We always always celebrate on the actual day and with his parents. We kind of combine the two of our birthdays, though, and they tell us to pick a restaurant to eat at. (We never eat out, because hello teenagers and stay at home mom.)
I am so glad that Todd recommended The Spaghetti Warehouse downtown. I was thinking of local food, but downtown never occurred to me. The boys LOVE going there and we don't do it as often as I'd like.
I love this picture of us that his mom took! Neither of us love being in pictures, but occasionally we'll get a really good one of the two of us.
We had a delicious dinner and got dessert to go, because it was free.
After this we drove to Tom Lee park that is nearby to see the Memphis bridge. The boys are all about taking pictures for their stories on Snap Chat. (Heck, who am I kidding? I am too!)
We stayed there for a while and while the boys all walked around with Todd, Phyllis and I stood outside her car and let Wiley watch us. It's kinda creepy there at night, or it used to be, and I always remember hearing of stories that happen there. (Todd knows a little too much about things that go on in the city that aren't even ever made aware for the public, and that's what I'm thinking of.)
We finally got cold enough to want to leave, and Phyllis and Wiley went home and we drove around. Drew ended up asking if we could go to a rooftop and we immediately thought of the Peabody hotel. Todd and I used to hang out there all the time while we dated and in the early years of our marriage. We'd sit in the lobby and drink coffee, we'd sometimes go to Cafe Espresso for dessert, and we'd go to the rooftop to see the views.
While we were walking there, we ran into these guys.
Some Georgia Bulldogs. They're in town for the Liberty Bowl that they're playing in this weekend. I asked for this picture, and I think I embarrassed the boys. Afterward they discovered that one of these guys is someone they know of, a running back for the football team. I know not of his name.
I am not a football girl and don't even pretend to be.
This was the First Tennessee bank with a Christmas tree on one side and a bell on the other. I loved it! I love our city views, even if they are quite different from NYC.
The boys have been here before, but Jonah and Noah don't remember and Graham and Drew were a lot younger and didn't have social media accounts. It was a really fun night.
We laughed ourselves silly. I cannot tell you how much nights like this mean to me. I love it when it's just us (well, kinda...we really missed Alex, but he had a basketball game) and when we have fun together. We are weird and nobody else thinks the things we find funny are that funny. We tease, we laugh, we talk loud (well, THEY talk loud) and I always just sit back and enjoy taking in the views around me...not of any THING, but of them. I know that all too soon they will be grown and nights like this will be a distant memory.
The other thing I wanted to share is about the new year. Years and years ago, I used to love to pray and ask God for a word for the year....one year it was something to remind me of His faithfulness, one year it was a reminder for me to be present in every single moment, another year it was a word for me to pray often over myself and others.
I haven't done this in several years, but the Lord has been gently nudging me in that direction again, through a passage of scripture I recently read and in remembering a Christian fiction novel by Robin Jones Gunn.
I'll share the scripture first.
It's from John 1:16 and 17 and says this:
Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness, for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
There have been a few circumstances in my life lately that have honed this truth in for me. One was a situation with a friend. She was very hurt by someone dear to her and because I love her so much, I too, was hurt FOR her and was more than a little upset at this person for hurting my friend so much.
This is where I need to confess that I seriously struggle with the concept of grace. Not that I've received it from God, I know that, and I know that NOTHING I do made me have this awesome relationship with God. It was in the fullness of HIS grace that I received mercy. Not me...him.
I've got that part of grace. The part of grace I struggle with is GIVING IT TO OTHERS. Did you catch that?
I know that people are flawed and imperfect. I am that way more than any of them. I mess up daily and need grace from others. I know that, too, yet I struggle with remembering this when it comes to others. If they mess up, I want to hold it against them. I don't tend to remember that I am to have grace for them. More than this, too, I get mad and I talk about it...to my husband, my mom or to that friend I was hurting for. In all of that loudness of my voice and all the talking I was doing, I was forgetting to take it to God, and I was drowning out what His word was telling me, I was drowning out His voice.
Yet He, in His loving kindness, gently reminded me of this through another friend. One who always gives grace fully to others.
I remember in a book I read by that author I just mentioned, how the main character discovered this same truth about God and about herself. She was near an ocean and through the waves, God gave her an illustration of His grace, and how it comes as if in wave after wave.
I love that illustration and that's the one I always remember over this passage above, but in starting to read John on Monday, I found this again.
And so I started thinking that maybe God keeps bringing up this word grace to me for a reason.
After realizing this and thanking God for what He shows me through His word, I decided to make that my word for 2017.
I am also going to borrow an idea from a friend and get a sign to hang over the front door that says, Grace Lives Here. (I have a friend who named her house that, y'all, and I love that idea!) I want the reminder ever before me. I NEED the reminder ever before me.
Jesus Christ, in all of His love and mercy and grace, came to this earth as a baby to save us from our sin. This relationship He calls us to with Him is based on that grace He gave us by dying on a cross, being raised again three days later, and then leaving in us (as believers) His Holy Spirit when He sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. That is what grace is: the free and unmerited gift from God.
Those are my thoughts for this coming new year. That and the reminder that people are imperfect and things are not always going to go my way. I am also always reminded to cast off my pride and to put the needs of others before my own, whether in an actual situation that is physical of whether in an instance that irritates me.
My prayer is that I demonstrate this to my boys, thus teaching them these same things. I always pray that God would make their hearts soft and teachable, and that they would learn these things quicker than I did. However, even in typing that, I am reminded that God is perfect. His ways are perfect. His ways, His thoughts are higher than our ways and our thoughts. His timing is perfect, and there is NOTHING that takes Him by surprise. He is the One sovereign over all, and He uses every situation that we face for our good, for those of us who believe in Him. He is faithful.
May God be praised! He has not turned away my prayer or turned His faithful love from me.
Thanks for reading. Love to all.