Saturday, June 28, 2014

family on the move. . .

I'm packing for a trip- I tell myself, "Darcie, don't forget the cords, you know, phone cord, camera cord, laptop cord." It's the way to travel these days; I'm learning not to forget the essentials.

We'll be on the road til school starts up again, visiting the family, all the way to New York and back.
The other day I checked on my neighbor's place and texted her, "I'm watering your tomatoes and basil and then you can water my cantaloupe-and please, eat it!" Such is the stewardship of what we leave behind.

And Noah's family is with us this week- they're moving to Arkansas. Soon we'll have a new place to visit, a new state to explore, but honestly- we'll miss them in Texas! Noah and John drove to Arkansas the other day. They're working on the house (and riding bikes together). Jamey and the children are with me- so so nice.

One morning in the garden before breakfast this little lady collected rollie pollies, explaining,
 "This is the daddy one and the mommy one and this is the big sister one, and this one died!"
The other day she demanded, "Gran, put on my shoes!" Then she paused, took a breath and continued, "I can see you are busy. . . I can be patient. . . I can wait."

Nice, sweet girl! I overheard her daddy helping her practice just the other day, "I can be patient, I can wait."
I'll tell him how his girl remembered. . .

Lately I've notice a struggle in my heart to be patient with customer service, like when I'm the customer and I expect to be served faster., you know what I mean.

I'll be practicing- I can see you are busy. . .I can be patient. . .I can wait.

Love is patient. . .love does not insist on its own way. (1 Corinthians 13)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Life together

Last weekend John and I had the opportunity to care for 3 sweet children while the parents went away for the weekend together. John and the adventurous 8 year old bicycled at the park- in the mud. they collected a ton of golf balls, divided up the haul and passed out bags to friends who enjoy golf- that's my husband, the creative collector.

The sweet 2 year old awoke in the night; the baby monitor squawked on the table beside our bed. . . the baby monitor- an amazing gadget for modern parents. John rolled out of bed and trudged upstairs to comfort the little guy (exactly what he use to do with our own) and I could hear his tender whispers through the monitor, shh-shh, do you need water? Put your head on my shoulder. . .

And later back in bed, my husband asked me, "How'd I do?"

"Great, just great, like all those other times. . . " I assured.

Happy birthday. . .65 years old!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

my neighborhood

Maybe you've heard. . .the Spurs are national basketball champs. That's big news in our town- and when the Spurs win a playoff game, the next morning Valero gives everybody free coffee, hot chocolate, cappachinos, any size, totally free.
Last Wednesday our grands spent the morning with John and me; the children came over from their north central neighborhood to our southside neighborhood, and it happened to be a Spurs win morning. We headed to Valero-it's tradition in our town and especially in our neighborhood.

We pulled into the corner store off the highway, the Valero right next to John's school; the parking lot was jammed and the line of customers for free coffee snaked out the door- honest, out the door.
"Do we really want to do this?" I questioned.
"It's tradition in our town and in our neighborhood," encouraged my husband.

So the 5 of us queued up on the sidewalk, tight against the neighbors. Little by little the line crept along and as we jostled and chatted.

"Coach! what are you doing here? Are these your children?"

"Ahh, meet my grandchildren! During the school year you all are kind of like my grandchildren, aren't you? Let me introduce you. . ."

School and neighborhood talk was easy and by and by we made our way to the hot chocolate machine and then out the door. I think most of our neighborhood was there sitting on the curbs, crowding the doorway, enjoying the scene, a Spurs win, free drinks and each other.
To be honest, the coffee wasn't that great and John and the kids agreed that the hot chocolate was kind of weak and sweet--

But it was worth it just to join the neighborhood scene.
(Thanks, Valero)

a few of our amazing grands. . .

Friday, June 13, 2014

some sweet and some bitter

Mercy came home for a little visit last weekend- I think she'd say that New York is home now, but I say there's still lots of her stuff  in the closets in Texas. 
So, my girl and her dear friend Katie spent the night at our warm Texas house, in her garden green room where the adventures of Betsy, Tacy, and Tib still line the shelves. They hung around Saturday morning and it was sweet. I'm grateful for those times over coffee- we even made a second pot.

For months I studied and asked myself the question, What is God centered gratitude? I talked about gratitude to lots of women and even blogged about it--gratitude is good for the soul.
But I'm also very aware how readily ingratitude presses in, sometimes initially unnoticed; a wise woman said, "Ingratitude to God is sin which creeps around the edges our hearts".
I remember during our family's growing up years, John would remind us, "When the people complained it displeased God and his wrath  burned against them." (Numbers 11:1)
Yikes! ingratitude bears bitter fruit. I'm very aware of the temptation to categorize ingratitude as a "lesser sin". Hmmm, ingratitude, not quite so bad as. . . but in Romans 1 God describes the downward spiral of humanity into sin, "Although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him." 

So, I ask myself, "If I know grumbling is bitter, that ingratitude displeases and dishonors God, then why do I struggle so?"

Well, I'm prideful and pride manifests itself in thoughtlessness towards God.  Jesus healed 10 lepers (Luke 16) but only 1 leper came back to thank him. I don't think the other 9 were grumbling about their circumstances; they weren't hard hearted or rebellious. Those 9 healed lepers just didn't pay attention; they were thoughtless towards God- they were simply silent.

To be silent about God's mercies is to incur the guilt of ingratitude. (Elisabeth Elliot)

And I forget. . . I forget God, forget gospel reality, forget his mercies. And I know I'm not alone-

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. . .but they forgot God who had done great things in Egypt." (Psalm 106)
I read in Mark 8 how Jesus fed the 4,000 hungry people and then the pharisees demanded of him a sign. Jesus warned the disciples about spiritual leaven but they were preoccupied with their lack of physical bread. Jesus rebuked his disciples,
"Why are you discussing the fact that you have not bread? . . . are your hearts hardened? Don't you remember when I broke 5 loaves for 5,000, when I broke 7 loaves and fed 4,000?"
No, they forgot that Jesus is the very Bread of Life. . .and so do I.

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of his benefits. . ." (Psalm 103)

Also I think I'm entitled to more. . . entitlement springs from a wrong view of God-I view him as a stingy Giver; like Eve, I focus on what God chooses to withhold from me. When we think we deserve more, we minimize God's blessings - have you noticed?
I read this interesting observation, "The higher the cost of living, the more ungrateful (discontented) we become." While I don't find it described exactly that way in Scripture, I see the truth in my own heart. For instance- in Mexico my neighbors didn't have a bathroom, and then I was grateful for the toilet I could flush with a bucket (and many more basic comforts). Then I moved to America- in my heart I complain that my washer is in the garage and think: Life would be good if. . . .
(Ahh, true confessions!)

What do you feel entitled to that robs you of a grateful heart?

So, there it is, a bit of the bitter, but God is infinitely gracious and forgiving.
Let's be ruthless with ourselves, identifying and rejecting any seed of ingratitude before it invades the edges of our hearts; we need each other-
"Encourage one another while it is still today lest your hearts grow hard by the deceitfulness of sin." (Heb 3:13)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

excel still more

A few weeks ago I met three friends on a Friday afternoon at our regular spot. We call ourselves ROCC:  Real Organic Conversation Club-

"What's organic conversation?" I hear you asking. . .

We're just four women working on it- pursuing transparency and honesty about our struggles and sin, living out the gospel, encouraging each other in the journey, and we talk about it!
So, over coffee that day, Lisa shared details of a recent trip to California; she met a woman who excelled in hospitality and another who excelled in loving others. Women boldly living out their faith  challenged my friend to do the same, to excel still more.

That conversation still rumbles around inside and I'm wondering about me, What in my life encourages others to excel still more and what do I need to work on?

To excel still more isn't about obligation- it has nothing to do with making God love me more. Jesus paid it all and his love for me is extravagant, forever. Why then? Certainly, it's that fierce love of God  that controls and motivates you and me to excel still more day after day.
And I'm encouraged  to excel still more in lots of areas of my life, but today I'm focusing on honoring my husband, focused on being his companion. Because the love of God compels me, I'm going to apply myself there. You can ask me how I'm doing. . .

Because that's the way organic conversation begins.

"Finally. . .we exhort you in the Lord Jesus that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God, that you may excel still more." (1 Thess 4:1)