Tuesday, April 29, 2014

God Bless

I don’t pretend to be a theologian.  I wouldn’t have to run my mouth very long to convince you of that.  In the wake of all the loss and storm devastation that has blown across the country, I wouldn’t want to try to wade out too deep in trying to explain why bad things happen to people as if I know exactly how God works.  And I certainly wouldn’t want to put on any airs like I never go to Him with questions and disappointments about losses and tragedies that we suffer, because.......well, I do.   

Fully aware of my own weaknesses, sometimes I look at the 24 hour news cycle and the life circumstances of other people and I try to imagine myself in their situation.  With my glaring frailties in mind, I’m usually certain that I could never endure some of the trials that I see others walking through.  Standing on top of a pile of twisted lumber, littered with all of my earthly possessions, while looking for a loved one would have to be among the very top of that list.  Through the lens of my inadequacy and self-awareness, even thinking about some of the possibilities that life can offer is overwhelming and downright fearsome.

I don’t know a lot of things, but I do know that we are promised, in this fallen world, that we will have trouble.  Some will have more than others.  Some really good people that I’ve known have shouldered what seemed to be the heaviest of burdens and, other times, irreverent, uncaring souls appear to enjoy smooth sailing.  I know the Bible verses that speak to that, but I don't pretend to fully understand it.

I also know that, in this life, we will never completely comprehend how God works.  Sometimes, years after a terrible event, we can look back and see how eternal good may have stemmed from it, but, on earth, we'll never fully grasp the big picture. 
Even though my load has been generally light so far, I have rounded a few corners in my life to find a dreaded situation staring back at me.  When I got there, though, it wasn't like I'd imagined it would be at all.  What I needed to face it was already there....the calm, the hope, the strength, the resources.....it was all there.  Those things didn't come from inside of me, but from the One, who knit me together, who knew my strengths didn't match what I was about to face....He filled in the gaps and stepped in to help me. 
That's what we can hope for the people, who have suffered loss this week by this formidable development in their lives.  I pray that in the situation that they find themselves today....the one they could've not even imagined a couple of days ago....that they have found that God is already there, laying out what they need and who they need.....exactly when they need it....not only so they survive, but so they become "more than conquerors".   
There are so many stories emerging of people, who died in an effort to shield someone they loved from harm.  Daddies shielding children.  A childcare worker holding a baby.  A boyfriend protecting his girlfriend.  There are also friends, volunteers, and emergency workers, who have left their own homes to go and help with whatever is needed.  Love is alive and well in the hearts of the American people.  God is providing. 
My prayer is that the people, who stand in the rubble of everything that they've ever known, even though there's no visible or logical reason for it......that they will experience the peace of God, the vision of better days, and the strength to trudge on and rebuild their lives. 
That is the hope that God offers.  God bless those suffering loss in our country.   
"Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

Monday, April 28, 2014

Due to the Weather

We had a great, full, busy weekend, but seeing as how the weather is a bit sketchy here right now, I'm going to be ever so brief today. 

We went to see Blair in order to haul another load of her stuff home and took in a baseball game, while we were there.  After the 3 1/2 hour game, we waited outside the locker room for the baseball team to come out as Carson wanted some autographs on his cast.  One by one, the players would emerge with fatigue all over their faces from the long, grueling game only to be met by a sea of boys holding out their baseballs and hats......(and cast) to be signed.  They were gracious in their weariness and signed every item that was offered up and posed for pictures and whatnot.  Very nice boys, indeed.     

I'm sitting here listening to the local weather coverage.  It looks like we may be spending some quality, family time in the closet before too long.  The wind gusts will take you away out there.....as it did my shopping cart as I loaded my groceries into the car today.  You've never seen me run so fast as I did then, chasing after my $100 worth of groceries traveling downhill with the wind at their back. 

I've been on the phone with Blair, who's huddled in the hallway of her dorm.  I feel pretty good about where she is and how she's being cared for.  Then, I talked to my little brother, who's traveling through Kentucky, on his way home from a bicycle race in Iowa.  I'm not usually one to get too worked up about the weather, but it is a little hairy with some of our chicks out of their nests.  Prayers for all of those in the path of this weather!

Stay safe!        

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Call from the School Nurse

Yesterday, I got a call from the school, while I was out running errands.  "Joni, this is the school nurse."  Every mother, who's ever gotten this call, stops in her tracks and reviews a mental list of ailments and injuries....wondering which one the nurse is about to name.  Stomach virus (oh, please don't let it be the stomach virus), fever, sore throat, rash...and I have the added worry of Carson's peanut allergy.  I was bracing myself for the verdict when she caught me off guard with......."Carson may have broken his thumb in basketball practice." 

I can handle throw up.  I can handle blood.  I can handle mucus.  I cannot, however, handle bones that are pointing directions, in which they should not be pointing.  I just can't.  I don't know why.  It's just something I don't deal with well.  Just the thought of it makes me squeamish and, of course, Davis was working out of town.   

I rushed to the school to pick him up as I knew that, since I was the only parental unit in the vicinity, I would have to put on my big girl pants and deal with it.  Thankfully, when Blair broke her arm at 15, Davis was there to cover up the gnarly, disfigured limb with a jacket or there would've been two of us laid out the ER. 

Anyway, Carson got in the car and I knew I had to look, so that I could evaluate the situation with my vast expanse of medical knowledge.  "Don't get sick. Don't get sick", I convinced myself.  I took a deep breath as he lifted the ice pack and the second I saw the thumb, I knew it was broken.  "Ok, I've seen enough", I said as my head swooned.  A mother's eye can detect if one of her son's phalanges is even slightly out of whack.  I know the back of his hand like the back of mine.
Of course, by this time of the day, there were no appointments available, but we were told to come and "be worked in", which is a nice way to say, "Come on down here and we'll get to you.....well, when we get to you."  The waiting room was packed with sick children...all coughing and hacking and moaning.  You could almost see the germs fly by you in the air.....like gnats....so breathing as infrequently as possible, we waited here.....
Then, we waited here......
Our pediatrician was very attentive and helpful and, sure enough, the x-ray machine verified my motherly suspicion.  We were splinted and then, since you can't go to the orthopedic people without being referred to the orthopedic people, we were referred to the orthopedic people, who, in turn, said they could "work us in" first thing this morning.  So then, we waited here.....
(It was here, where I saw the cutest, little older couple.  She'd, from all appearances, just broken her leg and as they walked out through the waiting room...big boot, new crutches and all, the little man was following behind her and carrying her purse adorned with pink birds and blue flowers.  So precious.  He was carrying it like a boss, too.  I hope that Davis will carry my pink bird purse with such enthusiasm when the time comes, but I digress.)  Anyway, then we waited in here.......
and in surprisingly and most appreciated good time
So, that was a recap of my last 24 hours, as riveting as it was.  I know this post has had you all on the edge of your seats, but it's all that I've been doing over the last day and since I don't make this stuff up......this is all I've got, people.  We're the Millers and we're doing our part to keep the health care industry booming.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Mammogram

Well, I went for the ol' mammogram yesterday.

I walked in for my appointment a little early, hoping to get the show on the road.  I filled out all the appropriate paperwork and took my seat among the other women there.  Soon, my name was called and I was taken to the little room where they assign you those lockers for your belongings after they instruct you to wipe off your deodorant and put on the gown with the opening to the front.  You know the drill.

There I sat in one of the chairs that lined the hallway with all of the other gowned women, each of us clutching our locker key, as we anxiously awaited our name to be called, so we could get this peep show over with and be on our way.  It sort of had a cattle holding pen kind of feel to it.  I suppose if we're going with that metaphor then there we were..... all waiting to have our udders checked. 
There were some sweet, older women there and we kind of bonded as we sat and waited for quite a while.  I was feeling a bit cocky at this point, sitting among the 70 and up group assembled there, as I was, by far, the "perkiest" in the bunch.  My confidence was soaring.  We exchanged general information like our children's ages, what our husbands do, where we live, and things of that nature.  I don't mind chit chatting with strangers, but then some of the other ladies wanted to take it a step further and went on to tell me which breast was giving them trouble, which one was hurting, how many cysts they had in each one and how many years they'd had them.  I nodded politely, sympathetically winced when I thought it appropriate and inserted an occasional, "Oh, goodness", but kept my breast secrets to myself.

Anyway, finally, my name was called and it was to my relief as I didn't think I could muster up much more enthusiasm for my fellow man's breast stories.  The cute, young girl took me inside the room and we got down to business.  I've always thought that it would take a special person to do that job.....I mean, you know.....corralling bosoms into that machine. All. Day. Long.  I bet she's got a litany of stories to tell at the family Thanksgiving.  Surely, everyone wants to sit at her table.  I know I would.    
She put the little stickers on.  Can we stop here and talk about the little stickers?  What are those anyway.....BB's?  I'm not sure why, but something about it doesn't seem appropriate...you know, a Southern Baptist wearing beaded jewelry there.  I mean my mama taught me right.....too bad she's passed out on her floor again as now I've used the words, breast AND derrière online. 

Anyway, I grabbed the handle and leaned in like I knew to do.  Just when you think you've gotten it all in there, they beg to differ......"I don't think we've got the lower lobe of your lung in here yet" as she pulls and pulls some more.  Then, when you're all up in there and the thing comes down, she says, "Ok, just relax."  I thought, "Oh, I'm relaxed all right.  I can't remember the last time I was this relaxed.  In fact, if I were any more relaxed, I'd be in a coma.....I could stay like this all day." 

There's that first initial clamping down that the machine does.....it tricks you into thinking, "oh, well this isn't so bad".....but I think that just serves the purpose of grabbing you so you can't escape.....one has to wonder if it was from here that the term, booby trap, originated.  The only way you're getting out of there, at this point, would be by gnawing your breast off as wild animals are known to do when trapped, but I digress.  Then the big squeeze happens leaving you looking like a rolled out pie crust and the cute, little girl says, "ok, now don't move"....."oh, I don't think there's much chance of that", you're thinking, while praying for the sound of the little beep, which precedes the release.

You can't help but wonder if those things ever malfunction.  You know dishwashers break, refrigerators go on the fritz, washing machines tear up, cars break down........surely, the mammogram machine is not above disrepair.  I mean, just last week, we had workers over here as our garage door went down, but wouldn't go back up again.  And don't think that didn't cross my mind.  "I bet this is what it would feel like to get your breast caught under the garage door", I thought.  I don't know exactly what circumstances would lead you to find yourself in that predicament, but I can imagine that is what it would feel like if you ever did.
Surely, at some point in time, somewhere in the world, a mammogram machine has clamped down and failed to go back up again.  Can you imagine?  I guess the first thing they'd do is unplug it and plug it back in and see if that helped.  Then maybe, unplug it, blow on the plug, and plug it back in.  If that doesn't work, surely, they have some emergency numbers for such an event.  How embarrassing though if Bob and Howard from maintenance or a slew of firemen had to come in and tinker with it.  But let's not even think about that.       

Can I just say here, too, that I couldn't help but notice the temperature had to have been close to freezing in there.  When the air in a room is cold, it, in turn, cools the hard surfaces in a room.   Undoubtedly, some man, who's never had a mammogram, or breasts for that matter, sitting in a far away office in a different building, playing with his Newton's cradle, was, obviously, controlling the thermostat.  Strip them of their clothes, dignity, their antiperspirant and body temperature so that when all combined, they can honestly say that they've never been more uncomfortable in their life.

As I stood there ensnared, I tried to think of the man's equivalent to the mammogram and alas, I couldn't think of any.  There are several things in a woman's experience for which there is no male equivalent.  Perhaps the gray haired lady sitting beside me said it best, "Women 'sho' do have a lot to worry about."  "Yes, ma'am, they do", I agreed.  I guess we should give the men some credit though.....being that they do have to....well.....um.....ok, never mind.  They don't have to do squat. 
I'll leave you with some parting words on how you can prepare for your next mammogram from one of my favorite speakers, the late Barbara Johnson.....


The Mammogram

"This is an X-ray that has its own name because no one wants to actually say the word "breast." Mammograms require your breasts to do gymnastics. If you have extremely agile breasts, you should do fine. Most breasts, however, pretty much hang around doing nothing in particular, so they are woefully unprepared. But you can prepare for a mammogram right at home using these simple exercises.
Exercise 1: Refrigerate two bookends overnight. Lay one of your breasts (either will do) between the two bookends and smash the bookends together as hard as you can. Repeat this three times daily.

Exercise 2: Locate a pasta maker or old wringer washer. Feed the breast into the machine and start cranking. Repeat twice daily.

Exercise 3 (advanced only please): Situate yourself comfortably on your side on the garage floor. Place one of your breasts snugly behind the rear tire of the family van. When you give the signal, have your hubby slowly ease the car into reverse. Hold for five seconds. Repeat."

Call and make your mammogram appointment today!!! 
 (It's really not that bad.)


Monday, April 21, 2014

Picture Perfect-ish

Whew....What a busy, but wonderful, weekend! 

I've been enjoying all the beautiful Easter pictures on social media.  The darling children, the blooming flowers, the mouthwatering food, the perfect hair.  Let's get real though.....sometimes, things aren't picture perfect.  I wanted to celebrate some of those cutting room floor moments from our weekend.  (I wish this idea had come to me before I deleted some of our sure enough unflattering photos...oh, well.)     

The weekend started when Blair came home Thursday night for Easter break and since there are only three weeks before she's home for summer, she brought a load of stuff home with her. Her roommate's mother is a very talented interior designer, therefore, thanks solely to her, here is what their dorm room looks like.  Unbelievable, huh?  It reminds me of my old dorm room in that mine also had two beds.  I think the similarities stop there.  This picture will help you to get a handle on what moving her home will entail and how much storage space it will require.  Anyway, when this beautiful room is dumped off at your house one load at a time..........   

It looks like this.....
Happy Easter, Mom.  
On Friday, Blair had her grandmother over so that she could demonstrate how she could make sweet potato biscuits.....something she'd learned from one of her professors, while helping her prepare for a university sponsored breakfast.  There we were....three generations of women in the kitchen.  Oh, I got the cutest pictures of the two of them cooking, while they both were wearing Blair's great-great grandmothers' vintage aprons.  This picture found its way to Facebook as it so sweetly portrayed a special moment spent between a grandmother and granddaughter.....
While this one.....well, not so much.  Clearly, here, Blair has become frustrated with one of the other generations in the room.  I will leave it to your imagination as to which one.
Carson woke up at 5:30 am on Saturday morning to go fishing with our associate pastor, who is so good to take up time with the young people in our church.   In retrospect, however, it may not have been a good call, on my part, with it being on the day of family gatherings and a photo appointment.  They caught 36 fish and it was delicious, all fried up with homemade fries.......
But as our company rang the doorbell.........
and then during the egg hunt........ 
and then, semi-conscious, during the Easter picture appointment..........
He also had some baseball games on Good Friday.  I love to sneak around and snap pictures of him.  I adore this shot from behind with the chain link framing the picture.  So precious......
 It's all fun and games until......."Mom, go on!!!!" 

Davis and I never take good pictures.  I repeat...never.  I usually remark, after looking at pictures of us, that someone should put us out of our misery.  We took a couple of pictures that weren't too awful this weekend.
But, this is usually more typical........
I'll be deleting this so it won't surface on a funeral slideshow one day. 
I'm on the Flower Committee at church and we all met on Saturday to decorate the sanctuary for the Easter service.  The decorations turned out beautifully.  Everyone worked so hard.  Here's just a snippet of that........
I was using a knife that I wasn't accustomed to on Saturday and sliced the inside of my hand open.  There was not one thing pretty and Easter-y about that, my friends.  On Sunday morning, an informal, to say the least, ceremony was held outside the church, where I was awarded the highest medal given in Baptist Flower Committee-dom.....the Purple Heart.  When injured in the line of floral duty on Easter weekend in the Baptist church, don't think you will be medically discharged.  They just butterfly you up and pray the tetanus shot you got 20 years ago still holds some residual value. 
We stayed around after church and visited with friends and took pictures.  One by one, everyone left for big, family gatherings involving ham and the traditional Easter fare.

But by Sunday, all of our family gatherings had already taken place plus I'd planned a big Sunday night supper, so Easter lunch found the Millers at Subway......enjoying ham in one of its lower forms.  I can attest that there is no line, no waiting at the Subway after church on Easter.
I would be remiss to not mention the outpouring of love and concern that I was met with at church yesterday concerning my recent bite.  I had several friends inquire of the condition of my backside, at least, it sounded like that was what they were doing.  It was hard to tell between all the snickering and snorting.  I don't know where you have to go to get a little sympathy around here.  I'm happy to report that I think I'm out of the woods with that.  While it's still there, it is improving.  There will be no pictures to illustrate this segment....you will just have to take my word for it.
So those were a few notable points of our Easter weekend.  If you want to see the prettied up version, you can click here.  http://flipagram.com/f/dZmGnuyGjO 
Hope you enjoyed your weekend, too!



Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Wish

I wish you a most wonderful weekend with your family.  Easter is the reason for the hope that is in us.  It is our peace in uncertainty.  It is our life even in death.  I hope these next couple of days of celebration are filled with joy, family, and worship.....and a good brown sugared ham, deviled eggs, and coconut cake.  No matter how you celebrate, remember the debt of gratitude we owe to our Savior.
"But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed."
       Isaiah 53:5          

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Getting to the Bottom of It

Ok....just so you know, this post may not be quite as thought provoking as the last, but still...  I mean....I like to mix it up here on my little blog. 

So, a couple of days ago, something bit me.  Big deal, you say.  Well, normally it wouldn't be a big deal, but it has swelled and itched like crazy!!!  I have no earthly idea what is was, but all I know is that I have never, I repeat, never had anything itch like this.  Yesterday at work, I determined that it wasn't getting much better, so when I got home, I decided I better try to get a good look at it and see if I could tell if it was a bug bite, poison ivy, or something else. 

Getting a close look.....well, therein lies the problem.  You see....well, how can I say this in the most delicate way possible?  The bug or whatever has bitten me on my derrière.....or you know, back there where your leg and your derrière meet up.  I feel sure that is the most tactful way that a southern woman could describe the problem...using the French term and all.  I have always felt that words with accent marks are just a bit more fancy and proper than, say, words without accent marks.....even if the word refers to your backside.  I'm sure my mother has passed out and fallen backwards out of her chair, though, given that I have written about this on the world wide web.  She is the primmest and proper-est of all the southern magnolias.

Anyway, after a few attempts to get a look at the offending area in the mirror, I decided that I just couldn't get turned around enough to get a good view, not even with a mirror. I decided that I needed to get resourceful.  I took my iPhone and turned that thing on selfie mode and snapped 4 or 5 pictures of the mysterious bite and was then able to zoom in on it and see what it looked like.  There I was, in the bathroom, in front of a mirror, snapping pictures of my backside.  I felt like a really old, but more level headed version of Miley Cyrus.  All I could think was, "Please, Lord, don't let this be one of those rotting spider bites or anything that will require seeing doctors with big, bright lights".  I mean I would like a little more room in my Easter dress, but not by way of rotting flesh.  And here I am on the downhill slide of my Doctor Tour 2014 and I sure don't want to be adding any more stops to that list.  

After I examined the pictures, I was careful to promptly delete them as I so didn't want to accidently send one of those to Davis at work, causing him to wreck trying to rush home thinking I was getting fresh.  And certainly, I didn't want to inadvertently select the wrong picture on my camera roll while attempting to post a picture of Carson's baseball game and end up with my backside on Facebook with the caption, "So proud of you".  Anyway, I was almost certain it was a bug bite and not poison ivy, but I needed a second opinion to be sure.

About that time, Davis came in the door from work.  Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding......I think we have a winner.  "Umm, Davis, I need you to look at something for me", I greeted.   I got our brightest of flashlights out of the closet and explained the problem.  He studied it carefully and with all zero of his years in medical school, concluded that I do, indeed, have some type of nasty bug bite back there.  Davis was very professional.....I dare say a  Marcus Welby MD level of professionalism. 

So, anyway,......now we wait to see if rotting or gangrene sets in or if I lose feeling in it or if red streaks appear....or if I have to have anything amputated.   

Only time will tell.      

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Somewhere Along the Way

It’s so depressing to hear all the news coverage of shootings at military bases, bullying and stabbings at schools, bombings, murders, molestations, and every other unimaginable form of assault that human beings can wage against one another.  There’s always been evil and always will, but it seems that, in recent years, it’s become loud, obtrusive, and hard to ignore. The news programs interview experts, who discuss what can be done and their solutions usually involve more screenings, more laws, more money, and more programs, but I think the downturn in our society has been due to a combination of slow, gradual, and, often, unnoticed changes.    

Somewhere along the way, parents started thinking that, as educated, well read, open minded, high tech, professional people, we could handle this family thing on our own.  One day, we began to see the Bible as a little dated and written for another time.  One day, we showed God the door in our schools, because voluntary prayer could be viewed as offensive.  Over time, we showed our kids that being PC is more important than standing firm on your values and that speaking out about your belief in God’s word is the same as being judgmental.  At some point, we modeled that, sometimes, you have to go along to get along.  One day, we got lazy and decided our voice couldn’t make a difference and we went with what we knew wasn’t right, because it was the easy thing to do...besides, it wouldn't matter that much.  One day, getting the family to church took a backseat to getting them to sports or whatever else.   Somewhere along the way, Sunday became just another day as the other six days just couldn't hold it all.

One day, we made our kids the center of the universe, showered them with gifts for every little thing they did and required very little responsibility from them.  One day, trophies were handed out to everyone, games had no score, and award ceremonies were cancelled to prevent feelings of inadequacy.  One day, dance recital gifts started looking like Christmas morning and under the Christmas tree, well, it looked like Toys 'r Us.  One day, we wanted our kids to have the very best of everything, because that was a good reflection on us.  One day, the bar was raised so high that our children couldn't imagine doing without much of anything. Somewhere along the way, we quit preparing them for the real world, where hard work and patience are required in attaining things.

Somewhere along the way, parents became their children’s defense lawyers instead of their disciplinarians…shifting blame, making excuses, and working for reduced punishments in schools or wherever they got themselves into trouble.  One day, parents began to stand united with their kids instead of with authority......working to shelter them from any consequences that might arise from their mistakes.
One day, we got obsessed with our smart phones, iPads, and laptops and quit parenting and talking to our kids.  At some point, social media made it all about us.  One day, our image became more important than our integrity.  Someday, somehow, Facebook friends and Twitter followers took the place of real relationships and profile pictures became a mask for faces streaked with tears and voices that cracked with pain.  Somewhere along the way, we quit being good friends and started sending text messages to say “Let me know if you need anything” or "I'm thinking of you"....after all, we just didn’t have time to talk.  One day, there just wasn't much time for anyone. 
Somewhere along the way, common sense was replaced with procedure.  At some point, the fear of lawsuits began casting a dark, looming shadow over every, single situation.  One day, things that made no sense were accepted without question, because we were all too busy to care.  One day, the question of what we could do for our country took a backseat to what our country could do for us.  One day, the greater good mattered very little when compared with getting what was coming to us.  Somewhere along the way, "What's in it for me?" and "How will this affect me?" became the questions on most everyone's mind.   One day, Black Friday shoppers rioted and protested a store's closing due to the fact that they'd trampled an employee to death on their way in.  At some point, it came to be that no one else really mattered.     
One day, we decided that our kids could sit and play video games for hours with guns splattering blood everywhere and women being assaulted and we were ok with that.  It was just a game.  One day, Andy Griffith and Bill Cosby were replaced with shows that portrayed fathers as complete idiots and kids who were in total control of the household and we said that would be fine, too.  One day, television became raunchy with some of its reality shows and such and we just kept watching and didn't turn the channel.
One day, we quit teaching our children about the compassion of Jesus and we stopped raising hearts that were sensitive to the pain of others.  One day, we taught them that it was more important to come out on top than it was to help others along the way.  One day, schools implemented bullying awareness programs to sensitize the thoughtless, indifferent students that we were sending to school each day.  One day, because of crime and fraud, fear squelched our desire to help and cynicism rooted out our pity.   At some point, our sensitivities to other people's feelings drowned in cyber based communications.
One day, we found ourselves in the road all the time and too busy with all of our activities to cook, sit down at a table, and eat together.  One day, our kids' accomplishments began to feed our own egos, so we signed them up for every activity possible until our calendars were filled to capacity and had no room for much else.  At some point, we started eating meals in the car on the way to where we had to be next.  One day, we didn’t read the Bible with our kids because we’d gotten home so late....and then the next day, too.  At some point, we forgot what it was like to just sit at home with our family and enjoy it.  Somewhere along the way, we started wearing our busyness like a badge of honor.  One day, we were too stressed, too tired, and spread too thin to do the things we should've done.  
One day.  Somewhere along the way.  At some point.

It happened.   


God, forgive me.                            

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekend Highlights

We've had the most delightful weekend!  Yesterday, some of my kinfolk from my Daddy's side came up for a visit and we enjoyed the most wonderful day together!  His side....well, they're a fun people group, so when you combine them with good food, optimal weather, front porch swingin', and seeing my Daddy's face when I looked at my aunt, well, it all made for a perfect day.
Since they don't get up here much, their impending visit launched the type of cleaning spree that is set aside only for infrequent guests.  The infrequent guest requires a higher level of cleaning as they can be fooled into believing that you keep an immaculate house as their visits are widely spaced and planned well in advance.  You know when you have your "usual" company over, you just kind of hit the high spots, as, well... the cat is already out of the bag with them.  However, let visitors who aren't on your frequent flyer list schedule a visit and you'll find yourself using attachments on the vacuum cleaner that you never knew you had.....sucking dust bunnies out of plantation shutters and crouched over baseboards behind furniture so large that only the good Lord sees them.  This is the type cleaning that I found myself doing this week.  I think that it should be a self imposed requirement to schedule this type of special company, at least once a quarter, so to bring scenes like this to the light.
These images contain graphic content, but I'm just keeping it real, people.  I thought I caught a glimpse of something under the piece of furniture that houses Carson's television and Xbox and when I moved it back from the wall, this was what I found.  It was to my relief that I discovered the white box, not to be cigarettes as I thought at first glance, but, instead, only poker cards.  I would have to go with the vice of gambling over cigs at this point.  Also found were the easily explained bouncy balls and the more difficult to justify....congregation of Frosted Flakes.  I'm sure when this chest left Pier One, it could never have imagined anything like this.  This was the most disturbing scene that was unearthed in my cleaning process, but I feel that it serves to connect us with the common folk as I know it, often, appears that it's just glitz, glamour, and all that is fancy over here with us.

Anyway, moving onto today, we enjoyed a fun family afternoon at Mississippi State....besides, of course, the part about the Bulldogs getting whooped by the Rebels.  It was a long, arduous journey from the car to the field with it being Super Bulldog weekend and all and the fact that my purse housed Davis' large bottled water made it that much longer.  Let it be said that Davis never pays $3.00 for water.  Never.  Regardless of the loss, baseball games are always relaxing......with the possible exception of when the clapper of Blair's cowbell goes airborne, almost taking out a couple of Bulldog children seated a few rows below us.  A nice lady seated in front of us took our picture.  It was so kind of her considering she had Carson's seasonal allergies going on behind her and Blair pairing each of the baseball players' last names with her name to see which one sounded best.  I'm sure it was to her relief that we left a little early. 
Before we headed home, we went for coffee and what have you.  Let it be said that Davis never pays $5.00 for coffee at coffeehouses.  Never.  But he does enjoy their comfy chairs, while everyone else is savoring their beverage. 
That was about it, I guess.  Hope your weekend was as good as mine.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ode to Sibling Day '14

Well, I hope National Sibling Day didn't sneak up and find you without a gift for your closest of relatives.  All I know is that here it is after 10:00 pm and neither of my brothers have called to wish me Happy Sibling Day.  It's hard to believe.  You should always be extra nice to your brothers and sisters as you never know when you will need a body part and theirs are sure to be your closest match. 

I love this picture of my little brother's first night at home from the hospital.  The boy had a pair of lungs on him.  That's good, I suppose....I may need one of those one day, Lee.  Anyway, I don't think I liked the new living arrangement from the look on my face.  Little did I know on this night, that one day, in the not so distant future, the one on the left would hold me down, while the one in the middle would pummel me in the face with the blue, wooden handle of his corn popper.  What are siblings for, really, if not to create lifelong trust issues?       
Growing up between two boys, there wasn't much time to sit around and be prissy.  We also had mostly boys on our street, so unless you wanted to be a loner, you had to play what the boys were playing.  Every day, there was some type of ballgame going on in our yard.  It usually was whatever was in season.  We played whiffle ball, Country Jay, HORSE, two hand touch football, croquet, roller skated and skateboarded in the carport, and hit the tennis ball against the house.  I have to brag, too, that when captains starting picking teams in the neighborhood, I was always chosen pretty early on in the process.....I mean, for a little, skinny girl.   

We also fished in the pond behind our house, rode bicycles from morning to dusk, and my all time favorite.....placed pennies on the railroad track down the street, so that we could go back after the train had passed and collect our flattened coins.  Remember, this was the 70's when parents didn't mind if their kids played on the railroad tracks.  We developed something called, common sense, as a result.     

My mother still has a necklace that we all pitched in to buy her from the jewelry counter at TG&Y.  When I say jewelry counter, I mean it in the loosest way possible.  It was a lovely, golden chain or, at least, it was golden in 1978.  I'm not sure what color it is now, but it rests in my mother's jewelry box.  Anyway, its topaz colored plastic pendant bore the impression of a yellow wildflower in its center.  My older brother, Zane, was the main financer of our gifts...I don't know where he got all of his money.  I, the only girl, was always responsible for taking our stash of construction paper, white paste, and pinking shears and creating a lovely card....careful to pen a sentiment that expressed our gratitude, as a whole, to our mother.  Lee, well, he was the baby and you know how that goes.  He couldn't contribute much to our group gifts, but I guess when you're the baby, it doesn't matter....you're gonna be the favorite, regardless.

We were always given the chore of raking the yard and when we'd start fighting in the middle of it, we were all called into my daddy's office, where he'd turn us over his knee and give us a few whops on the derrière.  He operated on kind of the" if one goes down, they all go down" type of system.  Here we are on one of our yard raking days.  This is obviously a "before" picture with us smiling and all. 
Around the fourth of July when firework stands opened, I remember that we'd go over to the vacant lot next to our house and set up army men and build them little forts with sticks.  After we'd gotten it all set up, we'd throw firecrackers at each other's compounds, blowing them to smithereens. Of course, whoever caused the most destruction to the other team was the winner.  Again....1970's....."Sure, y'all take those explosives out and play, while we watch Lawrence Welk."  These are activities you could never do with a sister.  I may not have had anyone to play dress up or share clothes with, but I learned the exact moment that you had to release a firecracker to avoid losing a finger.  That is a skill that will serve you well your whole life.   

Living with boys, I also figured out, early on, that the more nonchalant you could be, while they're coming at you with a lizard, snake, or dead animal, the less time the offending creature would spend in your face.  Boys are into screaming and crying and if you don't give it to them, they lose interest pretty fast. 

My little brother and I shared a common relief when our older brother left for college.  For the first time in our lives, Lee and I felt like we might actually get all we wanted to eat as the bottomless goat had left home.  For years, I'd accompanied my mother to the grocery store in order to push the second cart.  The boy could put away some groceries as he is the root of my eating fast to this day.  "If you don't hurry, Zane will get it", the little voice in my head still taunts.

Anyway, here's one last picture of our little family headed to church.  Zane was rocking that leisure suit, and Lee, the baby, taking his rightful place on the throne of Daddy's arms.  Me and my Pageboy haircut, if you'll notice, are the only ones with an offering envelope.  Interesting.  I'm sure all the boxes were checked off on it as having read my Bible daily, studied my lesson, and worship attendance. 
I guess growing up with boys taught me a lot.  I'm quite adept at hitting pop flies to Carson.  I'm not afraid to bait a hook with a worm.  I can sharpen a knife with a wet rock.  I can catch crickets if the occasion ever calls for it.  I can put a chain back on a bike.  I'm good with tools and assembly.  I know the rules of football and all the NFL teams and their colors. Quite possibly the most advantageous result....my nose is forever numb to the stench of sweat.   

I hope they learned a thing or two from me, too.

Happy Sibling Day, boys. 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Follow-Up or Two

Ok.... first, I have to share this picture taken by my friend, Jean, while she was on a shopping trip in North Carolina.  Jean has located the retirement facility, where all of our 1970's playground equipment is resting comfortably, living out their final days.  We should all make plans to meet there next Tuesday morning after "Captain Kangaroo" goes off and relive recess of 1975, while testing the weight limits of these rusty, childhood relics.  Don't forget to wear your red Keds and bring your metal Holly Hobbie lunchbox and Thermos as lunch will not be provided.  We should be home by the time "ZOOM" comes on at 5:00.  No permission slip needed as, I'm sure, our parents are still not overly concerned with our safety.   

Ok, next order of business.....I need to defend myself on the whole headlight issue.  I realize that my brain has only functioned at about 30% since I turned, oh I'd say, 42 or so.....and, sometimes, I do things that cause me to pause and say to myself, "Good gosh, woman, you are on the verge of needing round the clock care", but driving without turning on my headlights was a first for me.  Well, I was so relieved at dinner tonight when Davis says, "Oh, about your blog today....I think I may have switched your lights to "off" when I took your car in to be serviced yesterday."  Well, there you have it, people.  Did I not say that a leprechaun must have been responsible for that?  The leprechaun's name is Davis.  He would've felt horrible had the incident ended in a shootout or, even worse,......a fine, but all's well that ends well.  I'd like to thank him for coming forward and not leaving me out there, all alone, in the land of self-doubt.       

Also, today was my dentist appointment as I forge ahead in my quest to be checked from top to bottom.  We can go ahead and check that one off of our list.  So glad to have that over with for a while.  Is there anything more torturous than having your teeth cleaned?  They stick that long ice pick type instrument in between your teeth and they scrape and scrape and scrape.  The metal against teeth sound makes its counterpart, the fingernails on chalkboard sound, seem like a melodious lullaby.  Today was an exception, but, usually, I get the chatty dental hygienists, who want to have a conversation with you, while she's got four fingers, an ice pick, a little mirror, and a suction hose all up in your mouth.  They'll usually ask questions like, "How old are your kids now?" or "How did the weather look when you came in?"  You just try to answer the best you can with your tongue pinned down and all , "Ahaaaa eeeehhhh haahheeeaa  aaheehaa".  I have to say that I appreciated today's hygienist's understanding that you cannot have a conversation with someone, while your fist is in their mouth. 

I have other reasons for not enjoying the dentist's office, not the least of which, are my hypersensitive gag reflex and overactive salivary gland.  Those things that they stick in there to take the x-rays......they feel like 2x4s to a gagger and that little, tiny suction hose they use needs to be the size of a garden hose to keep up with my salivary gland.  I'm a squirter.  So embarrassing. 

I guess that's all that happened around these parts today.

Hope your day was good. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Brush with the Law

Well, I found myself in a bit of trouble with the law tonight on my way home from the First Baptist Church Easter choir practice.  Yeah, you heard me.   I may be an alto in the church choir, but I can still get disorderly when the mood strikes. 

After the extra Monday night choir rehearsal that we had to prepare for our upcoming spring/Easter program, I decided it was still early enough to head to Lowe’s to pick up a couple of pots of flowers to plant tomorrow.  When I got several blocks from the church, I noticed a police car pull up right behind me and turn on his lights and siren…….and, wait a minute, another police car pulled up behind him…..and, wait a minute, another police car pulled up behind him….all with their sirens and blinding blue lights “ just a-goin’”.   I immediately pulled over as I was certain that they were attempting to get around me in a race to catch some ruthless thug.  However, when I pulled over, they did, too.  Hmmm.  I was glad that I quickly got over as I surely did not want to add “Evading Police” to whatever other offense I’d committed that was warranting my being chased down by one-third of our local police force.

Anyway, as I sat there eager to hear my charges, the police car directly behind me turns on his big, bright spotlight and shines it into my car.  For what seemed like forever, I waited…..all the while trying to figure out what I could have done.  If I’ve learned one thing from watching reruns of COPS, it’s that when you have three police cars behind you with a spotlight shining in your car, you don’t want to make any sudden movements.  I was careful not to reach for the glove box, my purse, or the console as I didn’t want to set off any type of gunfire and land myself on both the front page AND the obit page of the Tuesday morning paper...nor was I interested in the local news playing clips of my car windows all shot out with close ups of my bullet riddled Easter music covered in glass.

Of course, the first thing I had to ask myself as I sat there was, “Ok, this is my car, right?”  I have been known to attempt to unlock the wrong car at the mall, on more than one occasion.  I quickly established that it was, indeed, my car.  But what if, while I was singing “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, my car was stolen and used in some type of heist involving automatic weapons, zip ties, and a shovel.  As the spotlight went back and forth through my car, I made my way down a mental list of what else I might have done.  I hadn't produced any crack cocaine.....not today, at least.  (Kidding...relax, Protestants.)  I have been known to be a speeder, but I was sure that wasn’t the problem in this case.  I certainly hadn’t been weaving from drinking.  I’d been to Baptist choir practice and Baptists never drink at choir practice.  I wasn’t texting.  I’d stopped at all the stop signs.  I started to feel a little panicky as the policeman finally walked up to my door.  I mean, it’s not every day that three cop cars have you pulled over.  This had to be serious in nature.

The officer walked up to my window, after about five minutes of keeping me in suspense, and greeted me with a warm, “Good evening, ma’am…….do you realize that you’re driving with your lights off?”  I first thought, ”Ok...well, this is embarrassing”, but then I tried to imagine how his communication with dispatch must’ve sounded.  “I’ve got a white, female suspect driving with her lights off.  I’m going to need backup. Stat.”  Anyway, I quickly responded with an appropriate, “Oh, my word!  No, sir, I did not realize that….I’m so sorry!”  I immediately reached down and flipped the lights on as, obviously, a leprechaun had broken into my car, while I was at church, and turned the light switch from “Auto” to “Off”.  There’s no other explanation.  Anyway, the officer continued, “We’re going to need you to turn those on for us”.  I didn’t really like the patronizing tone of his command, but responded with a humble, “Yes, sir”.  I have found in my past brushes with the law that using “sir” in a humble tone, while apologizing for your lawlessness is your best safeguard against being ticketed.    

Well, I suppose I’ve reached that point in life and it has come to this.  The next thing you know, they’ll be pulling me over to tell me my seatbelt is hanging outside the door and is making sparks on the pavement…….or that my dress is caught in the door and flapping in the wind.....or that I’ve had my blinker on for three miles. 

So depressing to get to this stage in life.  It would’ve made a much better story if my offense had been more scandalous and less geriatric in nature, but this is where I am, apparently.  No mugshot.  No newspaper clippings.  No film at 10:00.  Move along, there's nothing to see here.....nothing but a perimenopausal woman with her lights off......and probably a purse on top of her car.                                             

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Not Much, How About You?

I guess I don’t have a whole lot to say about any one thing today, but, instead, I have a tiny bit to say about a few, random things that you may or may not find interesting.  Our life, around here, has just been fraught with thrills and adventure…the kind that movies are made of…..so it’s difficult to hone in on one topic today. 

First, we have to talk about this pollen.  It’s that time of year again. The South is covered with a thick, yellow blanket and the air is so full of the pesky powder that it has taken on a smoky appearance at times.  Sitting out at Carson’s baseball games this week, I caught enough pollen in my hair to impregnate a national forest.  As a result, my head has been pounding for the last 5 days.  It feels like a little blacksmith is in there, beating the stew out of some steel or something.  (I don’t have any idea what it means to beat the stew out of something , but it’s just what we say down here…usually used by your Mama to describe what she was going to do when she got you and your brothers home.)  Anyway, my eyes are so bloodshot that I look like I’ve been having way more fun than I actually have.  My “allergic to everything” boy, Carson (Gold bless him) is sneezing with every breath and his nose and eyes are dripping like a faucet.  He takes three medicines daily for allergy and asthma plus an inhaler and allergy shots, so I don’t know what else we could do for him short of the bubble approach.  Even the dog’s eyes are watering.  It’s serious around here, but the rain we’re getting should help matters.

I do wish that the pine trees could be a little more discreet with their love nonsense and not involve the rest of us in their indiscriminate relationships.  I did read, however, that pine pollen offers several health benefits although I have yet to experience any of them.  It boosts the immune and endocrine systems, reduces pains, lowers cholesterol and inflammation, and most notably….it is a very effective testosterone booster.  I suppose you should go stand outside if you’re in pain or if your cholesterol is high, but, for goodness sake, keep your man indoors.  The last thing most of them need is any kind of boost or inspiration from the pines.   

Switching gears, we renewed our family phone plan this past week.  Blair and I got new iPhones, Davis got my old iPhone and Carson will get his first smart phone when final grades are released as part of an incentive program we implemented.  Davis, the federal government employee, has been using his government issued 1990’s flip phone for the last decade.  I know that there is much wasteful spending that should be exposed in our government, but, I am here to tell you right now, it cannot be found in the USDA employee phone program.  I would text him, “Are you still at work?” and it would take him forever to respond as he’d have to hit “9” three times for “Y”, “3” two times for “E”, and “7” four times for “S”.  It was just a notch above Morse code.  It goes without saying that we are all excited about his stepping up in the phone world.

Each time we get new phones, update our phones or do anything new with our phones, my line and Blair’s line seem to get crossed up, because we share an iTunes account.  The first time this happened was last fall.  My cell phone rang one night and when I answered it, a young man on the other end said, “Hey,..where you at?”  Resisting my urge to point out that his sentence was lacking a verb and ended in an unnecessary preposition, I told him that I thought he might have the wrong person.  Unbeknownst to the poor boy, he had been connected, not with Blair, but her 45 year old mother, who was sitting on the couch, eating an ice cream sandwich in her stretchy pants with night cream on her face.  Imagine his surprise.   

Well, we had the problem all worked out until this past week when we renewed our family plan and our new phones were issued.  Within an hour of having my new phone, I realized that we were crossed up again when a young man texted “me” and asked if “I” would like to see a movie with him over the weekend.  I have to say that it has been a long time since I’ve had this much excitement, but you can imagine Blair’s eagerness to get the problem resolved.  It was kind of reminiscent of back in the day, when a boy had to go through your Mama first as she’d answer the phone on the kitchen wall and when you took it from her, you’d have to stretch the coiled cord into another room for a little privacy.  I say let’s go back to that.  It built character and made us the people we are today.

Oh, and last night, Davis worked late, so Carson and I had a date night.  We went out for pizza and calzones, bought his first pair of jeans sized by WxL, got ice cream, and spent a great deal of time trying on baseball gloves.  Carson has the most awesome sense of humor, so he's always a fun date.  I do think I am loving this teenage son thing.  While he’s not near as eager and cooperative as Blair when taking pictures, he did pump my gas…..a service that Blair does not offer.

That's all I've got today.
Night, y’all….

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

But Seriously

I suppose you could say that tonight's post is a commercial of sorts.  If you haven’t seen the movie, “Son of God”, I highly recommend it as a way to prepare yourself for Easter.  It's no longer playing here in our town, but I know it's still in many theaters.  A couple of weeks ago, we saw it as a family and, while I know there have been many movies done over the years about Jesus’ life, I do think that they can serve the purpose of shaking us and waking us to things that we, often, let drift from our consciousness.

We can’t really imagine, here in 2014 America, what Jesus' life was like or the brutality of the time in which He lived.  Heck, we can hardly wrap our brain around a world without granite countertops, high speed internet, and Starbucks.  Movies about His life can be hard to watch, but I think it’s good for us to be reminded of the atrocities that He endured for us.  When the beating and crucifixion came on the screen, we all shifted, uncomfortably, in our seats and some of us covered our ears and eyes.  I’m guilty of getting so wrapped up in ME and MY little world and MY busy schedule, MY group of friends, and things that affect MY family that, sometimes, I feel a million miles and a million years detached from the cross. 

During the movie, I tried to imagine being Mary, a mother who loved her son with all of her heart.  Just like me.  She’d carried her Son, held Him, watched Him grow, and, I imagine, worried about Him.  Just like me.  She loved Him just like I love my children.  Knowing that kind of love, I imagined watching one of my children being beaten and crucified.  I wondered how a mother’s body could survive the trauma of seeing her son tortured and killed right there before her eyes…how a mother’s heart wouldn’t just stop beating.  Not only was her call to be mother to the Savior a difficult and awkward thing when she was a young, unmarried, pregnant girl, but it also locked her into some devastating grief and loss later in her life, too.  She was part of God’s plan to save us.  Sometimes, what God asks us to do is so very hard, but I want to trust that He has a reason and a plan....like Mary did.

I tried to imagine being Peter after he realized he’d denied Jesus just like he said he would never do.  I’ve never denied Jesus in the flesh, but I’ve tried to distance myself from Him in more subtle and “acceptable” ways.  There have been times when I should have spoken and I stayed quiet.  There have been times when I should've done something and I did nothing.....maybe because I didn't feel comfortable being associated with Jesus in that particular situation.  There weren’t any roosters that crowed to alert me to what I’d done and I didn’t have to look directly into Jesus’ face, but the sin was just the same.  I’m sure Peter was in agony for three days, feeling like he’d blown his chance to prove his faithfulness……but Jesus came back, showed him mercy, and reestablished him....pointing him forward and not backward.  There was the job of building His church that Jesus needed Peter to start on right away.  Sometimes, God has to grow us before He can do His work through us.  I want to learn from my mistakes, forget them, and move forward with what I'm supposed to be doing....like Pete did.

I tried to imagine being the thief, who turned to Jesus as he was hanging next to Him.  I imagined how it would feel to know that you’re in your last hour of life.  I’ve never been on a cross at the point of death, but I’ve hung very anxiously at the end of my rope.  The times when I’m shaken by my own insufficiency is when I'm likely to look for God in the most serious way.  Sometimes, He has to take us to the end of ourselves and to the end of our options to remind us to depend on Him.  I want to know where to turn.... like the thief on the cross did.

I tried to imagine being Jesus.  I tried to imagine knowing the horrific things that were about to happen to me, while watching my closest friends scatter.  My mind couldn’t grasp the idea of asking for God’s forgiveness for people who’d whipped me, spat on me, and mocked me.  How do you ask for mercy for people, who've harmed you so savagely and unapologetically?  I also tried to imagine hanging on a cross for the sake of a woman, who would live over 2,000 years later….a woman who’d be a blogger, a busy mother and wife...a stubborn, complacent, undisciplined woman, who would offend me over and over and over again....a woman whose life would be so full that she wouldn’t give much thought to what I'd done for her on an average day.  I tried to imagine the kind of love that you'd have to have to die for someone like that and I couldn't.  I want to love people even when they're hard to love.....like Jesus did. 

After the movie, the four of us walked back to the car and rode home in total silence.  I think because small talk about work, baseball, school, or what’s for supper seemed so inconsequential in light of what we’d just seen.  In our quiet ten minute ride home, we all looked out our own windows and, somewhere deep inside, where only God can hear, I think we were probably all whispering the same prayer, “I’m so sorry you had to do that for me.”  In the quiet, I’m sure we all shared a similar, unspoken shame in the half-hearted effort we give Him most of the time.

God, forgive me.