Monday, October 17, 2016

My Hero and My Sidekick

This is my hero and my sidekick. He's small but mighty. He's strong and courageous and he loves to tell people so.  Liam has selected his Halloween costume since he was 1. I've seen no reason to argue his decision. I mean, I choose his clothes 90% of the days in a year (sometimes he requests a bow tie or straight tie and I roll with it), so on this holiday, I let him run wild with choice. Year 1, he wanted to be a lion and year 2 he was a fierce dragon. And this year, I had a feeling we'd land on a superhero. I was right - only I would've bet cash money that I would've been painting him green and shredding up an old pair of jeans for this Halloween. Liam LOVES the Hulk.... And I would've lost that bet. He requested to be Robin. And Robin needs a Batman.
However, since Liam is in school this year and he has a "Harvest Party" to attend, that means he has multiple opportunities for costumes! So when we talked about him getting to wear two costumes, his next request was Batman. I was not surprised - his 3 year old brain was locked in on Robin and simple association led him to Batman. And with all the superhero movie hype over the last several years, these costumes were INCREDIBLY easy to find and pretty inexpensive. I spent $23 combined, and he LOVES them. The only thing is, when Batman's off keeping the streets of Overland Park clean from bad guys, he needs a Robin... 
This will by my first year to coordinate a costume with Liam. And you guessed it... When he's Batman, I'll be Robin and when he's Robin, I'll be Batman. Like I said - he's my hero AND my sidekick. 
The last 10 months have not been easy in the Thomas House, but Liam and I have proven ourselves to be quite the dynamic duo. We are teaching each other, helping each other, and watching each other's back. We are both growing. And every single night (as it always has been), it is imperative to me that he know he is loved and protected and you know... He lives in a way that let's me know he believes it. 
Whether Liam is the schemer with a crazy big idea he's telling me about and trying to rope me into, or whether he's following along with some crazy idea of mine, he's all in. And he'll be the first one to say "that's great!" when we've carried out our plan to completion. He's an encourager, this one. This Halloween, at this stage in our life, Batman and Robin are kind of perfect for us to play...  Tragic heroes wounded by life but choosing the highest good for others in the face of the world that hurt them. Plus, if I've learned anything about Batman and Robin throughout the superhero obsession in my #BoyMom life, it's that you don't need super powers to make a difference.
And then there's this... my GQ model. I shot a series of him on these stairs that nearly killed me. He's so handsome, has so much personality, and this particular one is filled with so much swagger that I can barely stand it. He has my heart... and I take great pride in taking care of his. 
"Let the world think your crazy if that's what it takes to be the best you can be." - Batman

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


My knuckles aren't bloodied. I've got no cuts, scraps, bruises or broken bones to prove it. But I'm a fighter. 
In the face of some rough stuff in my life, I've had to toughen up. I've had to get some thicker skin. I've had to find strength in the midst of exhaustion and push through. And you know what? I'm on my feet. I'm standing tall and learning what it takes to be strong and courageous. Learning that it's not really my feet I'm standing on at all. It's not me that has pushed through anything, and it's not by my own accord that I'm standing tall. I have surrendered ... and my God became my shield, my strength, my courage. 
The definition of courage has changed since the word's origin. The word originally meant "to speak one's mind by telling all one's heart," but in today's world, it has much more to do with being brave and heroic, "putting your life on the line.” I’ve been reading The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown, and I felt she put that most poetically. But, let's stick old school... Courage is "putting our vulnerability on the line" by speaking the truth of our hearts. By admitting the hurts. Exposing the parts of us that are the most vulnerable. By confiding in someone the things that may show weakness. By surrendering the fact that we don't have it all together all the time. Owning our mistakes, our shortcomings, our flaws... Transparency. Authenticity. That is incredible courage. 
I bought a bracelet recently that has the words "be brave" imprinted on a metal plate. It's my reminder. Not a reminder that I'm not yet brave and must attain that state of being, but rather bravery, or courage, is a character trait I must choose in every decision I make. It tells me to be brave this instant and the next. This day and the next, because it's not a static trait like my height or my shoe size. It's ever-changing and entirely reliant on my choices. Entirely dependent on my surrender. Every moment. 
So I'm a fighter. Not because I can last 12 rounds in the ring, but because I waved my white flag. And I must choose to do this every day. Then, my battles, my fights, will be not only fought, but won. Because Exodus 14:14 says "The Lord will fight your battles for you. You need only to be still.” 
You may be asking yourself what this post has to do with an apple orchard. Liam and I spent some time at the orchard today and I kept admiring his choice in apple. At first, I told Liam to really check out the apples, to make sure there aren’t rotten spots, bumps and bruises, cuts and scrapes. Only pick the big, smooth and shiny ones, I told him. He followed my direction in filling our bucket, and then he asked if he could eat one. I said yes, of course. He went right over to the tree, grabbed one with some knicks and cuts, brushed it off and said, “this one is still great, momma” and he took a big ol’ bite. I don’t always have external evidence of the battles I fight, but my heart has taken big bumps, bruises and cuts. And in the words of my wise little boy, my heart... “its still great.” The Lord fights for me. He trains me up. He sits ring side, and as soon as I tag Him in, he says, “I’ve got this!” It takes incredible courage to tag Him in. Incredible courage to bear your heart. To surrender. 
Be brave!  

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you where ever you go. - Joshua 1:9 
"Courage is like a muscle. It is strengthened by use." - Ruth Gordon 

Monday, September 5, 2016


This weekend was booked solid. We went to the Renaissance Fair AND we went camping. Needless to say, all these sweet kiddos and the grown ups had a GREAT time. From all the extras at the festivals to the bare essentials camping, the constant was Jesus in our hearts. 
 This happened to be Liam's very first time camping and we got to use his tent that Mau and Papa got him for his birthday. He was THRILLED. And honestly, so was I. Our campsite was right at the water's edge and the wind was pretty strong making for absolutely perfect weather - particularly at night. We even ended up taking the top shade/rain guard off our tent. I starred up through the roof of our tent and watched the stars as the water lightly lapped against the rocks. No soothing water sounds CD; we had the real deal.
 The kids threw rocks into the water, kicked balls around, and drew pictures. Completely tech free kids for the weekend and I never heard one of them ask for tablet time. They were all dirty, grimy little creatures that were as cute as can be with dirt streaked faces and solid brown hands. It was a perfect getaway. Everything just slowed down. Time. Schedules. The busy. It honestly felt like God just breathed in a full breath and held it just for us.
 I tried my best to soak in every second. So I'm thankful. Thankful for my son. For my friends. For all these children. And thankful for an oasis that silenced the rest of the world even if only for a short time. Thankful for my time with the Lord while I was there. The conversations I had with Him staring at the stars and the water. It was hard to get back in the car and head home.
 At one point, I sat at the water and just watched the wakes from far off boats and how they traveled so far.... all the way to me. And I couldn't help but think about how God is using things far off from me in my daily life, just so that the wakes will make it to me at just the right time - setting all of this in motion. Pastor Clint has been doing a series called Branded by Love. I have really enjoyed it and felt very convicted in different moments throughout the series. Then I was plucked right out of my busy, chaotic life and placed gently on the shoreline of a lake peninsula with my tribe of people. My chance to practice being branded by love. My opportunity to check myself in how I'm loving others. And to first remember, that I am loved. The wakes traveled all the way across the lake and still found me. So I would notice. So I'd pay attention. God has a game plan with the most intricate of plays. He just asks that I show up, and LOVE. He'll quarterback the rest.