Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Stories: Are We Listening - Conversations in the Shoe Store

I'm reminded and convicted often to notice people. Those right around me. Walking and living life in the very places I visit.

The stories around us are often ignored and undetected. To uncover these riches require time, patience, willingness, and can be uncomfortable.

Recently, I was in a shoe store, browsing among the multi-colored stickers indicating the additional savings. A diminutive woman picked up a pair of shoes I was holding in my hand. (Not the ones in my hand. That would be another story!)

"Those are VERY comfortable. I just tried them on and am purchasing them in another color."

A look of surprise crosses her face and then she responds.

"I have very strange feet. Nothing feels comfortable on them. I used to dance ballet for years." 

"Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. Hopefully you will be able to find something that is comfortable."

"No, my dear. I wore high heels for years and years. Flats now hurt my feet, but I can no longer wear the heels. I danced and then I suffered an injury and had surgery on my leg. Ever since then, shoes are no longer comfortable. Don't get old, dear. Just stay young forever" 
  She goes on to pick up another pair I had pointed out. Onto her foot it goes.

"A long time ago I used to be a foot model. I wore a 4.5 size shoe. The older I became, the larger my foot became. Now I'm between a 6-7 and I have such a difficult time knowing what size I wear and what will fit and work. (Sigh) And my foot used to be so small." 

The conversation halted at this time. She moved on and my brain was racing with a million questions.

* Where did you live before you were in Texas? (I'm guessing Eastern Europe - beautiful accent).
* Tell me some of your favorite stories working as a shoe model.
* Did you teach dance?
* What were your favorite moments when you danced?
* How did life change for you when you were no longer able to dance?
* Did your heart ache?
* What other gifts and abilities were discovered when you could no longer dance?
* What do you look forward to right now?
* What makes you feel beautiful?
* How did you identity change or how did you struggle with identity when you could no longer dance?

Some of these might be intense. But don't we all want to be known? Perhaps not by a stranger in the shoe aisle. Yet, I wonder, why did she share these small details, if there isn't something within her that longed to be known?

Who do I need to see? Who do I need to be brave enough to ask questions of and wait to hear the stories? Who is around you?

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Littlest Tiny is 2!

Those who know me well know the deepness with which I love my nieces and nephews.
My sister has two baby darlings and my Panama sisters have babies that they kindly share with me and those babies also call me Tia Abby. (This makes me all teary. So love these sweet gifts).

Four and a half years ago, I became a Tia for the first time to CB. She has changed our family for the good. And now two years ago, along came the Littlest Tiny, EM.

Baby girl - how we love you!

From the moment I received this photo, you stole me heart. 
I anxiously sat next to my phone staring at it while working because I knew you were coming. 
Thankfully Granny and Pappy are as equally enamored, so they kept sending me photos. 

Oh baby girl, you add so much to our crazy, fun family! 
You have so much passion and personality. 

(Totally having all these nostalgic moments looking at these photos. When did you grow up so much????) That headband right there? I bought that when we found out your momma was having a girl with your big sister. I couldn't wait to find the most darling hair adornments for your bald baby heads. 

Your big sister has adored you from day 1. 
The videos of her interacting with you on the first few days of your life as some of my favorite. 
EM - you are always loved. 

And your momma just had to put you in her coming home outfit. Two generations and three tiny babies have worn that outfit. And that ridiculously darling bonnet. 

As you have grown older, you get more and more hysterical. 
Tonight your momma told me you are figuring out what having a birthday means this year. 
When someone talks about your birthday, you say, "Cake?" and then starting singing "Happy Birthday" to yourself. That is you, baby girl. 

You are a snuggle bug. You will lay your head down on someones shoulder. 
You give long hugs and I soak those up. 

You go hard. You love to play, especially with your big sister and you watch her to learn lots of things. But you hold your own and are a fighter in your own right! 

You have these insanely giant blue eyes. 
We thought they might change as you've gotten older, but they haven't. 

You are such a happy girl and bring so much joy and laughter to others! 
I love your giggle and your squeals! 
Your voice is super high-pitched and reflects your enthusiasm! 

Oh EM, how we pray big prayers for you. 
We pray you love Jesus more than anything else. 

That your passion for Him oozes out of all that you do. 
And as you continue to grow, that your zeal for life if because of the hope of the Gospel within you. 

And in that vein, EM, I pray you know Jesus as Savior soon. 
That your encounter with the Gospel transforms your life for the Kingdom. 

I pray your joy continues to overflow as a reflection of God's grace and His joy in you. 

And I pray your gifts, love, and life moments have eternal impact on all those who you meet. 
Even now. 

I love you more than I can tell you, Ellister! 
Tia Abby can't wait to see you again and hug your sweet self. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

What a Strange Way to Save Money

For those who know me, I enjoy finding a bargain. Yes, I use money saving apps. I read blogs about finding a deal. I have taken on ordering things for the office because I find it a worthy challenge to save money - be it free shipping, coupon codes, etc.

In the state of Texas, your car needs an annual inspection in order to renew your registration. The process has changed and last year was a transition year for the new procedure.

With this new process that I'm still figuring out, somehow I was able to save money on both steps.

Note: this is not a method as I have no idea how it really happened but who am I to argue with savings?

Step 1: Car inspection.
This stresses me out. Every. Year. It's like preparing for a test that I'm not I can pass. AND I'm not even the one being tested. It's the car! Sheesh!

Julia has a fabulous little place that is a little sketch, but they are quick with the inspection, affordable, and mostly on the way home from work. I've been there before and it is great.

Good news. The car must have studied this year because she passed!

When the man came in to give me the total he said, "$7.
Please note: in years past, I have paid $27ish. I repeated it back and he said, "Yes, $7 because it's diesel."

Who am I to question this savings? Done.

Step 2:
Find out from the inspection man that certain grocery stores in the area will do the registration in person (no mail required!!!).

Step 3:
Go to one of said grocery stores. (Perk: no standing in line!).
Hand over said documentation.

Cashier says, "Well that is strange. Your total is coming in less than the paperwork." 
Me: "Who am I to argue with savings." 

Sure enough, my total is less than the paperwork states. 

Wahoo! I'll take it for saving money. 

Also, I think the reason my inspection was less was due to the fact that my car is one of the VW recalled diesel vehicles. Since it can't accurately pass the emissions test, I'm assuming they didn't run it, therefore making my inspection cost less. This is my theory anywhoo. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Night Noises When Living Alone

For the past year, I've lived on my own for the first time in all of my years. It has been a relatively wonderful experience. I've always had roommates/housemates since college until last year. Moving into my own place has been great, albeit lonely at times.

I've loved being able to blare the music or podcasts whenever the need arises. It's fun to keep things the way I prefer. I love the neighborhood I live in - super safe (very Mayberry feel) and close to lots of things. AND affordable (yes, it's illogical for Dallas, but the Lord and I had a lot of conversations about housing, so I know it is was a gift from Him).

Anywhoo. With all the benefits, there are some downsides.
For example: night noises. I live in an apartment above a garage. It is a detached garage behind the "big house". The owner doesn't park in the garage, but the dogs sleep in there at night.

Fortunately the dogs are not big barkers. (Side story: they must have restless night syndrome (this is my own theory/diagnosis/disorder), because one of the crates looked like this after a night of sleep. And all that fur outside of the crate was brand new shedding. It is crazy madness some nights going on down there). 

I digress. Last night, I was going to sleep. The dogs are gone. The owner is gone. It's just me. In the garage apartment. Alone. 

I've just turned out the lights and there is a crash in what sounds like downstairs in the garage. Immediately, I have the racing heart syndrome with the wide-eyes. What the dickens? And then the imagination goes wild. Is it a burglar? Do they know I'm here alone? Or do they not know I'm up here? There is not much of value in the garage downstairs. Was it just the wind slamming the door closed downstairs? What could have fallen? Do I go investigate? (The obvious answer is NO!)
Is this strange noise, which of course must be a creeper, going to wait all night until I leave early in the morning for physical therapy? I'm sure they've been staking out the joint and know that I'm injured, can't run, and can say Boo! Then I'll fall down the stairs and re-injure my knee. 

Does anyone else play out these crazy scenarios in your head? 

Anywhoo. I wake up this morning. And of course these irrational plans come rushing back to mind. I have my plan. Keep the door in my door from the inside. Open the door. Do an initial glance with what I can see. Plan to slam the door if said creeper is seen. Call 911. Screen like a banshee. Grab something to wield as a weapon. Next phase, when exiting the apartment, be prepared and be cool. (this is plan B). Make "friends" with said creeper and act as though they are there to clean the pool or pick up some random flowerpots and be chill. "Oh hi. You must be the person the owner of the big house was telling me about..."

Bottom line. Nothing happened. No contingency plans needed to be implemented. 

Living alone can be entertaining when your imagination goes crazy. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Air Conditioning is Wonderful

Monday. Such an interesting day of the week. I don't mind Mondays, most of the time. Especially if I have slept well the night previously (thank you, Lord, for good rest last night). 

I was looking back through old pictures and the following ones appeared. I had forgotten about the energy conservation in Panama a few years ago. 

Basically, lights and air conditioning were turned off during 8am - 4pm. Which I find interesting that this is over the refrigerated items. Granted, I'm sure the intent was to inform patrons as to why you might be shopping for your butter in the darkened cases, though it could be misinterpreted that the coolers were also being turned off. However, they weren't. (At least not that I remember). 

Also, I ran across this photo and was reminded as to one of the reasons I love living in the states - fruit doesn't cost my whole monthly grocery budget! 

Yes, that is 8oz of strawberries for $6. Sheesh! Just this week, I saw strawberries 1lb for $2.50. Yes, please! 

This is why I take pictures to remember and be reminded of sweet times and interesting notes. 

Speaking of Panama, this happened yesterday. 

These women. These friendships. My heart aches with gratitude as I think back over this incredible friendships that have remained over the distance and time. (And we are missing Jess and Roo in this photo). In four weeks, we will be together for our annual reunion and to reconnect. My greatest fear when we were all scattered was that our friendships would fade into distant memories. But in the Lord's grace, they have remained and continue to be strong. I love these women. I love our shared memories. I love the journeys we have shared together - both sweet and painful. And in four weeks, more memories will be made and more stories will be shared and more hilarity will occur! 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Thoughts Floating About

Gracious! It has been a long time since I have blogged. There are some posts that have been drafted, but remain unpublished. Maybe one day.

I was listening to a podcast yesterday about leadership and business and there was a challenge to blog every day. Even if no one reads it. I like that.  No Pressure. Just the opportunity to write and process and think. And I find writing down my thoughts helps me to remember moments, funny anecdotes, and life events.

Today is Father's Day. I don't have the same knee-jerk reaction to Father's Day as I do to Mother's Day. Though as I sat in church, I wondered if men react like some women to this day. I sit in church on Mother's day some years and struggle with the ache to be a mom. Do men have that reaction? I don't have answers, more just curiosity and questions.

Today as I was teaching Sunday school, I was reminded how much I love it.
We sat around the table chatting. I also realized how out of touch with current pop culture I am. The kiddos were talking about moves they wanted to see. The only one I knew about was "Finding Dory" (that might be because I loved Finding Nemo). Even my co-teacher who is a couple of decades older than I am knew what the kiddos were talking about. Oh well.

These words literally came out of my mouth while teaching today, "Please don't jump on the walls." There is no other explanation other than said student had literally just jumped on the wall. Oh, you don't think it can be done? Feel free to come and visit. Sure do love those munchkins. They bring no small amount of delight and joy!

Luke received a funny text today from a stranger to wish him a happy Father's day. When he posted it, I thought I was going to have to have a serious sisterly conversation if this was their way of making an announcement. Nope, it was really a mis-sent text from a stranger.

A few year's ago, this happened and it still makes me laugh.

This morning. In June. In Dallas. And it's hot. A little boy was at the bagel shop in his fleece snowman pajamas. And he was the cutest thing. His mom let him go up with money and buy something to drink. You would have thought he was going to Disney! He was so excited and so stinkin' cute!

This is a whole separate set of blog posts (and this small update is more a reminder to the me in the future). My knee is spazzing out this week. Whew. It's been a rough regression of progress. I've had to be reminded again this week of what is possible as opposed to what is not.

Things my knee can do:
* Walk without a brace or crutches
* Stand for long periods of time
* Bend a good ways
* Drive a car
* Walk up stairs (albeit quite slowly and only one at a time)

It's a humbling place to not be able to do what once took no effort. The Lord continues to remind me of how far we have come. The road to healing isn't over yet. Thankful for the medical professionals who continue to help and encourage. Seeing glimpses of purpose in all of this.