Monday, June 29, 2009

Death

So many deaths of such famous personalities in the last week!

It's not my favorite subject... death. Maybe because I am still so young and the thought of leaving my kids behind is just too much to think about. Maybe because I feel I have so many loose ends and I am not prepared to meet my Maker. Maybe it's just because death is such an unknown dimension. I mean have you ever had a chance to sit down face to face with someone who has already experienced it and find out what it's really like?

I may not like to think about it or discuss it, but it is a fact that I will die. We all will. Our human bodies are not equipped to live forever. But our souls are...

I guess I have always been insecure in my salvation. It's only fitting as I am typically insecure about, well, everything. I still don't understand exactly what it takes to be saved. I have my childhood interpretation that conflicts with my own interpretation of the New Testament. I remember the first time I actually read the New Testament for myself. I was quite relieved to see so much love and grace and forgiveness. It was quite different from what I remember being taught in Sunday school. But I am still so spiritually immature, and I know it is no one's fault but mine. I go through surges of study, but then I have times when I don't carve out the time in my day to do it. I am still confused about grace and forgiveness, but I must admit I understand the concepts much more deeply since I have children of my own.

I know what it means to love no matter what. And I know how it feels to hug a child in forgiveness, no matter what the sin was.

Any time I hear about a death - one of a star in the news, one from an accident on the interstate, or one of a shooting in the rough streets of Birmingham - I stop to think, "Am I really ready?" I can't help but wonder what kind of legacy I would leave behind. I wonder if my kids have learned enough from me, if I have influenced the people around me in a positive way, and if I have shown God's love through my actions. Of course, in so many ways, I would have to answer, "No." I don't think one could ever do enough, and I certainly haven't taken advantage of many opportunities in front of me. Each day I trying harder, but each day I still end up falling short.

I know we all fall short, but some of us fall shorter. So how short is too short? That's what I don't understand. That's what I struggle with each time I hear about an untimely death. And I wonder if I will measure up if I am called too soon.

So that's my struggle. I am still learning. I am still growing. And I know I should never compare my spirituality to other people's, but it's so difficult not to. So I guess I'll keep moving forward, dusting myself off each day and starting fresh. And each day I move a little closer to understanding what this life is all about.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Got cravings?

Wow. I am seriously craving a big, fat, juicy hamburger here lately. Not a flat little fast-food burger. I want a homemade, fresh pattied, ground chuck burger. Grilled on a real grill. Loaded on a fat bun and topped with ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and freshly sliced onion. The kind of burger that as you eat, it drips juice onto your plate or your shirt or whatever else might lie underneath.

I am not pregnant, so what's up with the craving? Why do I just get something on my mind sometimes and can't think of anything else until I taste it? When I was pregnant with David, in the beginning, it was grape juice or apple juice. As the pregnancy progressed, it became a multitude of things - mainly spicy things. With Madalyn, it was just starchy carbs - cereal, powdered donuts, cakey snacks.

Right now, however, it's just a big 'ole piece of red meat. It's not incredibly healthy, but I guarantee the hamburger will be on my menu at some point this weekend.

In other on-the-edge-of-your-seat news, what little bit of the castle I got put together, Madalyn tore apart yesterday. David came downstairs to tell me that she had messed it up, and he had this devastating look on his face as if he knew it might not ever get put back together again. Then he commenced to say that, "She messes everything up." Even though I totally agree with him, I didn't do it out loud. If she had been around when he said it, I might have scolded him and told him not to say that about his sister. But since she was nowhere near, I just let him voice his opinion. Cause he's basically right. David can't really do or have anything that she doesn't somehow manage to mess up. But that's just part of having a little sister. And I just want to tell him, "You think sisters are bad? Just wait till you have kids of your own, David."

Okay. Really nothing of great significance to say today. Well, that's pretty much every day. I could spout off about the new philandering politician, but that's been done so many times before. And there's always Jon and Kate, but that's pretty much been resolved. So I'll just continue to obsess about the burger.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

550 Pieces

David had a great birthday. We had a tournament this weekend - our state tournament - here in town at the same park where David played tee ball when he was five and six. It was hot, the boys fought hard, and we brought home the first place trophy. Then everyone came here to swim and celebrate his eighth birthday. Of course, he got lots of money and gift cards, and they began to burn a hole in his pocket early yesterday morning.

He's been talking a lot lately about Lego's. How he really wanted a big set of like a city - something he could assemble and then play with. So that's what we set out to find. We first went to Walmart, but he couldn't really find what he was looking for there. So, being the CRAZY SUPER MOM I am, I offered to drive him to Toys 'R Us. Two kids... two stores to look at toys... AGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

This is what we ended up with.

Not exactly a city, but it was on sale for $34.99. I guess I wasn't really aware at just how expensive Lego's and similar sets are. My stars - some of the sets are over $100. I also wasn't aware how many pieces they have. Granted, it gives you the piece count right there on the box, but it's really difficult to fathom 550 pieces until you dump them out on the floor and start to try to form them into a castle. Ummmmm.... I demand a recount!!! I think there are some 2,347 pieces in the set David picked out. And when I say they are tiny pieces, well, I mean they are smaller than the size of an eye booger.

We sat in the floor of his room and started the hundred step process. I think I got to step 14 when I just kinda began to lose it internally. This one part just got the better of me, and I couldn't get it to stay, and I was supposed to put another piece on top of it. Things just started falling off, and I sort of panicked on the inside. Like who is the person that designed this crap? Who in their right mind would break a castle down into fifteen million pieces and package it up in little bags and create a booklet the size of a children's picture book full of instructions to put it together????? Is this meant to be fun, or is it meant to be nothing short of human torture?

Maybe I'll buy several boxes of the King Arthur castles and send them to the local prisons. You know, just to give them something to do.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dear David,


Wow. Eight years. As an adult now, I know eight years is merely a blip on the radar screen. But when I look at you, it seems like too many years. Has it really been that long since I first saw your squished in little face?



I remember examining you on the night after you were born. I sat alone for a moment in the hospital room, and I unwrapped you from the swaddle that held you tight so I could look at you. Your legs. Your feet and toes. Your little hands. I remember looking at your left hand and thinking, "This is the same finger you will wear your wedding band on one day." My how that little finger has grown - still not up to its full potential, but it's multiplied itself ten times over in these eight years. It's amazing, really, how it all happens - how the human body is programmed to form and continue growing. How each individual begins life virtually the same but end up so completely different. You are no exception, my dear David.



I was terrified of you when you were born. What had I gotten myself into? Could I really pull this whole mama thing off? I still think these thoughts from time to time now some eight years into it. But when I look at you and see how you are so basically innocent and pure, I know that I am doing on okay job. But it helps that you have a heart so big and a zeal for life I have never known before. You certainly make my job look easy.



Oh how I've enjoyed watching you grow from that tiny infant into a little man. You are the most balanced, coordinated little thing I have ever seen. It began at an early age when you learned to walk at nine months and swung your first golf club at twelve months. You've just always been able to do whatever you wanted to do if you put your mind to it. I have had the pleasure of watching you learn to walk, to read, to throw a baseball, and to use a vacuum cleaner.


In so many ways you are just like your mama - cautious, insecure, warm. And then in other ways you are much like your daddy - drawing people into your circle, coordinated, charming. The only thing I hate you didn't get from your daddy is confidence. It's something he has plenty of, and I don't have enough of, so you got completely cheated out of that attribute. But I am working on you because I don't want you to be scared of criticism or judgement - I want you to learn to push through it all and work harder. I want you to be better than me. No matter what, just be better than me. I mean, not that your mama is all that bad or anything, but I often wonder who I would be if I had only had a little confidence and courage earlier in life. But if I had, I might not have had the pleasure of knowing you, my David.


I often wonder what you will be when you grow up. And, honestly, I have no idea. When I open that part of my mind and try to look ahead, I can't picture you as being anything but my little boy. But no matter what direction you take in life, I want you to be a man of tremendous integrity. I want you to be kind and respectful. And really, if in twenty years I can look at you and see those attributes, it won't matter at all if you sit at a desk or cut open the human skull to perform delicate surgery, I'll be honored to call you my son.


I'm sorry I haven't been the best role model for you in these past eight years. I have made a ton of mistakes while parenting you. I have made even more mistakes in other areas of my life. You have heard me yell and seen me lose my temper. I haven't always been the picture of the ideal mother and wife. But I know that you have given me a reason to try harder, and I will continue every day trying harder and harder to be all that you (and your sister) deserve. I hope you know how much I love you. I hope that one day you will look at your own child and understand it in your soul.


I am so grateful to God for giving you to me and your daddy. And I look forward to watching you grow more and more each day.


I love you, David.


~ Your Crazy Mama

Friday, June 19, 2009

Let's have a moment of silence...

As soon as I brag on my kids yesterday, they have chosen to prove me wrong. They have been nothing short of demonic today. Seriously. I really think that overall they are just completely exhausted. Going to bed late, still waking up relatively early, swimming every day, and this freaking heat have all taken their toll on my kids. This has definitely been a day where I have had to bite my tongue - literally bite down on my tongue and keep myself from saying something I shouldn't.

I had to take both kids to run errands this morning. In the heat. Not fun. Enough said.

So, I am begging anyone who actually stops their day for a second to read this to say a small prayer for me on Sunday. It's David's birthday - eight whopping years old. And we have our state tournament here in our hometown this weekend. So what else would SUPER MOM do other than to invite the whole team to swim and celebrate after our final game on Sunday??????

Did you say, "Just take some stinking cupcakes to the game on Sunday and be done with it..."?????

Hmmmmm... but then I wouldn't be SUPER MOM. And that wouldn't be any fun at all.

Seriously, it will be a fantastic fun time for everyone here - with the exception of me. I will be buzzing about, picking up trash, pulling pool toys out of the dog's mouth, refereeing between children, and fixing paper plates of junk food. Oh, wait; that's what I do every day. But it's typically a smaller crowd, so my level of stress will be exceptionally high. The only advantage having such a large group over to celebrate is that it might keep my mind off the fact that my precious baby boy - the one that cried for his first four months of life but soon thereafter captured my heart unlike anyone had ever before - is turning eight. And so maybe I won't cry on his birthday like I do every year.

Something tells me I'll still find a moment to shed a little tear. My sweet little boy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Swimming

I am so blessed to have a pool right outside my back door. So blessed. Right now, when we are broke and it is hotter than blue blazes outside, I can rest easy that there is always something we can do - jump in the water!

The past two summers, Madalyn hasn't exactly been an outdoor or water girl. She would get in for a few minutes and then sneak back in the house to put on dry clothes and watch TV or get into trouble. Last year, she swam around with a little inner-tube around her. But she wouldn't get in without it - wouldn't even let me hold her in the water without some sort of floaty. The first summer we had the pool, she continually got in trouble once she went back in side. She'd climb on chairs and get snacks out of the pantry, and then there's the one time she actually locked me out of the house. On purpose. It wasn't pretty. But this year, she has completely fallen in love with the pool.

It has slowly progressed - she first put her face under the water, then started jumping in with a life vest on, and then realized she could touch in the shallow end. In this week alone she has started jumping in without her vest, swimming under the water, learned to do front and back flips, and dive down to the bottom of the shallow end and pick up toys with her hands. It's really quite a change from years past.

The best part of all has been watching the interaction between brother and sister.

I probably don't boast enough about my children. I always have a funny to tell on them or a frustration to relate. But what I love the most about my kids is their genuine affection for one another. They love each other so much and play so well together. I am not saying they don't fight at all, but for the most part, they really enjoy each other's company Madalyn has temporarily moved into her brother's room for the summer so she can "sleep over" every night. They are each other's best buddies right now, and I am just so grateful for each minute of it - cause I know it most likely won't last forever.

But for now, I'll cherish the sights of her riding on his back in the pool, him teaching her how to dive down to retrieve the Toypedo, and them running and doing cannon balls side by side. It just doesn't get much better than that, folks.

Monday, June 15, 2009

All the shells...

As I stated in my previous post, I have never seen as many shells in one place at one time ever in my life. When I was little, my family took a trip to Panama City Beach every Summer for family vacation. I can remember combing the beach for shells and swimming out to the sandbar to find sand dollars (hello, mom and dad... were we not afraid of being eaten by sharks back in the day?????). I even recall one year taking the little boat tour out to Shell Island. I got a little bag, and the boat carried you out to the island where you looked for shells. I think we pretty much decided you could find as many shells on the regular beach you had already paid to use instead of paying to use an alternate beach. Live and learn, you know.

Anywho - Scott and I were so amazed by the shells. If I had taken my camera, I would have been glad to take a picture of the masses of shells lying on the beach. I am assuming it had something to do with the tides. There were areas on the beach that had absolutely no shells, and then there were places that had tons. There were broken pieces - some small pieces and some pieces of shells I would love to see in their whole state. Scott and I picked up and looked at hundreds of shells, and the glory of it all is that I never saw two alike. Even the broken pieces - I never found two that looked like they belonged together. And in one moment, I stood there and realized just how amazing my God is and this big beautiful world He created. How miraculous it all is when you stop and think about it.

We found beautiful shells - so perfect and gloriously colored. I had never seen a blue shell on the beach before. We found some with striations of blue and grey and white. I found some dark grey and nearly black shells. Some were solid white. I found some that were smooth and some that were patterned. But no matter what, each was unique. Just like people and souls. No two alike. Each individually crafted. Pretty cool when you really stop to think about it.

We found some really ugly shells. One in particular Scott found looked like a toad. It was bumpy all over the outside and the most blah shade of grey-white. We had to keep it because it was so stinking ugly, and we had never seen a shell like it before. I had taken a liking to the ugly and dark ones, probably because they reminded me of me. I am a dark soul, full of ugly defects, but I found so much comfort in knowing that God made me the same as he made all these shells. I am unique. There is no one else like me. He gave me a purpose, and the defects, darkness, and ugliness don't change the purpose inside my soul. He sees the inside. He knows my heart. And he knows which shore I'll wash up on one day. He glories in me no matter how cracked, broken, or dark I am.

That's what I liked the most - I looked at all the shells and realized that they all had virtually the same purpose. They all held some sort of living organism inside at one point. And it didn't matter how they formed or what color they were, or if they were smooth or bumpy. They all had their purpose. I have a hard time looking at others and comparing myself. You know, constantly saying to myself, "Oh they are a prettier Christian than I am. They aren't as dark, as broken and cracked. They are smooth, not rough around the edges like me." But what I realized while I walked with my husband and we gloried in those shells was that someone glories in me. Someone. And I may not look like everyone else, my path might be different, I may have some ugly parts, but I am made by the same hands as all those pretty ones. And He loves me just the same.

The shells reminded me of my purpose. I am more clear on it now than ever. And I am growing and moving forward, hopeful, and feeling loved more than ever.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Where the water meets the sand...

Life has been tough lately. Money. Kids. Work (Scott's work, obviously). All of it has been so difficult. Scott turned in his resignation last Wednesday at the company we moved to the Birmingham area for him to work and took an offer with another dealership here in town. It seems to be a little more stable company right now and they have offered him a guarantee each month, which we desperately need right now. It was a tough and grueling decision for Scott to leave a place he thought he'd be forever, but things are weird right now in the car business. And you just have to make tough decisions sometimes. So off we go into another phase of life with nothing but fumes in the tank.

Because car men rarely work out a notice, it gave him a week off of work, and my husband planned a little escapade to the beach for us. Just for us. Me and him. No kids. No bills. No stress. A free room from a friend, a baby sitter at our house with the kids, and just some relaxing time for us. I told him that this is the most amazing thing he has ever done for me - the most thoughtful and most needed. We left on Monday morning and came back yesterday, but every minute of the trip was worth it. Every single minute.

We got there Monday and decided just to lay by the pool until dinner time. Sure, we can lay by our pool any time, but it isn't the same. We could actually talk, and we mainly talked about our kids and life we had left behind. We had fun watching other people with their kids and seeing the stress of trying to parent and vacation at the same time.

That night we grabbed a fast food dinner and headed to walk on the beach. There were shells everywhere - literally, everywhere. Laying on the sand just waiting to be picked up. We picked up a ton that evening and washed them off to take home to the kids.

The next day, we spent the whole day on the beach. We had our umbrella, two chairs, and just us all day. The sounds of the waves and the seagulls... it was amazing. We walked an picked up more shells - a ton of shells. There were just so many. We had never seen anything like it in all the times either of us had been to the beach. So many different colors and shapes and sizes. The water was perfect - completely clear, nice and warm, and not too rough.

It really could not have been any more perfect of a trip.

Of course, we felt guilty for not bringing our kids and being selfish, but we both needed this little trip more than we have needed anything before in our marriage. Just to get away from it all and put your feet in the sand and look out at it all and know how small you really are. To look at the magic of the ocean and be reminded of who is in control.

I'll post more tomorrow. I learned so much from the shells (sounds weird, I know - but I did).

Friday, June 5, 2009

Career Path?





So, as a ton of little kids around the world choose to do, Madalyn decided to cut her hair yesterday. And I know it's only hair, but it's my little girl's hair - the head of hair that I have watched finally fill in and get a teensy bit thicker and has the most amazing highlights you have ever seen. And in the blink of an eye and a clip of the five-inch, red handled safety scissors, it was gone. She just got right around her face on one side, but the worst of it will be when her 1/4 of an inch bangs she cut start growing out.




What was she thinking? I was in the tub when it all took place, and as I was applying my daily rub-down of lotion, she walked into the bathroom and said these words: "If you cut it, it won't be in your eyes." And her statement wasn't entirely accurate as now it hangs more in her eyes than ever - at least before she could stick it behind her ear.




I did spank her - just one good hard swipe to the leg - mainly because she should know better than to play with scissors like that. I have been letting she and her brother use that pair of scissors to cut open their popsicles, but I never dreamed she would turn into a hairdresser with them. It never once crossed my mind. I also stood her in front of the mirror to see what she had done. She was upset when she saw her handiwork, and I really felt like that was all the punishment she needed. Sometimes shame is all it takes, especially when you are four.




Last night, when I was washing her hair in the tub, she asked me the most amazing question - "Mommy, am I still pretty?" And my heart melted right there and puddled on the floor. What a great opportunity to share with your daughter all those things you hope she'll feel about herself - that it isn't what you look like on the outside that makes you beautiful. It's how you treat your friends, how you mind your parents, how kind you are to others that make you pretty. And that even if she cut off all her hair, she would still be beautiful to me. She will always be the most beautiful girl to me... no matter what. And I will always love her, even when she cuts her hair and makes me angry.




And then she smiled her pretty little smile, and she seemed satisfied with my answer. Cause isn't that what we all want to know - that even when we screw up and make mistakes (or even do things that we know are wrong before we do them) that we will still be loved. By someone. By Mama. By Daddy. By God.




Oh, the beauty of unconditional love. I am so grateful to have my children to teach me these little lessons. So grateful.




But she better not ever cut her hair again. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Firefly Moments

Yep... Summer is officially here. I caught a glimpse of my first firefly on Monday night.

I can remember being a child on Croydon Road in Montgomery, Alabama - all day outside, washing my parents' car (and actually enjoying it), my brothers playing wiffle ball in the front yard, those same brothers pitching the ball to me for hitting practice, me and my best little friend and next door neighbor playing till the sun went down. And I remember fireflies. Right at dusk. The very moment when I couldn't determine whether it was still day or just now night - that's when I'd see that little glow. And then I'd wait for another, waiting to see if it was in my head or real. But it was real and magical.

The firefly is still so magical to me. How is it that a bug - something so gross and ugly to most females of the world - can become something so beautiful for a fraction of a second? I have never understood the firefly, the purpose of the glow, or how it glows. But I have always been in awe of them. When I was little, my next door neighbor would take the glow part off and stick them on her ear like and earring. Honestly, I have never actually touched a firefly, but I must admit that I regret it dearly. Why didn't I capture on in my hand and examine it more closely as a child? I wished I had...

Somewhere along my path, I stopped seeing the fireflies. And then five years ago, when we moved into the this house, my husband and I began to see them every Summer evening. And we commented on how long it had been since we had seen any. And now, every Summer, we see them again and know that it's just a sign of the season change. On Monday, when I first saw that little moving glow, I smiled deep inside. And I must admit that these days I don't have many smiles deep inside. Not many at all. You might see me smile on the outside, but the glow doesn't penetrate down to the core. There's just so much going on right now, and no matter how hard I try to block it all out of my mind, it's always there. I have struggled to see the good in life lately, to say the least. Like I have said before, I know it's there, but just not seeing it. Until that firefly...

I sat there in quiet (well, inner quiet - the kids were swimming, so it was loud, and Scott had walked inside for something) and looked for the glow. I followed it all over the yard. Just a flicker here... oh, there it is there.... another flicker... don't blink cause you might miss it. And then it hit me - really hit me - how much my life is just like that firefly right now. A glimmer here, a glow there. My life may be just a nasty 'ole summer bug right now, but it has these beautiful glowing moments. But the toughest part of all is that if I blink, I just might miss them. If I get so wrapped up in the ugly of the bug, I won't be able to see the miracle of it. And so, there I sat, humbled by my God once again. Completely humbled by my Maker and the bug's Maker, knowing that He knows full well what beauty lies behind me and in front of me. It's just my responsibility to see the beauty of today.

The beauty of today. Times are so tough. Life is so uncertain. Being an adult sure does suck right now. But the little glowing moments are still there. And if I don't stop to take them in, they will fade and fly away just like the firefly. And so I think I'll calm my mind, sit back, and watch for the glow.