Monday, January 31, 2011

Buddy Love


There's a running joke around my house that the dog is the love of my life. He is the love of my life. I mean, what's not to love about those big brown eyes and the softest doggie ears on the planet?

Two years ago, on January 31, 2009, my dearest husband called me shortly after leaving the house for a Saturday of work at the car lot to inform me he had picked up a dog off the interstate. My outward exclamation was, "WHAT?!?!?!??!??!!!!?!??!" I won't share the words that were spewing on the inside; they were not pure and lovely and Godly by any means. At this juncture, I had no desire to have a four legged friend ~ we had a cat (who is still kicking), an old lady cat, that has a littler box and yaks up hair balls and long globs of undigested cat food at least once a month, so the notion of having any other living creature to take care of on top of the two children, a pool, household, and pile of bills... well, to say the very least, I was uninterested.

If there's anything I have learned about life in my humble 34 years is that when you least want waves or different or more to take care of, that's when it (whatever the it of the moment might be) plops right into your lap while you're trying to enjoy your morning coffee.

Take, for instance, the moment I felt that first little bubble in my soul for my husband. It was the last thing I wanted to feel. Only months fresh off a painful divorce and the emotionally abusive relationship that went with it, I had no desire to feel much of anything. And in waltzes this charismatic car man who kept popping up everywhere I went. I tried my darnedest to avoid him, but literally our paths crossed at the most random and unexpected times. We dated for several months before I felt any real emotion welling up inside. I remember the moment - the exact moment - I felt that love was beginning to brew. Where I was, the simplicity of the moment, the way that if someone had been looking in on my life they would never in a billion years thought that was the moment I'd look back as the instant I fell in love. And I won't share the details; they are mine, not this blog's.

Anywho. The moment was the first real drop of tenderness that I felt from my future husband, a glimpse into the possibility of a man who would protect me to his death if need be. That's what I long for deep inside my inner self - someone who will protect me from the ugliness of this world, from all the things that are far removed from love, than take me to a place in my heart that makes the hurt of yesterday seem far away. And in that moment, I felt it in Scott. And I fell in love. And that's the same man that stopped on the interstate two years ago to pick up a dog that most (including myself) would have left for dead and not thought twice. That's the man that brought me the very love of my life, in doggie form, that loves to lick toes (even when told no) and play with half of an old bicycle tire. He's furry and stinks if not bathed at least once every few weeks. He wags his tail incessantly. He's the most joyful creature of the earth I've ever experienced. Of course, who or what wouldn't be joyful for the remainder of their days if they were saved by a car man on the way to work on the last day of the month? Even Buddy appreciates the unlikelihood of the scenario, thus making his salvation even more valuable.

So, Buddy is the love of my life... I don't hesitate to say it. But beyond that, he's truly a physical manifestation of the best part of my husband's heart. Deep down below the manly man stuff, the testosterone, the love of Auburn football, the busy hardworking car guy, there's a softy there. Oh, it's there. Whether he likes to show it or not, it's there. And I saw it so many years ago. The love. The real love inside him. And like most men, he doesn't have the how-to-show-it part down pat, but he's working on that, so I can deal. Because I know it's there. And any time I doubt it, all I have to do is got get a big doggie kiss from Buddy Love and be reminded.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Six Years

Dear Madalyn,

Six years ago at this very moment, you were still trapped inside your mama's belly, and you were in no hurry to come out. This has become your normal frame of mind: not in a hurry. Unless, of course, you want something, and then a seconds delay becomes too long. To me, this is especially humorous because you owe me six days' worth of waiting because that's how many days past your due date you decided to hang out in my womb. I'm still waiting on you to wait, and I expect to be waiting on you to wait for the duration of your life. You do not stand still for anyone.

Well, let me correct my last statement ~ you will stand still for Mrs. R, your kindergarten teacher. In fact, you would do anything for her. You would knit a sweater from a cotton ball for her if she requested you to do so, and I dare say you wouldn't utter a word while doing it out of the fear you might have a blemish on your conduct folder. Can I say how proud I am of you for being so good in school? I must admit, I was nervous and even warned Mrs. R, who happened to be your brother's teacher, that we weren't dealing with the same kid as before. My heart swells with delight each time I open up your folder and see all those smiley faces lined in in groups of five. I am finding more of a connection between me and you these days, seeing little bits of myself inside you where I never dreamed they would be. And I am praying and hoping you get the best of me, refined and reworked by God to be greater and better than they've been inside my body. That's my prayer for you... that you get the best, and that it's somehow better because it's within you.

You've learned to read. And like the miracle of watching you stand upright and move forward on your own chunky feet for the first time, watching your eyes scan little black letters on the page and form them into sounds is nothing short of bewildering. I am amazed by you, by your excitement to learn, by the pride you have in yourself, by the way you hold up your little finger and say, "No, no... don't tell me..." because you want to do it on your own. You are one independent soul, and you stick to your guns. Though it creates tension between us, I love your independence. I can look forward and see how it will benefit you as you mature, and I don't wish to do anything to put out the little fire inside your soul. So we'll fight now, and I'll stand up for the things that count, and you'll give in to my demands when you know you have no other choice, and in the years to come, we'll learn to be the best of friends because you will understand how to live with limits and still be true to yourself. I hope that's what you'll learn, anyway. But me and you being friends in the future ~ that's a definite. You are someone I would have loved to be friends with if I were your peer. You are amazing.

The past few months, I am learning so much about God through you. I look at you with wide eyes, waiting on what will come next, smiling and laughing and taking great delight in you. And I am realizing that is how God looks at me (and you, your brother, and your father, too)... that no matter where I've been or what I've done or how many tantrums I've thrown throughout the years, He still looks at me in amazement and sees the beauty in His creation, the hope in my life, my future. I want more than anything to reciprocate that amazing love for you here on earth as best I can, and I am working so hard to understand the true meaning of love and how I can show it to everyone in our household. I will master it one day. I promise that to you.

Six years. My how the time has flown. With each year comes greater blessings. The challenges grow in proportion to your age, but thankfully the blessings do the same. Enjoy six, my dear. You'll never get it back. Ride your bike. Jump high on the trampoline. Swing. Laugh. Play. Grow. Learn. Love. Be loved. Know that you are loved beyond measure.

Love,
Your Crazy Mama

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Re-

I hit my head last night while bending over in the pantry to retrieve something I dropped on the floor while aiming for the trash. Call me Grace. I have a bruise to remind me of the event.

I have spent the better portion of the last three days going up and down a 15 foot ladder in my daughter's room. Redoing. Removing the old sheers that hung on the window, filling empty screw holes, sanding, touching up paint, removing the seven letters that spell out her little name on the wall, filing those nail holes, sanding, touching up more paint, rehanging said letters, rehanging the metal butterflies much higher than they were before (enter 15 foot ladder again).

I have also been reading over the 47,000 words of my first novel that I have written because it's been so long since I've written a fresh word that I need to refresh myself with my own writing.

I've been revising a memoir that I wrote months ago for a writing contest that I decided not to enter. Now I've decided to enter it into a different contest, and I needed to rework it.

I've been reciting my two Bible verses in my head over and over and over and over again and smiling at the peace and love they bring my soul in the times I need them most.

The prefix re- is in the post a lot. Did you notice?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cause who doesn't have shoes like that???


My baby girl, who happens to turn 6 on Monday, is fascinated with shoes. A couple of Saturdays ago, her sleepy brown eyes were barely open when she called me into her room to tell me something (in Madalyn-speak, tell means ask a question, because in Madalyn's world, there are no requests, rather only demands). We had planned to venture 70 miles south to visit family ~ our lovely Gammie (my mom), catch my nephew's basketball game, and then go by to see my grandmother.

"Mama... I need to tell you something..."
"What is it, baby girl?"
"Ummmmm... what shoes are you going to wear today? I think you should wear your boots..."

Seriously? Seriously. That's exactly how it went. Verbatim.

A few days ago, I was shaving my legs in the tub and looked down on the floor to find this scene:
Now, the Barbie shoe was on it's side, but it was literally positioned right beside my size 10 running shoes that I no longer run in, but there's no use getting into all of that today...

I'm looking at this tiny shoe wondering who in the world actually wears boots like that, and why my little girl's Barbie would need such footwear? I mean, what do the Barbies do for a living these days? And does it involve a pole?

Sunday, while cleaning out the entire bag of Barbie clothes and shoes in Madalyn's room, I paid attention to the clothing as well. I'm just mortified at some of the clothes that these Barbies come with these days. I promise, the skirts are short, the dresses tight, and the footwear just goes right along with the look.

Now, I must admit, I have chuckled at the segments on my favorite morning show when psychologists sit in the fluffy chair and talk about the waist and bust size of Barbie and how it affects the body image of little girls all across the country. I grew up with old-school Barbie, played with them until I was embarrassed to say it out loud, and I think I turned out okay. But, my Barbie didn't dress the way the new generation does. My Barbies wore long dresses or pants or clothes that my grandmother made from fabric scraps. I had a wedding dress and a bride's maid dress and a Barbie that rode a horse and had a fancy riding outfit complete with fringe. I vaguely remember shoes, but they were simple heels and usually tossed to the side because they seemed irrelevant. Now Barbies dress in tube tops and hot pants, platform heels or boots, mini skirts, low-cut dresses, and sandals that strap up their leg. What sort of an ideal does it put into their little minds when Barbie dresses like a hooker? Literally like a street walker. I don't know anyone who wears the type of clothing and shoes I found in the bag full of Barbie-wear in my daughter's room, and I certainly don't consider it appropriate or attractive.

I guess I wonder where, as parents, we attempt to draw the line. And I did use the word attempt. Because unless we lock our kids in their room and take out the TV and the radio and internet connection, there's no real way to protect our children from the outside world. We are constantly surrounded by influence and have little to no control over what runs like a ticker tape in front of our children's eyes and floods into their little ears. Even if we choose the right television show to watch, perhaps on Animal Planet (a fave channel for all four of us to enjoy together), we still have to worry about the content of the commercials at the break. In the afternoon, I am shocked to hear some of the things discussed on the nationally aired show on our local pop station. And dare I even mention the songs... I can't tell you how many times David has come to me with a request to add to his playlist on his MP3 player when I have to turn him down. And there are some which I agree to that I later regret.

If there was ever a time in my life that I doubted the existence of Satan or an Evil One, it was before I had kids. Seems like he starts in on their precious souls as soon as they start breathing, and these days, there's more opportunity than ever. Between the sassy mouthed stars of the popular television shows and the raunchy lyrics to the top-ten songs, seems like there's no safe place. I do try to take small opportunities to interject little thoughts or question my children on their thoughts of whether they feel something is appropriate or not. I would love to begin a new tradition with my kids, a devotional time, but getting my kids to sit down with me (and each other) long enough to do so may prove more difficult than it sounds. Especially after we somehow manage to get our reading assignments and homework done for the day. But it's something I really feel convicted to do lately, so I want to make the move to do so at least a few times a week. Maybe tonight we can start... right after I toss out that pair of silver Barbie boots and start sewing the perfect realistic outfit for Barbie and her friends ~ a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt, complete with grey New Balance.








Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Three little beads...

Friday, Madalyn bounded out the school door with three little beads in the palm of her hand. Two were were white with a hole in the middle, and the other was a dark metallic grey. She was beyond ecstatic with her playground finds. Both my kids have always been like this... they always have their eyes peeled for treasures on the ground, and neither one of them hesitates to pick anything up.

"Look what I found today, Mama!!!"

"Oh, wow... that's fantastic..."

Fast forward to Sunday morning. Scott and I are in Madalyn's bedroom placing all her belongings back in her room. He and one of our friends had been busy since 8:00 putting together her surprise birthday gift... a loft bed. Both the kids had spent the night with my parents on Saturday night so that we could get the old simple twin bed frame out and the new big-girl bed in and make it be a big surprise for her. Two of the beads were on her dresser - the white ones - and the metallic bead had fallen to the floor below. I tossed them in the trash bag I had on the floor that already contained a couple of broken Barbies and random Barbie appendages that were disturbingly mixed in with the bag of tiny Barbie clothes. I figured the excitement of her unexpected gift would bury the thought of those random little beads. But, I figured wrong...

Last night, Madalyn came to me in a panic.

"Where are they? Where are my little beads? There were three of them... they were on my counter..." (Translation: counter = dresser in Madalyn-speak.)

"Hmmmmm..." (insert unbearable load of mommy guilt, and anticipate a HUGE mommy lie) "I don't know, Madalyn... I don't remember seeing them, but we were so busy getting your bed together and putting all your stuff in your room to surprise you... they could have fallen on the floor..."

Here's the question I pose to the blogosphere... is a mommy lie a real lie? I mean, does our Maker designate in His heart the difference? I would like to think so, but just in case, I will discuss that in private with Him later... I digress.

Upon reminding Madalyn of the big surprise of the bed, she tucked her lip back in a wiped the over-dramatic pouty look off her face and moved on. But I still felt awful, and as I type these words, I have to remind myself that I must respect what's important to the little peeps in my house, though they make no sense to me at all. Little beads, the 523 hickory nuts I found in David's room, the 6,790 papers brought home from school so far this year... they are all a part of who my little people are, and I need to have a little more respect for the things they value. Hard to do when we are overstuffed in this home already, but maybe next time I'll ask before I toss. Maybe. Well, it'll depend on what the item is and how likely I am to get away with tossing it in the trash without having to tell a mommy lie...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

On My Mind...

I've had some things on my mind lately, tossing over and over with the normal feelings and events of the day. Through the blogging world, I heard of this woman, a beautiful young mother and published Christian author who suffered a stroke almost two weeks ago and now lies in a hospital bed, her family at her side, waiting on her eyes to open once again. No one knows the extent of the damage to her brain or the condition she will be in when she wakes up.

I've been keeping up with her story via her blog, The Simple Wife. Her husband has been blogging in her place to keep her followers informed of her status. This morning, I clicked on her site and the post yesterday was written by her 12 year old daughter. I was speechless.

Here's what's been running through my mind lately... if I fall to the ground tomorrow, have I given my kids enough? Have I shown them the right ways? The most genuine love? Have I shown them God? The mercy and grace of Jesus Christ? If I were rendered unable to speak or type of communicate ever again, am I satisfied with the legacy I would leave behind? Sad to say, I am not.

Seems like there's been a flood of situations lately... a young woman I went to high school with is just beginning a battle with liver cancer, a young mother in my community dropped dead a few weeks ago leaving behind a 4th grader and kindergartner (same age as my kids), and a father just died unexpectedly and, as of yet, unexplained in our little community earlier this week. We all know that we aren't promised tomorrow, but how many of us stop to think about what would be left behind if the promise really runs out for us? Sounds a little morbid, but these different situations have got me thinking about myself, my daily walk, the example I set for my children, and for the efforts I put forth to bring my children close to God.

I am not satisfied.

The gravest responsibility I've been given on this earth is my children. God planted them in my womb, gave me the courage to get them out, calmed my fears when I felt like I had no clue what I was doing, and continues to wash over me the wisdom and patience and love I need to make it through each day. They came to me helpless and without knowledge, and it's my duty to write things on their heart that will carry through their life as they make decisions and deal with life's situations. Sure I teach them love and kindness and humbly attempt to show them patience (my biggest struggle as a mother), but I haven't given them enough Jesus. Not enough. Not nearly enough. If my voice were silenced tomorrow, they haven't heard enough about Jesus from my mouth. It hasn't been enough.

Amazing how God works through the stories of others to convict my heart that I need to be a better example and witness of Christ in my own home. Well, it's just amazing how God works period. And if you'd like to join me in prayer for Joanne and her family as they deal with the aftermath of her stroke, you can follow her story here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dreams

If you are a shrink and happen to be reading this, please shoot me a private email about what the following means...

I dream. Like every night. Vivid dreams. Ones that leave me feeling unrested in the morning. Some leave me scratching my head all day. This week's dreams have been particularly interesting in their content.

The other night, I dreamed that one of my top front teeth was cracked. Instead of it being a vertical crack, the break stretched across the tooth horizontally. It had not broken off, but I could feel the crack, feel that the tooth was about to give way and come completely off. Along with that tooth, one on the bottom had chipped off. In this same dream, we (me and Scott) were buying the house we live in right now. The only difference between our real life house and its dream version was in the kitchen ~ the dream kitchen was old, like as in 1800's old, and needed to be redone. So as I surveyed the kitchen, all the things that needed to be remodeled, I discovered there were bottles of old milk left in a slide out contraption that in my dream I knew to be a milk warmer (is there any such thing in real life... I doubt it), I kept running my tongue over the cracked teeth knowing I needed to see the dentist soon. Of course even in my dream when I went to the dentist office I had to wait quite a while to be seen. So it's good to know there are certain things that carry into deep REM from conscious life.

Last night takes the prize for all time weirdness. I am still shaking my head and trying to figure out if I need psychiatric help. Last night was all about animals, and the setting was my aunt's house. There was a couch in the kitchen that had an entire family of chipmunks living in the cushions. There was a bear that tried to come inside. There were three foxes. There was a snake in the garage. There were multiple dogs in the backyard. And I was supposed to be house sitting while my aunt and uncle were out of town. Strangely enough, there was some sort of family function going on simultaneously with my parents there and even Buddy Love was present. In fact, Buddy was the one who located the family of chipmunks in the couch. My entire night was spent wrangling creatures and getting them out the door and back into nature. Needless to say, I am exhausted.

As if the critters weren't enough to wear me out, Madalyn came to snuggle with me around 2:30. Have I mentioned what an awful bed fellow she is???? After an hour of wrestling with her in the flesh and woodland critters in my mind, I picked her up and put her back in her rightful place. Dear me. Is it nap time yet?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lunch Pal

Most mornings are difficult when it comes to Madalyn. She doesn't want to get out of bed, get dressed, pick out clothes, and so on. We've tried different strategies ~ picking out clothes at night, setting her alarm clock, making her go to bed earlier ~ but none of them seem to make much of a difference. My dear Madalyn is simply high maintenance. About everything. If her internal philosophy on life were audible, it would sound just like this: In my life, I want to keep everyone around me as busy as possible and on their toes every second of the day for no reason at all about unimportant things just to see if I can. Seriously. That's how her brain works, and I would get into where she gets it from, but my husband is reading this post, so... moving right along.

Yesterday morning was particularly more dramatic and different than normal. She didn't want to get up, didn't want the light on - these are the normal parts. Add in that her throat hurt, she wanted to stay home ( "wif you, Mama... I wanna stay wif you"), she wanted Mama to walk her when Daddy normally drives her, she didn't want to go to school and certainly didn't want to pick out clothes. Anywho... when none of her strategies seemed to rattle Mama or Daddy, she gave one last request, "Will you come eat lunch with me today, Mama?" Finally something I would agree with.

Scott happened to be off yesterday, so we both went to eat with our little girl. I sat to her left and Scott to her right. To my left sat a little girl with the grossest looking tray of food before her I had ever seen in all my experience with school lunch rooms over the years. Yesterday must have been get rid of all the about to expire stuff day because they served turkey sandwiches, ham sandwiches, and roast beef for the main entrees. I am really not seeing a correlation here or any semblance of appeal to the taste buds, but whatever.

Of course, I love talking to the little kids. In kindergarten, they are so innocent and fresh and relatively sweet. The little girl to my left took a particular liking to me. She chatted with me about her family, telling me at one point she had two sisters and then later that she had three. Who knows which one to believe, but I can completely dismiss her confusion. I opened her milk for her, and she was so proud to show me when she had finished it off. She then noticed my diamond ring and was enamored with it, her little fingers playing with it, moving it up and down and from side to side.

For those out there that don't know me well, I believe in the theory of personal space. Firm believer actually. In other words, I feel like there's an invisible barrier between my body and the rest of the world. The barrier around my arms and hands would be considered much thinner than say around my face. Here's a tip to any and everyone reading this post: do not touch my face - EVER. Sure fire ways to put me in a state of panic is to put me in a thrift store, a canoe, or touch my face. I just don't like it... my face has a much larger invisible barrier around it - like as in feet not inches - but obviously this little girl did not realize.

I felt her little hands piddling with my hair, and the tension started rising in my chest wall. She wanted to see my earrings. No biggie... I modeled my CZ's in either ear for her, hoping and praying she'd place her hands back in her lap and be satisfied at that. No such luck. She put her little index finger on a spot just below my left eyebrow... "What's dat?" Oh, dear me. Here's the thing about dat spot on my eyebrow; I'm really not sure what it is. It isn't a zit, it isn't a mole, rather it's just some random bump with no color or pain or anything. So the conversation ensued about the bump on my eye, but she wouldn't just stop there. She put her little fingers on all three of the healing zits on my face... one to the left of my nose, one on the left side of my chin, and the other one on the right corner of the chin.

This whole experience had my insides twisting for so many reasons. First is the obvious intrusion on my personal space (a.k.a. ~ the invisible barrier). I had to rationalize within myself that this was a five year old little girl who had fallen in love with the only diamond I happen to own and then her little index finger just got carried away. But then there's the whole thing about anyone, whether five or thirty-five, pointing out the blemishes I've so diligently tried to cover with my makeup. The teenager inside of me began to boil and hiss, and I had to simmer her down and remind her that we're dealing with a kindergartner who can barely write her name legibly. I simply could not hold her to the same standards as I would an adult.

I've never been more glad for a school lunch to end, not even back in my days in school when I had way more zits than three (but, really, at 34 shouldn't I have ZERO zits????) and still wore braces. I was so glad to part ways with my lunch pal. But I had to push down that personal space issue one last time as she wrapped her arms around me with a big hug.

Who knows why that little girl was drawn to me at lunch. I couldn't help but look at Madalyn, so lucky to have both her parents there beside her at the tiny lunch table, and realize she doesn't have a clue how blessed she is. Neither one of my kids do. Mom and Dad both love them dearly, work hard every day to give them all the things they need (and most of what they want), all living together as a family under one roof. These are the ways of life to which my kids are accustomed, but it's certainly not the norm out there anymore. Perhaps my lunch pal has a great home life, a mom who adores her and gives her all the attention she deserves and a father who does the same. But something deep inside tells me no. So, I guess having my personal space invaded for a 20 minute lunch is not so bad after all....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Aging...

I am 34. I know, I know ~ so not old. But I am older today than I've ever been before. And I am beginning to see these things happen that I'm not all that thrilled about.

Arthritis. It runs in my family genes like those whacked-out ultra marathoners they do hour long specials about on TLC. Of all the things I could have inherited (skinny thighs, naturally high metabolism, genius level intelligence, blue eyes, oodles and oodles of money) I get arthritis. In my hands. At 34, there are days that my hands feel eighty, and the colder it is outside, the older the hands feel. Now, I've got this philosophy about can openers. Weird, I know, but I feel like it's just lazy to use an electric contraption to open a can when you can use your hands and an old school can opener to do the task. But last week, my 92 year old hands (cause it was like 28 degrees outside) could barely open a can of refried beans. Seriously. At 34. And, of course, I don't own an electric opener. May be investing in one very soon.

My skin. It's beyond dull and unevenly toned. And I don't know about the rest of the thirty-something ladies out there reading this, but I don't have the money to visit the dermatologist and buy all the fancy treatments and cremes and gels and what-nots for my face. I just had to pay $200 to have my daughter's head sewn up by a physician's assistant in the ER, so where would I find the money to visit a real doctor about the appearance of my skin? And I tell you, if I went anyway, one of the kids would fall the next day and break their arm and I would regret any amount of money I had spent on my vanity. So instead, I am trying every combination I can imagine of relatively inexpensive products from the beauty aisle at Wally World. I will certainly keep you all abreast of how that works out.

Night sweats. At 34. As in sweating just enough to dampen the back of my head and the crease behind my knees while I sleep. Just damp enough to make me freeze when I have to get up every night between the hours of 1 and 3 AM to tinkle (which happens to be another joy brought about by both aging and delivering two 8 pound plus babies). I have been under the impression all these years that only menopausal women experience night sweats, not thirty-something young mothers. But apparently, I have either been misinformed or I am a freak of nature and am peri-menopausal at the ripe age of 34. If that's the case, then I should be done withe the annoying task of menstruating within the next several years which would be a-okay with me. But something tells me I won't be lucky enough to be rid of Aunt Flo by the age of 40.

Please tell me I'm not the only one... someone please reassure me that they are feeling the same beginnings of the unpleasantries of leaving your twenties behind... please... someone tell me I am not alone...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Child of Light

I am loving this Scripture memory challenge... I find myself at all times of the day thinking of my verse, thinking of what I will choose next, focusing more on the Words that God has left for me. During the last two weeks, I recited my verse in my head too many times to count. If I had a negative thought about myself or anything else, I stopped my thinking and said the verse. I am finding that this one simple verse had such a positive impact on my attitude in the last fourteen days. If the Word of God doesn't shift your thinking, then I don't know what would. And I am thankful to already be reaping the benefits of my humble attempt to write some of those Words on my heart.

I am super excited about my second choice of Scripture. I spent some time looking over the highlighted areas in my Bible looking for what I might memorize next. I had a couple of things in mind, but when I came across this passage in Ephesians, I knew it was the one. Funny thing is that it wasn't even highlighted; it wasn't something that had struck a chord with me before. And this is what amazes me the most about the Living Word of God ~ every time I sit down with it, something new and fresh is revealed, something that didn't jump off the page before starts doing jumping jacks in front of my big brown eyes. This verse is a little longer, but the Spirit led me to it, so I know that I can memorize it. And I also know that I've memorized pages of dialogue back in my high school theater day, too, so sure I can do a few lines of Scripture...

For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord." Ephesians 5: 8-10

I was once in darkness. The darkness was all around me, but the part that scared me the most was the darkness within me. Not an evil sort of dark... I wasn't an axe murderer or the town tramp. Depression and shame had run through my veins for so many years that I thought it was a part of me. But what I have slowly discovered is that things like depression, anxiety, shame, disgrace, self-pity, inadequacy, fear, hatred for one's self - well, those are not things of God. They are attack tactics from the Evil One, the one who rivals against the Good for your soul, the one who would relish the thought of you losing the battle to just one of those feelings. For me, the big one was shame. The shame of where I was on one night in particular of my life so many years ago, the shame of the decisions that led me there. To me, my mistakes were liked smudged stains on my skirt ~ like the whole world could look at me and see that I wasn't who I wanted to be, that I had blown it, that I had compromised myself.

But now, I am light in the Lord. I am light. Last week I learned that my light had come. This week, I am light. Me. Because of the Lord's great love and mercy and grace, I am light in Him. And it gives me the warmest feeling in my heart. Because here's the deal... I've spent so much time believing that I wasn't worthy of light and goodness, that because I had screwed up, I was somehow less lovable. But I am seeing that for God, he's not so much worried about what I did while I was in the darkness. It's like he's saying to me, "Look here - you did all that junk when you were in the dark. Now we've flipped the switch on. So I can't really see all the other stuff anymore. Can you still see it?" I am learning that if I am still focusing on my mistakes, I must not be close enough to the light. Think of a dark room - completely dark - with one lonely simple light bulb in the middle. Flip the switch, pull the string, do whatever to turn on that light, and suddenly, all you can see is what the light shines on. The rest of the room becomes like infinity stretching out with no beginning or end, and there's just one area that your eyes can take in.

Live as children of light, and find out what pleases the Lord. So, this is where I am in my walk. This is what I am seeking. What can I do to please the Lord? How can I better live in His light? How can I spread His light? And I just have this sneaking suspicion that I will find all I need in the next year... that this memory challenge is more than that to the Spirit of God that lives within me... that He will feed me as I discover how to be a Child of Light.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Marriage Bed

This morning on the Today Show, they did a segment on infidelity in the marriage bed... as in a spouse having relations with a person other than their betrothed in the very bed they share together. Seems unthinkable, doesn't it? I found myself thinking, "Gosh... I just can't imagine..." And then I had to remind myself I knew someone it happened to - know them very well, actually.

ME.

It seems an entire lifetime ago. Literally, a whole other life has formed since that day. When I replay the scenes in my mind, I don't recognize the young newlywed bride standing over the bed she shared with her then husband, cold, tangible evidence in hand that another woman had been there in her place. In her bed. Under or on top of the beautiful comforter she'd found on sale one day at the Dillard's Home Store with the bright spring flowers in all the colors she'd set her heart on decorating with. Dirtying the expensive set of sheets that her parents' life group from church had pitched in to purchase as a wedding gift for the couple. Ending what she thought would somehow work itself into a lifetime. It had been far from perfect, but she loved him, and the young woman had this belief that he loved her, too. But on that hot summer day, the truth was thicker than the humid Georgia air. It was over. The dream. The belief. The marriage. All of it.

That young girl, the one who loved the man that shagged some ho-bag in their marriage bed, was shattered. If there's anything in life that a husband can do to scream out loud from the roof top, "I MOST DEFINITELY DON'T LOVE YOU OR RESPECT YOU!!!!!!" it's cheating on you in your bed. Not only is it incredulously disrespectful, it's disgusting. And I think it says a lot for the person committing the act. What person with any kind of a conscience could have relations with another individual in the very bed they share with their spouse with a photo from their wedding day a matter of feet away? I know one in particular, but I won't type out his name...

Anywho... the segment this morning opened up that old memory for me. It doesn't hurt anymore, but rather it makes me sad. Sad for the young newlywed bride whose heart was broken that day. Even more sad that she had ignored so many signs of disrespect and non-loving behavior along the way. That she excused them. That she didn't feel she deserved a better man, a better love, something stronger and truer and less hurtful. That she had to experience such pain to break away from him. But I also rejoice in knowing that though it's a sorrowful, painful, embarrassing part of my story, it helped to bring me to the place I am today. A wife again in a marriage of eleven years with a man that I feel certain would never sleep with another woman in our bed. A mother of two beautiful children. A woman now seeking God's approval instead of a man's validation. I know now that God had much better plans for my life than that undeserving adulterous man. I remain uncertain of the goals He has purposed for me, but I am sure He's got it all figured out. And though I made some terrible decisions that caused me so much pain along my unordained path, God is now at work getting my footing stable and on the right road. He is an amazing God like that.

On the inside, I'm hugging that young woman tucked deep inside a distant memory of my soul. Today I'm reminding her that it wasn't her fault, that she deserved more than what he could ever give her, and that bigger things would happen just around the bend. And then I have to put her back where she belongs and out of the way of the present. Because that woman, well, she doesn't really live anymore. There's a new life brewing in the pot...

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sometimes, you make the right decisions...


Sometimes, you make the right decisions. Sometimes, you do not. Say, for instance, our decision to stay at home with Baby Girl and the three fresh stitches in her scalp ~ that was the right decision. I knew it during several instances over the weekend. One on Saturday evening when Madalyn was in tears, not about her head, but about her side hurting. It was a good thirty minute ordeal that included me lying down with her in her bed, a dose of Tylenol, and lots of little tears down her face. And though it was non-stitches related, it would have broken my heart and made me feel ultra-guilty if I had heard her crying over the phone. I still don't know exactly what was going on... maybe gas, I don't know. But I was glad to be there. Then there was Sunday morning when Madalyn talked with her hands and explained how her head felt. She kept opening and shutting her palms making a throbbing motion. Yeah, super glad Mama stayed.

What really convinced me, though, as if there were any doubt in my mind left, was seeing that the Atlanta International Airport was CLOSED today until 6:00 PM. As in nothing in, nothing out. Out of curiosity, I looked up our flight, and it was cancelled. CANCELLED. I envisioned me and Scott, exhausted and anxious to get home, sitting in the LA Airport for an unknown amount of time, and my skin literally crawled off my body and ran away. And, yes; I did say LA. Our flight home included us flying from Phoenix to LA, changing planes, and then flying direct from LA to Atlanta. I'd like to vacation in California at some point, but that's not the approach I want to take.

And, as I said before, sometimes, you make the wrong decisions... the not-so-wise or mature or appropriate thing to do....

Exhibit A:
I'm just saying that we may have rolled the neighbor's yard last night. We may have pretended that the tree in their yard was the one in Toomer's Corner, and we may have gotten a little carried away. So, that may or may not be considered a good decision, but sometimes the fun ones aren't necessarily the wisest. And if you don't know what Toomer's Corner is then you should Google it and find out as it is one of the most fantastic Auburn tradition...

Oh, and WAR EAGLE!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

We are.... HOME...

We made the tough call to stay at home. Well, I say tough, but it really wasn't that hard of a decision. Friday morning, I was in the shower going over the details that the doctor and nurse had given me. I rewound the tape in my mind and played back the conversations because I swore they told me I could wash her hair, though everyone I talked to was surprised by that. I remembered them both saying if she vomited or had a seizure to get her to the ER right away... with the word seizure, the name of a 14 year old boy from our area popped into my head at the same time.

Back in the spring, this boy was up to bat at a baseball tournament and got hit in the temple area with a wild pitch. Of course, he was wearing a batting helmet as required by all leagues across the nation. He was fine, finished the game, seemed to be a normal functioning 14 year old boy, and then two or three days later, had a massive seizure. His condition was touch and go, and he was in the hospital for several days. Turns out he had a very slow bleed in the brain from the trauma of the hit.

When I thought over the details of his story, I couldn't help but envision Madalyn vomiting or having a seizure or just generally not feeling well while we were away. And that if any of those things occurred, Mama wouldn't be there. There was no question in my mind anymore ~ I couldn't go. Glendale, Arizona is a VERY LONG WAY from Alabama. And my dear husband agreed.

So here we are at home. And we've both agreed it's right where we should be. Yes, we deserve to get away. No, we don't do enough for ourselves as a couple. But we were able to get a credit for our flights and cancel the hotel without penalty. And hopefully we'll be able to take a little weekend getaway soon. It certainly won't take the place of being a part of the National Championship game, but we didn't have tickets locked in anyway. And the thought of watching that game on a television in some bar, hotel room, or tailgate party in Arizona just made me sick especially considering we can watch it on TV at home and have that set of stitches sitting right beside us on the couch.

At this point, I am diligently watching the weather waiting on what they say will be the biggest winter storm the south has experienced since the 90's. Dear me. If you're from the north, keep us poor Southerners in your prayers as we tend to get a little loopy when the white stuff comes down. People who barely know how to drive on a 70 degree sunny day decide it would be fun to go out in the snow and ice to sight-see. The whole world closes, and if you don't have it before the snow starts falling, you won't be able to obtain it until long after it stops. And I am particularly worried about the status of the power and cable lines... you know, there is a BIG GAME on Monday night...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Stitches...

Yesterday weighed on me like one of those vests they make you wear at the dentist office when they are doing one of those fancy panoramic x-rays. I couldn't catch a good full breath all day. There were errands to run and phone conversations to be had whilst sweeping, mopping, and making the bed (and my mother is always shocked/amazed/envious when she finds out I have done all those things while spilling over the details of my life with her attached to my ear). All day, I just had this feeling of restlessness, of ready to go-ness, of somebody beam me out of this place for a few days.

When Scott got home, we stood at the bed putting together our outfits and folding clothes for the suitcase and debating which bag to check (and possibly to NOT HAVE in our possession when we reach our final destination) and which to carry on. I looked at him and said, "I'm just feeling a little overwhelmed today..." Within five minutes, I had a whole new perspective of overwhelmed. Funny how life works that way.

As we packed, we heard the laughter and rumble and tumble of our two healthy children playing in the living room. And actually getting along, I might add. I thought nothing about it. I'm not the over-protective, frightened mom who doesn't want the kids to play rough and have a good time. I do set boundaries, but they're fairly simple, and it didn't sound like any of them were being crossed. And then I heard it. A gasp from David. A momentary hold of breath from Madalyn. And then the horrific cry of pain. Within moments, I knew we were heading to the hospital for stitches. I couldn't tell how long the gash was, but it was open enough for me to know she needed some medical attention. And it was bleeding. And bleeding. And bleeding.

Apparently, my children were playing one of their favorite games ~ their rendition of the show Wipe Out. If you haven't seen the show, I pray you won't start watching it, especially NOT with your children. If you would like to check it out (outside of their presence, of course), you'll be immensely entertained with the average ordinary people who try their skill on running an obstacle course made up of over sized bouncy balls and padded platforms and lots of foam and water.

As they played, David tripped or fell and in the process pushed Madalyn into the column that separates the den and the dining room, the sharpest edge in the entire room (perhaps the sharpest exposed edge in the whole house). Her little head hit at just the right force and angle to slice it open and to bleed PROFUSELY. Everyone knows what they say about head wounds and how much they bleed... yeah, it's true.

Once I got Madalyn and David and Daddy calmed down, I quickly deduced we needed to take a ride to the ER. As much as I hated it, from the looks of it, I could pretty much tell that she would require a couple of stitches to close up the cut. I couldn't bear the thought of holding my baby girl down while a stranger put a weird shaped needle and thick thread through her tender scalp full of infant fine hair. I had to push it back - push it to the back of my mind - so I could deal with the present, with the logistics of getting her to the hospital with a blood stained wash rag pressed to her scalp while keeping her calm without being able to touch her.

We made it there with Daddy and brother trailing shortly behind us so that they could leave to get to bed in time to catch the bus at 7:00 in the morning. Madalyn had many questions mainly about what they would do and what the hospital was and if she'd have to stay the night. And though my mind was racing with the thought of staples and stitches and shaving a spot of her little baby head, I remained calm and upbeat and positive and answered her questions as best I could reassuring her that she would NOT being staying the night at the hospital.

We got in fairly quickly, and the doctor we were assigned was fantastic. He suggested stitches, and said he would numb her up real good before beginning. So I prepared myself for my duty of being calm, cool as a cucumber mom of the year. The only time she cried was when he did the numbing shot. Of course, he had to stick her twice - once on either side of the wound. That was definitely that toughest part of the whole night... hearing your baby cry, knowing she's in pain, knowing it's the only way, and not being able to do anything about it. She was laying there, head positioned so that I had one big brown eye looking at me. Her eye would widen and the black pupil would scan all around and a big alligator tear rolled out. Broke my heart.

Once she was numb, we were all good - me, her, and the nice ER doctor that had to sew her up. In fact, she was so numb, she didn't even know he had begun with the needle and thread. I just told her he was still cleaning it up and talked to her about getting to skip school the next day and eating at Dairy Queen. When all else fails, I can always take my kids' minds off a bad situation with the sheer mention of Dairy Queen. They are my kids, after all.

On this morning after, we have dried blood in our hair, a ginormous goose egg, a new friend (a handmade teddy bear with a label on the back that says Made with Love by Riverchase Church of Christ) that the security guard in the waiting room gave her, and three pretty stitches in the scalp. We've also got one frazzled and tired Mama who is struggling with the thought of leaving my wounded baby girl to travel West tomorrow. I don't know what I am afraid of... I think it's more the thought of me not being able to see her with me eyes, to know that it's healing well, to know she's not in pain. It's a matter of motherly control. It's completely selfish on my part, knowing I won't be able to relax and have a good time if she's in pain and away from me. Sounds crazy even as I type it, but it's the truth. I just plan to keep my eye on her throughout the day today and make the decision later.

I am so thankful it wasn't worse. Just a few inches to the left and she would have toppled down the stairs head first and landed on the wood floor in front of the door. Could have been much, much worse. And it made me realize that my quest to get out of town as fast as I could was so shallow and self serving. I long for ME-time... I long for a break from the monotony of my day to day in small town Alabama folding clothes and scrubbing toilets and reading mindless kindergarten sight word books and assisting with 4th grade math homework. But I love my family and my life... I really do.

So today, I am thankful my baby girl is good and resilient and tough. And I am praying that the answer of to go or not to go will make itself clear in the hours of today. And I am praying that my kids will no longer have the urge to play Wipe Out...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A challenge for the New Year...

Two years ago, I read along with my high school friend and fellow blogger, Kristin, as she took on the challenge of putting to memory 24 Scriptures from God's Word in a year. I was intrigued by the process and thought it was an amazing idea. But I didn't join in. I just watched from afar.

This year, she's at it again. When I read her post the other day about her first verse, I felt that little tug on my soul... do you know what I'm talking about? I heard this voice in me saying, "You should do that... you can... what a way to get deeper in the Word... do it... come on..." And then yesterday, Kristin posted the link on Facebook to give my other friend, Erika, the info on the program. So I dug a little deeper, read the information, felt more of an urge, and was eventually led to commit.

Commit. That's a tough word for me. Well, when it comes to anything that deepens me. I am great at committing to my kids' endeavors and have them at all the functions and practices and parties they agree to attending. I commit myself to this household and keeping it fully functional. I have committed myself to my marriage for eleven years now, and that's no faint kind of commitment. But when it comes to something that is solely for me, incredibly personal, extremely internal - well, that's where I falter. That's where I let myself down. And when I read Beth Moore's words about making excuses for not participating, it convicted me. She said, and I am strongly paraphrasing here, that maybe that's the lesson the Holy Spirit can teach you ~ that He can provide that for you. Pierced me right through the heart, I tell you. My lack of commitment is a direct result of my lack of confidence that God will provide...

So, I am going to be a part of the 2011 Siesta Scripture Memory Verse Team, and I am beyond excited about it! I am looking forward to seeing what my Lord teaches me through His Word this year. So, here's my first selection...

Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. Isaiah 60:1

No doubt, Isaiah touched my soul more than any book of the Bible ever has. I have this opinion, and it's a completely uneducated and personal one, I must admit. Here's how I feel about the Scriptures: God is talking directly to me. When I pick up the Bible and read, it is my time with Him. It really makes no difference to my soul if He was talking to the people of Israel way back in the day or to the Apostles in the New Testament; I fully believe the Words I read are from God and are meant for me to read. I felt it the very first time I sat down and opened my Bible on my own accord (not to memorize a verse for my high school Bible teacher or to cram in what was supposed to be read for a Sunday school class) to discover who God is and the gifts He has given me. I felt Him speaking to me, showing me things, pointing out places inside of me that need to be cleaned up, and pushing me to develop myself. I felt it then at the age of 25, I feel it still each time I open the Word, and it's real to me.

When I read Isaiah 60:1 for the first time, it made my heart swell. It's a direct command ~ ARISE, SHINE. Arise. Wake up. Get up off your backside. Stand tall. Shine. Glow. Emit the light from within. There's no doubt in His command. He doesn't say, "If you feel up to it, honey, get up and light that candle." It's just, "Get up and show what's already there."

Then He carries it further, as the Good Lord always does. Your light has come. Sweet Jesus has already saved you, dear. He's been here quite a long time. When the prophet Isaiah wrote the words, he had no New Testament with red letters. He had a big faith in God that was mighty enough to provide and nothing but hope for the future. Now, I have it all in front of me, and my faith is weak. Doesn't really make much sense, does it? The glory of the LORD rises upon you. God's glory rises upon me. He bestows his honor and splendor upon me. Wow.

That verse was written just for me. And you, too, of course, and for many others out there. It's for any and all who so desire. What a beautiful command. What beautiful words. And I think they are forever written on my heart now...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Voyage West...

We are heading west on a jet plane on Saturday... me and my husband. If you are from the south and know anything about us, then you know where we're going. If you don't have all the pieces put together yet, we're traveling to Glendale, Arizona for the BCS Championship Game ~ Auburn vs. Oregon.

I know... I know... some of you are thinking, "But I thought they were broke with him being in the car business and all." Well, that statement still holds true. But while we were broke, we were sitting on a red Mustang that spent the majority of its life covered and in the garage. Scott bought it four years ago, and pampered it more than he ever did me or the kids added together and multiplied by 23 (no bitterness in that statement at all, I promise). I'll be honest, the Mustang had been a bone of contention between my husband and I during the thick of our financial strain. I wanted to get rid of it; he wanted to hold onto it. Scott found ways to work it out over the past couple of years, taking our two car payments and turning it into one a year and a half ago. But when his company did away with offering a demo to drive on a daily basis and we were forced to purchase another vehicle, the Mustang was, in my opinion, on the chopping block again. Insert bone of contention once more...

Little did I know that all that needed to take place to get rid of said shiny red spoiled Mustang was for the Auburn Tigers to go to the National Championship Game.

It was a painful day for Scott, the day he actually relinquished his baby. But it enables us to take our first big trip together (you know, other than one centered around baseball or the typical weekend trip to the beach) as well as decrease some monthly expenditures by paying off some little bills and not have to pay the hefty insurance premium on a red convertible Mustang. Scott was blown away at how much cutting the insurance alone will save us a year, and I was pleased to look at him and say, "TOLD YA." And I am excited to finally go somewhere together since we never took a honeymoon and our whole life revolves around our kids. We've done very little as a couple, and after eleven years of marriage, we deserve a kid-free trip.

So, flight is booked. Hotel reserved. Still no tickets, but we are going out there on a wing and a prayer hoping that we aren't the only people who refuse to pay the ridiculous prices on Stub Hub and Ebay, and that there will be a down-surge in price before the game. We're hoping. If not, we'll be at the very least having a big time in Arizona minus our children watching the game somewhere. Sure would rather be in the stadium, though... I am keeping the faith.

WAR EAGLE.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The internal wicked witch laugh...

If you could hear my insides, they'd be screeching out the most divine Wicked Witch of the West laugh your imagination could muster... the kids are going back to school tomorrow. And I am excited about it. Probably a little too much. Probably the same level of excitement the green-skinned hag possessed in her heart when she exclaimed to the precious red-shoe-wearing Dorothy, "I'll get you my pretty!!!"

Fact is, my kids get on my nerves. They are lovely little souls of which I have the most genuine affection and esteem. However, they whine, kick each other, play the quiet-as-a-mouse (or mousk, as pronounced by Madalyn) for all of 12 seconds before proclaiming a time-out, scream, slam doors, roll their eyes when told we have to make a shopping trip to Publix, hate to brush their teeth or take baths or comb their hair or put on fresh clothes, demand a lot of snacks during the day, drink my Diet Pepsi without permission... need I go any further?

I start to feel a little inadequate when I read posts from my home-schooling Facebook friends. I don't happen to know anyone in real life that home schools (as in here where I live), but I have a ton of Facebook friends that are currently or have home schooled one or all their kids. And, I must admit, I have no clue how they do it. First things first, I can barely get my kids to throw their trash in the trash can much less teach them their multiplication tables and test them on grammar. Let me even go so far as to say this - the certified teachers have a hard enough time teaching David his multiplication tables! All teaching aside, I can't imagine spending that much time with my kids. As in no time away. None at all. Like as in I am their mother, laundry-doer, reading coach, and math instructor. I simply can't wrap my brain around it.

So while all these competent ladies and abundantly patient moms are talking about beginning their second semester of home schooling, I am relishing in the thought of sipping the second half of my coffee in peace and quiet tomorrow morning for the first time in nearly three weeks (seeing as David was at home with me most of that last week of school before the break). The Wicked Witch of the West has been ticking down the seconds until she can scoot the rug-rats out the door with hair freshly combed and snacks in hand for the long school day. And I will tell them that I missed them when I pick them up tomorrow afternoon, but that will be a lie. A dreadful lie of which I will go ahead and ask forgiveness. Because I will cherish every second of the school hours tomorrow running errands without eye-rollers in the backseat, looking at whatever I want to look at in the store, writing however many words in my manuscript I so desire, and not having to talk out loud if I don't wish. Just the thought sends shivers up my spine...

Sharing day...

A friend of mine posted this link on Facebook this morning. I think it's a must read for all ladies. It's short and sweet and to the point. So click it now.