Providence, Philip Phillips and Rosemary

I will not even begin to make excuses for the lack of blogging in the last several months.  Let me just say that I’ve been a little busy.  I no longer live in the wild west.  It’s more like the southwest.  Yep, we are Texans now.

Sometime about a year ago, we began getting hints that a move was in our near future.  This really came as no surprise, our average tenure in each of our homes has been 3 to 4 years.  It looked like the move would occur this summer, which it did, and so that gave us plenty of time to pray through the decision and prepare our hearts to say good-bye.  We were also blessed to experience every season in Colorado knowing it was probably our last one as residents of this beautiful state, and so taking none of it for granted.  That being said, this move was definitely the most difficult we have made.  We have total peace that this is the decision God was leading us to, but we have gotten very attached to the people, our church, and the beautiful place we have called home for the last four years.

I don’t know if they have been just bits of grace to console us or if they will hold some greater value in the future, but God has given us several wonderful gifts of confirmation to let us know that, indeed, we are where He wants us.

The  first big gift He has given us is our proximity to one of my dear friends who lives just north of Dallas.  We met in college, and since the moment I met her I have always admired her poise and her character.  We have actually grown closer in the years since college.  She is one of the ladies in my life that I would call a ‘super-woman’. (no pressure!) And, she has put all of her skills and gifts into action in the way she has helped us out in our transition from Colorado to Texas.  I really don’t know what I would have done without her advice and her friendship these last few months.  In addition, she is also the world’s best plant-sitter.

Sometimes my husband is a little weird.  In a very lovable, wonderful way.  But, weird.  We had some Rosemary growing in a pot on our patio in Colorado, and he decided that this Rosemary was going to make the journey to Dallas.  Yes, they sell Rosemary in Texas.  But, this was a particularly average Rosemary plant, and it was very important to him.  He began working in Texas several weeks before we all made the move.  Our moving company does not transport plants, so he placed the precious, everyday Rosemary in the back of his jeep, drove it 900 miles, and delivered it into the loving hands of my sweet friend, who had accepted the duty of caring for it until we were settled in our new home.  The exciting journey of the Rosemary doesn’t stop there, but you will have to read more of the post to get to the exciting conclusion of our fragrant herb.

The second little gift God gave us was just a ‘coincidence.’  I could blog for pages about the process of finding a home in Texas.  We made so many offers on houses that I was reciting real estate contracts in my sleep.  But, each offer and then even a contract on a home did not work out for various reasons, until Richard ventured up (with the help of our amazing real estate agent.  seriously.  I love her.  If you need a recommendation in the Dallas area, please let me know) into a small town on the north side of the city and fell in love with a neighborhood and a house.  So we made an offer.  It was accepted.  We closed in 2 1/2 weeks.  It was a miracle.  But, not a coincidence.  The coincidence is that the family who owned the house we bought in Texas- moved to Broomfield, Colorado.  Not to Kansas City, Missouri or Nashville, Tennessee or Seattle, Washington.  Not even the Denver ‘area’.  They moved to Broomfield, the very same small city that we were moving away from.  THAT is pretty cool.  Thanks, God.

The third gift has been another big one.  We know a precious family in Denver.  They did not live super close to us, actually about 20-25 minutes away from us, but we went to church together.  They have a daughter who is the same age as our Caroline  They are really genuine, wonderful people.  And, it turns out they have family in the city we moved to.  And, on the first day of school, Caroline introduced herself to her sixth grade homeroom class and told them that she had just moved from Denver, and a sweet girl near her asked if she happened to know her cousin.  Which, of course, Caroline did.  She is the one from the precious family in Denver that went to our church.  AND,  Caroline is not just in homeroom with their cousin, it turns out we actually live on the same street as them!  They have become some of our first new friends here and we already like them.  A whole lot.  A sweet, God-loving family right down the street that is connected to our Colorado faith family.  Thanks, God!

Last spring, we watched the show American Idol.  We were rooting for the winner, Philip Phillips, all along.  Even if you don’t watch Idol, you would know who Phillips is if you saw any Olympic coverage this summer.  His song ‘Home’ was played as the intro music to a lot of the broadcasting.  It kind of became our theme song during the move, too, especially for the kids.  Caroline was actually the first to say that this song described her life this summer…boy, that just grips my heart, to tell you the truth.  There is no telling how brave that girl can be sometimes…

Anyway, the lyrics are simple.  You can listen if you click here.

‘Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home’

Our first church visit in Texas was with our new friend/neighbors.  They go to one of the big churches here in Dallas.  BIG churches…it was a very different experience for us, but also a really good one.  They showed a video to celebrate the anniversary of one of their new campus sites, and during the video, guess what music they played.  Yes, it was our theme song:-)

Every step along the way, God has assured us of this truth:  No matter where we go, He is there, and He will make it home.

As for the Colorado Rosemary… well, it died.  Not because my friend neglected it, but because it was just spent out.  But, the first weekend of working in our new yard, we saw something in the corner of our yard that somehow we had not noticed before.  It was a pot with something pitiful in it.  So pitiful, it took us a little while to figure out what it was.  Rosemary.  It had been sitting, forgotten, in a corner for almost 8 months, almost completely unattended.  Yet, it survived.  We moved it to a sunny spot, watered it and it is now thriving.  Have you heard the phrase, ‘bloom where you are planted’?  Yeah.

In the hands of the Master Gardener , we all can bloom in the home where He plants us.  Our time in Colorado cannot ever be compared with another experience.  It was unique and special and we will carry our friendships and lessons learned there for the rest of our lives.  Now it is time for a new season of growth, though, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for the Texas garden.  He is so good.

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Mother’s Day Tidings

I love funny greeting cards.  I love slightly mushy greeting cards with a sweet little picture on the front, usually of two kids imitating something a grown-up couple might do.  I love greeting cards that say it short and sweet and exactly like I might have done it.  I will stand in the greeting card aisle for hours laughing and taking pictures of cards with my phone to text to my sister so that hopefully she will laugh, too.  It is really good, cheap therapy.  I say cheap and not free because I usually buy a peppermint patty or something to compensate the drugstore after I have scared off several customers who came down the stationary aisle to find me in tears and stitches at some hilarious card or another.  (I don’t have a great love for peppermint patties, either, just something about drugstores induces me to buy them – anyone else?)

This past week, though, a much anticipated therapy session was, instead, many moments of frustration and disbelief at the complete lack of funny, genuine or just plain decent cards for Mother’s Day – why?  Even Hallmark’s Shoebox division, which is my go-to favorite for cards, has a blackhole of any kind of ‘greeting’ I might want to send ANY mother I  know.

So, I am going to just say a few words to all of you moms from a mom, inspired by the mundane. You will receive some pretty rough, cheesy, forlorn greeting cards this year.  For that, I apologize that I wasn’t more pro-active in staging my revolt with the greeting card industry.

Dear Mom,

You have children.  You are a woman.  Thus, you are a mom.

You spend 20% of your waking hours doing laundry. You eat standing up sometimes.  It is a special skill, unique to those millions of women who are moms.

Sometimes you are selfish and, like, take a bath.  Maybe light a candle.  But, mostly, you pour yourself into some little lives.  Whether you are reading to them, reading something they wrote, praying for them, changing their sheets, driving them to practice, wiping their noses, feeding them something (homemade or not), playing games with them, working puzzles with them, helping them with homework, watching a school play, just watching them play with other kids – all this is you pouring yourself into them.

Maybe you feel a little poured out.  Like laundry detergent into another load.

If so, don’t lose hope.  Even though some days you feel more like you were the Arm & Hammer instead of full of Snuggle, you give your All so that someday these little lives will Gain confidence and courage and a Bounty of blessings.  So, keep rolling with the Tide – you will Bounce back, and so will they.  And, someday, you will look back.  And laugh, and cry.

But, you probably won’t miss the laundry.

Your legacy will not be how clean your kids’ clothes were, it will be that your kids weren’t naked. (most of the time)

Happy Mother’s Day!  With all sincerity, you are all amazing.

Storybook Life

Have you ever looked at someone and thought that they just had a storybook life?

Well, it turns out that I do:

This book was sent to us by a sweet aunt who found it in a used book store.  What a darling gift!

Really, when we have been living life for a little while, we know that no one’s life is what it appears to be.  Certainly, we come to know that there are no storybook lives.  A casual acquaintance might make one assumption about you based on a few impressions.  A good friend knows the ins and outs and struggles of your day to day life.  A longtime friend knows the valleys and peaks of your history.  And, even more, what you were like when you began the journey compared to what you are like now.  Based on the back cover, my life is like this:

Picnics, parties, vacation trips!  This describes our lives perfectly!  (Okay, I admit it, this even sounds like my blog sometimes!) Except, the cat – my husband and daughter are allergic.  And, the dog – we don’t have a yard big enough.  And, no one calls me Mother – just Mom and Mommy.  And, …our children’s names don’t even rhyme.  Wait a minute.  I think they got it all wrong!

No, there are some truths I can glean from this blurb.  The ‘fun-loving’ part.  We do love fun…who doesn’t?  And, the ‘something exciting is always happening at their house’ part.  Although, what is exciting around here doesn’t always seem exciting to the rest of the world.  For instance, last weekend we made a Helen Keller bottlehead doll for a school project!!!!!!  Not exciting?  Whatever!!   Take a look and…

color me excited!!

Yes, for those of you who have never seen this particular species of school project before, a ‘bottlehead’ is not to be confused with a ‘bobblehead’.

It is a water bottle with a stationary foam head attached to the top. It must also be ‘dressed’ in period-appropriate clothing.

Did you know that Helen Keller was a socialist?

Well, now you do.

She was also the first deaf-blind person to graduate from college with a Bachelor of Arts degree and she championed for the rights of the deaf-blind.  You probably knew that.

She also won an academy award. Ha!

See what I mean?  Exciting stuff.

Okay, sorry to have steered away from my original theme.  I couldn’t resist educating you all on the delights of 5th grade biography assignments.  Back to the task at hand…

Here on my blog, on my facebook page, even on the corner in my suburban neighborhood – I can make my life look like whatever I want.  My house could really appear to be ‘the wonderful house’.  Truth is, we know pain.  We know loss.  We know anger and hurt.  We know impatience.  I bet so do the ‘Fill in any last name’s’. The real story is in how we let these difficulties play out in our lives.  Do we allow God to use them for good?  Do we hear God’s Word and then allow it to change us? Or, do we harbor and hoard our troubles, clinging to them in secret like a life raft, but afraid to expose them to the world because they might distort our cover illustration?  If we are too attached to or too ashamed of our problems to share them, we are stuck and not going anywhere.

I think I am pretty transparent.  But, probably not enough.  What I perceive as openness is probably not what you perceive as me being open.  I do want to share that we are far from the wonderful Tuckers all the time.  In real life, Mommy Tucker struggles with pride and independence, with talking too much, with patience and self-control, with loving people more than myself.  The little Tuckers talk back sometimes.  Sometimes a lot of times. And, the attitudes they can have – I could go on and on. God can change me and use me anyway, though, and it is my hope and prayer that He does.  He can do the same for all of us. He is that good.  If we trust Him with our troubles as well as our joys, he will write a story better than any fiction.  A true story.  The best part: a life surrendered to Him always ends happily ever after.

So I Married a Soda Jerk

Last weekend was the Delightful Daughter Ball at the girls’ school.  It was pretty momentous for us because it heralded the end of an era – Caroline’s final daddy-daughter gala.  It was also the only one she has ever attended with Martha Claire.  The theme was the 50’s…but, you might could have guessed that:

Although I pushed for the Tucker crew to go with the ‘Mad Men’ look, alas, it was out of reach – Caroline was not touching those fancy dresses with a ten foot pole.  I think the alternative ended up a thousand times better, especially since Soda Jerk is actually reusing his thrift-store pants from last year’s dance.

I stayed home and had a date of my own with the little man, so I didn’t get to witness all the fun and excitement of the dance, but I caught these two reliving some of the fun the next day in the kitchen –

Whoever thought a soda jerk would be so much cooler than The Fonz or Don Draper?!? I am one lucky girl.

Uniquely Made

Women’s roles are so diversified and unique to each of us.  In my organizational mind, I try to categorize us into our different specialties and seasons.  If only it was that simple.  There are so many categories, and then within each category there are sub-categories.  For example, there are women who cook.  Some who cook professionally, some who cook as a hobby, some who cook only as required to feed their families.  There are women who use social networking.  Some as a fun way to keep up with family and friends, some as a therapeutic outlet, some as a career.  There are women who are moms.  Some are working moms, some are stay-at-home moms, some who are empty-nesters.  And on and on and on.

The cool thing is that God does not require us to fit into a certain category in order to use us.  He is not God in a Box.  He is infinitely bigger than any box we could put Him in.  The fact is, we can and should glorify Him wherever we are, in whatever station or season we are in at the moment.

I am looking forward to an upcoming conference here in Denver called Uniquely Made. It is a program designed for women of all ages and stages to come together and learn how to be intentional in using the different gifts and opportunities God has given us to best honor and glorify Him.  I am privileged to be one of the seminar speakers…specifically on the opportunities we are given through motherhood.  Mom or not, married or not, working/student/retired or not – if you are a woman, you qualify.  I hope all you ladies in the Denver area will be able to make it, April 20th and 21st.  Here is the link to find out more – Uniquely Made Conference.

If you happen to be in South Dakota…

This past fall we took the kids and headed north to the Black Hills in order to experience the colossal thing that is Mount Rushmore.  It was a great trip, and well worth a blog chronicle (several months late or not).  I highly recommend this journey… if you ever happen to be within 300  miles of South Dakota.  Just remember to pack a lunch.

Apparently, there is no fast food between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Rapid City, South Dakota.  Folks, that’s a long way.  Luckily, my husband had ‘forced’ me to make a picnic lunch so that we could save some moolah.  I am so glad he was right.  (even though I didn’t think so at the time – I confess, I complained about making lunches against my will at 6 am the morning we left)

The roadside picnic lunch was made more enjoyable with the wide-open Wyoming scenery.

Too bad, if we had waited a little longer we might could have had ourselves a buffalo burger in Custer State Park.

Yum.  On the other hand, this guy did not look too keen on the idea.

The monument itself is actually visible from miles away.  Here is our first shot of it:

I hope you can see it right smack in the middle of the picture.  This is still a good 10 to 15 miles away from the entrance to the monument park.

We decided to approach the mountain from the very scenic tunnel route.  There are three tunnels you drive through, and each one has a fantastic view of the carving right through it.  Here is the furthest tunnel:

And, here is the closest:

Are you thrilled to the bone yet?!?

Well, we really were.  Perhaps you have to see it to experience it.  Like this.

And this.

And, after hiking closer we got this fantastic view of Washington up through the crack of a cave.

And, finally our hike rounded off with the ‘family view’.

I will say that one of my favorite parts of the trip was walking through the American history with Caroline, who is old enough to begin appreciating the sacrifice and courage of the men and women who helped form our nation.  Personally, I often take our freedom for granted, and so it was a good thing to revisit the words of our founding fathers such as:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation….

We just don’t write like that anymore.

The kids were totally thrilled with staring at the 60-foot faces of our presidents carved into a mountain, and they would have insisted we stay even longer if we hadn’t made plans to try out South Dakota’s largest indoor water park….

It was a distant second to the monument in the ‘thrill’ category, at least for the grown-ups, but a worthwhile diversion nonetheless.

Waterslides aside, this trip was quite an experience – to drive through the western plains of Colorado and Wyoming, then the beautiful black hills of South Dakota, and finally to end up at this huge monument in the middle of nowhere.  It was just so…American.  It stirred up the place in my heart that belongs to a pioneer, and that I believe is part of the legacy of our founding fathers.  If you do ever happen to be in South Dakota, it is definitely worth a glimpse.

Prayer List Perspective

There is nothing like a good dose of perspective.  Especially here in middle class America.  I have a tendency to make thunderstorms out of spring showers.  But, I am always humbled when I take a look at my prayer list that includes my friend who is going through radiation over the next five weeks to treat a tumor on her brain stem.  Or another friend who lost her job last week.  Or a woman grieving the death of her 17 year old son.

Or my friend Mary Jane who lives in Uganda, a country in which the people face challenges like getting attacked by crocodiles while fetching water and dangerous political unrest and oppression.  There are lots of bugs in Uganda, but no Super Targets.  She shares her heart and her daily reality in a very poignant and honest way at Dennisons in Uganda.  It is amazing stuff.

Last week I heard a story on the radio about a North Korean girl who finally found someone in the ‘black market’ who could give her a Bible.  She had been searching for a Bible for eleven years.  She also faces a severe prison sentence if she is caught in possession of that precious book.  How often do I have to wait even eleven months for something I want or need much less risk imprisonment for it?

Not to say my troubles are completely insignificant or can’t end up being used for a good purpose.  But, it sure does my soul some good to get perspective.  It leads me to begin my prayers with so much genuine thanksgiving for the blessings and gifts that God has showered on me.  I know that real storms will come, as they do for us all.  They are powerful tools God uses to test our faith and develop our perseverance.   In the mostly sunny meantime, though, I have to choose not to let the occasional drizzle bring me down.