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)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Newest Little One

(Today is the "social media public announcement day. The post was written the day I found out).

Dear Little One,

I found out about you tonight. You are coming in September and I can hardly contain myself. YOU ARE FINALLY COMING!

Here's the deal, I adore your momma and daddy. They are two of my favorite people in the world! You are super blessed, kid, to have them as your parents. And I'm just warning you as the oldest, you are the kiddo who they will learn all about parenting from as they figure this thing out. Don't worry about it. They will do great. And you shouldn't be too messed up in the process. :)

So it's not uncommon to hang out with your momma and daddy. We often eat dinner together and play games. Tonight was no different. Except for one thing.

When we went to play games, I opened the lid. Inside was a note. I almost told your momma, "Um...I think you left something in here." As I looked closer, I saw this...

(Also, I love that made it a rhyme!! Those creative kids who are actually adults and now GOING TO BE PARENTS! ) 

I'M GOING TO BE A TIA AGAIN!!!!!!!!!! Because of you little tiny one.

I squealed and screamed and shouted and jumped up (as best I can on a bum knee)! And I hugged and hugged your parents. Gracious - I've been waiting for you to come! Even now thinking of you coming makes me all weepy face.

Baby LA (this is my nickname for you after your momma and daddy's initial), you are so loved already. I can't wait to snuggle with you and breathe in your baby scent (not the stinky smells, just the sweet ones!). I can't wait to see your little hands and feet-sies and cuddle you close. I can't wait to wear you close and babysit for your parents to go have a date night. I can't wait for you to meet your cousins - you have a lot of them between both sides of your family!

Little LA - your momma and daddy are looking for Jesus' direction on where their ministry feet with take them next. Now that I know you are coming, my prayers have intensified for you to be here. Tia Abby would love for you to be nearby and to hang out lots and lots. I might also have bribed your parents to stay here in Dallas by offering to cook food for them after you come. For a long period of time. Hey, whatever it takes!

But more than anything, Baby La, I can't wait to see what the Lord is going to do in and through your life. I can't wait to watch you grow up. I can't wait to watch your parents love you so well.

And you are about to be a part of the most amazing family! You have lots of aunts and uncles who will love you lots. You have four grandparents who are going to spoil you rotten!

Tonight we also Facetimed your Aunt Hannah and CB and EM. They can't wait for you to come too! They were surprised and excited too!

(Look at your daddy's face in this photo? Aunt Hannah was still figuring out what was happening here. EM was saying "This is my mommy" and then your daddy said, "Guess who's going to be a mommy? This one!" And he pointed to your momma)

Aunt Hannah is super excited! She  can't wait to share all of her baby loot with you! And if you happen to be a girl, watch out! There will be lots of clothes from Aunt Hannah heading your way!

And your big cousins are excited too! 

Also, I might already have some little presents for you. I'm not sure if you are a tiny boy or a tiny girl, but that's ok. I have one of each! :)

So, LA, Tia Abby loves you mucho! You keep growing and I can't wait to meet you in September!

We are going to have lots of adventures together!

Tia Abby