Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I suppose it is normal for the days and weeks to pass more quickly as we get older.  There are so many more times now that I wish I could push the pause button and just enjoy the now.  It seems like when you are a kid, you are always anxiously awaiting the next major milestone or event.  You can't wait for Christmas, you can't wait for Spring Break, you can't wait for that first day that the neighborhood pool is open.  You can't wait to turn 16, then 18, then 21, then 25.  You can't wait to find that special person, to get to that special day.  You can't wait to hear that first heartbeat, the first breath and then the first words. 

I suppose that I am still anxiously looking forward to plenty of things, but I am also realizing that I wish I could back things up just a bit.  I find myself looking back and longing for that relaxing Thanksgiving, for a bit longer to float down that river, for that guy's weekend when we did NOTHING. 

You know what that means?  It means we are blessed, immeasurably blessed.  Thanks for being a blessing to me.  Thanks for giving me the reason to smile, the chance to serve, the shoulder to hug, the heart to hold.  Thanks for sometimes being the reason for my anger, and the cause of my frustration, and the saltiness of my tears.  In those times, I learned to overcome, I healed a hurt and strengthened my character. 

My Facebook friends are family, immediate and extended.  There are brothers from other mothers, people I have walked through some perilous journeys with, friends I have worshiped with, friends I have been down some dark roads with.  I have family by birth, family by marriage and family by choice.  I have work friends and church friends, tailgate buddies and old school friends.  If one is to be judged by the company he keeps, then I would love to know what my gang of characters would say about me!

I am thankful for my straight friends and gay friends, my liberal friends, my libertarian friends and my conservative friends. You have challenged my world view, my biblical view, my spiritual understanding.  I am thankful for my friends serving in missions in far off lands, you have given me eyes and ears to know the need and experience thankfulness.  I am thankful for my first responder friends and family, for helping me see the immediate needs and dangers we face everyday. 

I am constantly in awe of the beauty I find in my friends, artistically, intellectually, and spiritually.  I am surrounded by people who are so generous with their talents and treasures and it motivates me to practice my craft, and seek to give it away.  I want to be a giver of good gifts.  I want to give away the best that I have and teach my children that character.

So my prayer this Christmas season is that you, my friend, will be made aware of the blessing that you are to me.  I pray that this Christmas, whether Christian, Agnostic, Muslim or Jew, that you would feel loved and appreciated and that you will be surrounded by good friends and loving family.  I pray for kind words that will bless your ears and grace your tongue.  I pray for sweet laughter and precious memories.  I pray for warm homes and traveling grace.  I pray for personal miracles and new mercies.

Merry Christmas, my wonderful friends and a joyous and prosperous New Year to you and those you love!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Serendipity in Proctor, OK

If you have known me for very long, and if you read this blog then I assume you have, then you know that I have a strong connection to my late grandfather, Pa.  I am continually fascinated and inspired by the legacy and life left by John Elder Parker.  The fact that there are 3 generations of boys and men in our family named in his honor pays tribute to the strength of his legacy. 

Earlier this month, my precious family packed up our camper and set out on what was to us, an epic adventure.  We have frequently camped for the weekend in the local state parks and campgrounds, but we had never ventured out of state in our camper.  For our 2013 Cornish Family Summer Vacation, we left home early on the morning of July 4th, arriving at Lake Tenkiller in Oklahoma in the late afternoon.  Lake Tenkiller is near Tahlequah, OK, and served as our basecamp while we visited Muskogee and Fort Gibson, Tahlequah, Proctor and Chewey, OK over the weekend.  I had urged my girls to be patient with me over that weekend.  I knew that we would have plenty of fun in the lake and river, but I also knew that this homecoming of sorts for me would mean lots of time in a car, or visiting with family and friends that may not be much “fun” for the little ones.  The promise of spending the following week in Branson, MO, doing fun kid stuff like Silver Dollar City, Whitewater, and Dixie Stampede was enough to satisfy Grace and Hailey.  They were fantastic on this trip.  We were also pleased that we got to share this vacation with my sister, Tracy.  Tracy bunked with the girls in our camper and was a blast to travel with.

On Saturday, July 6th, we took a drive through Tahlequah, and then north on scenic Highway 10, following the winding path of the Illinois River.  The views were really spectacular, much more grand than I had remembered.  The bluffs overhanging the highway, dense forests, rolling green pastures and hayfields along the quiet river bed made for a really pretty drive.  We saw the various float operators along the highway and noted the one we would be returning to the following day for our river rafting trip down the Illinois, and then we ventured over to the Illinois River Ranch.  Turning off of Highway 10, we caught an ominous sign, restricting traffic flow to local traffic only and warning of narrow roadways and bridges.  The traffic on Chewey Bridge, which crosses the Illinois River and is a large concrete bridge with multiple lanes was reduced to a single 8 ft. lane.  I don’t mind admitting that I felt a bit… puckered, as we made that crossing.  I felt compelled to hold my breath and try to suck it in a little as we crossed.  There was definitely no time to take in the view of the river over the bridge for me in the driver’s seat. 

Entering the Illinois River Ranch, it seemed as though nothing had changed much in the 25-30 years since I was here last.  Improvements were scarce, and there weren’t many people around for a Saturday afternoon.  I was pretty surprised at how well my memory served me as we made our way up the winding dirt road, through the Illinois River Ranch, and on towards “the farm”.  The farm was what we always called Mema and Pa’s place on the river.  Aside from a small vegetable garden, it was hardly a farm in the true sense of the word.  They had about 12-15 acres, as I recall, with a few of those acres inaccessible and isolated on the other side of the river.  As we drove the dirt road, I found the turn off to the property, but we saw a new gate up near the road that prevented us from getting a closer look.  In my dreams of this trip, I had hopes of getting close to the house, perhaps meeting the owners and getting their blessing to see some of the property. 

I had remembered Mema and Pa’s good friends, the Hastings, lived a bit further down this road and had decided that I would use their driveway as a place to turn around.  As we approached their property, Tracy noticed that their name was on the mailbox, and suggested we at least stop to see if we could speak with them.  Tracy had suggested that they might know the owners of the property and could possibly call down to arrange a visit for us.   The next few minutes we spent with the Hastings instantly became the highlight of my whole vacation, and truly was serendipity.  Now, there is a word that we don’t use often enough.  Serendipity, defined by Webster as “the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for”. 

Jerry and Lavonne are just as wonderful and dear as I remember them.  They were so quick to invite us in and were more than happy to chat with us.  The hopes that we had of arranging a visit to the farm were quickly dashed, however.  They knew the owners well enough to know that our presence would be greatly frowned on.  The owners were known to have had trouble with the law previously, and were even known to have shot at floaters on the river who attempted to enter their property from the river.  One glance at Brenda after that tidbit of news was enough to know that I would not be attempting a peak from the river during our float the following day! 

But, after our chat, and before we took off, Jerry took us on a small tour.  We got to see his workshop that he uses with his son-in-law and grandsons to tinker and play during the cold months.  We saw Jerry’s gristmill, where he grinds local corn, and saw the smaller mills he loads onto trailers for demonstrations at schools and civic events.  We even got a sack of cornmeal to bring home with us.  Then, he took us to his woodshop.  I had known that Pa had given Jerry his 2 table saws, and I beamed with joy to see those saws in his shop.  I have no idea how old those saws are, but they were nowhere near new when I saw them last 30 years ago.  They still run like champs, and Jerry showed us some of his own woodworking.  Jerry also had a couple dozen small picture frames that Pa had made.  They were hanging up on nails in his shop, he just couldn’t bear to see them trashed, even though he wasn’t sure what he would ever do with them.  Brenda and Tracy each took some of these.  Brenda has some nice ideas of projects to use them for.  Then, I turned around to see a picture of Pa staring back at me.  I lifted up Grace and Hailey so that they could see Pa in the picture.  He was standing at these same table saws, but the picture was taken inside of the home Pa was building 30 years ago.  Jerry was quick to tell me that he wasn’t ready to give up that picture just yet.

There was one more stop before we left the Hasting’s place, a storage shed, next to the woodshop.  In the shed, Jerry found and gave me, the World War II packs that Pa had used.  Jerry wasn’t sure what he would use them for, but was certain they couldn’t be trashed, either.  They had been stored all these years just barely out of the elements and were full of dust and mud daubers.  Lavonne even chastised Jerry a bit for leaving them so exposed to the harsh heat and cold of the shed.  I quickly accepted the generous gift and promised that they would be cleaned up and well loved.  By the time we loaded up in the truck, we had an armful of goodies that no trinket or souvenir shop could match.

Grace will tell you that the best part of our vacation was Branson.  That is surely expected when you talk to a 6 year old about a family vacation.  But I have to say that there were 2 separate incidents on this vacation that affirmed for me that our Oklahoma leg of the trip made an impact on Grace.  The first was on the 5th of July, as we were leaving Mema and Pa’s gravesite at Fort Gibson National Cemetery.  Grace was moved to tears because she realized that she missed Mema.  I miss her, too.  And I shed a few tears there, myself.  The second incident was during our bedtime routine the evening after our time with the Hastings.  As usual, I had asked my girls to share something fun or special that they could recall from the day.  Grace told us that she felt like she got to meet Pa that day, seeing his picture at Mr. Jerry’s woodshop, and hearing him talk about Pa.  Mission accomplished.  Grace is almost 7 years old, and is gaining an appreciation for her legacy, though she doesn’t know it yet.  To me, that beats all the shows and rides that anyplace else can offer.  It also tells me that we are doing something right!

I will share more about our trip in another blog post, but this was by far the most sentimental and personally significant portion of our vacation.  Brenda did an amazing job tackling the corroded metal on the belt, suspenders and packs we received.  She soaked everything in Oxyclean, and used a Q Tip and toothbrush with CLR to clean the buckles, clasps and rivets.  Years of rust, dust and dirt disappeared down the drain and left us with these treasures.  I am so proud to have these in my possession.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Reflections on my 20 Year High School Reunion

This past weekend, Brenda and I traveled to Houston to attend my 20 Year reunion. With a big, family vacation coming up, we took this opportunity to enjoy a kid-free weekend. It has been far too long since Brenda and I took such a trip. With our reunion planned as a single event on Saturday evening, we used the remainder of the weekend to reunite with other friends that we wouldn’t see at the high school reunion and some time to just enjoy each other’s company. I have to say, though it has been well stated before, without a doubt, I married up… way up. It is such a relief knowing that she gets along so well with, and enjoys the company of my closest, life-long friends.

It is amazing to me how much growth occurs during the 4 year span of high school. You arrive for a freshman year, as a 14-15 year old kid, awkward in your own skin. And at graduation, you have likely made the first of many decisions that will shape who will be as a person. Whether it was going off to college, trade school, the military, civil or theological missions, or backpacking through a foreign country, the decisions rested on our own broad, 18 year old shoulders. Sure, family history, tradition or overbearing parents may have had their say, but this was YOUR decision. And aside from the relatively rare cases of abuse, bullies and outright terror, I think that most of us can agree that even though high school can seem unbearably harsh through the eyes of our 16 year old self, in reality, high school was a safe harbor away from what awaited us in the deeper waters of our college and young adult years. I had a plan, and a backup plan, and still ended up scrambling for my life!

I don’t think of my high school years as being remarkable. I had some great friends and classmates, but never really fit into a specific crowd. Modern social media has allowed me to make friends with some who were only acquaintances when we roamed the halls of high school. Social media has also helped me remember why some were only acquaintances to begin with, too! One thing that stands out when looking through the filter of 20 years, Kempner High School was remarkably diverse, ethnically, economically, theologically and socially. This definitely helps me see the world in a more positive light today. After all, if 2500 adolescents from a wide range of ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds and religions can get along while handling everything from AP exams and UIL competitions to crushes, breakups, and puberty, surely there is hope for a world full of educated adults, right? Well, maybe not.

I didn’t excel academically, athletically, or artistically. I graduated smack dab in the middle of my class. No trophies in the display cases of I. H. Kempner High School trumpet my successes or even existence. And against the backdrop of a full lifetime, 4 years can seem inconsequential. But oddly, these 4 years were consequential, heck, they were foundational. In the years since, I have found things that are worth my passion, I have found a career, and I have found creative outlets. I have also found the joy of learning and reading… that would have been more helpful 20 years ago. But I still want to figure out what to be when I grow up.

Seeing the images flash by during the slideshow of pictures that were submitted from our classmates really highlighted the awesome experiences that were available to us. Spending Spring Break in a cramped condo in Galveston? Not really my scene, and there was no way my parents would have allowed it, if it were. For me, there were no trips to Paris, Mexico, DC, or Orlando. I didn’t march with the band in the Rose Bowl parade, or even the County Fair for that matter. But as unremarkable as it was, I still remember having a full high school experience. I had my favorite teachers and classes, where academic success came fairly easily, and I had downright failure in others. I faced social pressures and temptations. Sometimes I made choices that make me proud, and some are harder to reflect on. I am sure that seems familiar to just about everyone.

But most significantly today, as I think about our reunion, is the realization of how blessed I am, and how blessed we all are. There were some necks I got to hug and hands I got to shake for the first time in 20 years. I was so happy to relive some memories with these classmates. But for every face I got to connect with, there was at least another person that I wondered about or really hoped would have made it to the reunion. Just guessing, but I would estimate that there were somewhere around 80 or so classmates that made it to the reunion. That’s not a bad turnout for 20 years, but we had somewhere around 500-600 in our class if I remember correctly. To be able to laugh and talk with so many people and to know that there were still so many more that I wish I could have seen, it truly shows that I have much to be thankful for. Each of these classmates spoke something into my life during my years at Kempner High School. Some classmates were missed because their passions called them to other parts of the world, while other reunions will have to wait until we cross to the other side. It only took a few pictures to prime the pumps of our collective memory. But it was a fantastic stroll down memory lane, and left me feeling so very thankful, and proud, and hopeful and blessed.
My twin sister and I at our reunion

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Welcome, Amelia!

Over the last 5 years or so, we have thoroughly enjoyed the use of an Outback travel trailer. For the first couple of years, we borrowed it from one of the founders of a company I used to work for. We actually used it more than the owners did and a few years ago purchased the trailer for our family. We have used it for tailgate parties, camping, and trips to Gramma and Grampa’s house. Our girls have quite literally grown up with the camper and neither has any memory us NOT having the camper.

You should see the way their eyes light up when we get ready for a trip. If we are going camping for the weekend, typically, I would bring the camper home from storage on Thursday night so that we can pack up and be ready to hit the road on Friday. We don’t usually tell the girls when this is going to happen, so often their first indication that we are going camping is when they look out the window and see the camper hitched to my truck at our curb. This always causes jumping and cheering and a great amount of anxiousness to take their chosen toys and pillows out to their bunks.

Over the last couple of years we have been daydreaming and window shopping, looking at all the nice, new features on brand new campers. Outdoor kitchens, ceiling fans, roomy bunkhouses, extra half-baths and power awnings all are drool-worthy amenities for anyone who has spent time at all in a camper before. We have become big fans of a fairly new builder, Open Range. They have some great floor plans and lots of the new “must have” features. Between our wish lists, daydreams and some impending work that was needed on our Outback, we decided to take the leap and purchase a brand new camper.

Our Outback camper was a fantastic travel trailer for us. It was several years old, and was a great camper to learn on. I got accustomed to pulling a large trailer, we confirmed that our family loves to camp, and we got to see what features and functions were most important to us as our family grows. We all learned so much over the last 5 years when it comes to RV’ing.

So, here she is! We are very happy to introduce, Amelia!

Amelia, you say?

I really wanted to name our new camper. I wanted a name that was either from literature or a historical figure. I wanted an adventurer, explorer or pioneer and “it” needed to be a “she”. It is our hope that from this camper, our girls will get to explore parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. Trips to Disney and the original colonies are also on my wish list. Who better to inspire young, beautiful minds than Amelia Earhart? Grace and Hailey’s adventures with Amelia will start this weekend as we head to Tyler for a multi-celebration holiday weekend with our family. Weekends on the shores of Inks Lake, a visit to SeaWorld and a trip to northeastern Oklahoma and Branson, Missouri are all on the flight plan for Amelia this summer. And I can’t help but think that Mema and Pa would definitely like Amelia, too!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Camping with a Bug, a Hailey Bug

Last November, our church hosted a Father/Daughter camping weekend at Camp Penial.  When I was registering for that trip with the church I decided that it should be for Grace and I.  I wasn't sure that there would be much for Hailey to do, since she was only 3.  All in all, it was the right choice.  Grace and I had a blast, and it was a special weekend for just her and I.  We camped in a tent, we rode a zip line and shot a .22, and she also mastered the rock wall.  Truthfully, there really wasn't much that Hailey would have gotten to do.  But it was obvious that her feelings were hurt that she didn't get to go.  I finally appeased her by promising her that she and I would go on our own camping adventure on another weekend.

As we got into the holiday season, and the weather got colder, we ran out of weekends to go camping.  Then we had some issues with our camper, and countless other reasons came up that kept me from keeping my promise.  Hailey cornered me about a month ago and reminded me that I promised that she and I would go camping, just the 2 of us.  This weekend, I got to keep my promise.

On Friday afternoon, we loaded the trailer, hitched up and headed out for Bastrop State Park.  It was just Hailey, myself and Daisy.  Daisy loves to go camping, and Hailey decided that it could still be a Daddy/Daughter camp-out if Daisy came too.

Bastrop State Park has been on my list of places to check out for quite awhile, and it definitely moved up the list after the devastating fires last year.  I felt it was more important now than ever before to support this state park in a time when state budgets are shrinking and costs are rising.  The park is about an hour away from our house, making it still close enough for a quick escape for a weekend.  On a side-note, we are incredibly blessed to be so close to tons of great state parks here in Central Texas.  Inks Lake (our reining favorite), Pedernales, McKinney Falls, Bastrop and Buescher State Parks are all within about an hour.

Hailey had input on planning our meals, and I promised her that she would get to decide on what activities we did.  The only request I had to veto was canoeing in the lake.  The water was just too cold, and with no swimwear, I wasn't risking an unplanned water landing! The biggest hit of the park for an almost 4 year old was definitely the playground.  This thing was massive, with 7 slides.

Another favorite was hiking on the trails.  While she isn't able to read the map, I did show her where we were, and taught her how to read the trail markers.  She was so excited to find the trail intersections and to tell me which way we should go.  It was definitely an introduction into orienteering.  I think she did amazing.  She was even able to point out on the map to Mommy and Grace which trails we took when we got home.  You may notice in our pictures that she is wearing 2 toilet paper rolls around her neck.  Those are the binoculars she made in her preschool class.  These were a "must have" when we were ready to hit the trails.

Her other favorite was the campfire and looking at the stars.  I never imagined that she would be able to pick out constellations at such a young age, but she saw the big dipper as soon as I pointed it out.  I asked her if she could see the upside down spoon, and she found it immediately, telling me that it looked like a backwards "5".  Love that kid.  Love her heart for adventure.  I love seeing this world through such young, new eyes.

I am excited beyond words at the thought of showing my girls the great big world we live in.  And I hope both them continue to love camping.  There is just no better way to experience some of the most beautiful places in our country than looking out the window of a camper. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Springing into Gardening

I am sure it comes as no surprise that I like to make fresh salsas.  I have several recipes that I make on a fairly regular basis.  One of my favorites is a tomatillo salsa, another is a smoked tomato salsa.  And summertime is a natural time to make salsas, I use them for tacos (breakfast and dinner), as a salad dressing, or as a sandwich spread.  The fresh produce I use to make my salsas usually comes from the store or occasionally from a farmers market nearby.  But even during the peak growing season, the best ingredients are often hard to find and can be expensive!   

I am not characterized by my green thumbs.  I haven't been known for lush landscapes, but I am getting better.  So far, I haven't been able to kill my roses, and my grass is looking better with each passing week of our early spring.  We still have a house plant we received from a friend when Hailey was born, that qualifies as a minor miracle, I am sure.  Now, my mom has a green thumb, she inherited it from my grandfather.  Pa could grow anything, I swear.  I can remember him planting castor beans by the backdoor of their home in Tulsa that grew as tall as the 2 story house.  I have still never seen plants that tall since.  I can also remember the spring we planted a vegetable garden out at the farm on the Illinois River in northeastern Oklahoma.  The tomatoes were my favorite.  Pa kept a shaker of salt under his seat in the pickup truck.  We would pick a couple right off the vine, wipe any dirt off with a rag, cut into it with a pocket knife and sprinkle them with salt.  The tailgate of the truck down, just a kid and his granddad, eating tomatoes.

For the last several years, we have worked hard as a family to make better food choices.  Not that my waistline proves my success, but I have really tried to make educated, responsible buying decisions, especially with our meats and produce.  If you haven't read any his books, Michael Pollan makes some strong arguments for sustainable, local and organic foods.  Produce grown to a ripe stage on the plant, consumed close to the time it was picked really does have a higher level of nutrients and flavor than produce picked before it is ripe and shipped across the globe in the cargo hold of a ship, that then sits in a distribution warehouse and on various container trucks on the way to the local mega-mart. 

That doesn't even broach the topic of selection.  Even a well-stocked mega-mart, during the peak of growing season won't have anything close to the spectrum of tomatoes available.  There are dozens of varieties, many of which most of us haven't even heard of that have been growing for generations.  Heirloom varieties and new hybrids grow in various climates and conditions, yet you are lucky to find 3 or 4 tomato varieties in the store.  Usually some variety of a Roma tomato, a greenhouse variety and maybe a beefsteak tomato can be found. 

For our first vegetable garden, we selected plants themed as a salsa garden.  We chose vegetables that would be easy for me to make quick use of, even if we end up with more than we can use a particular time.  I also chose varieties that I can't get in our local grocery store, or that are expensive.  We planted 2 tomatillo plants, 1 Cherokee Purple tomato, 1 Hillbilly tomato, 1 other tomato plant (we received as a gift from a neighbor who had 1 too many), 1 Lilac bell pepper, 1 Chocolate Beauty bell pepper, 1 Poblano chili, 1 Holy Mole chili, 3 Straight Eight cucumbers, some Texas 1015 sweet onions and some Crystal Wax onions.  We also got a Mexican Thorn-less Lime tree/shrub that we put in a container on the patio.  I decided not try cilantro just yet.  I heard from experienced herb gardeners that cilantro was very difficult to grow well.  Plus it is probably the one herb that is abundant and very inexpensive in our local grocery store, at around 25 cents for a bundle.  Depending on our success with this garden, I may add a small container herb garden for the patio next year. 

So, please send your kind advice, prayers and blessings for an abundant crop from our new garden.  I can't wait to start harvesting. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!!

It seems quite natural to spend time during the holidays reflecting on the year, and of course the New Year brings new resolutions for our future.  I don't typically make a list of wishes or tasks that I am going to do (or give up) in the coming year,  I am one of those people who is more likely to start the clock to see how long it takes for me to cave in on my new resolutions.   But I did however come up with a goal for 2013 that I think will be helpful. 

My goal is going to be far more intentional in 2013.  I have seen in so many areas of my life, spiritual, physical, and mental where I was swayed by the wind, or beat up by on out-of-control calendar.  So this year, my pledge isn't to lose a bunch of weight, though health will play a big factor in my year.  This year, I won't pledge to shred the credit cards, tackle my reading list, kick my bacon addiction or be a better Daddy, Husband, Brother, Uncle, Friend, etc.. 

In the Spring of 2012, I wrapped up a 27 week study on biblical manhood, and we spent a ton of time sorting through priorities and setting standards.  Because of that class, today I have a much better grasp on who I am, and the identity I want to build for my family.  So this year, I want to focus on being proactive, rather than reactive.  The plan that I designed then becomes the filter through which I run new opportunities and requests for our time. This is being intentional.

Last year, an all too common scenario out was that we would create a menu for the week's dinners, do the grocery shopping, but forget to get to get that key ingredient from the freezer.  Too tired and frazzled from our week to commit the brain power to a new menu, or too little time to throw something together, we would pile into the car for a fast food gut buster.  The simple truth was that our planning was half-hearted at best, and I was getting home from work way too late.  The result was way more entries into our checkbook ledger for a fast food restaurant than any of us would want to see and an expanded waistband.  Funny thing is that we didn't exactly feel like we released any of our stress by this, it just was the path of least resistance. 

Late evenings in the office, early mornings, bringing work home, eating late dinners, a lack of good family time all were factors contributing to lack of joy in our family.  We weren't moving forwards toward something and we weren't enjoying our children.  We were just trying to survive the week, so that we could get to the weekend, so that we could try to regroup, reorganize, and try to recoup before the onslaught of the coming week.  Every week was a crisis, every week was something we didn't plan for.  Sound familiar? 

Our family and our house was greatly in need of a manager.  Someone, not to necessarily DO all the work, but someone who could get the house on a schedule, and keep us organized.  Brenda and I thought long and hard about who we could possibly trust enough to invite into our home to fill this role.  And we wouldn't need to charge them all that much for the honor of filling this role, but the hiring process was just another thing to fill our already maxed out schedules. Instead, we decided to promote from within.  I am so thrilled that Brenda has been willing to leave her job to focus solely on our family and our home.  What a HUGE job this is.  What in the world were we thinking trying so hard to fill this precious role with part-time effort?  This is being intentional. 

Removing Brenda's income is a very scary prospect.  It's going to take some very intentional, very sound decisions on our part, but we both are so sure that this is God's design for our family.  And we know that with that faith and our stewardship that it will work. 

I believe that when December 2013 comes around, if I can look back at my year and see that I was successful in being intentional with our time, talents and treasures, then I can be confident that I will be more healthy, smarter and more fulfilled than I am today.  That seems like a pretty sound investment option to me.

So, here's to being intentional in 2013.  We are off to a great start and we know that big things are ahead for our family this year.  I pray for peace and joy in this year for our friends and family as well!