Monday, December 8, 2014

Having a Day

I had a great day today, but two days ago....well, I had "a day".  Ever had one of those?  That's what my Grandma Jolley used to call it when she was having a hard time.  It went like this:

"Hey, Grandma."

"Hey, baby."

"How are you?"

"Oh, I'm having me a day."

And I knew that meant things sucked a little bit for Grandma that day. I didn't really get it as much when I was younger, but I get it now. I also get that it'll pass, but when I'm having "a day", it feels like the day is longer, bigger, stronger than the Great Wall of China and everyone can tell. If they can't, then they aren't paying me enough attention, darnit. 

And when I'm having a day, I tend to focus on ANYTHING that will confirm the day's status as being a no-good-very-bad-day. 

Things like this:

--Where did all this crap in my closet come from?  I can't wear any of it and even if I could I wouldn't.  I mean, who wears this junk?  Ever?  Why did I even buy any of this?  I shouldn't have even bought a house with a closet. It's wasted on me.

--What is happening to my chin?! It's possible I'm getting two of them. EVERYTHING is a reflective surface that confirms I am, in fact, getting two chins. No. All the no's.

--And who's knees are those?  When did they start looking like that?  Have they always looked like that?

--My hair. The end.

--Look at the piles. There are piles in the corner and under the beds and in the closets and stuffed behind the TV.  Have I ever put anything away? In the history of ever have I bothered to clean this house?  It's possible I could win awards for worst housewife. At least I'd get an award.

--My husband is tolerating me. I'd rather be ANYTHING than tolerated. I might hit him with a cast iron skillet, which once belonged to Grandma Jolley and wouldn't THAT be poetic justice?! Surely that will snap him out of toleration and into something completely more invested like shock or anger. Or unconciousness. I mean that is ALL IN, people.

--And my kids. They are going to need therapy.  They may already need therapy. Hell, we may all need therapy until the therapist needs therapy and then we're all screwed. I have already been to therapy. It obviously didn't work. I want my money back. (If you're reading this Dr. Trey...I only feel that way when I'm having a day. Otherwise, I think you're incredible at what you do.)

--Speaking of kids, why did I EVER think I could manage this many?  If one of them asks me for One. More. Thing. I'm going to lose it.

--And ovaries. Who needs ovaries anyway?!  (that's rhetorical)

And then something happens:  I realize that the only thing happening is me. I am having a day. A day where I can't see my blessings.  I'm having a day where everything feels overwhelming.  (or maybe I'm getting my period?)

Don't get me wrong. I've gone through times when life WAS overwhelming and if you're there right now, I want you to hear me:  This WILL pass. It will. And you will be OK and life will swing you back around on it's pendulum and you will be OK.

 This is coming from a woman who has been divorced (surprise to some of you, I know), lost a baby between babies one and two and who almost divorced her second husband because he's an addict who relapsed once during our almost eighteen year marriage. For three years.

I know hard, people. I understand it. You'll be OK and you'll make it through. You will.

But, you have to make it through the days. You have to do the hard stuff and the small stuff and the big stuff and you will be OK. More than likely, you will surpass OK and stumble your way right into awesomeness, but you have to make it through the days that feel bigger than you.  They aren't. You have to take care of yourself by loving yourself.

 Here's a few of the things that pull me away from all the days being "a day".

My house is warm and cozy. We are all fed, even if it's just beans, and I have friends who love me. Really love me. (even with Crazy sitting over in the corner waving at me)

I have a Savior who died to bring me into relationship with Him and He never ever forgets me.  Even when I'm having a day.  He remembers me and He never tolerates me.

I have clothes on my back and shoes on my feet. I have four, healthy kids who love me and know, without a doubt, that I love them more than anything in the world, even if I don't always answer every 3895 times they say my name in a day.

I have Grace. I have been shown mercy. I have joy. I have been forgiven and have had opportunities to forgive. I have opportunities to serve others and hands and feet that work properly. I can see the sunrise and the sunset and hear my wind chimes and the fireplace crackling. I have a husband who just walked by and ran his hand down my hair because he loves me. I am blessed.

And before I know it...I am having a different kind of day, but I acknowledge the struggle is real. I hear you. I know there's days when we feel like being a Proverbs 31 woman is about as easy as concrete. But, then...

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why so Serious?

I saw an elderly woman pushing her seemingly more elderly husband around Wal-Mart today in a nifty wheelchair/grocery cart.  And then I saw them again. And then, we almost ran slam over each other in the bread aisle. We laughed and side stepped each other. 

And THEN, they slipped in behind me in the check out line and we smiled at each other and I was sure they were thinking what I was thinking:  Lord, are you trying to show me something with these encounters with this sweet couple?  

But I guess God was showing them something else entirely because they started playing with the compulsion items and laughing and talking and basically ignoring me as I was staring them down. And stare them down, I did. He tossed her the items he could reach from his wheelchair and she slowly lifted the other items from the bottom of the wheelchair/grocery cart onto the belt as I began to load my final bags into my cart and whip out my debit card. And then, I stared some more. I don't think they noticed. They were still goofing around and being happy or they may have been whispering to ignore the lady who keeps staring. I don't know for sure.

After I pushed and pulled all the bags from my buggy into the back of my SUV, I climbed into the driver's seat and started to cry.  I cry more now than I did when I was younger. I guess it could totally be hormones but I think I cry more now because life and all the things in it just seem more important to me now. 

Things like sweet elderly couples who are having a blast in Wal-Mart even though his legs don't work anymore and are kind of crooked.  It makes me realize that perseverance is underrated and that running the race sometimes means being faithful and good and kind in the simple things that are often the hardest things.

 It's important to remember to run the race in such a way that we remember that all the runners are running, but only one can have the prize. Only I get the prize in MY life and perseverance will often determine what my prize will be and how my blessings pan out. That's serious stuff right there. 

Things like a bread aisle that is packed with so many kinds of bread that I actually get to mash around on the loaves to see which one is the softest before picking one. I mean, for pete's sake, who wants a loaf of bread that will be old in like three days, right? Major 1st world problem there, but I forget sometimes and I don't want to forget because it's the little things that sneak up on us and make us ungrateful. And being ungrateful is serious to me (just ask my kids when they're ungrateful) but not quite as serious as being grateful (just ask my kids when they have grateful hearts). 

Or things like fresh fruit in the winter. Ya'll they had ORGANIC bananas in Wal-Mart today of all places. I may have done a weird dance for a second but I don't think anyone saw me. The older I get, I'm not sure I even care. It was like the food lottery up in there.

That moment of thankfulness stayed with me all day and I don't want to miss being thankful. That is SUPER serious to me. I want to share all the things I'm thankful for with others and I hope God will one day give me a change to do just that.

And then, my brain goes like this:  People are hungry.  People are lonely. People are lost. People are cold. People are killing each other. Mothers have lost their babies. Fathers have lost their sons. Wives have lost their husbands. People are hurt. And people are hurting.  And I'm worried about a freakin' piece of bread being fresh and whether I have organic bananas!  And then I cry.  

...I already know it's neurotic...thanks...

But, here's the thing: I think sometimes the world could be a little more serious. I think we could care more. Love more. Live more. Give more. I think we can not only do the hard things, I think things are going to get harder if we don't get serious about doing the hard things right now.

I think if we don't start finding joy in simple things like organic bananas at Wal-Mart and sweet elderly couples who haven't lost their love for one another, we're going to lose our joy at the big things. We're going to forget that there are big things and our hearts get hard and our attention gets sucked into ourselves like a big 'ole fat, narcissistic black hole instead of looking outward at a world that is starving not only for food, but for love.  

We need to get serious about where we find our joy and what makes our hearts break. We need to remember that only broken hearts let anything into them. The cracks and breaks are where the love and empathy and compassion live. 

Our world is turning into a place where people just can't take focusing on the heartbreak of the world because it gets them down. I've heard more than once in the last few months that I just take things more serious than other people. But here's the thing:  If our hearts don't break, then whose will?  If we don't take the broken, lost, hurting world and believe that the broken and the lost and the hurting people are serious business, then who will? 

I think that we must surrender ourselves to something other than ourselves. And watching this elderly wife push her husband around Wal-Mart today made me remember that.  She was happy serving him, pushing him along, being his legs when his no longer worked.  She glowed. And you did he. 

I want to believe that's how it works. I want to believe that through serving, even when it's really hard, we find our joy and our purpose. I want to believe that when we choose to seriously love, we experience God.  I need to believe it. There is joy to be had in being serious about something outside ourselves. And that's a serious thing.

I'm going to own up and just admit that the older I get the more I realize I don't know. Every day I feel dumber, y'all.  I realize how little I actually understand and how little I grasp fully.  I realize that my belief that I could change the world almost killed me, but...

But here's one little thing that I think I've finally got by it's hem:  We're in this thing together and we need to take that seriously. We need to just wake up tomorrow and be kinder.  We need to wake up tomorrow and serve something outside ourselves if we're going to make our world a little bit better, even if it's just me one day pushing my elderly husband around in a wheelchair/grocery cart thing in Wal-Mart and laughing in the compulsion aisle while a younger lady looks on and smiles (neurotically) at our joy because we persevere and we have faith and we took our part in this world seriously.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Lies, Love and Ferguson

My Facebook has been blowing up with posts and memes about Ferguson, Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson.  Much of it has been useless garbage and some of it has been down right lies.  Much of it has been posted by Christians and it breaks my heart. 

Earlier tonight someone I trusted and respected posted an entire post filled with lies about Michael Brown and when I politely pointed out that a cursory search or longer reading of the grand jury text would reveal those lies, they promptly erased my post and left the lies up for the world to see and that makes me so sad.

"Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight." Proverbs 12:22

It's not just the media and lying "witnesses" who should feel shame at how this tragedy has played out, but social media participants, as well.  What we do on social media matters because the whole point of social media is to keep up with one another, learn from one another and connect with one another. We share into the psyche of those around us when we share. We are responsible for what we say and do, even on social media. We are either the light and the salt, or we are not. 

Here's just some of the misinformation floating around on my wall:

Did you know that Officer Darren Wilson is 6' 4" tall and weighs 215 lbs?  Yeah.  The person who posted that he was "half" Michael Brown's size didn't know that, either. Officer Wilson is a huge guy, but for some reason the media doesn't want us to know that.

Did you know that Officer Wilson had NEVER fired his gun before that fateful afternoon, even though he'd been a policeman for more than seven years?  Yep.  The person that posted that Officer Wilson was out just looking to kill a "big, black kid" didn't know it, either.  Officers who haven't fired their gun in seven years of service aren't roaming around looking to kill people.

Did you know that Michael Brown had ZERO felonies on his juvenile record, even though my Facebook is blown up with people lying and saying that he had a whole record of them.  He didn't. He had NO felony record. The truth matters. 

Did you know that most of the witnesses that came forward were lying and the media put them on the news with zero verification that they were, in fact, witnesses?  Shouldn't that be a crime?  Shouldn't NEWS be factual?  What has happened to us?  

We have to tell the truth! We have to actively seek to tell the truth. All the time. If we say something we think is truth but find out later it wasn't, there's no shame in going back and simply saying, "I genuinely thought this was the truth, but now I know better and I want to correct what I said."  No shame in that. Ever.  There IS shame in continuing to lie to save face, though.  Lots and lots of shame. 

The grand jury is in and Darren Wilson will not go to trial. Does that mean we celebrate a young man's death?  Is that what it means?  God, no. No, it doesn't!!! 

Did you know that the majority of looters are not even from Ferguson?!  They are people who came there to loot and destroy because they knew they could. Because they knew they would not be blamed.  And my heart aches for the people who DO live there.  I think of them Every. Single. Day.  The people of Ferguson are REAL people. They are losing their lives, their businesses and their town. As a follower of Christ, your heart should break.  It should crack in two for them.  

And Michael Brown's momma... His momma. I am a momma. I doubt I am raising perfect kids, but I love them. Oh, how I love them and I know she loved her boy.  I want to hold her and cry with her and pray with her and sob with her and tell her I'm so sorry she will live out her days without her boy.  I'm sorry her boy is gone. I'm sorry...I'm sorry...I'm sorry... From one Momma's heart to another Momma's heart I am sorry her boy is dead. I am sobbing as I type this because that Momma's boy is dead.  

And I am angry at the people who ignore her pain and point their finger. I am angry that any Christian would stand and ignore her pain.

The truth is...what I really believe is this:  A young man made a dumb decision to rob a store of five bucks worth of cigarellos and impress his friends. A cop who'd never fired his gun in the line of duty pulled up at just the right time and it freaked that young man out because he thought Officer Wilson knew what he'd done.  He was caught...with only two more days to go before college started and he was caught...for stealing some cigarellos and pushing the store owner.  Some stupid, damn cigarellos. The young man freaked out. The cop reacted as he'd been taught and because he felt his life was in danger. The boy is dead. 

The media lied because it creates sensational head lines for millions and millions of viewers who are starving for sensational headlines and that's where the media's paycheck comes they lie. And convince those who won't bother to do the research that their lies are truth and then those anxious for drama and untruth spread the lies. 

The media films witnesses they know are lying or that they suspect of lying.  People are hurt and scared and tired and they react. They react because one of their own lies dead in the street for four hours. Four. Long. Hours. And his Momma has to see him. His Momma has to see him lying dead in the street. And so they react. We react. Everyone reacts and the truth is obscured and hard to see and harder to know for certain and cold, horrible hearts blame and blame and blame until everything is obscured but hate from all sides. From everywhere. Hate. And we all react and forget that a man who had never fired his weapon before that day killed a boy. And a young man is dead. Forever. And we all react.

It has to stop. We have to stop.  No more lies. No more tolerating racism where it exists (and stop lying and saying it doesn't exist. It does exist!)  We have to stop apologizing for something we can't change and replace it with love. Be kind. Be merciful and hear. We must stand up and demand that the media stop lying and lying and lying.  But most of all, we have to stop perpetuating the lies because it's burning a town to the ground and Jesus weeps.

We have to tell the truth and love one another. We have to love like Jesus loved. We have to love even when we know we are not being loved in return. We have to love even when it's hard. And it has to start right now. With each individual person who is strong enough to tell the truth.

Proverbs 15:1 "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

Galatians 5:14 "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

We are either surrendered to Christ or we are not.  If we are, we must love. We must have compassion. We must be gentle as a dove and sly as a fox. We must love our neighbors as ourselves. All the excuses in the world do not release us from this command. We must love one another. We must.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What My Pug Has Taught Me About Being Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving so I thought I'd write about being thankful, but I couldn't really think of anything that hasn't been said a thousand times, even though I have a million things to be thankful for.  Instead, I went in the living room to play with my pug, Loki, and while we were playing (mostly petting), I realized I'd learned a lot about being thankful from him.  Might sound crazy, but it's true. And hey, as long as I'm learning, it doesn't really matter who's the teacher, right?

So here's 5 things my Pug is teaching me and I'm thankful I'm learning them:

5.  Be thankful for the little things, even if you get them every single day. Maybe ESPECIALLY if you get them every single day.  We feed our dogs every morning and then again in the afternoon.  (We may, or may not, slip them things from the people table, too)  And Every. Single. Time. Loki hears his food bag rattle around, he comes flying around the corner, little Pug claws scrambling to hold onto the wood floors, like he hasn't eaten in forever, like nothing will ever again taste this good. Food is like Loki's crack and I get that most Pug's love to eat but people, I'm telling you, if they gave out trophies for "Most Happy For Food", we'd have to build on a new room, even though he gets the same food every day at the same time. I want to be that thankful for all the things I let slip to the back of my mind or allow myself to view as mundane. Including the fact that I have food every single day, too. That's no small thing in our world.

Yoda Pug

4.  Be happy just the way I am.  I don't tan, I have freckles, my legs are much longer than my torso and my hair screams if I try to curl it.  These are all the things I don't like about myself and for most of my young adult life I tried desperately to change these things. All to no avail, of course. I am what I am.  Loki has fat rolls, a flat face and snorts.  He is the cutest thing I have ever seen.  Actually, the things that make him unique looking are the very things I think are so cute about him. I think maybe people are that way, too. The things we don't like about ourselves are the very things that make us who we are and embracing them would release us from being anything but thankful for who we are, not who we think we should be. We are what we should be at this moment.

3.  This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.  Every morning Loki greets us as we tumble out of bed.  He greets us as though when we went to sleep he thought we'd never, ever, never again awaken.  He is so flippin' happy to see us.  He jumps and romps and twirls around and basically acts like he hasn't seen any of us in 4392 days. We, literally, slept 7 hours, dude. And still, he greets us with joy and happiness. He epitomizes the joy that we should greet every day with simply because it's a new day. A new 24 hours to live and be thankful.

2.  When we want love or we want to give love, we should just do it.   I've had other dogs, but I've never had one who will hunt me down to get love or give it.  If anyone in our house sits on the floor, the couch, the bed, the chair, Loki will find a way to be with them.  If he can't get ON you, he will lay near you and stare you down until you move to another location so he can then get ON you in your new location.  He is openly asking you to love on him. He is openly asking to love on you. We should all be this way.  I'd never really thought about giving and receiving love so freely until I saw my Pug do it.  It's a beautiful thing.

Because the couch is such a lovely place to bond with people you love.
And the floor is fine, too. 

1.  Live, Laugh, Love  I couldn't think of what to term the thing Loki most makes me thankful for because it's a feeling more than an exact thought.  Loki plays when he wants to play, loves when he wants to love and rests when he knows it time to rest.  He doesn't think about dumb stuff like if his socks match, or if someone will think he's silly for just doing his thing or if he looks dumb while he's just doing his thing.  He just does it.  He's like a two year old child with fur.  And the Lord said: "Then he said, "I tell all of you with certainty, unless you change and become like little children, you will never get into the kingdom from heaven."  Loki gives me a sense of what that actually means.  

When I had small kids of my own, the ones with skin and not fur, I think I was so consumed with making sure I did everything I could to do "the things" right, that I missed a lot of this time with them and I'm thankful that I'm remembering it now. We had a lot of fun, but many times while we were having fun, I was thinking about "the things" that would soon come that wouldn't be fun and that was stupid. It was just stupid. We should be in the moment, the now. It's the only moment we've got and every day I'm becoming more thankful for the days, the moments, the now. I'm becoming more thankful that I can just let go and have fun.  

Happy Thanksgiving, ya'll.  Be thankful. Every day. All the time. 

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

International Day to Stop Violence Against Women

Today is International Day to Stop Violence Against Women and Bill Cosby's name is flying around the internet.

Sixteen women have now accused Bill Cosby of raping them. Some of the allegations happened many years ago, some not as long.  All of the women have relatively the same story to tell and the reactions to those women's allegations have been varied, though most have leaned toward believing that Cosby is innocent. I'm not surprised.

I don't know for sure if Bill Cosby raped those women, but what I do know for sure is that there are countless studies out there that prove that less than 8% of women lie about being raped. That means AT LEAST 92% of them are telling the truth.  Some studies say it's as few as 3%.

That means that somewhere between 92% and 97% of women are TELLING THE TRUTH about some man holding them down against their will and raping them. Most rapes are never reported at all.

US studies show that the majority of rapes go unreported because women are afraid that they will 1.) not be believed  2.) be forced to press charges and be subjected to a trial where they will have to tell the story of their assault publicly  3.) they knew their rapist and are afraid to press charges.(These statistics came from the Department of Justice. The CDC has unreported cases as much higher.)

What that boils down to is that women who have had a man force himself on them are afraid. IMAGINE THAT!

I had to go to therapy for anger and trust issues. Rape is one of those things that no amount of anger management is ever going to cure me of being nose bleed mad about. Men have no right to stick their penis in a woman who says NO.  The end. 

I don't care how she's dressed.  I don't care how she talks. I don't care how much she's had to drink. I don't care if the man knows her or if he doesn't.  I don't care if she bends down and twerks in the street, a man has no right to rape a woman if she says NO.A man has no right to drug a woman and give her no opportunity to say, "No."

We live in a culture that tells our daughters that women walking a catwalk in their panties on National TV is sexy and worthy of a moment of our time. We live in a society that subtly shows our daughters that beauty is an external quality to be applauded, showcased, coveted but that also mocks women who use their sexuality as a weapon or tool for monetary success. We live in a society that tells our daughters that they are ultimately little more than the caliber of husband they can catch.  

We live in a society where a man whose body is an athletic machine can beat down a woman in an elevator and a sports organization believes it is OK to cover it up. Some less researched people even thinks it's relevant that she swatted at him after he spit on her and try to equate that action with a professional athlete beating a woman into unconsciousness. 

We live in a society where Roman Polanski, a well know movie director, can admit to drugging and sodomizing a 13 year old girl and Hollywood, for the most part, still applauds his artistic merit and believes he should be allowed back in the US.  

We live in an era where we still must discuss that men have no right to place their hands on a woman unless she asks him to do so and vice-versa.

And it is PISSING ME OFF. I'm so mad. I'm angry that people are assuming that the SIXTEEN women who have come forward and said that ONE MAN raped them are lying. I'm angry that for years the allegations were ignored and that some unknown comedian's jokes are the only thing that brought their stories to the light of day. 

I'm angry that very few are mentioning that each of these women say they were raped at the height of this man's fame and fortune, where countless tales show us that he will be protected while she will be ridiculed and mocked if she dares to come forward (Bill Clinton and Roman Polanski, anyone?). I'm angry that the length of time they have remained silent is being questioned as though time is an indication or measurement of truth.

I have a friend who was raped many year ago. At that time, she told no one. She told no one because she was afraid. Afraid of the stares and the jeers and the mocking. Afraid that her parents may not believe her since she was afraid to tell them right away because they knew him and thought he was "a nice guy". 

Many years after she was raped, she shared the story with me and a few close friends and my heart broke for her. The part of me that is darker than I would like spent a few days after she shared her story with us trying to find him until my friend found out and begged me to back off.  So I did, but I was angry because I am a real estate broker by trade. If you have an address, I can find you and some part of me wanted this man to pay for what he'd done to my friend when she was only thirteen years old. 

Angry that my friend, or any woman, would ever feel as though they should feel shame from a man who has to force someone weaker than him for sex to feel powerful.  I am angry that my friend still doesn't feel safe enough to scream her story from the rafters and know...KNOW...that she will be believed. I am angry.

Here's a note:  Any man who would rape a woman is not a man at all. They are pathetic and weak and deserve nothing more than the worst from those of us who are not weak in the face of things that are dark and twisted.

Any man who questions, even for a moment, if a woman "deserves" to be raped should be tied naked to a post and have that same woman shove a large stick up his rectum until he rethinks his position. 

That sounds harsh, doesn't it? But, that's exactly how a woman feels when a man rapes her. I know because I have a friend who described it to me as she cried. 

The world can't imagine tying a man up and violating him in such a way, but has the nerve to shrug their shoulders and question the woman's validity when she says that she was raped. It makes no sense. 

I imagine it wouldn't take long for him to rethink and I'd also imagine he'd be less than thrilled to have others know what happened to him. Think he'd want to stand up in court in front of his friends, his family, his co-workers and recant the story of having that woman hold him down and ram a stick up his butt while he begged her to stop? While he bled? 

Yeah. I didn't think so, either. I'd imagine rape statistics would plummet if rapist reaped what they sowed.

That scenario might create a clearer picture of why a woman doesn't step forward, too.  

Rape is uncomfortable to talk about. Injustice is always uncomfortable because we must face the ugliness of our world and our part in it. We are forced to face the horrors that human beings can inflict on one another and that is never easy. But, we can do the hard things. We can stand up and refuse to bend.

We can purge the saying "boys will be boys" from our vernacular. We can rid our young men of the thought, even for a moment, that they have no control over their bodies and their minds. We can raise our boys to be men of honor and respectability. We can expect our men, young and old, to understand that when a woman says no, that means no. We can expect it.

Here's to hoping the truth about Bill Cosby comes out. And if he didn't rape those women, then I'll apologize for siding with the 92% to 97% of women who do come forward that are telling the truth about men who forced sex on them against their will. For now, I'm gonna go with the stats. 

And to all you women out there (studies say it could be as high as 1 in 6 women) who didn't come forward:  I'm sorry that even for a moment you were ashamed of something that wasn't your fault. I'm sorry that some broken man took something from you that you didn't want to give him.

I'm sorry that you believed no one would hear you, believe you.  I'm sorry.  YOU are the victim and I'm sorry.

We are raising two girls who will one day be women and this is what we're teaching them in our home:

Women don't get their value from men. Women don't get their value from their children or their parents or their brothers or their church or their job or anything else on this planet.  Women get their value because they are made in the image of God.  They get their value because they are breathing.  Period. 

It's time that we stand up and demand that the assaults on women stop.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Truth About Motherhood

I sent my eleven year old girl off to creative writing class this morning looking cute as a button. And then I remembered that I forgot to comb her hair or remind her to comb it. This is a true story. 

When I picked her up to run her over to art class where I would drop her off while also picking up her brother and sister to take them back to THEIR creative writing class, I noticed that my other daughter, age fourteen, had on dirty jeans.  Her hair was combed, though. 

For just a minute, I felt that feeling creep up on me that says, "You're a bad Mom. Seriously, who doesn't comb their kid's hair or notice that big ole stain on the front of their kid's jeans?! Did you even look at them this morning?!" 

But, I'm getting sassy in my 40's, so I answered myself back and said, "Yes. I did. I looked at them and hugged them and laughed with them on the way to their classes and I told them I loved them to the moon and back when I picked them up AND when I dropped them off. So kiss it, big mouth inside voice!". 

I think it's time Moms start telling the truth and stop pretending like we have it all together. I think we need to stop seeing Facebook posts and Pinterest as reality and start reminding one another that those are just snapshots of our best days, our most successful days. We need to tell each other the truth and have some grace for one another and stop...just STOP...with the Mommy wars.  So, here's my truth:

1.  I do not serve our meals on china. Ever. If we're lucky, I whip out the Corelle ware and feel like a champ. We buy pretty paper plates for holidays because I don't want to do the dishes for a crowd.

2.  I do not know, nor do I care to teach my kids, which fork is the salad fork or which glass is the water glass. Eating with their mouths closed is good enough for me. 

3.  I feed my kids sugar. Sometimes, I eat it with them. I also hide some sugar for myself and eat it after they go to bed because I don't want to share it. 

4.  When my kids were younger, Barney and Veggie Tales acted as the occasional baby sitter and I was grateful. So, to all you Moms of "littles": don't listen to the hype. You aren't going to warp your kids if you aren't sitting by their side reading from the classics or listening to Chopin every minute of every day.  Heck, some days I just needed to jam to Seven Nation Army and my kids loved it.

5.  My discipline isn't always, every time, forever consistent. There are times I tell my kids one thing and the next day I may contradict that completely.  I've learned that every circumstance is different and unique and not all discipline is for all the time. The end. I don't care what "the books" that people are trying to sell for money say. This is the real world.

6. I don't give them a bath or force them to bathe every single day. I try on this one, but I sometimes just flat out fail because the day was B.U.S.Y. and waiting until the next day isn't going to turn them into Pigpen and if it does...well, they can always scrub a little harder. God made dirt and a little dirt never hurt.

7.  Sometimes I raise my voice at my kids.  Really, really loudly. This used to make my heart weep when my kids were small, but then one day I had to realize that screaming is better than them pouring boiling water over their head because I wanted to be politically correct and "perfect calm parent" and not scream when my baby reached for the stove.  So, all you parents of still small kids out there:  Screaming isn't the worst thing you can do. Show yourself some grace. It happens. 

8. Sometimes I use the dryer as my iron. Sometimes, I do this multiple times a day and I'm thankful it works and other times I have to rewash the whole load because I forgot and the clothes got a little stinky.

9. When my kids were little, I LOVED nap time. I was thankful they were asleep because I needed a break. (I did a happy dance sometimes, y'all. For real.) Now that they're older when I need a break I either tell them to go in their room for a bit or I disappear into mine for a while. I also tell them unless someone is on fire or they have a bone poking out they are NOT to knock on my door...even if their sister IS breathing on them!

10. I have not mopped my floors in almost six weeks. (I swept them, though. That'll have to do.) We're busy right now and I'm choosing to look at it as an immune booster. 

11. Fruit salad and goldfish have been lunch before. All of lunch. 

12.  This list is merely the tip of the iceberg.  You should SEE my laundry room!!

Social media has motherhood...maybe parenthood...becoming a competition.  Its turned loving your child into a sport between moms. That doesn't feel like love to me. That feels like insecure women trying to prove themselves by how well they can pretend to be perfect parents and no one is better for the trade off. 

Kids need to SEE that parenting is tough business. They need to see that sometimes we fail because they learn how to deal with failure based on how well their parents deal with failure.  They learn empathy and sympathy from us, their moms and their dads.  They learn their priorities from US and I want my kid's priorities to be on loving Jesus and loving people, not on whether they have the right phone, the right outfit, the right toys or the Pinterest perfect birthday cake served on the correct platter.  I want them to nail loving themselves and others and the only way to teach them that is if I live that. 

So, here's to just being for real:  I'm an imperfect parent, but I love my kids more than anything in the world. To infinity and beyond. And you know what? I think they know it....even when they don't comb their hair or wear clean jeans to class. Maybe especially then.

And now, maybe I'll go wash a load of clothes (or restart that dryer). Or maybe I'll just let everyone wear dirty jeans because a trip to the library would be more fun.  Or take pictures of my oldest son, now 20, who just got back from his 5am job and is asleep on the couch with our Pug. They are CUTE and this oldest boy of mine is almost ready to fly from my nest and the laundry can just flat wait because very soon he will no longer be coming home to nap on my couch from a long day at work, but instead, his own...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

On Patience...

Patience is a virtue.  The patience of Job. (Ya'll, I have read Job and he was NOT that patient!) Just be patient.  I've heard the word patience all my life and I've lacked it equally as long. Or at least, I thought I did. The truth is, I didn't understand what patience meant until I decided to listen closer to what God had to say about it.

I always thought that patience was waiting for something. Just wait. I don't know what that something was or even what it looked like, but I was waiting. Waiting to be better, to be smarter, to be more successful, to be a better mother, a better friend, a better wife. Waiting to be...more. More of something. Anything. 

If I worked harder, longer, smarter, surely that something would come and so I did all those things, but something was always missing. And so I waited some more.

The problem was that while I was waiting I was looking ahead, as far as I could see anyway. I was planning, plotting, thinking, dreaming, hoping. And sometimes I was mad.

While I was looking ahead and being a little mad, I was missing the beauty, the meaning, of now. I was missing what patience really means and the lessons that being patient brings to the one who is waiting. I was missing that being patient doesn't mean that we always have longing or lack.  

I wasn't waiting patiently. I was just waiting. And in the waiting I missed the beauty, the present, the now. I was missing the gifts of the moment and the heart of what patience really means. I was missing that waiting produces fruit, but the kind of fruit it produces depends on the heart of the one doing the waiting.

Patience means that I stop white knuckling my way through this whole waiting thing and just relax. Trust God. Believe that He has my life, my beginning, my end.  He knows what He's doing and I can stop enduring the things in life that I don't do a happy dance over and embrace every moment as one that He has divinely allowed and let go. 

I am not in control, but instead, He is. I am not controlling anything and I don't have to be controlled by everything. I can let go. I can be patient. I can wait. I can wait with eyes fixed forward, but my heart in the now and still full of hope for the future.

Patience is not self-control and it's certainly not "other control".  It's not biting my tongue, or enduring attacks, holding back every desire or pretending humility in the waiting.  It's turning my life over to God and trusting...all the way trusting....that no matter what happens God is in control and He has got this. It's not judging every moment, every action, every thought. Patience is turning my life over to God Himself, no matter what happens, and being joyous in the release. 

I'm not there yet, but my knuckles aren't white anymore, either. I'm getting there...