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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

when you feel yourself slipping

Her name was Patty and she was my best friend. 

She had a kind of clown trailer in her backyard that her daddy rode on for parades, and when she and I pleaded hard enough he let us play in it.  He wore a funny hat with tassels hanging and did charity work and Patty won beauty pageants and wore white go-go boots. 
 
She had hair one would describe as raven black.  She could twirl a baton and dance and had cases of trophies and tiaras and wore real diamond earrings and won a car before she could drive. 
 
Her teeth were perfect and she never wore braces.  
 
Her bedroom furniture was a matching suite and her room was pink with a double canopy bed and ruffled everywhere.  A large pink stuffed snake she had won wrapped itself around the post of her bed and I thought she was the luckiest girl in the world. 
 
She was kind and shy and didn't sit with the popular girls. 

I had mousy brown hair that hung straight and limp and a huge gap between my front teeth.  I wore glasses and Steve Finnegan always called me four eyes.  I wore whatever shoes Howards had the cheapest and one day when I was at school my mama covered the walls of my bedroom in green ships.
 
 I never owned a pair of boots until I was grown. I've still never owned a pair of white go-go boots-
 
But there's always tomorrow.

Patty and I were a pair.  Someone should have written a book about us.

And when we were nine years old she accepted Christ as her Savior and Lord.  It was bible school 1974 and she whispered in my ear that she was scared and took my hand and we walked that long aisle together, holding hands.  I did what she did.  I prayed after Brother Benton and answered the questions right and we were baptized together one right after the other in the same water.  She went first.

Watching her life it seems and always seemed obvious she knew what she was doing that summer of '74.  But I was just there to hold her hand.

And I never seemed to know what I was doing.  I rarely did the right thing because I never searched to do the right thing.  I just acted on feelings.  I followed desires instead of a heart that was flooded with the love of Jesus.

And it wasn't until thirteen years later that I surrendered a lost life to a One and Only Savior.

And I don't want to be a mere believer of Christ, as if I'm believing in a fairy tale or myth of old.  Showing no more proof of my love and loyalty than a babe nursing.  A babe who would take of any substance offered to remove pangs of hunger or fear or death.
 
I don't want to walk everyday surrounded by barren land while I live under the guise of grace.  For God has poured His salvation onto my life and I have lived in the sheer goodness of God.  Forgiving.  Saving me from judgment of death.  Eternal hell.  Loving me for who I am.  Not who I was or can be.  But for who I am now.
 
And does my life show proof of fruit sprouting up from life watered with the Word?  For my Heavenly Father does not miss anything and knows if I'm staying the course or if I'm spending each day with back turned to Him.  If I'm just living on His promises with no work in the field. 
 
And a life walking away from my Father instead of toward Him is a life of crucifying Him again and again and bringing shame to the only One that gives me life.  My life eternal.  My hope and my peace. The One who loves me with an uncomprehendable love. 
 
Do I think of these things each day?  Am I drowning in an ocean of selfishness? 

Don't let me slip into a world that is bored with you, Father.

Do I remember that Christ won't allow Himself to be crucified again and again by the ones who have seen and felt and tasted and know the truth?

Do I remember fields with nothing to harvest will be burned?

Father, don't let me be content in talking about what team won the game or new recipes or my problems or the world's problems.  Let me long for you and your Word.  Don't let me move or even drift. Take away my contentment and confidence and replace it with urgency of judgment and fear of you for myself and an unsaved world. Let me remember each day how much you love me.

Soften my heart.  Don't let me neglect.  Don't let me rest.
Amen.

Friday, October 17, 2014

When you accidentally on purpose read

I'm probably gonna get in trouble for blogging about this.  There's really no probably about it.

Isabela is taking a literature co-op class that Shelby took years ago.  She didn't want to take it.  Izzy doesn't like to write.  She doesn't think she is good at it.  But Shelby took this same class from Jennifer years ago and the progress she made in writing was encouraging.  So when we were given the blessed opportunity for Izzy to take it I didn't hesitate.

I'm not supposed to read what she writes.  I'm not to correct it or hint suggestions or just look at her the wrong way so she knows to fix something.  And for me, if you know me, that is a hard one.

I sit down at computer to check bank (yep, still doing that.  Won't it be nice when the day comes that I don't have to check in everyday to be sure there's enough to make it through that day?  I have a feeling I'll be living a heavenly life before that happens.  And that's okay.) 

And there is her writing.  She didn't click off or exit out or whatever.  And I look at it.  But I don't read.  And there it is.  That ever knawing gut feeling that I get when I'm about to do something I'm not supposed to do.

Ever get that?  Sure you don't.  Can anyone say I'm a mama?

I swivel in the chair and look the other way.  I ponder.  I swivel back and the other way and ponder some more.  I minimize it.

I ponder.

What will it hurt to read it?  It's not her journal writing.  It's just a writing on a children's book she read.  Just for practice.  It's not private.  And Jennifer is my secret twin and she would read it if in the same boat and she is the teacher so after a short time of rationalizing I click on and read. 

She writes this book she reads reminds her if she is ever some place she doesn't like she can simply turn her head and walk the other way.  She writes the book makes her feel good and as if she can accomplish anything.  That the book reminds her she'll struggle and fall and that friends will come and go and that one day she might end up alone.  She says she knows there will be bumps in her life she has to crawl over and that life is going to be harder than she expects and that there will be smaller bumps on the big bumps but there will always be a way to make it through. 

And I'm looking at the grammer and how she quotes the book and wondering if I should tell her I accidentally read it so I can help her make corrections. 

But then I read the last paragraph.



And I forget to breathe for a moment.  Because this is being written by the girl everyone thinks has it all together.  But she doesn't.  Who does?  And she lives every day with the knowledge that some people choose to not like her.  That some of the people she is to respect have chosen to put her in a neat little box they think she belongs in because they have put other girls in it.  And she doesn't belong there.  And she knows it.  And I know it.  And it can be hard.  And it hurts her.  But she is learning to live with it because that is what people do and that is what one does when others do it. 

And I read her last words.  That it is important to her to keep her head on straight.  That she never wants to forget who she is.  That she doesn't want to look toward something that appears grand and wonderful to discover she should have turned away from it. 

And then in this little paper I wasn't supposed to read, this little paper that is just what a children's book makes her feel like, she writes that she wants to be guided by the One that created her and everything around her. 

Isabela's not perfect.  Who is?  She puts toothpaste on her pimples at night and longs to have a mole she thinks is ugly removed and hasn't memorized all her time tables and can't keep her room clean.  She knows what it is to be selfish and all-consuming when she should be aware.  But who doesn't?  Certainly her mama does.

But children's books make her think of her future and her future includes God by her own choosing. 

So to my darlin' sack of baby bones - yep, this world can be hard and there are huge bumps on top of the hugest bumps but you will be just fine.  And you will never, ever end up alone.  That is a pinkie promise.





Friday, June 13, 2014

when i can't seem to stop waiting on daddy

I feel like I'm waiting on my Daddy.

It's four in the morning and I'm staring out the window at a storm.  Lightning flashes and I can hear the thunder.  I wonder if my mama is up.  Is one of my sisters awake and lost in her own thoughts of Daddy?



I am not seasoned at death.  I have lost grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and acquaintances.  But they all seem natural and mostly in order.  So, here I am.  Grown.  Mature?  Forty-eight years old, not seasoned but not stupid, either.  So why do I feel like my daddy is just running late?

Why do I feel like I'm watching out the window for his car to turn in the circle?  Mama has napkin over the fresh okra and the cornbread is turned over in the pan and in a moment Walter Cronkite will be telling America the way it is and Daddy's just running late.  These were the days before cell phones and if you looked closely you could and still can see the eyes of those you pass on the much too narrow Pearl River bridge that was his path twice a day.  And that's what I feel like.  That he's late.  He can't call and did he drive the bridge at just the wrong moment?  Where's his car with the hidden pack of smokes? 

Why doesn't he just come on home?

Some experts say there are five stages of grief.  Some will tell you it's not necessary to go through them all and there is not a definite order to them, but that all of us, at some time in our life, will encounter and must face and deal with grief. 

And loss.

Am I in and failing the acceptance stage?

All she had to do tonight was be thoughtful and ask me how my mom was doing and I crumbled with reminders of Father's Day all around me and I hide in the office and cry while all celebrate outside the door and I know in my tears that Daddy's not running late.  He didn't get stopped going out that glass door or caught in traffic.  There's no accident on the bridge.  He's not hiding somewhere angry at me because last year I didn't send him a card or go see him on Father's Day.

Because last year I didn't pause to think that it might be my last Father's Day with him. 

I'm not in denial.  I'm not angry.  I'm not struggling with my own mortality or bargaining with God to bring Daddy back. 

I am trudging through acceptance and missing terribly.  Everyday.

And just feeling like I'm waiting on Daddy to get home.  Feeling six, or ten, or twelve.  Or forty-eight without a Daddy. 

I'm just waiting. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

you ole sweet talker, you

I grew up in this house.  And I'm curled up in bed with Maxster telling him what this room looked like when I was seven years old.  Telling him about the old rotary phone in the corner and that Izzy's bedroom used to be the living room. 

And yes, he does say this -

Back in the 1800's, right?

And, believe me, I do more than just beg to differ.

I oppose loudly.  He blushes and stumbles and explains he meant the 1900's.  And really it doesn't sound much better. 

The 1900's?  Really, Max?

And then today we are preparing his project fair items and reviewing the Titanic books.  Do I really have to go on?  You know where I'm going here, right?

And yes, he does say this -

Mommy, how old were you when the Titanic sank?
 
 
Older than you're ever gonna see, Son.

Monday, February 17, 2014

when he might like to quaft just a smidgen more

He wouldn't give valentines at all if I didn't make him.  One day, four or so years ago, he asked to be excused from making some colorful glue-filled cut-out with the words -

Me don't 'ike to quaft.

And he ran off to play.

But I make him.  I don't believe it's necessarily necessary for him.  I'm not afraid he'll find himself lost one day on this great big planet with no friends because he wouldn't valentine gift.  His writing needs improvement and his scissor skills lack some, but will making thirty valentines form a Hemingway or a Meirs?

But I make him and we fold tinfoil and pull duct tape too sticky from the sun beating the dash all those days I looked at it and decided not to bring it in and we laugh when we both want to fold the last piece over and I pretend let him win.  It takes us both to pull the tape and he says -

We should do this more often.  We make a good team.

And there are no words lacking ending or beginning blends or shortened vowels or double l's.  But there is snaggletooth lisp and I kiss his nose and don't have to pretend to not be able to pull the tape hard enough.

And he helps.  He slices with the cutter and cuts the string and doesn't complain this year about writing his name so many times.  But he won't draw a heart or write the word from.


 
But saying we make a good team?  Wow.  What a compliment from my not-so-crafty valentine.  Because, well, you know - love is a battlefield.


a special thanks to Tia @ events to celebrate and Jamie @ creating really awesome free things for the free valentine print outs

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

and then we had a wedding . . .

 
 
After the clouds, the sunshine; after the winter, the spring; after the shower, the rainbow; for life is a changeable thing. After the night, the morning, bidding all darkness cease, after life's cares and sorrows, the comfort and sweetness of peace. - Helen Steiner Rice

Saturday, January 4, 2014

when i don't need a picture to remember the best of all

Do only people a little off take pictures at funerals?
 
He's too good to me gave me a you're strange look when I told him to take pictures at my daddy's funeral.
 
But I wanted them.  I want to remember.

This is my daddy. And here.
 
I want to remember that no one does funeral sprays on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so flowers are small on the casket.  Just the way Daddy would have liked them. 
 
 
 
I want to remember and smile at the mismatched group of pallbearers that carried my daddy.  Young grandsons just beginning to shave and boys that look like they are from the mountains because they are.  Borrowed coats and jackets and my daddy would have liked that.  He never saw much need in clothes. 
 
 
 
That I forgot Max was an honorary pallbearer and didn't dress him right and he took off running to catch up in his khakis and furry hood.
 
That it was Mr. Charles that honored my daddy with the words simple, honorable, godly.
 

 
 
Remember how my uncle held tight to my mama.  Holding her up while knowing in two days he'd bury his daughter - right there in that red dirt next to daddy.  How did he hold up?  He'd just said goodbye the morning before. 
 

 
 
I want to remember that it was so cold my hands were going numb.  Gloves were in my pocket but I forgot to use them.
 
I want to look back and see how we all look just alike.  Daddy's look-alike younger brother and aunts I could belong to and the cousin that could have been the fifth one of us girls.  Remember how one red-headed new son carried my daddy tenderly and the other delivered the flag and words of respect to my mama's waiting hands.
 

 
 
I will need to rehear the shofar blow from little Gideon's hands and see that his heart was broken as he cried on his daddy.  That my girls were surrounded by love while we sang Victory in Jesus.  Remember how my daddy liked to hear David play.
 
 

 
 
I need to remember that we got lost on the way to the cemetery that holds the bodies of my daddy's parents.  That I took a rose from daddy's flowers and laid it at Ma's grave.  I will need to laugh when I remember Aunt Sue told me to
 
tell Mama to go fishing with Pee while she waits on the rest of us.  The rest of us ain't coming anytime soon.
 
And I told her.
 
 
 
But no one will ever need to remind me that what we laid to rest that cold day after Christmas Day was just a tired body that had stopped breathing. 
 
That it was just a way to honor Daddy and remember that he was the oldest and wisest of us all.  A way to publically say good-bye for now to a husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle, and friend. 
 
My daddy wasn't watching us from heaven.  Not flying or sitting on a cloud or even fishing a heavenly pond. 
 
My daddy is falling down at the feet of Jesus.  Not still in awe but forever in awe.
 
And I will see him again. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

when you don't know how to bury the man that gave you life

I look around my house and it is a mess.  The wedding boxes are all out and at their correct locations but the very small Christmas we had is scattered.  Laundry is spilling over.  The sink is full of dishes.  The counter is full of papers.  Trash and mess are on things under things and around things.
 
I don't care.
 
One of my first blog posts was an attempt at humor and what I would do if something tragic happened and my house was a mess.
 
And it has.
 
And I don't care.
 
My daddy's gone. 
 
The day before he died he told my sister he'd been dreading this day for so long.  Leaving Mama.  Dying hard.  He told her where the money was to buy the gun he wanted to give his grandsons.  He shook their hands and mumbled words full of love.
 
He high-fived our baby Beau. 
 
He told my girls to take care of their mama.  He told me Max was smart and not to let him waste it.
 
He listened with closed eyes as we told him we loved him.  We told him we adored him and were proud to be his daughters.  We told him he was the best daddy there ever was.
 
He waited on the daughter not there.  Her and her's.  His first-born trying to wrap up things that needed to be done while she hoped and prayed she'd see her daddy again.  He listened to her words over the phone and held on until Mama told him not to any longer.
 
My mama lay by my Daddy's side and whispered words we could not hear.  Sweet nothins' he'd probably call them.  Love words.  Good-bye words. But only for a little while words.
 
The strawberry shake he wanted sat melting until my sister picked it up, drank, and passed it around.  We all shared that shake as we sat by his side and touched whatever part of his body we could reach.
 
When I got in trouble at school about the Indian chief named Bowels he laughed. He had snakes in his belly button and warned me not to swallow watermelon seeds and pushed the mower up the hills I couldn't. 
 
When I cried about the orange house paint that wasn't and never would be he told me people don't always say what they mean and never mean everything they say.
 
I can't go to bed.  If I do I'll have to get up and go bury the man who gave life to me when he held my mama and loved her the way a man was made to love a woman. 
 
I just care about figuring out how to bury my daddy tomorrow.  How to hold up my mama when all I want to do is fall.  How to get my bluebird through her wedding day without her Pete-pa.
 
How to understand God's timing.  How to thank God enough for allowing my Daddy to go easily and quickly.  How to understand not understanding it all.
 
I thought I'd care if my house was a mess and people stopped by.
 
But I don't.
 
I really don't.
 
 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

when it is right but feels like rain

The hail back in April gives us a new roof.  I lie in bed and listen to this rain that is deep in such a short time and remember the moment I first held you in my arms.  Deep can happen quickly and drowning in sweet newborn love gives you no way back and no way out.

And it had happened before and would happen again. 

You send phone writing to a beloved older friend and leave off the Ms.  Is that what happens when leaving home forever is only days away and you are growing to love someone more than the ones you are leaving behind?  I can't remember.  Did I feel older and equal and love stronger for what was coming than for what was going? 

I roll over and look at him and yes I did.

So you feel happy and grown and strong and only slightly frightened.  But one day you'll feel small and afraid and think this is not right. 

And when that happens know that you do not need a yellow brick road to find your way back home.  To me

So I can send you back and tell you it is only for a moment - so you can love him more than me.


Monday, September 9, 2013

when it's just time to exercise a little faith

So we are driving to Sunday School, just Maxster and me, when the song This is Only a Mountain by Jason Castro comes on the radio.

Max is singing like he always is, he knows the words to all the songs.

And then I mess up an opportunity to teach when the wrong words just tumble out of my mouth and I know I'm not saying the right thing but I can't find the words to make him understand.

So I do the wrong thing.  I say the wrong thing.  I think I just told my son he'd never have enough faith to move a mountain.

Mommy, what do those words mean?

This is only a mountain
You don't have to find your way around it
Tell it to move
It'll move
Tell it to fall
It'll fall 
 
I tried to explain about faith.  How it doesn't take much faith, I skip the mustard seed part because I know he wouldn't get that,  but then I'm saying there can be no doubt and I'm rambling and  I see him in the mirror. He's looking at me.  He's trusting me and believing with all that he is worth that he does have that much faith. 
 
But if he doesn't - can I tell him how to get it? 
 
He wants to move a mountain.  And if all it takes is believing then he doesn't understand.  Does God not believe that he believes?  and for just a brief moment of taking my eyes off the road I see in his eyes that he thinks he can tell a mountain to move and it will.  Because he loves Jesus and believes it will move.
 
And I'm grasping for words and then I tell him he'll probably never have enough faith to really make a mountain move because we can never erase that little doubt in our minds that we can't really make a mountain move and I know that's not right but maybe it will work and that's not really what Jesus meant when he talked of the faith of the disciples in that verse and I'm rambling and falling deeper and deeper and pulling him into a pit of confusion.
 
Not just confusion - but I see it - a moment in his eyes of questioning.  Just a moment of maybe, maybe every thing he believes is not real.  Did Jesus tell him something wrong?  Doesn't it say it in the Bible?
 
Oh boy, I just told my son he'd never have enough faith to move a mountain and he's only six and he can't separate literal from implied.  I remember less than a week ago I discovered during a lesson of the globe that he didn't know - he didn't know - that Bethlehem was a real place on our Earth.  I never imagined he would think that. 
 
What is he thinking now when I just told him he can't move a mountain and the Bible says he can?
 
He doesn't understand that God lowers himself to us and speaks to us in ways that we can understand.  Just as I am trying to speak to Max in the way his limited intellect can understand, that is how my Father speaks His Word to me.
 
Jesus does not mean that mustard seed sized faith can literally move mountains.  His expression was just a metaphor describing what we think is an impossible task.

But I can't say it right and he turns his head and is no longer singing the song but looking out the window and I just lost him.  He doesn't want to listen anymore.  I just lost that moment.
 
Superman can fly and Spiderman can climb buildings and Jesus is supposed to be real and bigger and didn't Jesus say it?
 
So I backtrack.  I look at him in the mirror and tell him it's hard to understand but 
 
yes, yes he can tell a mountain to move and it will move from here to there if he has enough faith.   
 
He looks at me again.
 
How much faif does it take, Mommy?
 
And I smile at him in the mirror.  And he looks out the window again. 
 
But I see it -  just a hint of a little smile on his face reflecting on the glass. 
 
And I shut up.  Because to a six year old life really isn't that complicated.  And faith is big.