Friday, January 10, 2014

Mom

My mom's preacher read this for me at her service.  I needed to record it here.

Today, my mother is an angel.  She'd be the first to tell you she wasn't always.  But in many ways, she was.  She was one of the most hospitable people I've ever known.  She loved feeding people and sharing the table with loved ones.  Most of our happiest memories involve a huge meal followed by laughter through tears.  Mom was a giver-she never had a possession that she was attached to.  She knew life was all about people and relationships.  Her gift of hospitality was frequently exercised.  Through the years, she received much generosity and also freely gave it.

In every family, there is much that goes unsaid.  In our family, we are much more likely to have things that should have been left unsaid.  Thankfully, love prevails over our foolish words.  We love each other deeply despite our differences.  We don't wait for apologies to love or forgive.  We understand that we are not perfect...even though we all really hate admitting it.

Mom was a working mom with four daughters.  We are her biggest fans and her toughest critics.

I am thankful today that our family isn't perfect.  We did put the 'fun' in dysfunction.  God shines brightly through our broken places.  We rejoice in the fact that our broken mom is whole.  God is faithful to heal and restore.

Today, my mom is a perfect and unblemished angel in the arms of God.  Thank you Jesus!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

25 Cents

I don't remember how old I was, but it was young enough that a quarter was a lot of money to me.  I'm not sure how many times I had seen it before, but on this day, I saw it differently. In many ways, it was like I saw it for the first time.   My Ma was walking down her driveway with her walker to get her mail and the paper.  I was sitting on my school bus.  It was taking her forever.  She made so little progress.  As we traveled down the hill and up a slighter one to her driveway, her progress could be measured in mere inches.  To be sure, this was a daily chore for my grandmother.  I don't know if she looked forward to it or dreaded it.  Maybe she enjoyed the walk on spring-like days when the sunshine is warm and the breeze is cool.  Perhaps dread washed over her on the days when the Kentucky summer heat embraces you like a wool blanket and you can scarcely breathe.  Or maybe the days when the bitter cold cuts right through to the bone were most difficult to bear.  All I really knew as a youngster was that it was a ridiculous chore for her.  The way my young mind calculated it, something that might take her half an hour could be done by me in a matter of minutes.  My own driveway was just up the hill from hers.  As the doors of the bus opened, I jumped out, ran and threw my stuff in the house and took off for Ma's.  I ran to Ma's house and got there in time to hold the door open for her as she made her way back into the house.

"Ma, from now on, I am gonna get off the bus and bring your mail and paper to you." I had already plotted out that this was the way it was gonna be.

"Well, if you want to, that'll be okay with me." Her voice was ripe with old age and shook a little.

I looked around a bit for other things I could do while I was already there.  My Pa had helped with those sorts of things when he was still up and about but that all changed when he became bedridden due to 'hardening of the arteries'.  I'm still not sure where that term came from or exactly what it meant but it changed all of our lives forevermore. 

She said it would be perfectly fine for me to do that.  I smiled as I swept all the floors, washed up some dishes and looked for anything else that might need to be done.  When I had done all there was to be done, she told me I could get a quarter from the giant coffee can that was filled with quarters on the chest by the living room entrance where she sat.  This was a surprise.  I was elated.  I took a shiny quarter out and then marveled at how many quarters there were.  It was almost full to the very top and all of them were quarters.  I had not anticipated getting paid for my work, but I was so very happy.  I hugged Ma and Pa good-bye and hoped with all of my heart that this gig I had volunteered myself for might earn me a quarter from time to time.  Of course, I would have done it for nothing, but earning a quarter was even better.

I studied the quarter in my hand as I walked home.  Then I put it in my pocket.  I liked the feel of it there as I walked home.  It was a treasure and I knew it.  Money did not come my way very often but I knew that twenty-five cents would buy a lot of candy at Pedro's, the corner grocery a LONG walk from my house.  The grocery was really named Farmer's Supply but everyone just called it Pedro's, at least everyone I knew did.  On that day, so many moons ago, I learned to work.  I also learned that if you work hard and are happy to be doing it, people will usually pay you.  To a poor kid in the middle of the country without a lot of work options, it was a good lesson.

Each day during the school year, I would get off the bus, collect the mail and paper, do some light housekeeping and say my goodbyes.  Ma never failed to tell me to get a quarter out of the can on my way out.  I never failed to thank her and be thrilled beyond words to collect my pay.  I would love to tell you that I took all those quarters and saved them up for something big, but I blew every red cent on candy and cokes as often as I could get to that store.  I doubt my very frugal grandparents would have approved.  I had no concept of saving money but I knew full well the joys of candy.  A coke and a candy bar are still my favorite treats.  I'm pretty fond of quarters as well.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

FREEdom!

My kids are all at camp this week.  I do miss them but I have needed this break for a long time.  I don't think I even considered how overextended I am. I was too busy to notice!! Things are going to be adjusted, and in fact, have already undergone adjustments.  My kids are growing up, life is in its busiest phase and I HAVE to be PRESENT during this time.  Really present-calm and loving.  Not a squawking mess of stress.

I was sort of anxious about how much one on one time hubby and I would have while they are gone.  I was so wrong.  We are realizing just how much we enjoy each other.  We have done fun stuff and almost one full day of nothing.  It has been fabulous.

Life is good, even when it isn't.  Every day this side of the dirt should be celebrated and savored.  Especially the painful ones.  Positive changes are almost always born out of painful incidents and relationships.  Good times would be expected and unappreciated without the peppering of heartaches and losses.  I choose happiness.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I'm Back!

I have forsaken the old blog for far too long and the cobwebs in my brain are building up.  I don't care for that feeling.  I'm just the kind of girl that has to get things out on a regular basis.  Keeps me sane.  Facebook has been a poor substitute because if I tell how I really feel, I sometimes cause a lot of grief.  Other times, I receive a lot of grief.  Either way, not a win. 

Today, I have many thoughts running around in the old noggin about being a victim.  It is so easy to do.  Instant attention.  If I casually say, "I'm so fat.", someone will say, "No you're not!" and the attention banter will commence.  Fill in the blank with the first response, the dance steps remain the same. "I wish I was pretty.", "I don't have any friends.", "No one ever asks me out.", etc.  So many kids do this on a regular basis.  Sadly, the attention is fickle.  You've got them for the moment, they want to FIX you.  They want to tell you what you want to hear so they never have to hear that awkward statement again!  About the third or fourth time they hear it, they make a mental note: this kid is not fun to be around...I don't want to spend every conversation assuring her/him that she/he is okay...I just want to talk about how amazing my prom dress is and complain about homework.

Self deprecation is the worst 'cation of all.  If your doing it to fish up a compliment, it won't ring true to your brain and it will make you crave compliments even more.  AND...Sadly, it is a self fulfilling prophesy.  If I tell myself I am a bad wife, my brain won't even allow me to try to be a good one-because I am so obviously bad.  If I say my husband is a jerk, all I will notice about him are the jerky things he does.  If I make up my mind I HATE someone, everything they do will reinforce it.  The same is true if I make up my mind I LOVE someone,  everything they do will endear them to me.

People are so funny, we hear things that describe us and we live up to it.  That means if I tell myself I am pretty, I will dress like a pretty girl.  I will fix my hair and wear make up and not choose to wear sweat pants and a stained t-shirt. (Not that there are not wonderful times to wear aforementioned clothing...like now for me.)  If I believe I am a good mom, I will be a better mom than if I just give up.  If I believe it, I will see signs all around that affirm my goodness. 

This is why encouragement is soooooooo important.  Tell your loved ones you love them.  Give them an honest compliment.  Believe good things about them.  'Photoshop' their behavior...edit it and picture them better than they are.  In fact, do this with everyone...but most importantly with yourself.  No one is ever drawn to someone who complains they are a loser...so just stop it.  Be a winner, think like a winner.  Proverbs 23:7 " For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he."  True words.  (Also, totally out of context, but it is still true.  Go on-read the whole chapter, it is a  warning against people who are not sincere.)

Now another scripture reminds me that life is hard and I need to be an encourager, a helper, and a kind person.  I need to speak goodness and love over everyone, but most especially me.  If I don't like me, it's pretty hard to like anyone.  This one is not out of context and it is my favorite verse in the Bible.

Hebrews 3:13 "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Doing It Wrong

Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a homeschooling mom.  Every day there was a plan and every day, a percentage of those plans was thwarted. Some days a little, some days were completely overthrown.  Those complete overthrow days were usually a great success in other ways though.  A beautiful day when going outside to get the mail would create a longing to be outside so strong that it could not be ignored.  A day when a friend invited us over and we left our lessons undone.  A knock on the door that resulted in a surprise visit.  Planned field trips that added unplanned field trips.  Each one of these brought with it a sense of spontaneity and delight that the planned lesson could not compete with.  Many times, I felt off-track because of those days.  I did not always embrace the changes, but I did usually try to 'roll with it'.  I'm so thankful.  Years later, those are some of our favorite memories. 

I have a somewhat rigid schedule these days.  There isn't much time for veering off-course.  I miss it.  And I don't.  I hope my children learn that in life, there is a deep-seated need for both.  We are creatures of habit...but we are also creatures that delight in surprise.

In homeschool, doing it wrong was probably my biggest fear.  I worried about these things:  leaving something out, leaving gaps in my kid's education, letting them slip behind, pushing too hard, not pushing hard enough, missing an educational 'marker' that would leave them at a disadvantage, developing poor study skills, messing them up.  Those things and 100 others.  I played the comparison game with other homeschoolers; won some of those, lost some. 

Now that my kids are established in public school, I feel more confident in who they are as learners.  They are smart.  They make good grades.  They still hate busy work more than anything in the world.  They love the teachers that challenge them to think.  They are often very shocking in how LITTLE their beliefs resemble my beliefs and other times they are mini-mes.  I feel pretty good that school won't burn them out on learning-but inspire them to learn.  I laugh at the me that put way too much pressure on myself.  I feel bad that I did not trust God to fill in the gaps while I homeschooled.  I know I did a good job in some areas, a terrible job in others and God gave me people and places that smoothed out the rough spots.  The end result was more than just what I put into them.  I. DID. IT. WRONG.  God made it all right.

AND YET, here I am.  Today, it isn't the school work paralyzing me with fears.  It is the character development that scares me.  I'm not spending enough time praying, studying the Bible, and micromanaging their decisions.  I'm trying so hard to teach them time management, discernment and financial principles.  I'm trying to help them be kind and Christlike even when people don't deserve it.  I'm trying to model grace and mercy AND standing up for yourself.  I feel the time is running out and I have a lifetime of things I haven't gotten to.  We have a sex/abstinence/purity talk almost every day.  I push them to care about grades and not procrastinate.  I listen and advise even when it isn't asked for.  I. AM. CONVINCED. I. AM. DOING. IT. WRONG. AND, in so many ways, I am.  I yell a lot.  I sweat the small stuff.  I forget things.  I make snap judgements that are wrong.  I over-react.  I under-react.  I'm too strict.  I'm too permissive.  I make crude jokes.  I laugh at their crude jokes.  I mess up at least once every day.  I cry and freak out.  I apologize and feel inferior to other moms.  I feel superior to other moms and pass judgement.

The good news, and the point of this post: God has my back.  Romans 8:28- And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

WE belong to HIM.  HE is in control.  I can't make a mistake that He can't use for His own glory.  He WILL use me and my kids to further HIS kingdom EVEN THOUGH WE ARE NOT DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT.  When I am weak, He is strong. 

I am praising the Lord that He is in control and I am not.  The rest of you probably should be too.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Things:
  • I am now a substitute teacher at the high school my two oldest daughters attend.  I love it but I often spend hours being emotional after I work because some of the kids have such a hard life.  High school is not a soothing, nurturing place.
  • I am a full time student and I have all A's and B's...except for the class with the teacher from hell that won't post the assignments for his class and does not test us over material he has covered.  He instead tests us over material we have never seen...that isn't in the book.  But I have a C, so I'm gonna ride it out and see what happens.
  • Two of my children are running track.  The middle one is on the speech team and academic team.  Everyone loves their 'sport'.
  • Being a teacher is a really hard job...being a sub is delightfully easy.
  • I am still the card lady on a very part time basis.
  • I am still preparing Wednesday night meals at my church.
  • I am still helping to coordinate teachers for children's classes and trying to involve as many people as possible with ministering to children.
I guess that is about it for now.  My life is full to overflowing right now and I am enjoying it to the fullest.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Regrets...

Everyone has at least one regret in their life, right?  I have a really big one:  Not finishing college.  Sooo, I am now back to school.  Last semester, I took a history course online so I could have enough hours to be a substitute teacher.  It sort of gave me a nudge in the right direction...now I am all in.  Full-time and I cannot say that I love it.  I also do not hate it.  It is the right thing to do.

At the end of this semester, I will lack ONE class to have my associate degree.  Sadly, I will have about 20 hours more than an associate degree requires.  Eventually, I hope to get my BS in biology.  And to be a park ranger.  But not for a while.  Putting a regret behind me is such a good thing.  Even though it is really hard. 

Monday, December 03, 2012

Politics

So much in my brain that needs to come out.  I've exhausted myself with politics.  I am convinced thast America is on the decline not because America isn't smart, but because they are ignorant.  We are doing things on automatic because we don't know any better.  It isn't that I am uncaring about the poor and underprivileged (I grew up that way and I am cetainly not rich now!), it is that it cannot be SUSTAINED.  I would love to make sure every family in America has a tv, phone, food, shelter, insurance and transportation.  HOWEVER, we cannot afford it.

There are things that are good and wholesome and worthwhile that my personal family cannot afford either.  Hubby and I went to a fundraiser banquet recently and my heart was stirred in a big way.  I wanted to write a huge check to this ministry and help them raise the funds they need to help all the people the way they want to help.  However, hubby and I had already determined what we could afford before we went and that is what we were able to give.

Emotional giving is something we all face.  People appeal to our emotions to try to prompt us to give more money.  I got no problem with that.  Maybe you give up a luxury item to be able to give more.  Maybe you give up alot of things to really bless a charity.  That is awesome and I applaud it.

The same should not hold true for TAXES.  Taxes are collected to maintain the government in the way the Constitution outlines.  We COULD pare back governmental spending to just those things and then from there we can see what is left and where we can afford to help with other stuff.  How about we start paring back Congressional benefits until crooks and theives are not so attracted to it.  Don't appeal to my charitable leanings for GOVERNMENT.  Don't tell me that because someone is UBER rich that they should have to pay more.  BULL.  They are not the enemy.  No one should be able to force you to give more of your income because you have worked hard for it and make more than others.  Taxes should be percentage based, period.  Do you realize that most people in America do not pay taxes and the very rich pay over 50% of their income?  In what world is that fair???  People with kids get a HUGE tax credit...why?  Did we not choose that?

I love this country and all she has to offer.  At this point in the game, anybody that is willing to work hard can earn a living.  I worked two part time jobs when I was fresh out of high school so I could live on my own in Paducah and go to school.  That is alot of working time and I still did not make alot of money as both jobs were minimum wage.  However, it did teach me to live frugally.  There were not any extras.  It was a good lesson.  I don't consider cable, cell phone and eating out to be needs.  Those are luxuries.  Even transportation is a luxury...cars cost alot to operate and maintain.  Pets are another luxury.  Cell phones are certainly a luxury.

My point is, our government needs to cut back on spending and so does its citizens.  We need an education in basic needs versus luxuries.  We need to stop worrying about what everyone else has and focus on what we can afford.  Those pesky 'Joneses' always keep buying more stuff...it makes them impossible to 'keep up with'...so we should probably go ahead and stop trying.