Swim

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Tonight we attended the end of the year swim banquet for our mermaid.
I provided the background music. She earned the most improved swimmer award.

She is a quiet girl.

She is kind, yet still unsure how to rest in who she is.
I suppose we all struggle with that our whole life.  She, however, really has to fight to push through it.

Four years ago she tried out for a team in Georgia, but didn’t want to compete. I pulled her and decided that at age 8 it wasn’t all that important to push her.

Last summer we decided it was time for her to try out for the Swim Team here on Post. I’ll never forget my soldier returning home from taking her to tryouts. He walked in through the kitchen. I was in the living room as the weekly Neighborhood Bible Study we hosted had already begun. He sat in the chair beside me and whispered in my ear, “I couldn’t get her to get out of the car.”

As I looked at her tonight laughing and giggling with her friends, I thought about that day of tryouts. We obviously eventually got her to get out of the car. She tried out, made the team, and started at the lowest level with kids several years younger. It’s been almost a year since then. She has moved from the Bronze, to the Silver and now is practicing two hours a night, four to five days a week on the Gold team.
No doubt she earned that award tonight.

Yet …
She cried on the way home.
She still feels like she’s not good enough.
Her times aren’t as good as her friend’s times.

I got to talk to her about how she’s got to push through that.
This year was a learning year.
This year she did great!
This year she grew.

I got to talk to her about how she’s got to keep things in perspective and make sure she’s always doing her best, yet not sacrificing more than she wants to sacrifice. If she wants to add two hours a week of dry land practice, fine, but she’s young … does she really want to trade two more hours of time with friends, family, or just of down time, for more practice? Is she okay with doing that even if her times do not improve?

I got to talk to her about how she needs to remember that none of this is about swimming in high school or college, etc. This is about swimming right now. This is about glorifying Jesus in her swimming right now.

We don’t know what the future holds.
But what we do know what the Bible says about making plans (James 4:13-15).

Today.
Now.
Jesus.
That is truly all it’s about. Anything else is extra. Anything else isn’t worth it.

My girls saw their Gran last May. They knew she was sick. They knew she could die from being so sick.
But they are kids, and she lived far away.

It was hard for me to grasp, and I know it was just all the more so for them to.

I wondered earlier today how difficult it must be for them to have just been told that she was gone. It had been six months since they saw her. They didn’t get to say goodbye.

While my swimmer still struggles so much with being confident in who she is, I wish so deeply that her Gran could have seen her swim … just once.
I wish so much that she could see how much this quiet California girl of mine has grown this year … and to see the young lady she’s becoming.
I wish she could have had just once the hug from her Gran telling her that she did a good job.

It really is so true how we realize what’s the most important once we no longer have the chance to have it.

My swimmer’s coach also commented tonight on her character.
When you’re 12 I’m sure that making a District I/II time is far more powerful to you than a speech on your great character.
But as we all know, we’re not 12 forever.

A seed was planted tonight.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to just listen to her and love on her a little extra.
I am thankful for the words God put upon my heart to point her to Him.
I am thankful for the ache that only He can remedy.

I am thankful I got to water that seed a bit.

So proud of my girl.  And as I told her tonight, I would be just as proud … even if she didn’t swim.

 

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Survival

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I’ve been hosting this weekly study in my home every Wednesday morning for the last month and a half.  This is a first for me and waaaaaaaaay out of my comfort zone.  I stress about my house.  I stress about my kids.  I stress about the coffee.  I stress.  But every week the study meets.  It meets despite my house not being the best decorated.  It meets despite the dirt on the floor and the smudges on the door.  Despite the books being piled up on the coffee table (I really did mean to put those away), despite the fact that I’ve never led a Bible Study before … really despite myself, basically, it meets.  People come and even more profound, they come again.

We are studying Jennie Allen’s book, Restless, (http://www.jennieallen.com/books/restless) and with one week left, I can safely say that I highly recommend that you not only read this book, but that you grab a friend, a neighbor … anyone, and read this book together.  It is not profound.  It is not the greatest written work.  But this book makes you think.  Change that, this book makes you stop, pick up the shovel and dig.

This morning’s discussion was on Passions.  As we talked, we found that it is important for us to be present in our lives, as well as in others.  It is important to not just go through the motions, but to feel them, think about them … to notice them, wrestle with them … to truly be there.  Jennie uses the life of Joseph to guide the readers in her book, which she refers to as her “project.” Joseph was always present.  Joseph was always there.  He was always doing his best and going the extra mile, so to speak, in whatever circumstance God placed Him.  It took decades for God to reveal His plan to Joseph, and decades of losses for every little gain Joseph made.  I couldn’t help but think back today of where I am right now.  For the last two years I have been coming off of the biggest “survival stretch” that I’ve ever been on.  Many of you are readers from my old blog.  Many of you watched (via my words) me push through the hardest 15 months of my life.  And many of you would probably say that I “encouraged” you or that I was “so strong” or even, deep breath, that I was “a great example.”  The reality, however, is that I have never been in more of an autopilot role in my life.  I had to.  I wouldn’t have made it had I not.  But the letting go of that … the turning off of the autopilot … the transitioning to living from simply surviving has been a daily fight. I started blogging again because this was my “home” during those months.  This is where I was present most.  This is where I need to be right now … for whatever reason, for however long.  I love words, I love life … I love being forced to “say it,” to have to write it down and be accountable for it.  Yikes, did I really just type that? Okay, we all make too many mistakes to actually love being held accountable … but I guess what I appreciate and what I need is the push to “show up” here.  I do feel like I started something and in many ways I hit a bump in the road and then the road started getting really crowded with other drivers and some of them displayed a bit of road rage towards me and I just decided that my trip was over and I needed to go home.  And all the while the there were people who kept looking out their window waiting for me to drive up, but I never arrived.

Life.  We were not created to simply survive.  No, God loves us too much.  He had something different in mind when He created us.  We were created to live for Him.  Surviving is not living and surviving is not eternal.  Surviving is hard, yet many times it is safer to just show up, than to truly “be there.”  Well, I don’t want to just show up anymore.  I want to be present … to live.  I want to show my girls what it means to invest in the lives of others.  I want to show them that somedays that’s a whole lot easier than others, but many times it’s the hard investments that yield the greater return.

I have held on to surviving far too long.  And my heart, I’m sad to say, has become a little hard.

Watching Momma look up at me just hours before she died … too exhausted, too weak, too dehydrated to speak … I couldn’t help but wonder what her eyes were trying to tell me.  And for once, this Southern girl who never seems to struggle with something to say, felt zero desire to even think, much less speak.  All I could do was just brush her bangs over off of her face.

That moment taught me that life is so fleeting, so quick, so precious.  I am thankful Momma gave me one last lesson of the value of life, by hanging on until I could get from Kansas to Alabama.  Life … it’s not about our house, or our kids or us at all.  It is about pointing others to Christ, and looking to Him ourselves.

Thankful for the girls who show up at my house each Wednesday at 8:30am.  They are all amazing in different ways, and far exceed me in just about every area.  But they come, and as a result force me to be present, too.  They encourage me to live, and I am thankful.

disclosure: The bunny photo has nothing to do with this post, other than that it was cute and kinda crazy. I can’t help but wonder if bunnies off military installations are walked on leashes … 

Back

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“In this life we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa

After almost two years, I am back in the blogging world.  I am not sure if anyone noticed that I wasn’t here … but that’s okay.  I am not here for anyone necessarily.  I am here for me.

Since I last blogged, I have turned 40, and my oldest turned 16.  For those of who followed me before, I am sad to say that I never dreamed I’d celebrate both of those milestones without my sweet Momma.  I lost her to cancer the day my third daughter turned 10 in November.  In her life Momma didn’t do anything profound by the world’s standard, but she did everything with great love.  I was there with her the morning she took her last breath.  The ache of that moment is not only still with me, but it grows each day.  I miss her … everything about her.

Life is so different now.  But life is still a gift, and I want daily to focus on the blessings … even though there’s loss.  I want to remember how Momma lived, and show my girls how to live like her and love big in the small.

It is good to be back.