this little guy was very understated. Still, I sat and watched him for a good 45 minutes.  It was beautiful flitting around.

Thankfully, those West Texas sunsets can always be counted on.  We've had some breathtaking ones this summer.

Grace is a very good thing.  Every season brings its own opportunities for it.   This summer I've had more time with family and friends.  I've been struggling to learn patience with my children, how to love Taylor more selflessly, and what it means to be a true friend.  The hard lessons always are a struggle, but these are the lessons that God has placed before me in this season.  May your summer be blessed as God grants you drippings of His grace.