Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Little Girl's Perspective on Football.

Emma Sanders Brady is our 3rd child and the baby of this family. She is also our only girl with two big brothers. She will turn 6 in November and Braxton and I both are in awe of how God has blessed us with 3 smart, funny, beautiful, handsome and in a lot of ways larger than life children.

This week Emma Sanders lost her 1st tooth. And for some reason much more than my other two losing their first, it has been very sentimental to me. The past 6 years have gone really fast and this week I have started thinking back on her first 6 years. Sweet, sweet moments. And we look forward to many more sweet ones.
Last night we put her Halloween costume on her and were on our way to go the Memphis Tiger Football Complex to eat dinner with Braxton and some of the coaches' families. ES was really looking forward to it! We first had to stop by Preston's school and pick him up from practice. Well long story short he did not get out in time and we did not get to go. It was traumatic to say the least. I wish I had not been driving so I could've taken a picture of Tinkerbell, bun in hair, glitter on face, and crying uncontrollably. It was like something right out of a horror movie. We drove through Chick Fil A and that place I am convinced can cure just about anything from dental work to football nights gone bad. So she got over it and we came home and played charades. In full out costume. And most of the things she acted out were football moves. No lie. She long snapped, fumbled, and did a celebration dance. It was hilarious.

So this morning I thought, bless her. She has been to A LOT of sporting events, mainly football, in her life. I would dare say much more than your average 6 year old girl. And I have never once asked her about the game, what she likes, or even what she really thinks is going on. So on the way to school I said, Emma Sanders, tell me about football. Tell me like I am someone who has never seen the game, what is your favorite part, how do they play, what are the rules?

This would've been much better on camera and I might get her to tell me again while I tape it but here are her words (with a slight lisp because we are missing that bottom tooth):

"Well, first I get to wear this cute blue cheerleader outfit. Then there are like 200 players on the team. Most of them stand on the sidelines but a lot of them go out on the field. They have this football and there are two end zones. It doesn't matter which one they run to they just have to get to one of them and when they do that is called a touchdown and then they dance. Most of the end zones are painted pretty. Ours says, Memphis. But first they have to run really fast and get a first down. Sometimes when they do that these kind of tan fireworks go off. They are not colorful, they should make them colorful. Then when they score they get one more chance to get the ball and score again for an extra point. They get 6 points for a touchdown and 1 point for the extra. Then they give the other team the ball and our team tries to keep them from running into the end zone. It's pretty fun, the best part is the concussion (yes she said concussion not concession) stand."

And there you have it. And I am so glad I asked. This girl is absolutely hilarious and we enjoy each and every moment with her. She brings great joy to our family! And yes, Tinkerbelle, there is a Halloween this year, but first we have to go to your brother's football game.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Don't Forget to Be His Girlfriend

Braxton and I have been married for a little over 16 years now. We started dating in 1992, which means we have been dating and married for 21 years now, more than half my lifetime or his. Our marriage is not perfect by any means, we have our moments, but our good moments far outweigh our bad.

My sweet sister and her husband Andy just celebrated 5 year of marriage on Friday. I started thinking about them this weekend and thinking through what my one piece of advice would be on this 5-year mark.

Here is what I texted her. “Don’t forget to be his girlfriend. It is easy to be his wife most days, to just do what needs to be done, to do what you have to do, but from time to time stop and ask yourself if you are loving, supporting, encouraging, and treating him like you did when you were just his girlfriend.”

You see when I was Braxton’s girlfriend I was his biggest fan, cheerleader, and encourager. I would send him a hand written note about once a week, I would see his favorite snack or candy and immediately buy it and go leave it in his car or in his mailbox. I would brag about him to others about how smart, kind, and affectionate he was. I would find ways to honor him and I always made sure he knew how much I adored him. I would clean his duplex with a cheerful heart not complaining about where underwear was left or how much toothpaste was left in the sink.

I always made sure I looked my best when I was going to see him for the first time in a day or two. I brushed my teeth, hair and made sure I had on at least a little makeup. Not because he expected it but because I loved him and I wanted to do my best to show him that.

I would lay down my rights regularly and eat where he wanted to eat, not argue about things that weren’t worth arguing about, watched some action movies that I probably would not choose on my own. And again not because he made me or expected it but out of a heart of love and just wanting to be with him.
And then marriage, life, 3 kids, 2 wayward pets, jobs, etc…got in the way. And it is easy to just do the mundane and just get through each day to make it to the next. Laundry is done, the house is picked up, kids are shuffled from one place to the next, and sometimes a little begrudgingly. Not always with a heart of love or an attitude of gratefulness. It is easy to nag, complain or think about what you would rather be doing. It is easy to find myself complaining to my friends about what he doesn’t do instead of all the things I love about him.

I truly believe this is where a lot of marriages start to go south.  I get it and I can see how it happens. But I don’t think it has to be this way.  If we can just remember as wives to be their girlfriend again. And here is the great secret I have found, the minute we start to do that they start to act like our boyfriends again. 

Happy Anniversary Lauren and Andy! We love you both! Every year from 5 on has been better than the one before for Braxton and I and I am praying the same joy, fun, and laughter in your marriage. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wanna Know How You Know He's Real?

"You wanna know how you know He is real, she asks?" Her head turned a little toward the ground a little towards me. Eyes that look tired yet full of light and hope, a face that looks hard yet full of joy and life. "I know because I'm not who I used to be." I can hear in her voice that she is about to cry.

It's 5pm and I am standing outside my house thinking of all the things I need to be doing...dinner, helping with homework, folding those clothes that I have re-started in the dryer at least three times. I'm standing with a sweet neighbor that I've come to know well over the past few months. I will call her "Jane." Jane is one of our many neighbors that spends a lot of time on her front porch and always waves when we drive by. She dropped by tonight to show me her new sewing project. She is going to start selling pillows that she makes to help make money and she wanted to know what I thought of the latest ones. I enjoy her company but still making that mental list in my head of what I need to be doing.

And that is when she stops out of the blue and ask me the question. "You wanna know how you know he's real...?" She reminds me of her favorite date, March 12, 2013. That is when she was saved. She tells me once again the story of how she dropped to her knees and cried out to God to save her. You see Jane has been addicted to drugs and alcohol for the better part of 35 years. And on March 12th she walked away from it all. She has not turned back since even though a lot of people who she used to call friends have turned their back on her.

I look up at her as tears flow down her face. "These are tears of happiness Carrie. I cry because I'm happy and free now." There is no way she could know that just this morning I sat down with my Bible and told God I felt kind of blah and distant from him. That I knew He was there but I was struggling a little feeling authentic in my faith.

I tell Jane that she is a beautiful picture of redemption. Her face lights up and she takes a deep breath in shaking her head back and forth. "I shouldn't be here, I shouldn't be alive with all I've done. Did you know I roamed the streets for years doing, saying and being things I shouldn't been?"

"That's how I know Carrie, that's how I know. I'm not who I used to be and nothing else could explain it."

Thunder rolls in the distance and as the sun still shines a few rain drops fall. Jane looks up at the sky, smiles and looks back at me. I tell her I know exactly what she means.

We both know He is real. So real we can feel Him.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Loser's Limp

Because Braxton is the chaplain of the U of M football team I have had the privilege of getting to know some of the University of Memphis football players, staff and staff wives. I have really enjoyed getting to know the wives and have developed some sweet friendships that I hope will last regardless of where the game of football takes their families.

Last Thursday night I had a blast laughing with these wives as we attended Football with Fuente Women's Clinic. It was the 2nd annual event where the coaches come together and teach the women about important aspects of the game. It is HILARIOUS. Not because of our lack of knowledge but because of the teaching that occurs. We get many visual aids. One being a jock strap that somehow ended up in my lap (thank you Tory Dickey) but that is another story for another day. Don't worry it was PG rated....or maybe PG13. My face hurt from laughing so hard.

One thing we learned about was the "Loser's Limp." This is when a player misses a tackle and in order to save face they fall, if not already on the ground and then proceed to get up and limp around, usually in a circle, while holding their leg. Thus portraying, "I'm hurt, my leg, my leg, so it is just not they missed the tackle but they were hurt. PS...this happens on the opposing teams not the U of M!

On Friday morning I drove Preston to take his test to get his learner's permit. On the way there I was telling him some funny stuff that happened on Thursday night and it hit me! Preston, if you fail the test walk out holding your leg and limping in a circle. You can say, "Oh my leg, my leg, I was so distracted by my leg hurting I couldn't concentrate." Beautiful idea. He thought so as well.

Luckily he passed and did not have to perform the limp! He was so excited and walked out of the testing room grinning from ear to ear. He did lift his arms and had two HUGE sweat rings under his pits. We both got a good laugh. He said he wasn't nervous until the older man in the cubicle next to him kept saying, "Oh no, oh no," while holding his head in his hands. We should've taught that man the limp.

It is hard to believe that we are here at 15 already. It seems like yesterday I was worried about what when to start solid foods, how many naps he should take per day, and when to start potty training. And now here we are. All those things seem some funny to me, like, really I was worried about that? It is all relative, that is for sure.

We are so grateful for his life. He is funny, kind, loyal and genuine. He works hard and plays hard. He will be in the 9th grade this year. He has been working hard the past couple of weeks at football. He hopes to long snap and play defensive end. Thankfully because I attended the Women's Clinic I will know a little about what he is doing and prayerfully I won't see him doing the "Loser's Limp!"

Monday, July 15, 2013

Girls Don't Say Fart

We have 3 children, 2 boys and a girl. The boys, we are learning are easy for the most part. You guide, direct, throw them a pair of khakis and a shirt, make them brush their teeth, brushing hair is optional and once they reach a certain age make them wear deodorant.

The girl on the other hand has been another whole Oprah Show. There is much much more to deal with and then throw in the fact that she has two older brothers and good grief.

There are things she has done, said, and experienced that I am pretty sure I would’ve never let my first-born do by the age of 5. In fact I have jokingly said, Emma Sanders is the child that I wouldn’t let Preston play with when he was in pre-school.

Braxton and I have both been approached recently about writing a book on girls. And we are considering it but we both have looked at each other and said, “should we make sure she turns out alright first?”  So maybe, maybe in 15 years we will write that book.

I am in the process of making a list though. Things that I am teaching her along the way and some things that she is teaching me. Some are things born out of tradition. You know, southern manners and all and some are out of a heart of really wanting her to live for something greater than herself. To seek God’s fame and glory and not her own.

So here is my list. I’m not asking for anyone’s approval of my list. It is my list and as my momma would say, “it is what it is.” If you don’t agree or you are not teaching your daughter the same things, great. If you do agree and even have some things I might want to add, great!

I just felt the need to write my list down in case she forgets or in 25 + years when she becomes a mom she can look back and remember what I taught her.

1.     Girls Don’t Say Fart. I know, your brothers say it all the time. In fact, they do it all the time.  But you are becoming a beautiful young lady and when you say “fart” it just doesn’t sound as beautiful as you are.

2.     When you are wearing a dress or shorts for that matter, keep your legs together and down.  No one wants to see what color panties you are wearing and if they do then your daddy has a baseball bat with their name on it.

3.     Don’t tear others down. At the root of criticism is insecurity. Any person that is constantly critical of another is deeply insecure and needs justification by pulling others down. Your security lies in the cross of Jesus Christ and what he has done for you, what he says about you. Nothing can take that away from you. Share that with others to build them up, not tear them down.

4.     Don’t pick your teeth at the table. It’s gross and I realize we come from a long line of good ol’ southern people who forget where they are sometimes and just pick and pick but please don’t. Excuse yourself from the table and while you are there refresh your lipstick. 

5.     Be Content not Complacent. There is a difference.  Contentment says, “I don’t gain my joy from other people or things. I am content in any given circumstance with any type of people, regardless of what I can get from the situation.”  Complacency is self satisfied and un-concerned with others. It says, “I only have to work this hard or do this much.”

Contentment = Joy and Complacency = Laziness.
6.     Girls don’t call/text boys first. There are some traditions that are dying hard and fast in this world but I think it is important that you hold fast to some of them. This is one of them. If he is a true gentleman and one that you would want to spend time with then he will make the first move.

7.     If you can’t say something nice don’t say it at all and try hard not to think it. Just because we have social media and you can say anything at anytime that you are thinking doesn’t mean that you should. Learn self control, it will go a long way.

8.     Always no matter how old you get have respect for authority. Regardless if it is someone in a uniform or if it is the 92 year old lady living next door. Have respect. Listen, honor and respect. “Yes Ma’am, Yes Sir” you are NEVER too old to say that. Hearing a young person say, “yeah” to an adult makes me think they were raised in a barn. And you my dear were not.

9.     Enjoy the rain. I mean this literally and metaphorically. There are going to be moments of rain in your life. Take time to stop when it happens and be thankful. The rain/hard times in life bring the water that causes us to grow. And from time to time when it literally rains go out and dance in it. Remember the times we did this together and the rainbows that came out afterwards.

10.  Love and be loved.  Love with the kind of love that comes from a heart of knowing Jesus. Don’t just love the people that are easy to love. Let people love you. Let them in, share deep friendships where people are free to love you without fear. Love Jesus, learn to love him more and more each day until you become a reflection of him to the world.

Monday, June 24, 2013

One Track Heart and Mind

I’m not sure why it takes me leaving the country to make everything in my brain and heart line up correctly but it does. I get out of whack here in the US or at least my priorities do. I get into routine, comfort, and expectations for what I believe should be normal and it all goes south. And impressively fast.

But for some reason when I step my foot off of the plane in Honduras each summer it all comes flooding back. Refreshing me with peace that passes all understanding. 

And I remember. I remember with my very heart what it means when Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  I get to smell, touch and see those who are by all the world’s standards poor but yet very, very rich in what matters.

And I see. I see that I don’t know hunger. As I step out of a van into trash, human waste, and decay I see a child about 11 months of age. No shoes, no diaper, and a tattered shirt, waiting patiently in line to receive a meal from our team. Possibly the only meal that has not been retrieved from someone's trash in quite some time.

And it rips my heart out to see and to know that I become impatient if my meal takes more than 15-20 min in a restaurant. To think that I flippantly say, “I’m starving” if I’ve gone more than about 4 hours without a meal. Yet, this child waits patiently, not complaining, and with a smile on her face. Grateful. And I yearn to be hungry like this. Hungry to the depths of my soul, hungry to sacrifice what I think I deserve, hungry to give until I’m uncomfortable. Hungry to always know my need for Jesus.

And I feel. I feel with a deep empathy that rolls like thunder through my mind, body and soul. It causes me to cry. A lot. Tears of joy at seeing other believers who love Jesus with a fire and passion that I crave to have.

Tears of happiness at seeing a boy who does not carry our last name on his birth certificate but who has his name branded on our hearts. A boy who knows how to embrace life with arms wide open despite abandonment that left them empty not so long ago.

Tears of sorrow for so many that stare into hopelessness day after day. Tears of need for a woman that hands me her infant and says, “please take her to the U.S.” Not because she doesn’t love her baby girl but because she does. So very much.

And I’m overwhelmed and humbled. Overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit that whispers to my heart, “don’t forget this time.”  Humbled by a God that would come down to this earth so that this would not be the end. That created a way for us to live for something beyond ourselves. To give a purpose, a hope and a future. To have me come undone so that I might come together with a one track heart and mind. 

So that I don’t just remember, see and feel in Honduras but that I keep those things in line regardless of where my feet stand.

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.” –C.S. Lewis