Monday, June 27, 2016

What Are You Running Toward?

I have never been a runner. Running for fun or physical training just isn't my thing.

In college I once tried to run a race, a race where they had a starting line and gave you a number to pin on your back and passed out water bottles on the sidelines.

I'm sure you can imagine how that went down.

I lasted approximately two minutes.

And with that, any inkling of setting a record or joining a runners group vanished. Running just isn't for me.

Four years later and I found myself running again. This time I had passion and heart and pep in my step. My head was down and my feet were pounding the pavement. Perseverance was in tact.

But friends, I was not running towards anything of worth.

I was running towards a false god, a false sense of happiness. 

I was treating happiness like a destination.

But if I have learned anything from my battle with an eating disorder it is that happiness is not some place we arrive. Happiness comes and goes and is not consistent, but the joy of the Lord sustains.

The farther I ran from the truth, the more chaos built in my heart, my mind, my life.

A wise friend once said that when we run away from something we are always running toward something else. Quite powerful, no?

There will always be something better to run toward. Something bigger or flashier or sexier will always exist. Satan thrives in presenting these things and tricks us into thinking that if we just keep running towards happiness, toward lies, then life will be easier, more fun, and maybe even make more sense.

But what he doesn't share is that his way doesn't last. His ways are a temporary high. Satan shines the dreamy side of things. He specializes in non-disclosure. We can't ride that high forever.

Friends, this is not how God created us to run.

He created us to run wild and free toward the truth of the cross, not to the lies of the enemy. God gifted us with Jesus, put His son on a wooden cross, because He believed that we are worth it. Jesus paid it all that so we can run toward Him, with full abandon. Hurts and hardships and mess included. Blood was shed so that we can run without hinderance the race marked for us (Hebrews 12:1-3).

So let's fix our eyes on the goal. The one true prize. Not on the idea that the grass is greener on the other side.

There is always greener grass, friends. 

Let's hold fast to truth, the truth that joy comes and stays when our eyes are fixed on the cross.

Let's join hands and run fast and hard and with the conviction that the grass we have been given is lovely and perfect and for our good.

Let's run.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Camille & Molly

When Camille started preschool last fall, I had no idea that she would adapt so quickly. She walked in the door to room nine and never looked back. My little social butterfly. An extrovert no doubt.

And within months, a bestie friendship was born.

"Mama, MOLLY, SHE SO FUN!" was the frequent Tuesday/Thursday car conversation. I cannot even handle the cuteness. 

It was not uncommon for the teachers to report at pickup, "I'm sorry, but I had to separate the girls at nap time. They kept smiling and giggling and weren't falling asleep."

I secretly loved it.

Thank you, Jesus, for sweet little friends.

 They would walk around preschool saying "Hold my hand, hold my hand!!"

So when preschool let out for the summer, I knew we had to keep up this friendship. Since Molly's mama is working hard as a director of a summer camp, I asked if I could snatch Molly up for a few hours once a week to keep the girls connected.

And with that, "Fun Friday" was born. 

I'm so thankful I get to spend my Friday mornings with these two girls.

Waiting for our tickets to Finding Dory. Please note the hands, blankets, and curls. Two peas in a pod.

They practically skipped into the movie theater. If only you could hear the giggles that were happening here.

Glasses? Check. Popcorn. Check. Two happy toddlers who watched the majority of the movie? Check.

These are the days I treasure. I see many more "Fun Fridays" in our future.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Joy In The Unknowns

She was sitting on the couch right next to me, all cuddled up. It was two o'clock in the afternoon and she as home from school, a rare treat. After an eye examination that required four adults to hold down her body and then what would have been a box of tissues to wipe the tears, we just needed to sit, body to body.

And right there in the midst of the smiles, my mind begins to wander to the future. The unknowns. The what-ifs. The will-she-evers. I know better. If I have learned anything in parenting a child with a rare genetic disorder it is that one step at a time is the best pace. Don't race too far ahead, Britt. Don't let the unknowns of our future steal the peace of our today.

I know this, but my mind still goes there.

My precious child, four years old, has never said a word. Will she ever speak? Ever babble like an infant? Will year four be the year that I hear the sound of her voice?

Will the gap between my child and her typical peers ever grow closer? Or will the gap widen as the years roll on?

By the grace of God her eyes show no signs of decay, but will time prove otherwise?

I tell myself to shut it off.

Don't let the unknowns of our future steal the peace of our today.

Because there is still joy in the today, despite my circumstance. 

Joy is not dependent on my circumstance.

Genuine, deep joy is possible because Jesus offered His life to cover us all, to cover all the unknowns. He gave us himself and that is the prize. My daughter's development is not the prize. Jesus' blood and a life in eternity with Him is the root of my joy, not my daughter's ability to speak or play appropriately with her peers or attend a typical school.

So my prayer for us today is this: Let's not lose our joy in the unknowns. Let's claim the freedom we have in Christ to be joyful, regardless of the path under our weary feet. Let's be bold in our joy and show the world that there is so much good, even in hurt. Even in the pain. And even in the unknowns.

Because while my daughter can't speak, she sure can laugh.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ties That Bind

One week prior to departing for Hawaii, I snuck off to Dallas, Texas for a little getaway weekend with some of my best girlfriends from college. We have been doing this since 2005, the year we graduated from ACU. While not all seven of us make it each year, due to babies and unique family circumstances, we sure do try our best. (We missed you this year, Jenny!)

These girls . . . Not sure where I would be without them. Truly, they are a gift from a most gracious Father. A gift I treasure and never hold lightly.

A year can pass and we pick up exactly where we left off. No awkwardness. No small talk. Just the real deal.

We spent the weekend laughing, catching up on the past year, sharing deep highs and lows, and indulging in a little R&R (think pedicures and lots of food and lots of lounging). Ashley had the idea to have a favorite things party during our time together, so we did! I walked away with a goodie bag full of awesomeness. Fun was had by all!

These are the ties that bind. Ties that run deep and long and aren't scared off by time or distance or circumstance. Ties that hold hands and say "me, too," and submerge in laughter and wipe tears all within the same breath.

Thank you, Jesus, for these souls.

Souls that love well and love freely.

 . . .

At Chance's funeral service we asked attendees to bring blue balloons to be released at the end, in honor of his short life but also in honor of the focus of our hearts, eternity. And you know what? Friends who couldn't participate in person participated from afar. They bought balloons and released them with their children and sent the videos as a way of solidarity. A way of saying, "I'm with you and have no fear, we will make it through this tragedy."

It was beautiful and amazing and brought sweet tears to my eyes on April 7, 2015. And you know what? They did it again. All of them. This year, on the day of Chance's birth, they paused their lives and bought blue balloons and released them with their families and sent the videos yet again.

There are no words for when one receives texts messages such as the ones below.

Who in your life are you thankful for today?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Hawaii Vacation 2016

We just returned from a week in Hawaii and y'all, it was amazing. The entire extended family (my side) met up in O'ahu at the Disney Aulani Resort to celebrate my parents 25th wedding anniversary. It was such a blessing to spend a full week together, free from distractions and day to day responsibilities. What a way to kick off summer! 

I keep asking Brandon if we can pay a little visit to Hawaii every June, to you know, celebrate the start of summer, but he just smiles and ignores me. Which means no. :-)

Here we are arriving at the airport early Saturday morning. Oh wait, let me back up. After a quick visit to Target, a few days prior, for stickers and other misc "keep my hyper toddler busy for eight straight hours on a plane activities," she spotted a Camille-sized, Minnie Mouse suitcase and started begging for it, claiming she would pull it on her own. I made her practice, following me around Target for a ridiculous amount of time, and she pulled that suitcase like a champ. I was still a bit hesitant, but then realized she could easily be in charge of all the things.

So for $19, I chanced it. 

Total. Success.

She felt like such a big girl rolling that suit case all over the airport. And mama didn't have to carry anything


The girls did absolutely amazing on the flight. I was nervous, no doubt. Ok, really nervous. Because eight hours with two little children. And let me take a minute to remind you of the flight that was October 2015. But I am so thankful to report that they rocked it and time passed rather quickly thanks to lots of stickers, fruit snacks, and baby doll mothering. So very proud of my girls! We landed on Hawaiian soil, and Brandon and I locked eyes with the look of WE MADE IT AND DIDN'T LOSE OUR MINDS!

We stayed at the Disney Aulani Resort. in O'ahu. This was the view out our balcony. Such a fun family resort that includes activities for all ages (think multiple splash pads, lazy river, kids pools, adult pools, lagoon, direct beach access, snorkeling, etc!)

We woke up bright and early on Sunday morning, (think 3:30am, thanks, jet lag) and headed to the local swap meet. We were all up and out the door by 7am. The swap meet is basically a huge farmers market with all sorts of Hawaiian vendors. It was a very unique experience! Of all the things, the girls were obsessed with stuffed animals and a plastic frog swimming in a plastic box.

Brandon ate some sort-of-something wrapped in seaweed. He said it was "phenomenal." If you know Brandon then you know it must have been absolutely amazing because his typical response to food when I ask him is "It's not bad." Should I be offended that my cooking has never received the response of "phenomenal?" Maybe I just need to buy some seaweed. Moving on.

Cannot handle the sass. . .

Sugar Land tomatoes :-). . . 

Monday morning we made a visit to Pearl Harbor. A somber experience for sure, but thankful for the opportunity to pay a visit to the site of such a historic event.

We enjoyed breakfast with the Disney characters at the resort on Tuesday morning. The food was great and the kids (well, all but Clara) enjoyed all the attention from Minnie and Mickey.

Clara trying to escape. . .

Regardless of Clara's hard feelings towards Minnie Mouse, we managed to snap a pic. If she could talk, I imagine she would have been begging us to get on with this nonsense and just get back to the pool.

Camille, on the other hand, was eating up every second. All week long she would yell (regardless of location), "MINNIE, GOOFY, MICKEY!! WHERE ARE YOU?? I LOVE YOU!! I'M HERE!"

We have been home for three days and Camille is still yelling for Goofy. I hate to break it to you, kid, but Goofy didn't come home with us.

We also attempted a trip to the North Shore, but the girls lasted approximately 30 seconds. They decided the sand is not their friend and instead, prefer the pool. So we packed it up and did a little exploring + shaved ice eating around that part of the island. They sure did look cute for those 30 seconds.

The resort has a super fun club house for kids, Aunty's Beach House, and from 8-9:30am everyday we could take the girls for open house. After 9:30am it is only open to older children. So fun! Camille especially loved dressing up as different princess characters.

One of the (many) pools at the resort, and where we spent the majority of our time! The girls are now officially ready for a summer filled with sun and swimming.

Camille found herself a pineapple . . .

A little sight seeing. . .

On Wednesday evening, we attended a Hawaiian luau. It was amazing! Lots of pre-show activities (such as the parrot holding below), boat riding, dinner, hula lessons, and the main show.

 The whole crew . . .

 More pool time + meeting the characters . . .

Sweet thing fell asleep on me one day while taking a break from the pool. . .

 Pure joy . . .

So many more pictures I could share, but I'll leave it at that.

Thank you, God, for precious family, your beautiful creation, and a little rest and relaxation (well, let's be real', as much rest and relaxation as one can get while traveling with small children).

So long, Hawaii! We are officially in love with you!
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