Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dear Lily

Well, tomorrow you're fifteen months. Amazing. It just keeps getting better and better with you. I wish you knew how many times a day Daddy and I look at you and smile and say how precious you are. Or how often we go into your room after you're asleep and peek into your crib and just marvel at God's goodness and grace in letting us be your parents.

Being your mom is probably the best thing that's ever happened to me - after Jesus and your Daddy, of course! But really, God has been so gracious to begin showing me that he has more for me than what I've always settled for. I've been living with these false belief systems for so long and allowed them to define who I am. And the crazy thing is- I really didn't even see it. I mean, I'd feel it from time to time but would move on quickly to avoid that uncomfortable place. And after you were born I continued in those same patterns but in a new way. Now I was worried about how I looked as a mom. I worried about pleasing my parents, my in-laws, my friends, basically anyone, until God said, "Ok, it's time. We're gonna start dealing with some of this junk." And for the first time I really feel like I'm living. I feel like I can finally breathe in deeply. God has been so faithful to walk beside me as I no longer coast but face the issues that control me. And though it's challenging and more effort than I'm used to, it's so freeing.

Today in my Bible study Maury challenged us to keep pleading with God to reveal more of Himself to us that we would better know who we are. It's so important that we know who we are in Christ. And I want to know that for me and for Daddy and for you. And I want to know your heart. I want to know what makes you tick and how God has so beautifully wired you. I want to know what makes you giggle, what brings you to tears, what gets you fired up, what breaks your heart, what stirs your soul. I don't wanna miss that.

I want to be an example of Christ to you. More than just taking you to church and praying over meals, I want to BE Jesus to you. That you could follow me as I follow Christ. I want you to see the real me. That I'm not perfect- that I don't have it all together. But that I want to know Christ more tomorrow than I did today. In this book I'm reading called Hearts and Minds, he says the most powerful thing you can do for your kids is to pray for them. And the second is to do "whatever it takes to keep yourself spiritually healthy."

Lily, I commit to doing both of those things- to pray for you and with you and to keep pressing into Jesus. I want Him to be first in my life so that I can love you and Daddy like I need to. I can't wait for the day when we can talk through all this together. In the meantime, I will continue to pray for you and thank God for His goodness in my life. To Him be the glory forever. I love you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm NOT a cook.

As you know, I'm on this quest to figure out who I am, what I like, what makes me tick, what my passions are, etc. If you're not sure what I'm referring to, read this post. Lately I've realized something about myself. The real me. And while it's good to know who you are, I'm a little disappointed. You see, I've always thought of myself as a cook. (Some of you, like Josh, are probably laughing right now.) Or I guess I liked the idea of being a cook. But looking back, there really isn't an underlying theme of recipes, food network, or williams-sonoma splurges threaded throughout my life.

My mom cooked growing up. I'm just not sure how I missed out on that whole experience. In college, I mainly stuck to frozen skillet dinners or Taco Cabana runs. I guess I've always thought my inner cook would come out in the next stage in life. I thought, for sure, once I'm married I'll be cook ready. And I did cook some for Josh, but he is so easy to please that lots of times we'd just eat cereal and peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. Then I thought it was just my tiny apartment kitchen. When I get into our house, I'll have all the space and real equipment I'll need to bust out my cooking skills. But we got in our house and, although I love our kitchen, I still lacked initiative. I was too tired after working all day to slave away my last ounce of energy on a hot meal. As soon as I'm a stay at home mom, I'll have all day to cook. Well, folks, here I am before you as a stay at home mom saying it still ain't happenin'!

{Sidenote: [this is where I defend myself because of my pride- I know it's wrong.] There have been a few recipes that I've mastered over the years. However, it takes me at least 2 or 3 times usually before I can get it right. Ah, take the brisket for example. One of my mother-in-laws, Janie, has a great brisket recipe which she gave me when we got married. One afternoon I felt adventurous and thought I'd give it a try. I followed the recipe to a tee. Since the brisket has to cook overnight, I prepared everything just before bed and slid it into the oven at 200F. I remember waking up several times during the night and enjoying the aroma of that brisket. It smelled so good. That is until about 6am or so when I awoke to a burning smell. I rushed to the oven to rescue my masterpiece. I almost cried at the sight of it. My poor brisket was charred and in no condition to be eaten. Later as I told my mom of the injustice, I found out that I should have covered the brisket with foil before putting it in the oven. Apparently, that's what you do, even if the recipe doesn't say so. Lesson learned.}

I'm sure part of it has to do with my personality. I'm not the best planner. I can usually do pretty well flying by the seat of my pants, so that's what I do, sometimes to a fault. I hit the grocery store on a whim and try to remember everything that was on my list that I left on the counter. But even after a grocery run, I feel like: what did I buy? We still don't have anything to make a meal out of. There have been those few golden phases where I sat down with recipes and planned out my week of shopping and cooking. I just can't seem to keep it up. But putting dinner on the table is a major part of my responsibilty as the homemaker, so I've got to figure something out.

And maybe I did! Last night, I went to the Dinner Station for the first time. Wow. That place was made for people like me. Are you familiar with the concept? You sign up for a session and pick several dinners from a menu. When you show up, you're handed a list of your meals and shown where your meat is being kept in your area of the fridge. The room is divided up into three giant stations. Each station contains all of the ingredients for about 5 meals. You find which meal you're making and follow the directions for packing it up into a giant freezer bag. You take it home to the freezer or fridge and when it's dinnertime: Voila! You follow the instructions on the baggie and have a meal in no time. I prepared about 8 meals last night in about 1 1/2 hours. It just simplifies things. Last night, after I got home, I made the shrimp and pasta dish which tasted great and was easy! Maybe this is my answer. We'll see. Josh seems to be on board. I guess he's on board with anything as long as he gets to eat.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Flower Power

Lily is going through a stage where she doesn't like anything on her head. No hats, bows, pigtails, ponytails, headbands, sunglasses. I didn't even think I was going to be putting bows and such in her hair. I thought, "That's too girly." But after seeing how cute she looked I quickly realized- There's no such thing as too girly for a little girl! And now that I want her to wear it, of course, she refuses. She pulls it out just as fast as I put it in. So I was thrilled to snap these pics of her wearing her flower band. Not sure why she decided to leave it on. Maybe she felt sorry for mom and decided to humor me for a bit. Hopefully she'll outgrow this phase soon and we can go back to accessorizing!

Yes, that is our coffee table in front of our fire place. It's no longer about style- it's about babyproofing. All you mommas out there understand.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Here's to Dads and Grandads...

who come swimming on their lunch break...

who dig through dusty toys...

who pull the choo-choo train...

who make countless funny faces...

who read the same ol' story again and again...

To the mighty men in my life:

Dad: You are my encourager. Thanks for being there for everything I ever did (especially sitting through all those piano recitals). Thanks for videotaping every aspect of our childhood (now I want to do the same with Lily.) Thanks for the hundreds of letters you've written to me (even when I could barely decipher its contents!) You didn't just say you loved me. You lived it out.

Richard: You are a source of wisdom for both Josh and me. I'm amazed at your desire to continuously learn and then share with those around you. Thanks for enlightening us on politics, Islam, prophecy, Scripture, and everything else in between. Thanks for making me feel so at home in your family.

Josh: You are my safe place. With you, I can always be real, letting you see the real me. All of me. And never having to worry that you might love me less. Thanks for being patient, encouraging, and speaking Truth whenever I need to hear it. Thanks for loving me (even when I don't deserve it.) What a blessing it is to walk beside you in life and now to raise our sweet Lily together. I love you.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Well, forgive me for tooting my own horn (and that that was oozing with cheese), but I just finished my second book of the year. That's pretty good for me since I'm not sure I finished two books in the last decade. I think I'm getting the hang of this reading thing. I'm trying to carry my book around with me so that if I have an extra, quiet minute (which is rare with a 14 mo old), I can spend it reading. Or if I don't feel like over-exerting myself at the gym, then I'll read while on the bike. It really makes the work out fly by (which is always a plus.)

So for my next book I have started reading Hearts and Minds by Kenneth Boa and John Alan Turner. It's about raising your child with a Christian view of the world. We received this book at our Preschool Parenting Weekend recently. The foreword and introduction were really good. (sidenote: I never used to read these until Josh told me that I should cause they were part of the book too. I thought it must not be that important or they'd have stuck it in the body of the book. But reading them is actually sort of lays the foundation for what's to come. Isn't that brilliant?) Here's a bit of the intro: "There's other good books that deal with how to get your child to sleep through the night or sit still at the dinner table. We're more concerned with how you can help your children to see the world as it really is, to understand the world and their place in it, and to give them a filter through which they can interpret life as it is happening...That's why we're going to focus less on child rearing and more on how parents can live in a way that demonstrates a life of faith to their children." It seems like they're emphasizing less parenting techniques that control your child's behavior and more on getting him to think for himself with a godly perspective. I admit I get a little nervous when I think about what a huge responsibility parenting is. I worry if I'm doing enough or following the right techniques. But really the greatest thing I can do for Lily as her mom is to pursue Christ. "The kind of person you are will have a longer-lasting effect on your children than your parenting techniques."
(You can check out excerpts from the book by clicking on the title over to the right...)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

i am indy

Who would have thought that a car race could be so fun? I've seen races on TV and marveled at the fact that anyone could stay awake much less enjoy the sport. Seriously? Two hundred plus laps around and around and around...they're not going anywhere. But I have to admit, I loved it!

Saturday afternoon, Josh and I met up with our friends Amanda and Camden Jones and headed out to our inaugural race at Texas Motor Speedway. That place is like some kind of mecca that draws thousands of people who live out of campers for several days enjoying race festivities and endless tailgating. It was quite an experience. A little background on The Jones': Camden is a MAJOR car guy. Like owns his own race car and races on weekends, has the Speed Channel with his cable package, and sells cars for Sewell. His family has had tickets to the Indy 500 since he was 5. The Jones men would roadtrip up to Indianapolis for the big race every couple years. So Camden was very helpful in educating us on all things Indy. His wife, Amanda, is the closest living person I know to Martha Stewart. (Amazing cook!) Doesn't exactly seem like the racing type, but she's a good sport and supports her husband's hobby. (She said she has grown to love napping to the drone of racecars while Camden watches the Speed Channel.)

This weekend was the Lombardier Learjet 550k IndyCar race which happens in Texas only once a year ( I think.) Now, in case you are as ignorant to car racing as I was - this is not Nascar, as Camden was quick to clarify. It's two totally different things. Different car bodies, different race rules, different followings. As Camden so eloquently put it, "Indy is more of a gentlemen's sport than Nascar." We showed up about 7:30 and began the pilgrimmage from the parking lot to the stadium. Let me just say- even if we hadn't gotten to see the race, the people watching itself would have been well worth it. Since Indy only comes around once a year, most of the fans at the race were Nascar season ticket holders. And they were there in full force. I'm talking decked out in full gear - their favorite driver's number on their hats, shirts, sunglasses, trucks, and even tattoos. Now that's dedication.

On Camden's recommendation, we rented the scanner and headphones so that we could listen to the drivers talking to their pit crews and spotters. That was probably the coolest part and kept me engaged the entire time. The sun went down and the drivers took their places on the track. After about two or so caution laps to get their tires warm, the green flag was out, and they took off! It was probably the loudest thing I've ever heard! Cars flying by at 200+ mph. A couple wrecks and 228 miles later we had a winner. It was the closest finish of the season. You may have heard of Dannica Patrick? She finished third for her career best. I was a little torn on who to root for. I cheered for Scott Dixon for about 50 laps since he was sponsored by Target. Amanda said her favorite driver was Tony Kanaan who finished second. I started cheering for him too toward the end since he was kinda the underdog. And Sam Hornish Jr., who led most of the way, took first place. Oh, another fun driver was Dario Franchitti who is married to Ashley Judd. I cheered for him some too- just cause I knew who his wife was. Josh came home amazed at Camden. He knew the answer to every question Josh asked. And I was impressed that Amanda knew quite a bit too. (although she would never admit it!) Thanks Camden and Amanda for exposing us to the world of Indy racing!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

A Trip Down Memory Lane

On June 6th, Josh and I celebrated four years of marriage. We've actually been together for nine years since we started dating back in 1998. They've been the best years of my life, and I'm so thankful for my precious husband. As I was going through our file cabinet, probably for the first time in those four years, I came across our engagement story that I'd written out several weeks after Josh proposed on Oct. 19, 2002. Being our anniversary and all, I thought it would be fun to share. Hope you enjoy!

It couldn’t have been more perfect. Even though I knew it was coming in the next couple of months, I can honestly say I had no idea it was coming that night! Now it’s so funny to look back at things that seem so obvious, but I just didn’t notice them at the time.

It all started earlier that week when Josh suggested that we go to the symphony on Saturday night. This was not at all unusual since we’ve been several times together (it was our first date.) Josh claimed that he had received free tickets (a donation to CrossCamp) that would expire in December. I agreed to go (they were playing Brahms’ Requiem) and was excited we would spend the whole evening together.

This weekend was not unlike any other I had spent at home this semester. I was student teaching in Waco and would graduate from Baylor in December. Josh was living at home, taking classes at DTS and personal training on the side. I came to Dallas most weekends so we could be together. On Friday night, I stayed home with Mom, Dad, and Missa (who was home from Baylor on Fall Break.) The next morning I woke up, got a haircut, and began completing applications for different school districts in the Dallas area. Josh called me from work around 1:00pm and told me that his dad offered us a gift certificate he had received from a patient to Del Frisco’s. He pleaded with me to be ready by 5:00pm so that we could make our dinner reservations at 5:30pm (making sure we had plenty of time to get down to the Meyerson.)

Around 3:00pm, I met with Sunni and Tiffani at Starbucks about selling Mary Kay. I even mentioned that Josh and I planned on getting married sometime that coming summer. They asked if I thought I would be engaged soon, and (as always) I said, “Probably some time in the next couple of months, but not anytime real soon.” So, after our discussion, I went home, changed, and (to Josh’s delight) was ready to leave at 5:00pm sharp. We got to the restaurant at 5:15pm, and Josh complained of not being hungry. This he blamed on a late lunch, but later I found out it was really nerves! Josh and I sat down and shared a delightful meal of salad, filet mignon, asparagus, and mashed potatoes. Josh hardly ate half of his meal, but – don’t worry – I made up for it by eating all of mine and then some! During dinner, Josh mentioned that he really wasn’t up for the symphony. A little disappointed, I agreed we could just go back to his house instead. So, we left the restaurant around 7:00pm. On the drive home, I mentioned how blessed we were to have had such a long time to grow together. We both agreed we have matured a lot in the last four years. I told him that I cherished our relationship (not knowing that this fit perfectly with what he was about to do!)

Upon arriving at his house, I began to take Josh’s leftovers in the house but he insisted I leave them in the car. We headed in and I asked where Richard and Janie were. He said they’d gone to minichurch. As I walked into the living room from the kitchen, I noticed several candles burning on the dining room table. I told Josh that this was dangerous and very unlike Janie. So, of course, I blew them out thinking that I was saving the house from fire rather than ruining the mood! Josh told me that he wanted to read me something he’d read that morning. He pulled me into the study where I saw five or six more candles burning. But, don’t worry, I blew those out too! On one of the endtables, I saw some roses arranged like a bridal bouquet. I told Josh how pretty they were and commented that Janie always had such neat little things around the house. Finally, he got me to sit down on the loveseat with him. He read two passages out of John: chapters 13:36-38 and 21:15-19. Josh asked me how this related to us and at this point, I still have no idea it’s coming. So, Josh begins a story.

Our first Valentine’s Day (about 6 months into dating), we sat in this room on a loveseat similar to this, and he told me that he loved me. This freaked me out; I was not ready to say that – too big for me. I told Josh I only wanted to say that when I knew for sure I would marry the guy. So we never said it all throughout our dating. He told me that now, four years later, he understood what love meant. Josh said that like Peter (in John), he had spoken without truly understanding the call or commitment required. That love is a choice as well as an emotion. And he wanted to tell me, that with his whole heart, now he could really say that he loved me and was ready to commit his life to me. I couldn’t believe I was actually hearing him say that!!! It felt so good to hear those words. I told him that I loved him too as I began to cry. My heart was just overflowing with emotions: I started to tell him how I had wanted to say that for so long…but he stopped me. He told me he wasn’t through yet. At this point, he got down on his knee, and told me that he wanted us to spend the rest of our lives together. And some other really sweet stuff and asked me if I would marry him! I told him Yes!!! I just cried and cried! I couldn’t believe this was happening. We held each other and prayed and sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” It was truly wonderful. So intimate and personal. Just as it couldn’t get any better, Josh pulled out a stack of letters that each family member on his side had written me welcoming me into the family. I continued to bawl as Josh read them. After he finished, he told me there was one more surprise. He blindfolded me and put me in the car. On the way, I found out that he asked my dad the previous Wednesday, and my whole family knew this was happening tonight! There were no symphony tickets and my dad had given Josh the gift certificate for dinner! Such a sweet night.

After fifteen minutes of driving, we stopped and walked up to a door. He let me in, and I could sense people around me. As I waited for something to happen, I couldn’t help but exclaim, “I’m engaged!” Everyone cheered. Then the song “At Last” began playing. The night was so special. So many friends and family were there to celebrate with us. Many hugs followed. Dad got everyone quieted down and Josh shared the whole story. Then the guests all introduced themselves and said how they knew us. We had a time of prayer and Dad closed it out. It just seemed so right. After everyone left, Josh, Missa, Mom, Dad, Carolyn, and I sat around and talked about wedding stuff. It just seemed totally surreal. I am actually getting married!!! To Joshua Rice Patterson!!! Thank you, Lord, for I am truly blessed!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

shirker what?

My conversation with my friend Faith the other day led me to reread a chapter in "Death by Suburb." Seriously, if you live in the burbs, you should read this book. If you don't, then read it so you can know where we're coming from. The chapter I revisited is titled "Shirker Service." Call me ignorant, but I didn't know the definition of "shirk" until I looked it up. To shirk, means to avoid or neglect (a duty or responsibility.) Goetz opens the chapter referencing an article by some wildlife scientist who came up with the "shirker bull" concept.

"The shirker bull is a male elk that is able to grow very large antlers because it 'shirks his biological duty by
choosing not to participate in the rut.' The rut is the annual fall ritual when deer and elk males square off
against one another to determine sexual dominance and sire the next generation. The shirker bull, most
likely a loner, avoids fighting other males, and thus pours all of his caloric energy into growing exceptionally
large antlers.'"

Goetz goes on to say that many Christians have the same "shirker" tendencies. (Just get ready, I'll probably use that word a lot now that I know what it means.) We get hyped up on religious experiences (new book, new church, new Bible study), and start to detach from the suffering of the world. Kinda like the Christian bubble idea. We get so self-focused and think: I want to make my life count. I want to make a difference with my life. Not a bad thought - but the motivation is wrong. Our focus should be on the pursuit of simple obedience rather than significance. We are called to obey, regardless of the outcome. And if we shirk our responsibility to love and serve the suffering, then we are putting all our energy into our "antlers" or pride.

Josh recently told me about an African minister, Celestan, who survived the genocide in Rwanda. His family was killed, and he was left with literally nothing. By God's grace, he met a Christian missionary who provided for and poured into him. After trusting Christ, Celestan felt that God was calling him to go to seminary. He didn't know how he would pay for tuition, but the missionary encouraged him to trust God. An elderly widow back in the US heard Celestan's story and felt burdened to send money for his education. Every month she would collect cans and turn them in for cash. And every month Celestan had just enough money to get by. This widow died right after Celestan graduated from the seminary. He never even got to meet her.

Pretty cool story, right? After I heard it, I thought to myself, "I want to be like that widow. I want to be making a difference in somebody's life like that. " But really, it wasn't just that I wanted to give money to help somebody somewhere. What I really wanted was to be the person in somebody's story who gets the glory. I mean, didn't you think well of the widow? If I'm really honest, I want to give money to someone who's gonna turn out successful! In any aspect of service, I want to know that all the time and effort and energy I poured into it would be making a difference. But Geotz is suggesting that we should be expending ourselves, with no thought of results, because that's what we're called to do.

Growing up, I always remember hearing, "Well, if just ONE person comes to know Jesus, then this was all worth it." Then, on a high school mission trip to England, one of the missionaries put a different spin on it: "We are called to obey. Our job is to share not to save. So even if no one trusts Christ this trip, then this was all still worth it." And now I can see that he's right.

Some of Goetz's closing thoughts from this chapter: "What we enjoy, after being released from the need for significance and success, is the sweetness of the obedience. Finding one's purpose comes not from the results of service but from the act of obedience."