Friday, July 3, 2015

when the world hits hard

My friend writes beautiful truthful godly words here.

Highly recommended reading when the world hits hard.

Monday, June 29, 2015

when you are trying to raise a son into a man that sees

I want to raise a boy into a man that sees.

I send him over to ask if it's okay.  He runs back all smiles - yeah, Mommy, she says I can.

So he is changing clothes and bug spraying when my phone rings.

Marie, Max just knocked on my door and asked if he can cut my grass.

Yes ma'am, is it okay?

It would be wonderful.  Last night before I fell asleep I prayed to God to send someone to knock on my door today to cut my grass.

We both laugh amd chat a minute and then hang up.

His daddy gets him going and then he cuts.  He follows the pattern and cuts circle after circle after circle.

And I watch.

And then my phone rings.

Marie, my son says he wants to send Max $30 for cutting the yard.  

No, thank you, but please no ma'am.  That's not why he's cutting it.  I don't want him to think he has to get paid.  

And then she begins to cry.  

I prayed to God last night before I went to bed that someone would knock on my door today and ask to cut my grass.

Yes ma'am, I know.  

And she hangs up crying.

I go to the window and watch.  He's cut the same spot so many times there's bald patches appearing. I go outside and guide him to a few missed spots.

Repost from here - We were blessed beyond any form of our worth with three beautiful girls and my years were over forty and much time had passed since we made the unspoken bond of no more children by not speaking of it any longer.

There are some things that are very hard to explain.  And the fear is if you try you might sound somewhat extravagant.  Or like a dreamer.  Or just plain foolish.

But on a night earlier pressed against each other I laughed loud and told him we just made a baby.  I knew it.  I felt it.  I can't explain it.  I said it but how does a woman know such a thing at such a time?

But I did.

And I was right.

And weeks passed and he came home as I walked out of the laundry room and right into his arms and cried and there were only three words -

You're pregnant?


And I said words that were too honest when I wondered aloud why would God give us another child?  I didn't want another baby or need another baby and why would I be pregnant unless He was giving us a son?  Why would I be pregnant if it were a girl?

Some things will shame till the day we die.

And I didn't realize how badly I wanted a boy until the thought that I might not have one.

But I was afraid to say the words too loudly or too often.

And on a table too short in cold dark room I held the hand of the man I love and watched only him.  And there it was.  Wand moved and fingers touched keys and I saw it on his face before she spoke the words.

It's a boy.

But I already knew for his smile started slowly and he saw and looked at me in a way he had never looked at me before. 

And then my excitement turned to fear as I realized I had no idea how to take care of a boy.

But I could figure the taking care of part out.

But raising a son?.  How do you raise a man?

To be honest I had come to believe God didn't think I'd be any good at it.  I guess He believed I was the daughter raising type.

But here, now, he was granting us a son.  Blessing us with a son.

In this post I continue on to explain a promise I made to God when it appeared later on in the pregnancy that something was very wrong with Max.

I'm still not going to share that promise here in this white space.  It's personal.  Too personal.  And it was a hard promise.  One I want to keep but am not so sure I'll ever be able to.  I think of it often.

So here we are raising a son.

Girls are natural care givers, mostly kind-hearted and compassionate.  Instinct drives much of what they do.  A mother's instinct.

But boys like bad guys and heroes and dirt and mess and often get wrapped up in their own little gross worlds, too wrapped up to just notice things around them. They go too fast to just notice.   

And boys seem to not have chivalry in this modern age.  I don't want the age of harlots and brew and turkey legs devoured around an uncivilized table.

But there has to be an in-between, because boys growing up now are missing the mark.  Parents are missing the mark.

I want to raise a son into a man.

A real man.  A man like Christ the man.  A wise, kind, compassionate, loving man who has the hands of a hard worker.  A just man who angers with injustice and a zeal for God's house that will consume him. John 2:17 

A man who is not afraid of hard work and sweat.  One who is not afraid to be gentle. A man who never tires of loving one woman and telling her so.

And I want to raise a son who grows into a man who notices.  One who notices things going on around him.  A man with a keen sense of what needs to be done and then just does it.  One who notices a woman carrying a box while men stand all around her.  Notices an elderly neighbor's yard that needs attention.  A man who notices the child in the corner without a friend. And then becomes that friend.

I want to raise a boy into a man that sees.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

when you can't believe in statistics because how can you bear that?

It was 2001 and Judy walked up to me on the right hand side by the front doors and said, You should direct Vacation Bible School.  God told me so.

It was more of a command than a request.

Now, fourteen years later, I've been to Japan and the United Kingdom and the Amazon and . . .

I guess I've been all over the world.

So many years of prayers.  Over a thousand children.  Many now grown and gone and I wonder where and question.

And it's scary.  Every year I come close to quitting.  And if you really get to the heart of it I know I'm just scared.  

God will happen in spite of me.  Not because of me.

I remind myself.

This year I watched them as I always do from the back.  They raise their arms and stomp their feet and sing about taming their tongues and walking with the wise.

Where will they all go?  What will they do?  Who will they become? 

Will they say yes now or later -
or never?

They sing and dance and laugh and I begin to beg again, as every year.

I look at the back of their little heads and know all will one day die, some with eternity being separation and fire. 

Today I don't even make it through the doors at the beginning of the day before the tears fall and I wonder which ones?  Is it the little brown haired boy that sits on the third row?  The one with the glasses and cow-licked hair?  Or the little curly haired blond girl with blue eyes that light up when she sings?

There's the beautiful little girl who keeps walking right out of her flip flops and the quiet lovely child in the corner soaking in every word and motion.  Is it them?  The same little ones whose mothers held them close?

I stand in the prayer room before the morning begins and choke out my words so badly I have to ask someone to take over.  And they stay with me and cry with me and petition with me.  Not for one but for all. 

Statistics will tell you mathematically every child here will not accept Christ and spend an eternity in Heaven.  Statistics will tell you of one thousand children only one-hundred and seventy will even attend church.  And I can't bear that.  How do you bear that?

But I do not have to.  I can't believe in statistics.

I can only believe in faith.

I believe in my God, your God, the one and only God.  Lord, soften their hearts and prepare them and let them hear and see and know and say yes.

Because everyday, somewhere, some child is hearing the name Jesus.

Monday, May 25, 2015

when you turn sweet sixteen

It was the day before you were to be born.  She walked into the largest of the baby suites - the one they had set me up in because I was to be there so long, the one big enough for your sisters to bring sleeping bags and stay with me at night, the one you would be born in - and she looked at my iv.

It needs changing again.  There's no place left to put it but your neck or foot. 

I probably cried.  I was tired.  I could not wait for you to get here.  Could this pregnancy get much worse?  It all began the day I passed out in the dressing room of Limited Too and your Uncle Markie scooped me up and carried me to the waiting ambulance.

And now Bluebird can't go to the mall with Delia without anxiety that something will happen.  A little PTSD, Shelby?

When a tear was found in my gallbladder and there was nothing they could do but wait for you to come.  When every bite made me sick and I slept with a bowl by my bed just in case I couldn't make the bathroom.  When your big sister was so afraid she slept on a pallet right at my side of the bed.

The nurse held off on the iv change and less than 24 hours later they made me so comfortable I never felt a moment's pain and you brought more than just a new baby girl into our lives.

You brought joy and happiness matched only by the two before you and you were mothered by three and they were bigger mama lions than I was.

To know you is to love you.

You are still the silly little girl full of excitement that climbed the doors like coconut trees.   That feated up when you were hot and touched my cheek when you told stories.

It takes you forever to get ready and you've got me obsessed with Downton Abbey.  

They aren't really cancelling it, right?  Maybe it's just a guise to get you to watch the series finale and they are secretly bringing Matthew back.  A little like the Dallas/Pam/Bobby shower scene.  We can hope. 

And you love you some TV and movies.

And you cried buckets of tears over Pilgrim and then took the stage and blew me away.  

I am so very terribly not humble at all proud of you.     

I'd ask you to just slow down a little but that's one of the impossible mysteries of life - how swiftly time grows up your babies.  

Stay here in Merica, okay?  And you love you some Survivor. 

I love you my sweet sixteen sack of baby bones. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Max says . . .

And I find this photo on my phone.  A surprise gift from Maxster.

Which reminds me of when I found these on the camera, one day, out of the blue.  One of the best days.

And this morning, cuddled in bed exhausted from the week, we have this conversation.

Thank you for being so good this week.  You were patient and never complained about all the work for the play.  And you pitched in and worked hard.  You're a super son! 

laughter as he buries his head deep into my shoulder

I'm gonna buy you a shirt that says, 
Super Son.

Mommy, that'd be so cool!
I can wear one that says Super Son
and Daddy can wear one that says, Super Dad.
And you can wear one that says,

wait for it - - 

I have a Super Son!

What?  Maxster, wait!  There is something wrong with this picture.  
You get a Super Son shirt, 
Daddy gets a Super Dad shirt, 
and I get a I got a Super Son shirt?

huge laughter as I hug him close and marvel that he is here.  This gift.  This son of mine.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

her first mother's day

It was Saturday and Gregg was working when labor pains began.  And I didn't know what labor pains felt like.  So I called Mama.  And she said she couldn't remember and told me to call my cousin Teresa.  

But Lena wouldn't let me.  She just put me in the car as firmly as she made me buy that pregnancy test and Christmas onesie seven months earlier and drove me to the hospital.

And they put me on the monitor and keep me a few hours.  Then they sent me home with Braxton Hicks.  If google had been then I'd been all over that.  Cause y'all, that's what I do.

So Monday came and I worked all day.  Can't remember where.

But Tuesday came and I worked all day.  With the sun to Louisville and back late afternoon.  And I felt bad.  By the time Mama and I hit Carthage all I wanted to do was sleep through me some Braxton Hicks.

And I did.  I went straight to bed on the sofa.  Gregg comes home at eight or so and we call the doctor. We'd done the little minutes thing and pains were three or so minutes apart.  I was told to come on now.

But I didn't want to.  It was Braxton Hicks.  I had six weeks to go. 

So by ten the pains were ninety seconds apart.  And I was told to come NOW.  

But I needed a shower and my hair needed washing.  So Gregg and I fought and I took a shower.  

Then I needed make-up cause I was all cute and pregnant and I was gonna stay cute and I believed pregnant. 

So Gregg and I fought and I put make-up on.

And when they wheeled me into a room my pains were only a minute apart.  And nothing could be done.  It was not Braxton Hicks and when Mama and I were alone in the room I thought my water broke.  

But it was blood.  Lots of blood.  

And I was hemorrhaging and she was coming and I was in trouble.  And so was she.

Then they gave morphine.  And all I remember was burning and some cursing they heard in the waiting room and it was kinda like a TV show when I asked where I was and yelled at them to get her out. 

And that was it.  For over twenty-four hours I remember nothing.  

But when I woke I remember her.  She was tiny.  Preemie, but healthy.


And now it's Mother's Day twenty-six years later and my baby's having a baby.  

And the feeling is a little like amazing mixed with awe and much gratitude. 

My baby girl's first Mother's Day.

My baby's having a baby.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

when you should have hid the cologne the first time

It's been a really long while since I told y'all some of the cute things Max says and does.  And, well, part of that is because as boys grow, which I'm still learning all about, they don't grow in cuteness as much as they grow in grossness.

Burps, armpit farts, the back of knee farts - does that area of the body have a name? kneepit farts?

And I don't wanta scar him for life or anything.

Maybe this will only scar him temporarily ...

Mama, I'm gonna write a diary.

Boys don't have diaries, baby.  Maybe you should make it a journal?

But I wanta write Dear Diary.

But I don't think boys have diaries.


A short time later.

Mama, do you want to know what I wrote?

I'd actually love to know what you wrote, but I don't think you are supposed to share your journal.

It's okay.

Okay, I'd love to hear.

Dear Diary (in which he just looks up and grins)
I have an awesome life (in which he just looks up and grins)
I wrote another one.
Dear Diary
I want to start wearing perfume.

Baby, boys don't wear perfume.  They wear cologne.

Oh, okay.  I want to start wearing cologne.

What kind of cologne do you want to wear?

The kind that attracts girls (in which he just looks up and grins)

Daddy's got some cologne.  See if you like it. (in which I made a mistake and had to sleep with my head under the covers that night)

And then today, weeks later -

Thursday, April 16, 2015

when you bash your husbands just a little

Jennifer:  Painting a small room...better to go lighter or darker?

me:  Lighter!!!!

her:  Can I put gray in a bathroom when my hall is brown?

me:  No u can't.  Period.  The end.
You can use a gray.  It's just gotta be more silver.  Not gray.  Or grey.  Or gris.  Or grau.  I'm sure there's more but I don't know them. 

her:  Why aren't you here helping me do this?

me:  You haven't asked I guess.

her:  I guess that makes it my fault.

me:  Isn't it always?
Oh wait.  That's Gregg.  Sorry!
We can go to Lowes.

her:  Yep... cause I don't listen to my elders! hahahaha

me:  Oh no you didn't...

her:  Sorry...I shouldn't have.

me:  Now you can go to Lowes alone.

her:  I already did...well, with Ronnie, but that's the same thing. He suggested we paint the room white - or beige.  Yuk!

Disclaimer - Even though a bathroom is small you can often paint it dark.
The tile and open tub area make it work.
It's not floor to ceiling dark in a small space.
It becomes cozy.
  And husbands spend so much time in there - it makes it nice for them.   

Monday, April 13, 2015

to all my young friends ...

To all my young friends I see every week and I really can see you.  And I really do remember exactly where you are. I haven't forgotten. All I have to do is close my eyes to be fifteen again.

You - you're doing better than you think you are -

and words spoken do hurt, don't they?  I don't understand or I don't remember or you think you are the only one.  But I do understand and remember and you are not the only one.

I'm not really sure why Mama let me go that day.  It was barely summer hot 1982, not too hot but hot enough I slipped on shorts early that morning before he drove up in that white beat-up Ford to get me.  He'd later trade it for an old beat up yellow Pinto.

I slid in.  All the way over I slid.  His knee touched mine and he drove the hour with one arm on the wheel and the other across the back of the seat. And I was crazy mad about him.

I was only fifteen.  Too young to be sliding over and way too young to be crazy mad for anyone.  But there ain't no denying it.

We drove to the lake for his family reunion.  And I remember being nervous.  He was tall and handsome.  A football player and none too shy with the girls.  I was skinny.  Maybe ninety pounds soaking wet?  I slept with a retainer every night not so patiently waiting for the gap in my two front teeth to close.  I had contacts now so the plastic frames were gone but the Mississippi humidity was still unforgiving to my hair.

And he was crazy mad about me.  I was fun and funny and flirty and all these things, to him, made up for me not having the look of a typical girlfriend to one of the hotshot football players.  But I was not an it girl. Never was never will be.  And even he couldn't fix that.

And Mama didn't like him.  And Mama always got her way.  And here we clashed and clashed hard. And so began the beginning of a high school stand-off.  I did everything right at first.  I waited.  He waited.  We waited the required time she had said before the answer was still no and we took matters into our own hands.  And we were caught, often.  Almost every time we were caught.

So I'm not really sure why Mama had agreed to let me go this day.

But here I was.  And there I stood with his family under wooden pavilion surrounded by chicken and potato salad and jello molds melting in the sun when she looked me up and down and said

Well, James honey, love really is blind, isn't it.  

With a period at the end.  Because the question had already been asked and answered.

And tears stung and I barely made it out of the crowd before I broke down.

And he took me to the fire tower that overlooked that national forest and told me it didn't matter. Told me she was the one who was blind.

And he loved me four years till I wrote Dear John. 

It was Shakespeare who wrote love is blind.  And he wrote it often but once for Jessica loving Lorenzo and it was romantic.

But it wasn't romantic that day and sticks and stones aren't all that hurt.

And I didn't get over it.  For years I didn't get over it.  I carried it around and often took it out.  Am I over it now?  I think so.

And that's okay.  To just think so.  Because it is a huge part of me - and maybe I don't want it completely gone.

And you are okay.  Because you are doing better than you think you are.

Because He who began a good work in you will be faithful to the end.

And the end is a really really long time away.  So relax.  Treat others well. 

Let every word spoken to you and every action done to you grow you into the person God created you to be.  Not the person hateful words and actions can make you be.  

You control you. 

As Cinderella's mama told her - Have courage and be kind. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

when I don't know what I am doing

I do not like to consider myself a quitter. But right now I'm really considering quitting and that makes me think I'm just one wonky decision away from being on God's bad side.

Don't we just think crazy when we aren't really thinking?  We are just reacting.  

What's wrong with me?  And maybe you?

I'm sitting here wondering if maybe I should have tried harder? Maybe I should stay longer?

Aren't you loyal?  I ask myself.

People who draw lines in the sand are not liked.  People who say I'm done and walk away are looked at by the ones who say Should have put me in their shoes, I would have done that differently as quitters.

I'm feeling like everything gentle and Christ-like in me is being strangled as I struggle to know what to do.

I've poured an endless amount of energy into a bottomless pit and is the Spirit keeping me in place for reasons unclear to me or am I a coward?  Or would it truthfully be very brave?

And I want to walk away gracefully.  I don't want to answer questions or give reasons.  Or make excuses for my behavior because telling the truth would be like pulling out my bow and firing parting shots.

I told my girls in this post  that when you are hurt and look back on it one day in the future, the only thing that will matter is how you acted.  Did you keep your dignity and self-respect and walk away or did you stake your reputation on validation?  Are you proud of yourself or does your soul burn with shame at the memory?

I find myself praying often that God will remove a certain weakness from me.  Paul prayed three times for a thorn in his flesh to be removed before he wrote that this handicap was a gift. That a messenger of Satan was sent to harass him.  But just as Jesus has the keys to hell he overrules Satan's trickery and in God's master plan we are made perfect - in our weakness.   God grants me this gift to keep me in constant touch with my limitations.

For when we rely on our strength we always end up brought to our knees.  But aren't our knees a great place to be when we fail? Just another twist God gives us in all His goodness.

A friend told me yesterday that when it is very hard, when it seems like I'm jumping off a bridge, that it is probably God.   And this is very hard, and I really have nothing much to fall back on except sheer obedience to God.  But oh, praise God, that is all I need.

So right now I'm pausing and listening for an at-ease command or my marching orders.

And God has promised me in His word that His grace is sufficient for me.  That when I am weak He is strong.  And I am so weak.  I don't want a self-help book to find my strengths.  Just let me be weak.  Let God be magnified in the sheer fact that I don't know what I am doing. 

Drawing of me losing my cool courtesy of budding artist, Izzy.

Have a dressed up day!

. . . put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12