Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Winner Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for a free copy of For the Love. A winner was randomly selected and....Winner, winner chicken dinner....

it's Debe W!!

Debe is a dear friend of mine who is officially no longer allowed to say "I never win anything." We once went to a home-show and on a lark all put our names in the hat for a free iPad mini. We kind of hesitated to even enter because who ever wins these things and then your name is forever on a mailing list as a "Potential Buyer," when that's not what we are. We are people who go to home-shows to get decorating ideas to copy ourselves at home with supplies we find in our recycling bin. But who gets the call that they've won the iPad? Miss Debe. Then a week later she enters a contest at a local fun eatery to win free food for a year. And who wins? Miss Debe. Food.for.a.year. So, though this contest was entirely random, I am not wildly surprised that Lady Luck was chosen to receive this great book. Sure, it's not an iPad mini, or food for a year at a fun restaurant, but it is something I know she'll really enjoy. Note to self: never bet against Debe.

I really would love for everyone to have a copy of this book. Today I was out getting some things at Costco and look what I found! $14 smackers for a hardcopy. Go and get it!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

How long is Forever?

So we're about to look at another summer through the rear view mirror. I mean, I guess it's officially done when we have hit the last weekend before school starts. The season rolled in with thunderous fun filled travel and camps and a good bit of time floating around the pool. But in the past week we I sort of found myself looking longingly at the pretty little bags of fresh and fancy school supplies. It just seemed like time to break them open or at least deliver them to their waiting classrooms.

At long last the Meet the Teacher day arrived for us to head down the school, bustling bags in hand, ready to make our introduction. We were all pleased with the evening. The teachers seem great and their classrooms cheery and ready.

So there I was, having arrived at the pinnacle of summer's end, the supplies safely delivered, the girls happily reuniting in the halls with their dearest friends, and yet my heart felt surprisingly heavy. It's all going so very fast. I mean, I know it's terribly trite but once the years are measured by the school calendar, time starts to pass at warp speed. How in the free world am I sending these little infants off to the first and the fourth grade in just a few short days? It seems altogether impossible to believe. Does this mean I am not ready to return the little lovies into the capable care of the prepared and precious teachers in two short days? H to the no. They can still go back, but I will miss them more than I realized. 

I think my heart was especially tender because Dirk and Emerson were set to leave this morning for Minnesota. A trip for just the two of them to attend a family wedding. As I was helping Emie to finish packing up her bag for the weekend, I realized I have never sent her off on a trip without me. Sure, I have taken a few trips alone with girlfriends or with Dirk alone where she and Ainsley have stayed behind with friends or family. But never, not one time, have I ever packed the little lamb off and launched her on her own. My heart's rate quickened and I felt a little catch in my throat. It's important to note that she was going away for just two nights. With Dirk. He is her father. He is more than capable of lovingly caring for her every need. And it's for three days. Goodness, what am I going to do when the lovie sprouts her wings and truly flies out of the nest and off to college without either one of us? Sweet baby Moses, just the thought puts a quiver in my knees.

This morning I woke her for the early bird flight and she was as tender as dew. It was 3:30am. As in the middle of the night. I crept into the room she shares with Ainsley and laid down in her bed.

I drew her long frame into my arms and swallowed hard. I still see her like this. A doughie darling napping in her bathing suit. But she's nearly as tall as her teacher this year. This photo must have been taken seven years ago, yet it's still one of my favorites.

I pulled her near like I did when she was a babe and she smelled of Trader Joe's body wash, shampoo, and love. So much love. I softly kissed her cheek and she didn't flutter so much as an eyelid. She's not awake, I thought. Going to have to nudge her a bit. But in a moment she rolled toward me and opened her ocean eyes. She looked straight at me and whispered, "That was such a great way to wake me up." As we made our way downstairs, she said, "I'm sorry, did I sleep too long?" It was 3:30am and my ten year old wanted to be sure she'd not stayed too long in her bed. What a gem.

She brushed her teeth and changed into her clothes and turned to hug me tight. "Shine your light," I whispered into her ear. "Take note of things that people do well or things about them that you like and be sure to tell them. People need to be encouraged and you're so good at it." With her arms snug around my waist she said into my chest "I know I'll have such a good time." I knew it was her way of telling me to let go. To unclench my gorilla death grip around her waist and let her get into the car and off to the airport without me. As I let go, she said, "I like it so much when you come but I'll be having such fun with daddy." Gracious, this girl reads the emotions of others like the morning news. She just knows what would bless a heart and says those things. I am besotted with this shiny girl. What a love.

So while I've released my lovely for a weekend with her dad, dear friends and relatives, and hardly off to never-never land, I am aware of how hard it is to watch these girls mature and grow up. It is the very thing I want--the fruit of my labor. The bountiful harvest for the daily work of tilling the soil of their hearts and minds. Still, even still, it stings more than I thought it would to let them go and shine their light for all to see. We are, after all, blessed to be a blessing. Dirk and I have been given this tremendous treasure in these girls. These unfathomable gifts, but they're not ours to keep. If what I said is true, that everyone needs encouragement, and we've got the hookup to some unconditional lovers and marvelous encouragers, we had sure as the sun better let them go and shine. 

In the meantime, Ainsley is soaking up her favorite thing on the green earth: She created the dinner menu for us and yes, this happened.

How good are these? And yes, it's a hotdog in there. Even here in our world of Primal Paleo eating where meat is magnificent, "piggie unmentionables in a tube" probably cannot be found on any cavemen diet. But these are all beef and kosher so that must be something. I only buy those kind in the hopes that Jesus' chosen people know best about what should be considered "fit to eat." And a rabbi probably prayed over them or something, so you know, it's practically like going to church eating a few of these doggies. Yum!

Ainsley set up the Living Room for our Alice in Wonderland viewing and sleepover party.

You might note that she has laid out glow sticks for both of us. She wants this to be an all nighter with her momma.  I cannot deny, through any looking glass I find, my life is so very, very rich in love. 

Don't forget to sign up to win a free hardback copy of Jen Hatmaker's For the Love. Simply like the blog on Facebook, right up and over there, share a post to your own FB or Instagram, comment to tell me that you did before 7:00p.m. CST on Monday, August 24, and boom--your hat is in the ring for one of these beautiful books.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

For the Love of a Freebie

Last March a dear friend of mine sent me a text with a link to apply to be a part of the launch team for Jen Hatmaker's Book For the Love. Her message simply read:

This is perfect for you. Get on FB now and sign up!

Once I saw the text and got to the link, it had been up for hours. I read that spots went in two hours the last time they cast such a net, so I felt pretty sure I'd missed the boat. But just for kicks, I typed out my application. There was no time to self-edit or second guess -- I quickly hit submit and moved on about my day. I didn't expect any reply since I had thought so little about my response to why they should pick me. So it took me a minute to realize what I was reading when I found this in my inbox just a few days later:

Knock, knock. Who's there? YOU, because YOU are on my Launch Team for 'For the Love'!! Yeah baby!! We only had room for 10% of all applicants (what the??), and we think you got the stuff. THANK YOU for your amazing enthusiasm; I couldn't possibly love you more if I tried with all my might. You are leading well and using your influence like a boss. We all think you are amazing. We are going to get this thing off the ground together! Let me tell you, launching a book is really fun. And some of you are going to end up on the inside cover, so THAT. I said on January 1st this year that one goal was to spend less time pleasing "Not My People" ... well let's be clear: YOU ARE MY PEOPLE. I love you so. I really do. I am loyally yours forever. Let's do this thing.

My marketing team will now tell you all the fun details.

- Jen

5,000 applicants.

500 were accepted. 

One of them was me. 

Boom goes the dynamite.

I have no idea what that last phrase means, but Emerson says it a lot when she's excited, so it seemed appropriate for such a fun occasion. It's obvious from my prediction how excellent I am at decoding the future. Seriously. I'm a pro at deciding how things are going to go. I guess it's the story-teller in me. I love to predict what someone's response might be to something I'm going to share or even predict how an event or an entire day might go. How does this work for me? Not well. Not very well at all. Though I love to live in the moment, I do often write the next chapter of my story in my head long before I've turned the page on the day or even week I'm living in. 

I need to stop doing this because here's what I've learned: God is much better at planning than I am. Sure, He throws in way more plot twists than I'd prefer, but the stories He writes for me are far better than any I could write for myself. To be a part of this group is humbling and hilarious and wonderful all in one breath. I know that I'm here only because of God's sweet favor upon me and His desire to give me something He knew I'd love. I wouldn't have imagined it would be possible, but He made sure that it was.

This team of #500, including Jen herself, has proven to be  such an authentic, life-giving group of people on Facebook of all places. We're friends now. Like really friends. Several of us have met up and deep connections have formed. It's the heart of the book with skin on it. We so very much need a tribe. Maybe it's just you linking arms with one other person. Maybe they bring in their person and it grows from there. All I know is this, we were made for community. We are so much better together. 

I can hardly believe that my new tribe and I ar e going to Jen's house in two weeks for a party. Yes. that!! Squeeee!!! It all started because of the book's message lived out in real life:

Be kind. 

Be you.

Love Jesus.

It's the heartbeat of my life. I mean really. It's everything I aim to embrace. I want first to be kind. Next I want to be the most authentic version of myself, and last I want to love Jesus and love others the way He did. That's it and that's the heart of this book. It's profoundly simple yet stunningly sobering.

I want you to have a copy of this book. 

I’d lend you mine but it’s covered front to back in underlines and highlights and all manner of notes.  Instead I'll mail you one that I purchased which is brand spanking new and set to arrive on my doorstep later today. Not that I dare venture to predict the future even one more time, but I do have Amazon Prime, so it's looking good.

Here's how you get a shot at this beautiful book:

Share this blogpost on Facebook or Instagram, like the blog's Facebook page (hey, I like you already:), tell me that you did (in either a comment on the post, a tag or a comment here), all before 9:00 pm CST on August 23, and that's it! 

I'll randomly select one lucky winner a week from today! Which is also the day my girlies return to school, so we all win!

Even if you don't win, I hope you'll buy yourself a copy. My endorsement might give you a few more reasons to head to Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and wherever fine books are sold. :)

Since Jen Hatmaker wrote this book, I expected it to be good. What I didn’t expect was to laugh to the point of tears all while having my tidy little paradigm for life turned upside down. For the Love shredded the imaginary score-card I kept on myself as a wife, mom, friend, and colleague. The profoundly simple message to follow Jesus’ lead for loving everyone well is transformative and such a relief. Everyone should read this book and feel the freedom that comes from embracing their own humanity – our very best offering after all.