Saturday, September 7, 2013

Wouldn't ya know...

(Pics are some sneak peeks of a photo session of two of my favorite people! I will post more later, have to get the editing done for CDs for Jasmine and Spencer's family first, but they are just too adorable to not share!)
Having a house all to yourself is a glorious thing...but only for a little while. My men are on a retreat, smoking cigars, playing mexican train dominoes and worshiping God together. I am sure they smell like fish from too much bait, don't bother to shower, are only eating meat, and are having a wonderful time.

I can't wait to see them again. Don't get me wrong. Four days of reading and sleeping and reading and sleeping does a body good. No messes to clean up, no dinners to make...but I miss taking care of some bodies. I love my men.
(Jazz and Spence wanted to take pics at some of the places that gave them the best memories. Here is one from Frenchman's Bar.)

It has been nearly a month since our house got a little "bigger", and as much as I can find contentment in having things clean and tidy...I have needed an attitude adjustment more days than I would like to count. I seem to crave feeling sorry for myself lately, and it is humiliating. I just keep telling myself to shape up. And then I do. For about a minute. 

Someone posted something awhile ago that has continued to comfort me in the more bleak moments. It took me back to Genesis, and as I finished the book this morning I still just kept hearing the main lesson that I heard this month:
God is here. He is near, and not one thing in my life surprises Him. It is such a warm thought, and makes the long and lonely days not so lonely. Turn to Genesis 28 with me and just think about Jacob's words.

(And of course, she needed photos on the horse trails around Whipple Creek. Great times!)
He has just been shoo'ed out of the nest by his father and told to go and find a wife from their tribe. "Pick a good one, bud- not like the trashy ladies in our neighborhood." No questions, good ol' Jake hops to it and hits the dusty road.

As he walks along the highway, he cops a squat wherever he is when the sun goes down. He has this crazy, vivid dream (and no he did NOT pick any 'shrooms along the way) of God blessing him and promising "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go...".

When he wakes up, he is shaken by fear at the greatness of God, and realizes how REAL and PRESENT God is. Look at his words in the Message version:
"God is in this place- truly. And I didn't even know it...Incredible. Wonderful. Holy. This is God's house..." Genesis 28:16-17a

How often am I blind to the fact that God is "in this place?" That with His Holy Spirit, I am never far from my wonderful Savior. Oh, beautiful thought. Listen to Jesus:
" And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Sounds nicely familiar, doesn't it? God's words of promise aren't just for Jacob and his Promised Land. Jesus said to us- He would be with us always. 

I love what Jacob does after all that- when he wakes up in the morning, he sets up a memorial spot and names it "Bethel", or Holy Place. He chooses to worship the Lord as His God right then and commits to giving God a tenth of everything God ever gives to Him. 

(Raspberry fields where she decided Spencer was the one- because he was the only person who could keep up with her racing bareback. ;)
No need to be lonely. No need to doubt. Choosing to trust Him, I can be sure that the path I and my dear ones are on is just right. Great comfort tonight. God bless you, friend. May you notice Him in your "place" right now. May you be filled with fear and wonder at the Awesomeness of your God. And may you take time to thank Him, and worship Him for it.

(Never let go, Dear One.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Family Traditions...

I have had Gloria Gaynor's song rolling through my head for too many days. "I will survive!" seems to be the motto of this summer. It is amazing how quickly we can settle into a new normal. The house has a new look, a new feel, and fewer inhabitants; and we have survived. We have continued on and surprisingly- enjoyed the changes.

We had the opportunity to go to the beach last weekend, and it was so funny to hear my kids reminiscing over all the things they loved about their childhood...and all the things their parents didn't do so well on. As I watched my daughter with her little family wanting to mimic all our habits and traditions, saw the look of "You are crazy" cross her husband's face, I said a little prayer for them as they figure out what is going to be their special places, their special little habits. I can only imagine how hard it is for her as she realizes that her new family isn't going to look like, ANYTHING like, the only crazy one she's ever know.

And that it's OK. She doesn't have to chop down her own Christmas tree every year. The first meal she eats in a new home doesn't have to be an Egg McMuffin the first morning. Splashing in the freezing Pacific Ocean isn't a yearly tradition for everyone and going to every Christmas production in a 50 mile radius isn't a requirement.

I realized that maybe we put too much stock in "traditions", or the making of them, over the years. I love scrapbooking and taking pictures and editing and REMEMBERING every moment. So that brought a lot of memorable activities that literally were just for the sake of my imagination. Quarterly zoo trips, pottery making, homemade pizza nights. Nothing wrong with any of it, but I hope the traditions didn't overshadow the heart. I hope that her memory of all that isn't just the activities, it's the essence of being a family- of living together, loving each other, keeping Christ as the center of it all.

I read something that grabbed me and put into one sentence what my number one goal has always been, and I pray it will someday be understood by my dear ones. The author was writing about her son leaving for college, and as she was being nostalgic, she said:

"We could make "living loved" our family tradition."

Oh, how I want to know my children have always felt that. That in our home and our hearts, the only tradition that matters is that "You are LOVED." Dearly and greatly loved. I want them to see that it's more important that their own families, as well as any person who comes into their home, walks away knowing they are loved by them, and by the One who created it all.

Watching my grown up kids meander through life, I have been reminded how different they are. My daughter has always wanted me to video and photograph every moment of her life. My son would rather I just sit alongside him quietly. When I think about all the "things" we normally do as summer winds down and fall begins, I hope I can be sensitive to them and let them find the traditions that they want to do, and let the others fade to the background.

Because more than anything, I want them to see that "living loved" was the only tradition that matters in our family.

I hope my daughter can see that more than the pictures or places she and her husband remember, living LOVED is the one thing that matters.

I hope my son can see that more than any of the activities he participates in, living LOVED is the one thing that matters.

I hope my son-in-love can see that more than "being right" or being comfortable as he leads his family along their course, living LOVED is the one thing that matters.

And I so truly hope my grandbaby, my Darling Precious, can see that more than all the people, places and adventures her family fills her world with, living LOVED is the one thing that matters.

In light of all that God has blessed us with, how could we live any other way?

"Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains...
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings." 
Psalm 36:5-7