It’s a girl…

Not an actual baby girl but this weekend my oldest son proposed to his girlfriend! As a mom of boys, adding a girl is a big deal for us and we couldn’t be more thrilled. These crazy kids got engaged on Sunday. He had all these big plans for the perfect proposal but plan A got rained out, then plan B got rained out, so he ended up proposing in my kitchen. She said she’d have said yes if he had proposed in front of a dumpster! She asked me to go dress shopping with her and bought a wedding dress on Monday! I guess when you know, you know. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d get to help pick out a wedding dress. Now all they need is a date and place – the mad search begins!

Yippee, yippie, hip, hip, hooray
You get to plan a wedding day.
A daughter you'll get,
A best friend I bet.
What a fun way to end May!
  (Poem sent to me by Amy Beck)

It’s interesting to me that the question I am asked more than any other about my son having a girlfriend (now fiancé!) is, “Do you like her”? Not a criticism toward anyone who asked the question, I’ve said the same thing myself and it is a reflection on our culture. It’s not unlike when you have a death of someone close to you, you don’t realize the crazy things we say, until you’re there.

“Do you like her?”, is an interesting question. Would we ask do you like your own child? Do we get a choice? No one ever says, “How many kids do you have? Oh nice, do you like them?” My dad always gently reminded us every time we complained about our husbands, “You picked him!” and there are times in every relationship that we may not have been thrilled with that choice. But our ability to love has to outweigh the idea of liking someone. Jami Amerine frequently closes her blog: “He loves us and He likes us… and He delights in His creations.” So why don’t we delight in His creation?

My son loves this girl, of all the girls in the world he chose her, how can I not love that! She was not raised in a bubble, she’s travelled the world and of all the boys in the world, she picked him – and us to be her family.

The thing about it is … I choose to love this addition to our family just like the two that were born into it. I didn’t get to pick my kids out of a catalogue. Me and that boy I loved dreamt of having a family and these boys were the fulfillment of that dream. There have been times the dream was a little nightmarish, but we had each other. This bald headed boy has dreamed about marrying a girl someday, we’ve prayed for her for many, many years. and this is who he’s chosen. He’s not perfect, she’s not perfect and news flash – neither am I! So we continue being imperfect people trying to reflect the love we know because we first were loved, while we were yet sinners, even. Relationships are hard, marriage is not easy but counting on love, joy, heartache, hardship, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control love abounds! Welcome to our circus Starr!

I’m so grateful this Starr landed in our lives and I’m thrilled they want to share that life with this creepy old lady!

It’s a dogs life

They say dogs and owners look like each other over time. I’m really hoping that is true because my dog is skinny and really struggles to gain weight! Except yea, oh wait, he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

I don’t know about all that, but I do know that my stupid dog forgot he had a dog door. When I leave for work I always leave him treats, a chew and tell him I’ll be back. Today, he was outside barking at a truck when I left so I just put his treats out like usual and left. I get home after work and he’s standing outside staring in the back door at me. I open the door to talk to him and he runs to the water and drinks and drinks and drinks, throws that up and drinks some more, then realizes he has treats. He had been outside all day despite the fact the dog door was 6 feet away — unobstructed. When he thinks I’m going somewhere and there is a chance he could go, he’s right by my side! When I’m just moving around the house he’s always in front of me trying to anticipate where I’m going like he knows all about me and my routine. Then he’s totally dejected if he’s wrong. He likes to lay on my bed and look out the window, keeping watch on his backyard domain. Until the time he jumps off the bed barking at a bird through the window, when he can easily run after it by using the dog door. I tell him, “Genius, you could use the dog door!” He looks at me and then runs out of the room, like, “Oh yeah!”

And yes, I remember, this is the dog I do not want. But we have learned to love each other and he is teaching me so much about myself. I have STRONG reclusive tendencies and he feeds that as I fall into the trap of I’d rather just stay home with the dog, I don’t want to leave him at home alone too long, I can’t leave him somewhere he’ll be traumatized and it goes on and on.

I’m sure I’m not unlike many people who life has taught us to be guarded. When we moved to Temple with little kids into a new neighborhood we became fast friends with our neighbors who had little girls about the same age as our boys. Then he was transferred and they moved. We were sad. Then a family moved in next door that had two little boys about the same age as ours. We were so excited. But their mom did not like us. Every time her kids were playing in the front yard, if we went out front, they went in. The kids would then play with each other through the fence, if she ever caught them, they went in. I invited them to story time at the library and she always politely declined, I quit trying. I’ve sadly never really been very neighborly since. I never wanted to invite that kind of passive hostility into my life again, so I’ve operated on the premise that it’s just better to smile and wave from a distance.

Then school finally starts up after a six month break because of the COVID-19 pandemic and our Head of School chooses the theme: “We’re better together” based on Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?” Hmmmm?

Then I saw this:

guilty! Then I saw this:

oops guilty again! Maybe I’m more like my dog than I realize. Then this blog post shows up in my mail box:

You my sisters, you and I have the opportunity to collectively believe that Light is greater than darkness. We have the faith that will move mountains, make a better way, and bring hope to a world fraught with scarcity and loss.

Perhaps not on our own. On our own we seem tiny and impotent. But collectively, I feel us illuminating hope beyond what anyone has seen, heard or understood.

Jami Amerine

I think what the stupid dog and I have in common is that we are both slow learners, unless it involves treats! And even then we may still just be in it for the treats. I’ve found that when God wants to teach me a lesson I’m slapped in the face by it over and over again. I’m starting to get the feeling that I need to work on this “humble and approachable” thing. And suddenly, the dog and I are exactly alike as I forget that I am loved and treasured and everything I needed was right there all along. Not to even mention that historically we know policies of isolationism have rarely lead to anything good! Policy change is slow and uncomfortable. But not impossible.

Some things, you just don’t have to tell people

I spent over an hour on hold for customer service today and when I finally got to the person I needed, the call was cancelled, whatever that means. So I call back, not knowing how to get back to that department because I had been transferred three times to get to the person I needed. I call back, and have to start over, I am not a happy camper!

However, I have worked in customer service before and been the poor soul who had to deal with frustrated people. I don’t want to be frustrated people, but in this human form—it is unavoidable.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want but I do the very thing I hate.

Romans 7:15

I really wanted to yell at the person I spoke to after an hour, after I had been disconnected and sweet Timothy didn’t bother to call me back, but as I waited on the next customer service representatives to ask me the same questions I’d already answered three times before, I wanted to tell him, “I really am a nice person, but…..” But then I remembered that I always tell my kids there are some things you don’t need to tell people. You don’t need to tell people that you are smart, pretty or nice! Every time you open your mouth, regardless of the words you use, you tell them the truth. You don’t need to talk to someone very long to figure out if they are smart, articulate, nice, funny, or NOT!

I know I can’t stop talking about Jami Amerine’s new book, Well, Girl, but she talks about how there is no but in a real I love you and there is no but in a real I’m sorry. Adding the word but is like using a verbal delete key. When we say I love you, but … it totally negates the I love you, because I love you implies unconditionality. If there is a but then you have to question, do I, really. Like wise if I tell the customer service representative that I am really a nice person before I’m short and irate and rude to him, am I? A nice person? Not in his opinion, not when I become the customer that gripped at him because I was on hold for over an hour, got disconnected and wasn’t given the courtesy of a call back. It wasn’t their fault. It isn’t their fault that I absolutely hate to have to call and straighten out messes on the phone and I’m a wee bit angry and bitter that I lost the husband that would sweetly deal with all the things I didn’t want to. So it begs the question, am I a nice person?

I don’t get to decide that! I can’t wear a shirt or get a bumper sticker that announces who I am. I get countless opportunities to interact with others that allow them to draw the conclusion. Like I’m on trial and trying to convince a jury of my peers that I should be judged as nice, kind, compassionate, whatever. I can’t even pay someone to plead my case for me–its just me!

So disclaimer: that time I was not nice to you, please know my identity was stolen that day and once it is returned to it’s rightful owner, I will do better. Because my identity is in Christ. And as he has forgiven my sins, I have no right to be tacky to others, but I still have sin that needs to be forgiven.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Customer Service Update: I was on hold for another hour, never got to talk to Timothy again, and finally gave up and wrote them a letter. We’ll see if that works or not! Thanks for letting me process my frustration here instead of to the customer service reps on the phone. I still have more calls to make to get my “To do before school starts” list finished, and I feel much better about them now!

The latest: Redemption – I got an email asking me to complete a survey on my customer service experience. I was happy to oblige! Will a real person read it?

Well, Girl Book Launch

I hear so many negative comments about social media and I get it, there is no shortage of negativity there — but I’ve come across some great opportunities as well. Several non-profits have posted Amazon Wish Lists on Facebook and you can just click, buy stuff they need and it’s shipped straight to them. It’s dangerous, but I love it. I’ve signed up to volunteer for several organizations around town to do some cool things like pick up donated bread from HEB for a local food bank. I can’t do a lot of things, but I can pick up bread! This summer I saw a link from a blogger I follow that said, “Sign up for my book launch team.” I never heard of a book launch team, but hey, it’s summer — I’m in!

So I join the book launch team for Jami Amerine’s new book, Well, Girl, An Inside-Out Journey to Wellness. I have to admit that I really didn’t look at the book title before I joined the team. I’ve enjoyed Jami’s wit and insight on her blog, LOVE the vandals, her affectionate term for her youngest kids and just finished her first book Stolen Jesus which I also loved. How could this go wrong? Then I get my info email about the team, then I read the full title of the book and think, “UGH, I don’t want to read about wellness or a journey, I done ready know I gotta fix the inside to impact the outside, but I signed up, I really got nothing better to do”, so I press forward.

What exactly is a launch team? It’s a group of people that agree to read your book before it is available to the public, help promote the author and their book on social media and be the first to post online reviews of the book. It’s been interesting to see how the whole process works and I’ve learned the most about how Facebook algorithms work and how people use them to promote their business. That’s one of the reasons I’m better about liking, commenting and sharing business posts from people I know — they need us! Plus I got to have a zoom meeting with the author and that was super cool!!!

The big thing though, is the book. I mentioned I signed up for this team without really knowing the title. I read the Well, Girl part but not the An Inside-Out Journey to Wellness Part. I was less than enthusiastic about that! But I committed to read it so I did. I was not disappointed.

Although I did not want to read another ‘this is how to make your life better by exercising and eating right’ self-help book, it turned out to be so much more. Jami encourages you to live your life for Christ, period. It’s not about the diet, the regiment, success or failure, it’s about living every aspect of your life for Christ and allowing Him to make you whole. Whatever you need to work on physically – you can do it – thanks to Beloved Living. As a dieter, you finally come to the conclusion that any diet will work once you set your mind to it and actually do it. In Well, Girl she examines our self-talk, self-doubt and inability to live as one treasured by our Creator that just left me so encouraged and built up.

All is not lost. There is no harm, no foul. He sees us, and He is pleased with us. You and I are His babies, His darling daughters, and nothing can separate us from His love. Nope, nothing, not even that. It is easy to mistake Him, for under the heavy hand of the law and the earthly understanding of “do good get good, do bad get bad,” we are often left with a broken heart. For if we are good, why is there bad? This is performance-based love that we often project onto God because it’s everywhere else in the world…and this keeps us trapped in old cycles because we’re sure we’re not doing enough right.”

Amerine p. 59

I loved the part in the book where she says, “I believe that the enemy uses shame to keep us stuck.” She bases this on the definition by Cary Scott that, “Guilt is being sorry for something you have done. Shame is being sorry for who you are” (Amerine p. 48). There is no shame in where you are, just be willing to improve and leave the guilt of bad decisions behind.

I still think I like Stolen Jesus a little better, but Well, Girl is well worth the read!

Get your copy here:

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I finally got it!

I love Jami Amerine, author, blogger, mom, she makes me laugh and smile and look for the joy in the ordinary life of following Jesus. Her tag line is Jesus be all over you! She says it all the time but today is the first day I got it.

I’m scrolling through Facebook and this memory pops up

In the picture is just Ryan and the old DPS cruiser he so proudly bought as his first car. But when I look back at the picture six years down the road, his dad is all over that picture. Ryan didn’t have a lot of money but he wanted a cool car and his dad found this place in Austin that sold old state property. The two of them researched about the cars, planned all the work they were going to do to civilianize it, how much money he had, how much it would cost to change what they wanted, so many plans and dreams realized on this day. While the picture is one boy and one car I see so much more.

That car was so fun, he loved it everyday he had it and when he was finished with it and bought a new vehicle he actually gave the car to someone who needed it. Generosity — that is a trademark of his father. But to me this picture now represents the relationship Ryan and his dad had. Dreams they shared. Time they spent together planning and dreaming, not just about this car, but about the life Ryan wanted and the dreams he had. Russell researched and figured out how to get the spray paint off the sides so it looked cool before he got it painted. I can see in my mind the smile on his face as he took this picture — Russell is all over this memory.

Which made me realize for the first time after reading and hearing “Jesus be all over you” by Jami. When you look at me I hope you see that Jesus is all over this story. As you read my words you have to see that Jesus is all over it. Without him, I’m just another picture with no depth, no memories, no emotion. I may loathe my image in the mirror of the creepy old fat lady until I can look at that girl and realize Jesus is all over her — and that my friend is good indeed! Thanks Jami!