Monday, May 26, 2014

Slaying the dragons in our life

For the past four years we have made our way down I95s to a beautiful island right outside of St Augustine Fl. The oldest city in the United States.
 The van packed with happy kids and adult kids and all their "stuff". Our minds remembering every little detail of the past 3 years and looking forward with great fondness to the memories that will be made this trip. Every-time we pull up to our beach house on the island, nestled just steps away from the oceans floor, time stands still. The sand that lays outside our house is quite familiar after 4 years. The ocean waves create a stillness in us that dares us to leave everything behind and for 7 days we do. Every year before we leave the island Cullen will sit and write out letters to me for us to find next year and I slowly take the picture off my bedroom wall, the one with the beach and the cute little houses, and I lay it across my bed and easily slide his love letters down in the back.Until next year.

 So the first thing we do when we drive up is listen as Cullen goes and finds his secret time capsule from the year before and we read them and always remark at how well his handwriting has gotten. It's almost always the same thing. A big sloppy heart and I love you mom and dad and I wonder when he will forget to do this and I will pull that picture with the ocean and the houses off my wall and find it empty.

The house is situated on the island at the end of a 4 mile stretch and in a tiny neighborhood. It gives you the feel of home. If you don't stop at the one little stop sign the neighbors will call the police, and the  policeman will wait for you and give you a stern talking to. We leave our doors unlocked because most of the time we forget as we're all piled up in our bedroom watching the latest super hero movie, but even if I wanted to lock that glass door looking out over the beach I couldn't. The locks have been broken for the past 2 years. We have to sit in the dark sometimes because there will be a note on our door telling us that mama turtles have been seen making their way up out of the ocean to lay their eggs, and our light would confuse her so we sit in the darkness.
There is one grocery store on the island and we buy our favorite food and push all the available tables together and have every single meal there..Just like home. We hold hands and bow our heads and give thanks.

When I lay in our bed for the first time on that first night I always tell Scott how much I missed this bed. I still have a pallet of kids at the foot and the ocean sounds lull me deep. In the morning opening the door to three huge windows and the sun smiling at you over the bed of the sea. I always get surprised by her beauty.

The path to the beach is a worn sand path with little cactus briers that find their way into our feet as we walk down so the little girls have to be carried on someones shoulders or hip. They're bigger now, I whisper that I probably won't have to do this next year, that is carry them over the briers.

We sit in the same place and put the same chairs out with the big blue umbrella and over 100 castle building equipment, because every year Scott sits right down in the middle of the sand and calls all of them out to see who can build the best and biggest sand castle.It's like calling out the war call if you have male blood running in your family. They work for hours on their master pieces and then they want me to judge. Although he always wins they're giving him a run for his money lately. His extra points with me being the judge always sends him over by just a little.    

He always gets them together and says Lets go slay some dragons and they make their way to the shore and pretend they have swords and start hitting the waves. He tells them stories of dragons living way out in the ocean and they are stomping their feet and we have to stop their waves before they get on shore. He's just cool like that.
 I sit back in my chair and count 1-2-3-4-5-6 over and over looking for any sign of distress.
I'm just cool like that.

I have sat in the same place and mourned the loss of Tom Lee and his precious family and our friends The Crawfords who lost their home that year. Tears fell and we almost didn't go but the ocean has a way of reminding you who's in charge. I have sat  under the same umbrella and helped my teenage daughter sort through all her feelings and watched her grow up with the ocean at her feet.

This year a woman and she brings her husband and my grand-baby and we talk baby stuff and dream about next year and how Marlee will be almost a year old Lord willing. I have watched Tucker bring the love of his life to our island and propose in almost the exact same spot that 2 years before Scott and I exchanged our renewal wedding vows with flowers and candles and lots of tears. He now gets on one knee and asks and she said yes! He had asked me to be there to take pictures and of course I wouldn't miss it and neither would the rest of the crew as they all snuck out and circled them and then we prayed. Another beautiful memory...

" It's all those things, and something else, the something that our family becomes when we are there." We;re the best version of our family there, relaxed and connected and without agenda or schedule.We have conversations that unfold lazily and resolve over days instead of minutes. We tell stories that everyone's already heard, and it doesn't bother us, because we have nothing else to do. We're irresponsible, and we make up plans as we go, and we've been going there long enough to have patterns just like worn spots in carpet. Patterns that have become traditions. things you do without thinking that feel familiar and meaningful."  I read that out of a book called Cold Tangerines... 

As you make your way to the light and if you turn left it will dump you out on the island where there is a park with a huge carouse,l bright and beautiful, and the music can be heard through the windows of your car. It stands under the old Augustine trees in memory of children who have passed on. A beautiful place bustling with life but at your feet little bricks with hand written letters from the parents and grandparents of those angels. A holy place. We stand and pay our dollar and find a horse that moves and the wind and the music and the laughter and smell of the salt water makes you never want to get off. I remember my own angel and wish I could put a brick in the soil for him. This place is for William. My prince whom I shall never forget even on vacation.

I believe that our family vacations have played an important role in building strong family ties. Yes, it's expensive and yes it's always gonna be, but you know what? We all get to choose how we spend our money and we choose this. My home is in need of repairs, I'll be honest, but my kids are all growing up and so we have chosen this day to save our money for our big vacation every year. There is not enough money in the world to buy what I live on, on that island for those 7 days. Find you a place to explore and call your own. We don't own that house on the island we rent it every year but it's home to us and I wonder when they look back years later will they remember that our walls needed painted or our bathroom needed up-dated, or will they tell my grand babies how they slayed dragons in the ocean and went to every single thrift store on the island looking for cool memory makers? How one year we made Shirley temples until midnight, how we fought over the towels and hot water after along day on the beach. I wonder if Cullen will remember that we walked till the beach ended and we stood and looked out over the ocean with the wind pushing us but we stuck our faces in the wind and held out our arms and breathed.

 May 2014




Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Building Bridges

The farm is quite busy as legs grow longer and our family grows. 
Taylor, is expecting our first grand-baby 
and I will officially be called Grandma Birdie. Our little granddaughter kept her mama sick for 16 weeks and even as I write this, Taylor is still fighting being nauseated. A grand-baby and a son-in-law all in less than a year. Wow when things change, they change fast.

But more change has found it's way to the farm. Tucker, is in a courtship with a young lady named Johanna.
We have lots of mutual friends and I really like her.They will be getting married soon and I couldn't be happier.
Some people have been quite surprised by their quick courtship (it will be a total of 3 months) gasp!! but we're not. If you have been around Tucker more than an hour than you know this is such an answered prayer.

Since he was 12 years old we have been preparing him for his biggest job yet, Husband and Father
We prepared him for this. So please don't worry. We have intentionally taught and continue to teach our children that marriage is a beautiful God given gift.  We have spent hours training him for this position. We have arranged our life so that Tucker could be with his dad for most of his time from 12 years old up. We have given him a vision to see differently than the world. To give up his life for a young lady to provide for her and lead her closer to the Lord. He has been faithful. He is a servant and did I mention a hard worker? So what does courtship look like the 2nd time around? It's look good. I'm so excited that the Lord is so gracious  to us to grant us our hearts desires and answer our Prayers.
But courtship is work for both families and it's a commitment from our children. We are standing with them and helping them make wise decisions. We are saying, "okay ask her this or how does she feel about that?" It's work. Whoever thinks having little children is hard work...wait for the older years. God is just preparing you for the hard work. When you do things different it is never easy. It's like carrying a backpack up a hill. 

We do things different like home-school, courtship and getting married early if the Lord brings spouses, we're not afraid to do hard things and marriage is hard but it's also very sweet seeing your children choosing to give their one life to serving another. My job is to train..I realize now that those years of training have to be training with a purpose. You have to get with your husband and have a plan. Have a vision for where you're going. Don't just train, but plan, what do you want your kids to be doing when their 19-20? For some reason the Lord laid on our hearts that marriage is a high calling and so we trained and trained and listened to sermons and helped Tucker be in a position to live on his own for 6 months and pay rent and pay bills. To fix toilets and deal with problems. All this takes my time and Scott's time. It takes money to be able to invest in building that bridge but you're investing in something good. We just always knew what we were investing in and we tell our children often. "I want to teach you this because when you get married you will need to know how."
We had the opportunity to buy a house that was originally part of our land and it was a sacrifice financially. We had to know where we were headed and know that this house was part of a bridge that would help us walk our children into the adult world. It turned out to be a huge part of giving Tucker the fuel that he needed, when he got a job,  to be able to move out  and slowly get use to living life alone.
It was the fuel he needed to see Gods vision and our vision for his life. He had something to work toward and to dream for. You must have a vision for your family. School and hard work alone will not cut it. It has to be something that they can dream of, and work toward.
I'm not saying that Tucker is 100% ready for marriage but really can one ever be? I am saying that he is willing and desires to. He has lots of little things to do yet, and he's motivated to do them, things like getting our old van fixed so she will  have a car. And buying a washer sounds pretty exciting when you're talking about your son. 

The rest of the crew is making way for more change as we adjust to Tucker and Taylor being gone.
The layers of my skin are thin right now. The building of bridges is intentionally staying focused on your family and I'm finding out bridge building is hot, hard work. At times I long for when they were all small and I could make them happy with just a movie or their favorite food. Now it's more important than ever to keep hammering away at keeping relationships. 

And it can be lonely.
 I invest in my family and when you invest everything you have into your husband and children and the future there is very little room for much else. I have to say no to a lot and it's in those times that I keep telling myself it's not all in vain.  

 Training little girls to fold clothes

Training guys that refrigerators need to be cleaned out and yes they can do it.

 Taking time for date nights in my bedroom and snuggling with Cullen while we watch Andy Griffin and bringing s'mores so he'll remember 

 Most importantly I believe in building the relationships between brothers and sisters.
Doing whatever you have to do to make them best friends. Work hard at this. I am seeing this to be key in building bridges that will stand the test of time. If your kids don't get along, then stop and read everything you can and get advice and don't give up. This is critical. Children that don't get along now, grow up to not get along in most cases, or they grow up and move on never to look back and invest in the life of their siblings.

I pray often Lord teach me the ways of old. 

So tie their heart strings so that when they're married they still want to be a part of their younger siblings life.
Again this takes lots and lots of work. But I promise it's so worth it when your married daughter still piles up on the couch with her sisters.  

Building bridges is hard, it means I don't get to do all the things I want to do,
it means sacrificing now in order to have a future, it means when they need me
I'll be there. 

May, 2014


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