Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Like Justin's

Today, I went to my closet to look through my selection of black dresses.  It was cool today with the lingering rain bands of Irma still circling so I went to the back of the closet where the forgotten long sleeves were hiding.  Davis put on a suit and we headed out in the dreary mist to our church for a funeral.  The weather seemed to fit the somberness of the day.  We arrived to find parking to be impossible and seating inside was just as scarce as people lined the walls, shoulder to shoulder, and squeezed into every conceivable spot in sight.

It wasn't surprising at all.  It was one of those deaths that seemed to shake the whole town. A dear family in our church had suffered a sudden and tragic loss on Saturday. A young father, husband, son taken without warning. One of those tragedies which causes everyone to stop and think about their own mortality.  The fragility of life and the incredible speed at which it travels.      

Being absent from here, all last week, my plan was to start this week off with a Sunday post about the joy of this cooler weather and possibly some college football and maybe even a new foundation garment update as the wedding is drawing so very near.  But, then Saturday happened and posting about such trifling matters became inappropriate considering the fact that one of the couples I most admire had unexpectedly lost their son and a sweet, young family had lost their husband and daddy so I found it more suitable to honor him, this week.  

We sat in that church filled beyond capacity with dark suits and black dresses surrounding us and I know that what I was thinking probably wasn't too different from everyone else there.  Of course, I thought about what a loss had been dealt to our community.  Of course, there were the questions bouncing around in my head of why someone incredibly gifted who was busy doing so much good would be taken at such a young age. Of course, there were overwhelming feelings of sympathy and sadness for his family, too.  But, there was something else.

The packed crowd listened to the preacher talk about what this young man had accomplished in his short life.  His achievements.  His degrees.  His awards.  His becoming a judge.  Nothing short of impressive.  But, above all of that, the faith he professed in Jesus and the kind of life he led as a result of that commitment. 

So, as I listened, along with those packed in the church with me, I was reminded that, inevitably, we'll all have our turn to be the one at the front of the church with flowers surrounding us and our family members standing close by.  People will gather.  A preacher will speak.  Music will be played.  Just like today.  Death doesn't forget anyone.  No one slips through the cracks.  Nobody sneaks by unnoticed. There will be a day for all of us when we will have to turn in our work.  Whether we feel like we're finished or whether we want to make some last minute changes or whether we regret not putting forth our best effort.  In that moment, I was reminded that we'll all have this day when time is up and pencils are down.  It was one of those cold water in the face moments that happens when a younger person dies. What am I doing with this passing time I'm given?  Is it wisely invested in things that make a difference or am I spending it frivolously?   

At the end of this momentary life, it only matters that you got one question right.  Did I ever confess that I'm a sinner who was without hope of ever being saved if not for Jesus, the Savior, who died on a cross to pay the price for my sins and offered me the gift of salvation?  And if I get that question wrong, well, it really doesn't matter about all the others.  The degrees or the careers or the nice deeds I did or all the pretty stuff I gathered up.  As hard as it is to believe, all the things in this world will, eventually, be forgotten except for the ones that had eternal value. The relationship we had with Jesus and how our lives showed that to other people by the way we treated them, every day.

That's where true peace is found. 

It's the only way our lives can make a difference for eternity.

Like Justin's.



"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16









  



                  



    

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Indivisible

 
Like me, I'm sure you've been touched by all the scenes coming out of Texas.  Sure, the water levels and devastation are mind blowing but they're not nearly as impressive as the human scenes.  People helping people.  Providing for their neighbors.  Saving strangers.  Working for the good of others.  All races.  All ages.  Beautiful, heroic acts.  One after another after another.

I saw a clip of a lady walking through water up to her neck to get to a stranger in a slowly sinking car.  A group of people forming a human chain to rescue an elderly man from his truck.  Miles and miles of boat owners caravanning from Louisiana and Mississippi, and who knows where else, to see if they could help. None of those people wore a uniform or a badge or held any sort of position which obligated them to put themselves in harm's way for the sake of a stranger.  They didn't care if the people who needed help were black, white, or green.  Democrat or Republican.  Liberal or conservative.  They were just going to help their fellow man survive.    

I can't help but think about the difference between last week and this week.  If you watched the news, last week, you'd have thought that our country was so divided that it was on the verge of collapse.  You got the idea that America was so full of hate and bigotry that we were in for some major racial explosion.  You may have even wondered if there was any place you could go in this great country to find peace between liberal and conservative viewpoints.  But, after watching a week's worth of stories that illustrate quite the opposite, it's funny how your whole attitude and outlook can change.  Just from the pictures and stories we're fed constantly through TV, newspaper, social media, radio.  All day.  Every day.  Good or bad.  They affects us.

I guess we can choose to use all of our energy to destroy inanimate objects in the name of unity.  We can cheer and chant for ourselves when they come down like we've accomplished something big and made the world a better place.  We can use our megaphones and signs to scream about unity.  We can get in the faces of those we disagree with and drown out their voices with all of our yelling about what we see as the problem.  We can use our words and platforms to magnify where we differ instead of where we're unified.  We can even sit on the sidelines and talk about someone's shoes while they're engaged in a gesture of unity and pick apart their every single word or movement. 

Or, we can just live out unity.  Wherever we are.      

Like the people in Texas are doing so beautifully. 

I don't know about where you live but it seems like, no matter where I go, these days, people, black and white, are making an extra effort to make eye contact, smile, hold the door a little longer, and just greet each other....not that it's such an unusual occurrence down here or anything.  Regardless of what's said about us, Mississippi is pretty good at that.  It's just the way we are in general, but it seems especially so now.  It's almost like, without using words, we're all just saying to each other, "Hey, I know you've seen some pretty hateful stuff on TV, lately, but that's not me and I know what I've seen probably isn't you either." 

I'm praying that God will give the storm victims all the strength, protection, provision, and patience they need until things are normal for them again.  And praying that the stories and heroic acts that the rest of us are seeing will give us hope and encouragement that we're still one nation. Under God.  Who help each other.  And do the right thing in time of crisis. 

Indivisible.

No matter what the news tries to tell us.



God bless America.  And God bless the people of Texas. 

 
  

Sunday, August 27, 2017

That Moment

We moved Blair into her new place this weekend.  Last week was so busy that I didn't even have time to think about the approaching transition.  There was no time for much of anything that didn't involve packing tape and bubble wrap and my brain was so full of little details that there was no room left for sentimental thoughts. 

But, when I came home, tonight, after all the work was over and all the boxes were gone, I went back to her room to straighten up and try to get things back in order around here. I opened the door and turned on her light.  There were a lot of empty nails on her wall that held art she'd taken with her.  The bookshelves were basically empty.  Only a few straggling picture frames and some old magazines still laying around.  Her sorority bid hung on the wall looking all lonely.  Almost like it was something that was once a big part of her life but was left behind to make room for new things. I went to strip her bedding and there was a stuffed animal laying on the floor by the bed.  Its stitched eyes were coming unraveled from all the love it had received through the years.

The room was a pretty pitiful sight.  It had been picked apart and stood there looking as bare as the Who's Christmas down in Whoville.       

Of course, I knew this was all coming but, even my jubilation about the approaching wedding, couldn't keep this mama's heart from feeling the brief sting of the moment.  That moment that I knew I'd have to face at some point.  Not the moment when she'd go to camp.  Not the moment when she'd go to college.  Then, I knew she'd be back and forth and in and out and that her room was still her home base. 

No, the moment I'm talking about is when the boxes were packed and I knew she wasn't coming back to our house to live.  That her time as a resident in our home was over and, when she did come back, it would be with a suitcase to sleep in a "guest" room.  That moment when I knew my job as her mother to raise and teach and launch her was done.  Complete.   

It's something I knew we'd have to face, one day.  Sooner or later.  I knew there'd be that moment.......at the end of some unknown day out there..........when we'd have to come home, turn on her light, and look at the remnants she'd left behind and try to figure out what do with the room that had been her home for so many years. 

And, yeah, maybe for a little while, try to figure out what to do with ourselves, too.



Y'all have a great day!     



      
           

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Benjamin Franklin, Jonah, and Mommin'

Well, I was going to post last night but our power went off around 6:30 p.m. and didn't come back on until 12:50 a.m. so it was like Little House on the Prairie over here only without bonnets and a fiddle.  If nothing else, though, it reinforced my belief that God, in all His wisdom, saw that I would not be fashioned for the days of yore preceding climate control and He perfectly placed me in this cooler, more thermostatic moment in history.  For that, I am grateful.

Anyway, we called the power company and the automated message said that they hoped to have the problem resolved by midnight or so and, since I knew practically every light in the house would come on and every TV would be blaring, I was just going to stay up so I wouldn't be jarred from my slumber.  But, there aren't many ways to entertain yourself when the power is out for 6 hours.  Ok, well, except eat Cheetos. You can eat Cheetos without power. And, unfortunately, with nothing else to do, you can lose track of how many Cheetos you're eating in the dark.  And, well, you can also read the Bible with your husband's headlamp strapped around your forehead like a coal miner but, really, aside from Cheetos and reading there's not much else that doesn't require electricity.  So, besides the Bible part, not much was accomplished here last night except a renewed appreciation for the fine work of Benjamin Franklin with that kite of his. 

Let me stop here and just say that this post is going to be a rambler, I can tell you that right now.  This next portion of today's muffin top report is purely for your entertainment and my self-deprecation.    

So, I was talking on my cellphone, yesterday, while walking into our neighborhood Dollar General for a few items.  I usually don't talk on my cell phone in stores because having to listen to someone else's phone conversation while I'm shopping is just one of my pet peeves.  However, it was my friend, Michelle, who lives out of town and so I made an exception but I made every attempt to talk softly so to not bother the other dollar store patrons.  I talked and walked while picking up the few things I needed but Michelle said the farther I got into the store, the more I was cutting out on her so I told her to hang on while I went back up to the front so we could finish our conversation. 

The store was pretty quiet.  Not many customers.  I looked around and decided that since I had to stay near the front for good reception, I'd make myself at home there by taking a seat on the medium-sized stack of plastic chairs displayed by the front window.  I hopped up on the top chair and found them to be quite comfortable.  Oh, yes.  This was going to be a good place to finish up my phone call in the relatively quiet store. 

Everything was going good as I was enjoying sitting a spell until I was getting off the phone and, all of a sudden, the stack of chairs started falling forward.  It happened so fast.  The chairs threw me out onto the floor......not unlike the whale which spat Jonah out onto dry land....which, by the way, had to have been softer for Jonah than the tile floor was for me at the Dollar General.  And you know how long it takes to fall.  Well, I fell and fell and fell and fell some more.  And landed hard on my rear end right there between the Gatorade and the Frito-Lay display.  I quickly hopped up to survey how large my audience was and bow if necessary.......and to assess the damage done to my pride.  My left buttock throbbing and my self-respect hemorrhaging right there in front of the Cool Ranch Doritos.  I'm not sure but I think the only person who saw me was the Coca-Cola man restocking the shelves near the back of the store and I'm almost sure he enjoyed the show.  I really stuck the landing.   

So, today, I've been taking ibuprofen because I'm so sore.  I guess I strained some of my muscles....like the ones you only use when, say, you fall out of a stack of chairs at the Dollar General.  I'm sure the security footage has been sent out by mass email for the whole cooperation's entertainment by now.  And, so, there's that.    

And we haven't talked about my Carson starting his senior year of high school, a couple of weeks ago.  I posted his picture on social medial like a bajillion other mothers have done over the last few weeks with a contemplative caption about where time goes.  All parents seem to start wondering about time's whereabouts when their kids get almost grown.  Yeah, and it's all fun and games in motherhood land until time comes calling for your youngest. 

There are all these different phases of child rearing and, while time does fly by in general, not all phases seem to zoom past very quickly.

You bring home the little bundle of joy, who was just a slumbering angel in the hospital, but you get home and your pain meds work their way out of his system and he starts this demonic screaming.  You'd already been bragging on what a good baby he was to everybody who came to the hospital and you get him home and now his head is doing 360's and you're not sure but it looks like his eyes are red and glowing.  "Where has the time gone?" is not something you ever ask in this phase.  No, it's more like "Is it just 9:30 in the morning!?"  I guess you do that when you haven't slept in 8 weeks and are exposed to incessant, shrill noise.  You find yourself begging time to pick up the pace just a bit to get you back to some semblance of a sleep pattern.

Then, comes the time of toddlerhood.  Oh, they're cute enough but they never stop.  From morning to night....go, go, go.  They start giving up the naps and so there's no intermission to be had there.  They get up before the sun rises and have those darn toddler beds with none of those beautiful, precious bars for restraint.  And then there's the whole trying period when they wear that training underwear and your couch smells like a latrine.  You're so tired from just trying to stand between them and death all day.  You know, like keeping them from getting caught in the blinds cord or sticking a fork in a socket or drinking the drain cleaner or throwing themselves off a balcony.  Your protective watch is required 24/7 and you certainly aren't asking where the time has gone here.  No, to your weary bones, it feels like the days move like molasses. 

The toddler years give way to the kid years.  Now, you can relax a little here.  Everybody has pretty much learned the rules concerning the appropriate and inappropriate places to urinate and their more developed depth perception puts them at a much lower risk for plummeting to their death while you lie on the couch watching HGTV.  But, with all those wonderful changes come homework and birthday parties and class cupcakes and ball practice.  Childhood's a busy time for moms as you begin to form that special relationship with your car and start to consider it your second home.  The box tops and immunization records and trying to get those darn straws in the drink pouches.  It feels like you have a million years left before they're grown while you run around and around and around in circles.   

Then, the teen years come and they can drive themselves and would prefer you not fuss over them in public.  They're gone with friends and need you less and less.  All of a sudden, you start trying to find the brake.  You've had your gas on the accelerator all these years and now....woah.  Maybe from where you are now, you can see the finish line.  But, maybe this crazy, wonderful, hectic race isn't one you're ready to finish just yet.  I mean, it's all you've known for so long.  How would you get used to it being any other way?   

Carson did most of those things.  He screamed at the top of his lungs for the first five months of his little life.  And, like boys in general, he took forever to potty train.  We called poison control a time or two after his sampling of a houseplant and then some mushrooms in the yard.  We've been in the ER a half dozen times and worked on homework until we both cried. 

And I wouldn't trade one second of it. 

I just can't believe we're here already. 

I thought I had more time.

But time has a way of fooling you.    

Last week, we got new shirts in at the stores that say "Mommin' is hard".

And it is. 

Really, it just is. 

And we thought most of our tears would happen on the front end of the Mommin'. 

But, sometimes, this back end "ain't" no picnic either.
 



I hope y'all have a great weekend! 
.

          

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hearts Are Bursting Over Here

My heart is about to burst.  Not in a medical sense because, well, that would be pretty serious and I probably wouldn't be posting right now if that was the case.  No, my heart is overflowing with love and gratitude.  We've had a busy, busy weekend with a couple of showers and Carson's first senior year event.  (I'm going to talk about my baby being a senior in my next post.)  So many milestones.  So much excitement.  So much emotion. 

My sister-in-law, Teresa, and niece, Erin, gave Blair and John Samuel a big family kitchen shower on Saturday and made it so special with all the wonderful, little details.  The sweet ladies of our church hosted a bridal tea for them on Sunday and, let me tell you, the Baptist women did not disappoint.  All the weekend's festivities have gotten me thinking about the times in life when seemingly routine gestures become, oh, so memorable to us.  Those days when the usual way of doing things seems so dear.

I decided that there are, at least, three times when love given to us by others seems especially warm and precious.  When lavish kindnesses are directed toward those who are dearest to us.  When we're approaching a corner ahead, nearing the end of one of life's stages and feeling sentimental about changing direction.  And when we find ourselves looking down from one of life's highest points or trying to find our way out of one of its lowest valleys.  And maybe, in the rare instance, when all three of those collide, well, maybe it's just more than a heart can hold.  Maybe we're most sensitive to the kindnesses and friendship of others at those particular places along the road of life.

Whether they spent days cleaning house, running errands, and filling their home beyond capacity with guests.  Baked a bajillion tea cakes or a rich pound cake.  Whether they stressed over the flowers being just so.  Worked on beautiful invitations.  Sat at the register book with a precious smile.  Took pictures to help us remember the day.  Stayed behind the scenes knee deep in the details.  Drove hours to get to us.  Or just gave up an afternoon and kept their church dress on a little while longer to come celebrate the couple's happiness.  There's not one act of kindness that we couldn't see and appreciate and treasure from where we were standing.  Not one that didn't touch us at the deepest part of our hearts.           

Our family is standing on one of life's highest points right now.  So high that we can look around and take in the full view of all of our blessings.  From where we are now, we can see every good thing that has come from God's hand.  But, we've not always been on life's mountain.  We've taken trips through the valleys.  Those points where it's hard to see anything except the steep climb required to get back to where things are good again.  Like when my Daddy was suffering with cancer or watching Davis' mother decline with Alzheimer's disease.  In both the high spots and the low points, there's been one thing I've noticed.  When I stopped and looked around at both places, the high peak and the low vale, I've seen the same beautiful faces surrounding me.  Faces of the sweet souls who went there along with us.   

To weep with us and to celebrate with us.

Walking side by side with God's people is a beautiful and warm place to be. 

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."  Romans 12:15 

Thank you, God, for friends who've done both with us and for this time of life when we're enjoying a beautiful mountaintop view. 

 

 

 
 

Y'all have a great week! 






           





 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Love is the Sweetest Ingredient

Well, the ladies at John Samuel's church gave them a lovely shower yesterday.  Just lovely.  It was held in the fellowship hall of the small town Mississippi church.  The fellowship hall is the social hub of any southern Baptist church, you know.  It's where all things involving a punch bowl and butter mints take place.  It's always a glorious spot of celebration and confections.  Sunday was no exception. 

The flowers, the cakes, the punch, the hospitality......all were perfection.  It was a lovely afternoon spent in the company of the ladies who've helped teach, raise, and likely even rocked my soon to be son-in-law. 

Over the course of the afternoon, I was reminded that church ladies function like a well oiled machine when it comes to showers, receptions, banquets, and such.  They have it down to a science. You give a bunch of church ladies a couple of days and they could plan a couple of funeral meals, a church potluck, a retirement reception, an ice cream social, and a presidential inaugural dinner with time left to spare.  You see, every woman has her own talent or niche and each is known for that specialty....whether it be the gift of the punch ring, flower arranging, beautiful handwriting, or the ever so revered gift of Italian cream icing.  When all of these come together, it is a beautiful thing.  Whatever the gift, whether it be organization or hospitality or beautification or a strong back, church women seem to hold an embarrassment of riches in event planning. 

I was penned up in my bedroom today with the dog while new carpet was being put down in our family room.  I actually accomplished several tasks on my list that would only get done if I.....well, were locked up in a room and forced to do them and so today was that day.

One of the things I'd been putting off was going through Davis' mom's recipes.  She's in a personal care home with advanced Alzheimer's disease and I'd gotten her recipes to make recipe books for her granddaughters.  For a couple of hours, I thumbed through stacks of recipes.  Some handwritten by her.  Some she'd typed.  Some clipped from newspapers or magazines.  Some given to her by friends. 

Year after year, they accumulated.  The recipes she loved others with. Those recipes she made for us.  For her friends.  For the church socials.  For the sick and bereaved. 

Some of the cards were splattered with grease.  Some were so old that they were tattered and bent.  Some were passed along to her by friends....likely after she'd sampled their dish in a fellowship hall somewhere and then asked for the recipe.

Bottom line is that, here in the South, we love with our food and our hospitality.  It's the extra ingredient in the strawberry cake.  It's the warmth of making others feel at ease when they're in your presence.  It's making them feel at home when they're not.  It's the crystal platter and the doilies and the greenery around the punch bowl.  It's the poppy seed chicken on a table loaded with casseroles and pies of every kind for a grieving family.  It's the cake under the cut glass dome for Sunday night company. 

It's the little extras.  The things you didn't have to do but did them anyway. 

Because of love. 

It's the busy women who spend the afternoon showering a young couple with the things they'll need to keep that same kind of love going.

The kind they were shown on Sunday. 




   

   








              



    

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Car Lag and Such

Well, I'm back.

Last week, I was in Atlanta for market.  Basically, if you'd go walking as fast as you could for 12 hours straight for four consecutive days through the largest mall ever making a continual string of quick, on the spot, financial decisions, then you'd get a good taste of what market is like.  I think I found some really good stuff for the stores and enjoyed being with my funny friend and market roomie, Jean, so I'd considered the trip a success.

So, I came home completely exhausted.  Buying for the stores is so much fun but I was so glad to get home away from the big city!  This country mouse doesn't have much patience with big city traffic.  But, after only one really restful day, Blair and I had to load up and head in the other direction to New Orleans to meet with the florist and salon to finalize some wedding details.  So, after getting back from another 8 hours in the car, I'm not real anxious to travel the interstate system for a while.  I never left the house today and finally took a shower and put on real clothes at 3:00 this afternoon so I'm on my way to recovering from my travels.

While I was in New Orleans, Carson had his senior portrait appointment at the school.  So, that is getting pretty real now. His senior year starts two weeks from Friday!  Wedding gifts and showers are starting.  My house is becoming a glorified storage unit and Blair is moving out next month.  Life is just coming at me fast right now.  I'm like....
And I don't know what it's like where you are but here, in the Hospitality State, it's just plain hot.  Let's just say there's nothing hospitable about this hellacious, humid heat.  I saw an article that listed the states according to how miserable their summers are.  Mississippi finally ranked #1 in something!  Most miserable summers in the United States.  Go, us!

And, a couple of days ago, I was in the grocery store where I saw a mother with her three boys.  One was riding in the buggy and the other two were following behind her.  They walked by me and I saw the mother grab one son's arm and tell him through her clenched teeth that if he didn't straighten up she was going to knock the snot out of him. I knew then that it was almost time for school to start.  Mamas are getting testy about now and southern mamas are even growing so cranky that they're ready to dislodge the mucus from their children.   

So, I just stopped in, not because I had anything worth saying, but just to tell you where I've been.  My writing may become more spotty until after the wedding but I appreciate you hanging in there with me.

Y'all get out there and enjoy the last drop of summer vacation.  Sandwich bags and number 2 pencils are coming for us!