Thursday, January 4, 2018

Baby Girl is 6

How in the world does this happen? I know this is the lament of so many parents, but for real?

CB - today you are six years old. I'll always remember the anticipation of waiting for your arrival. I was on a strict time schedule with teaching abroad and I needed you to get here! And gracious, I fell in love with you even before meeting you in person! You were the long awaited baby I had awaited! You were the little girl who made me a Tia and life has never been the same!

Though I often wish you would stop growing up, I sure do love watching the little lady you are becoming! God has so beautifully gifted you with a sweet and tender heart towards those you love.

Your dimples are the most precious. Your sparkling eyes portray your mischievousness and also your contemplative spirit. You are a thinker. And land sakes - you are so inquisitive! So many times I can you formulating questions and pondering information.

Spending 10 days with you and EM in a row, with just us three, have become some of my favorite memories with you. You are simply fun! You are fun, but you are deep. You are bright, but compassionate. You adore your little sister and you also push her buttons (not unlike your Tia used to do with your momma).

When I left on Wednesday and I could hear your cries outside, I thought my heart would break. I'm sad that you were sad, but I love that you feel so deeply. That is a gift, precious one, and I pray the Lord's protection over such a sweet gift.

I loved for your birthday giving you the option of seeing a movie or going to pick a gift at Target. You wanted time. Your momma told me that speaks to your heart - one on one time. And I could weep for those moments. You were DELIGHTED that it was just me and you. Your giggles during the movie is the sweetest! I just love you!

Oh baby girl - I have so loved watching these stages of your growing up! You just become more and more fun. And while I miss your squishy little self, and your raspy one-year old voice, I sure do love who you are right now.

I pray the Gospel becomes all the more dear to your heart. That you develop a passionate love for Jesus and the Kingdom. I pray your life is a representation of redemption and the hope of the Gospel.

When you call me Tia Abby, my heart explodes! You started that, Baby Girl! Tia Abby loves you, darling thing!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Lives of Giants

(Written day of the celebration listed below)

Tonight Luke and I went to celebrate the life of a man who is now with Jesus. Wow. I'm not ready to be in this season where my parents continue to age and all the grandparents are gone.

We listened to many share stories and hope and memories. Sniffles, tears, laughter, tissues, quotes, hope - all part of the atmosphere. Standing room only. People packed inside. Because they cared. Their lives had been brushed by a giant. Jesus overflowed. Because this giant oozed Jesus.

So many familiar faces of days gone by. Lives that once daily and weekly intersected now separated by careers, states, time, a scattering of the Gospel. Reunited because of a giant.

I watched my brother and marveled. He is a giant in part to this other giant. He laughed, joked, reminisced with other giants in the room who marked his life. Men and women who were wiling to invest in a middle-school boy and saw a giant in the making. 

Who affirmed his gifts.

Who applauded his abilities.

Who said you have something to offer.

Who let him try.

Who corrected.

Who built.

Who invested.

Who pointed to Jesus.

And I wept. These giants built one of my giants.

And I delighted. This is the beauty of lives poured out. An emptying of ourselves into the lives of others for the Gospel.

And my brother giant is pouring out into other giants. And one of those is merely a tiny giant - his son.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dear Baby Lad,

Dear Little Lad,

This is your Tia Abby here. You may recognize my voice if this were an audio reading for you. I've talked to you often for the past several months.

You are scheduled to arrive any day now and I simply Can. Not. Wait!

Here's the deal, little buddy. Your baby nickname came about as we learned your were a little boy. I was calling you Baby LA (for your parents' names - Luke and Abby). Then when we knew you were a boy, the D was added for Lad. And you know what's fun? Your Granny and Pappy pray for you as "Lad". Hurray for your first nickname!

Your mom has been working in the office and I can't help but watch her wondering if today might be the day you come out to meet us! Know this, little man, you are already greatly loved!

Your cousins, CB and EM, are excited to meet you! They also have given you a name - Job. CB says it's because she can spell it. You are going to love them!

Your parents are pretty stinkin' fun! They love Jesus ridiculously a lot and I cannot wait to watch them steward and nurture your heart in the ways of the Lord. Also, they are super fun and smart people! I'm a little nervous that your intelligence level is going to surpass mine by the time you enter school.

One thing I'm super excited about is having you here. In Dallas! Right now your parents live eight minutes away and I couldn't be more excited about having you so crazy close! Plan on lots of Tia Abby time and snuggles and spoiling and besos and baby wearing and chatting and fun memories! Your proximity is such a gift and one I prayed for and am so thankful for the Lord's kindness in granting this time!

So listen here, Little Lad, we are ready! Your car seat is installed, the crib is assembled, the clothes are ready, and you have a big ole' family ready to love on you!

Come on out!

Tia Abby

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Amazing Customer Service

So I work in customer service basically. I talk to people on the phone and answer emails as a major portion of my daily work. People are fascinating!

I recently had such a remarkable customer service experience. One of those where you write to corporate because it was so profound.

It is no secret I love writing devices - pens, markers, pencils, etc. Sharpies are one of my favorite things! Especially the silver metallic Sharpies. When I taught, there was a marker bucket of "Ms. Spencer's markers" and students who were granted permission to use them took a pseudo-oath. And it was such a big deal to use said writing utensils. Even now, I have pen cups in my house that are "for anyone's use" and "extra special writing tools". Yes, I have problems.

(Just a sample from my personal collection. Not all Sharpies owned were pictured.) 

All this to say when I needed to go and find perfectly colored Sharpies for an upcoming work trip - I was ALL over it! This is like sending a kid to the candy store with $20!

So I went to Michaels to find said beautiful Sharpies. And I found them and I might have tested out the new brush style ones. Because why not?

When I went to pay for the Sharpies, I encountered an odd question from the cashier.

Cashier: "Where did you park?"

I pause.

Cashier: "On the left or the right?" (He points out the window)

I turn around and have that moment of "oh my word! Is this a test? Am I being screened for senility because sometimes I can't remember where I park?"

I fortunately spot my car and respond: "Oh, it's right there on the right."

Cashier: "Ok, good."

Awkward pause. (Do I ask why? Was there an accident in the parking lot? Is it raining? Did a semi just drop a large load of chickens that have taken over the lot now?)

Cashier: "There is someone out front on the left side who has been bothering customers as they exit and I wanted to make sure you would able to get to your car safely. I just called the police, but you should be ok. If you had been parked on the other side, I would have walked you out to your car to be sure you were safe."

Me (dumbfounded): "Wow! Thank you. That is very kind."

Cashier: "I'll watch as you walk out to your car to make sure there are no problems. Thanks for coming in today!"

I literally walked out shocked. Who does that? Unfortunately the receipt did not tell me the employees name and it was the one time I couldn't remember what the tag said (yes, I usually remember - I'm a visual learner!).

And I was reminded and challenged, "How can I create remarkable experiences for those I interact with as I talk on the phone and respond to emails?"

And hopefully, this employee is recognized by Michaels for the outstanding service provided! Because I sure did fill out a customer experience form on their website.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Past 60 Days

This spring/summer has been a complete whirlwind. Traveling, moving, traveling, family time, traveling, dog sitting, traveling.

But I wouldn't trade it for anything.

With the madness of the past bit, Luke challenged me to do a blog post of numbers and stats of 60 days (Roughly April 22-June 21).

* 9 Amazing friends helping me move from one garage apartment to another

* 38 days in Israel

* 423 people on the combined trips I was on to Israel (that is a LOT of names to remember)

* 8 packing cubes that have changed my international packing life

(Seriously - these are amazing! Changed my hotel life)

* 4 days in Rome

* 7 days on airplanes
(Hello 2:00am wakeup call eyes) 

* 1 shady taxi driver muttering in a language I don't speak

* Countless new friends & connecting with previous friends

* 6 Shabbats in Israel

* 45 nights in hotel rooms
(Checking out a new hotel in May/staying there in June)

* 4 days of dog/house/pool sitting

(Buddy!!!!!  Actually his name is Winston, but sometimes I call him Petey from Little Rascals
Love this)

* 1 pair of airline issued sweatpants when my jeans failed the wand test during the additional screening and 1 airline issued "toiletry" kit when the luggage did not arrive (including a pair of pajamas)
(This bag held all kinds of goodies, including the pajamas)

* 4 days in the office during the month of June

* 6 days in the office during the month of May

* 3 Sea of Galilee boat rides (2 with the "grammy" awards and 1 with dancing)

* 14 nights spent in my new apartment (not enough time to take photos or settle in)

* 5 international airports
(Beautiful airport - they even sell tulips there!)

* 3 types of currency used

* Undetermined number of cappuccinos consumed in Israel and Italy for this non-coffee drinker
(Take me back!) 

* 7 Aroma iced coffees

* 1346 pictures taken - yes, apparently, I still take a bunch o' pictures in Israel!

* 21 funny sign pictures taken (to be shared on future posts)

(Please tell me you see the hilarity! See translation in italics - the third one down. Evacuation automatique. Hahaha!!! Toilets can be an automatic evacuation method)

* 4 or 5 Gelato cones in Rome (because "when in Rome")

(Lemon was probably my favorite flavor!!!)

* 7 Israeli tour guides/friends and dear Tatiana
(Tati and I were freezing on the bus - blankets were purchased) 

(Love these people and our amazing dinner this night) 

(These two - oh my! So much fun!)

(The picture I fought so hard for and I'm so glad I did! Love these people!)

Now I'm put for a few weeks with this crazy knee and all. So thankful for the Lord's grace to do all of this traveling without awful knee problems. And now, Lord willing, we are on the road to full recovery!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Chickfila Where Life Happens Episode 1

So it's no surprise that Chick-fil-a is a big family favorite! I've had many a wonderful, thought-provoking, and memorable moments/conversations at Chick-fil-a.


So a few weeks ago, I met Abster and Luke at our favorite Chick-fil-a (hi, Lori!) because...


Sweet Abster texted and said, "Do you want to meet at Chick-fil-a and we will tell you what we are having?" Um, yes. I wouldn't miss it!

Yes, I might have been excited! It was another one of those moments when I was delighted to be living in the same place as them to be a part of these moments.

I was so excited and we got our food and sat down. I ran to use the bathroom real quick before we started chatting (why does this matter? You will see).

When I came back, Luke said, "So how is work going?" Abby said, "Stop it!" I was fine - I can work with it. I asked how the appointment went and all was well.  Then Luke said, "It's a..."

And he lifts up my tray and there were the photos of the tiny baby!!!

(We might have re-enacted this for a photo)

Little one. So sweet! And it's a BOY!!!! So now the nickname is Baby LAD (still Luke and Abby, but lad represents a little man, so it works).

He looks like a little alien right now and is the cutest. I can't wait to meet his little self.

And during this process, I kept wrestling with the Lord on "please keep them here to be a part of this little one's life." More on that to come.

Gracious - I love them!!! 

So Chick-fil-a. Just one example of where life conversations have happened. (Also side note: Luke and Abby and I waited at a Chick-fil-a for Charlie Belle's birth, so there you go).

(On our way to Chick-fil-a, then the hospital to await Char's entrance to the world)

 (2012 - when they were just a little engaged couple)