Observations: A Snapshot of Morning

He takes a heavy text book out of his backpack. Its weight was too much for the bike ride to school, just as I’d warned him.
I make his lunch and then glancing up through the back window, something with a huge wingspan catches my eye and draws me in for closer look as it slowly descends to the creekside in the back. It’s the gray Crane I’ve seen many times before. The closest I can imagine a prehistoric bird might look like. There’s something about its size and grace as it flies, demanding my attention. I call Angel over and we watch it walk in the creek, precariously looking around for all but two minutes before it takes flight again, in a confused pattern, obviously trying to find a safe passageway out of the maze of branches above.
She asks me if we can gel up her hair, but I insist on turning on the curling iron for six or seven flippy curls…a style her new shag cut simply demands. “There!” I say. “Woah!” she says back.
My coffee is cooling down way too fast.
Her iPod is spewing tinny sounds of cheesy pop rock so I change it Christian Dub-step.
I give a fourth reminder to her to eat some breakfast. She half-smiles and rolls her green eyes at me. Her beauty has a way of eclipsing my every effort to get frustrated.
His jersey tank is acceptable today. It’ll be over 60 degrees. His jacket is nowhere, so he finds a long-sleeve, just for the ride. I pour Chocolate Chex into a custom lunch baggie I made from Press n Seal Glad wrap, and throw it in his paper bag on top of the rest of his lunch; an added snack. I staple the top. And tell him I love him, trying to steal a kiss to the temple while escaping the smell of his Axe hair putty.
I make him stay for just thirty seconds longer in the kitchen while I pray for his day, my hands on either side of his face. “No, mom! There’s no time!” I insist and pray anyway, as he watches the stove clock the whole time, his head pressing against my left hand in the direction of the door. I say something like “furtherance of the Kingdom”, a phrase I immediately question if he understood, and then “blessing everyone he sees”, a phrase that surely covered the former.
He zooms away.
Another bird catches my eye – a Blue Jay. I know that kind, because of its arrogant looking faux-hawk. Then two Red-headed Woodpeckers start fighting over who gets possession of the birdhouse. Their bodies are black feathered with white dots. Such a stark contrast.
She changes into the shirt and scarf I recommended. I feel listened to.
Thirty more seconds will do it this time.
Mmmm. Just a little more creamer, one pump of DaVinci sweetener, and it’s perfect.

Courage Creek

Yesterday was the first day of Spring Break. And the last day of sunny weather for this Spring Break. So Ricky and I took the opportunity to let the kids have some fun on the swing Ricky made the day before. The swing that takes them, feet dangling, over Hess Creek, hovering the grass on the other side and then back to a slippery hillside where, with wide smiles, they hope to gain their balance once again. This day, in an effort to share the adventure, we invited the neighbor kids, T & E to join in. E went first with excitement in her eyes. She adjusted the rope-length and went for it – no issues. Then my two had their turns, while T stood by on the launching spot and watched. At first, he politely declined, but his sister E kept asking and encouraging him to try. I understand his hesitancy though. Although younger, he is on the bigger side. So the rest of us didn’t pressure him. He was just so unsure. But we all watched him as he gathered the courage to just go for it, and thought he’d get the idea after watching the rest of the kids give it a-go, that you need to run down the hill as fast as you can to build up the momentum needed to soar across. But something was missed there. He kept bending his knees and calculating the risks, and then before we knew it, he was walking nervously down the hillside, and pushed off.

He made it across, reached the other side, and started to come back, but hadn’t the momentum to get back to the launch hill and stay there. So he drifted back over the creek and just hung there. Ricky was close by (thank God!) and grabbed a rake to pull the rope above T closer to the bank…just close enough for for him to reach his legs and find his footing again. He was pretty worried as he hung vulnerably over that 12′ wide creek. Even though it was just waist deep water, it was muddy and cold. His hands gripped that pair of handle bars that Ricky had disassembled from his old bike, as he yelled out, “I’m gonna fall!” So when he made it back, we were all pretty relieved. Especially T. As the sun warmed us through hundreds of branches, Braylon, Angel and E had several more turns and then an unexpected “I want to go again!” came from T. We all looked to him to see if he was serious, but didn’t want to discourage his burst of risk-taking in action. He just wanted to have the same fun as everyone else. All we could do was stand there and watch. And of course cheer. And clap…until about 2 seconds later when he lost his grip…directly over the creek.

SPLASSHHH!

Our eyes all widened, I covered my mouth, then yelled out to him, “Are you ok?!” with near certainty that the only thing hurting was the sense of pride he had upon jumping. My heart was thankful and sinking at the same time as I watched him struggle to get his footing on the slippery mud that only added insult to emotional injury. Those couple minutes seemed to morph into an hour as my mind recalled when I was about his age, struggling with my own weight, and dreading all water activities for this very reason – for fear I would be left to flounder as I tried desperately to retain an ounce of grace as I found my way to solid ground. As I stood watching by the big tree, I was glad T was facing the opposite bank and didn’t see the inadvertent smirks that I saw. In an attempt to redirect those initial muffled outbursts of giggles, I solicited Bray’s help in going inside to get some towels. Once inside, I muttered a quick prayer for T as I ran upstairs to grab him a soft, dry shirt he could use our garage to change into. After he took me up on the offer, he came out sportin’ the clean shirt -backwards- and these few remarkable statements of gratitude,

“Thanks for the Tee shirt. Hey, at least I didn’t get my hair wet!”

…he said with the cutest half-smile ever. And that was the exclamation mark on our swing-time fun, the first day of Spring Break, 2014. I’m determined to get him a gift this week from all of us, to honor him for overcoming his fear. When he looks back at this day, I want it to be marked with a sense of pride and courage more than just an embarrassing moment. I want him to feel accepted, even celebrated.

We took Braylon to “Elevate” with us

Tonight we went to an Elevate service at Horizon – the kind with no sermon and more prayer and worship with testimony time. Instead of being with a bunch of little kids, we gave Braylon the choice to come into service with us and I’m so glad we did.  He hesitantly agreed, and got to be a part of breaking up into small groups for prayer, he got to listen to people share in a microphone how God is working in their lives (including me), and at one point everyone split up and gathered around different posters that were on stands around the sanctuary – each one a different pillar of influence of our society (ie: education, government, family, media, art and entertainment, business, etc.).  At first, Bray walked over to “Education” with me but when I opened my eyes, Ricky was standing there, pointing out how Bray had already moved on to two other pillars to pray about them without us.  I saw him at the arts and entertainment poster. Throughout the service, he was reaching for had holding both Ricky’s and my hands, most the time interlocking fingers with ours.

After one of the songs that declared “God, have your way in my life” and listed a dozen different names of His during the bridge, Bray whispered in my ear, “I like this song”. I said, “me too”. And he continued, “it even made me cry a little bit”. “That’s ok. That just shows that your spirit inside of you is responding in an emotional way to how God’s spirit is speaking truth to you in that song.” He just nodded.

After I shared with everyone there how God seemed to have allowed me to lose a friendship this year (Sara), only to gain another a few months later (Vanessa from Las Vegas), and how he is showing me there are seasons and reasons for things happening and how to always try and go into an encounter with someone like it could be a divine appointment, I sat back down next to Braylon. I must have looked sad, because he kept looking at my face trying to get a read. Finally, he asked, “are you ok, mom?”  I answered with a shrug and tears in my eyes as I was focusing on the lost friendship part of my sharing time. She is moving to Virginia, I told him. And we have still not spoken. He knew a little of how I felt. He had a friend not return his texts for weeks. About ten seconds went by and he asked me shyly, “Do you want me to pray for you?” I looked at him and said “sure”. So he grabbed my hand again and said a genuine, kind, heart-felt prayer asking God to make her just call or text me and to give me strength. He told God, “I know that sometimes things happen in our lives that are just tough to go through but we can, with you.”

I quickly followed up his prayer with one of my own, thanking God for Braylon and his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. And his thoughtfulness to pray for me.

It was a precious evening.

I love our church. I love my boy. And I also love that his daddy takes us to church, engages with God and people there, and shows Braylon all kinds of aspects of being a godly man. How blessed are we!?!

A Lesson from Potato Lady

We remember a few random, funny or meaningful things about each placed we’ve lived.  And we inadvertently carry on my husband’s habit of referring to each place not chronologically but by street name. The year just pops in our heads as an afterthought. Yes I said year, as in singular, because we have rarely lived in one place more than a year. But every time we move, I do not give up hope for root-reaching.

So this was the year on “Orgain”. A few things come to mind.

  • Our black wiener dog puppy named Daphne & how cute and mischievous she was always digging little holes to escape the yard.
  • Braylon learned how to ride his bike on that street – a truly exciting day.
  • Two of the most violent thunder storms hit when we lived there. One caused gale force winds to take our basketball hoop down. We watched, it seemed, in slow motion, fall straight onto the windshield of Ricky’s ’79 Nova. CRRRACK!  The other had me pull over on Toll road 130  with Angel, Braylon and his buddy in the backseat.  We watched a transformer blow out 50 ft. ahead of me, and had the worship music up full blast in attempt to drown out the incredible sound of wind and rain as it pounded our Scion from the left side. I was literally yelling my prayers, and even professing my love for the kids just in case it was my last chance to do so. But of course… God was merciful.
  • Friends on the loop – our street looped around and we were blessed to make some great friends there – Andra (Andre’) who would go to Royal Rangers with Braylon,…and the Llanas famila ~ Evie, Ben and their kids – especially sweet Abigail. They lived caddy-corner from our backyard, but Braylon and Abigail would often find excuses to see each other via the shared makeshift tree house where the yards met.
  • The Potato Lady – she lived next door to us. To this day, I can’t recall what her face looked like, as she rarely left her home.

Here is the story about the Potato Lady.

One day when I must have been shopping or something, Ricky decided to have some daddy-son fun in the backyard after they watched a few inspirational  youtube videos together about … squirrel launching.  Yeah.

Well, there must have been a squirrel shortage at the time, so they settled for potatoes from the kitchen. They had a sling-shotty thing they made, and secured a small potato into it. Braylon drew back that sling and let the veggie fly. The potato was supposed to hit the fence, but it must’ve gained velocity and kept on going. Over the fence and into that lady’s yard it went, ending its flight with a supposedly subtle thud against her siding. The next thing we knew, there was a knock on our front door. We knew she was not really a people person, but we had no idea. She and her angry tone awaited Ricky on our doorstep. Along with threats that the police would come if it happened again.

Well, it must have happened again. Ricky, in a state of disbelief, felt like seeing if she really meant business. I don’t think this one actually hit anything but her grass, but she was waiting for it. It was apparently all she needed to follow through. Fifteen minutes later after the boys had moved on to another activity, we got visitor #2, the Hutto Police Department at our door.

Ricky tried his best to not laugh. but it was useless. Following suit, 7 year old Braylon tried to cover his smile to no avail. The officer had to get our side to complete his investigation, and just before he left, he let us in on a bit of the dialog between himself and Potato Lady. He told us she seemed to not get out much…and didn’t seem very understanding. When we asked what he meant, he told us that he said to her, “Ma’am, I’m sure the boy was playin’…and didn’t mean to fling the potato into your yard. It was a mistake. Didn’t you ever make any mistakes playin’ around when you were a kid?”…to which she replied with a resolute, “No.”

Apparently Potato Lady never made mistakes as a child.

I bet you a big ‘ol baked potato, she never had any fun either.

Bray-age-7-looking-up

St. Helens Day Trip

As Papa Bruce drove us (me, the kids, and mom) up I5, passing into Washington, he debated changing the course of the day-trip he ‘d planned. Looking to the east, we saw a thick haze shrouding the mountains, from summer forest fires. There was no use in going to Mt. St.Helens if it was just going to be smoky and visibility dull. The coast sounded like a good alternative to me. So at our pit-stop, the Kalama River picnic area, he declared, “Ok, ok…I can be democratic. Let’s take a vote. Hands up for the beach. Now hands up for St.Helens.” St. Helens won by 1 pair of hands so after exploring, berry picking, monkey bar swinging and discovering thousands of strange spidery snail-like creatures in the river, we revved up the minivan and were off for Braylon and Angel’s very first adventure to an erupted volcano.

Papa has a knack for finding places to stop that have hidden treasures. One stop we made was a simple turn-out o viewpoint. But when we got out we could hear the sound of rushing water across the road. When we followed him over, and through an opening in a bush, we saw the gorgeous flow of a waterfall splashing into tons of loose, slippery rocks. It was hot by then, so I sure welcomed the fresh water spray and the sight of this lil oasis. The kids were quite brave navigators til Angel started screaming wildly … she saw a bee. We stayed long enough to chat with another visitor who was traveling from the east coast and must have needed a shower, cause he had his shirt off and gave himself one right there in the fall. Off we took, to the land of parched and blasted trees.

Another stop we made on our way, was the Forestry Visitors Center…a very nice building and gift shop, where Bray and Angel got to buy souvenirs (a sling shot & a lil frog with magnetic limbs).

When we got to our destinations off of Spirit Lake Rd, an amazing viewpoint and the Johnston Observatory, the kids were all over the dry land. Throwing rocks, feeding squirrels and having an adventurous time. And so was I. The volcano was spectacular. We were so close to what Papa called its “throat”! And we even got in on an official tour-guide’s speech. Bray got himself an adventure-scope and mood ring – more assurance that he will never forget this day.
I honestly don’t think any of us will. It was a blast.

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