Sunday, February 27, 2011

One Less Lonely Girl

Pass me the Motrin... I've got Beiber Fever.

After a long day of discovering that I was not placed on this earth to hand-stamp jewelry (another blog post in and of itself, trust me), Madalyn and I headed off to the Amstar to catch the Justin Beiber movie. We were running late, of course. Late has become my norm since Madalyn stepped into my life; there's simply no way to leave the house on time for anything. But at least we skipped the previews, and I saved myself a bazillion conversations about all the upcoming movies that we just have to see.

The movie was beyond interesting and on into enlightening. It's been a while since I've been a wispy headed swooning young girl. I remember it but am so far removed from it that I've forgotten what it feels like to pine for someone. For me, there was New Kids on the Block, but with them there were five guys to choose from and the adoration factor was thus divided. You had your favorite (mine was Joey) and your second favorite (my numero dos was Jordan) and so on after that. When you were screaming at the concert or buying poster, it wasn't one you were adoring, it was a group. So the scenes of all the girls screaming and weeping and all Beibered-up in their tee shirts and what not ~ well, it was eye opening.

Where does it start? Who writes the first line of the fairy tale on our hearts? You know the one... Mr. Perfect is out there somewhere, and hopefully he looks like Justin Beiber or Joey McIntyre and he'll serenade you and profess his undying affection for you and the whole world will make sense and be a better place. I'll admit it; I had the fairy tale floating through my head in my teens, and I know that it's one of the factors that contributed to my involvement in such a twisted, unhealthy relationship. But where did it come from, that belief in my head that perfection was out there? I have no idea.

I guess it doesn't so much matter where it comes from, it's what I do to keep my daughter from falling into the trap of the falsehood of the fairy tale. It's how I keep my daughter from worshipping (for lack of a better term) any human on this earth and learning to depend on the only man who will never let her down. The only man who has already given up his life for her, traveled from the ends of the universe to find her, spoken of the truest words of love she'll ever hear. How do I go about that, though, when Jesus is the intangible? Crazy to say this, but Justin Beiber is more tangible in today's society than Jesus Christ. But Jesus's love song to our little girls is ten thousand times more beautiful. Salvation. Peace. Freedom. How do I play that song for her so that she never falls for the falsehood?

In one particular part of the movie, it showed how Justin's staff goes into the audience at each concert and picks the One Less Lonely Girl at random. You know the drill... it hasn't changed. One girl is plucked from the crowd, sat on a stool in the middle of the stage, and Justin sings to her, sings his hit song, "One Less Lonely Girl." To her alone. Well, alone, except for their 40,000 closest friends in the audience. Be still my heart. But here's the deal; it's only one per show. Just one. So, if they did 80 shows in a tour, that would only be 80 lucky little ladies.

But with God, my odds for being the One Less Lonely Girl are much higher. He longs for me. He calls on my name. He singles me out every day. I am one less lonely girl in Him.

I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness; and you will acknowledge the LORD.
Hosea 2:19-20


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Love is patient, and I love my daughter...

If love is patient, then I'm gonna need a heaping dose of love to make it through this day. It's only 8:00 and the voice of my beloved baby girl is grinding on every nerve in my body. Seems today she knows no other tone than whiny. Well, other than bossy. Combine the two and let your imagination run with it... as I type, she's going on and on about her brown flip flops, which happen to be her favoritest ones, and how she can't find them and I need to look for them. Dear, me. Love is patient.

Gets me thinking how someone so little can be so big on the inside. So vocal. So volcanic. I digress...

Tonight, brother is heading to a spend-the-night party and me and the whiner are heading to.... wait for it......... the JUSTIN BEIBER movie. I am actually more looking forward to seeing it than I am willing to admit. And I am glad to spend a little one-on-one time with baby girl. She is so very excited and will be sporting her Justin Beiber tee shirt her brother gave her for her birthday.

Is it normal for a six year old to be in love with a singer? Cause Madalyn is. When I was six, I was in love with Jeffrey H., my brother's friend that lived down the street from us and was a good seven years older than me. He feathered his hair just so, and he was tall and adorable. I think I proposed to him in a round about way by telling him that I wanted to marry him when I grew up. I never lived that down throughout the years. Thankfully, we moved away and when I saw him years later, he wasn't nearly as appealing to me as when I was six. So maybe I don't care if it's completely normal for Madalyn to be in love with Justin Beiber; it's much safer than the boy down the street.

Except the other night, at ball practice (if you can't tell, so much goes on at ball practice with Madalyn... so, so much) one of the little sisters who is a year older than Madalyn convinced her that she had Justin's phone number. She even wrote it down for her in pencil on the back of one of Madalyn's valentines she's been carrying around in her purse for two weeks. When we got home, Madalyn was persistent that she call Justin. As you can imagine, a heated debate ensued. I don't even remember how I shifted things away from calling Justin, and I don't think I was successful in making her believe it was not his personal phone number. How does one reason with a six year old little girl whose voice reaches tones and decibel levels that only dogs comprehend? Love is patient...

Until then... I WILL NEVER SAY NEVER!!!! {In case you don't have Beiber Fever in your house, that's lyrics from his new hit song and includes the title of his multi-million dollar film venture.}

Friday, February 25, 2011

Soooooooo not a morning person...

If there's one thing I hate to be told it's, "Oh, you're a stay-at-home-mom? That's the most difficult job in the world!" No, it's not. Really, it's not difficult. Staying at home and not working outside this house requires little to no thought about much of anything except the grocery list and the laundry and what day your gonna scrub the tub and toilets. See, no brain cells required. Oh, and I don't have to get up as the sun peeks its sleepy head over the eastern horizon waking up the little critters of nature.

Seriously... let me describe difficult/hard:
Wake up at 5:30 and shower and dry hair and put on real clothes and makeup (including blush and mascara).
Wake the kids, feed them something resembling breakfast, get them dressed, and comb their bed head.
Leave the house at 7:00 am or earlier to drop said kids off at school and join the masses in a slow rush (called TRAFFIC) to get to work on time.
Work all day ~ use my brain, talk to adults and make complete sentences all day long, punch numbers, or do whatever it is that I would do if I worked.
Pick my kids up just as the sun is ready to call it a day. Unfortunately all the people of the world still have plenty left to do in their day.
Surely I'd have to feed the kids again. And perhaps do a load of laundry. Oh, and there would a husband in the mix somewhere, I guess.

I'm exhausted just typing it. So, now maybe you can see why it perturbs me for someone to tell me that I have the hardest job on earth. No I don't. I'm a full time mom. Granted, I may not shower until 2 in the afternoon, may not have on matching clothing most days, and I may not have a complete hour of adult communication between the sun rising and descending, but it's not hard. The most challenging part of staying at home is learning to put yourself on the back burner, putting your kids and their juice and snack and school functions before the use of your brain cells or the chasing of your dreams. That's the difficult part, but the ease that it creates in the household is well worth it all.

"Where the heck did all this come from?" you may ask. David had a big field trip in the chartered bus today to the State Capitol and had to be there to load the bus at 6:45. Do you know how many people are out and about at that awful hour of the day???? Hustling and bustling and moving and shaking. And I just don't think it's right. And I am so incredibly thankful that I don't have to do it every day. And I jut want to give a big shout-out to all the working moms out there, because, to be quite honest, I don't know how you do it.

Right now, I am praying over some ideas and opportunities that I have in front of me that would allow me to work creatively from home. I can still be home when my kids get home, I won't have to put on real clothes every day or mascara, and I can use my fingers to create things that make my heart swell. And I totally covet the prayers of anyone reading these words that I (along with God, of course) find a way to work it all out. I've got some things in the future I want to do concerning my writing that require a good deal of money, and the household is always in need of more cash (especially with baseball firing up and gas skyrocketing). And I will make a special point to say a little prayer for all the working moms out there every day... for your energy, strength, and that you have the time to apply your mascara before you get in the car.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Old Lady of the House...


The old lady in our house may not embody the images conjured by your mind when you think old lady... there are no housecoats, hearing aids, or false teeth. More like hair balls, litter box, and purrs with pets.

My ex-husband, who was really only my boyfriend at the time, brought this precious thing home from his gig waiting tables late one evening many moons ago. One of the waitresses brought a box up to the restaurant full of tiny little kitties, and he picked one out for me. Just a few months earlier, we had laid to rest my beloved Boo-Boo, the cat that had been in my family since I was two and had made it through all our moves around the southeast. It was a tragic event, the loss of Boo-Boo, but he was so terribly old and completely failing. However, I will never forget the day; I had to write out the check to the vet for my father whose who has always had the most tender attachment to all our pets and whose fingers just wouldn't work to do the deed.

Back to the point, though...

Dip-wad ex-husband (who was still in relatively ooey, gooey boyfriend status at this point in the game) brings home said precious kitty. We named her Millie after the White House dog (Original President Bush). She was tiny and playful and fun, but she was a talker. She made her presence known in the house and was quite loud despite her wee frame. That was in 1996...

Millie has been with me through so much. Sounds so crazy, I know, but I have told things to Millie, she's seen me cry, she's purred and rubbed her little chin on me when I needed it most. And now she's old as dirt. God bless her little kitty heart, she has reached the point where she doesn't want to jump on the bed anymore. Seems like just a few years ago I discovered that her normal food place atop the covered litter box would no longer do as she refused to attempt to jump anymore. But she could still jump on the bed. Now, every morning, she sits at the foot of the bed and fusses in her loudest meow until someone in the family comes in and lifts her to the warm snuggly softness of the crumpled sheets. There are days that I wait until late in the afternoon to make up the bed, and then there are days that I make it up around her, just pulling up what I can and tidying it as much as possible without disturbing her.

I will never forget the day we brought David home from the hospital. Scott carried him in in the little infant carrier and sat it atop the kitchen island for us to get him out. She took off, and I can't say that I saw her for two whole days. But once she realized that baby was not there to eat her food or sniff her catnip, she took her signature location behind my head on the couch cushion as I sat feeding him his bottle. And that's when her love affair with David began. She fell in love with him gradually, an emotion that has her running to rub her kitty chin on his leg any time he comes home now. She greets him most mornings, flops over on her side offering her belly for a little stroke, and he's still the only one that she allows to touch her there.

Her most infamous sign of undying affection is the nibble of the nose. At night, she usually comes to find Scott and I after the kids have gone to bed and rests behind our heads on the top of the couch cushion. I can turn my head to her and talk to her in my sweet voice (much different from my normal voice, trust me), and if I put my nose up to her face, she gives my nose a little nibble with her teeth. This has been something only she and I have shared through the years until sometime in 2010 when she decided Scott was in the circle of trust and she broke the seal with him. We were both so impressed when she finally nibbled Scott's nose; he'd been offering it to her for years, and I wished I understood what the kitty rationale was behind finally thinking it okay after 2,578 of Scott's attempts.

So, the old lady is getting older. And I am now apparently writing entire blog posts about a cat...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Who Am I?

To the world, I am a mother, a wife, the girl down the street that doesn't have to work, the lady at Walmart with dog hair all over her shirt and a thin layer of powder over her skin to diminish the redness of the healing zits on her face, the Church of Christ preacher's daughter gone astray, the one who was most likely to succeed in high school but couldn't manage to live up the expectations, the college drop-out, the chick who enjoys a Captain Morgan and Diet Pepsi, the poor thing that was married and divorced in the same calendar year, the lady who walks and walks and walks but never loses any weight, the one who tries and usually fails.

On the inside, I am the dreamer, the girl with a big story and long fingers fighting to type it. I'm the wife that wants to love large and be loved deeply. The mom who longs for nothing more than my kids to learn through me how to love, respect, and thrive in this messed up world. A struggling Christian who desires to learn something new about my Lord's love for me every day and what He would have me to do. I'm the healing victim, the wound finally closed, the fresh scar still tender and red but looking better every day.

But who am I to God? In Christ? It's the question Rachel Olsen posed this morning on her blog, and my mind immediately set to work on figuring out who I am in Him. So, here goes:

I am known. He told me in Psalm 139. I remember the first time I read that Psalm ~ that I really read it and took in all the words. I wept like a baby. I was humbled at the thought that God knew me before I was born, every walk down my path, both good and bad. That He was there the whole time, even in the places I'd be ashamed to admit I had been. But today, I stand comfortable in the fact that God knows me. Because often times, especially here lately, I feel a little lonely in my own head. I have these big ideas and big dreams and big thoughts, and I feel like some people think I am a little nutty. But God doesn't think I am nutty. He knows why I love Lamentations though it's a book of the Bible that most people can't even say that they've read. He knows my fascination with the smallest insignificant words. He understands why I wake up at 3AM and can't go back to sleep for writing chapters in my mind in the darkness. He gets me. And I will be glad to come to a place where that is all I need to feel comfortable in my skin. I am known by God.

I am new. I like promises and statements that are found in both the Old and New Testament. Two of my favorite verses that are so incredibly similar are Isaiah 43:19 and 2 Corinthians 5:17. They both tell me I am new. In my mind, when I think new, I think a fresh notebook full of blank pages just waiting for someone in my household to fill it up with markings. Three of us in the Blair house love a new notebook ~ we all fill it differently, mind you, but we love the blank pages just the same. So I would like to think of myself through God's eyes as a beautiful new notebook, maybe a pretty flower on the cover, and all these crisp pages in the middle just waiting for my story to be written on them. I am new.

I am loved, and I am saved. Probably the first verse I ever memorized from the Bible tells me that I am loved. John 3:16 is one we can all recite whether we've been to church in the past decade or not. But verse 17 tells me that I am saved through the Son. This may seem obvious to some, but the concept of salvation is one I have wrastled (spoken in true Southern dialect) with throughout my life. I always thought, "I have to do more, be more perfect, drink less Captain Morgan, read my Bible more often, be at church every Sunday, not let that curse word slip out..." I had made my salvation all about me and what I did to deserve it. Wasn't until lately that I realized there would never come a day I'd feel deserving enough for it, so I might as well approach Him where I am and let Him do the work in me. I'm not perfect. I don't do and say all the right things. But I am loved, and I am saved by a perfect Savior who knows me and makes me new.

The question that spins around my mind is who He wants me to become... and I'll close with this quote that actually made me feel better as I pray over some things in my life. I have three things in particular I am praying about, completely unrelated in nature, but both having to do with my future. And I am scared. I am scared of failure, of the risk, of putting myself out there... and then I read this quote this morning on Lysa TerKeurst's blog:

If the size of the vision for your life isn't intimidating to you, chances are it's insulting to God.

Hmmmmm.... so maybe my fear and doubt is a good thing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Poetry...

It's a two post day...

I took a walk earlier today and had some tunes in my ear. Today, I listened to Switchfoot's Hello Hurricane album. One of the songs really spoke to me, and I can't even really say why.

I've been thinking a lot lately about poetry. Not about reading it, per say, because that's not really my cup of tea. But I remember the days when I used to write the stuff. I could sit down in my little bedroom as a teenager and pull out my yellow legal pad and my pencil and just ooze creativity. Usually my words centered around puppy love or mega-hurts caused by said puppy love, but they were mine, and I used the pencil and paper to work out the angst within me.

I couldn't write a poem now to save my life. Well, maybe I could to literally save my life; I could come up with something. But that's not how I sort things out anymore. But when I listen to music, I hear something more behind the words, the angst behind the melody, the movement of the pen on paper working the beauty of creation out through continual strokes. Music is simply poetry with instruments.

So here's the lyrics to the song ("Always" by Switchfoot) that I fell in love with today:

This is the star, this is your heart
This is the day you were born
This is the sun, these are your lungs
This is the day you were born

And I am always, always, always yours
And I am always, always, always yours

These are the scars deep in your heart
This is the place you were born
And this is the hole where most of your soul comes ripping out
From the places you've been torn

And it is always, always, always yours
And I am always, I'm always, I'm always yours

Hallelujah, I'm caving in
Hallelujah, I'm in love again
Hallelujah, I'm a wretched man
Hallelujah, every breath is a second chance, yeah

And it is always, always, always yours
And I am always, I'm always, always yours
Always, always, I'm always yours, I'm yours
Always, always, I am always yours

But she told me to...

Baseball is back in full swing (no pun intended on that one ~ brilliance just comes natural these days!) thanks to the wonderful spring-like weather. We've been doing a little indoor pitching and hitting, but last week we were able to take it outdoors, which was more of a blessing than most would realize as most of our players are accompanied by a little sister. Add the squeals of said sisters with the pings of tons of bats and the noise of an automatic pitching machine inside a large warehouse type baseball facility... well, it definitely makes you long to be out in the open air.

Yesterday, we loaded up the car, me, David and Madalyn, for practice at 4:30. Since Madalyn was a wee little thing, she's always had to carry something with her, from a baby to a backpack full of treasures or a coloring book. She rarely leaves the house empty handed. Yesterday it was her newest addition to the purse collection she couldn't do without. She was pleased to see Miss E, one of her dearest friends in the world, at practice, as well as I was. Practices with no one to play with can feel very lengthy to mom and Madalyn.

I perched atop the bleachers with the novel I swear I've been reading for six months now. My word, if I have a moment to sit down with it, it's literally only a moment. This one could be termed a page turner for me for different reasons from it's normal connotation ~ I believe I have only been able to turn one page each time I can pick it up. Anywho... I've got one eye on the book, the other on the girls, and I notice they are venturing a little too far and are behind one of the restroom buildings at the park. Upon hollering out for them to move closer to me, Madalyn turns her attention to me:

"Mama! My purse... it's up there! I can't get it!" She pointing up to the roof of the little building.
"How did it get up there?"
"I threw it up there... she told me to!"
"Well that was real smart, wasn't it?"
"But she told me to..."

Dear, me. I couldn't help but laugh. My little Miss Independent who calls her own shots and is not afraid to do her own thing can only be steered by a couple of people ~ her brother being one and Miss E being another. Miss E could tell her to run to Arizona and pick her up a Pepsi and she'd probably run until she couldn't run anymore. And now, here she stood, mad as fire at herself that she had tried something upon a mere suggestion and it had bit her in the rear. The purse was in sight but out of reach, and in her little mind, she was uncertain she'd ever get it back.

Luckily for Madalyn, our head coach is a contractor and had plenty of resources in the bed of his truck for Scott and I to retrieve the purse. I used the moment to tell my sweet baby girl, "You can't be mad at someone for telling you to do something or making a suggestion for your behavior... you made the choice. It's on you."

I am glad to report that the purse is back in our possession. I feel pretty certain that she'll never throw her purse on top of a roof again... pretty certain, unless at the age of 13 some cute little boy tells her to, and then she may have to relearn the lesson of not doing stupid things upon suggestion. But if that's the worse thing she does under a little peer pressure, we'll be doing alright. Something tells me it won't stop at throwing purses, but I'll just put that worry off until then...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Together again...

To all of you who have prayed for my sweet Mama, thank you so very much! I am happy (though the happiness may seem odd to some) to report that my grandfather was moved to the nursing home on Tuesday. Both my grandmother and grandfather are now under the same roof, making my mother's life a ton easier. They were able to cut out the household expenses like telephone and cable and prescription medication as well as the sitting service my grandparents had utilized for the past two years. The cost of aging is very expensive, my friends. Very, very expensive.

I am hoping that my grandparents are much happier now, too. They've been married just a couple of days short of forever. Seriously. I think my grandmother was 14 or 15 years old when they said I do, so that would put them at around at my approximation of 76 years of marriage. And if that didn't make your heart stop beating for a moment, then I don't know what would. I am sure my husband just had a mild heart attack at the thought of putting up with me for another 65 years... I digress.

One of the nurses reported to my mother that they had a hard time getting my grandfather to go to his room on his first night (they are in separate rooms right now, but will be together when the nursing home is able to put them together). The nurse wheeled him back to his room, and then he told her, "But I can't go to sleep without kissing my beautiful wife goodnight." So, the nurse wheeled him all the way back to my grandmother, and then he was satisfied.

I stop to think about 76 years. A whole life. Four births. The loss of their oldest daughter in an accident over thirty years ago. My grandfather's Naval service in the earliest part of their marriage. My grandfather had many heart attacks over the years, and my grandmother has lived with pulmonary fibrosis for over twenty years. They worked side by side countless springs planting a garden of vegetables in their back yard. I've seen them squabble over the years... my grandfather was always on the go back when he was still able to drive, and I am sure that pushed my grandmother to the brink of insanity. But somehow, they made it work. All those years, all the tough times, the good times, the cold days, the hot days ~ they just made it work. And now they are like kids again, holding each other's hands and inseparable partners.

I'll be heading down there to visit them on Saturday, and I am excited to see them. Every time I make the trip these days, I wonder if it will be my last. It's this strange emotion of not wanting someone so much a part of who you are to go when really they are already gone. Right now, I am just leaning on the fact that I have been blessed beyond measure to have them around for as long as I have.

In other news, my mom is coming up my way today for an injection which means that we will be bale to hang out for a little bit, just us two! That always makes me happy! We don't get much time to ourselves, and when the kids are around, we often can't carry on a conversation about much of anything. I think we all know how that goes...


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

South Beach, Round Two

A couple of years ago, I tried out the diet craze otherwise known as South Beach. What attracted me to the plan was that it was more a change in way of thinking about food than just a diet, shifting your source of fuel from carbs to protein. Anyone that knows me understands my fatal attraction to CARBS. Crunchy, salty, sweet ~ I am not impartial. Cookies, cakes, chips, Cheezits, candy, carbs, carbs, carbs!!! I love them all!!!

Anywho... as I stated, I gave it a try and actually found it relatively easy to follow. For a couple of months. Then baseball started, and everything went to hades in a tote bag. Do you know how hard it is to follow a healthy eating plan at the ball park? It ain't easy; we'll leave it at that. But instead of maintaining the healthy choices at home and working hard to stick with lean proteins and God-made carbs when not at the ball park, I just went right back to my old patterns. So, the ten pounds I lost on South Beach, I gained it all back. Plus another 10. And it's all around my belly.

So, right now, I am faced with this dilemna: lose weight, or buy ALL NEW CLOTHES. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm..............

Seeing as I have not hit the lottery lately, I think I am going for the lose weight option. And then I'll have the benefit of feeling better and being able to wear the clothing already in my drawers and closet. I am going back to what I know worked so well for me ~ the South Beach Plan. I am on day three of phase one, and the good new is that I haven't eaten either one of the animals or any of the neighborhood children. Not yet. Surprisingly, it's felt pretty good. No major cravings, minus the trip down the bread aisle at Publix yesterday. I had never actually been able to smell the sweet roll/honey bun things through their plastic wrapping as I walked past them before, nor had I ever heard them talking to me.

You know you want to sit in the floor right now and eat me... you can smell my carbs... your body longs for them... open me and feel my tastiness on your tongue...

If you doubt for one second that the sweet rolls spoke to me as I passed them, then you have never been addicted to carbs or been on a low-carb diet. And that gives me two good reasons not to like you.

So, working toward losing the excess. Adding in as much protein as I can stomach. And I am pretty sure that I'll be dreaming about corn chips and yeast rolls by the end of the week, though I rarely eat either of the two. Your mind does funny things to you when you know you shouldn't have something.

I am thinking steak bombs for dinner, which are cut up steak with a smudge of cream cheese topped with a sliced jalapeno and wrapped in bacon. See, my mouth can water at the thought of protein...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lamentations

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. Lamentations 3: 19-22

I have talked about my love affair with Lamentations before. I can't explain it, really. Maybe it's the non-degree holding English major within me, the one who once drooled over the Bronte sisters and actually enjoyed writing papers about the symbolism in their classic novels. Lamentations is this amazingly poetic little book in the Bible, full of symbolism and grief and hope. The first time I read it, I immediately picked up this voice in my mind ~ the voice of the exploited, abused woman who has trusted and believed in all the wrong people. And still, I hear it today when I read it. And then, I started looking into the history of the book, what was going on at the time, and that's when my love for the words grew even more. The kingdom of Israel had fallen to the Babylonians, and the temple and all its sacred contents had been burned. Everything that the people of Israel held valuable was gone. It's been theorized (though obviously can't be proven) that the Ark of the Covenant was burned. Now, if you remember, the Ark was the most holy sacred item, contained the tablets that the Ten Commandments were written upon, and the very spirit of Yahweh was believed to dwell there.

When I think about how low the people of Israel must have felt, seeing their city, their sacred items, their temple gone, well, it sets the book in another light. It was an awful time. The Babylonians took some of the people of the city of Jerusalem captive, and left others there in the ruins to die. Literally, no food or water ~ starving and dying in the streets surrounded by the ruins of the once favored city of God's chosen people. How did this happen?

It all came down to trust in the wrong things and the wrong people. Putting something other than God first. The Israelites were warned by Isaiah and Jeremiah to turn away from the idols and not to befriend the Babylonians or God would destroy them. But the people did not listen, and they paid the ultimate price. Everything that was holy to them was destroyed.

Lamentations brought something to light in my soul from my own life. I learned through Lamentations that I, too, had been foolish. I had trusted the wrong people despite the quiet voice in my heart telling me something wasn't right. I put idols before God during many times in my life, and I ultimately lost something incredibly sacred, my own Ark of the Covenant filled with holy artifacts. The temple of my heart went up in flames, all that was holy and priceless to me was gone. Funny how dependence on anything or anyone other than God brings about flames, whether in the early centuries or modern times. Back then, the flames were quite literal; these days, they are internal.

In the middle of this book lamenting the fall of the city of Jerusalem comes one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

Never. Never fail. Love never fails. Because of the LORD's great love (and we know that love never fails). God's compassions never fail either. Did I mention how I love to hear the word never in the Scriptures? Have you noticed how nutty I am about specific words lately?

I wish I were more educated on the Hebrew and the Greek and the meaning of this word and that word and on Bible history. But I am not. So, I can't write some educated explication of the verse. All I can tell you is what it means to me. You may or may not understand my love affair with Lamentations, and that's okay. You may or may not think, "Tamara is beginning to live out that CRAZY part of her blog name!" And that's probably true... I've always been crazy about the words my Savior has left behind for me to read, whether I have chosen to live by them or not.

I think today, more than ever, I am just now beginning to appreciate how the Lord has brought me out of one thing and into another. The pieces of my life, even the ugly ones, are now starting to fit together. The picture is still not complete, and I can't even figure out what the Lord is has in store for me, but I do know that it's beautiful. No doubt about that.

So that's my verse. From Lamentations, one of the most depressing books of the Bible, and the one in which this CRAZY Mama happens to adore. But if you've been that low in your spirit before, you will understand my crazy fascination. Have you been there before? Have you ever read Lamentations? I'd love to know... mainly love to know if I am the only one who has ever read and actually enjoyed the book...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love is...

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

Love is...

At 34, I am just now beginning to understand love. Just now. That doesn't mean that I didn't love before that; it just means I've never loved another or expected to be loved in the right way. When my children were born, I think I first discovered that there was a love out there deeper than anything I had ever known. The raw emotion of holding something so fresh and tiny and vulnerable in your arms was life changing. The way I could love someone I knew nothing about in an instant... well, it's truly one of those God things.

So then, I started to see how loving other people in life was so painfully similar to loving the flesh of my womb. It was through being a mother that I took loving everyone else around me to another level (or that I began that process, I should say... I am no where near close to perfecting it!). But it was also the way I began to appreciate God's love for me, that I began to see that how I love my children is nothing in comparison to how God feels about me. The thought overwhelms me as I think about it...

So love is one of the few things that I feel the Bible gives us such a strong definition of. One day in the future, when I am much more mature in the Word of God and in my faith, I hope to write a book for young women and teens, a sort of cross between fiction and devotion, which goes through this verse alongside the life of a fictional character, and reveal some of the ways I have misconstrued love earlier in my life. How I took less than what God would have me experience. How I didn't know what I deserved in life and love. How my hope was almost gone but found renewal through an everlasting love. His everlasting love. The one love that will absolutely never fail me or leave me or hurt my feelings. And I can't expect that in the real world, but I have every right to expect the loves in my world to strive toward that definition so beautifully laid out for us all in 1 Corinthians.

Each time I read the familiar passage, something pierces me. Most every time the patience part gets to me as that is my biggest fault in general (especially with my kids and husband). I have to remind myself every day to work on patience ~ that it's not fair to those I love the most to get the worst of me when I can be so sweet and patient with the young girl learning the check out process at Walmart. Sometimes the verse brings up old wounds from when I didn't seek the real love God wants me to experience. The word protects shoots right through me like a zooming bullet these days as I look back over my life and realize there were certain times when someone who said they loved me did not protect me as they should. Its difficult to process the love relationship in your past where the emotion was so warped and deceiving, especially when you see through more mature eyes that it couldn't be any further from love.

But my favorite part of the verse is love never fails.

Never. I like that word. I like to read it in the Scriptures. Because when God tells me never, He means it.

Love never fails. True love. There have been points in my life with my earthly Valentine that I've thought, "No way... this isn't working... can we make it?" But today, I know that we can be Valentines for life if we both try our darnedest to love one another in the 1 Corinthians way. That God's love can flow down into us, and then we can give it freely to each other. That there's no promise of it being perfect, just that it won't fail. It's been on the fritz from time to time. It's certainly been damaged and needed general repairs. Our love may get a little dusty and need a little clean-up every now and again. But our love will never fail. Never.

So Happy Valentine's Day to all reading, and to my Valentine of 12 years now! I love you, Scott! Like really love you...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Special Prayer Request

Please pray for my sweet Mama...

If life were a plate, hers would be one of those over sized rectangle styrofoam kinds separated into compartments that we all see at family reunions and 4th of July picnics. They are so large that it becomes difficult to balance the weight of all various foods, and I am always afraid the thin styrofoam will break (surely we've all had that experience of the styrofoam giving way ~ it happens!).

So, if my mom's plate were in front of you right now, it would look like this: all the compartments would be full, overflowing, in fact, and the food items would be melding together. The peas would be pouring over into the butter beans. The corn on the cob would have the butter bean juice on it. The barbecue chicken would be pressed up against the corn and a beautiful white fluffy roll would threaten to soak up all the delicious barbecue sauce. I think you get the point... and I think I just made myself hungry.

Anywho... my mom. In one compartment is her cancer. The fact that she must conserve her energy. The knowledge that she can't overdo. In another compartment is her own mother, 91 and in a nursing home by herself. In yet another compartment of the plate is her daddy, 92 and alone at home (with the help of round the clock sitters) who fell just yesterday and I don't have the current medical status on. In another square we would find the piles of bank statements and insurance information and medicare forms and household bills that come along with the aging parents. Just to the side of that would be the insurance statements and appointment cards and doctors' bills with my mother's name on them. And then, of course, we can't forget the laundry and necessary day to day of any household. I don't know about you, but I am overwhelmed just typing it all.

Here's the thing about my mom ~ she's a pillar of strength. If there's one thing she has taught me how to do through example it is how to remain calm and collected in stressful times. I don't (and don't believe I ever will) do it as gracefully as she does, but I sure do try. Even though she appears calm and happy, she balancing so much that she's got to be frazzled and exhausted. Though she wouldn't dare let anyone know, she's worn out and running out of steam. And I am coveting the prayers of anyone reading these words right now. Pray for my sweet mama. Please.

Thank you...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tidbits of totally unnecessary information...

Around 2:30 in the wee hours of deep darkness, Madalyn crept into the bedroom, arms full of furry friends, and climbed into the bed. Funny thing about when she climbs into the bed; seems like she just gets herself on the bed and doesn't scooch herself to the middle. She's quite difficult to move over, too, even though she tops the scale at around 45 pounds. Even when I successfully move her a couple of inches, she slowly eases back over toward me, pushing me to dangling off the edge. Not comfy. Not much sleep. After about two and a half hours of this lovely game, I picked her up to go back to her bed in hopes I could get a solid hour in. Dear me. My brain is operating in intermittent spurts today (which is probably less uncommon than I'd like to admit), hence the tidbits theme.

In other words, today's post will have zero relevance to anything. ZERO.

~ I love coffee. I don't know why, but some days, I take that first sip and literally say the words to myself in my mind. Wow, I love this stuff. Like, is it okay to love coffee as much as I do? To covet the taste. To lay down at night and think, "I can't wait to drink my coffee in the morning." I allow myself a cup and a half, but if I were honest, the amount I drink would probably equate three average cups. My mugs happen to all be rather large, and I drink half of it and then fill it back up. And then, I want more, but I don't want my heart to pop out of my chest (at least not before 8 in the morning), so I stop there. I am thinking, though, that this morning, I deserve more.

~ What is the deal with people taking pictures of them self in a mirror? Please tell me I am not the only one out there that sees this as a grave societal issue. Take, for instance, the Craigslist Congressman (how would you like your entire career to fall down to that tag line???). Grown man, well educated, obviously successful, yet chose to take a picture of himself, shirtless no doubt, in the mirror. People under the age of say 20, I can chalk it up to youth. But even then, it's incredibly stupid, and dare I ever catch my children in the bathroom mirror with their camera phone, they will be schooled on my beliefs. But the Congressman... wouldn't he at the very least have a personal assistant who could snap the photo for him or schedule a photo shoot. He could lie and say he had been doing P90X and needed to do the after picture. He could do nearly anything other than stand in front of the mirror and take a photo of himself flexing his bicep. Honestly, I know that's the least of his worries at this point ~ perhaps he should have requested his wife take the picture...

~ Completely related back to the Congressman... why do perfectly intelligent, successful, grown men do stupid stuff like post fake profiles on Craigslist and look for women? Not saying that women don't do similar things, but this politician thing just seems to be running out of control.
~ My son's cleanliness... it's a hopeless cause. Last night, we searched the house for Madalyn's MP3 player. The two adults in the house had conflicting remembrances of its last know whereabouts. Madalyn was glued to what she referred to as a new show of Wizards of Weatherly Place (I have come to know that new means I haven't seen it enough to have memorized the entire dialogue of the show.), so Scott and I were running around the house in search of missing MP3 player that we paid for. I entered the domain known as DAVID'S ROOM, and not to long after that, removed the PSP from David's hands and told him he could have it back when his room was clean. What really got my blood pressure up was when I saw clean clothes shoved in the closet floor............. I spend do much time doing laundry, especially now that baseball has started, and if there's one way to tick me off it's to make the already mounting task even more difficult. We talked about responsibility, pulling your own weight in the house, and then this morning, he still left his partially eaten Pop Tart out without throwing it away. No comment. I love him anyway. I love him, I love him, I LOVE HIM.

~ Up to 55,000 words on my novel in progress!!!!!! This is exciting!!! More than you can imagine EXCITING!!!! And after writing, reading over, re-reading, editing, editing some more, re-re-reading, polishing, reading again... I still love my characters, love where they're going, and waiting for the ending to play itself out in my mind and on the computer monitor! It's as much a mystery to me as it is to the imaginary people in the pages... I love writing. I love the whole experience. It's unlike anything I've felt before. The only thing I can truly relate it to is how I felt after David was born ~ I worked so hard to get him out, literally using every muscle in my body and every ounce of strength God could lend me in the moment. It was a deeply spiritual moment, and I still remember the words I shared with God. And every time I sit down with my little world inside the manuscript, I have that same emotion from when David was born, like this magical thing is being born from me. I'm hooked. I want to write for the rest of my life. And I hope that my words will somehow bring just one person closer to God...

So that's my morning ramblings in tidbit form. Every time I hear the word tidbit, I think pineapple, so that officially makes me weird, I think. I also think, in light of my last statement, I may need to catch a nap today...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A-HA! Moments

I think Oprah originally coined the phrase A-HA moment, but I don't see why I can't use it here. As far as I know, there are no copyright laws involved... at least I hope not.

I had one of these moments just now. Like, literally, fifteen minutes ago. Do you have these a lot? Where something so blatantly obvious was unknown or unrealized to you, and then a switch goes off, and A-HA!!!

I am reading 1 Peter. Well, I've read it three times in the past week. Don't be impressed; it's a short, five chapter book. It caught my eye last week because of the title it was given by the publisher: Christians Under Construction. I'm still under construction, probably still in the beginning stages if I want to be completely candid, so I thought, "I should re-read that." And I did, and then I decided I would focus on it for a few weeks. Absorb it. Mull it over. There's a lot in there that tickles my brain.

This morning, I noticed that the author talks a lot about suffering because of the name of Christ. That's not something that means a lot to me personally anymore; thankfully, all my friends are believers, and I can't say that I've suffered, been made fun of, been persecuted lately for the cause of Christ. Maybe this means I am not stretching myself enough, but that would be another post, I guess. But it was this verse in the closing of the book that I particularly was drawn to:

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 5:8-9

Now, I know all about those types of sufferings. I am fascinated by the concept of the devil, how he longs for our souls and to drag us down. I have always been interested in the concept of spiritual warfare. And so the passage got my wheels to turning (which is difficult for me in the mornings even after my mammoth cup of coffee), and then the obvious hit me in the head about the author of this book: Peter, the apostle who denied Christ three times before he was crucified.

Then the words took a different meaning. Totally different meaning. The verse above becomes the warning label on Peter's packaging. Because he knows. He felt it. He lived it. The devil got him. Remember the deal ~ he was warned by Jesus that he would deny him, and Peter thought he had gone mad. No way - no way I'll do that. And then he did. And then some time later he writes this book, and here I am reading it umpteen years later in my comfy chair.

There's a certain comfort to me in knowing Peter's faults, in knowing that he blew it big time yet was still able to live for Christ after the fact. He made a huge mistake, but he worked past it. I think about all the times I thought, "Oh, I'll never do that or make those types of mistakes or be that kind of person..." only to find that what you never dreamed possible becomes truth. But the grace is bigger than the sum of my sins, than all my never-dreamed-it-possible mistakes. That I can press on through them and still be a servant for Christ. I just think that's beautiful.

I don't know if any of this makes any sense to anyone else out there in the great beyond, but it did to me. And I wanted to share. Because if anyone else is reading this and thinks (like I do so often) that their mistakes overshadow their ability to make a difference and speak up for the name of Christ, I think Peter shows us differently. We all fall, we all make the big mistakes, and no one is immune to Satan's temptations. Not the apostles, not the preacher at the big, fancy Baptist church, and not the stay-at-home-mom. So, I guess it's not so much the mistakes we make but what we learn from them.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Old Folks

When I was six, my father took a preaching position in a tiny little town called Hope Hull, Alabama. My words can't give you a full description of the place back then, but I assure you the name's unusualness suited the place quite well. The country Church of Christ facilities sat on property adjacent to a cow farm, and I witnessed my one and only cow birth at the barbed wire fence late one Sunday afternoon. What life is complete in the state of Alabama without having witnessed a cow being born?

There were many Sundays we stayed the whole day in Hope Hull. Fellowship Sundays complete with pot luck dinner, cleaning the building in between morning and evening services, my father practicing his sermon in the afternoon. Back then, my family didn't have a lot of spare change, and I think it made better sense to stay the afternoon than drive home and then back. It was a good 20 mile trip.

One Sunday a month, we visited a nursing home to sing for them. I remember the smiles on their faces as we sang the old hymns which have sadly been swept under the rug in our more modern services these days. Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, It Is Well With My Soul, Up From the Grave He Arose, Love Lifted Me. Often the crackling voices of the aged home residents would join in with great delight, their fading memory turned on by the harmonies their hearts remembered so well. Little wrinkled fragile hands would clasp mine and touch my smooth young skin. Oh the smiles.

I am so thankful to have done this so early in my life. I don't have that eerie fear of the elderly. I still don't enjoy a nursing home - who does? The very thought of so many shells of what once were such vibrant lives sitting in wheel chairs or napping in their beds all day makes me so terribly sad. But it doesn't scare me, and I think it goes back to the days I stood before them and sang for them in my youth. I think I was conditioned to it at such an early age.

I went to visit my grandmother yesterday in a nursing home. It was a first for me. My very own grandmother in a nursing home. A little tough to swallow, but the past few times I have seen her in her own home have been tough as well. She's lost the sparkle in her eye, the the ability to carry on a conversation, the complete understanding of where she is. She's alive, but not. She's there but so far from who she once was. This mourning I am plunged in the middle of is something I wasn't prepared for ~ mourning someone before their last breath is taken. That's what I experience every time I see her.

She was so glad to see me and my kids. She knows us, and she tries her best to talk to us. She did pretty well having a conversation with us yesterday about her rehab and my grandfather coming to see her. Her doctor sent her because she's having so much trouble walking. I doubt she'll ever leave this time, though. She's been before for rehab after falls or mini-strokes, but this time is different. Her body just can't support her anymore. She wants to sit up and be herself, but she's just unable.

She's so funny, even at 91, how she wants things to be just so. She tries to straighten the bed covers, and her frail little hands pull and tug at the heavy blanket. My mom and I know, but someone who wasn't familiar with her wouldn't understand. Those hands have spent the bulk of their life straightening and pulling and working with fabric. And it's just part of her fabric. So she still struggles with it, pulling, straightening, working it out to be just the way she wants it. Kinda like those old hymns... how someone who can't remember what day of the week it is or the name of their own child can sing along with an old hymn and not skip a word. The body and the mind work together to complete a task they've repeated in their youth millions of times and meet success.

At one point in the visit, David kicked back in the bed behind my grandmother. She noticed him and laid down on his arm, my mom holding her sweet little hand, and she just smiled the biggest smile. David grinned. My mom stroked her back. Madalyn was oblivious. I was teary. These days are fading... the life is fading right before me... but I was so glad we made her smile. So glad.

Last night, the moon was in its purest crescent state, the tiniest sliver visible to the world. I was surprised to see it positioned in a way I had never seen before ~ in the shape of a smile, lips of the moon tilted up in the perfect display of happiness. I pointed it out to the kids on our drive north toward home and told them that God was smiling at us. Of course, we ensued in a talk about why God would be happy with us, and I had to concur that it was because we made so many people smile that day...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hurt foot...

I spent the bulk of my day yesterday with Madalyn between the pediatrician and the diagnostic center. $175 later, I still feel like we don't know what's going on with her foot.

She came home from school on Monday, which happened to be her 6th birthday, complaining about her feet. She had worn a pair of Converse sneakers that day along with a pair of skinny jeans with little zippers at the ankles and her brand new Justin Beiber tee shirt given to her by her brother ~ she looked beyond adorable, but was apparently suffering from fashion feet. We changed footwear, and I thought nothing else about it. Until the next day... and then the next day... more complaining, but it became evident that it was only her right foot that was bothering her.

Yesterday morning, as I wandered through the crowd of grandparents and students at the book fair, I looked up to see my favorite pair of brown eyes. We walked down to the nurse for a medical opinion, and she quickly told me that if she had been complaining all week and Motrin didn't seem to ease the pain, I should take her in to have it examined.

The doctor examined the foot, scratched her head a little. It had some of the markings of a fracture and some of strain. Her arches are high, and she over-pronates (which I am making a mental note of in case she ever wants to attempt running like her Mama so I can stop her before she spends way too much money on shoes and orthotics and doctor visits). The doctor said she needs more arch support in her shoes which involves finding some super-small inserts. But she also wanted to rule out a fracture with an xray.

We walked to the diagnostic center there at the hospital, signed in, and were called over to the lady at the computer to get all the information in order.

"There will be a $200 copay today."
"Excuse me... what did you say?"
"Your insurance requires a $200 copay for the xray."
"For an xray?"
"Yes ma'am."
"Are you kidding?"
"No... I'm sorry... I wished I was..."
Long pause in which I wanted to put my head down on the counter and weep uncontrollably.
"But we pay like $900 a month for this insurance... and I just gave the ER (as I motion just over my shoulder to the right) $200 last month when she fell and split her head open... what am I supposed to do??? I have to make sure her foot's not broken..."

I really can't find the word to describe my emotion in the moment. By this time, it was after 12:00. I had been at the doctor since 10:45. I was hungry. My blood sugar was low, and I was running on fumes. I wanted to cry. I wanted to be mad but had no one to whom I could direct the anger. I wanted to tell Madalyn, "Hey, sister... your foot had better be broken..." but I knew that would be absolutely ridiculous. She may be overly dramatic about certain things, but she has never been a complainer about pain. I knew she was hurting, and there was nothing she or I could have done any different or to make it go away.

There was no one to blame, no one who could make it any better, no one that could have it make any sense.

The sweet young lady informed me that she could discount my copay 30%. She explained it all to me and gave me my receipt and even hand wrote in the discount at the top in case anyone at Blue Cross gave me any grief about it. I was more than thankful.

So we took the over-priced xrays, and within 15 minutes of being home, Madalyn's pediatrician called to inform me that she did not see a break in the foot. So we are going along with this care plan: ice compresses two or three times a day for three days, regular doses of Motrin for three days, and good supportive shoes. If the pain is not better within two weeks or it becomes more severe, I am to call and get her back in. You know, so I can pay another $200 copay for more xrays.

This morning, while she was still lying in her bed, Madalyn called me in her room and said, "My foot hurts." She had not even put any weight on it yet. My Mama's heart tells me it's fractured... but the $200 worth of xrays and the doctors that looked at them tell me no. What's a Crazy Mama to do???? I can tell you one thing I'm doing today ~ I am looking into purchasing an Individual Blue policy through Blue Cross for almost half what we're paying now... and hopefully cheaper xrays in the future.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Fair

I've been volunteering at the book fair at Madalyn's school this week. As usual, being at the elementary school does so much for the soul and offers so much writing material...

There was the boy that couldn't seem to decide how to spend his final two dollars. He had picked a couple of books and then perused the goodies table full of pencils, erasers in the shape of animals and flowers, little containers of slime (that every household needs), a calculator that disguised as a bar of chocolate, and an itty-bitty Rubix cube key chain. His mother had programmed him well because he kept saying, "I can't get a toy. I have to get something that's not a toy..." He picked out a killer whale shaped eraser, and he wanted a sea life pencil to coordinate. I looked through all 378 pencils that were there on the table, and to no avail, I found no sea life themed writing utensils. Not a one. So there we were, clearly not buying any toys or anything that could be misconstrued as being a toy, and he was so hung up on the sea life theme that I wanted to take two pencils and shove them up his little sea life loving nostrils. But I refrained. The school probably wouldn't have thought very highly of a woman who took her frustrations out on a little boy's nostrils, so... I finally convinced him to pick out a couple of sea life erasers he really liked, and he could just use them with the plain pencils he already had at his desk. Ding....ding....ding!!!

At our book fair, each teacher comes in and picks out several books that he or she would like for their classroom. The grandparent's breakfast is strategically planned for the same week as the fair, and the guests attending the breakfast are informed that there are boxes with selections they can purchase and donate to the classroom. Smart folks there at the elementary school, I tell ya. Of course, each class is told about their teacher's box and that they are welcome to purchase a book for their teacher if they have enough money. On Tuesday, a little girl came in that was in my daughter's preschool class last year. So I went to her and asked her if she needed help finding anything. She said no, and then she wandered off to her teacher's box. She looked through for several minutes before looking for herself and walked away with a book to buy for her teacher. I thought that was the most precious thing I had ever seen. A six year old little girl surrounded by books marketed directly toward her little eyes, but her first thought was of her teacher and not herself.

And then there was the little boy who came in with a bag of change, wide-eyed at the book fair. He was a kindergartner, and it was probably his first experience at a book fair. So I asked him if I could count it out for him so that we would know how much he had. I poured the change out into my hand... three quarters, several dimes and nickels, and twenty pennies ~ all it added up to was $2. Broke my heart. So I lied to him about how much he had. I think I've already been forgiven for that little sin. The husband of one of the librarians has been writing a check every day to cover the small amounts some children were coming up short when they got to the register. I don't think there was a person there that didn't give something from their wallet to at least one child. You just can't help it, especially when you can see that they've literally brought all the could scrummage together.

I would still be there working, but Madalyn came to find me in the library complaining about her little foot. In fact, she's been complaining since Monday. So we walked down to the school nurse and she suggested we have the doctor check it out. So off we'll go this morning to the pediatrician. Hopefully all will be well. Hopefully.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More difficult than I thought...

Well, day one of living out my verse from Romans was not such a hot success. I lost my cool with someone I love dearly, and words spewed forth from my mouth like lava from a volcano. Once they're out, they're out and that's not a whole lot you can do to spring forth life from what's smoking beneath the cooled plasma. As I know from experiencing both sides of an argument or disagreement (or volcanic eruption, in my case), apologies aren't good for much of anything. You can be sorry that you did or said something, but you can't take it back.

Day two is shaping out to be full of other frustrations. I just stripped my son's bed - the top bunk of which I don't check the status on a daily basis. I found three pair of athletic pants, seven socks, four pair of shorts, an empty bag of chips (the little single serving size), and and empty juice cup. I am more than perturbed. Well beyond irritation and on into anger. Thankfully for us both, I discovered all of this while he is at school. If he had been home, I feel certain volcanic eruption #2 would be well underway.

So maybe I'll just put my prayer for the day out here in the blogosphere...

Lord, help me to be patient and gentle even when I am frustrated, don't feel understood, when I am angry, tired, or when I am in my son's disgusting bedroom.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

And find out what pleases the Lord...

I can't believe that January has come and gone... just like that, in a flash, the sun has risen and set 31 times. I am thankful that I have two beautiful verses from the Scriptures embedded in the cells of my brain, and I hope that's where they will remain forever. I have enjoyed focusing on their words, the meaning in my life, and the hope found in them. Now ~ on to verse three.

Therefore, I urge you, {Tamara}, in view of God's mercy, to offer {your body as a living sacrifice}, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

I wanted to personalize the verse for myself, so I inserted my name. I like to do that sometimes, especially when the verse says something lovely or hopeful, but this time I did it as more of a challenge to myself. My second verse choice ended with"... and find out what pleases the Lord." So I have thought a lot about those words and what they meant and how I could find out. And, I'll be honest, I think I know what doesn't please Him. We all know, whether we choose to admit and live by or not.

I'm in a phase of my relationship with the Lord that I actually want to please Him. I am not a child anymore spinning like a flower in the field with no concern or care for my salvation. I am no longer the rebellious teenager of faith who desires to test the love of God ~ will He love me even if I do this or that? I am growing and maturing in my faith, finally. And now the one thought the permeates through my day to day is, "So how can I better please Him? How can I take what I've got and honor the Lord?"

Romans is my favorite book in the New Testament. I remember the first time I read it. I saw so much grace, Holy Spirit, power that it made my heart swell. On the other hand, there's this immense responsibility expressed in Romans that was challenging to me ~ one to live a life as a child of God. It's the thought of the two MEs... the earthly me and the holy me and the great chasm in between with the lovely long bridge of grace in between. I find myself these days wanting to live more on the side of holy, to draw nearer to God, to please Him in every way possible, to be surrounded by His love, glory, mercy and spend less time around the crap of the world.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world...

We are all creatures of pattern. We can't help it. Even me - as disorganized and scatter brained as I am - have patterns about me, but most of those are habitual in nature and actually help to keep us sane and on target. But what God says is don't conform to the ways of the world, and boy have I fallen into that trap. This verse makes me stop and look at my life, my day to day, and wonder, if I were looking in on me, would I see something different or would I see worldly? If I am stressed out, do I turn to food or alcohol to cope with my frustrations? If I am angry at my kids, do I yell at them in irritation? If my feelings have been hurt by my spouse or family member, do I lash out in anger? If I am overwhelmed by the bills, do I allow myself to be overtaken with anxiety? Do I have a Godly response to the problems and frustrations of my life, or do I conform to the pattern of this world?

Excuse me for a moment while I tend to my wounds. My own typed words just pierced my soul.

... be transformed by the renewing of your mind...

I want to be transformed. I want to be renewed. I want to act, react, live, and love in such a way that people think, "Hmmmm... she's different. Wonder what it is that enables her to be that way?" There are three people in particular that I want to see it, and they all happen to live in my home. I want them to see God in me, through me, changing and perfecting me, making me more like His splendorous version of me. Changing me so much that the people around me can't help but move closer to God just by witnessing the change.

... his good, pleasing and perfect will.

What God desires for me is good, pleasing and perfect. Anything outside those realms is not of God. Stress over the bills - not so perfect. Hang over on Wednesday morning because I was irritated with the kids and poured a few margaritas on top of it - not so perfect or good or pleasing. Spewing angry words forth and hurting my spouse's feelings - not what I would call goodness. These are the big areas I need to work on. Some days, all three. Other days, just one or two. But I've got to learn to hit the pause button and ask myself before I simply conform to the ordinary and less-than-pleasing-and-perfect ways of the world, "Is this really what God would have me do?"

So, that's what I'll be focusing on for the next two weeks. To be non-conforming. To live with a renewed mind. To live as a sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. I think I have my work cut out for me...