Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Yesterday was an awesome, beautiful, contagiously delightful,.... day (I keep trying to use the abc's to describe it). We had high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria and drove over to Berchart Gardens (I think I misspelled the name) which were TOTALLY amazing. The gardens were built over on old lime quarry. It was raining so they were not crowded at all - the gardens passed out umbrellas so there was no problem continuing to enjoy the sights. We were walking along enjoying the view, talking, and laughing then we rounded the corner to one of the most gorgeous scenes I have ever witnessed. It took my breath and my words away - only for a second - ha!The color was spectacular! The rose garden was indescribable too! The aroma was heavenly!
I don't want to skip over the high tea experience. We had a great time! I want to have the experience with my little grand-daughters. I love moments where formal and casual meet. It reminded me how much I love entertaining, how much I want to have relaxed table experiences with the people I love and value. I have a cabinet full of teapots, cups, and saucers. I want to get 'em out and have some fun!
We are having such a good time together. I love laughing and trying new things. We leave in an hour to head to our cruise ship. We will take off this evening for Alaska. My toes may be cold but I can't take off my flip-flops! Hopefully, I will be able to blog from the ship.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Up, up, and away!

The retreat is over. It was a delightful blast! I love that we are part of a community of faith that values marriage and that so many people are willing to set a weekend aside every year to explore some tools to create more intimate relationships. Thanks a million times to Kyle and Shelly Reeves! They are the backbone of this event. Nobody has a clue how much they spend in money and time to make this event happen. They believe that if one family is helped, it was worth it all. That is how the evil one will be defeated - through willing to go shoulder to shoulder beside each other as we all struggle to be overcomers (as Revelation would put it). The discussion at this year's retreat was so rich and so deep. It is a sacred moment when someone gathers the courage to share a painful leg of their journey and so many people of faith rush in to support.
The only downer of this year's retreat is that I got home without my Bible - boohoo! I had tons of help packing up so I thought someone had accidentally pick it up. I was beginning to worry about myself - can you go to heaven if you lose your Bible????? (Just kidding) Anyway, the hotel called the morning - after two phone calls from me - they found it!!!! Yea!
I will be stopping by the hotel on the way to the airport. We are on our way to Alaska! with our friends, Calvin and Virginia Buchanan. I am hoping to blog while we are on the ship but we will see. My firstborn turns 30 on Sunday, August 3 - yes, I will still be gone. We will celebrate well when I return. She is a blessing!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Marriage Retreat Tonight

We leave in a few hours to drive over the Dallas where about 16 couples from church are meeting us to spend tonight and tomorrow discussing marriage. I want us to really 'get' our deep need for attachment and explore why on this earth we are so desperately afraid of it. Dr. Sue Johnson says the only fears greater than our fear of attachment are the fear of death and the fear of combat. Our desire for attachment needs take us to such a vulnerable, sometime raw, place. Dr. Johnson believes that arguments are not about issues but about attachment. What John Gottman calls signs of contempt, Sue Johnson calls attachment panic - when we believe that we have reached out for attachment, however inappropriately, and it has been rebuffed. Attachment comes across in a variety of ways - one of which is anger. So much to say on this...more later-

Monday, July 21, 2008

Time in Houston

I love Mondays! Our class meets tonight and I so look forward to our time together!

My trip to Houston was a blast! Here are some highlights:

*Jenny and Malaya driving in from Keller

*Worshipping while Jonathan led singing and Josh taught

*Watching Malaya and Jed play together

*Taking Josh to the airport and hearing about Memphis

*Eating at Gringo's and sharing a meal with Jen; watching Jed eat ice cream

*Bath time with Jed and Jocelyn

*Prayer time at night with Jed

*Watching several episodes of The Young Riders (I love that show!)

*Hearing Jed say "adorable" when I ask him what I thought about him

*Seeing Jocelyn's brand new really big smiles

*Talks with Jen about some things that are important and some things that don't matter at all
(just fun)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mon Night Group and Thoughts on Attachment

I love our Monday night study group. We have several women from the community meeting for two hours to work through Kelly Simpson's Active Healthy Relationships program. The camaraderie is delightful and the discussion is rich! I have such a passion to give young women a forum to be intentional about living the lives that will get them what they want more than anything. These women are amazing and am thrilled to share time with them!
I am working through Sue Johnson's book: Hold Me Tight. She says that what we all want than anything is secure, safe relationships. Our hearts long for authentic attachment to another. I so believe her! This book is fabulous - and so challenging.
Due to the move in our culture toward independence, we have become more self-focused than relationship-focused and it is not serving us well. I witness the sadness of way too many because of a disconnect from others. We suffer from the ongoing wounding of our childhood - a childhood that maybe taught us that people are not safe; that people cannot be trusted to love well; that we will be hurt by loving/caring about another; that we hurt others that we want to love.
My question would be: how on earth do we enter into 'safe, secure' relationships without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit or the covering of the blood of Jesus or the warmth of the mercy/grace of God. I am fully aware that outside of Kingdom of God people can have good, successful marriages but they are missing the penetrating purpose. There is sweetness found in new mercies every morning that propels a freshness like none other!
Just wanted to share a few thoughts stirring in my head before I hit the road for Houston, Spring really. Josh (our son who recently moved to Memphis) is coming to speak at Jonathan's (our son in Houston) church tonight. Jenny and Malaya will drive up too. I will stay until Sunday loving on Jed and Jocelyn! But for tonight, I will have 3 grand ones under one roof (wish Truitt could be there!). I can't wait!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Shack

The Shack is a must-read! I found it super challenging and am writing this post so I can begin - only begin - to sort through some thoughts as I wrestle with them. At the same time, I am experiencing a loss for words (that's when I know I am really wrestling!)
The forgiveness element of this book is what has me gripped. Those of you who hear my soapboxes from time to time know that I believe that bitterness (the lack of forgiveness) continues to hold God's chosen in shackles although He has released us. We continue to dance in pain even after the Lord has called us to dance in freedom.

Here are two quotes that are stewing in my head:
Jesus talking to Mack (page 148 and 149):
"But your independence with its quest for power and fulfillment actually destroys the relationship your heart longs for."
"Apart from my life inside of you, you can't submit to (your wife), or your children, or anyone else in you life, including Papa (God)."
God, to Mack, about forgiveness (page 189):
"People are tenacious when it comes to the treasure of their imaginary independence. They hoard and hold their sickness with a firm grip. They find their identity and worth in their brokenness and guard it with every ounce of strength they have. No wonder grace has such little attraction. In that sense you have tried to lock the door of your heart from the inside. ... There are many folks like you, Mackenzie, who end up locking themselves into a very small place with a monster that will ultimately betray them, that will not fill or deliver what they thought it would. Imprisoned with such a terror, they once again have the opportunity to return to me. The very treasure they trusted in will become their undoing."

Isn't that just like Satan to convince us that we are taking care of ourselves, protecting our own hearts, when really all we are doing is refusing the only true healing. I want to be willing to do the work myself and to encourage other people in this journey of life to step into the freedom of forgiveness - whether is sometime done to us or something we have done. May we recognize His covering of grace and mercy and wear it well!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Home again, home again, jiggity jiggity, jig, jig

As a little girl, that is what we always said as we drove into our driveway after a trip.
Our trip home was very eventful - oh, maybe not so eventful but definitely exhausting. We got to the airport in time for Rick to fly out at 1:30 (right after lunch) - didn't happen - and we pulled in our driveway together at 4:30 AM! But it did give me time to finish my Nice Girls Don't Change the World book and get almost done with The Shack - a total must-read!
First, I want to share a couple of quotes from the Nice Girls book:
"Then I came face to face with the realization that disappointing people is the greatest fear of the nice girl. It truly was my deepest fear."
"Fear magnifies our weaknesses and it hides our potential."
"When fear says, 'You are going to disappoint people so badly,' I say, 'Well, maybe so, but I guess I'd rather take the risk of disappointing people by not being good enough than disappoint God by not being brave enough."
"... the opposite of being a nice girl is not just a good woman, but a downright dangerous woman. A woman who shows up with everything she is and joins the battle against whatever opposes the redeeming work of God in our lives and in our world. A dangerous woman delves deeply into the truth of who she is, grounds herself daily in the healing and empowering love of God, and radically engages with the needs of the world."
Oh yeah, I want to be a dangerous woman on the Lord's side - a woman where my greatest fear is not disappointing people but where the only thing I fear is not becoming everything the Lord has set for me to be in Him!

Yesterday was Jenny and David's ten year anniversary! Hey, you two, we celebrate with you and for you! Your marriage is a blessing to witness! You make a great team. David, I cannot imagine our fam without you!!!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Few Minutes at Pebble Beach

We have had a fantastic time in California! Today, we rented a car again - this time heading south around the Monterrey Peninsula. We stopped to take in the Pacific every few minutes - to watch the sea lions and the birds, and, of course, use every restroom along the way - ha! On one of the overlooks, we met a couple from Tomball. Their son is the youth minister for Metropolitan Baptist Church in Houston. (What's the old saying - 6 degrees of separation, or is it 9?)
We ate a late breakfast in Half Moon Bay - I had pumpkin pancakes and we split a potato dish that was really yummy! (I am writing this so I don't forget that I really like pumpkin pancakes. Wouldn't that be delicious on Thanksgiving morning???)
Then...we started on the 17 mile scenic drive through several world famous golf courses, ending in Pebble Beach! Gorgie-porgie!! We got out and walked as much as we could without paying the $525 to play - that would be EACH! Just to think I have watched history made there! The homes around it are incredible! A man working in the pro shop told us that 3 of the homes that are 'for sale' are going for $30 million! Who has ever heard of that many zeroes????? for a house? What do these people do?
Rick has been so enthusiastic in his love for golf courses that it has been undeniably contagious! I love being on them. I love the smell! I love the crisp look of a really, really good one. I love the quiet (I know - can you believe it??) But most of all - I LOVE Rick's face when he is on one! He loved Pebble Beach and so did I!
We head home tomorrow. I should have time to finish my Nice Girls book and start The Shack.
I am excited to sleep with my own pillows tomorrow night.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I love vacation days!

Since the conference was over Monday evening, Rick and I have taken in California as fast as possible. Yesterday, we spent the morning down at Golden Gate Park. It totally reminded us of Central Park in NYC. You step into such serenity. Then we got back on the bus (I am getting this public transportation thing down!) so we could go down to Fisherman's Wharf (had great clam chowder in bread bowls - yum!) and just hung-out at all the shops and spent a few minutes watching the sea lions while we talked to our family and caught up a bit. Then we caught a boat for am evening tour of Alcatraz. (Rick is an amazing travel agent! He reserved our spot for this cruise online months ago.) I found it hard to believe that people could survive those conditions. Some of the stories were so sad!
Today we got a rent car (again a Rick-online-reservation) and drove up this incredibly beautiful coast to Muir Woods. On our way out of San Fran, we stopped on Lombard Street to walk the crooked part. I tried to take pictures but without the video with my huffing and puffing for sound effects, the struggle gets lost. We hiked all the way down and then back up again. What a sight! While at Muir Wood, I learned that these humongous trees have what is called Family Circles. Their shared root systems make them stronger. Whew! Stay tuned for spiritual applications with that one! We had such a good time being together!
Tomorrow, our plan is to go south to Monterey Peninsula - heard it is gorgeous! Hopefully we can eat some seafood while we are there.
This week, I have finished reading Same Kind of Different as Me. Perfect timing - or maybe not - to be hanging in a city with such a prolific homeless population. I am learning so much about myself!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Last Day of Conference

I spent all day in one workshop with Sue Johnson, author of Hold Me Tight, an emotionally-focused therapy book.
Here are a few quotes from the day:

Before you even know how you feel, it is registered on your face.

Love is not about perfect performance but emotional presence.

Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and the wrong.
Sometime in your life you will have been all of these.
(quote by Lloyd Shearer)

If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else. (quote by Yogi Berra)

At the first break, I met Rick and Bekki Cotton who live in Granbury and go to church in Duncanville. Cool!

Tonight we went to Bubba Gumps on Fisherman's Wharf for supper. So fun! But... I had a little trouble with the public transportation. We rode a trolley to get down to the wharf. The seats were full so I was standing. As soon as the trolley took off, I almost fell and I stepped on this older woman's foot. I apologized so sweetly but she wasn't buying it. The trolley stopped and I regained my footing. Then it took off again and this time I almost sat on her. I apologized again but could not stop laughing. The next stop she jumped up and loudly proclaimed, "I have to get off here." She huffed and puffed off. Well, that left her seat open. There was a pregnant woman standing and I offered, while I was cracking up, to let her have the seat but she, laughing too, said that I better take it. I quickly thanked her, agreed, and sat the rest of the way. I am still laughing!!!!! I can't wait to ride again tomorrow. Rick decided to take a taxi back to our hotel. Oh, what a roller coaster ride!!! Whew! I took 2 Dramamine and am very grateful! My head is still spinning!

Tomorrow, we are play all day. We are planning to go back to the wharf, via the trolley, I'm sure, and go on cruise-tour of Alcatraz tomorrow night. Can't wait!!!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Day Three of Conference

We are resting a bit before we go to hear John Gray (When Mars and Venus Collide) from 7:30-10:00 - but I want to recap this day before we go. We ate supper at an Irish Pub - the first time I can ever remembering ordering lamb. It was good but... oh, let me recap the info of the day - not the food.

First thing this morning, the plenary speaker was Dr. Sue Johnson. I will spend all day with her tomorrow. I am so excited for the opportunity because she was amazing today! She is the author of Emotional-Focused Therapy.
Some of her quotes:
"How to understand the great emotional bond and the great source of pain (love) is the greatest treasure hunt of mankind."

Isolation is more dangerous physically than smoking.
Your brain codes emotional isolation as danger.
You become emotionally 'stuck' when the person you go to for safe attachment creates isolation.

The code of attachment tells us that the primary need is to feel secure with another.

All arguments are about the power of emotional connection:
*Are you there for me?
*Are you accessible for me?
*Are you responsive to my needs?
*Are you engaged with me?
Emotional presence is solution.

Criticism by someone you love creates relapse in any 'issue' - ex. depression.

(more from her tomorrow - I can't wait!)

Dr. David Carder - on Close Calls: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage

The power of a temptation lies in its timing.

High risk times for affair:
Following a loss
In a life transition
During pregnancy or within 18 following birth (he has done extensive research on pastors and this has proven to be their most vulnerable time)

Most pastors who have affairs do so between ages 31 and 40 (43.9%).
Over 70% of pastors having affairs do so before the age of 40, with a huge % of those never reported to their 'people'.

The following list include the characteristics for alcoholics to relapse and they also lower barriers for affair prevention. When we are:

Father God, please teach us how self-care so that our hearts do not become the devil's playground. Fill us, as Your people, with wisdom and discernment to eat and rest well. Guard our minds that anger does not settle in. Help us to use every opportunity to practice forgiveness so bitterness does not take up room in our hearts. Fill us with Your presence and Your passion so that we do not let loneliness and boredom become fertilizer for the Evil One. We desperately want to bring You glory and honor in the way we do marriage.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Day Two of Conference

Happy Fourth of July! This was my precious Dad's favorite holiday. He loved when we celebrated with him - he didn't really care what we ate as long as there was watermelon to top it off. My mom is so sad today. It doesn't help that I am at this conference in San Fran. I have been thinking about her all day - and praying for her.

This day has been full and so rich! Right before lunch I heard someone calling my name - it was Charles and Judy Siburt. We just love them! We walked to a diner for lunch but had to eat at the counter so we are meeting again tonight to walk to an Italian place so we can visit and catch up.

I do want to journal some of my notes from the day.
Markman and Stanley (researchers) opened the day. Here is some of their quotes --
Commitment is the choice to give up other choices.
One fourth of the teen girls in America now have STD's.
48.7% women reported a negative reaction to 'hooking up' sex; while 51% of men reported a positive reaction.

David Olson--
5 Best predictors of a Happy Marriage --
*Personality compatability
*Conflict Resolution

Flexibility and closeness are the two that are new and are teachable.

Scott Stanley-- Sliding vs. Deciding
Too many people today are sliding through really big transitions then making decisions later.
(He's talking about relationships.)
My reflection of this last sentence: I want to work with the teen girls that I teach on how to break up. Nice girls don't know how and frequently get 'stuck' in relationships that are not emotionally healthy or safe because they have no clue how to get out. I don't want these girls to have life-long consequences because they slid. I want to be about the business of empowering then to be wise and discerning about relationships.

Tomorrow should be an amazing day! We end the day with a keynote by John Gray. He is so entertaining! In case I haven't said it lately: I LOVE my job! I LOVE my whole life! Rick, I am delighted you came with me to San Francisco!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Day One of Conference

I want to write out of few thoughts from the first day of the Smart Marriage conference mostly by sharing some quotes from a few of the speakers.

Gary Chapman's keynote: No one has ever died from breaking off an affair. Some have died from continuing them. No one ever regrets doing what's right.

His new book comes out July 15 entitled: Love as a Way of Life (doesn't that sound like something Jesus would just love?)
Does love stand a chance in this country? Love is our only chance!

2 essentials to a positive long-term relationship:
1. both partners feeling loved and appreciated
2. both knowing how to deal effectively with their own failures

From his class on The Five Languages of Apology:
Life's true meaning is found in relationships, also life's deepest pain.

Why do some people choose not to apologize:
fear the consequences of admitting the offense
don't value the relationship
have personality or esteem issues

On teaching children to apologize:
*teach them to take responsibility
*help them understand that their actions affect other people
*life has rules
*apologies are necessary when we hurt others
*teach them the five languages of apology
*teach them by your example

Dave Carder's class: An affair contains the following three components--
1. childhood magic - totally free of responsibility
2. Adolescent sexuality - exciting, spontaneous (like in a car - ha!)
3. adult mobility - business trips, choose to see each other in time that are not "regular" or easy
Healthy marriages-work involves maintaining all three.

John Van Epp's keynote: Years ago, research revealed that teenage marriages had a high rate of instability so the marriage age began to be pushed way up. For a period of time the slogan taught was 'marry later, marry better'. What we now know is that when the marriage age is anywhere from 21-30, higher stability is more likely to occur. But some people who wait until later to marry are more likely to be sexually permissive, have higher rates of substance abuse, have higher rates of cohabitation, and show higher acceptance of out-of-marriage births.

It has been a good day at the conference. Rick and I are about to leave to go to a banquet - always a highlight at the conference.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Off to San Francisco!

We leave tomorrow for the Smart Marriage conference in San Fran! I LOVE this conference! I want to be a sponge for 4 1/2 days. Rick is going with me to read and hang out.
I am trying to tie up loose ends tonight before being gone for 9 days and blogging made my list.

Jennifer, Jed, and Jocelyn spent last week with us. Jonathan came in Tuesday night so he could speak at church Wed night. He was amazing! I was just bustin' proud of him! Wednesday was his 25th birthday. We had a blast being with them. I'll post pictures soon. Jen got her hair cut while they were here and it is adorable!

I am currently reading "Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. I came across this quote last night during the discussion that followed Ron asking Denver to be his friend (Ron is a wealthy white man; Denver is a homeless black man):
Denver -- "I heard that when white folks go fishin they do somthin called 'catch and release'. That really bothers me. I just can't figure it out. 'Cause when colored folks go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that'll look. Then we eat what we catch ... in other words, we use it to sustain us. So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all that trouble to catch a fish, then when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water."
"So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: If you is fishin for a friend you just gon' catch and release, then I ain't got no desire to be your friend."
"But if you is looken for a real friend, then I'll b e one. Forever."
Denver, continuing to reflect: "Bein friends is like being soldiers in the army. You live together; you fight together; you die together."
Ron promised not to 'catch and release.'

It is a great book!