Friday, September 23, 2016

Toga Party of Four

Standing with luke-warm coffee in one hand, I could feel glitter beginning to settle across my nose as I saw the blur of the last toga-wrapped teenage girl fleeing down the staircase. 

I snapped a picture…

The Middle Girl requested I help make togas for her and three friends as they carry on a tradition older than I am at our local high school. It’s spirit week; Juniors wear capes, Seniors wear togas. The Boy, who is a junior, wasn’t interested in wearing a cape; I would be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked when I heard the Middle Girl shout to him late last night, “Are you not wearing a cape tomorrow?” I had a moment of, “Oh my goodness…I forgot he was a Junior!”

So the night ended with orange & blue material laid across the infamous staircase banister that has housed many capes, togas, and general drying laundry over the past 12 years. As the glue dried from placing glitter and ribbons across hem lines, we went to bed knowing the morning would be hectic.

The aforementioned material was wrapped, twisted, pinned, sewed, and glued onto four teenage girls this morning, taking the shape of togas. That’s good news, since at 10:30 p.m. last night it was questionable if they would resemble anything. However, it's left my bed, hallway, and two bathrooms resembling war-zones.

I make this entry into this diary of mine to be able to look back someday and remember what this week was like. These are the moments I have waited to participate in, and now want to remember in my future.

They are fleeting…like a vapor. These are the days of our lives and as full as this summer has been with heartache and victories (blogs to come), I want to hold onto even the smallest of moments…every fleck of glitter settling on my nose. It will someday remind me of her and these times we spent being together as a mom and a teenage daughter.


She, her boyfriend, and one of her best friends also dressed up this week as Kylie Jenner, Tiga, and Black Cyna for Hollywood Day, and as Lord Farquaad and Gingy, the gingerbread boy, from Shrek on Good vs. Evil Day:


Now this; this is the what I found while looking for The Boy in his room. He was not found, but many missing items from the pantry have been located. Now my investigation has turned to why these items were found in his room. The pondering is never-ending.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

It's Over

My normal Sunday routine was changed last minute when I learned I would chauffer three teenagers to cheer camp three counties away. I was driving to retrieve them when this thought stopped me in my tracks as it slid across my mind: her childhood is over.

My eldest turned 20-years-old Sunday. We celebrated at Buca di Beppo Saturday evening with her boyfriend, best friend, and her siblings. This was her selection for the big day.

I immediately began to weep...it was in that moment I realized that the shift was finalized. That place where the line is drawn in the sand between rearing the child and remembering their childhood. The formative years are over. I'm not sure why 20 is the age that I feel this way with her; let's be honest, she has parented Jason and I for a very long time...

I just kept saying out loud to myself, "Did she enjoy her childhood? Did I teach her what she needed? When she reflects back over these past 20 years does she have anything to overcome, or is she launching from a solid foundation to only continue to build?"

In March, Jason and I were asked to be the guest speakers at the Couples Banquet at the parent/child center. Those who invited us wanted us to speak from a place of overcoming challenges (teenage pregnancy, poverty, marrying young, etc...) to accomplishing our goals in life. I pondered this for weeks, and as usual at the midnight hour God said a couple of things to me: build your dream home & give them a childhood they don't have to overcome.
(Nothing like looking at your wife's notes 10 minutes before taking the microphone)

I'm not, by any means, equipped to counsel people on life, but I can share my story. Jason and I have built two homes, the first was brick and mortar, but the second is our favorite...it's the one we build every morning and the one God spoke to me about sharing. We frame the walls of our day with our words...we try to speak life to each other, and our children. "Good morning, I love you, be encouraged, be God's man/woman today..." You'd be amazed at how changing your words in the morning will set the tone for your day, and the way your family responds to you. On the days we fail at this concept it truly has a negative effect on our days.

But the other portion of the presentation was: Give Them a Childhood They Don't Have to Overcome. I think that's pretty self-explanatory so I won't drone on about the details, but I say this now to bring this blog full circle. As I stood in front of those couples in March speaking about these revelations God had shared with us so many years ago in our moments of desperation, I had not stopped to realize that I was on the cusp of having this moment in my own life with my daughter; the moment where I stopped and looked at her to say, "Did you enjoy your childhood?"

If I could impart anything to parents of younger children through this blog, invest in your children daily with words, proper discipline, prayer, wisdom, instruction, love, and building memories. Don't let a day pass where you haven't fed them more than just food...for tomorrow they will be 20 and flying on their own.

(Yes, I know she's still mine, and she's still listening to me, and all those wonderful things, but it's different now...)

In other Thomas family business:

Sunday, due to my cheer camp chauffeuring duties, I had to miss these sweet boys being baptized! These two nephews are the epitome of snips & snails, and dirt & 4wheelers. They are rambunctious, red-headed (one of them), and now redeemed! I cannot praise my God enough for their salvation, and thankful for a momma who has been faithful to take her babies to church and bathe them in the word until their day of salvation! 
 

I adore living beside my sister and getting to watch her sweet girls grow up. We passed down some books to my oldest niece this week that belonged to my girls. Books that will teach her about manners, money, friendship woes, and her body. Another reminder that life is moving too quickly. I snapped this pic as I pulled into our subdivision last evening. I love the way she plays with her babies, and wished I had taken more time to just play with mine at this age.

The middle girl had her appendix removed a couple weeks ago. It was her first experience with anesthesia...needless to say we captured some videos to cheer us up on gloomy days. Apparently, teenagers live through their phones and wifi is as important as food. The hospital's wifi was not behaving after her surgery was over and she couldn't respond to her friends text and calls. The tears flowed until she sobered up, and our tears from laughter flowed freely. Good thing she sobered up...she was plotting a lawsuit against the hospital, the wifi company, and the people in the room beside us who were surely "hogging all the wifi!"

Back to the 20-year-old: I didn't know there was such a thing higher than Dean's List but she accomplished just that: President's List! We came home from vacation to her diploma in the mail, and it's decree that she had graduated with "High Distinction!" I've also watched a passion-to-craft ignite in her this summer as she sits at the counter each night, in her dad's game room, painting canvases, and various items. She is working ahead for her future "little" she will have as a part of her sorority this coming fall semester.




Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Secret Room...Where I Fight

"Is that door a different color again," asked the husband with his head cocked sideways and one eyebrow raised.

"Describe...different color..." - a wife diverting the conversation.

When we built this house in 2004 we designated an office space for my husband's business that housed his many files, franchise binders, and the dinosaur-sized-desktop-computer we then owned. As the years have moved on, he has digitized all his files onto a much smaller laptop, which has migrated downstairs to his "man cave" area.

This migration left this hidden office, that is tucked away behind our master closet, unused on a daily basis, and therefore inevitably becoming the "catch-all" of our busy lives.

In 2014 I wrote a blog that was the beginning of a journey to transform our home into something that better served who we are today as a family. My journey of transformation took-on a new meaning later that year and continuing until now; here we are on June 29, 2016 and I can tell you I'm just now getting to a place of completion with most of the house. My redecorating journey ended up serving as a grief counselor as last year I lost a total of seven people who were somehow a part of my life, and another co-worker last month. I've spent my extracurricular time attempting to design my grief away.

As I painted my front door a total of nine different times, bought a billion different chairs, rugs, accent pillows, and curtains, my husband just sat back and let me do whatever I felt like for the day. I think he knew it kept my mind busy, however, there were still times I just needed a place to collapse and cry.

As I found the energy to tackle this mound of junk covering what used to be our home office, I spent an entire day painting and trying to figure out what I would use this hidden room for. I considered a couple of options but decided I would just decorate it and let it become whatever it was to become.

I was drawn to this room. I had moved my prayer time to this area. My husband asked me if this was my war room...I guess it is. I prayed beside my bed before this, but I can tell you that having an area, wherever it may be, is healing for our souls.

I have encouraged my children to create a place in their rooms where they pray, meditate, read the Word of God, and lay down their cares for the day. We all need a place of refuge, and as our church sanctuary serves as a refuge for us in a corporate body setting, I have discovered a prayer closet (as the Word describes) is a gift to us from God. The power of praying out loud, speaking our cares and concerns, and just being in communion with our father is more healing than any other form of communication I have ever experienced. I spoke about Psalms 91 at Hope Group Monday evening, and how this Psalm describes a secret place with God, a place that protects us from the enemy, and gives us rest...that secret place is in prayer...the very shadow of his wing where he protects us.

As the rest of the nation/world is debating how to handle the ever present evil in this world, I learned a long time ago that I cannot fight this evil with my fist, more guns, or gun control, however, the Word says we wrestle not against flesh and blood, so I fight this present darkness on my knees in prayer and worship: my most powerful weapons of warfare. How protected would we become if every home in America had a place of prayer that was used on a daily basis. Daniel prayed three times a day and interceded on behalf of his people and God delivered.

I watched God deliver a young man from anxiety attacks Monday evening in my living room. I saw his face and knew from experience what was happening...after talking him through some verses and explaining how to be set free from it, he looked at me and said, "It's gone!" I just grinned...He told me he hasn't had any anxiety since. This is from a young man who was struggling with 3-4 attacks a day, every day for over a year. My God is my refuge and strong tower, and I am overwhelmed he allows us to share his good news with others, and then watch him work in their lives. Watch him become their strong tower of refuge.

My favorite piece:

I adore decorating our home with items made for me by friends/family. I was scrolling through facebook one evening and came across a friend who had discovered a new talent. My heart was drawn to have her paint me an angel for my room. The first time I laid eyes on it I was overwhelmed with emotion, I knew it was perfect for this place that I would be carrying mine and so many other's needs to my father. And it is... (Thank you, Jennifer Carmine.) 
The yellow rose is from my daddy's casket spray...


Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Heart Gushes

This girl used to dress up in her Sunday best and go to the high school each year and watch the prom goers enter the doors. I had to be there to cover prom for my job, but she loved to tag along dreaming of the day she would go to her first prom. It's a bitter sweet moment on this journey I call motherhood...
My Saturday off work started fairly early with the boy's agenda in my left hand and a cup of coffee in my right.

The boy has a J-O-B! Stop here and praise Jesus. Thank you.

He will be slinging hotdogs and slushies this summer at the aquatic center. This new prestigious position required some grownup moves on his behalf this morning. We headed to the bank to open his first checking account, then to city hall to fill out the proper tax forms, and our last stop was to Quick Care for a drug test. We walked in to a room full of teenagers chugging water attempting to force their bladders to perform so they could "take" their test and leave.

As soon as his test was over, I headed home to an anxious girl who was waiting for mom to start curling her hair, she kept reminding me how excited she was for the night. Within three hours I had one head of hair finished, her friends make-up finished, toenails painted, Band-Aids on feet, dresses ironed and taped in place, and a few photos snapped! Her smile in these photos are worth every piece of stress and fret I experienced today. Isn't she lovely...and her date Charlie rounded out this gorgeous couple. My heart gushes.


In other Thomas family business:

The girl is home from college, back to being a sandwich artist at Subway during the day and has spent her nights being a cooler artist. She was invited by her boyfriend to his frat formal. I had no idea that the appropriate response to this was to gift the date with a hand-painted cooler. She worked for nights on-end to complete this; I'm super impressed!

We had a wonderful Mother's Day at my sister Buffy's. My children crossed another threshold in life as they were responsible to clean up the kitchen after lunch. But the best part was seeing the handmade card my niece made for my sister. My mother helped her find photos of her mother from childhood. Mammaw got mine and Buffy's photos confused so I made the card! Priceless. You're welcome for the appearance on your card, Buffy. 

We celebrated this girls 27th birthday last night at my moms. She came into my life when I was 13, and was the missing piece to our lives. She made us a sisterhood of 7 girls. I remember when my husband, then boyfriend, wanted to go out with me I would give him conditions to earn the date. (Don't ask me why, long story) Anyway, one of the tasks was to assemble her tricycle. Seriously, where has the time gone.