Sunday, May 31, 2015

Old School Bible School

It's that time of year again when churches on every corner have banners and advertisements up for their Vacation Bible Schools.  Most of the churches around here go all out for Bible school just as it should be.  The decorations, themed snacks, very involved crafts, and over the top props.  The kids love it and how could they not?

I was looking through some pictures on Facebook that a church posted and I couldn't help but think how different it is now than it was when I was in Bible School and you know I'm all about some nostalgic strolls back in time, so here goes.

Back then, there were 3 kids, who were selected to hold the American Flag, the Christian Flag, and the Bible.  They were the big dogs for the day.  As the pianist played a "marching in" song, everyone would file in behind the chosen three.  I remember sitting down on the hard, creaky legs sticking to the varnished wood.  Bible school was one of the few occasions when we could wear shorts to church, so it was beyond awesome. 

Anyway, there were no palm trees made from paper mache or larger than life jungle animals cut out of plywood or two story rocket ships made of foam core board like there are today.  I don't recall any twinkly lights, large boulders fashioned from crumbled Kraft paper or beach scenes on the stage complete with an umbrella, Adirondack chairs, and wave sound effects.  No, as I recall, there were just the preacher, the music minister, and the podium.....oh, and on a really exciting day, the slide or film projector might be brought in.
Just below the chosen three were the six kids, who were picked each day to take up the offering (aka the change we found in between the vinyl car seats and in the bottom of our Mama's purses that morning).  These offering takers were the kids, who were runners up to the flag holders in the complex Bible school hierarchy system.  I, myself, never submitted my name to be considered for any of these spots.  I was shy and wanted to stay as far away from the front of the room as possible. 

After we said our pledges, sang our songs, and took up the mission offering, it was off to our classroom.  We headed down the hall and there was no grassy pathway cut from indoor/outdoor carpeting leading to the room and our names weren't perfectly penned on laminated, themed shapes hanging from the ceiling.  There were no freshly cut stumps to sit on and no real tents set up in the room in which to have our lesson by lantern light.  No, we walked in and the teacher was like......"You see those brown, folding chairs set up in a semi-circle facing the bulletin board?  Go sit in those.....and don't run."  Oh, those metal chairs were so cold on your bare legs and so you'd put your hands under them until it got warmed up. 

We didn't pretend like we were all on safari riding in a jeep and we didn't sit around a faux campfire made with a few logs and tissue paper flames, while we had our lesson.  The teacher wasn't wearing a cowboy hat, didn't use a black light, and didn't bring in any live amphibians for us to pet.  There were no stuffed monkeys hanging from the ceiling and no thoroughbred horses out in the parking lot for us to sit on.  No, she just sat there in the brown folding chair with her Bible in her lap and those old school pictures that she'd pin to the bulletin board behind her when the time was right.  Something like these might have, very well, been your only visual for the whole day, so you had to glean the most from it.....
After we finished our story, it was time for crafts.  Not the kind of crafts they do today.  No, there was no going to another decorated room where supplies were laid out for some HGTV worthy building a coffee table or blowing your own colored glass or something.  Back then, it was "Ok, now pick up your chair and take them back over to the tables, where we will have our craft.  Do not slide the chairs because we don't want to disturb the class below us!" 

This was my favorite time in Bible school.  I was all about some crafts.  The same teacher would reach into the cabinet and get out a stack of construction paper, a few bottles of glue, some popsicle sticks, and a pack of those foil star stickers.  On a really good craft day, we'd all be issued a baby food jar and maybe fabric scraps or a tin can and some old wallpaper sample books from which we'd fashion some really attractive keepsake.....something our mothers would feel obligated to display somewhere. 

On the days that the teacher would mix up the powder tempera paints, we'd be given a man's old shirt turned paint smock to protect our new summer shirts bought down at Sears and Roebuck.  The teachers were always sure to warn you to be careful not to drip paint on your Buster Brown sandals, too.  And if you finished your craft before everyone else, you were given a mimeographed coloring page and an old coffee can full of broken crayons as a time filler. 
While the beautiful crafts dried on another table, it was on to snack time.  Let me tell you......there were no Pinterest snacks there.  No, sir.  No themed snacks for us.  No bird nests made from chow mein noodles and jelly bean eggs.  No edible Noah's arks fashioned with icing, graham crackers, and animal cookies.  Not even any gummy fish suspended in blue Jell-O and served in clear cups.

We were old school.  "Ok, everybody go sit down and we'll pass out the iced oatmeal cookies and the Dixie cups of cherry Kool-Aid."  There was nothing organic and nobody thought about food allergies or gluten.  As the week would crescendo, you might get a chocolate sandwich cookie......not an Oreo, mind you, but a store brand chocolate sandwich cookie.  Finally, the snacks would peak on Friday as the teacher would pass out the twin pop popsicles.  There was no color requesting, though, because there just simply weren't enough reds to go around.  Someone had to get orange and it might as well be you.  Then, there was that year our church bought the snow cone machine.  Can you say Christmas in July?
Before it was time to go home, there was only one more stop.  Recreation.  Again, no themed games, because, well, there were no themes for our Bible schools back then.....except Jesus and, well, there aren't many games that can be played with a kickball that emulate Jesus.  I suppose it's hard to take away any measure of spiritual growth, while attempting to hit other children in the head with a rubber, inflated ball in order to acquire points.  There's nothing "Jesus" about that.  So, what they did in the 70's, you see, was say, "Here's a ball.....go play and we won't try to draw any parallels between this and the lesson we just covered".  This gave the teachers time to sit and visit and eat their vanilla ice cream cups with the wooden spoons, the upper echelon of snacks reserved for the teachers only.

After we all worked up a sweat and smelled like a herd of goats in a summer rain, it was time to gather our things to go home.  We'd go check to see if the glue and paint on our craft had dried sufficiently to take it home.  Oh, you always prayed it was so.  There was nothing worse than having to leave your craft behind to dry.

I have fond memories of Bible school.  I looked forward to that every year.  It wasn't as fancy and decked out as it is today.  I suppose if we did it the old school way now, these iPad/Xbox/iPhone kids would likely fall out of their undecorated chairs and hit their heads on the undecorated floors, completely overwrought with boredom.  I guess you just have to rock along with the times. 

Either way, working in Bible school is a big job and whether you did it back in the days of paste jars, felt boards, and butter ring cookies or you're doing it now with your cellophane waterfalls, crape paper jellyfish, and choreographed songs, you're doing important work!
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."  Luke 18:16

Have a great Monday, y'all.
Glad to be back in the saddle!




Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Technical Difficulties

I've got to talk fast before I get knocked offline again.  So, I haven't been ignoring you, but we have been having some major problems with our internet connection at home as it has become as intermittent as a couple of windshield wipers on a drizzly day.  This has caused me an unhealthy amount of frustration in my attempts to blog, so I've decided to just start afresh when the replacement equipment arrives from our internet provider.

Hope to see you in a few days!



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Way God Planned It

A friend of mine asked me to write something for her in honor of her son's high school graduation.  Something that expressed the love between a mother and a son.  Since I have a precious son, I thought that I would just write something to him from my heart and it would likely be appropriate for her and her son, too.   

The Way God Planned It

I remember when they placed you in my arms.  A beautiful son.  You were so tiny and helpless.  I remember how your little feet fit in the palm of my hand.  I'd take my fingers and brush your hair over to the side.  You looked like a little man.  I knew, even then, that it wouldn't be too long before I could no longer pick you up and, one day, I'd likely have to look up to see your face.  I remember how I wanted to keep you little and hold you in my arms forever, but I knew that's not the way God planned it. 

I remember thinking, that day, of all the things that you might grow to become.  A friend, employee, boyfriend, student, team member, husband, father, supervisor, leader.  I thought about all the things we needed to teach you first.  How to love, how to work with your hands, how to manage money, how to fish, garden, cook, wash clothes, shoot a gun, and have good manners.  Oh, and how to use a compass, start a fire, run a chainsaw, change a tire, and use jumper cables.  It was a little overwhelming at the thought of how much ground we'd have to cover.  I wanted to just keep you with me and do all those things for you, but I knew that's not the way God planned it.      

I thought about how, one day, you'd likely have your heart broken by a girl.  One day, you might like her more than she likes you.  One day, you might not make the team.  You could be left out on the playground or be overlooked.  One day, you might be bullied or come home crying.  One day, you could be mistreated or wrongly accused.  My eyes filled with tears just thinking of the possibility of your heart being crushed as I held you that day.  I wanted to pull you close and protect you from all the pains of life.  I was ready to fight all of your battles for you and keep anyone from hurting you, but I knew that's not the way God planned it.

I thought about the responsibility of teaching you about God and salvation.  I thought how that was the most important part of my job.  One day, you'd learn Bible verses and go to Vacation Bible School and learn songs about Jesus.  We'd take you to church and try our best to lead you by example.  I thought about how we'd have to teach you life lessons and encourage you to make good choices.  I thought about how inadequate I felt in the face of that giant task.  I wanted to just snap my fingers and make all those important decisions for you, but I knew that's not how God planned it.      

That day, I thought about all the ways you'd make us proud.  We'd likely receive lots of compliments about you through the years.  We'd probably attend our share of programs and ballgames and competitions and we'd surely take lots of pictures.  I was sure your room would have trophies and patches on display.  I thought about how you'd have skills and talents that we'd need to identify and nurture.  And, one day, you'd find that one thing that would make you excited down to your very core.  There would be a passion that you would discover along the way.  Something that God placed inside of you.  Something that would make you who you are.  I wanted to plan out your life and make choices for you that defined success in my mind, but I knew that's not how God planned it.

I thought about how you'd inevitably fail, sometimes.  You'd just not hit the mark.  You'd give it your all and it wouldn't be quite good enough.  There would be jobs you wouldn't get and awards that would be given to someone else.  There would be tests that you'd bomb.  There would be times when your name wouldn't be called or you'd look on a list and it wouldn't be there.  I thought about how much more that would hurt me than it would hurt you.  Just the thought of it broke my heart as I held you that day.  I decided I might need to discourage you from sticking your neck out too far and keep you on a safe path where disappointment couldn't touch you, but I knew that's not how God planned it.       

I thought about how, one day, you'd ride a bike and a skateboard and even drive a car.  One day, you'd travel without me and go places all on your own. You'd go off to camps and overnight visits.  There would be a day when you'd want to ride a horse or buy a kayak or climb a deer stand.  One day, you'd want to travel the country by motorcycle or climb the tallest mountain or learn to fly a plane.  I thought about broken bones, stitches, skinned knees, bumps on the head, and wrecked cars.  There would be sleepless nights, trips to the ER, and sitting up late to see that you got home safely.  I thought maybe I would just protect you from danger by keeping you close to me and not letting you out of my sight, but I knew that's not how God planned it.

I thought about how, one day, you'd likely find a special girl.  You'd want to be with her as much as possible.  I thought about how she'd start to become the center of your world.  There would be a day when you'd go to her with your problems and ask her for advice.  I wondered how that would make me feel.  I wondered if I'd feel replaced.  I held you and just wanted to keep you all for myself, but I knew that's not the way God planned it.

As I looked down at you, I thought about how, one day, you would be leaving our home.  You'd pack your things and load your U-Haul and head out in the direction of your dreams.  I thought about how it could be to a college or a boot camp or a job in a big city......or a thousand different other possibilities. I thought about how you'd have a calling and there'd be a place in God's big, ole world where you'd be needed.  I thought about how quiet it would be without you at home.  I thought about what an adjustment it would be for your Daddy and me.  I looked down at your baby face and planned how I could grab you around the ankles and keep you from ever going off on your own, but I knew that's not the way God planned it.          

You'd never grow to become the man God intended you to be if I kept you little and cradled in my arms.  You'd never have any strength if I fought all your battles.  If I charted your paths, they'd likely take you to places you where you wouldn't be happy.  If I sheltered you from danger, you'd never know the joy of adventure and the thrill of living.  If I kept you from taking chances, you'd never realize your potential and find out what you're good at.  If I did all the hard things for you, you'd be lost when I'm gone.  If I kept you for myself, you'd never know the joy of true love.  If I protected you from experiencing pain, you'd never learn to persevere or appreciate the good times.  If I never taught you about God, you'd never accomplish your part of His big plan.  If I kept you here with me, you'd never find your special place in the world.   

And that's not the way God planned it.        

No one will ever be as proud of you as I am.  No one will hurt for you like I have.  No one will stand taller at the sound of your name than I will.  No one will cheer for you like I have.  No one will want more for you than I do.   

No one knows what it's like to hold your heart inside of them like I did. 

No one.   

As you grow and mature and start to test your wings, remember that, until I draw my final breath, you will be my baby boy. 





Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tired and Throbbing

Well, pardon my southern, but "I'm wore slap out, y'all"!

We've worked for 11 days straight from morning into the night and we are DONE!

were moved into this........
and became this.....
and this....
and this........
and this, etc.
And so, the new store opens in the morning and I am throbbing all over.  Yes, my hair even throbs.  I never knew hair could throb until now, but take my word for throbs.

I just wanted to check in to let y'all know that I'm still among the living.....if you use the term ever so loosely, that is.  And as soon as the feeling returns to my limbs, my mind can, once again, process a thought, and I can no longer feel my pulse in my eyebrows, then I'll get back with you.

It's a blessing when you have a job you love to do.  Five years ago, I was looking for a needed change from the wedding floral business at the very moment that my cousin-in-law (is that a word?), Daniel, and cousin, Amy, were looking for help in starting up their pharmacy gift shops, so it's really been a God thing.  It's fun stuff and they're fun people and that all makes working fun.          

We couldn't have made the opening date without hardworking PATTIE and her sons, Justin and Jared.  And a big thanks to Kim, Jill, Blair, Carson, Davis, and sweet friends, who stopped by to help or just brought goodies to keep us going. 

I'm just ready to resume my normal schedule, which involves eating home cooked meals, working far fewer hours, sleeping way more, and blogging!  I have so much I want to write about, but it won't happen tonight, because my mind is.......well, it's throbbing.

Let me go to bed before I fall out and I'll see you in the next day or two! 

Happy Monday, y'all!          

Sunday, May 10, 2015

When Your Birthday Falls on Mother's Day

Well, I had a wonderful Mother's Day/Birthday Weekend! 

We spent Saturday afternoon at the lake with my brothers and their families to celebrate our mother.  She's the most selfless person any of us know, so she's something to celebrate for sure!  Nothing beats the sunshine, a charcoal grill, a large body of water, a couple of boats, some certifiable relatives, and a sunset to help pass the afternoon.

Of course, we visited with Davis' sweet mother, too.  She's also in the running for being the most selfless person we know.  We definitely have an embarrassment of riches in the mother/grandmother department.     
So, when your birthday falls on Mother's Day, you have an extra special weekend.    
Fun with family, visits with friends, generous helpings of high cholesterol foods, some ruthless cards, and lots of happies!      
Blair made a cupcake bouquet for my birthday cake and it was delicious and just about the cutest thing I'd ever seen!!  I'm so proud of her! 
 After going out for a nice dinner and then chocolate almond ice cream, we came home for gifts. 
Honorable mentions....
A new pair of Chacos, my casual footwear of choice.
and my first year of blog posts printed into book form......
with an appropriate sentiment on the back cover.  
But above anything else I've ever received....
these two may be my favorites. 
I love being their mother! 
So, my fun weekend is over and I have serious work to do now!  The new pharmacy opens on
May 18 and by then these boxes....
and these boxes......
and these boxes......
and other boxes, who are not pictured,
have to be moved, unpacked, and arranged in an attractive manner.....
 in this newly finished, completely empty store space.
We've just scratched the surface of this process.
So, I will take this week off from blogging to get this gift shop up and running.  I will be back with you in a week and I can't wait! 
Y'all have a good week!
I'll miss you.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

For All You Do, Mom

Well, Mother's Day is almost here, so today I went out looking for just the right card to express my love and appreciation to my sweet Mama.  It's difficult, however, to encompass the vast array of loving deeds that our mothers do and have done for us in just a simple fold of cardstock. 

Indeed, there are some lovely cards out there with beautiful sentiments for Mother like.....  
"I thank you
For each truth you've helped me see.
I thank you
For each tear you cried for me.
I thank you
For the heartache that you've known.
I thank you
For the wisdom you have shown.  
Thanks are easily given
But as I hope you are aware
I'll give you something more precious
My devotion, love, and care."  
"You gave the gift of life to me
And then when the time came, you set me free.
I thank you for your loving care,
And now for just being there."

"You're loved so very much
for everything you do.
Your caring heart and thoughtful ways
are special just like you."
Those are lovely, yes, but I think the traditional card largely ignores a broad swath of loving acts that our mothers do quietly and without giving a second thought.  Many of them aren't glamorous or typically enjoyable and yet none are covered in the standard greeting card section.  Greeting companies should consider cards which thank our Moms for those unnoticed and unheralded ways in which they've loved us through the years like...    
For always insisting you take the last piece of pie when, secretly, she wanted it more than life itself.

For using her cupped hands to catch the contents of your stomach when you got sick in the middle of her favorite dress shop. 

For dragging you to piano lessons every week, kicking and screaming, all while telling you that you'd thank her one day.

For smelling the armpits of the shirts you left on your bedroom floor to determine if they were clean or dirty.

For making you sit up straight and poking your shoulder blades as a reminder to hold your shoulders back. 

For unknowingly walking around with dried spit up on her shoulder for the first year of your life. 

For the muffin top you gave her, which will be with her until the day they close her casket.  

For cooking your favorite meal on your birthday even though it always consisted of a fried meat and three starches.

For reminding you that you were not raised in a barn just before saying, "This is why we can't have nice things".

For carrying your ghastly school picture around in that plastic picture sleeve that came with her wallet. 

For quietly pinching you under the table instead of slapping your face and causing a big scene like she should have.   

For your large head circumference taking away her ability to laugh or sneeze without concern.   

For telling you how pretty you were during those awkward years when she knew the truth.

For using her finger to get the sleep boogers out of the corners of your eyes on your way into church.

For teaching you which fork to use when there were more forks on the table than you could shake a stick at.   

For holding out her arm to keep you from crashing through the windshield.

For letting you lick the beaters before raw eggs were bad.

For all the times you wiped your nose on her blouse and drooled on her skirt in church. 

For sucking out your nasty nose with that bulb thing.   

For holding you over the public toilet, so you wouldn't contract a dreadful disease for which there was no cure. 

For warning you that your eyes would get stuck that way until you finally stopped. 

For never wanting a second piece of chicken.   

For giving you "the talk" as vague, awkward, and uninformative as it was.

For having just enough OCD to insist she glue the pictures down on your science project board, so they'd all be straight.

For all the times you made her when you took your first step, outgrew your crib, went to kindergarten, told her she was the worst mother ever, and left for college. 

For using your middle name as a warning to you to put your hands up to protect your face.

For bending over the bathtub and bathing your wiggling tail, while her knees dug into the pink ceramic tile.

For cutting your meat up into small pieces, so you didn't choke to death.

For lying to you for your own good about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the fact that spanking you hurt her more than you. 

For agreeing to sit in the passenger seat, while you learned to drive despite the strong possibility that she would die.  

For wearing the $3 necklace that you gave her out in public.....and for the green ring it left around her neck.  

For licking her fingers to get the grape jelly off your face before you got out of the car for school.

For these things and more, we could never thank our mothers enough.  If you find a card, which mentions any of these quiet acts of love and sacrifice, I suggest you buy it.  It would do your mother's heart some good to know that you recognize what an absolute burden you were.......a leech on her very existence.   

Only four more shopping days, so get out there and get your Mama something good! 

Happy Wednesday, y'all! 


Sunday, May 3, 2015

There's the Duchess and Then There's the Rest of Us

I have to admit that I’ve been captivated by the whole royal birth frenzy.....both times. Something about all the pomp and formal traditions of the monarchy is just fascinating to me.  The cannons, town crier, trumpets, church bells, the landmarks illuminated in pink, the royal birth announcement.  Such a fairytale.      

Besides all the royal celebration and traditions, it's obvious that, as a two time birth-er myself, I'm most captivated by Kate.  Let's be honest, ladies.  Did any of you look like this 12 months after giving birth.......much less 12 hours after checking in to give birth?? 

There are reports that Kate chose to wear Jenny Packham when she left the hospital and introduced her royal baby to the world.  Well, it was kind of the same deal with me except I left in J.C. Penney for its ability to fit around my completely unchanged, postpartum girth....girth in which I was convinced Blair had an identical twin who was still lodged. 
That aside.....I don't like to brag, but I think Davis and I had some eerie similarities to the royal couple when we left the hospital with our own first child.  Yeah, I mean, besides the fact that Davis has glasses and William doesn't and I'm not wearing blue, but, really, other than that........
Look at my nose, would you?  I look like a caricature of Tip O'Neill.  My entire face was pregnant and its features grew distorted and remained so until she started eating solid foods. 
 In the interest of keeping it real on Motherhood and Muffin Tops, the following is what it really looks like when you've just birthed a princess.  This is the face of real childbirth.  These are the culls from rolls and rolls of birthing film that you won't find anywhere else.  A Muffin Top exclusive, if you will.  Viewer discretion is advised.
It was 4:00 in the morning and after 10 hours of hard labor, I was so full of drugs here that I thought my name was Velma and Davis was Aladdin giving Batman and me a ride on his magic carpet back to Gotham City, where I'd parked the Mystery Machine. 
 Ok, and so here we are about 12 hours out from checking in to expel this large headed human being through my loins.  If reports are accurate, this is the time at which Kate got all dolled up, checked out of the hospital, and stood to pose for a slew of photographers and live news.  Had someone told me, in this picture, that I needed to get up, take a shower, put on a light colored dress, appear on live news, and then go on home, I would've taken my hairdryer along with me into the shower.  I left 2 1/2 days later and, even then, only after the nurses peeled my fingers from around their ankles. 
I did eventually do something to myself when I quit seeing double and could stand up without falling over, but still.....I was nothing you'd want to see on the news.
And we can't forget Carson.  I did look better after having him, only because he was born by C-section one short hour after arriving for a routine doctor visit.  I guess I didn't have time to get too ugly.
He made up for it when we got home, though.
We left the hospital and he commenced screaming and continued to do so incessantly for five months.  It was like I'd birthed one of those battery operated babies they send home with teens from health class to discourage teen sex.......only we got the one that wouldn't shut off.....and we couldn't find the battery compartment anywhere. 
Davis took this picture, I suppose, because it captured three things that never happened in his first few months of life......1) He wasn't crying. 2) I wasn't crying. 3) And we were both sleeping.  Those were a glorious four minutes.  
 I love when I go visit young couples and their new babies in the hospital and they just can't stop bragging on how good their new baby is.  I just smile and think to myself, "Honey, that baby's still got enough of your labor drugs in him to sedate a horse.  Let's talk again in two weeks."
People magazine should be relieved that I'm not of royal descent as all the Photoshop on God's green earth couldn’t have made a cover out of my postnatal pictures.
But, despite the disparity in our postpartum allure and style points, I'd say Kate and I both had beautiful results.       
Let me just say.......You are amazing, Duchess of Cambridge.  You deserve a curtsey, a crown, a throne, a castle, a cape, a scepter, a moat, and any other perks you get over there on your side of the pond.  No one over here can birth babies as beautifully as you do. 
We concede.