Thursday, April 30, 2009

The "Meanest Mom in the World"

So, the pictures are a little old, but you get the idea. When they're not happy with a decision I've made (and enforced!), I get the title:

"Meanest Mom in the World"

This last time it was over a less-than-modest shirt. Part of the issue is that it JUST a bit too big - oh yeah, and it had spaghetti straps (albeit wide ones). Middle of summer, heading to the pool or in the back yard, no problem (when it fits or over a bathing suit), but school... nah.

When, she told me I'd won the title, I cheered. Honestly, I did. Raised one fist up over my head as I said "YES!" "No, Mom. That's really, * really * bad". "Oh," I said, "but you said I won first place!" "You don't WANT to win it, Mom..." (OH! but I DO!!)

What she didn't realize was that she had given me the greatest compliment! At that moment, I had successfully fulfilled my role as "mother". I'd set an appropriate boundary, and wouldn't budge... and she knew it.

If you were to Google "Spare the rod, spoil the child", you'd find 134,000 hits (trust me....). Those I perused were mostly varied views of the "spank vs. don't spank" debate. (I'm SO not going THERE...) But, I DO think discipline is essential. They need that.... * I * need that.

There's only so much work I can do on the ol' "S.D." (karate-talk for "Self-Discipline"). Important, yes, but I also need feedback, boundaries and guidance externally. I need friends and those in authority to let me know if I start to stray out of bounds - if my S.D. starts slacking. I need to know that there are those who love me enough to be tough with me.

And as much as I hate it at the time, once I'm through it, I am grateful the Ultimate Authority loves me enough to discipline me. It helps me grow. It keeps me safe. Same holds true for my kids.

So, I will continue to wear my badge proudly. My kids have enough friends. They need me to be their mother. My goal in that is to act as lovingly toward my children as He does toward me in the midst of the correction. This night, after tucking her in, letting her refuse my hugs and kisses, I said:

"The 'Meanest Mom in the World' loves you very much"...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yes, but I do.....

I have found myself, several times recently saying "I don't know...." It's always been a response to a prodding from within, or a nudging on the yoga mat.

"I don't know if I can do that."

"I don't know how it will turn out."

"I don't know if it will work."

"I don't know if I can be that brave."

"I don't know if I can start.... or stop..."

Inevitably, I hear: "Yes, but I do...."

Ah, the walk of faith.... Taking the step without knowing the path. Starting the project without knowing the final result. Daring to risk without knowing the dangers.

In the midst of the conversation, "I don't know..." seems like a very reasonable response, and a valid reason to hesitate or "decline the invitation". Yet, sitting here, writing out the fears, I laugh at myself.

Has there ever been a time where I have followed His lead and been led astray? No.

Has there ever been a task where my vision was better or grander than His? No.

Have I ever listened and dared and not been protected? Never.

Has He ever called me to a task and not provided everything I needed and more? Never.

So, what's the problem?

Remove my fear, lead me on.... May I walk in faith....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Selling the Past...

I love itunes. I am the person who buys an entire CD for a single song. The fact that I now have the ability to download that single song to my ipod (read: No CD storage required!), I am over the moon!

But, as I have been decluttering my life, I have come upon the stack of old CD's. At first, I discounted the pile, knowing that I'd been through it before. Those I didn't want, I had taken to the "get cash for your old CD's" store.

Then, the internal dialogue started:

"But, you haven't listened to most of them in more then a year - or TWO even!"

"Yes, but those songs all have meaning to me...."

"Get it at itunes if you decide you want to listen to it again...."

"But, I already HAVE it...."

I thought briefly of downloading the one song from all those CD's onto my computer, ... (one day, of course - it's a low-priority item in the schedule)

But, then the voice of reality hit - I know how strongly I attach to, and am moved by music and lyrics and all. The (not-so) Gentle Voice Within said, "Do you really want to go back there? REALLY? REALLY??!!"

Of course the answer was "No, I don't."

So, through the pile I sorted. A few, where I enjoy the entire disc, or the memories are of sweet, tender, peaceful times, I saved. The rest, I transferred to another stack:

Now, I get busy. Hoping the old saying that "One (wo)man's trash is another (wo)man's treasure" rings true.

I've got a really cute silk dress going on ebay as well... : )

Monday, April 27, 2009

Breaking Bread and Breaking Through

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42 ESV

This past Sunday was our quarterly "2:42" service. It's a more intimate time of worship, of fellowship, of teaching, of prayer, and of communion. The songs were beautiful, we prayed specifically for "laborers", and, of course, broke bread together.

I interpreted the music in ASL. Being a more casual service, acoustic guitar and violin players literally sitting ON the stage, I stood on the floor in front of it. Another woman who has been learning the language was there, sitting in front, near where we interpreters generally sit.

We have been encouraging her to raise her hands (and sign) while she is standing in the congregation - to practice. And while I do encourage her to do it, I also remember how that feels - to raise my hands for the first time. It took a while for me to surrender to the call to participate. I knew once I agreed, I would HAVE to raise my hands and let them speak. That terrified me.

I reminded her she knew the words of the chorus of one of the songs. Her eyes got a little wide, but she nodded.

And then... it happened. As we sang, "Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!...." I looked over, and there were her hands: "Praise! Praise! Praise Jesus!" I grinned from ear to ear and nodded "YES!"

"Praise! Praise! Praise Jesus!" indeed....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grateful for Change

Change is hard. Sometimes, I fight it. Sometimes, I am grateful for it - but mostly retrospectively!

I spent the day Saturday with two extra children - a 7 year old and a 9 month old. Their mom had an all-day event and her usual back-ups were unavailable. I was happy to help, but I didn't realize how many repressed memories I would call forth, and how much it would make me grateful for where we are!

Babies are cute - and this one was too. Yes, she cried when mom left - no biggie - expected. We handled it. We dropped the big girls off at a Girl Scout "Ladybug Picnic", and the boy, the baby and I headed to get hair cuts.

It was there that I realized how much I had forgotten. I'd gotten her "bucket" seat into my vehicle - the base and the bucket itself. I found myself standing there in the parking lot saying "C'mon, now, Linda... there HAS to be an escape latch!" For the life of me, I couldn't remember how to detach the bucket from the base. Finally, success!!

I'd forgotten how heavy those things are! (and this is NOT a big baby!) How I ever managed to carry one in each arm is beyond me. We step inside, find a 40 minute wait and leave.

At home, I decided to try to feed her and be proactive so that we could RETURN to get haircuts, go rent a video game for the boy, and pick up the girls at the appointed time. Since I have LONG since cleared my house of baby-stuff, I sat her on my lap, and began with the sweet potato mush. She loved it - and loved using my sleeve as a napkin. I was reminded of all the baby food mishaps I'd survived - the peas SPRAYED out of a mouth, fingers who wanted to test the consistency of the food (both in the jar and in the mouth), and of course, the ritual finger painting. Fortunately, this baby hasn't started reaching out for the jar or the spoon!

I refreshed my memory on the "one scoop / 2 ounces of water" ratio for formula constitution. The bottle feeding itself, was old hat - and a rather sweet moment. Toward the end of the day, I had even re-mastered the one-handed feed while I ate with the other.

I'd had a diapering refresher in the past year, so no biggie there - except for the immense gratitude that my children are independent in those functions (save a reminder to "flush and wash hands")

Generally speaking, it was a nice day - though naptime sucked. (Just like it did with my kids). The getting her down part, that is. Then, of course there is the "Cram-all-the-things-I-need-to-do-today-into-the-couple-hours-that-the baby-sleeps" feeling. And the guilt for all the things that have been neglected in the time I've been feeding, changing, snuggling the baby.

I remember that rhythm - remember the constant and apparently unending pattern. Feed, change, snuggle... It's all normal life with an infant.

And I am acutely aware of how grateful I am to have school aged children!

Thank You God for getting me through my kids' infancy and toddlerhood. Much of it is a blur - dulled by sleep deprivation and constant repetition - but I am grateful to have pictures and to have made it through mostly unscaithed!

And very, very grateful to have had a boy AND a girl the first time around...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Off to the (Waiting) Races

I cannot even begin to tell you how proud I am of my children. They participated in the 2009 County Music Kid's Marathon.... and they did great!
It is so funny to see their personalities so clearly in an event like this, and a gift to watch them overcome potential obstacles!
We hadn't had a chance to do as much training as we should have. The kids were supposed to have walked/run 25.2 miles prior to the race, and then would complete the final mile. They crossed the same finish line that will be crossed by those running the adult marathon in the morning.

The wait was hard. We had to get their early to get parked and all. And then we waited... and we waited.... Finally, it was time for first grade boys and girls. I walked with them up to the starting point. I wasn't QUITE sure how they would do, running "alone". Their dad had texted to say he was "running in his heart" with them, and I told them I was sure they could do it and I would be cheering them on. I also gave them the last minute "don't start off too fast" reminder.

And, then, they crossed the start.... I ran for my first cheering / picture opportunity. As expected, my daughter was pulling into the lead, and my son was high-five-ing everyone who had a hand extended.

They turned up a road that they would run back down, so I stood and waited.... and waited.... and waited. I for a few minutes, I wondered if I should have run with them. My daughter is not fond of crowds, and my son is prone to spontaneous meltdowns. I waited some more. And then I saw her. In her baby-blue "Go! Fight! Win!" T-shirt, my girl - running the race! She turned the corner as I cheered wildly, and she ran toward the finish line.

Now, I waited some more... Another baby-blue Makenzie shirt - my boy! He was walking. As he got to the final turn, I cheered him on! When he saw me, he grinned real big, winked and broke out into a sprint.

I had hoped to get pictures of them crossing the finish line - but no luck... I waited to cheer the boy and missed the girl crossing. And then the boy was hard to catch.

As I got to speak to each of them after the race, there comments were characteristically them: The girl-child said "I beat him! I beat him!". The boy-child said "I high-fived EVERY hand!"

I love the differences in their personalities... those qualities that make them uniquely themselves - even if they are also the qualities that trip them up the most as well.

I am sure it is similar from God's perspective. He knows me, He adores me.... quirks and all...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

First Blooms

We have been through "Redbud Winter" and "Dogwood Winter" - both new terms to me after nearly 15 years of living in the south. But, none-the-less, we've made it through.

I do believe that Spring has finally arrived.... in full force. AND... I noticed not too long ago. My lilacs are blooming this year. They haven't bloomed yet since I've lived in this house.

The transplanted iris have begun flowering and the clematis is full of buds. All around me life is bursting forth! Gardens are taking shape and I am thoroughly enjoying my time spent in the glory of springtime creation!

Another first bloom this year for us is the bridal wreath spirea. We were given two as wedding presents. They are planted at "the married house". When I left there, I pulled up a few sprigs to take with me. This year, the plant is thriving, and blooming beautifully!

Sometimes, it takes a while for things to bloom forth as they are intended to... I know I am like that, and I am much less patient than I ought to be.

I want to avoid the official winter and the cold snaps that hit from time to time. I get especially frustrated with the cold snaps that hit after the hope of spring has arrived.

But, I think we're through it now.... until we come full-circle again, of course!

Thank you God for life and new life. For new opportunities to bloom and witness new growth.

Being Met in the Grief

We've had a sad past 24 hours. Aurora, the kitten we were going to adopt when she was old enough, died. She was born on my birthday, so was 15 days old when she died. When we went to meet her, she still had her eyes closed, and we fed her with a cute little baby animal bottle.

Aurora and her brother and sister were abandoned by their mother. A family from church took them in and were providing the round-the-clock care that such little ones require.

They had all been doing well, making appropriate milestones. Aurora had even stood up on all fours the morning she started acting "not right".

She had quit feeding well, and had been taken to the vet. There, she was given some antibiotics, probiotics, vitamin/calorie paste and was heading home. Her human 'grandma', turned around and went back to the vet, where they confirmed her worst fears.

The thing that struck me about the story, I heard from someone else. The someone else is another woman from church, who happened to be at the vet at the time. She was able to be with our friend through the process. Met in the midst of her grief.

Telling the kids was a bit of a challenge too. My boy, acted just like a boy: "Well, the vet SAID she had only a small chance of surviving." My girl, acted just like a girl: She cried and cried, and called out her name, asked all the "Why?" questions and wanted to snuggle in my bed to fall asleep.

Meet her in her grief, Lord...

I continue to pray for the other two kitties, for their human family, and for my children....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

For the Birds....

The past few days have been for the birds.... literally. I've noticed every time I opened my shed lately, there has been a Carolina Wren sitting on the eaves chirping to me. I recently found this nest - which is likely the reason why.

Tuesday, this week, I started the day with a walk. I WANTED to crawl back into the bed and get another hour of sleep, but a walk and a cup of coffee turned out to do the trick.

As we turned the last quarter mile, I began to hear this very quiet "click-click-click"ing. Then, at the edge of my peripheral vision, I saw some motion. I looked up and it was gone. The faint "click"ing returned and I looked up just in time to see this bird dive-bombing me. The dog and I looked at the bird and at each other and kept walking. The bird kept getting closer and closer to my head.

Finally, I ducked and ran. With my eyes at that level, I happened to glance to my right and see the reason for all the commotion. There in the newspaper box was a nest.

It will be interesting to see if this continues - it's a route we walk every day. I'm sure my neighbors like to get their mail. I wonder if I'd still get attacked without the dog by my side. And talk about BRAVE. I am at LEAST a hundred times bigger than that bird! at LEAST!

Later that day, I found another sight that was "for the birds".... Silly dog....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just Enough Rope....

There is an old expression about giving someone "just enough rope to hang themselves"....

It seems I have witnessed my fair share of it. Sometimes I've allowed it with my kids. I'm all about natural consequences with them. If they can learn a lesson ONCE through a natural consequence (that isn't full-out dangerous, of course!) verses me warning them a hundred times about it and saving them just in time over and over again. So be it... once it is!

I've witnessed it in others as well....sometimes I've sent a warning, other times, it seems like God has said "Keep your mouth shut, I'm teaching a lesson here!" Some of the hardest times, have been the ones when it is someone I love and I know there isn't anything I can say or do that will fix it. All I can do is pray that His hand is merciful.

And then, harder still, are the times when sitting and watching, I struggle to not cry out "YES! YES! YES!!", cheering God along as He goes. I know that may not be a "correct" response, but having seen enough of it, it does remind me that He does not overlook sin. (And His consequences are much more perfect than mine could ever be.)

As I was writing this, the thought occurred to me that perhaps God uses that strategy with me as well... I have certainly had my share of "sow this... reap that", but somewhere, someone must be praying for mercy for me, because He continues to shower me with it!

Thank you God for your mercy and grace...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hearing, Seeing, Feeling.....Safe...

Between Daylight Saving time and the passing of days, it was still a little bit light when I got home from work. The dog and I both needed a walk, so I swapped out the birks for the sneakers, grabbed a leash and a flashlight and we headed on our way.

About half way around the mile-plus loop, nighttime had officially fallen. We continued to walk, enjoying the night noises. With each step, I was aware of that fact that many people would say that I am "foolish" to walk "alone" at night.

It made me ever so grateful for the neighborhood that was picked for me. I do feel safe here. Very, very safe. Oh, and, uhm.... I wasn't alone.

I had with me an 81 pound chocolate lab who is very mouthy and likes to jump on people (read "more puppy than well-behaved"). His ears and nose are much better than mine....I would have TOTALLY missed the toad, if not for him pulling on his leash. And, as always....God was with me as well...

As we turned the corner just past the mid-way point, I became aware of some of my behaviors. Most obviously, I was carrying the flashlight - but it wasn't on. There are rare street lights, occasional security lights, and frequent porch lights. If a car approached, I would turn it on, and shine the light low along the road. Once the car passed, it was off again. From years of summer camp, I know that God designed my eyes to adapt to low light - and they work better if not distracted by the motion and bright light of an illuminated flashlight.

I also relied on the wisdom handed down to me by my blind father: my ears are my friend. By not focusing intently on a beam of light aimed at a small portion of ground ahead of me, I am more open to listen to the sounds around me. Enjoyable, yes. Informational, yes.

My deaf friend also has taught me - about my sense of sight. In knowing her, my sense of sight (and vibration!) has been heightened. I notice things like the subtle changes in my dog's ears, and the *feel* of thunder. I realized how much I trust my dog's instincts! Jake-the-dog has NEVER demonstrated and "proven" them to me. I simply trust.

Years of living in situations where what was said and what actually occurred were sometimes dichotomous, has heightened my intuition. Years of light being focused on the truth - a truth that more often than not I already knew (but denied) in my gut - helped me to trust it!

And as I walked and contemplated all these things in my head, I was filled with awe. What incredible, incredible creatures we are. Beautifully designed - "wonderfully and fearfully made".

And yet.... despite the knowledge, the sight, the sound and the feeling deep within that He is working all things for good.... I doubt. I wonder why. I pout. I often try my way (repeatedly!) before I surrender to His.

But, not tonight.... for the moment of time that the dog, God and I walked the neighborhood - I trusted. Completely. I was safe.... I felt safe... and filled with ever so much gratitude!

Oh, how it could be.... if I trusted more.....

peace by peace.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Peace by Peace

I am greatly amused at the "Freudian slips" that appear when I am IM'ing my friends. It's as if my internal editor doesn't have time to edit out the words that really need to be spoken. My (now) standard farewell greeting began that way... I couldn't get two "o"s in "Good" for the life of me... so finally, chuckling to myself, I let it stand: "God night".

A few nights ago, as life was beginning to come back to some semblance of "normal", it happened again. We had been talking about all the "stuff" that was going on - another layer of grief to peel back, another layer of "reality" to investigate, another layer of physical and emotional "clutter" to sort through and release.

My friend had asked if life was getting better, and if the "to do" list was becoming more managable. I had intended to write "piece by piece". What came out was - oh, c'mon! You know - "peace by peace".

I saw it, and laughed out loud. It was so true.

As long as I am here on earth, there will be layers of grief and layers of reality to process. Clutter, physically and emotionally, will continue. It will, of course, ebb and flow, but, to the extent that I let go of my expectations and my attempts to control, and let myself be surrounded by His love and healing - there will be Peace.

And yes, "Peace by Peace", life is getting better.....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Carrying a Concealed Weapon

Today, will be short and sweet... a humorous little moment that cracked me up...

I had a busy day - many things to do, some of which could have been a bit trying. There was also the possibility of some "downtime", so I brought 'a book' to read. (English Standard Version)

Coincidentally, my bible fit PERFECTLY in my purse, despite it's size. For those who don't know, I am one who would rather not carry a purse at all, so I was very aware of the extra weight and bulk at my hip. As I was walking from one appointment to the next, I made a sort of smart-alack remark to myself.... "Gosh, you'd think I was carrying a weapon...

A whisper from the Gentle voice within: "You are...."

I laughed out loud. The Sword of the Spirit right there with me, in case I needed it.

I just love God....

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Little Perspective

It's been a rough week for me personally, and for the Elementary School my children attend. For them, this week is TCAP's - Standardized testing here in Tennessee.

My son has a great attitude about it. He had said the week before that they'd have no homework, and the ONLY work they'd have to do is the test, so his conclusion: "I can't WAIT for the test, Mom... It'll be awesome!" That's my boy!

The rest of the school, not so much. Nervousness, tension and seriousness abound. Well, except for the kindergarteners, who were psyched for their zoo field trip!

But there's nothing like a crisis to bring a little perspective.

It was Thursday morning. Day 4 of the TerraNova testing. Car riders, teachers, staff, general commuters, all trying to make their way up the highway infront of the school. Not me, I was at home, worrying about all the things wearing me down - oh, yeah, and at that exact moment, about getting my carpet vacuumed before the prayer-group ladies came over.

As the story goes (it wasn't my turn to drive, so I was spared the visual and the obligation to respond medically): one car picked a bad time to try to pass another. A really bad time. Really, REALLY bad time. And, a really bad place. Right at the edge of the school property.

The office began to be bombarded with calls - "Don't start the test!" "Don't let the busses head off to the zoo!" "We're on our way... sort of...." And, they began to be proactive with calls - notifying the teachers and staff who would be coming that direction to take the little country road that goes behind the school instead.

Later I'd hear that the children in my kids' classrooms lined up along the windows and watched the air ambulance land in their ball field. One transported to the trauma center. One dead at the scene.

I also later heard that the car that was being passed contained three children coming to school. School staff walked out to get them and escort them away from the scene, as their parent was stuck in the non-moving traffic.

I agree with what the principal said, "It put it all into perspective, seeing those three smiling faces walk into the school..... it could have been so bad..."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cleaning House

There is no denying it. I have TOO MUCH STUFF.... and it's pretty darn close to driving me completely out of my tree.

My kitchen is cluttered, my bedroom in cluttered, my garage is cluttered, my shed is cluttered, my inboxes (yes, pleural) are stuffed with messages that can be deleted. My schedule is improving... YES!

Fortunately, the POD has arrived at church and I can begin the process of moving the boxes I've packed for the yard sale OUT of my house!

YES! There is hope.... now all I need is for the "throw it out" mood to continue and about three days of uninterrupted time.

Look out closets, here I come!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Missed This HOW?

I was checking the context of the verse I blogged about the other day - Good Friday, no less. So, I found myself in the Gospel of John.

For those of you who don't know me - or my history - I grew up in a church that HAD bibles, and I HAD a bible, but there wasn't too much getting into it. I started participating in some bible studies about 5 years ago. So, bits and pieces I've delved into. Reading it cover to cover (by "the plan" at the back of my bible) is my goal for this year.

But, I digress... There I was in John, reading about the Gift of Peace. Somehow, I got a few pages ahead, and just started reading in Chapter 17. As I started, I was thinking "how perfect... "the hour has come..."

Further and further I read, my head nodding the whole time. by the time I'm in the 9th verse, I said out loud. "HOW did I miss this? WHY have I NEVER read or heard this before?" Here it is, the time for Jesus to die on the cross, and He's praying for me....a fact that was reinforced later in verse 20 - "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word"

The other verse that really hit me was "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one" (v.15)

I needed to read that then... I needed to (re) read that today.

For those who wish, most of it is included below....


John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you...

9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I was taking a few minutes out of the "Mom" reality. The kids were watching a movie so I figured I'd be safe to take a minute to check Facebook updates. And then I heard the crash.

I had no idea what it was, but decided not to go investigate immediately because whatever it was, it sounded pretty permanently damaged (and there was no screaming). It had been a long day, and I wasn't up for another disaster right then.

As one might have expected, it wasn't long before my honest-to-a-fault boy-child was at the door. "Mom, I was trying to get out the Legos to play with them, and uhm, I broke one of the tea cups." "OK," I said, "time to get in the shower..." At least, now I knew what I'd heard.

After corralling him in to bathe, I went to investigate - and take out the drawer of Legos. There I found the broken cup,... and another, and a sugar bowl, and a lid, and a zillion little shards of porcelain. As I'm picking them up, I hear over my shoulder, "Can I still have a tea party, Mom?"

I nodded as I carried the pieces down to the kitchen and began searching the desk drawer for some super glue. As I sat there, trying to reassemble the broken tea set, it occurred to me that my heart feels that way sometimes.

Mostly, it feels pretty whole. But, there are days and moments when it feels like it's been smashed into a million pieces. I trust that God knows where each of the fragments belong, and that His hands won't get all tied up in super glue. I wonder, if He, too, puts the big pieces together first, and then comes back for the detail work.

Heres to hope and to healing! If you look closely, you'll be able to find the places where the love of God has set the pieces of my heart together again. It may not be exactly the same as it was before, but that may not be a bad thing. I will trust my heart to His repair work.

Monday, April 13, 2009

And the Blessings Continue...

It was one of the longest days ever. I'd woken up in a foul mood, and nothing seemed to be going right. Had I been able to just SIT, and do nothing, and others need nothing, it would have been much easier. But, to complicate matters, there were things that needed doing, and it seemed like the kids were especially needy that day. "Mom!" "Mom!" "Mom!" I tried to inhale before each reply, but know that it didn't always succeed in lessening the frustration in my voice.

We'd been to the store, had lunch, and now we were beginning our walk. Delay after delay - one wanted a sweatshirt, the other wanted to take hers off. I just sat and waited. Bike, scooter and dog prepared, we were finally off.

After the first turn, we saw some neighbors coming up the road in their red truck. As they approached, they slowed and rolled down the window. A son, sitting in the back near an extension ladder nodded and waived. "Have you called anyone about your roof yet?" I shook my head, "not yet..."

You gotta know when you live at the top of a hill, in the middle of a treeless field, on a street that has the word "Wind" in it, there's gonna be a breeze. Sometimes it gets a little carried away and so do my shingles.

"Mind if we take care of it for you?" I just stared for a minute before I could reply, "Not at all." In my head the mantra began: "don't cry now, don't cry now, don't cry now..." He nodded and drove away.... Just in time! As his truck turned up the hill, the tears spilled down my face.

Even - or especially - in the midst of a difficult day, God provides. He has surrounded me with people who love and support me.... again, and again, and again....

As we completed our walk, his wife and eldest son pulled into our driveway. Apparently one of my shingles was completely missing, and they had just returned with one from their house. "So, now you have one a different color" he said. "...To remind myself of your kindness", I thought to myself. I could only nod...

"Don't cry now... don't cry now.... don't cry now...."

Thank you God for the blessings that continue to flow into my life.

Beyond my wildest imaginings, I am blessed.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Remembering Easter...

Since I am in memory mode:

This is an picture of my children, dressed for Easter Sunday. It was taken about 4 years ago....

It was probably a year later my son started spreading The Word.

We were getting our pre-Easter haircuts. The woman cutting his hair asked him if he had his Easter basket already. "Yes....", he said. "So, the Easter bunny is going to come to your house then?" she continued.

He sat for a minute, considering the question and then said...

"Uhm.... Easter isn't about the Easter bunny, you know.... it's about Jesus dying on the cross...."

I was floored. There sat this 4 year old child, bolder in his faith than I have ever been. No wonder Christ loved the little children!

May you all have a Blessed Easter! (chocolate bunnies and all!)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wedding Memories...

This is one of my favorite memories from a decade ago. Today would have been my tenth wedding anniversary.... would have been. Don't get me wrong, there are other joyful memories from that day - but this one remains untainted by divorce.

The picture is one, in a series of four, that tells the story. It is the final picture of a sweet and tender moment with my brother. Most likely one of the most intimate moments I've had with the youngest - and only boy-child - in my family of origin.

It was a beautiful spring day. The redbuds and dogwoods were blooming. The sun was shining, and a gentle breeze kept the air moving along. A perfect day for a wedding!

People were gathering in the old stone chapel. I was waiting outside. Not exactly 'pacing', but not too far from that. I knew I couldn't take TOO much time to think about what was about to happen - and I KNEW I couldn't *talk* with anyone, or I would cry, and I couldn't cry. So, I wandered off to the edge of the woods, my back to the church and the guests. I needed a few moments with God.

Not long after, my brother walked up to me (picture #1). "How ya' doin'?" He asked. "Oh, George..." I said as I turned to him (picture #2), "...don't ask me that..." He just looked at me. I casually hit my hand against his chest (picture # 3), and explained. "...If you do, then I will cry, and if I cry, then I can't sing, and in just a moment, I have to walk in there, stand at the back of the church and sing."

At that point, my voice cracked, and a single tear rolled down my cheek. In response, my brother - my only baby brother - took his tie, and wiped the tear from my face (picture #4 - above).

I took a deep breath, smiled at him and walked to the back of the church.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Gift of Peace

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27, NLT).

I just love this verse. I also love the peace which it portrays. To me, it's not the peace that happens when all the bills have been paid and there is money left over, or the peace I feel when the kids are tucked into bed and still for the night. Not even the peace I experience on a day when there is nothing I "have" to do.

To me, the peace He describes is the calm in the midst of the storm. The peace that transcends all understanding. It is the peace that I felt when I had no idea what was going to happen in my marriage. I wasn't sure I would be able to survive outside of it. Unfortunately, I was not sure I would survive within it either.

But, the peace itself isn't the part of this that I love so much. Today, it is the reminder that this gift is one that the world can't give. I won't find this peace in worldly things. No matter how hard I try, or how deeply I search for it. I'd be trying and searching in the wrong place.

It's so opposite what the world would have us believe. I mean - c'mon, as soon as I lose fifteen pounds or have a bigger house, nicer stuff, more money, THEN, I'll have made it and can experience this peace... right? uhm. No. The peace He promises doesn't come from the world.

It kinda freaks me out a little, knowing that most of what the world gives me as a barometer to measure "How I'm Doing", is wrong. Thus, the last sentence, "so don't be troubled or afraid" is exactly what I need to hear.

Thank You for this gift of peace. For loving us enough to come.... and leave.... and come again.

Have a "Good Friday", everyone....

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Week Down Memory Lane

This sure is a week that brings me down memory lane: It came close to snowing on my birthday. My mother tells me it did the day I was born - the first time since my sister's birthday (also April 7th) six years earlier. It's a little unusual in New England, snow in April, but, in Tennessee, practically unheard of. There were a few flakes the night before, but nothing dramatic on the day itself.

Fast forward 34 years and 2 days, and we come to my next joyful memory in the beginning of April. April 9th, I found out I was pregnant. Shortly thereafter, of course, we found out there was more than one baby in there. (This picture is closer to 35 weeks...huge, but happy!).

It was, of course, a life changing event. I continue to be amazed at how such a blessing can be such hard work! I have to admit, a pair of 7 year olds is easier than a pair of infants - at least in the "general care" category. The boy-child can all but shower alone now. The questions, and the handing over age-appropriate responsibility and choices is the difficulty now. I'm sure that that will increase exponentially as they age. It has been a wonderful adventure!

Thank you God for the gift of my children! I am honored to be their mother!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Watching God at Work

I had the opportunity to visit with an old friend of mine the other day. We met for dinner, and delivery of a minivan full of moving boxes I'd saved for her. She is one of the women with whom I have shared a friendship nearly as long as my tenure in Tennessee. We met shortly after we both moved to TN from opposite coasts.

Her presence in my life was a Godsend. I was in desperate need of a "teacher", guide, mentor and prayer warrior. Together, we walked through my life, healing the past, and journeying through my early experiences with marriage and motherhood. As time passed, our more formal relationship transitioned into a friendship, and we sort of lost touch.

I'd call her periodically as I walked through my early marriage crisis and divorce. But, then, again, we drifted apart.

A year or so later, I ran into a mutual friend at a community event. "Have you talked to your our friend lately?" she asked. "No....not in a long time...." The woman became very quiet, and finally said, "You should call her..."

A couple of weeks later, I did.... I was a bit surprised to hear her news: She was in the midst of a marriage crisis, heading toward divorce. She was in need of a guide, mentor and prayer warrior.

I shared with her the hope of my story: Even in the darkest moments of my marriage and my divorce process, God has been with me. When I was weak, He was strong. I reiterated some of the things she had taught me through the years. I shared my belief that it is not my job to punish, shame or make life difficult for my ex-husband. My job is to be obedient to what God would have me do: in this case "Love him well", and be a godly mother.

Time passed, and I witnessed her shock and despair turn into strength. Anger became insightful protection rather than a weapon. Joy and Laughter returned, as did Hope and Grace. She found her feet.... standing on the Rock of God.

Challenges have continued to arise.... including the prospect of moving from their "married house" to her own house. She shared the story as it has been unfolding and we walked, together, through the house she is hoping to purchase. I see God's hand allllllll over it! It reminds me of my house buying process, and I am filled with joy for her. I know what a blessing it will be.

I continue to pray that God will handle the details in her situation - as He did in mine - and that she will continue to be blessed by people in the world who do care for the "widows and orphans" of our age.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me...

Happy Birthday to me....
Happy Birthday to me....
Happy BIRTH-day to meeeeeee....
Happy Birthday to me....

To quote the card my kids gave their dad for HIS birthday: "A long, long, long time ago.... (inside - with Star Wars theme music) You were born" Yeah, that's me.... (though not QUITE as long ago as their dad!)

As I write this, the official day hasn't even arrived, yet, thus far it has been a gift ... my facebook wall has been bustling with pre-birthday greetings, and my mother is here visiting. With her, she brought a box full of photographs of her generation as children and some of generations past (my "greats" and "Great-greats"). We spent the day reviewing, discussing and capturing them digitally, to preserve forever after!

She also brought a box or two of some other memories.... mostly, clothes I wore as a child - many that were sewn by her mother, my grandmother. But there was also a box of letters of mine from the mid-80's. One of the ones I pulled out quickly was a card from my (now deceased) childhood pastor congratulating me on my high school graduation. Going through that box will be an adventure for another day.

While I was at the store and bought myself some flowers - orange-y-yellow-y-pink alstromeria and white tulips. I mixed them together with the exception of two white tulips that I sat at my two glass bottle vases. Beside that sits a note my daughter wrote for me for when I wake up.

There is a cake that my kids (and I) can hardly WAIT to dig into! But wait we will and celebrate as a family after school, with candles and song.

As we headed to bed, I was searching for my son's Nintendo DS charger (at his request). I opened his pack and found a thick envelope that says "Mommy" on it. When I brought him his charger, he asked if I saw anything.

"No...not exactly."

He, of course, questioned that further. I told him, "when I saw something white and papery, I closed my eyes and just searched with my hands".... He was thrilled and I get the anticipation of waiting til morning for the surprise he has created for me. It's taken me years and years to learn to wait and savor the anticipation....I'm much more of an instant gratification kind of girl! Perhaps I am catching on!

Life is a gift. Pain, sorrow, struggles, crazy insanity and all....

I am blessed... and I am loved. Thank You God...

The picture is of me, circa 3-4 years old, at a creative arts program I attended. The 'baton' I am swinging is a paint brush. My mother - decades later - is still amazed that a "high school kid" captured this picture from across the room... The Joy is pure and unadulterated, childhood bliss! Amen!

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's Nice to be Loved

I woke up on Palm Sunday, remembering that I'd forgotten to fill the crock pot with soup mix-ins. We were having a lunch meeting following our church service. I jumped out of bed and ran into the kitchen.

My eyes were still bleary and I hadn't put in my contacts, but as I passed the kitchen window, something caught my eye. At first, all I saw were the bits of white scattered throughout my yard. "oh MAN!" I said, wondering what dog had gotten into whose trash. And then I squinted, and... I recognized the fox.

I put in my contacts, and the "bits of white" turned out to be Styrofoam plates with Easter greetings on them. And there in the middle of my front yard, staring back at me through the window, was the fox.

He's really just an ordinary piece of yard art - perhaps not even that, as he was left by a previous home owner at a house one of my friends bought. When one of our mutual friends saw it for the first time (and second, and I think third as well), she (sarcastically) said "NICE fox..."

Well.... a few weeks ago, when the sarcastic friend was in Florida, the fox switched neighborhoods. Upon her arrival back in TN, there was Mr. Fox - in her "weed bed", as she likes to call it.

This past weekend, the middle and high school youth had a "Discipleship Now" weekend - the boys and the girls, separately studying scriptural aspects of relationships and the benefits of "waiting" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know-what-I-mean, know-what-I-mean...).

And, as tradition would have it, they find a little midnight mischief. I was blessed with the plates, some candy filled eggs and The Fox - AND, a few flowers and mulch for my "Friendship Garden" (YES!)

I smiled to myself, and realized how grateful I am to have such a wonderful church family.... mischief and all.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

In the World, but not of it

I was having an email conversation with a friend of mine, who had commented about my blog entry where I spelled out the two criteria for inclusion in my life. The question she posed was "does that include people?" My first inclination was to say "yes"... with the caveat that with people, I think it's very tricky, and I have to be very clear that I am listening to God and not my own selfish desires.

I do think that there are people in my life that are there primarily to impact my perceptions and choices about how I interact with others and the world. Some drive me absolutely out of my tree, and it takes everything with me and the love of God to "respond" rather than "react". Through the years, I have noticed that many of these "here-to-drive-me-crazy" people DO IN FACT have some very important lessons to teach me - usually about an aspect of myself that I'd just as soon keep hidden in some dark corner of my heart or mind.

There are also the people who are on the other end of the spectrum. Some that I would give an eye-tooth to spend a few minutes in their presence. With them I need to be reminded that they have not hung the moon. 'Tis God who has done that.

Somewhere in the midst of that is the balance. Both extremes have much to teach me - both are important. Ideally, they both point me toward my relationship with God.

"But, how then do we impact others?" she continued. There again is the fine line of being in the world but not of it. When I am in a "good place" - when I am feeling grounded spiritually - I can interact with someone who is not, and avoid getting caught up in their drama, or drown in their storm. It's when I have the clarity to know that it is THEIR drama and THEIR storm that I am best able to walk in peacefully and leave the same way. Without the God-connect, I am liable to get caught up in their stuff, and leave feeling angry, frustrated, abused and out of control.

It's also taken some time to learn to "not throw pearls before swine". Not everyone gets included in the things nearest and dearest to my heart. My pearls have been trampled. For a long time, I'd pick them up, clean them off and throw them back out to be trampled again. Sometimes, I am a very, very slow learner. The fact that I have any pearls left is no less than the grace of God.

So, "How then do we impact others?" I aspire to LIVE my faith. It is by no means perfect, but it definitely gets better, little by little, as He continues to "stalk" me, and I quit fighting for control.

It's funny, that for so many years I tried NOT to be "different". I wanted to be "a part of", to fit any cost. As I get older, and my faith matures, I DO want to be different. What the world has to offer, I'm not so much interested in (on my spiritually grounded days, that is!). I want to live in a way that people say "I want what she has...."

And, when they ask me what it is, I can answer, "Christ".

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
"Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bring on the Clarity

It is becoming increasingly clear where lines are needing to be drawn. The calendar is clearing itself, there is less waffling about "do I really want to get rid of this, or should I just keep it?", and there are some clearer boundaries within a few relationships here and there. All of these are needing to happen!

Bring on the clarity, Lord... I am listening.

Where You lead, I will follow...

Friday, April 3, 2009


I've notice that I attribute certain characteristics to different articles of clothing. I have a sweater that I almost always wear when I'm needing comfort, certain earrings when I'm needing some balance. There are the moccasins that I got when I was in New Mexico years ago, that remind me of the same bold-adventuresome-yet-quietly-soul-searching mood that I was in when I bought them. And then... there are these. These are my "don't-mess-with-me" shoes!

I've found that I've been wearing them a lot lately, after months (perhaps years) of them being untouched in my closet. Why? First of all, they have a heel. I'm fairly tall - "for a girl" - and I've spent decades of my life trying NOT to draw attention to that. Secondly, they "clack" when I walk, so there is no denying that I'm coming. There is no sneaking in and sneaking out. I am, without a doubt walking through life and leaving audible footprints. Something about that combination enhances the whole "stand-tall-for-who-you-are" attitude, and makes it undeniably real. In a "Don't-mess-with-me!" mood, they are most likely on my feet!

It's probably the the season I am in now. Being still, sorting through and sifting out the things that don't belong in my life anymore. Whether it be "stuff" or attitudes or events. I've had to stand tall in some situations and say "THIS is who I am", "THIS is what is important in my life", "THIS best demonstrates the place that God has in my life". The rest must go.

It's definitely a change of practice for me - I usually just slide into my old Birkenstocks, but, ya' know what? I'm finding out, they're actually pretty comfortable!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Consider the Flowers of the Field...

I spent the afternoon with some friends today. Taking pictures. The daffodils had passed, but the turnips (yes, turnips!) were in full bloom.

My friend had noticed the fields previously, and we were blessed with a beautiful spring day in which to "play". The scenery was beautiful, and I enjoyed the opportunity to experiment with my camera a little bit.

But, it wasn't until I got home, uploaded the pictures, and watched the slide show, that I truly appreciated it! Yes, it was fun while I was doing it, but wow.... Just wow!

In the still pictures, I get to see the full expression of experiencing the world of God's creation through the eyes of a three and five year old. I get to witness the joy and wonder as they examine the individual flowers. And I get to observe the interaction between a mother and her two children as they pick flowers, run hand in hand, and simply enjoy each others company.

As I uploaded this picture of the princess, surrounded by a sea of yellow, I am reminded of God. I recall a verse about the flowers of the field, and how beautifully they are adorned. This sight today, was no less than spectacular.

And, though I am more likely to dress myself in a pair of jeans, I wonder if I will dress for the occasion when I meet the King face to face. I am blessed to be surrounded by His glory - today in the field and when my time on the earth is done.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Law and Ethics

So, I, uhm.... messed up. The TN massage therapy board requires continuing education in "TN massage law" and "ethics" - two hours each - every two years. Despite the internal nagging "check your continuing education" I heard repeatedly toward the end of 2008, I failed to.... and thus failed to realize that my courses for those topics were in 2006, not 2007.

For a short while I fumbled through the "what do I do?" scenarios. "How can I fix this?" Short of turning back the calendar to the fall of 2008, I can't. It's done.... or not done, in this case.

As I shared my dilemma with friends and family, my questions were often answered with : "Oh, just sign the form saying you did" and "everybody does that". "They'll never know". Well, I'LL know....and I can't escape the irony that this is "law" and "ethics" we're talking about.

So, as I go forth in the process of renewing my license, I will move forth honestly and ethically... and pray for grace and mercy.


Update: Grace and mercy abound, and Thus Far, all is well...