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Monday, December 30, 2013

Brew Some Bubbly!

It's a champagne time of year: Christmas, New Year's, parties, celebrations.  I don't like the stuff.…yet, my innards feel bubbly.  There is an air of expectancy and excitement all around me - even if it is only within me.  This bubbliness (a new word!) slaps a grin on my face while routinely washing dishes.  Or watching My Guy yell watch his Cowboys. 

January and September are months of renewal.  All the hype helps me amp up my goals, write lists, and tidy up.  It's natural and a lot of us go this route; yet this season is different.  There is an undercurrent coursing through me - lots of bubbles!

My Guy and I had an unusually peaceful fall even with #2 Son 'away.'  He's in a good place - literally and spiritually and I am very, very thankful.  This has allowed us, as a couple, to focus on us.  We eat on a tray in front of the TV, wait on each other, shop together, would rather be together than not.  Yes, we are goofballs who have a love affair going even after 36 years!  It is so much fun and of course adds to my bubbliness.  We've enjoyed many a fire in this, our new'ish, home.

Me & My Guy

Getting my home back and Christmas packed up is good.  My Guy pitched in so it was tackled with ease.  One of my JOYS is to construct vignettes, and fluff around the house. Two books I've devoured over my 'staycation' on that very subject are The Perfectly Imperfect Home and Tom Scheerer Decorates!!!!

And, I've found a new blog to motivate me.  Calling It Home is one I'll follow - I love all things 'home.'  An entire week AT home is ahead of me before returning to work.  So much time and I do not want to waste  or ignore it but instead….be present over perfect.  (Oh that Shauna Niequist does it every time!!!).   Be present.  How!?  For me, I intentionally thank God for every-single-thing.  My heart and head have done a 180 and I can actually feel the gratefulness, the gratitude build, bubble, and burst!  Years ago I read Brother Lawrence's account of practicing the presence of God.  As much as that tiny book touched me; I thought it was nigh impossible.  I would give it a try and have success for a bit.  But, it's a slow brew----this bubbling.  It takes practice.  It is a discipline.  

My prayer for the new year is one of Brother Lawrence's:

"O my God, since Thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I beseech Thee to grant me the grace to continue in Thy presence; and to this end do Thou prosper me with Thy assistance, receive all my works, and possess all my affections."

Cheers to 2014!!!! May you bubble over from the inside out….

Monday, October 21, 2013

No More Corkage Fees...for me!

I read a lot.  I have stacks and stacks of books.  Most are highlighted, underlined, and loved on.

Periodically, there is one that stops me in my tracks.  A year and a half ago, my pastor recommended Parker Palmer's "Let Your Life Speak-Listening for the Voice of Vocation." It spoke to me alright and since that time I've been on a mission of sorts.

As old 'mature' as I am, I've sensed that I was holding onto something, or something was holding me back.  I'd envision a cork on the top of my head that needed UNCORKING.  No reference to wine, please.  Perhaps the word UNLEASHING is more ladylike!

I'd pray and ask God to reveal whatever IT was....others saw IT as well - they'd mention that very thing to me.  What is it, Vava????

God is good.  He met me in a camp in the woods the first weekend in October.  I nailed my ____ to the cross, literally and figuratively.  Whew----it took a lot of work, a long time, but His love never fails!

Then Emily P. Freeman of "Chatting at The Sky" comes along with her book,  "a million little things-uncover the art you were made to live" and it is blowing me away. I'm on page 105 and it ends on page 212.  These first hundred pages are peppered with my comments, squiggles, and highlighting.  Goodness - I could not begin to give you my favorite quote thus far.  There are so many....

I've joined the (in)courage bloom book club because they are discussing Ms. Emily's book.  I am so down with the manifesto that I did what they asked and posted a pic on Instagram.

(there are a million little things to Vava; these are but a few: I love coffee, the sea, my dogs. I enjoy travel.  I love Jesus and in looking back at what hints of my design were hidden in my childhood, found a picture of myself as a wee one).

What is my art?  Gosh, I am no 'artist' per se.  You do NOT want me to sew anything, paint even a wall for you.  I can barely eek out a stick-figure.  However, I DO have something to offer this world!!!!!  And, it's really, really empowering knowing this... but most importantly, believing and LIVING fully!

If you want to join in, it's not too late.  I'd love to uncover our art together!  

"Art is when we do work that matters in a creative way, in a way that touches [people] and changes them for the better."
   - Seth Godin, author and entrepreneur

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Anticipation (in a GOOD way!)

So much has gone down since my last post.  And of course, God is in all of it! As I mentioned, I don't talk much to our son; however, almost two weeks ago, a VERY cool God-sighting occurred.

My Guy and I were having an intellectually stimulating conversation  watching TV at 9 pm when his cell rings. I can hear the anguish, the crying over the phone!  It was our son----all 23 years, 6'2" of him, unashamedly bawling and blubbering.

"The Mom" came out in me. I felt as if I had been punched in the gut.  He calmed down as did I.  The old-self would have mushed, gushed, and cooed.  In her place, I spoke with strength, a calm and a presence of mind.

The words from my baby's mouth were new words out of his mouth:  "The spiritual warfare here is so real.  There is evil here.  I hold my Bible and cannot open it for all the distraction."  THAT is not his normal lingo.  (I know it is because so many are praying).

He then told us something that made the Mom-punched-in-gut feeling hit again.  "There are two really evil men who whisper horrible things to me."

I breathed deeply.  I ran for my "Prayers That Avail Much."  I prayed. He listened. I ended the conversation telling him I love him.  Because I do...just not the way I used to.

The next day he called My  Guy to inform him he had slept like a baby.  THAT was a very specific prayer as he had not slept in three nights.  Then....get this.  Oh. My. Goodness.

The two 'bad guys' had not gotten off their bunks or from under their covers since 11 pm the night we prayed.  It was 1:30 in the afternoon the NEXT day!!!!!  Do you believe prayer works????  We do!  God gave me a visual of two HUGE, warring angels sitting on those bunks, not allowing the evil to roam around.

It sounds awful yet I am not devastated. God's so huge that He holds me up and is with me through all of it.  I have been able to thank Him for this season.  I've needed the break----my focus is on Jesus, The Healer.  He's so sweet - giving me a retreat much needed, terrific books that speak right to me, friends who pray.  And...THE sweetest - a husband more tender, more loving, more like Jesus than ever.

Recently, I've found some lovely, deep, causing-me-to-think blogs.  Check 'em out....and enjoy!!

She is bringing out the artist in me.  Yes, me!

She is partnering with me.  In life.  We are on a journey (Jer-Ne!)

She is fun to follow on Instagram and has a GREAT site!

I'm bound and determined to live the life that is deeper, truer and has been hiding inside of me.

Love this fall and its' harvest of peace, restoration, healing and anticipation!!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Croce Cry

Isn't that the way they say it goes?
Well, let's forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell 'em I'm fine and to show
I've overcome the blow, I've learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn't real
But that's not the way it feels…
-Jim Croce

I had not heard his voice in twelve days.  A call came through, and I took it.  It was ‘the system’ and I allowed myself to hear “Hi, Mom.”  Whoa.  Those two words can really do a number on ya.  I was as stiff, cold and stoic as I was in our last conversation….

The crazy part of our story is that as NUTS as our drama is, as intense and heavy…so is our love.  God made me to love deeply.  And I have.

For me to turn aside, not engage in conversation with him, was difficult, to say the least.  It’s just better not to talk at all.  I need to not answer 866 #s!

What would Jesus do?  Would he answer and talk on the phone?  At this moment, I am a confused Mom.  Lord – give me the strength I need. You are what I need.  Help me to pull away…if I am to pull away.  Help me to know what to do.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Out of the Deep!

5 AM:  I weigh 500 pounds. It's hard to walk, I am deep water.  Or so it feels.

My heart and soul are heavy and forced me to stay put today.  It is a work day; but I simply cannot. I sit here with a late cup of's normally at 5 am not 10 am.  

10 AM:  Joining me is my grand-dog, Lucy, a pit bull.  #1 Son has trained her up well.  I cannot tell you how much I love this dog. She knows what's going on (and the other dogs do too!!). Canines know us, feel us, and I believe, empathize with us.

I walked into the sun room to quiet my heavy heart---planning to read and just be blah. And, there sat Lucy, with her blue eyes, staring me down. After loving on her  a bit, sipping hot coffee and reading Shauna's latest post, I'm swimming upward from the deep

I've got a couple of beautiful boys.  One is shiny, the other is tarnished.  Shiny son owns Lucy.  When he introduced her to me a couple years ago, I was petrified.  Really nervous about her.  She IS a pit bull.

We are dog-sitting for a while and I welcome her.  She makes my dogs look like buffoons!  Lucy is well mannered and loving.  As I was petting her, the words "beauty for ashes" played in my mind. The world fears pit bulls; yet they can be beautiful if loved and trained correctly.  Beauty for ashes.

I am praying for #2 Son - that his ashes will be restored to beauty.

11:30 AM:  ...thankful for coffee, the beautiful light in our home at 10 am, dogs' unconditional love, and for days to take care of oneself.  Thank You, Lord, for new minutes, and hours  - You Who pulls us from the deep.

Onward & UPward........

Friday, August 2, 2013

Same Kind as Us-Rick & Kay Warren!!!

I shed tears when I heard of Pastor Rick Warren's son's death.  It hit (far too close to) home.

Mental health is a huge issue in these United States...and unfortunately, many who suffer from it, suffer always.  Or for a long time.

The medicine helps.  But 'they' don't like to take it. 'They' like the highs and love fixing the lows themselves - with alcohol, drugs, dramatic behavior and/or rages.

I really feel for Pastor Rick and his lovely wife who are returning to the pulpit this weekend. Their interview is candid and shouts truth.  I'm with 'em.  I need to talk to them.  Really.

Most days I'm the optimist - and can see the glass full.  Not half full; but FULL.  However, I do have my days when I crash and burn. This afternoon is one.

You see, we have a son.  One who suffers from mental illness and who is currently choosing NOT to  heed his doctor's Rx. He thinks life is grand - and that WOULD be the grandiosity that is part and parcel of his illness - below is the def of grandiose in 'shrink-lingo.'

...having an exaggerated belief in one's importance, sometimes reaching delusional proportions, and occurring as a common symptom of mental illnesses, as manic disorder.

I may be too tired to express the depth of my worn-outness (like that word??) on this day....after watching #2 Son 15+ years. Other days I handle it like a champ.  But not today.  

My friend has a son seven years older than ours who could be our son's twin brother. They've lived through this stuff even longer.   I have to wonder-----Lord, how long?  How long can he go on like this?  How long will he survive?  What will become of him? So, I know two stories well.  There are so many others.

Thank goodness, the Warrens will use their tragedy for good.  Aren't we supposed to do that?  

Streams in the Desert
August 2

"I will make all my mountains a way."  - Isaiah 49:11

God will make obstacles serve His purposes. 
We all have mountains in our lives. 
There are people and things that threaten to bar our progress in the divine life. 
These are the very conditions of achievement; they have been put into our lives as the means
to the very graces and virtues for which we have been praying so long.
Meet thy trials in Him.
They are HIS mountains.
May I be real?  I am bone-weary from mountain climbing.  Worn to a nub.  This day.

And yet...I know that tomorrow brings hope - and Greek hope is THE best kind of hope.  Please pray for the Warrens.  Pray their congregation 'hears' their hearts and loves them unconditionally.  There has already been a book entitled "Same Kind of Different as Me" - but me and the Warrens could be Volume II.

If you'd like, you may pray for us as well. We cry-rage-stew-pout-pray-love-cuddle-adore and pray.  

I need to focus on the praying.

Thanks for lending an ear...

Monday, July 1, 2013

If I got a tattoo...

I'm taking the lead from Privet and Holly - and looking back over the past 45 days.  If you do not know of her blog, GO!  She writes so very beautifully!

In these past 45 days, my heart has broken then healed, shattered a couple more times, then filled to the brim with joy.  No matter the state I am in, I have HOPE.  I've always been a hopeful gal.  And, I've learned a new meaning of that word.  We say it often and frivolously.  Ya know - we can almost replace it with "I wish."  The dictionary definition is quite different from the Biblical def.    I have to thank a young "wordy" friend who told me about the Greek meaning.  It's deep, rich and profound - to me.

Hope (the New Testament meaning) - is an absolute.  It's the Greek word "elpis" which means "to expect or anticipate with pleasure."

Try using hope in a sentence.  Or in a prayer.  Then, replace that word with "I expect with pleasure..." Oh, my - doesn't that make you giddy!?  I almost wish I was a tattoo girl.  I would get "elpis" inked on the inside of my wrist.  But, I'm not, so I won't.

And, though, life is never dull around here, it's very often full of hope.  I expect with confidence and pleasure that God is taking care of my sons.  I thank Him that He's got them in His hands; and I can take mine off.  They are buried deep within my heart; and the apron strings are cut. (I never liked aprons any-hoo).

I am blessed to have a great support system - prayer partners, friends who listen, wise counsel...and their hope is oh so tangible and soothing.

Maybe your hope is bolder. I certainly anticipate with pleasure that it is!

Here's to {Greek} hope, everlasting!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

No Average Joe!

There lay my treasured CDs next to the rap trash of #2 son.  A favorite pearl necklace was strewn over the highway and close by, evidence.  Evidence of a dark life, and not what a Mom wants to see.

The contents of the car had exploded all over the highway after rolling two times, ending upside down. The car is totaled. Yet he is absolutely fine.  He punched the air bag and climbed out of the window.  Superman?  No.  Just a man.  A young man whose life has been spared far more than the Average Joe.  


I am grateful he’s not hurt, physically.  No broken bones.  No blood in sight.  But, his spirit appears broken!   This latest hurdle might crush the Average Joe; but I’ve accepted and thanked God that I am not average.  I am uniquely made to be his Mom and have beyond-average strength and perseverance.

Praise.  I have to praise God that HE is with me to do this thing.  Trust.  I have to trust God that HE has this boy covered. 

The Average Joe hasn’t been within a block of where our boy is now paying the consequence.  Again, he’s not average.  He, too, is uniquely made.  God made him…God knows him.  God loves him.  I love him.

I’m floundering with this concept: as I live life…biblically….that is: give my yoke to the Lord, let go, let God, give my son to Him, have the joy of the Lord, be thankful in ALL,  how can I reconcile the daily routine of my boy?  He sits in such a dank, dark, disgusting place while I have everything I want or need at my fingertips.

It’s hard.  It’s really hard to be a Mom.  I think it may be extra hard to be his Mom…but again, I’m not your Average Joe.

And, so – I will thank the Lord - for He is good. He’s got me.  He’s got this thing.  He’s way ahead of me and His plans are perfect.  He’s not average either!

Of course, I had to fluff his room.  It was trashed; but not anymore.  And on his dresser, a vignette that reminds me of him and the HOPE that I cannot relinquish.

...if you would, keep our boy in your prayers. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Country Living is the life!

I have visited the country and loved it - but it was short lived.  It was not MY place, just one to visit.   I'd be refreshed and energized from such a country visit and always see God!  Always!  I've learned that nature is my pathway to Him (have you read Gary Thomas' "Sacred Pathways?").

(view of our new place...the side/back)

We've got a God-story for you.  Our current suburban residence is the one we've been in the longest - seven years.  Two years or so ago, I knew that IF we were to move, God would need to make it obvious.

As many of my previous posts have been about #2 Son, you know we have a few struggles. He's been home since November 6, 2012 and it has not been easy.  His life is very unpredictable.  For him.  And for us.  We need some space; but not be completely removed from his life.  Solution: garage apartment; but alas, no such thing in the 'burbs.

Three weeks ago, at work (my church), I mentioned to a woman that we'd sell our house.  No, it was not even on the market. But...there was a beautiful young couple with three beautiful little girls that wanted to live in our area. They came and looked and wanted to buy it.  Bam! We needed to find that place with the garage apartment.

The picture above shows what WILL be #2 Son's garage apartment apres conversion. We are moving out....not too far, but just far enough to think of our new home as living in the country.

We've lived in ten homes in 35 years of marriage - Saudi Arabia, Denver, Ft. Worth, and seven homes in the Houston area.  Our Country Place will be #11.  And, it is THE first of all of these that feels like HOME!!!!!!!!!!!

My Guy and I did a 'drive-by' on the Friday before our appointment.  When I stood right about where this picture is taken, my eyes filled up with tears.  My {darling} Guy said: "Ya know, it looks like Connecticut."  And, that says it all.  Home.  Where I grew up.

Next day - I walk through the place.  Her Bible was open.  "Jesus Calling" was on the table and the peace that covered the property was palpable!  I was home.

Contract offered. Contract accepted. Packing has commenced. Move date is not far away...

My mind is reeling and my heart skips.  I get giddy at the thought of living here.  I feel SO blessed!!!!!!!!!  It is not grand or fancy yet I am home.

As I mentioned to friends, this place is bringing out my "East coast-Tracy Porter-Anglophile-God in nature-girl!

Dad bequethed his Barbour jacket to me when we were on a shoot in Scotland.  It was my 40th birthday and he and Libby treated me to THE trip of a lifetime!!!!

This old, well loved, well traveled jacket smells like my Dad and the thought of HIM in it and now me....well, it's just plain FUN!  I'll be traipsing around in it, you can count on it!

And now I simply must order some Wellies!