Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Through Thick and Thin

Oh my.

I kind of can't believe I just wrote a poem about my weight, but I did.

You can thank our Hannah. The other day, my beautiful 23 year old married daughter sent her dad and me one of those fun, "remember this?" texts where she included a picture that had shown up on her timehop. It was taken in 2008.
Glad it's blurry. Blurry adds 10 lbs, right?

Yikes. Not gonna lie. When I saw this I was slightly taken aback at how heavy I was.

And then the memories of weight gained and lost over the years came flooding back. In poetic form. It's one of my little quirks, but I'm glad God gave it to me. Some of you may be able to relate. My hope is you all enjoy:)

Through Thick and Thin

A score and 7 years ago
Some serious vows were said,
To love through all the good and bad,
And forever - til we're dead.

Those words were good, but incomplete.
And this may cause chagrin
But both of us did not say,
"I do  - through thick and thin."

Through thick and thin? What can you mean?
The same as "better or worse?"
Oh no. Not quite. Not even close.
What I mean is called one's "girth."

I started thin like most brides do
I'd cook and eat at will
My zippers still would zip right up!
Oh the glory! Oh the thrill!

Then a very happy happening
Brought elastic pants my way
Nine months of thickness welcomed
"It's all baby!" folks would say.

Well, some left with the baby's birth
And some, it stayed behind.
I guess it'd gotten used to me
And thought leaving a bit unkind.

I let the thickness hang for years,
Which I thought was more than nice,
I fed it every night at 10.
Is ice cream really a vice?

But one day past, I hit that point
When you say, "It's now or never."
I measured all my beloved food,
And exercised more than ever.

The weight, it dropped!
The thickness left, and thinner came to be,
I've got this beat, or so I thought
Oh the joy! Oh, the glee!

I thought that 20 was gone for good.
But since, I've gained half back.
Alright. Ok. But, darn and shoot!
I gave those scales a whack.

The thick, the thin, the thick again.
I know this tune by now
I've sung it loud and proud and strong,
I should really take a bow.

My man, he's watched me sing it
And he's loved my size with grace
I know we didn't vow those words,
But you couldn't tell it by his face.

And yet, I say, what could it hurt 
To vow this weighty truth?
"Through thick and thin," it's a for sure.
We must inform our youth.

Wedding thin

All baby ;)

2013 - Skinniest I'd been since babies 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What Can Happen in a Second

At Christmas, I was given this delightful gift by our Faith.

Thank you, Faith

The first page of such a potentially daunting book looks like this.

I figure the top left corner is a good place to start.

What Can Happen in a Second?

The very first thing that came to mind was that hard day in July of 2012 when my Lou took a tumble on his bike and ended up in the hospital for 6 days. Then I decided that his accident actually occurred over a span of a few seconds, which could possibly be more accurately described as an "instant." Since I felt the question at hand was supposed to be taken literally, I had to (momentarily) disqualify what has affectionally become known as "the wreck."

Going the strictly literal route, I came up with:

a blink.
a thought.
a word. Unless it's a word like "hypervitaminosis," which takes about 1.28 seconds to say. (Yes, I timed myself saying it.)
a cough. The dainty kind, not the hacking, convulsing kind.

There's 4, but as I was going down this literal route, I veered off course pretty quickly, and ended up settling on really the one thing that happens in a second - every single second - LIFE.

That's what life is made of - seconds. Seconds that turn into minutes that turn into hours that turn into
days that turn into years that pass quickly and before you know it, you've lived a life! I could hardly type that sentence fast enough! The urgency I felt at using my time wisely and getting that thought out was slightly intense. My life is passing!!

Of course, we can't live in that urgent, panicked state - talk about a joyless, frantic existence - no, thank you. But we are admonished by our wise, good Creator to consider how we live.

Psalm 90:12 

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Ephesians 5:15-16
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

James 4:13-1

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes...

Those are thoughtful, serious words, but they are not joyless words.

They tell us the score. It's only when we know the truth about something - that our time indeed is limited and precious and not to be squandered - can we think about it seriously and make sure we are using the seconds we are given well.
For Truth.
For Beauty.
For Goodness.
All of which are wrapped up in knowing and being known by our gracious, sovereign God. That kind of knowing and living brings deep peace and deep joy!

That's the kind of living I want to happen in every second.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The 11th Club

11 is a significant number in my life.

I was born on an 11th. A September 11th, way back in 1961.

I know, I know. I can almost hear the choir of sympathetic groans being breathed right now. That horrible day in 2001 that made all 9-11s before and since infamous and sad, was also a milestone birthday for me - my fortieth.

But 11 is not just significant for me because of me. I've always loved and felt a fun connection with my dad and my paternal grandmother because they too, were born on an 11th.

Dad was born on January 11, 1928.

 Mama Trudy was born on October 11, 1900.

Mama Trudy holding our blinking Hannah

Lou and I tried to include our 5th child, Elizabeth, in this exclusive 11th club. She was due in July and because I had had some issues birthing children, I was to be induced. We kind of got to pick her birthday! Based on my past birth track record, if we induced me on the night of the 10th, she'd be born on July 11th and get to be in our club!

However, she enjoyed the whole womb vibe longer than we wanted her to, and didn't make her appearance until the 12th. We tried, but she was #sassythenandsheissassynow

So, there's just 3 of us in that special club and today is one of those special 11ths - January 11th. It would have been my dad’s 87th birthday. 
And, come March 20, it will be 11 years since he died.

Since I like commemorating his birthday rather than his death day, and, since the number 11 is standing up tall and proud, I thought I’d list 11 fun facts about my sweet daddy. There is no real order to them and they are completely random. I just wrote what came to me as I sat here thinking about him.

  1.  He LOVED Christmas and giving gifts. He often had a theme that he’d announce and we’d  know that our gifts would be connected to that theme. For example, one year, the theme was “Enlightenment.” Our main gift that year was a copy of this framed picture that his dad, a Methodist minister, had painted.

2. He loved to dance. He'd dance anytime anywhere, and my first dances with him that I remember were in the kitchen with my feet on top of his feet, my hands in his hands and him dancing us around on that old linoleum. I giggled the whole time. I wish I had a picture of that, but I don't. I'm including a picture of him dancing with an old family friend because I love this picture of both Dad and Mrs. Helen Pritchard.

Dancing in our living room!
3.  He was a doctor in a small town in West Tennessee. When he was on call, he'd often need to meet a patient at the office after hours. If they had a laceration that needed to be sewn up, I’d go with him and be his nurse. I made sure the light was exactly where he needed it, opened supplies for him, and poured hydrogen peroxide on the finished product. I also offered a running commentary during the procedure. Bless those very patient patients.

4.  He was a medical doctor who didn’t graduate from high school or college. Crazy, huh? His family moved around a lot when he was in high school and right before he graduated, somebody noticed he was missing a typing credit. His college let him in without it. WWII and joining the Navy messed with attaining all the official college credits, but he had the ones he needed for med school, so they let him without that diploma too!

5. Dad enjoyed golf, and in his later years, he dressed in Payne Stewart fashion. He is also legendary in our family for having a practice swing that was textbook. Absolutely beautiful. But once he addressed the ball, it was a different story. Let’s just say he’d usually end his actual golf shot with the words: “Hugh, you fast swinging idiot!”

6. Dad had an amazing garden. He worked in it most every morning before he went to work and most every afternoon after work. He and mom made quite the team. He’d grow it. She’d cook it or freeze it. 
Not the best garden picture, but best I could find quickly

7. I never saw my dad in a pair of sunglasses or a pair of jeans. 
8. My dad wrote me at least once a week while I was in college. That he did that still wows me. I treasure those letters.

9. All of Dad's letters ended with "Love, Dad" and a square root of some kind - the most frequent being √6 = 2.449. Apparently he had a professor in college that would start his class period by writing different square roots on the board. That obviously stuck with dad and it's been an endearment he used all our lives and one we kids have enjoyed. We had that most familiar square root engraved on his tombstone.

10. Dad was an unusual doctor in the fact that he had beautiful penmanship - and he was very proud of it. I was too, and after seeing this kind of thing done in Southern Living, I had the same done with one of Dad's letters. This particular letter was one he sent to me a few months after I got married. It's one of my favorite things.

I especially love his "L" and his "H"

11. When I started teaching, Dad would call me every Friday morning before I left for school just to say, "It's Friday! Every teacher's favorite day." He was right. It was my favorite day:)

January 11 was/is also one of my favorite days. A good man was born.

Thinking today about the good man God gave and let me call "Daddy."

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 - Transitions

If I had to use one word to describe 2014, it would be Transition.

Some of our transitions were easy and joy filled and  relatively seamless. Some were hard and painful and made us cry.

In them all, we felt the steady hand of our God and we leaned hard into the hope of verses like Isaiah 43:2a.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

One way God used to remind me of this truth in 2014 was in the beauty of the sunsets. As I looked over the pictures we took these past 12 months, I was struck by the number of sunsets I had taken. I don't know if you can have a good year for sunsets or not, but I certainly had a good year for taking pictures of them. Seeing the beauty and majesty of a sky on fire reminds you of eternal truths and an eternal being waaay bigger than you. And this One who paints the sunsets loves, is in control, and can be trusted. His goodness in giving us a book, The Bible, to hold in our hands, to read, and to remind us of all He is and all He said blows me away sometimes.

While we were seeing stunning views like this over Bolivar at the beginning of 2014, our Faith was seeing stunning vistas over the Mediterranean and ministering to people in the Middle East. 

She loved her time with the ministry YWAM, and was there through February. Since then, she's transitioned back to Bolivar  - still ministering, working, and singing. She's now going to Southwest Baptist University, where she studies Biology and is a jumper on the track team. 

Faith was here to enjoy her sister's senior year basketball swan song. Elizabeth finished strong but we all had to encourage her to be a little more vocal and aggressive. (wink, wink)

In March, my midwest men (Lou and David) headed to California to spend a week with our Luke, who has transitioned to life on the West Coast. They hiked and ate, toured and ate, drove and ate, and ate some more. Definitely good male bonding time.

All were awed by the Redwoods
Spring in Bolivar wasn't quite as warm as spring in Cali, but warm or not, Elizabeth played her favorite sport, soccer. And I flipped out when she did her signature flip throw, a highly effective offensive weapon. So much fun to watch.

Soccer was actually a 2 for 1 sport for us. Our freshman, Mary Grace, played right alongside her senior sister.
#23 and #17 ---> my favorites

Senior Night

In between soccer games, we made time to get served by our favorite waitress. 

Glad she carried food trays up and down these steps and not me!

True confession time: Having a child who's worked in food service has made me a better tipper.  

At Easter, Lou's sister, Dona, was smiling beautifully in our Easter dinner pic. Our family enjoyed her sweet self for a chunk of 2014. We prayed God's blessing over her as she (and her cat, Bobwinky) moved on and down to Dallas at the end of July. Her living with us was a gift to our family. 

Clockwise from my 88 year old Mom: Elizabeth, Faith, Lou, Alex, Hannah, Mary Grace, and Dona
Me and my girls on Easter

May brought Mother's Day and Graduation and all the happiness that surrounds those days. 

Mom and 5 of my kids

David, Me, Faith, Elizabeth, Hannah, Mary Grace, Lou, and Alex
The transition from a busy school year to the warm, slightly slower days of summer is always welcome. 

The only thing unwelcome is that sometimes the college student who just came home from school leaves again for his "job."

David spent his summer as a counselor -  playing sports and encouraging young men at Kanakuk Kamp. His time at kamp was a nice break from accounting classes!

Summer also meant lots and lots of hammocking with friends. I wish this had been a thing when I was young. So cool.

Summer also brought July, and July meant we packed up Hannah and Alex's cute little Springfield cottage and moved their stuff to an equally cute (and significantly smaller) garage apartment in Tulsa, OK. It is so OK that they are there, but we miss spur of the moment,  "Hey, we're in Springfield! Want to get together?"  
One last pic in front of the house on Fremont
Mary Grace and Hannah saying good-bye after we moved them to Tulsa.
People mistake these two for each other.

Hannah and Alex have affectionately coined their garage apartment the "treehouse."

Alex is inspiring 4th graders at Chouteau Elementary through Teach for America and Hannah is learning all about the business side of construction at Stava Building Corporation. They live near downtown and are completely adorable.

July also brought a more permanent good-bye. My mom, Violet Marea Petty Vaughan, died on July 13, 2014. I wrote about it here. She has made the final transition to heaven, which means we are transitioning to life without her. Because she lived with us for a couple of years, she had become a part of our daily life - of who we are as a family. How thankful I am that my children really knew their Grandmother and had the opportunity to help care for her. In that same vein, enough cannot be said about the kindness of my Lou to her. He loved her well.

And, she taught him how to make her awesome pound cake! 

Mom loved me well and I'm glad God put us together on this earth.
Mother's Day 2014
She was still beautiful at 88 years old!
When the family was all in for Mom's funeral, the Harris boys joined their dad in his favorite pastime. I love pictures of my three favorite men.

Luke, Lou, David
My siblings were also here for the funeral. How glad I am for this one picture we took that day.

Keith, Hugh Jr, Andy
Kathy and me
We didn't know it at the time, but it would be the last picture of all 5 of us. My oldest brother, Hugh Wynn Vaughan, Jr., died on August 6 - a few short weeks after my mom. One friend wrote, "Grief has followed grief for you right now. We will pray for you and for all who loved your brother." 

We felt those prayers. God was faithful in those deep, dark waters.

Summer ended with 3 of us participating in their first triathlon.

I was not one of the 3;). I made a great fan, though, and we loved the atmosphere and heart of such a physically challenging event.

David tackled it as an individual, and Lou and Faith snagged our friend, and D1 swimmer, Emma, to compete as Team Elf. (Emma - swim, Lou - bike, Faith - run). They all did us proud.

Fall came, and so did the mass exodus.

David and Elizabeth headed to Fayetteville to call the Hogs and study a little.

Faith moved her stuff into the dorm at SBU.

Now the only ones who made noise around here on a daily basis were me, Lou, and Mary Grace. Mostly Mary Grace. She and I were actually pretty chummy until that fateful day at the end of September, when the state of Missouri awarded her that most coveted of all official documents - her driver's license.

Everybody has driven their Papa Hugh's 1987 Dodge Dakota.

In between driving all the places a sophomore in high school needs to go, Mary Grace managed to hit the tennis ball around.

And her Dad enjoyed watching her (me too:)

Our Cali kid is still auditioning and writing and working in LA. We are always glad to FaceTime or message that boy. Did you know California is a really long way away?

We were super glad he was home for the holidays.

Everybody was home for the holidays, so the noise was back...and welcome. It's a good thing to really like your adult children. They are all so different...and interesting. They make me think. They make me pray. They make me smile.

We are far from perfect and have our tense moments just like every family, but we have good, deep history - and that is a good, deep gift from God.

Thanks for scrolling through. As we all transition from 2014 to 2015, know that the Harrises send an old Irish blessing your way.
Sampler my Mom made

God's blessings to you and yours.