The Birthday Party

29 Nov

‘So go into the main streets and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ And those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all they found, both bad and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

—Matthew 22:9-10 NETgifts

Every year at Thanksgiving, it’s customary (and right) to reflect on what we’re thankful for.

I am thankful for Monica Grider.

If it weren’t for Monica, I might not know any of my neighbors.

We had lived in our neighborhood for less than a year when one sunny Sunday afternoon we heard a knock at our door. At least, my husband did. I was vacuuming.

Mike called me to our entryway, and there, in the door, stood Monica.

At the time I had been working at a different radio station. Just a few days earlier, the show’s hosts had been having some fun at my expense.

I had told them off the air how lonely I was. I had lived in Flower Mound for five years and still didn’t have any close girlfriends.

It’s not that I didn’t want to meet people. My schedule just made it tough. I couldn’t do any of my church’s Bible studies or other activities because I was at work during the daytime studies and getting ready for bed during the evening studies. The girlfriends I did have lived in other cities (the DFW metroplex is massive), and because they worked during the day, I spent most of my time with my two babies.

As I shared this with my co-workers, one of them asked me why I hadn’t made an effort to make friends.

“I have,” I exclaimed, and proceeded to tell them how I would walk my kids to the park in the stroller and try to insert myself into other moms’ conversations. Pathetic, I know. And highly ineffective.

At this, they howled with laughter and then told hundreds of thousands of our closest friends the next time we turned on the microphones.

Monica Grider was listening and, through mutual acquaintances, knew I lived around the corner.

Monica is also one of the kindest, most sincere, gracious, and inclusive people you will ever meet.

I suppose that’s why she invited us to the birthday party.

Not her birthday party. Karra’s daughter Kaitlyn’s fifth birthday party.

Did you catch that?

Monica invited me and my family to the party of one of the neighbor’s daughters.

Without telling them.

It gets better. (more…)

One-Way Relationships

14 Nov

The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”flikr-free-one-way

—1 Samuel 3:10

It was summer of 2008 and hotter than you-know-what. I remember this well because that was the summer we decided to move to a different part of Flower Mound, Texas.

With just a few weeks to go, I decided to take the kids up to Kansas City to visit my sisters while we had workers fix a few things at our house. While I was there, I lost my voice.

Like, really lost it. Not that cool, scratchy, husky Sophia Bush sound, but gone.

Nada.

Not even a whisper.

No biggie. I’d had laryngitis before, and my voice always came back, good as new.

This time, however, was different. (more…)

Dear Election, I. Am. Done.

8 Nov

Okay, friends. Let’s all take a deep breath. We need it. We deserve it. This election season has been one for the record books.cross-and-flag

Can I get an “amen?”

Stone throwing and name calling. Back peddling and flip-flopping. E-mails. Scandals. Debates that come with parental advisories. Stick a fork in me and say it with me:

I. Am. Done.

Amazingly, and by the grace of God, I’m sure, I have made it through the day without a shred of nervousness, anxiety, or heartburn. I am not going to stay up late. I am not going to agonize. I am going to read to my kids, wash my face, brush my teeth and go to bed.

At eight-thirty.

I plan to sleep like a baby.

Tomorrow, at three-thirty, I will get up. We will have a new president. I don’t know who it will be. But I’m not worried about it.

At all.

Not a bit.

Not even a smidge.

And here’s why: (more…)

The Glow Stick

17 Aug

Glow Sticks flikr“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

—Matthew 5:15 NIV

If you’ve ever spent any time on the Texas coast, you’ve heard of ghost crabbin’. We were first introduced to the “sport” the summer of 2015 when we ran into a friend of Mike’s in Port Aransas.

We happened to be staying in the same condos—our first night was their last, and Mike was delighted to bump into them.

“Billy! What are you doing here, man?”

Billy laughed, giving each of us a Texas-sized bear hug in turn. “I’ve got the whole family down here, buddy! We’re havin’ one last hoo-rah down at the beach tonight. Ya gotta come! There’s about twenty little ones—plenty of playmates for these hooligans.”

Nick looked uncertain as Billy tussled his hair.

“Seriously,” Billy said, stooping to my son’s level. “Ever been ghost crabbin’?”Ghost Crab flikr

Both of my children shook their heads.

“Then it’s settled. Y’all come on down around nine o’clock. We’re making hot dogs, smores, and as soon as that sun goes down, we’re grabbing flashlights and huntin’ ghost crabs.”

Caitlyn’s face lit up, and she looked at me as if to ask, “Can we, Mama, can we?” I nodded and smiled.

“You gotta be quick, though,” he continued, sizing the kids up. “You quick?”

“I’m the fastest runner on my whole baseball team,” boasted Nick.

“Then I expect you to get a whole lotta crabs, buddy!” Billy patted Nick on the back and this time, he didn’t squirm away.

“Nine o’clock, then?”

Nine o’clock on the dot we crossed the bridge over the dunes and scanned the beach for Billy’s group.

“There they are,” my husband pointed out, and the kids ran off, brand new shiny plastic buckets in one hand, flashlights clutched in the other.

The group greeted us warmly, offering us drinks and hot dogs. A meticulous sand castle project was underway on one side of us, a lively game of beach volleyball on the other. I sat quietly next to Mike, listening as he and Billy laughed and caught up.

By ten o’clock the group deemed it dark enough for ghost crabbing, so Billy’s oldest son rallied the troops, pointing different directions and giving instructions.

“We do this every year.”

I jumped, startled out of my reverie by a friendly voice.

Billy’s wife smiled and introduced herself.

Standing up, I returned the introduction and thanked her for her hospitality.

“We’re so glad to bump into you,” she replied graciously. “Billy has mentioned Mike many times.” She turned her gaze toward the children, then said, “I know they have flashlights, but it was making me nervous to have the kids running around in the dark, so this year I insisted they wear glow sticks.”

As if on cue, the kids started tearing open packages and cracking their sticks. They made them into headbands, bracelets, and necklaces. One boy, about thirteen, broke two and shoved a stick up each nostril.

“Look, mom, I’m a walrus,” he yelled, laughing hysterically as his mother shook her head.

Five more minutes and the kids were off. Except for a few campfires, the beach was almost completely dark. The children had grouped themselves into glowing clusters of four or five and were racing down the beach, screaming and giggling.

After chatting for a few more minutes, someone hollered for Billy’s wife, and she politely excused herself. Sitting back down, I alternated between stargazing and kid watching.

The glow sticks were truly genius. We knew precisely how many kids there were—twenty-four—and I could count exactly twenty-four sets of moving neon bands.

Call me crazy, but I think the glow stick holds some theological implications for you and me. (more…)

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