Not Today

anot today pic

There’s a shirt that has floated around recently saying  Not Today Satan.  The Book of James says to resist the devil and he will flee from you.  God doesn’t cause the bad things to come.  But sometimes He allows them.  And that has been a lesson this momma has tried for over a decade to wrap her head around.  It’s what we do with the bad things, how we react to them that allows Him to work.  Nothing glorifies the enemy more than when we blame God, blame each other, blame irrational scientific theories, blame, blame, blame.  But what happens when we’re quiet instead of arguing?  When we’re watching instead of reacting?  When we’re praying instead of analyzing?  He works.  He WILL bring beauty from ashes.  He WILL send the rainbow.  He WILL part the sea. He WILL empty the tomb.  He WILL stop the rain.  He WILL drain the waters.

There is a picture that has gone viral of a SWAT officer walking through water carrying a minority woman who is cradling her child.  If you’ve seen it already, go back and study it.  Look how tightly his hands are clutching her.  Look how tightly she is clutching her baby.  I read a caption by a conservative journalist that referenced the picture as portraying what are traditional gender roles.  You can bet he took a lot of heat for it.  I believe that picture will become synonymous with this moment in history.  It was neighbor helping neighbor.  It was the hands and feet of Jesus, wearing camo fatigues.  When disaster strikes, instinct kicks in.  Good people jump into action.  Nobody cares about color, neighborhood or tax bracket.  People do what their instincts tell them to do.  How many trucks pulling boats left my home state of Louisiana to help with the rescue?  Who drove those trucks?  Who navigated those boats?  Who carried survivors to safety?  Men.  Who started supply drives?  Who started cooking, washing, rocking?  Women.  And what’s wrong with that?

Almost exactly a year ago my hometown flooded.  Along with our neighboring city to the east.  We saw the best of each other.  Those of us whose sheetrock stayed dry showed up on doorsteps of those whose didn’t and we busted out theirs.  The men used circular saws and cut it loose for us and we kicked it in. Then the men hauled the wheel barrels to the dumpster and we vacuumed up the dust.  Wall after wall, room after room and house after house.  Instinct kicked in to do what needed to be done which was to help our neighbor in the way we were best designed for.

Despite very threatening radar, my town and area have largely been spared.  So my village and I are waiting in the wings.  Our instincts are telling us to help our neighbors.  How?  We don’t know yet.  Thankfully there doesn’t appear to be any sheetrock in our area that needs kicking in.  But there will be plenty to the west of us.  It will be hard for most of us moms to drop everything and head that way.  But maybe a lot of our guys can.  How many of our guys will be taking vacation days and going help our neighbors?  How many of us women will be sending them with supplies and food to feed whole neighborhoods while we keep the store running back home?  And what’s wrong with that?

When the worst happens and we give the wheel to Jesus, the pieces fall into place.  We do what we are designed to do and then miracles happen.  And when we stop bickering over who can do what just as good as someone else, we find what we are really good at, what we are made to do.

Have you seen Irma?  Irma is spinning off the coast of Africa with its eye on the Caribbean.  We all know once it’s hits the Caribbean what might be next…the Gulf.  Have you seen soon to be named Jose?  Jose is forming in the south Gulf.  A friend said today that God must not be happy with the South.  From last year’s flood until now we’ve had our share of strife.  I said I saw it differently.  God allows tragedy to change us. What happens when God sends us Southerners, in particular us Cajuns and Texans more than we can handle?  He sends in our neighbors to help carry the load.  And when the rest of the world is watching, it’s His work on display.  Jesus is the head of the Church and we are the body.  With all eyes on us, the body of the Church answered its calling.

Harvey has hung around day after day.  That’s the enemy’s calling card…to keep pushing.  But I think he’s hanging around because he’s still looking for a kink in the armor.  A few million God fearing people have said day after day Not Today Satan.  And with that declaration he’s been weakened and weakened.  And with each day men and women alike have fought harder and harder to help each other, save each other, love each other.

When the worst happens, instinct kicks in.  Men rush in to save, to rescue.  Women start cooking, planning and praying.  Oh my word do we pray.  And the world watches as Matthew 25:40 comes alive across their TV sets, their Facebook news feeds, their talk radio stations and their Instagram pages.  They watch as the body of the Church feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, heals the sick and prays for the lost.  They watch as we rock the babies, wash the clothes, raise the money, collect the diapers, stack the water and whatever else our wet, waterlogged, devastated neighbor needs us to do.  Because when we serve each other, we serve Jesus.  And our test becomes our testimony.

Too soon the day is coming that the pundits will come out in force replaying it all, blaming the powers that be, blaming victims and offering false hopes by way of greedy charities and misappropriated funds.  We’re seeing some of it trickle in already.  Pictures of looters.  Stories of Pastor McFancyPants not opening his church doors.  Our job, as the body of the Church is to keep repeating Not Today, Not Today, NOT TODAY.  Because the enemy wants us to think that it’s a city of thieves asking for help, so maybe we won’t go help.  And he wants us to think that none of the churches care about the lost, hungry and naked.  So maybe we won’t support the churches.  But when we say Not Today we shut him down and he flees.   And then we remember why God allowed the rain to fall and the waters to rise.  Texas, many of our best are there with you now.  Many more of us are coming.  We’ve got you.

Called

blog pic called

Oh how I love the lazy crawl of summer.  The late mornings, the late evenings, the long popsicle pool days.  The only things in my laundry basket are beach towels and swim suits.  I love summer so much that I wanna marry summer.  But although June, July and soon to be August have showed up, “summer” has not.  Because there is nothing late about 5AM alarm clocks for 6AM running practice.  (Just to be clear, my 15 year old runs.  I do not run.  Ever.) There is nothing lazy about doctor appointments followed by lab work followed by nutritionist and specialist appointments in the never ending toddler skin battle.  And there is nothing long about unpacking one suitcase only to pack another, replacing the light laundry basket for the ironing board.  So summer, you have failed me.  Or did I fail you?

Or did you teach me?  Have you been a 10 week training course of prioritizing, discovering and questioning?  What will this momma do when all three of my birdies head off to school on Aug 9?  (And ya’ll, I apologize now for the post to follow when that little caboose of mine marches out the door for big school.  That little firecracker that tests my patience and my limits like no other breathing creature ever could…she will leave me soon.)

I got my week at the beach with my people.  All in one place, all together.  And thanks to hurricane season, we were really together, all the time.  One couch.  Lots of college baseball and Fox News.  All together.  All.  Week.  Long.

New York came calling and Abby and I answered.  She danced by day and we shopped, toured, ate and laughed by afternoon and night.  My girl, who has been dancing since was two years old, stood on the stage where legends have performed.  What a moment for a girl like her….to plant her feet on the same wood that decades of Rockettes have danced and kick lined.  When you’re raising that kid with big dreams and the brain to pull them off, time is limited.  No matter how tight you hold on to her ankles, every day she takes one more step towards the door.  And despite my sales pitch on our local college and the benefits of living at home with her super cool parents and sisters, she’s got other plans.  So you take the time and the opportunities that God provides and you make the memories and have the fun.  And maybe show her along the way how super cool her mom really is, so maybe she won’t go too far.

And speaking of dreams, I followed an opportunity to pursue one of mine.  I put on my big girl panties and jumped on a plane and went to a big girl conference with 800 other women looking to get published or speak on a stage.  I’m so big.  And I was so fancy in my business casual attire, heels (yes, wedges count) and all my jewelry with my business cards.  I was so big that as I was waiting on my flight I was texting my soul sista, with tears running down my cheeks,  I changed my mind.  Please come get me.  What am I doing here???  But she didn’t.  She told me to suck it up buttercup and go see what God had planned.  So I did.  The cover of my new notebook said “She trusted in His plan even when she didn’t know His path.”  I took 37 pages of notes.  From the first verse of the first song of the first minute of the first day of the conference, He ripped me wide open.  Raw emotion and utter peace all at the same time. I soaked up all 48 hours of talks, workshops, sessions and prayer.  I learned, learned and learned some more.

Women from all walks of life, all shapes, sizes and colors and all across the globe in one room feeling called to write, speak, testify, minister and lead.  There were a million stories in that room if there was one.  And a million avenues to pursue these passions.  Most of the roads were filled with terms like platform, brand, shares, tags, and the measuring stick of 25,000 followers.  But amongst the abundance of information and noise, I heard a repeated whisper. I recognized a recurring theme.  And I remembered the thread He keeps weaving.  I’ve written more than once about the power we have to change the world within our own families.  Then I met a woman who was writing a curriculum for both public and Christian schools on the premise of changing the world from the classroom.  And then I heard a speaker talk who said to change the kingdom we must go home and love our church.  Home, school, church.

In a culture obsessed with social media, selfies and stupidity, there has never been more information available and accessible.  And yet we still don’t get it.  We still search.  But it has never been so simple.  Home, school, church.

God bless that man of mine who let me step off one plane and onto another a few days later.  Both times leaving him behind to handle daily life with littles and on top of that, his job.  When I asked if I go to this conference knowing it would be right after a week in the Big Apple he said, Go do your thing.  I got this. So I did.   And God showed up.  The dream I went there to chase wasn’t in that conference center.  I’m already living my dream.  The family I raise in the home we built, at the school we attend, at the church we pray is the dream meant for me.

Some of us girls are called for “big” things.  And thank goodness for that because we all need someone to write the books we read and the give the speeches  we listen to that fuel us and motivate us in our faith. The words both spoken and written that encourage us to do another day.  And some of us girls are called for “little” things.  Some of us are called to “just” raise families with Jesus at the center, support and encourage teachers who shape and mold His followers and serve in churches where His Word is alive.  Home, school, church.  Some of us are called to change the world.

The Rear View Mirror

rearview mirror

It’s a double edge sword that old thing.  You can’t get where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.  But if you stay focused on where you’ve been you’ll never get where you’re supposed to be.

Sometimes you just shouldn’t look back. Don’t do it.  Like when you’ve loaded the last box and are pulling out of the driveway of your first house headed to your new one…don’t look back.  Especially when the one you’re leaving would have been paid off in another 3 years and you just signed up for an additional 30 years of payment bliss.  And surely don’t look back 5 years later when your checkbook is begging for mercy and you start to think that maybe three girls sharing one room and bathroom could have worked out?  Don’t look back.  You signed on that dotted line, boo.  You wanted the granite and the big porch and the fancy pantry.  No use looking back now.

When you finally plop yourself down in that old blue beach chair, dig your heels in the sand, pop that top (even if it’s 10:30 in the morning) and exhale, it usually takes about 3 minutes for a kid to want to go to the pool.  But when your husband, who you know wants to watch the baseball game at 7:00, jumps up and says I got this, let him. You’ve had a hell of week (actually 6 or 7 of them to be exact) and it took a whole lot to finally plop down in that chair.  A lot of momma-ing, wife-ing, seamstress-ing, dance mom-ing, trip planner-ing, prayer warrior-ing, obedient servant-ing, car pack-ing, car unpack-ing, meal cook-ing, sunscreen apply-ing, beach bag and wagon load-ing then haul-ing…to finally plop down in that chair.  So when he takes those girls to the pools and he’s been gone a while…do not look back.  Do not turn around and look at that boardwalk.  Even when it gets to be 4:30 in the afternoon.  Don’t look back. They’ll show up soon enough.  Even when you see emergency personnel race by in the red truck through the sand, do not look back!  (Maybe check your phone as precaution but don’t look back.) When you hit that spot in the day where the volume on your ear buds is just loud enough to hear your perfect beach playlist but low enough to still hear the waves but yet not the droning of other people’s children…that’s lightening in a bottle my friend. Because once they do show up, two children who have spent 6 hours with their dad with nary a complaint will all of the sudden be hungry, thirsty, itchy, sweaty, sandy, cranky, and every other word that ends in -y the minute they lay eyes on you.  Because Momma is the promised land. For the love of humanity, don’t turn around.

Sometimes though, you have to look back.  Because sometimes that rearview mirror holds the key to moving forward. Or hell even just moving at all.  Like when you have a bad month.  A really bad month.  So bad of a month that your friends have begun a countdown until the month is over.  Your checkbook starts laughing at you and then it starts cursing you out then it just collapses in defeat waving a white flag.  It was time to pay the piper on commitments you made months ago when your work load was quite a bit heavier.  Then around the middle of the month you discover an $800 mistake.  You lost $800.  And with it you lost your mind for a day or two.  And you couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  You must sell your house, drive for Waitr during the day and work at Walgreens at night.  There is no other answer.  When will you big oil field companies decide that you need side pocket gauges again??? When will you people decide that you need new drapes??? What are you waiting for??? Don’t you KNOW??? So you start a social media fast, you use your spare time to pray harder, do a little more bible studying and wait.  You once sat on a bathroom floor for three days waiting on a 3 year old to pee on the potty for the first time.  You’re still waiting on your 15 year old to clean her room. You know how to wait.  And all month He made you wait.  He gave you a study that started on the first of the month about a widowed woman trying to survive a famine.  Surely He wasn’t going to make you study her only to learn the lady starved to death, right?  But He surely made you wait until the end to know that not only did she live but she got remarried and bore a son who helped bring about the lineage of Jesus Christ.  Whoa. And even on the very last day of the month you still didn’t know if or how He was going to work out this pickle for you.  But on the very first day of the next month He did.  You found the $800 mistake.  Oops.  Paid a bill twice and didn’t see it until the new statement came.  My bad. Same day your husband calls and tells you of the bonus he just got.  His whaaaaaaaa?  Then on the 2nd day of the month someone needs some drapes.  A lot of them. And then on the 3rd, someone else.  And on the 4th someone else.  And that’s when you look back and see what He did there.  And then you question why was it so hard to know that it would work out?  Maybe if you had looked back over the last 12 years of your life and remembered all of the ways He delivered, redeemed and work out much bigger, much harder battles, then you wouldn’t have called a realtor.

And then there are times you don’t want to look back.  Chapters that you thought you closed, boxes that you thought you had checked, keep opening and keep unchecking. Ugh.  You have done a whole lot of work with your therapist of 12 years.  Yes, I said therapist.  Yes I said 12 years.  You started one week to the day after life as you knew it changed.  She’s had 4 couches and you’ve sat on all of them.  You really don’t need to go anymore but she would miss you.  Most times you don’t even talk about the thing that changed life as you knew it.  But you start to talk more and more about your children’s issues and battles and why all of the sudden am I thinking of this thing from 10 years ago? From 5 years ago?  And she connects the dots for you and you realize that you’re not quite as healed as you thought.  And you cross your arms and say oh yes I am… I don’t want to go there and you can’t make me. You’re not the boss of ME.  But you DO want your children healthy and happy and not carrying your baggage.  So you agree to dive in again.  To do the specific trauma work she is suggesting.  The work you were never whole enough to do before. To relive it and dig deeper.  You agree, reluctantly, to look back.  Ugh.

But sometimes you get to look back and forward all at the same time.  Like when you get a little surprise gift of an unexpected night at a most unexpected event with your teenage daughter and your soul sista friend.  Who knew that 4 hours with Garth Brooks and these two wild and crazy gals would give such a full circle moment of reflection and also an opportunity to pass such sage wisdom on to your little grasshopper!  To my little grasshopper….you think that you just tagged along with your mother and her friend to a concert.  But we weren’t just at a concert, my girl.  That little outing gave you a rare glimpse into a side of your mother you don’t get to see.  A few hours earlier that day your mother was a screeching nag about your room, the laundry, the mess and constantly running up the stairs to work and back down to switch loads from washer to dryer.  You only know that version along with the one who is always preaching or praying about something.  But that’s not the momma who took you to “just a concert”. There is nothing like a song to take her back.  Like when she jumped up and belted out in perfect sync with Trisha Yearwood to “She’s in Love with the Boy”….your momma loves that song because she married the hay seed plow boy and against many odds she’s still in love with him 20 years later.  And that plow boy is now the man who loves you more than any other man ever will, because he loved you first.  And when she nearly lost her voice singing “Friends in Low Places”, ‘The Thunder Rolls”, and “Shameless” it’s because it took her back to a carefree, responsibility-free, bill-free time of nothing but wild oat sewing.  Long before your momma sewed drapes, she sewed oats.  Lots.  Of.  Oats.  And when she sat down with her arm around you squeezing the life out of you while she sang along to “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and “The Dance” it was because she knows all too well that sometimes tomorrow doesn’t come and moments like that one are to be breathed in.  And when she sang “Unanswered Prayers” into your ear it’s because she remembers the break up before your dad came along and how her own momma reminded her of that song and sometimes unanswered prayers are gifts from God.  Without that particular unanswered prayer there would be no you. So I’m glad that you tagged along with your momma and her friend to a concert.  I’m glad that you got to see your momma act the fool and dance like no one was watching and let her hair down.  There is far more to your momma than the nagging and the preaching and the praying.  And I hope that one day you look back on that night and remember.

That rear view mirror…it’s a beautiful thing.

May…again.

popsicle

I hate May.  I just really hate it.  I dread it as it creeps in.  On the night of April 30 when I turned the calendar page I texted a couple of friends asking if they were ready….ready for May.  It’s a marathon of events, extra rehearsals, kids cramming, tuition bills, summer activity bills, school elections and tryouts…sometimes with heart breaking outcomes, awards ceremonies, graduations.…I don’t even like Mother’s Day.

Kids grow up in May.  Despite when their actual birthdays are, they all age in May.  Another year done.  Another box checked.  The month of May equals ending.  At least it does for this mom.

My youngest had her Mother’s Day Out “Tea” the other day.  Precious.  They sang the songs.  They answered the questions of mom’s age and favorite foods….all hilariously inaccurate.  They wore the straw hats and construction paper ties.  We wore the corsages and ate the sandwiches and marveled at their talent and artwork.  There were moms everywhere with younger babies and toddlers in tow while they watched their older children perform.  Not this mom though.  It was my baby, my caboose on that stage.  End of an era for me.  Years and years of Mother’s Day Out songfests and teas and this was the last one.

I’m perfectly content with my brood of three.  I’ve got all I can handle with this crazy train.  But nothing makes a uterus contract and a woman 3 ½  years post-partum lactate like seeing her youngest sing “I’m a Little Teapot” in a room full of babies.  I’m 40 and I’ve had 4 C-sections.  My factory no longer works.  That baby ship has sailed for me.  And rationally, I don’t even want to set eyes on that boat.  I’m usually standing somewhere on the bank waving at it screaming “Bye Felicia!” But here we are in May and another chapter closes.  And I am anything but rational.

I hate May.  Twelve years ago we said goodbye to our son in May.  The end of May at that.  So the month of May hovers as one big dark cloud.  Things end in May.  Teenagers change from freshman into sophomores.  Kindergarteners become first graders and leave their nap mats and snack time behind.  And three year olds move on from part time Mother’s Day Out to full time big school.  And the house will soon be empty, five days a week.  And those of us with school age children know that once they start school it is never the same.  They change overnight….they become students.

And in the middle of dreaded May is Mother’s Day. I know it should be a beautiful loving day spent with family but when your family is not whole this side of Heaven, it just sucks.  There’s no other word.  It serves as another reminder of what you’re missing.  Husbands and children can have the best of intentions but your heart just aches.  I prefer to spend it with my own…just another day.  Church, lunch and maybe a nap.  Just make it go away.  I know that I probably hurt feelings in the process but some things you just need to do to survive.  I’m grateful beyond measure for three girls.  Girls that I get a front row seat to watch grow into kind, faith filled mothers of their own.   It is an honor and a task that I don’t take lightly.  Not many of us are chosen to raise all same sex children and I believe that God has a specific purpose in that.  But my heart aches to have a dirty baseball uniform clad boy hand me a bunch of flowers.  I want to be the one in Mass wearing his number on my back in between games.  I’ve heard of the Mother’s Day Mother/Son baseball game.  Put me in coach.  I wanna play.  Thank goodness it’s just one day a year.

So that is May in a nutshell for this mom.  I hate it.  And just as the pity party really kicks into high gear, God shows up.  And reminds me of June.  Oh sweet June is coming.  There are very few things that I enjoy more in this life than summertime with my kids.  Life moves much more slowly.  We sleep late.  We go to bed late.  My husband and I hide from them on the front porch with a longneck or glass of red until the mosquitoes start.  We listen to his very short playlist of Kenny Chesney and Chris Ledoux.  Until I hijack his phone and switch it to Aretha.  Until the kids find us and hijack his phone and switch it to Taylor (Swift, not James).

We swim.  A lot.  We turn into wrinkled, waterlogged creatures until August. It’s a good day when the mint green swim bag comes down out of the closet.  And it’s a sad day in August when it goes back up there.   We have a long standing swimming tradition among a group of us moms who are lifelong friends.  It started over a decade ago when my youngest was three and we were just two moms.  Then more friends had babies and it grew to five of us.  And now some are teens.  And some are tweens.  And some are tots.  But when summer comes, there is no age difference.  They all play lifeguard, school, and Marco Polo.  Until the two 16 year olds need to tan.  Then they sneak out to lay out.  And the littlest of the crew are always throwing rocks in the fountain despite how many times they’ve been told to stop.  But then the popsicles come out.  And they all draw like moths to a flame.  Everyone comes running when the popsicles come out…always “Scribblers,” always with the joke printed on the stick.  And everyone tells their joke one at a time and we all laugh like hyenas no matter how many times we’ve heard them.  The menu is always the same…75 cent chili dogs and Funyuns.  Usually with Sonic half and half iced tea.  Our biggest worry in June is what will we do when everyone is all grown and they won’t swim with us anymore?  And then we realize we are the mommas and if we say they swim with us then they will swim with us.  Any questions?

Then there is vacation. There is always money in the budget for the beach.  Even if there is not money in the budget, this momma finds it.  Right or wrong, and maybe not what some would do but family time at the beach is like oxygen to me.  Salt infused, seagull swarming oxygen.  When there is a 9 year gap between your kids, the years go fast.  When your firstborn has her heart set on going AWAY to college, you want to stop time.  You want to stop the clock.  You want to make the memories, have the fun, take the pictures.  Because when she’s in grad school or med school or engaged, you will still be raising her sisters, still taking them to the beach.  And you want her to want to come.  You want her to want to still make the memories, have the fun and take the pictures.  We can’t get to the beach in May.  Not until June.

We all have our own May.  It’s the way God does life.  He peels layers.  And every May He peels another layer or two or a hundred of mine.  I just finished a pretty in depth study on the Book of Ruth.  Ironically it was a four week study that began on May 1st.  Ruth starts out as a story full of loss and famine.  The study was slow…as in 3-4 verses a day.  It was so tempting to read on ahead and find out what came next…to be assured that it all works out…but that was the point of such a slow pace.  To sit with it and soak it in.  To be patient while God worked it out….just in time for June.  And oh how He DID work it out for Ruth! Little did that destitute and shunned widow know the place that God held for her in the history of creation.  All she had to do was be obedient and believe.

I hate May.  But we all need May or whatever famine or loss we are given.  It’s a running theme with God…the whole beauty from ashes; darkest just before the dawn; good things come to those who wait thing He loves to do.  So here I am with another May under my belt and my kids have aged yet again.  They are another year older.  But then He reminds me that in order to have the girl who wins the academic awards and soars into her sophomore year with a 4.0, then we have to get through the freshman May.  If we want to watch with pride as our speech and language challenged six year old says even just four words into a microphone in front of a crowd, we’ve got to get through the Kindergarten May.  And we’ve got to watch her hold that candle sing about lighting her world….a rite of passage ceremony for kindergarteners at her school and one that both breaks this momma’s heart into a million pieces and overflows it a million times over at the same time.  And even when your heart breaks yet again as you watch her battle with anxiety win another round, you realize that there was a day that she would not have been able to say those 4 words into the microphone.  How far will she come by the next May?!  And finally, if we want to watch our caboose find her wings and get to play on that buckle bridge at big school then we’ve got to get through Mother’s Day Out May.  (Truth be told that one was born with wings and fire in her belly.)

Whatever your May might be, June is coming.  Sweet sweet June.  Because May is always followed by June.  And thank you God for that.

What if….?

what if

Well, how ’bout them politicians? I don’t care what side of the aisle you sit on I think we are all pretty disgusted.  With just about everything they do.  So what can we do about the current state of affairs?  Well the obvious is we can vote. We can call, write, email them and “let our voices be heard.”  Oh they are heard alright.  But nobody listens.

So what can we really do?  We pray.  We look above for answers.  And then He reminds us that He already gave us the answers. He gave us the 783,137 word handbook, give or take.  And right at the beginning of it He started with a family.  He created all of the world, the oceans and mountains, every elephant, every mosquito, the sun and every star in the sky but He wasn’t satisfied until He created the family.  And after Eve condemned us all with her apple, about 1000 years later He felt we were still worth redeeming.  So He sent Noah and his family on a boat to save His creation.  After starting again with a clean slate, Noah and his family repopulated the world.  Then after several thousand years of sin, idolatry, witchcraft, paganism,  impurity, adultery, and plain ole rampant immorality, He sent another savior.  But this time He sent THE SAVIOR.  The Alpha, Omega, Beginning, End…the It Is Finished, Shepherd, Healer, Teacher….the Head of the Church, Light of the World, King of Kings, Bread of Life, Prince of Peace….Jesus Christ.  And how did He send Him?  He sent Him through the womb of a woman, born into a family.

It would seem to me that God regards the idea of family as important.  As in the most important part of everything He made.  And the fact that every time He has reached down to save everything, He has begun with a family.  So what if everything worth anything all starts with the family?  What if we held all the power in the world to change the world, within our own family?

Every word of the Bible is intentional.  Every word is divinely inspired and purposed. So what if we were to implement its teachings and lessons into every day practical life into our families?  What would the world today look like if we followed the rules?

What if Paul really meant what he said to the Ephesians, “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  What if husbands remembered that the wife is to be protected and revered and wives…*cough*cough*…obey?  Hang on.  Don’t close the computer.  But think about it.  Turn on any television show today and for the last 15 years or so.  Husbands are portrayed as goofballs completely incapable of thinking for themselves.  And perception is reality.  So how many families emulate what mainstream outlets tell us is the norm?  This is coming from a my way or the highway, I know best, bossy wife and mother.  But what if we sought to live, even if just a little bit, as our roles were initially designed?  Would we still be neurotic, over-scheduled, passing ourselves on the road, angry-half-the-time wives and mothers?   What if we would see our goofballs rise to the occasion and lead more?  What if it took some of the self inflicted burden off of us?  There’s plenty of things that only us girls can do, period, so why do we have to be in charge too?  We weren’t designed to be.  What would we see in our children’s and children’s children’s marriages if we embraced, even on our modern, modified terms, traditional roles of marriage?  What if it means we raised softer, more virtuous generations of daughters?  What if it means we raised stronger, more Godly generations of sons?  What then would be the state of the world?

What if Isaiah meant it when he said, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”  What if we applied biblical principles to our parenting?  Principles beyond share, tell the truth and don’t steal.  What if we expected better from our children than what society says is okay?  What if we draw the line in the sand and the rule is not to cross it?  They may still cross it but what if we have consequences?  What if we thought beyond today’s standard of they’re going to do it anyway they might as well do it in front of me….at least they’re not driving…at least they used protection… at least it was this and not that…we did it so I would be a hypocrite if… What if we expected more of them? What if it then meant we raised more peace filled children in the process?  What if we applied biblical principles to helping them choose friends, dates, clothing, movies, books, music, and colleges?  What if we applied biblical principles to their use of social media? DING DING!! That’s how we help this generation we’re rearing….reigning in their social media use and setting biblical standards for what they post.  Children will fail and make mistakes and we’ve got to continually show them grace when they do.  But if we set the bar higher?

What if Peter was right when he said, “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.  Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  What if we taught our children to respect authority?  In particular, teachers.   What if we didn’t march down to school over everything? Growing up, my parents marched down to school one time.  And it was when the social studies teacher was looking up our skirts and down our shirts. That’s when a whole bunch of other parents marched down there too who had never marched down there before.  We were taught that teachers are right up there with mom, dad and the police.  I know that there are bad eggs but in general, teachers teach because they are called to teach.  None of them do it for the money or lack thereof.  What if we taught our kids to respect them, do the work and when the teacher does screw up, we all show him or her some grace?  What if in turn we raised generations of respectable, law abiding, God fearing sons and daughters?

What if Moses was serious when he said, “Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”  What if we remember what Sundays are for?  Speaking in modern day, realistic terms, what if we made a general adaptable effort to honor Sundays with church, family and rest?  It is hard to take my two little ones to church.  As in I walk out with sweat dripping and near cracked teeth from all of the clenching.  So “hard” that for 2 years or so, for the most part we went to separate Masses with our oldest so as not to drag them along.  I for one needed that hour alone on Sunday to hear, focus and receive!  And then we collectively decided that church as a family of 5 would become the rule rather than the exception.  And after each Mass we’ve gotten one more under our belt.  I told my oldest the other day that it feels like such an accomplishment when we walk out of church each Sunday.  And her reply was “Seriously?  I just feel exhausted when we walk out!”  But we’re creating a habit and with each Mass we are one Mass closer to them sitting reverently, quietly and listening….right?  There will come a day when they don’t moon anyone, blurt out that they have a booger or ask why the lady in front of us is so old?  Right?  Tell me that day is coming!

I don’t say any of this lightly.  I say it from a place of being more often than not unsure of what I’m doing, a place of fear of losing my children to sin and society, and of confusion on how to line up what is right with what is today’s reality.  My oldest is a rule follower and will end up rebelling in some way but it will likely be something comparable to ripping tags off of mattresses or not filling her parking meter.  My middle one is an introvert follower so where will she be led?  What crowd will she find herself in?  My youngest is and will always be my hell raiser.  Raising her will be a constant battle to keep her off of the pole. My Bible will be tattered and worn and my rosary in pieces by the time that one leaves the nest and far beyond that I’m sure.

The enemy slithers around in our lives, homes, school and even our churches.  His purpose is to divide us and there is no place that he is more successful than when he divides us in our families.  We have the handbook on how to handle him at our disposal.  What if we used it?

THAT Mom

blog pic that mom

Let’s talk about treats.  Class party treats.  Birthday party goodie bag treats.  Dancing class treats.  Teacher treats.

Let me first say that I have been THAT mom on both sides of the fence.  I have been the Pinterest Princess where I had the cutest, most creative treats in the room.  When my oldest was in her first year of dancing (13 years ago) I bought little denim purses and sewed fuzzy orange fringe on them and stitched a glitter pumpkin patch to it and filled it with candy.  For Valentine’s Day I made handmade bows for each of the girls.  I spent a lot of time and a lot of money being THAT mom.  Through the years that followed my efforts waned and I succumbed to plastic bags of Hershey kisses if I even remembered at all.

Then came two more girls.  I became the mom who always volunteered for “juice” on the class party sign-up sheet.  Except for that one party when I missed the sheet and the only empty blank was “special treat bag.”  And then I showed up at the party empty handed because I forgot…so I became THAT mom.

But I was determined to change the tide when daughter #2 started dancing.  On the first day of class I walked into the building like I owned the place (truth be told, I’ve been driving to the same studio and putting my check in the same slot every month for 13 years with 14 years left to go that I think a small deed to the property is in order…but I digress) with my bag of treats.  I had taken jumbo white marshmallows, dipped them in white chocolate, doused them with pink sprinkles complete with pink cupcake wrapper inverted on a stick to resemble a tutu.  I walked in the door as if in slow motion with the wind blowing through my hair and swinging my bag of ballerina treats on my finger.  I walked past all of the moms and handed the bag to the teacher all the while thinking, “I rock.  Ya’ll suck.”  This was a new circle of moms and I had just set the tone.  I was THAT mom.  I was the mom with the super cute treats who was super attentive to know that only certain moms bring treats on the first day ever of dancing.  Until two weeks later I was the less attentive mom sitting in the lobby chatting on the phone while her one year old snuck out into the parking lot.  And then two weeks after that the mom who had to call the police to the studio because the same one year old had locked herself and my phone in the car.

Fast forward through two more years of proud juice box only party contributions and no birthday party gift bags…ever…and we come to Halloween week 2016. It will live in infamy.  Molly comes home from Mother’s Day Out with a note the week before about her Halloween party and there in class was the sign-up sheet.  Juice boxes had already been taken.  Who does that?  What other mother in this class is as busy AND scatterbrained as me?  How selfish.  So I choose apples and grapes. They sell those things in individual packages now….easy peasy.  The note CLEARLY stated that the party was at 1:30.  I cannot produce this note as proof nor could I produce it that day but trust me, the note they gave me said 1:30.  They sent some other note or secret group text to the other mothers that stated otherwise. I had two installations that day so I handed that puppy off to my husband.  Meanwhile I also had to figure out Halloween dancing treats for both younger girls’ classes.  Of which I remembered about at 11:00 on the day of that party.  What can I pull together right now?  I texted a friend for an idea and she sent me a picture of what she was sending. She went Etsy on me.  Seriously?  I scroll through Pinterest in the bank parking lot and my expectations lowered and lowered.  Until I find myself in the Albertson’s chip aisle thinking that 5 skeleton shaped cheetos in a ziploc bag could be cute?  My printer isn’t working so I can’t print tags.  I could write something on the bag in sharpie?  That’s when I called my friend back and said, “Hey  put my girl’s name on your treats and I’ll pay you half!”  She had already printed a poem and signed it with her daughter’s name.  Of course she did.  That’s when I realized that no treat at all was surely less embarrassing than this thing I was trying to pull together.  So I told her I wasn’t caving into peer pressure.  I was NOT bringing Halloween treats.  I would make my own statement.  And after seeing the treats that my girls brought home that day…the ribbons, the poems, the clip art, the cricut’d initials…no treat was wayyyyyyy less embarrassing than cheetos in a ziploc.

Which brings us to the day of the Mother’s Day Out Halloween party.  It was one of those overscheduled-how-will-I-get-it-all-done days.  Jacob was handling the apples and grapes at 1:30 and I just had to get her to school with her lunch.  It was also “H” week and we actually showed up with something for Show and Tell.  “B” week was the last time we remembered.  Nailed it is what I am thinking.  So we are walking down the hall and I start to see Buzz Lightyear, Cinderella, and a red Power Ranger running amuck.  What is going on? They must be in another class.  Then I see Belle. One of my daughter’s classmates is dressed as Belle.  I turn to the mom walking right behind me whose son is also dressed up, and ask, “Why is everyone in costume? HOW DID YOU KNOW THEY SHOULD WEAR THEIR COSTUME?” To which she replied, “It was on the note.”  We walk in the room and children in costumes abound.  Teachers in costume skip around the room welcoming them.  And their mothers.  A room full of other mothers with their prize winning party food and treats laden with ribbons and poems and clip art….staring at me and my empty hands with my uncostumed three year old.  Ya’ll.  She wasn’t even wearing a Halloween shirt.  No pumpkin, scarecrow or even fall color.  She was adorned in a hot pink knit dress with polka dot initials.  She let go of my hand and clung to her teacher’s leg.  I think it was her version of flicking me off and I didn’t blame her.  I whispered to the teacher, “I didn’t know they were supposed to wear their costumes.”  She said, “It was on the note.” Bbbbbbbbut we brought something for Show and Tell I thoughtI  also realized that the party was obviously much sooner than 1:30 so I told them my husband was on his way with the fruit and he must have gotten caught in traffic.

Sobbing, I called Jacob frantically.  Instead of responding with sheer aggravation and a too bad attitude, he says, “I’ve got this.  I’m on it.”  Nothing makes a man rise to the occasion than rescuing his damsel in distress.  And nothing makes a man hotter to that damsel than the image of him combing the produce aisle looking for the individual packs of fruit and delivering them to a room full of three year olds and their mothers.  Five hours and two installations later I walked back into the classroom with my tail between my legs.  I picked up my uncostumed child and what she said I will never forget.  “Momma, I love my costume.  Miss Donna said I dressed like a pretty little girl today.  I love to be a pretty little girl.”  And that my friends is what exceptional teachers are made of.  And when I hit my knees that night, Miss Donna and her compassion probably stemming from her own mothering days gone by, were at the top of my prayer list.  Thank you God for the Miss Donnas of the world.  Thank you for the quick thinking she used with Molly which translated into grace for me. Continue reading

The Widow and the Waffle House

Remember the story of the widow and her two coins?  Both Mark 12 and Luke 21 write about her.  Jesus watched people in line to give their offering at the temple. Many gave a great deal of money.  But when He watched this poor widow give two coins He said that she gave more than all the others.  Jesus said that they all “gave out of their wealth but she gave from her poverty.”

I had an appointment in Baton Rouge this week and I was early. And I was hungry.  So pulled into Waffle House to kill both birds with one stone.  I took the last booth.  I should have sat at the counter and kept the booth available for a larger crowd.  In fact I kept looking at the chair I should have sat in but I didn’t want to sit there.  I didn’t want to watch them cook my food or any food for that matter.  I wanted to believe that my omelet was coming straight from the organic farm in the back of the restaurant cooked in the highest quality of cold pressed coconut oil.  While I day dreamed, an elderly gentleman took the very seat at the counter that I should have taken.  We both ate and finished our meals almost simultaneously.  We got our checks and got up at the same time.  He walked over to my booth in his torn, dirty t-shirt and pants and his dingy shoes.  He took my ticket from my hand and said, “I would like to take care of this for you.” And my jaw dropped and I stuttered out a very incoherent, “uhhhhhh that’s okay, I’ve got it.”  And he replied, “I would really like to do this.”  And he left our waitress a $10 tip for his $10 meal and walked to the counter.  The sweet lady saw her $10 bill and said, “Sir!! Thank you!.”   He nodded and walked to the cashier, paid our bills and walked to the door.  I ran back to leave my own tip and caught up to him.  This time I said to him, “Thank you very much sir.  That was extremely kind.” to which he replied “Have a blessed day.”

I got in my car and cried.  Naturally.  What else can you do?  That was an uncomfortable position to be in.  First of all, I am used to being in control.  When Control Freaks Anonymous has their meetings, I am their leader. Secondly, after watching this sweet soul hobble back to his old and rusty car I knew that he gave from his poverty.  I should have bought his breakfast.  I should have paid his electricity bill.  And more.  Instead he bought mine.  He wished me a blessed day but I wonder if he knew that he blessed my day? And turned it upside down on its head at the same time.

My budget is tight these days.  The price of oil is too low and the price of kids is too high. Sure wish those two elements could meet in the middle somewhere.  But torn shirt and jeans with rusty car tight?  Not even close.  How much do I give?  I’m not even sure if I can say I give from my “wealth.”   God loves to mess with us doesn’t He?  We are feeling the pinch from a tough economy so what adjustments are we all making?  Cutting back purchases, trimming vacations and putting off a new car for a year or two.  While many are feeling the punch from a tough life

Every year our organization Lane’s Promise tries to pull off our SPARK campaign at Christmas.  SPARK stands for Spreading Peace through Acts of Random Kindness. Our goal is to SPARK a chain reaction of love, peace and kindness.  The past two years got away from us but this year we put together a Lenten effort.  Most SPARKing actually occurred during Holy Week.  By doing this during Lent, our purpose was to give what we can because Jesus gave all He had.  We put out an email blast asking for volunteers and got quite a few.  We gave out $100 bills to each family and they matched it with their own funds…however much they felt comfortable with.  I have been blown away by their creativity.

Please visit our website http://www.lanespromise.org or our Facebook page for the stories.  And I hope that it SPARKs something in you to give in your own way.  Not just during Holy Week.  Not just at Christmas.

After being the very unexpected recipient of someone else’s kindness, I can attest to the fact that it does indeed SPARK a chain reaction.  I still sit in awe that someone with less than me gave so freely to me.  Oh the blessings and abundance that await him when he meets our maker!  And I pray for the opportunity to share an omelet with him one day at God’s table.  There will be no bill that day because Jesus already paid the tab.