Saturday, June 29, 2013

What I learned on Vacation-Frio River 2013

Well I am sitting here taking a break from trying to clean my house, after being gone a week to the Frio River.  It was my first time to ever visit Garner and I have to say it is as beautiful as everyone has always described it to me.  This was also the first time I ever vacationed with 3 other families.  We got to go to Canyon Lake with one other family last year and had a blast, but this year I wasn't so sure about 3 families.  Let's just say we had a total of 8 adults, 3 teenage girls and 6 young boys all sharing a 5 bedroom house.  I have to admit I was a little leery about it all, but it was an eye awakening experience and I enjoyed myself to the fullest.
First, I learned that each family is created uniquely.  And that is a good thing.  They all have their own way of doing things.  Some live out of their suitcases the entire time while others unpack everything and put it in drawers and closets.  Some stack their shoes nice and neat while others find one flip flop under the couch and the other floating in the pool.  Some shower every day and some (mostly kids) think a dip in the river constitutes as a shower.  Some get darker by the sun, others get golden and some just fry.  Some like grape jelly and some like strawberry.  Some like to inch their way into the cold water and others just dive in.  Some kids eat everything in sight while mine remain the pickiest eaters of all.  Some are night owls and others, like myself, are yawning by 10 p.m.  Some drink coffee for a boost of energy and some drink a diet Dr. Pepper to start the day off.  My point is that we are all different and I love that!  It is about taking those differences and making it work.  Sometimes you take a little and other times you give a lot.  It may not always be your way but your way may not be the best way.   We were all placed together with a common interest and were able to enjoy ourselves.  God asks us to love one another.  Such an important commandment and probably one of the hardest for us to keep.  But God has his fingerprints all over us and I am thankful that we are all created in His image.  Though we are uniquely made we are put together to do this thing called life.  So thankful I can enjoy life with some great families.

Secondly, I learned that there are still people out there who value family and marriage.  I was able to spend 5 days with people who love their spouses and actually enjoy being with them.  Together, they create something dynamic that can take on the world and its challenges.  These special bonds are passed on to their children.  You saw a group of kids who actually didn't mind hanging with their parents.  I know this could change at any time but I love to embrace the moment and wish I could freeze it still.  And because our hearts are so full, it is easy to give the excess to the kids who aren't even ours.  There were a lot of laughs and a lot of smiles along the way.   Every couple looked out for each other's kids like they were their own.  Isn't this what the Lord wants us to do?  He asks us to carry each other's burdens and to encourage one another.  We have to look out for each other.  I have many friends who I didn't go on vacation with that are a great example of this also.  Sure, there will be times when we don't always agree and we may get on each other's nerves but we are called to carry each other through the twist and turns of life.  There will be circumstances where you will need a community of people who think the way you do, love the way you do and pray the way you do.  It brings me joy to know there are people in my life who value the same things that I do.

Lastly, I was reminded that God didn't just created the Heavens and the Earth.  He created me to enjoy His creation and to take care of it.  I have never been one to want to travel the world but there is so much I haven't seen.  I was taken back by the beautiful country in Leakey and Garner.  We couldn't have asked for a better vacation spot.  We got to wake up every morning to trees and mountains and all the sounds the animals make.  On the morning of our 14th wedding anniversary Bryan and I got to sit on the front porch and drink coffee and just talk.  We talked about the blessings in our life and how God is just so amazing!  The God who created such beautiful scenery also created the man who was sitting beside me in a rocking chair.  I was reminded just how much I love Bryan even after 16 years together.  There was no one else in that moment that I wanted sitting beside me enjoying all that God had created.  When I look into Bryan's eyes, I see my two brown-eyed boys and my heart is full.  We got to enjoy, as a family, what God made.  God is so good to us!

What a great vacation!  Thank you Lord for being the creator of the universe.  Thank you Lord for supplying my every need and giving me extra to be able to enjoy this beautiful land.  Thank you for people who aren't like me in every way but are like me in so many good ways.  Thank you for our unique DNA but also for the same hearts who long after you.  Thank you for new adventures but also for the common ground we walk on. God is great, friends are good, and people are crazy!

Until we meet again Frio River!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I love men! Happy Father's Day

As Father's Day approaches, I know many people have mixed emotions.  Some people rejoice in the day because they are able to celebrate the special men in their lives.  Some dread the day because it brings up bad memories of having a horrible dad or the absence of one.  Others will feel a sense of void because they have lost that special man in their lives.  Regardless of the circumstances, I feel it is important to recognize the special men in my life.  Please know that I am sensitive to those who have bad memories of their father due to abuse or abandonment or other reasons. 

With that aside, I do feel that sometimes we give men a bad wrap.  I could sit here and tell you about my dad's faults but I know that he is not perfect.  My parents divorced when I was still a toddler.  I do remember my Dad always picking me up when it was his turn to have me.  I know he would do everything in his power to protect me. My Dad is a macho man who can be hard at times but I always have known he loves me.  We didn't have the closest relationship growing up but that has changed a lot since I have been married and had kids of my own.  I can look back now and see that my Dad may not be perfect but he has influenced my life in so many ways that I can't thank him enough for.  I still will never forget the butt-whoopin I got from him from spilling milk in his truck.  We laugh about that all the time now.  He always practiced softball with me and made me the best 3rd basemen I could be.  He is the only one who calls me by my middle name "Diamond."  I won't even give Bryan permission to call me that.  He is the first to always call me on my birthday even if it is at 6 in the morning.  He has always worked hard from sun up to sun down and with his hands.  He taught me to mow and Bryan should thank him for that because I love to mow now.  Just the other day I sent him a picture of Christian mowing the yard.  His response was "the yard man stops with me."  I don't feel that way at all.  I love my Dad for being a hard worker.  I admire that about him!  He has his ways but he is my Dad and I thank God for the influence he has had in my life and for loving me the best way he knows how.

Now with Bryan in my life, I have been able to see fatherhood in a different light.  I fall in love with that man more each day when I see him with our kids.  He would give up everything just to know his kids are happy and safe.  He is a disciplinarian but he is the fun one.  He wrestles.  He raps.  He shoots baskets, throws footballs and swings bats.  He goes to school parties even if sometimes he is the only Dad there.  He makes 3 different types of breakfast each morning.  He is the one who rubs their backs when they relax on the couch.  He tells them he is proud of them often.  He gives hugs and says "I love you."    He doesn't just get on to them when they do wrong, he sits down and explains things to them.  He says he is sorry to them when he is wrong even if he isn't wrong very often.  He doesn't just take them to church, he is a walking example of a Godly father.  He lays hands on them when they go to bed and prays for them often.  He not only loves his own kids but he has tons of others in his life that he treats like his own.  I don't know how much more I can love that man. But when I see the brown in my boy's eyes sparkle,  I see their Daddy even more.  Thank you God for blessing me with Bryan Rhodes.

I am so fortunate to have great men in my life.  I addition to my father and Bryan, I have had the privilege of getting to know an amazing man who has become my step dad.  He loves my mom and has made her happy and is one of the most giving people I know.  My brothers are doing outstanding jobs with their kids as well.  I also have the privilege of working with some great men.  Each one of them love their kids so much and you can see their faces light up when they talk about them.  They are family men who provide and are active in their kid's lives.  I am also grateful to the men who have coached my boys, taught them, and who have just been family friends.  Those men have made a difference in my boy's lives by their own choice.  Men don't realize just how important they are to us.  They are called to such an important job and I am thankful that many of them rise up to it.  Thank you guys for being such a great part of my life and my boy's lives.  Sure you stink at times and laugh at the most obnoxious things, and leave the toilet seat up, and hurt our feelings by some random thing you say.  But you also make us feel safe, stand up for what is right, kill the nasty bug crawling across the floor, and makes us feel loved like no one else can.  You men rock!

Before I go, I have to thank my Heavenly father.  Without Him in my life, I am nothing.  His love for me cannot be compared.  His love is flawless and endless.  He only gives me the best and He is showing me over and over again just how much He has planned for me.  Thank you Lord for being the greatest father of all.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Unfinished Projects

I do have to start out by saying that I apologize if most of my blogs have to with running or sports.  But this seems to be my inspiration for writing right now.

Last Saturday Bryan and I went out for a run before Christian's basketball tournament.  I hadn't ran 4 miles since last December so I wasn't totally looking forward to it especially in this Texas heat.  When we got to the park, I realized that I forgot my ipod.  This is a sin in my book.  I have to have music to run.  Those of you that know me, know that music is a big part of my life and I listen to everything.  If you grabbed my ipod, you would hear everything from Kid Rock, to George Jones, to Donna Summer to Disciple mixed in with a little Bob Marley.  So needless to say, I was not looking forward to a run without my tunes.  Bryan told me that it would be a good time for me to pray.  Pray? Really?  I don't mind praying but I can't do it when I am running.  I will usually start out by saying "Lord help me to endure, give me strength."  Then I usually start singing something like "Humpty Dance" or something totally not something I would sing in church.

Despite the lack of music, I had to put my big girl panties on and run anyway.  Surprisingly, I made it through and caught a little perspective along the way.  I was asking the Lord to help me finish the run.  As I began to ask for this, I felt some conviction.  I though about all of the unfinished projects in my life.  Sure I can name things at my house that are unfinished.  In order to protect my husband, I will not call him out on such things.  But I know that I have pictures scattered all in my front room that I have been needing to organize and put away.  They have become such great decorations for the floor.  I have used items that are piled up in the garage that I need to either tag for a garage sale or just donate.  While all of these things need to get done and I need to get disciplined about doing them, I am more concerned with all of the things I have not finished regarding the Kingdom. 

A while back I started writing letters to people who had influenced my life and had planned to mail those out to them.  I have yet to complete them.  I have made so many promises to God that I know I have failed to keep.  So there I was asking the Lord to help me finish, to help me endure and I realized that there is so much I haven't done for Him that I said I would.  Now I know that we are not saved by our works but when we follow God we want to do good things and are often prompted to do them too.  I am humbled by His grace and I am thankful that His love for me is not based on my performance.  I am grateful that just because I don't keep my promises doesn't mean that He doesn't keep His.  He reassures me that even though there are things that I do not finish, He still believes in me and will equip me with all that I need to finish.  He doesn't write me off just because I fail to complete what I initially set out to do.  Instead, He takes me right where I am and gives me another chance.

I have so many dreams and so many things I want to do and be in life.  I want to be a better wife and mother and I am daily working on that.  I want to learn to say "I am sorry" more often. I want to not get tired in being the bigger person.  I want to be in a position to bless people and encourage them with my words and my finances.  I want to read my bible more.  I want to never go a day without praying.  As I write these sentences on paper, I can't help but think that I am going to screw this up.  Just today, my stomach hurts and my head is full of the stresses of life.  And I want to sit down and play candy crush all night just to clear my head.  But instead, I am writing this to bring some healing to my own heart and mind. 

I ask you to look into your own life and see if there are any "unfinished" projects.  Are there things you have started that you want to finish?  Are there promises you have made that you were unable to keep?  Is there someone in your life that you have put on the back burner that may need you right at this moment?  Are there dreams you have that you have buried beneath your current circumstance?  Know today that God knows exactly where you are at in life.  He knows your current situation.  He takes you right where you are and gives you all that you need to pick back up.  He always keeps his promises and He never fails us.  We are like unfinished clay that the potter is continuing to sculpt to create a beautiful masterpiece.  Just as God doesn't give up on us, we should never give up on becoming more like Him.  Whether it is a walk, a jog, or a full out sprint, make sure you finish the race.  The reward will be more than we could ever fathom.