When A Child Speaks You Should Listen

Abby Faith happily freezing her tail off.
Abby Faith happily freezing her tail off.

Last week I wrote about the 10 reasons why I hate Halloween. Not much has changed. I still hate it. Those issues run deep, y’all. But I wanted to share a little story of the love I found that day. And it came from an unlikely source.

I have two daughters. Both of them are beautiful and both of them are stubborn in their own ways.  Lucy is 9 and loves shoes, clothes, jewelry and can’t wait to be old enough to wear make-up. Her sister, Abby Faith, is 12 and is most comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt and couldn’t care less to even wear lip-gloss. So it surprised me how anxious she was to wear make-up on Halloween. She was actually planning to wear her Greek Goddess costume from last year which was such a relief to this costume-challenged soul. However, it was sleeveless.  And the forecast called for a freeze-warning. I seem to remember this being one of the reasons why I hate Halloween, but I digress.

She started getting her make-up on 4 hours before our church’s Fall Festival. She put the recycled dress on and was getting very excited about the night. Like every good mother I warned her over and over again about the weather. I pleaded with her to find a jacket to wear with it, or find a shirt to wear underneath it. But like every stubborn child, she swore she would be warm enough.

There comes a time when mothering with words doesn’t work any more. You have to just let them learn through consequence. So I let her be. I let her make the choice to go sleeveless in winter weather for the sake of her vanity. But since I am her mom I told her that the coat was optional. Complaining was not. If she complained once she would have to find an empty room and sit there for the rest of the festival.

We arrived and it felt like Elsa had a firm grip on the place. It was freezing! I thought to myself that my child wasn’t going to even make it three minutes without fussing about her circumstances. I was already getting angry with the anticipation of having to punish her. I already hated the holiday why did she have to make it worse? Couldn’t she just do what I asked her to do? Then we could make the best of the situation, just get some candy and go home.

I left her at her trunk-or-treat post outside and went into the building with my youngest and I mumbled to myself the whole way.  We did a few of the indoor activities and then decided to head back out to check on Abby Faith. By that time it had started to rain and the wind was really picking up. I shook my head and rolled my eyes to see my daughter standing out in the cold without any sleeves. My defenses were up as I approached her and asked if she was ok. And that is when she pierced my heart.

“Yeah,” she said with a smile. “I’m not doing this for me.”

I pulled her into my arms and wrapped her up as tight as I could.

Oh, child! How do you do that? How do you teach me so much in one little sentence?

What a humbling experience!  Here I thought I was teaching her that she should listen to me and wear the dad-gum coat. Really, the whole experience was for me. This life is not about me and what makes me comfortable. It’s not about how much I hate to carve pumpkins and shop for over-priced costumes. It’s about loving and doing for others regardless of the circumstances and finding joy within it all.

Should she have listened to me and worn the coat? Sure! But how many times have we all done something against what we really should have done and then grumbled when the outcome wasn’t in our favor? How many times have we allowed our circumstances dictate our joy?

I have done that more times than I am willing to admit.

Thank you, sweet daughter, for being an example of Love to me.

 

 

Continue Reading

Life Is Good

BrittanyLife and death. If you are reading this you get to experience both. It’s inevitable and pretty much the only thing that we as humans all have in common. We live. We die. Hopefully somewhere in the living part we all get to experience joy, triumphs, love and acceptance. It’s that dyeing part that seems to trip us up sometimes. We all know how to live because we’re doing it. None of us alive have ever died. It’s strange. It’s mysterious. And most of us aren’t really that anxious to do it.

I hope that if you know me it is obvious that I am a Christian. As a Christian I try to live my life in the present while still fixing my eyes on my eternal destination of Heaven. That is extremely hard to do even in the best of circumstances. And it’s only by the constant seeking of my Savior’s face that I get through the tough times.

The story about Brittany Maynard was extremely troubling for me. It bothered me so much I could actually feel it in my gut. I think that must have been sorrow. Sorrow for her disregard for the sanctity of her own life and sorrow for her lack of hope for what God could do with it. I am sure that her decision was not made lightly. I am sure she considered her loved ones and gathered information to make her decision. But how sad that she didn’t trust God enough to deliver her in His perfect timing. To take matters into her own hands simply means she didn’t believe that it was possible for God to work a miracle through her.

I have lost loved ones. We all have. I’ve seen those who are the most precious to me lose their health, their independence and in some cases their mind. It’s never pretty. It’s not what God designed for us. He doesn’t want us to have to go through the sickness and pain because He loves us. It was our free will in the Garden of Eden that brought the sickness and pain upon ourselves. It was us, humans, that decided we knew better than God. It was us that got arrogant and changed the course of history. It was us that thought we had a better plan

That hasn’t worked out so well for us.

I make no secret that I am Pro-life. It is probably the one topic that I am the most passionate about. And it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized that Pro-life to me didn’t mean just my support for the unborn. It seemed awfully hypocritical for me to be so passionate about a baby’s life, but not the lives of others. Therefore, I changed my stance and I no longer support the death penalty.  I am not the sustainer and giver of life. All life is precious. Who am I that I should be allowed to judge who should live and who should die? And that goes for my own life as well. If I have truly given my life to Christ, that means I should trust Him with my every breath. Healthy or sick. Living or dying.

I pray for Brittany’s family.  I sympathize with her circumstances and I can’t imagine the emotions and the hardship. I have never been faced with a terminal diagnosis and I pray I never will. But if God  chooses that path for me, I hope I have the courage to live until He calls me home.

 

Continue Reading

10 Reasons Why I Hate Halloween

 

Happy Halloween

Ok. So maybe hate is too strong of a word, but I really don’t like Halloween. It has nothing to do with my personal spiritual beliefs. Afterall, Christmas and Easter originated as pagan holidays too. It has more to do with well, everything about it. I’ve tried really hard to like it. My children beg for decorations of any sort around the house that might resemble Halloween. But all I can muster is a few scarecrows and natural looking pumpkins, which of course to my children don’t count. But before you discount me as a Halloween Humbug allow me to share with you my reasons I just don’t like Halloween.

 

 

 

1.Sewing Costumes

I can’t do it. Not only that, but I can’t stand the thought of doing it. I avoid Pinterest this time of year. It’s murder to my self-esteem. My mother is an amazing seamstress and she begged to teach me how to sew. But I have no patience for it and no desire ever to learn.  I am also cheap and hate to shell out mega-bucks for a cheaply made outfit my child will wear once. So I have to pray I get lucky enough to score a costume at a thrift store that is actually worth wearing. I have rules: Nothing scary, gory, or having anything to do with witches. And now that my kids are getting older; nothing too sexy. This really limits our choices.

2. Party stores or anything resembling a costume shop

These are the last resort when I strike out at the thrift store. I also sometimes think these are punishment since I never let my mom teach me how to sew. I can’t stand a crowd. They make me anxious. To throw me in a crowd of people among stacks and stacks of scary faced masks while I try to find a costume with my child that is both inexpensive and meets my criteria is a nightmare.  Of course I didn’t plan ahead and get a costume from last year’s clearance section. That would have been too easy. And heaven forbid you wear the same thing you wore last year. The only good thing that comes from shopping at one of these stores is realizing that I am not alone in my quest for a single costume that fits.

 

3. Costumes

I know. This would seem to go with reasons 1 and 2 but I really have issues with it. Why do we have to have a holiday designated to wearing masks and pretending to be something we’re not? Don’t we do that every day already?  I’m not even sure what my natural hair color is.

4.  Halloween’s success is totally reliant on the weather

Who wants to trick-or-treat in the rain? And lord help us if it’s too cold! What fairy costume has long sleeves? So then we have to go with plan ‘B’ of layering  the over-priced costume with a white turtleneck or <gasp> a jacket! And if the costume has wings you may as well just stay home and play board games.

Candy-Corn

5. Candy

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a self-proclaimed choc-o-holic but what’s the point to gathering more than we can eat? Sure, as a kid it’s fun. As a mom it’s silly. I’m sure I am sounding very much like the Scrooge of Halloween past, but all that candy causes me so much guilt. Guilt if we let it go to waste. Guilt if we eat it all. Yes, I am aware of programs where you can give it away to those in need. Ok, really? Who NEEDS candy?  Maybe we should all go around and ask our neighbors for canned goods instead.

 

6. Bad memories

One year when I was a child I went out trick-or-treating with my older brother. We went to the same house, but I got there before he did. Now, it may have been because I was so much cuter than he was, but I somehow managed to get a Butterfinger. He got an apple. He was so disappointed and I felt bad for getting something better than he did. Obviously, I have deeper issues than just a candy bar. Sorry, Brian.

 

7. Bad memories

Oh, wait. I just said that. But seriously, why would you take a child to a haunted house where they hand her a peeled grape and tell her it’s an eye-ball?!

 

8. Time Change

Halloween signals that it’s almost time to ‘fall back’ and Winter is swiftly approaching. That is all I have to say about that.

pumpkins

9.Pumpkin Carving

It’s gross. And I don’t do crafty things. So unless my children don’t mind that their pumpkins look like something a blind goat created, I have to turn this event over to their daddy.  And pumpkin carving for a person who is extremely particular about symmetry is just not an enjoyable experience. It’s just a pumpkin for Pete’s sake! Carve it and move on! Perhaps the children should just do it themselves and save us all the headache.

 

10. It’s scary

The man who stands too close behind me while I pick out my movie at the Red Box is creepy enough for me. There’s a reason why I don’t watch the news. This world is a terrifying place. Why would I want to invite it up to my porch and give it candy? I see no reason to embrace horror let alone expose it to my children. Sending them to public school is enough.

But I’ll do it all. I’ll buy the costumes and I’ll carve the pumpkins. You’ll even see me on Halloween night with a smile on my face enjoying the festivities at my church’s Fall Festival. Because, even though it’s not something I enjoy, my kids love it. I love them and sacrifice is a part of love.

Continue Reading

Red Letter Day

RED

I love days when I don’t feel alone in this great big beautiful world. Because a lot of days, I do. I feel alone in my beliefs. I feel alone in my struggles. I feel alone as a mom, wife, daughter. It’s hard for me to grasp the big picture. And maybe I’m not really supposed to. But I want to. I want to be able to know how all the stitches come together in the quilt of life. I tend to try and get ahead of myself and ahead of what God is trying to do through me. Sometimes I get so anxious to see the masterpiece that I forget to sit and watch the Master.  It’s at these times that I begin to feel lost, frustrated and confused. Isolated. Isolation is a desperate place and that is not what was planned for us. We are designed socially, for fellowship and friendship. We are designed to love and be loved. We need to be needed. We want to be wanted.

Sometimes I just don’t feel wanted. There have been times in my life where I felt like I was so scarred and ugly that no one would want me. I’ve felt like no one could look at me and truly want to be with me. My soul would ache for true acceptance and a connection with anything that made me feel worthy of breathing.  And I’ve heard it before, “Jesus loves you! No matter what!”

But until He tells you Himself, you have a hard time believing it.

I was reading in my Bible this morning and a common passage came alive. I love it when that happens! I love how the Word comes alive sometimes for me right before my eyes!

John 17:24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began.

Jesus is asking to be with me! He wants me! I am wanted.

You are wanted.

My close friends know that it would be torture for me to go a day without music. It’s always on at work, at home, and I have no problems singing in the car. If music isn’t turned on from the radio, it’s on in my head. It just reaches my soul like nothing else can. So today when I got a new CD to add to my already extensive library I immediately opened it up and popped it in the player. (No comments about how this is already old-fashioned). I was in the car with my girls listening when again the Spirit whispered to me through the lyrics;

“He calls me ‘chosen,’ ‘free,’ ‘forgiven,’ …’wanted.’”

Those words settled on my heart and nestled their way inside. I didn’t even know I needed to hear it today. And that is what I love about my heavenly Daddy. He knew. He knows everything about me. Every single screw up. Every single thought. Every single urge to wander. And He still wants me.

This truth leaves me with nothing more I can say.  When I can’t speak, I can sing. So check out this song that spoke directly to me today!

 

Continue Reading

Generation Gap?

MomWhen I was a girl I never wanted to be like my mom. I had dreams of becoming a news anchor or a journalist. I had high-powered ambitions and no time to think about the simple things in life. I wanted to go to college in New York City and leave the South to it’s own devices. No time for mint julep on the front porch for this girl. No way! I wanted modern. I wanted sophisticated. I wanted freedom.

Then I had my first child and it was like God changed not only my life, but the whole world. Suddenly the world was too busy, too strange, and too scary. Suddenly I wanted nothing more than to head home to my Mama’s house and have her share all her wisdom with me. Suddenly I was desperate for the simplicity that seemed to set my mother apart.

The modern mother is often frazzled, worn out and overwhelmed with doubt. She is constantly worried that she is screwing up her child, scarring them for life with inorganic food, and setting them up for utter failure in the real world.

I am a modern mother.

The world is saturated with innovation and technology to make our lives simple. Yet we complicate things with the doubt that rattles through our brains and the guilt that bombards our hearts.

Yesterday I woke up feeling more tired than I did when I had gone to bed the night before. There was no explanation for my lack of energy, except that I am a mom. So I gave myself the morning off. I didn’t make my girls their typical made-with-love lunch. I made them buy a lunch at school. And I felt bad that I had been a little selfish. I’m sure they will need years of counseling because I chose not to spread two pieces of bread with peanut butter one morning.

That seems ridiculous because it is.

I celebrated my mom’s birthday with her this week. It is such a privilege to live close enough to her that I can do that. But it got me thinking about who she was when I was growing up and who she is now. And the truth is she’s still the same woman she’s always been, she just doesn’t have to deal with me on a daily basis. Surely she felt the same guilt and doubt. She’s a mom, after all.

But, I don’t remember a single day when I had to have a hot lunch because she was too tired to make one for me. I don’t remember not getting what I really wanted for my birthday ever, although I am sure I did. And I don’t remember her ever taking just 5 more minutes by herself one afternoon to try to regain her sanity.

I remember the times she packed me notes in my lunch (I still have a few of them). And I remember the time I wanted a 3D lamb cake for my birthday and the stupid thing’s head kept falling off. She tried everything in her super-mom power to make that thing stick. It was a disaster. But I remember how she loved me enough to try to make it work. I remember the way she would wrap our gifts for Christmas with such care and that she was always at my bedside when I was sick. I remember her taking me to church every Sunday and teaching me the Lord’s prayer.

It’s those most important things that I remember.                                           Cake

So, when I called her the morning of her birthday and asked, “Are you old now?” I could feel her smile through the phone when she answered youthfully, “Nope!” I smiled back and made myself a mental note that I need to more like my mom.

Continue Reading

Shelter in the Storm

StormsGrowing up in the South I learned three things to be true: Jesus loves me, chicken is best served fried, and thunderstorms are a multi-media event. This week’s event began last week when I was at the grocery store and the bagger warned me of the storm coming in three days. It’s a culture. We talk about the weather before it happens, TV shows are canceled so we can all stay glued to the radar, and for days after we all survive we talk about where we were. Sometimes it truly is a frightening experience.

Most recently I was caught in a storm that seemed to come from nowhere. I should not have been taken by surprise. After all, the bagger boy said it would be like this. But I was driving home from music lessons with my youngest daughter when the bottom of heaven opened up. And let me tell you, heaven is a powerful place! My car felt like it would be picked up and slammed against the mountain that I just drove over and I couldn’t see to drive because the rain was coming down in torrents. I was panicked because my eldest daughter was still at home alone and the phone had cut out when she called to tell me she was scared. I had no shelter to pull over into safety and I truly was frightened. I lost my focus of who my protector is and I’m pretty sure I even said a curse word. Not my finest moment.

The next day I was talking with a friend of mine and we were comparing storm stories. Because, that’s what you do in the South. She said she was leaving work when it hit and was in her car. Fortunately for her, she had the luxury of waiting part of it out under the building’s awning. She said, “It didn’t seem that bad from under there, so I decided to try to drive home.” Famous last words.

But they struck me. Because so many times I have been under the protective awning of Jesus and thought, “Hmm, things don’t look so bad from under here. I think I will wander off on my own for a while. I can handle this alone.” But that’s when I am most vulnerable, when the most damage can be done. That’s when Jesus shakes His head at me as I walk away waving at Him over my shoulder lost in my own oblivion. Again. And I can’t ever hear him begging me not to leave over the crashing thunder. So I wander. It’s not until I find myself unable to stand against the wind that I turn around and start heading for that awning again.

Oh, that I would never leave! I could save myself so much heartache if I would never leave from under the shelter of my Savior. But He never leaves me. And he never will. He’s still under that awning waiting for me to return. He’s still there ready to heal my storm damaged heart and ask me again to stay close to Him. What a beautiful truth!
I had to ask forgiveness from my daughter for cursing that day. I regained my focus on my protector and we both prayed us safely home. I’m not proud of how I handled myself outside of the awning. But I am thankful for the reminder that I have that choice and thankful for his promise never to leave me even in the middle of my strongest storms.

“But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.” Psalm 73:28

Continue Reading

Can’t all days be like today?

Tate FarmsI don’t usually plan my days. Especially my days off. I like to go with the flow of things, let my heart wander. I guess I’m a bit adventurous that way. Things get frustrating when I plan my days and then something happens it throws me off. Flexibility. It’s a skill.

So today, the last official day of my girl’s Fall Break from school I wanted to do something fun. Just us girls. They had already been camping with their grandparents. They had already been to friend’s houses. It was time for me to just enjoy my girls. But they don’t ever agree on anything so finding just the right outing was going to take a miracle. Good thing I believe in miracles! After a small debate we decided that we would head to a local farm to go pumpkin picking and hay-riding and drink cider and stuff. We’d pay way too much to take silly photos of ourselves to make our friends jealous on Facebook that we got to play in some corn. It was going to be a great day.

So we drove. We turned the music up in the car and we drove. And the whole time I am looking at the darkening sky and praying that the one day we decide to go and breathe some fresh air it doesn’t rain on us. And my girls are in an unusually good mood. It’s a little strange, the whole thing really. Too good to be true. Surely the rain will run us off.

When we arrive I am so excited it’s a little ridiculous. I  mean my children are getting along. The weather is warm. And my hair looks good! I take a moment to snap a picture of my photo reluctant girls at the entrance before we even buy our tickets. This was going to be awesome! Memories in the making!

So, we walk up to the ticket booth so we can pay to pet a goat and a very sweet woman eating from a brown bag of popcorn approaches us and asks if we are with the school group.

“Nope, it’s just us!” Just cool, we’re doing something fun, us!

“Well, we don’t open to the public until later.”

“Uh, what? Really?” But did you see how well my girls are behaving? Have you seen my hair? I can’t waste this!

“Looks like we’re going to be getting some rain anyway. I’m sorry. You can come back later.”

So we turned around and slinked back to the car. Deflated.  We didn’t even get to pick some cotton.

And all the while I am apologizing to my girls. Here is another example of why I don’t plan things, but sometimes I really should.  Had I checked the hours ahead of time we could have avoided this whole scenario. And my girls wouldn’t be disappointed and I could have shared my good hair day with someone who really wanted it!

Plan B. But you know what? I think it’s really good to have a plan B. Or not.

Sometimes, I think we all need a little disappointment in our lives. Sometimes it’s better to learn to be content without the pumpkin you picked fresh from the farm and happy with the one you buy from the corner grocery store.

Life is filled with disappointments. I’m just so glad today all I had to worry about was pumpkins. Tomorrow it might be a person who disappoints my little girl.  One day it might be that she doesn’t get the job she really wanted. If my children learn how life works now, when it’s not so overwhelming and they still have my arms to fall into they will be able to handle the hard knocks more easily when they come. And they will come.

But not today. Today we celebrate our lack of pumpkins over cheeseburgers and laughter. Tomorrow we worry about life.

 

 

Continue Reading

True Wonder

IdahoDo you ever wonder why God chose to make you? I do! I mean I look around this great big beautiful world and wonder why I was even a twinkling in His eye. I took this picture several years ago, but it remains one of my favorites. It reminds me of how creative God is. How vast He is. How beautiful He is. And how very small I am. But it also reminds me of what a loving God we serve. Because even though He can make the heavens, the mountains, the streams and the fish that swim in them, He still wanted me. Me! Wayward, stubborn, disobedient me. Just for the sake of loving me. Sometimes I think He must have a great sense of humor!

 

Continue Reading