Thursday, July 29, 2010

They Did It

My brother and Aaron have always been the greatest of friends.  It's a sweet part of our history and a blessing in my life.

These two normally mild-mannered men started talking tattoos at the beginning of the summer.  Lynsey and I just laughed it off.  I think people would expect Lynsey and I to get tattoos before they would ever think Jason and Aaron would get them.

To our surprise, the talk never ceased.  They were serious about wanting a tattoo and going together to get one.

Last night all their talk turned into something tangible.

For the last couple months when they have talked about doing this, I have reminded Aaron that tattoos are forever.  In the most dramatic way possible I would stress the seriousness of this decision.  This is why I could never ever in a million years get a tattoo.  There are lots of things I super excited today that I won't care one thing about in a few weeks.  That's who I am.  Tattoos would be terrible for someone like me. 

Aaron said the tattoo he wanted would have meaning to him forever.  I can't even fathom being someone like my husband (or my brother).

Jason got a tattoo of a scripture on his chest.

Aaron got a tattoo of the word, "mosaic" on his wrist.

Jason figured a tattoo of scripture is the best idea for a tattoo.  I mean really, the God of this universe guarantees that the Word of God will never go away.  God Himself declared scripture fad-free. It's not like parachute pants.  God's Word will always be, and it will always be tattooed on Jason's chest.

Aaron went with "mosaic".  Being ever the encourager I said..."Honey...what if this whole Mosaic Village thing flops?  Then you're stuck with a reminder that we suck on your arm."  I know.  I know.  You all wish you could be nice wives like me.

Aaron said he chose the word mosaic for our vision for Haiti because of his love for the church.  Ever since I've known Aaron Hendrick I have known him to be a man who loves the church.  He has served God's people humbly, passionately, and faithfully ever since I've known him.  He believes in the church.  He believes God wants to use a group of broken people to do beautiful things for God's glory.  Many, many times I have been quick to get frustrated with the church.  I've wanted to run.  I've wanted to bolt.  Many, many times Aaron has had to patiently lead me through learning to stay put.  Learning to pray.  Learning to sit back.  Learning to be patient for God to provide an opportunity for change.

Once Aaron explained to me why this word means so much to him, I was all for the idea.  He sold me.

Mosaic...lots of broken pieces making up something big and useful to God.  What was meant for the trash heap, being re-purposed...given new life.  Mosaic.  It's lovely.

He chose his wrist because He said he wanted it in a place where he could see it.  Especially when we're in Haiti.  Mosaic is a visual reminder to him that we're simply one piece...a part of what God wants to do in this world.  God has never asked our family to move to Haiti and find a solution to all of Haiti's problems (you have no idea how funny that is).  He hasn't asked us to try and help Haiti in a way that's all about us or what we're doing.  Lots of incredible people are already in Haiti and lots of agencies are already bringing the gospel to Haiti in word and in deed.  Not to mention all the beautiful pieces of this mosaic who are in Haiti because they are Haitian.  We're just a piece...and we pray God uses us as we humbly go to this new place and serve alongside other missionaries, other organizations and most importantly, the Haitian people.

He also chose his wrist because if he wants to cover the tattoo up it's easy to do with a watch.  I had to smile.  Now that's my husband.  He couldn't go totally wild.  No way.

I really like the tattoo more than I thought I would.  It's sexy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Arm Pits - An Update

Just what everyone has been waiting for, right?  I know.  I'm sure you're all achy from being on the edge of your seat for so long.

Way back in January when my life was the normal sort of weird I wrote about switching deodorants.

The full version of the story can be found here.

Here's the short version:  Lynsey and Kirby both thoroughly freaked me out about antiperspirants potentially causing breast cancer and Alzheimer.  So I made the switch.  Not because I was really ready.  Let's face it.  I would have kept procrastinating on this like everything else.   Thankfully, when we were all hanging out during Christmas Lynsey put a bottle of her underarm hippy juice in my hands and told me to try it.  That's what I love about her.

It was January.  I think any deodorant would work great in January since it's not hot.  So I told everyone I'd update them after I had used my new, noncancerous deodorant during the summer.

I live in Texas.  I'm pretty sure that Texas summers are equivalent to what the foyer of hell will feel like.  It's hot.  It's insanely humid.

In addition, I can be pretty sweaty.  Plain and simple.  I like to think I sweat so easily and so much because I'm healthy and drink a ton of water every day.  That may not be why I sweat so much, but no one tell me. I like feeling good about myself in this one area.  I may be "massively" behind on shots for my kids and a total slacker in the scrapbook department, but by golly I do drink more than the recommended amount of water per day.  I hold onto that in moments when my child has to go into the store in only a diaper because even after four kids I can't remember to bring a change of clothes with me for my baby.  Sheesh!  Pushing a diaper-only baby through the store, feeling like white trash, I always remind myself of my daily water intake.  Perks me right up.

All that to say...

I am a sweater.  Not the kind you buy from Gap.  A sweater as in the kind that sweats like a man.  After running, I can walk through a flowerbed and water it for the day.

My verdict on this deodorant?

Love it.  Will never use anything else.  Here's why:

People warned me that when I stopped using antiperspirant and started using this new stuff that it would take awhile for my body to regulate.  I might be more sweaty and have to use more at first.  People were right.  I did sweat more at first...and it was January.  So if you jump on the free and clear underarm movement this summer, be prepared to sweat a little more in the beginning.  It wasn't as bad as I was expecting, and it was also kind of nice because here's the second reason I love this stuff so much...

It smells great.  At first I used the deodorant more as my body was adjusting.  I loved putting it on.  I smelled lovely.  After I put deodorant on my kids say, "Mom, you smell so good."  They are right.  I do.  So I didn't mind using more because it gave me a chance to smell yummy and fresh.

Note:  I never was stinky.  Just more sweaty.  Since making the switch I have never felt like I had body odor. I live in a house with five males.  If I had it they would tell me in the least tactful way.  

I love this product because it's all natural, and I don't have to think about the what ifs anymore.  "What if this causes cancer?  What if this causes Alzheimer?"  There is no aluminum in this product.  The ingredients are simple and all natural.

But my FAVORITE reason to love this product...

It's cheap.  I'll admit.  If you decide to live a healthier, more natural, chemical free life (as far as it depends on you) most of the time it will cost you a little more.  Especially as you first get started.  I can't believe how cheap this deodorant is.

Lynsey gave me a new bottle during the Christmas break.  I did not need a new bottle of deodorant until I moved out here to the farm in June.  One bottle lasted me FIVE MONTHS.  Five months!  And did I mention I was applying it a lot in the beginning?  Like several times a day.  Mostly because I liked the smell.  I did not need it that often.

In my opinion...if you want to change just one thing for now, this is the thing to change.  If you are desiring to live in a healthier, toxin-free way this would be a no-brainer purchase to make.

Now that it's summer in Texas, I usually only apply one time...maybe twice if I change my shirt or do something extra hot and sweaty.

You can buy this deodorant from Vitacost for $2.83 or from HEB (I don't know what the price is there).  I love the aloe and almond fragrance.

Aaron has yet to make the switch even though I've had a bottle of this deodorant sitting next to his sink for two months.  I might start rolling it on him in his sleep and throw his other cancer in a container away.  However, my brother (who wants to live a long life free of diseases) uses it and it works great for him.

For more info about cosmetics and what's in them take a few minutes and watch the newest video from the people who brought us The Story of Stuff.  I never feel guilty being on the computer watching these informational videos because my kids watch them with me.  They are partly animated and keep their attention the whole time.  I've been eagerly awaiting this new video and found out it was available when a friend posted it online.  Thanks Katie!


Helpful links from this post:

Why I made the deodorant switch

Vitacost - place to order the deodorant

Story of Cosmetics

Website where you can type in your skin care products and find out how toxic they are

Monday, July 26, 2010

Two for Two - Magnets and Sending Service

It seems two things must happen for a family to officially become missionaries.

1.  Your family photo is magnetized, and you find yourself plastered to refrigerators around the US (next to Pizza Hut coupons).  Check.  Hendricks are hanging on fridges.

2.  Your church has a sending service.  In church language that means people tell you good-bye and pray over you.

New Life, the church we attend is kindly hosting a sending service for our family.  If you'd like to say good-bye to us (and hear Aaron lead worship one last time), we'd love to have you join us.

You are welcome to attend the entire service this Sunday night, August 1.  It starts at 5 p.m.  However, kids 4 and older sit in the service, and I know that's stressful for a lot of people. If having your child in the service automatically makes you sweaty, the actual sending/prayer part of the service will be during the fellowship meal after church.  Feel free to come to New Life at around 6:30 or 6:45.  Have some dessert.  At that time, I think Aaron will share a little about what we'll be doing in Haiti.  People will pray.  We'll say good-bye to College Station.

It will be difficult to say our farewells.  We have been blessed to live in College Station for 13 years.  Our kids have been raised in College Station.  They have lived at the swimming pool in the summers and at the library during the school year.  We will miss the familiarity.  We will miss knowing a town so intimately that you can never ever get lost.  We'll miss the people who work at our favorite places.  We'll also miss so many of you.  We're grateful for this time to hang out one last time.

In so many ways, it's emotional to come to grips with the fact that we have no idea what our lives will look like in the coming years.  Will we stay in Haiti?  If not, where will we live when we come home?

I think Sunday night will be emotional as well.  In some ways because we're saying good-bye to our friends.  But I have great peace about those friendships continuing.  They are too real, too deep and forever.  It will be different, but we're thankful to have relationships with people that are easy and natural.  Their lives and their stories are intertwined with our own.  We won't really be saying good-bye.

I think the hardest part of Sunday will be hearing Aaron lead worship for the last time in College Station. Warning:  I am unashamedly a huge fan of my husband...on a personal level and as someone who He has led in worship for a long time.  This post may induce nausea for some.  Apologies in advance.

When we were first talking about going to Haiti...when it was just a thought...nothing real...I told Aaron the part I could not imagine was him letting go of leading worship.  "It makes no sense.  You are crazy gifted at this, Aaron.  Why would you even think about giving this up?"  He's confident he won't.  I'm a little more nervous.

I don't know if all wives who are married to worship leaders feel this, but I think my husband is incredibly gifted.  Under his leadership, I worship so freely.  He leads in a way that is pure and free of distraction.  He is truly a gifted musician and a godly man.  I think this makes for beautiful leadership in worship.  It comes so natural for him that I hardly think about it or truly appreciate this gift until I'm somewhere and Aaron isn't leading.  As the wife of a worship leader, I'm a really tough cookie to please when it comes to a worship service.  I have to confess my critical heart all the time to the Lord when we're in a place where Aaron isn't leading.  I have been known to want to ram my head into a wall during a rough worship set under the leadership of unknown worship leaders, especially if worship doesn't seem to be about Jesus, but instead about them.

To be totally honest, it is very difficult for me to worship when someone else is leading.  Even if the worship leader is great.  The truth is...I'm used to Aaron.  That's what sitting under his leadership for 12 years feels like.  The times when we're somewhere and he's not leading worship I struggle.  If the worship leader is the least bit weird, says creepy stuff or tries to be a rock star instead of a worship leader, I turn into an eye roller in the middle of service.  With Aaron things run smoothly, and I think the smoothness, humility, and leadership help the people in church feel comfortable, relaxed, focused, and ready to hear from God and respond in genuine worship.

All that to say, this is another area where I am having to totally trust the Lord (and I'm flunking at it, what's new?).  I have cried out to God many times, begging Him to continue to use this gift Aaron has wherever God takes us.  I'm praying Aaron would be able to use his gift and be in a place where he feels free to use his gift of music and teaching.  It's strange to be excited for him to have that opportunity again, but then overcome with fear that we're leaving this gift here in the US instead of taking it with us.

Hearing him lead Sunday will be a bittersweet moment.  It will be a celebration of the way God gifts people and uses every member of the body for His glory and for His purposes.  I'm asking God to fill my heart with hope instead of despair.  Hope for what God will bring in Haiti.  Hope for the ways that God will use Aaron's gift of music and even his other gifts more fully.  Hope for the ways Aaron's gifts will grow as Haiti teaches a multitude of new things.  I pray we are humble, eager learners.  In that way, I get so excited about what the future holds for our family.  And who knows?  Maybe there are new gifts Aaron will use that we don't even know about right now. See?  Hope.  I'm asking God to fill my heart with hope instead of sadness.  I want to trust that this next place will be a place of sweet freedom, where Aaron will be allowed and given opportunities to serve the Lord in the way He has been gifted.

I know that so many of you have been blessed by Aaron's leadership in worship.  Like I said, we'd like to invite you to one last worship service.  We'd love to see so many of you before we leave.  So come hang out this Sunday night, okay?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Photos: Project Prepare for Haiti (laughable?)

It's been a great vacation week.  We're exhausted and so some would argue that we have not had a great vacation.  We'd just argue right back that we have four kids...boy kids...and in order for them to have a great vacation mom and dad come home ready to sleep the entire weekend away.  One day maybe vacation will mean coming home rested.  Right now it means coming home ready to stick our kids in front of the tv tomorrow morning while Aaron and I sleep in to recuperate.

We've been in Austin enjoying nature and tons of free activities with our kids while also making a dent in our shopping list for the things we will need in Haiti.  You can't exactly find solar powered lamps in Brenham.  If you know me at all you know I despise shopping.  Hate it.  Researching where our stuff comes from  makes me nauseous when I have to enter stores.  I won't get into all of that now, but just wanted to say that there have been rough moments this week for me spiritually, praying, really asking God what we need and how to obtain it in a way that cares for the people making our products.

While here we have loved hanging out together and making the most of Austin's beautiful parks.

We've just about used every gift card we've had in our possession...we totally planned our trip around gift cards.  We've only paid for two meals this, pretty awesome.

Austin Nature fun and free!  We spent a good deal of our day here.  Boys were in heaven.

We waited FOREVER for the bats under the bridge to come out, but we finally gave up.  Bats and my bladder about to burst will forever be linked in my mind.

Hayden and his notebook.  It's normal to us.  We hardly even notice it anymore.  But I never want to forget...for years Hayden has hardly left the house without a notebook.  He documents his entire life in these notebooks.  He story boards for his movies he's going to make.  He makes lists of all the things he thinks he'll need in his tree house he's going to build one day.  That notebook is a part of Hayden.

We had dinner with friends...the Allens and Jessica Schmale...

Then it was off to Sea World.  For a Christmas gift we received season passes to Sea World.  What a great gift!  I love Sea World because you can bring in your own food.  Ice water is free.  So this is a super fun way to spend the day.  We practically crawled out of the park last night but had a blast.

It's been a perfect vacation.  The only disappointment was the bats, and honestly I wasn't that excited about seeing a billion bats fly towards me.

With any vacation it is beautiful to have a front row seat, free of distractions in the lives of one another.  It was wonderful to spend time with Aaron.  We rediscovered how perfectly brilliant, funny, and incredible our boys are.  We also discovered some areas where we all need a little attention and work (parents included).

We had fun and also got a lot accomplished for the move to Haiti.  Aaron is leaving in about a week, and even though our list has lots of scratch marks on it, I still don't think there is any real way to feel prepared for what lies ahead.  We're incredibly thankful for this time together this week.  These truly are my favorite people on the planet.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary

14 years of marriage and 4 kids later....

I get all weepy thinking of how many ways this could have gone wrong.  How many times I thought giving up was a good idea.  How many times I'm sure you wondered if I would ever change.  How many times I wondered the same.  How many times we still probably wonder those things.

And yet here we are, best friends, growing, becoming, changing. getting stronger as we get older.  Enjoying each other more today than we did when this journey began. 

This thing we have here...makes me weak with thankfulness.  Somewhere along the way God took two incredibly selfish people, made us one and then took what was broken and made it beautiful and useful.

Our marriage will forever be a visual picture of redemption to me.  A work of art that I look at every day and am reminded of how gracious God is to clueless, undeserving people.

I love you Aaron.  Every quirk.  Every witty, funny, brilliant piece of you.  The way you serve me and patiently love me sweetly screams God's heart towards me.  The way you are quick to forgive others, willing to be wronged, and persevere through hard, humbling, situations teaches me a great deal about who Jesus is.

This next year will be so full of new things.  New fears.  New challenges.  New joys.  There's no one I'd rather share those with than you, and oh my one on earth I'd trust enough with my life and our children's lives to follow to the crazy place we are headed.   

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Hudson

Beautiful boy, I can't believe that you are two.

Every day you astound us with your cuteness.

You are incredibly sweet.  Undeniably strong willed.  Athletic.  Smart.  Fast.  Strong.  Brave.

That combination gets you into an awful lot of trouble because any terrible thing you think to do you can actually physically accomplish it.

It's laughable when we think of how different the house becomes the moment after your bedtime.

You are so loved, little one.  We're incredibly grateful for you and all the millions of things you teach us every day.


Oh how this child loves "cake."  Anything sweet is labeled "cake."

I saw these cupcakes-in-a-jar on Kaylene's blog.  Thought they were adorable, and could immediately imagine Hudson's cute little hands digging out his cupcake from a mason jar.  We have no shortage of jelly jars around here, so that sealed the deal.

I modified this recipe a little.  Instead of red food coloring, I added more cocoa so the cake was brown instead of red.

I also added chocolate chips in the center and on top.  HEB carries fair trade chocolate chips for the same price as non-fair trade chocolate chips.  Totally made my day!

I used Paula Dean's cream cheese icing recipe.  Um...yum.  Could have eaten it with a spoon.  Okay.  Fine.  I did. Does anyone else day dream about Paula Dean being their grandmother?  I do, and when I do I'm about 30 pounds heavier in my daydreams.

Put half the cupcake on the bottom.  Squirt in a layer of cream cheese icing. Throw in a few chocolate chips. Add the top of the muffin.  Top with more icing and more chocolate chips.   This looks all nice and super neat in the pictures.  Oh the joy of blogging.  In reality, this was a mess...but a yummy mess.

Lynsey made some cute little labels.
I whipped out my Creative Memories circle cutter.
I was shocked I still knew how to use it.
Scrapbooking was a part of my life when four kids were not a part of it.

We tied the spoons on with twine.  Adorable.

And of course, this dessert was extra sweet because Lynsey was making it with me.

Ready to celebrate our little man.

Happy Birthday Hudson!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Photos

There was a time when "roller skating was my life."  Like for real.  I would write that phrase on notebooks.

We would go to the skating rink most weekends.  Stay for hours.  I knew all the songs.  I had my own skates and thought people who didn't had the saddest life ever.  Hours before we'd head to the skating rink I'd make a really tough decision.  You'd think I was deciding on a cancer treatment or deciding to homeschool, public school or private school my children.  In actuality I was deciding what color shoelaces would go in my white skates that night.  Tough decision.  Always a tough decision.  Hot pink?  Lime green?  Hot pink and lime green?  And what color pom-pom?  This must be how people trying to solve our world's energy crisis feel.

When Lynsey announced to me that there is a skating rink in Brenham, I almost didn't believe her.  A real skating rink?  I thought those were extinct.

Lynsey assured me...they exist, and there is one not even a mile away from the farm.

I bet it's been about 20 years since I've been to a skating rink.  I couldn't imagine what a modern day skating rink would be like.  That's when Lynsey made my day.  She said, "This is not a modern day skating rink.  When you go back, you will walk in and it will feel like the skating rink is just like you left it 20 years ago."

I was skeptical.  But lo and behold...right when I walked into the door the smell...oh the smell...even the smell had been preserved in this skating rink time capsule.

Orange carpet on the walls.

Ugly brown skates (for the first time in my life I was "that person" who had to wear the rentals).  It was humbling.

A rockin' concession stand.

The two or three totally bizarre, older people who seem to gravitate towards the skating rink.  I remember those as a kid, and was hoping beyond hope that we were not in that group now.

nothing more funny than seeing my brother remove cowboy boots and replace them with roller skates.

All these pictures were taken as we were lacing up the kid's skates.  Everything was fine.  Excitement was in the air.  I couldn't wait to be skating around that floor with my kids sharing this experience with them.

We released the kids and holy mayhem set in.

Not lying when I say this...for the first 10 full minutes, all the kids were falling.  They could not even stand up.  I'm not sure why I thought skating is something that comes natural...but let me tell doesn't.

I was very glad the farm was so close, because with all that falling I thought for sure I'd have to go home and change my pants.  I was about to wet them.  We could not stop laughing.

The kids were miserable.  I thought we were going to have to go home (well...I thought Jason and Lynsey were going to have to take all the kids home, and I was going to skate for awhile totally throwing myself into that category of weird grown ups who are at the skating rink).

But look what the skating rink had for the skating impaired...

Walkers...or rollers....I'm not sure what they are called.

All I know is that KK, Ashton and Laney Rae went round and round that skating rink floor pushing these contraptions.  They looked like they were 90 years old, but they could not wipe the grins off their faces.  Priceless!  They did not care one bit that the rest of the skaters were lapping them (like numerous times) as they made their way around the floor.

It was a magical night.  I was a little worried that I would not remember how to do this.  I did!  It took a few times around the floor, but then a felt free and fast.  I felt  young and alive.  What fun!

Before we went to the skating rink I had a few thoughts about what the music might be like there.  I wasn't super excited about my kids skating to a lot of the trash that's on some radio stations.  The skating rink said it was "Top 40 night" so I was sort of expecting the worst.  Did that stop us from going?  No. Maybe that's wrong, but it didn't.  Thankfully when we got there it seemed as though they were playing the Top 40 from when skating rinks were still a common occurrence.  Can I tell you how fun it is to stake to Michael Jackson?  Oh the joy.  I was also very proud of my husband (who was at home recovering from his man surgery).  Because of their music loving daddy, there were very few songs...the classics...that my children were not singing along to as they skated (slowly) around the skating rink.

I'll never forget skating next to Hayden hearing him singing, "It doesn't matter if you're black or white."  Such a sweet memory.

It was a great evening for the kids.  I loved seeing them step out and risk.  Hayden was a maniac from the moment he put on his skates.  He was not afraid at all.  That's so him.  He didn't care what he looked like.  He didn't care who was laughing.  He just got on those skates, jumped in the rink, fell every few minutes trying to "get it."  He went from being a total casualty on the floor to being able to go around and around that skating rink without falling.  He even played some of the games.  I rejoiced over his brave life as I watched him make the rounds.  He teaches me so much.  I loved that he would come off the floor laughing saying, "I was the last one mom.   Everyone was passing me by.  It was so funny."  Oh to have that attitude!

Anson totally blessed my  heart as a mom.  As soon as it was obvious he wasn't going to be great at this new thing immediately, I began to worry that he'd give up.  And he did for a short time.  He's so much like Aaron, and his sweet daddy has had many talks with him about persevering even when you're not instantly good at something.  Most things come easy to Anson.  So, when things don't he is tempted to pridefully give up.  I sat and talked to Anson on the carpeted wall.  We had a precious talk about pride and fear...about how they ruin our life and rob us of so many beautiful things God is offering us. Then I watched my son risk embarrassment and failure and get out there and try.  Brought tears to my eyes.  By the time we left, he was up and going, and eager to come back so he could get better.

Hard to believe, but about 20 years ago, my brother and I were skating rink brats.  It was extra special to share this experience with him!  A lot has changed in 20 years, but some things never change.  My love for my brother is the same.  And...the skating rink in Brenham is the same!

If you live anywhere near the Brenham area, my goodness...come and skate.  It is like stepping back in time.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oh Mylanta

I was going to write more about fair trade today.  Such an exciting topic to talk about.

But we had an unexpected thing happen in these parts today, which is not out of the ordinary when there are 7 kids living on one property.  Proof:  Yesterday Hayden said Hudson had a huge booger in his nose.  Come to find out, that booger was a lego.  Awesome.  Got the tweezers and pulled that bad boy out.  When I did, Hudson saw the toy that came out of his nose, got all excited and said, "Lego!"  Then he started saying and signing, "More...More...More..."  He thought I was magic and could make legos appear from his nostrils.

Today my sweet aunt was treating us to an unexpected, impromptu out-to-eat lunch date.  Aren't those the most fun?  Right as we were walking into the restaurant one of my nieces threw up in the foyer.  In that moment we were all thankful we have been living on a farm.  It might not have been nice, but we quickly herded all 7 excited children to the car and never looked back.  I've never felt more sorry for Lynsey.  But it's over and we've had some good laughs about it.  Isn't life with kids a never ending circus?

Yesterday Hayden was running 104 fever.

The day before that another niece was puking and so was Lynsey.

We thought we were out of the woods today.  No fevers.  No vomit.

Is it just me, or does everyone all of a sudden feel like they have a stomach bug whenever another person in the house gets it?  I've been lying here thinking any minute I'm going to run to the toilet even though I don't even feel bad.  It's like getting itchy when someone across town mentions they have lice...or when you read about someone having lice in a book. Weird.

Poor Lynsey.  I'm convinced there is no other sickness worse than a stomach virus.  People seem to be dropping like flies over here.

You become very aware of how many people live in your home when a stomach virus makes its debut.  Hopefully our kids haven't been licking each other (although, I suspect they have been). time to write about fair trade today.  I'm too busy doing vomit drills with the kids that are still standing.  I keep asking, "Does anyone feel anything weird going on in their tummy?"  Then, like an airline attendant, I give my little sch-peel about what to do when you feel like you're going to throw up.  It's getting on their nerves, I can tell...but too bad.  That's what they get since my kids love to throw up in all the wrong in their beds.  Let's all gag.  I've warned them..."If you pull that whole, throw up in your bed routine again...I'm having you arrested."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

EZ Cracker

When I see things like the EZ Cracker I can't help but wonder...

Is there some sort of group out there...a committee of some kind...a club or an organization whose sole purpose in life is to try and invent ways for Americans to become more ridiculous and lazy?

This commercial played during the two hour special on CNN updating the world about how things are going in Haiti 6 months after the quake.  Ironic, right?  The Haitians are trying to survive and our only problem in life is egg shells in our muffins.  The Haitians are living in conditions animals in the States do not live in, and we're inventing gadgets to keep eggs from touching our hands.  I got a little huffy about how telling it is that this commercial played right after the news reported things about tiny children dying from lack of simple, inexpensive antibiotics.

As I was getting good and worked up, ranting...waving my hands...Aaron said...

"EZ Crack-Uh."

He totally ruined my rantfest.

Monday, July 12, 2010

When Restoration Hurts

In three weeks Aaron will get on a plane and leave for Haiti.

I can hardly believe it.  Where has the time gone this summer?

Our time here in Brenham has been a treasure.  I've been extremely thankful to be here, but in some ways being here makes leaving my family harder.  The times when I think of leaving them cause me to burst into tears.  Like right now.  Hello tears.

A few months ago it would have been difficult to tell my family good-bye.  After being here with them for this long...seeing each other every will take everything in me to kiss their sweet faces and get on that plane.

I am thankful for this time with them, but in the end it will be bittersweet.  Knowing them so well means when we tear ourselves away, that rip will be deep and raw.

It makes me think about how painful but worth it truly connecting to others is.  To be honest...there are a handful of people in my life who I love so deeply that it will take me a long time to recover when I hug them for the last time before leaving this town.  What a tragedy it would be if I could leave this place without sobbing.  I guess it's weird to thank the Lord for relationships so real, honest and sincere that the thought of leaving them makes me a sick mess.  I've been saying to the Lord, "You better be strong enough to heal in me all that will be hurting when I say good-bye."

We have been truly blessed here with relationships that are so constant and comfortable that it is hard to imagine my life without them.  These people could unload my dishwasher and know where things go.  I could do the same in their homes.  Deep.  Real.  Inside your life.  Inside your soul.  These are my friends.

I caught myself asking the Lord, "Why now, God?  Why now?  Why didn't you ask us to go when we didn't have any real friends?  When we weren't so attached to our community?"

There was a time in my life when I could have left and it would not have bothered me.  Until just a few years ago, I'm not sure if I knew how to deeply connect with others.  Something was terribly broken in me.  For the most part, relationships were disposable and surface-level.  Lots of that probably had to do with my past.  Lots of it probably had to do with thinking (for whatever reason) that since we were in "church leadership" we were somehow different than other people.  Lots of it for sure had to do with the fact that sin has ruined this world, and for most people learning to deeply connect with others is extremely difficult, if not impossible without God's help.  For all those reasons, a few years ago I just didn't know how to have relationships in ways that really mattered or endured.  I could have left for Haiti with very few tears.

As I sat questioning God, thinking how incredibly cruel this seems...just as we seemed to be "getting it" He asks us to leave it all behind, it occurred to me...a few years ago, I would have been leaving here a broken person.  Pieces.  Not a whole person.  How ironic to think I could walk into Haiti and bring the message of reconciliation and restoration as a person walking around in pieces myself.

I am still incredibly broken, no one needs to doubt that for one minute...and thankfully God uses broken people to do His stuff.  All I'm trying to say I look over the last five years of my life I see God's hand.  His touch.  Wherever He is, restoration naturally happens.  He has been healing me, and the ability to connect to people dearly and deeply has been a symptom of something greater...God making all things new in my soul.

I have cried off and on like the old saying the drop of a hat.  Tears seem to sit and wait right behind my eyelids.  They make an entrance as soon as I think of hugging Kirby for the last time, or hearing Sara say something witty for the last time, or making fun of Ryan for the last time, or sitting next to my brother for the last time, or cleaning up the kitchen and talking with Lynsey for the last time, or laughing with Brock and Megan...staying up late talking to my aunt...I could list several others but I'll stop because I can barely breathe right now or see my computer screen.

All that to say, I've been crying a lot.

How weird it is to be crying...grieving really...over the goodbyes that are coming and in that same moment be praising God that He has been gracious enough to heal me in a way where I could have ever learned to enjoy these relationships in the first place.  He has been so good to me and every sob...every dirty, snotty, ugly cry over the people I'll leave behind is a true testimony to how gracious God has been to give us such a sweet, deep connection to the people in our life.  What once was terribly broken has been made new and useful.  The gospel.  It's always a beautiful thing to look at your life and see where God has touched it.  Reconciliation with God has brought reconciliation with others.  So much so that it will be so horribly painful to say good-bye that I'm having a hard time believing God can bind up those wounds.

With every round of tears, there is a round of rejoicing over all the restoration God has brought into my broken life.  Although a lot more painful, God has sweetly reminded me that we're leaving for Haiti as people who have been restored and continue to be restored because of the gospel.  Who knew restoration could make you such a snotty mess?

Praise God for community and for heaving over the thought of saying goodbye to people...the gifts God has sweetly given to us.  Makes me long for heaven where we will get to say "goodbye" to good-byes forever.  Where we will live like family for eternity...knowing Jesus and one another deeply and intimately.   Unashamed.  Fellowship sweet and unbroken by time, space and sin.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday Photos

Last Sunday we loaded up the family and headed to Roundtop Texas for the BEST parade I've attended since I was a little girl.

We felt like we had stepped onto a movie set.  The town of Roundtop is precious.  Every old building is quaint.

The kids were so ready for this parade to start.  Rick Perry gave an opening speech.  It was nice, but when kids smell candy down the road and the sun is beating down on them, it wouldn't have mattered what Rick Perry was saying...he sounded like Charlie Brown's mom to us.

My kids have never been to a parade where candy is thrown.  Really. We have parades in our town, but they don't throw candy.  Every time we're at the Christmas parade I reminisce with the boys..."When I was a kid, they used to throw tons and tons of candy.  Buckets full of candy.  Those were the days."  I would sound like a 90 year old lady.

I've heard parades don't throw candy anymore because they are afraid kids will get run over.  Lame.  Totally lame.  Well...Roundtop's parade threw candy.  I hadn't even prepared the kids for candy, because I didn't think it would be a possibility.  I thought candy at parades went out with butane curling irons.  You should have seen their faces when the first float belted them with candy.  At first they turned around, shock on their faces...totally offended that they just got clobbered by something.  Hayden was ready to fight someone.  Then they looked on the ground and realized what hit them...CANDY!  Holy fireworks, Batman...they went bonkers.  Bonkers, I tell ya!

They grabbed candy.  Acted like total animals.  Elbowed perfect strangers.  Fell on the elderly.  There was nothing going to stop them from getting their candy.  It was perfect.  I loved watching them experience all the good and the ugly that comes with candy flying out of the air.  I laughed.  I also talked to them on the ride home about not elbowing kids they don't know on the quest for candy...and not taking beads from tiny little girls.  It was their first real parade.  I thought some grace was in order.

This picture of Laney Rae should be on the new poster for the Roundtop Parade.  Does this not scream fun?

Little brother (who is normally very loud) never said one word once the parade started.  Not one word.  He sat with two suckers in his hands at all times.  He was a big fat sticky mess once the last float went by.

After the parade we ate at Royer's Roundtop Cafe.  The best ever.  I felt like I was in Austin.  The food was delicious and the environment was lively.  Loved every loud, fattening minute.  And the buttermilk pie? die for.

See that sucker in his hand?  Not letting go of that thing for his life.

Lynsey planned our whole morning...the parade in Roundtop and the lunch at Royers.  She could not have done a better job.  This was one of my favorite fourth of July's.  We all decided it was our new tradition.For real, if you are anywhere near Roundtop Texas, you should totally make the drive.  On the way home I was asking myself how far I'd drive for this parade.  Two hours.  That's what I decided.  It's "two hours" good.  So if you live within two hours of Roundtop, meet us there next year!

After church Sunday evening we exploded fireworks at Yonder Way Farm.

More than once I thought Aaron was going to blow up one of the children.

See that guy with Aaron?  His name is Chris Feldman.  His wife Shannan is pictured above.  We love the Feldmans for 100% pure reasons.  The Feldmans think we love them because Chris is an EMT/RN.  They are convinced I've forced Aaron to be friends with Chris because of Aaron's love of everything dangerous.  Hmm....I wouldn't say that's all the way true, but I will say that there have been several times that Aaron tells me what he's about to do and I have been known to say, "Is Chris going with you?"

 Oh man...I love these people.  And I'll just admit it right here in front of everyone.  I have always had a crush on Lynsey's arms.  Lovely, no?

Our evening ended with a giant toad.  What's new, right?

What a beautiful day.  As I listened to Rick Perry talk about our constitution, I thought about how miraculous it is that our founding fathers were able to write such a powerful document.  I thought about how blessed we are to have a stable government (not perfect, but stable).  After visiting Haiti, I don't know...I just felt extra patriotic and thankful for a working government this year.

On the way to church on Sunday night I asked the boys what they remembered about Rick Perry's speech.  Nothing.  Remember the candy?  Charlie Brown's mother?  So I went back over the speech with them.

It was important to me to remind the boys that while we celebrate freedom, and it's wonderful to be thankful for such a privilege, that we can never forget that all over the world, people are not free.  They are in slavery.  They are oppressed.

Hope your fourth was fantastic.  This is one we'll never forget.