February 19

When Time Crawls and Turtles Line Up

I’ve had a thing about turtles lately.

Maybe because progress seems so slow and the last few weeks have been the kind of weeks where you really have to consciously look for the blessings and the beauty of simple things.

Sending out manuscripts and waiting for a response feels like an obnoxious grain of sand has clogged up the bottle-neck part of my hour-glass shaped egg timer.

In less than hopeful moments, when this cough has lingered for far too long and night-time cold medicine taken during the day leaves me energy-less and bedridden, I am convinced the wicked witch of the west is laughing maniacally while I am laid out, on a limb, dodging flying monkeys.

Just when the sun starts to peek out from behind the dark ominous clouds, the wind shifts and more gray settles over situations I have no control over. I respond like a turtle, pulling my head back in, under the hard shell.

But, hey. It’s Monday, it’s a new week and I will not be sucked into the vortex of despair. I had a beautiful Sunday and love Mondays, new mornings and make-up days. Determined to unslump myself, I took an extra long walk that meandered the dogs and me through downtown Boerne and along the quietly joyous paths of Cibolo Creek yesterday.

My daughter came home from college on Friday, made the best guacamole on the planet, got me addicted to the Mexican Train game and then left the next day. I made crepes for breakfast and thanked God quietly over my cutting board while I sliced strawberries. Two years into this empty nest thing, I should be less of a crybaby, but I’m not.

Every time one of my girls backs out of the driveway I want more time, more Mondays and more do-over days with fancy breakfasts and important talks.

I wish I would have listened more to my mentors who reminded me how quickly they grow up back when life was overwhelming, busy and I just craved an activity slow-down.

Now it seems like the days inch by at a turtle’s pace and I have to turn on the Olympics to watch the snowboarders and bobsledders to remember what speed looks like and that just like some runs are better than others, it is the same with our days.

Good and bad.

Better and best.

I woke up this morning, thinking of my long and wonderful walk and remembered the beautiful red berry bush we passed on John’s Road where I made a mental note of more pecan trees that need the attention of a pie-making clean-up crew.

There was the couple with a smiling special needs son who I encouraged to pet the dogs and another family who stopped to talk for several minutes about family and dogs and Mr. Riley’s horrible lump that Natalie’s boyfriend insists we glue googly-eyes to.

I met a couple from San Antonio at the Cibolo Brewing Company who were celebrating National Wine Day and I explained I forced myself out of the recliner to stop whining.

They have a shelter dog that looks just like my pretty Charlie and next I met a  woman from Oregon who also skipped church and slept in. She shared with me about losing two of her children to cystic fibrosis, then in the next sentence told me about their exchange student who taught them the fine art of Japanese stir-fry.

We will be friends.

We met at the turtle line-up on the creek.

Everywhere I have gone for the last several weeks, I see turtles. Maybe it’s divine confirmation that sometimes we just need to take things slow.

And some days, we just need to stick together.

February 16

Sponsor a Stud

For too long now, I’ve had an 8′ board in my garage that needs to get back downtown.

Around Christmas time I purchased the 2×4 from Habitat for Humanity and hauled it to my mom’s garage where I carefully measured out 12 different sections, enough for the people in my family to each have their own space.

We are a family of people who often need that.

On Sunday, Saydee dug her heels in and whined her way down the gravel path to the parking lot at church because there were no muffins, it was too cold to play on the playground and later tattled to her dad that, “Grammie wouldn’t give me any space.”

Every once in a while, we just need a quiet place to color and call our own.

One by one, we made our way out to the tidiest garage on the planet, opened the bamboo box of markers and began to create. There are sections with colorful and perfect polka dots, Love is…what makes a house a home, a peace sign, Home is where the heart is with adorable flowers all around it and houses that look more like mountains in shades of purple and pink.

At the top of the board is a note that lovingly reads, from our home to yours. There may be a small stain of prime rib juice in my section because, to me, home is where you sample food when your mom is not looking.

My sister-in-law got three spaces to decorate because the boys don’t like to color as much as the rest of us so she made a big, There’s No Place Like Home with a pair of perfect ruby slippers minus the black and white socks and heaviness of an entire house.

If you’ve never volunteered for a Habitat build, it’s a must. Even if you can’t hammer a straight nail or like me, it takes way too long to figure out the math of a 12 section 2 x 4, it’s still something to put on your 2018 list. You can clean sweep a living room before the carpet goes in or brush a few coats of paint on the porch spindles.

For $100.00 teachers can purchase a board for their class or if you’re a member of a community organization looking for a fun way to give back or maybe your scout troop needs a new project, there are so many wonderful ways to get involved.

Did you know the demo crew provides a low-cost way to have your cabinets and fixtures removed?

One of the main reasons I have loved selling real estate for 27 years is because of the passion I have for homes and the sense of belonging and stability that homeownership adds to people’s lives.

On these front porches, neighbors gather and behind these colorful closed doors, life and family and homework and laughter happens.

Habitat makes that dream come alive by partnering with the community and families who work alongside professionals and volunteers to open doors of opportunity that might not otherwise be available.

Home is where life happens, and thanks to Habitat for Humanity and dedicated volunteers, it is happening for more and more families every year.

Buy a board, sponsor a stud or sign up to help today, because we all need a little space to call our own.

February 12

Driving Challenges

In the middle of a country road last week, I attempted a three-point turn.

It took about nine.

When I was a teenager learning to drive or parallel park, my chest would tighten from the inside as sweat covered palms gripped the steering wheel and I listened as my dad shouted driving instructions from the passenger seat.

“Turn! Turn!”

I felt the same way when he would try and explain a math problem or even how to count change at an early age when I didn’t grasp the concept quickly enough.

When we had fun, we had lots of fun. But he wasn’t a patient person.

I think about him sometimes when I feel boxed in, pushed in corner or have run out of plays. Probably because the same tightening happens in my chest, a rising sense of anxiety that shuts a person down in a way that often appears disrespectful to others. I’ve come to recognize it as a defense mechanism, this shutdown.

Donna, my new friend and prospective client were looking at some really beautiful homes the other day and as we drove we started talking about what we do, who we are and who we want to become.

She confided that right now she knew many women who were doing one thing and dreaming of another. Strong women with successful careers and mothers at home with life ambitions bigger than their children. Women with desires to make a difference, change careers or start a non-profit.

I told her I believe it’s just something that happens as we get older. We may have realized one dream or one accomplishment, but the most fulfilling ambitions seem to be the ones where our pursuits are about helping the hearts of others.

We don’t have to jump off or jump in with all risk and no sense. I’ve done that more than once and it’s not always been a soft landing.

It’s okay to make small, subtle changes towards the turnaround. It’s okay if your three-point turnaround takes nine.

The goal of that driving maneuver is to turn the vehicle around in a very narrow space. That tight, boxed in, constricting grip of a boa, kind of feeling should signal us to start moving in another direction.

As we make subtle changes and tiny turns, we feel the loosening.

We begin to breathe in the air of open country roads that have been begging us to wander. The car moves as we do, forward, backward, then forward again.

 

 

 

February 9

Hand up. Hands high.

Saydee Grace was standing near the largest, longest green slide ever at Kinderpark. It’s the best playground in Boerne off of Highland and Water St.

She yelled out to the lanky girl with the big eyes and long hair.

“What’s your name?”

“Elizabeth,” she replied somewhat hesitantly.

Maybe because Saydee has learned boldness beyond belief from her Grammie, but she can be a little over the top at times. My daughter blames me.

Elizabeth’s mother reminded her sweetly shy daughter of proper playground etiquette. “Now you ask her what her name is. That’s how this works.”

“I’m Saydee Grace. You want to play with us?” Us being her and her best friend Mariah. They ran off to the climb the ladder to the slide while her beautiful mother came to sit by me on the stone wall.

She told me they recently moved here from Corpus. I shared that I brought the girls to the park for a quick play before my showings.

“Oh. Are you in real estate? My husband is in real estate.”

“Really? I just had an agent from Corpus show one of my listings.” That was the cue for her husband to join our conversation.

“Wait. Are you Tina?”

“Yes.”

“I’m Ryan Jones.”

“We just got off the phone.”

I couldn’t believe the coincidence! We talked a bit longer before I had to leave and knew that some sort of divine connection had been made, secretly hoping it was also the beginning of an executed contract for my motivated seller at 27630 Dana Creek Drive.

Yes, that is a marketing plug for this beautiful four sides brick one story, one owner home in a gated neighborhood that features four bedrooms, two baths, plus a study with French Doors, granite kitchen w/espresso cabinets, tons of light and bright windows that borders a private greenbelt space, one that is truly green.

The only noise I heard while recently sitting in the gorgeous backyard during an open house was the tight, continuous chirping of a couple of cardinals that couldn’t agree on which branch they were going to sit on.

I get that.

Sometimes God’s timing is perfectly in line with ours.

At other times, it is not. I always prefer the former, to the latter.

I thought about the girls, patiently waiting their turn, then climbing the ladder to the slide, trying to get to the top, thinking that the top was the best, but it’s not.

The ride is.

We have days at the top that are celebratory, and days much less than that, where we find ourselves wiped out at the bottom of the astroturf with a skinned elbow.

But the in-between is a beautiful ride. It’s the surprise of the unexpected. Maybe today, we think hopefully, and sincerely believe it.

The ride is where we shout, “Hands up!” and fly like the wind, sometimes so fast it scares us a little, in a good way.

This day, today, are we rising to raise our hands high in the air? Or are we still clinging white-knuckled to the sides, fearful of every moving inch?

Do we know that God is for us and not against us? Do we know deep down that he gives us the desire of our hearts?

And do we know that he is with us on the climb, the ride, and the wreckage?

I believe in being bold in our pursuits, those things that consistently tug at our hearts and gnaw at us, begging us to pay attention. It’s likely a ladder waiting for you to be brave and climb on.

There are other times when bold is not so beautiful. I’ve had many of those moments blow up in my face. I was reminded of it later that day at Kelani Yogurt, one of our favorite places to go and the reward for somewhat good behavior during the showings.

Saydee surprised me while I was talking to a family in the lime green chairs when she climbed up on the couch next to me, nestled in my chest and loudly proclaimed, “I just love your big boobies, Grammie!”

Like I said, sometimes bold isn’t beautiful. It’s just awkward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 5

Running on Empty

My mom is a perfect planner.

She plans meals, her day, and perfect holiday get-togethers months in advance. I don’t believe her gas gauge has ever been below the half-tank mark.

This is in contrast to the way I often drive around town, on fumes and prayers I count on to coast me to the next gas station.

After leaving a preview in Valentine Ranch this week, that’s exactly what happened. I glanced down, noticing the GPS had me off-course with the gas gauge mathematically too many miles past E.

It’s hard to focus on the road or a beautiful sunshiny day when you are forced to figure out miles per gallon while also trying to get SIRI to respond in a no service area, AND your mouth cheeks are stuffed with Girl Scout cookies that keep shedding powdered sugar all over your not-white shirt.

“Dear God, get me to a gas station without running out of gas and I promise I will find someone to help in return.”

It was pretty much like the time I promised to quit smoking if I could sell that big ranch I had listed, then celebrated post-closing by lighting up.

This time, I kept my promise.

I left the station and drove a few miles down the road when I noticed a boy in black, with headphones on, walking along the side of the road. The highway hummed as other cars and trucks whizzed past. I moved everything but the box of Savannah Smiles to the backseat to make room.

“Do you need a ride?”

He looked at me, hesitating before the, “Umm…”

“I’m safe. I’m a Realtor. Do you need a ride? Where are you going?”

His answer made me smile like an amused mother.

“To work.”

“Ok,”, still smirking, “Where’s that?”

He told me and I explained it was on my way, no trouble at all. I left out my plans to snap pictures of the colorful mailboxes in Grey Forest and the For Sale sign where the painted trains were. Why did they paint those beautiful trains? My heart sank when I saw it. Did they not know I wanted to turn them into a super cool Airbnb?

Anyway, I won’t go into the details, but on the 10-mile drive it took to get to his work, we talked, he shared, and I gave him a Girl Scout cookie and the ice from my YETI.

He wrapped it in a Starbucks napkin I had shoved in the glove box and placed it on the side of his face to keep the swelling down. The bruise just under his eye was starting to surface. We talked for over an hour in the parking lot, under the sunshine of my sunroof.

I haven’t stopped thinking about him since.

Jesus.

The very first For Sale sign I placed in a yard was just north of Ingersoll. I was about 23, a single mom with two little girls. We drove around the block multiple times so I could see the sign with my name on it.

“Look! There it is!”

“My name!”

It occurs to me now how we spend so many years trying to make a name for ourselves, a way to be worthy, a reason to be valued. Maybe we’ve spent more time trying to be valued than we’ve spent giving value or validating the worthiness of other people.

With every passing year, I notice in myself, a decreased desire to be somebody.

Genesis says the tower of Babel was built by people who wanted to make a name for themselves. They wasted their time, energy and resources building something remarkable for all the wrong reasons. And they were scattered.

I think about my misplaced motives and misspent youth and I want that time back. But from here, I can only see today. Is the tank filled up or half-full?

What name are we running on?

I live for days like Saturday, when God orchestrates a perfect day, even in my unperfect planning. It fills my heart and reminds me where I should be most focused and ambitious.

When I was a little girl and used to go to the gas station with my mom, we ran the red Vega over a hose that triggered the bell. Promptly, someone came out with a pinkish red hand towel and began washing our windows, wiping our wipers and checked the tires.

“You doing okay today, miss?”

Self-service is really no service at all.

I miss that kind of true value.

 

 

 

February 2

Hiding in the Shadow of His Wing

I listened to Minute With Maxwell this morning. John’s word for the day is authenticity. 

He mentioned the old school way of management, leading with power and authority, and compared that to the ongoing change in leadership styles we see rising up in culture today.

Today, we don’t expect perfect people, but we do want to work for, follow and listen to people who are authentic. People we can trust. Leaders who are vulnerable enough to share their foibles, but strong enough to live life real, and admit when they are wrong or were maybe misguided.

I’m in a Wednesday morning Bible study with Priscilla Shirer called, Discerning the Voice of God. I sit in one of many circles at 1910 with several women at my table and have to tell you, it doesn’t take a whisper from the holy spirit to discern that the cinnamon rolls this week were awesome!

On my own, I listen quietly for God to speak into my life about this thing or that thing, praying for others, believing for answers. I listen for a voice that is authentic and true, not the many that jump around in my head, threatening to sabotage my day or the weeks ahead.

When I ask and pray and hear the word, exercise, I feel like the mayor who listened to an oversized squirrel a little too closely.

Watch the Groundhog Video Here.

Watch all the way through, including the commercial until you get to the Fun Facts about Groundhog’s Day. Then keep watching.

Yep. That pretty much sums it up.

I felt like Bill Murray waking up this morning. What is it gonna take to get a day right? In the 1993 movie, his character, Phil Connors wonders, “Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”

That makes me rethink how I want to spend this Do-Over Day.

If I’m being authentic, I don’t believe I’d want to spend that last day exercising. I’d want to spend it with my girls, snuggled up on the couch with a pan of my homemade cinnamon rolls within arms reach; cream with coffee for Tara and I; Dr. Pepper for Chels; and Natalie will have water because she’s healthier than the rest of us.

Or like Phil Connors, I’d take that day on the beach in Puerto Morelos, over and over and over again. The day Natalie and I painted pottery under a covered cabana while the ocean waves soothed our senses and rolled in just in front of us. We napped on a swing bed and listened that night to a band who perfected every Abba song I ever loved.

Knowing Me, Knowing You…

When I try to know more, move in, get closer to God and really listen, it seems I get further from the things right in front of me. Those things that press in and push, squeeze and suffocate.

He’s my comfort in the waves, a better way to stay grounded to what’s really important. Sometimes when I listen, I hear God in the pig latin language of the 6th grade me. A language only my very best friends can understand.

I jung u sung tung lung o vung e yung o u.

I just love you.

We have to know the language and understand the words to really be able to listen and hear from the source that is both authentic and powerful. You hear it. I know you do. Some days, hiding in the shadow of the wings is the only way to go. It strengthens us for the worries of tomorrow that never really come.

I can’t predict the weeks ahead or the length of a long winter like Punxsutawney Phil, but to live like Peter, so close to Jesus that even his passing shadow healed.

That’s a day worth doing over and over.