Monday, July 22, 2013

The Elders

The elderly as they once were.....

This article that has been re-circulating around Facebook lately. It is so captivating to be reminded that Elders were once soldiers, nurses, fire-fighters, knock-outs!

I shared it with my children and they were fascinated! They call older folks "elders" and I love it. I have never corrected them, because I think the term "elder" captures the essence of a life well-lived. It captures the tip-of-the-hat respect that people of age deserve after a long, fruitful journey.

I simply love looking at photos of my grandparents as vibrant, happy youngsters - with their whole lives ahead of them.
My brother recently shared this photo of my Grandparents, Kay and Coye Whitby.

This photo is from 1958. My mother was born in '46. So mom was 12 and Gran Gran and Daddy Kay were in their mid 30's. I am in awe of this simple moment captured.

Coye was a beautician and Kay worked for the Railroad.

Daddy Kay was a gentle soul - never cross with us, his grandchildren; always kind, always seeking quality time with us. He went to church every Sunday from the time he was a boy until he died at age 84. He provided a great middle class living for his family. He even allowed my dad to live with them and work during high school until my parents could graduate and marry. After he retired, he became a realtor in our small texas town, and they were both well-known, well-loved, well-thought of.

Gran Gran had a colorful sense of humor, was a strong woman with a big personality. She was the matriarch of the family. A woman who knew what she wanted and how to make it happen. I remember that she was a hell-of-a golfer and that she threw the most amazing parties. Nothing can touch the memories I have of Christmas Eve parties at her house. Pie after pie after pie donned the dessert table. All the adults were dressed to the 9s, and always very jubilant, funny and interactive (it's only in my adulthood that I understand it was because all wine she served!).

As my birthday approaches, I can't help but think of all the elders who have gone before me, and how my time as an elder is fast upon me. May we honor those lives-well-lived among us. May we remember our youth and embrace our present. May we not fear and not fret about the days ahead.

Friday, July 19, 2013


This summer, my children have gotten into a habit of complaining (or at least, this summer I am more aware of it). One will wake up and tell me they didn't sleep well because the curtains were cracked and the light came in the room. One will tell me they don't want to go to the pool because NO ONE will be there. Another will complain of being too hot, or having mosquito bites, or the worst of the worst, "I'm bored".

Typically when I hear a complaint, I respond un-compassionately with a blasé and half sarcastic, "I'm sorry". When it gets really bad, I tell them to get their gardening gloves and come on outside with me to pull weeds. The weed pulling is a win-win for me, a necessary chore that doubles as discipline. It makes me wonder about all the chores I was required to do as a child. Was I once a habitual complainer? If so, I was certainly cured of it by building, repairing and painting fences, herding cattle on horseback, schlepping hay bales and driving the tractor - all by age 4. Or something like that - the details are hazy :).

Anyway, it has been troubling me lately. So, I was ironically bitching about it to my friend Teresa at dinner the other night. This wisdom-woman immediately quoted 1st Thessalonians 5:18, and shared how she coaches her children when they complain.

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

I love it. And I know this verse by heart, as well as the two before it.

16. Always be joyful. 17. Never stop praying. 18. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

This morning before breakfast, I got out my bible and did a little DEVO on complaining and being thankful. I reminded them of God's goodness and the beauty of our simple life... though we are not rich, they have not a need in the world that has not been met... how grateful we are for our property, our animals, our ability to stay home, our blessing of going to a pool everyday... we Alexanders are THANKFUL people.

Then I went on with, "When I was your age, blah blah blah." Kidding. I did not go there.

The children were so humble and so receptive. They listened intently and interacted with me. One of them replied, "Mommy, I never hear you complain." Thank God, that for all of my blind spots and misses with these kids, they have recognized the value and the difference - that I have modeled gratefulness and have hushed grumbling.

We went on with our day and I continued pressing into God's guidance on this.

He brought to mind my friend Michelle, who has been intentional about using scripture in discipline since I can remember. I searched for an email thread, from a time when she was sharing with me about Ginger Plowman, who has an entire ministry working with moms on discipline through God's word. I perused Ginger's website and ordered a couple of books. Looks like we are going to have a little family book club when school starts back up again. I CAN HARDLY WAIT!

I am so thankful for my friends who mentor and challenge me. Days and years can go by but God uses every Spirit-led conversation to continue to shape and challenge, encourage and gently rebuke.

I pray that one day my children will look back and remember this day: "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." And I look forward to the Lord's leading through scripture as I shepherd my little ones.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


One of the things I love about yoga, is the opportunity to challenge the body through balance and inversion postures. The children really love trying different poses as well. Often, we will go outside and experiment with various body challenges.

My daughter and I started out yesterday with Crane pose, moving straight into headstand. Slow and steady, focusing on balance and strength.

She and I continued on playfully attempting other types of "Poses" :)

Then the boys (including neighbor child) joined in the fun!

By the end, Whitby and I stuck our handstands for at least a couple of seconds. We want to get to the point that we can move slowly from Downward-Dog into Handstand or even Crane into Handstand. I have a feeling we will be working on those for a LONG time.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Facebook: sharing, unfriending, community, boundaries....

In February, it will be a decade since Mark Zukerburg rolled out Facebook. I was in campus ministry at the time and my friend/co-worker Joy told me about it. Through the years, I have collected around 1500 "friends" on Facebook. Most of them are students I connected with through campus ministry (on 3 different campuses), or people I met through work (3 different large churches). Then there are the high school friends, college friends, graduate school friends, and family/extended family. It is easy to gather such a gaggle when Facebook has been part of my life for 1/4 of my life!
Throughout these 9+ years, people have weaved in and out of my world, and I have weaved in and out of theirs - crossing and connecting, then sometimes detouring for months or years at a time.

It may sound silly, but I truly am thankful for Facebook.

I have encountered people who knew my mother and have told me stories and shared photos from the 50's and 60's.
I found my 3rd grade bestie, who I had not spoken to in 20+ years. She still lives in Colorado. Her folks are still in the same gorgeous pink victorian home on Main Street in our small town. Her dad still has that epic beard, the one he has had since long before epic beards were a thing.
My dear cousin and I, who were estranged for many years, were able to talk through former conflict and start a new friendship. Grateful that he and his wife are both in my life now and look forward to a day when I can see them again in person.
I try to keep up with the innumerable women who have touched my life in profound ways throughout the decades. But that's hard to do! So Facebook helps me check in on them see pics of their kids, their work life, home life and health.

I recently talked to a former co-worker who was telling me how he was about to go unfriend about half of his friend list because he hardly knows some of the people who had friended him.
And another person who unfriended lots of people because he only uses Facebook to keep up with people who he "actually interacts with in the real world".

I get that. Totally. Technology is here for us, not the other way around.
But these comments have gotten me thinking.

1. Ok, so you don't know half the people on your friend list. Did it occur to you that they may know you (or some form of you they respect/admire)? What if you made a difference in their life somewhere along the way? Perhaps that is why they friended you in the first place.
2. I can understand the argument that you have people you hardly even know flooding your newsfeed. The good news is you can label your inner-circle of "close friends", which tailors your newsfeed to highlight those people specifically.
3. Narrowing your list to people that you actually interact with in the real world: why on earth would you need Facebook? My friends span across the states and across the world. There is no way I could keep up with them without Facebook. Elizabeth is traveling in Alaska right now. Todd and Jenny are moving their family back to Dallas from Alaska. Christina is finally getting the 15 acres outside Dallas she and her hubby have always wanted - just in time for her 5th child. Tammy's ministry with children in India, and Amanda's ministry with children in Africa are both beyond inspiring. Shirl is traveling in Australia right now, but she and Greg have been missionaries in Columbia for most of their married life.
4. Narrowing your list: you're even missing out on the small things. Carla watched "Warm Bodies" last night. Chris should have been a comedian. Ginger has become a runner this past year, and loves it. Jay and Nan just celebrated their 20th in Bahamas. Karen inspires me every time I see something she posts on someone's wall as a birthday message - she makes me want to be a more intentional friend. Tonya's daily scripture peaks my interest to dig deeper. Coach Graham (my high school coach) retired. Friends are gay. Friends buy parrots. Friends buy boats. Friends have cancer. Friends' parents have died. Friends support and do not support gun control. Friends have babies. Their babies have babies.
5. Is un-friending a cry for attention? Is it simply good boundaries? Is it pretentious? Is it a way for people to have self-control on how much time they spend on FB? Each situation is different. I want to know your thoughts! But for me, it is a way to stay connected with eras of friendships which would otherwise fall by the wayside.

Confront me. Send an intervention. I am sure that I am way too into what others are doing. Understand that my husband and I have set boundaries for screen/phone/ipad/computer time when we are at home with the family. These boundaries we set for our children as well. We definitely have enough to do on our little urban farm to keep us off screens!

But as for me today, I appreciate Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogs. These things help me engage with the outside world. It's today's modern and efficient form of community -- life together (albeit often separated geographically). It is, in fact, actual interaction, in the real world.

*Disclaimer. I will unfriend anyone who is repeatedly disrespectful, arrogant and cruel.
**Disclaimer. I loathe all the advertisements and games I get incessantly invited to join.
***Disclaimer. I have unfriended in the past for various reasons.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Will this work?

I went to the grocery to buy wine.

The cashier asked if I had my I.D.

"No ma'am." I replied. "But......"

Sunday, July 7, 2013

July 4th, 2013 (and 5th and 6th)

Happy Independence day!

We spent 4 hours at our Country Club pool, enjoying the bbq and a newly installed slide. It rained on and off all day here in Tuscaloosa. Fortunately, for the majority of the day there was no lightening or thunder, so the lifeguards at our pool allowed the fun to go on.

Since it was so cool outside when we got home, I built a fire, while Creighton did a couple hours of yard work. The children relaxed inside for a while, then joined us outside.

Creighton had purchased some city-limit approved :) fireworks for that night. We only got to about half of them, because of the rain. We tried again the next night - - still raining. And finally again on the 6th. Although it was STILL raining, we managed to get a break in the drizzle to finish off the sparklers. My friend Meredith and her two little guys came over, sparklers are always more fun with friends. :)

Then finally, the FINALE. A glorious Chinese lantern, that caused ooooohs and aaaaaaahs and delighted the hearts of the children. (Needle scratches record) Unfortunately, the lantern got about 10 feet in the air and then caught on fire, plummeting to its death. We put it out of its misery in the fire. Hugged our friends goodbye, then off to bed.

Overall a calm relaxing extended Independence Day celebration. Lots of rain, fire, yard work, and intermittent fireworks. Hope your 4th was fantastic.