Monday, August 31, 2015

Clanging Cymbals

I don't know about y'all, but I've just about gotten to the point where I can't watch the news anymore.  It will just make you want to stick your fingers in your ears and go crawl in a hole somewhere if you watch it long enough.  They have a hard time squeezing all of the murders, terrorism, and violence into a half hour, these days.  Last week seemed especially rough with the news crew murders, the two officers killed in Louisiana, and the deputy shot in Houston.  And you can always count on a story about a random shooting, young people trying to join ISIS, and riots and unrest of every description.      
You watch 30 minutes or more of that and you'll be left feeling like there's just no love left anywhere in the world. 
And that's just the crime and violence. 
Then, the news shows get these panels of experts on to discuss the roots of the problems and offer solutions and their discussions quickly rise to decibels that are unbearable.  Everyone is shouting their opinion.  Talking over each other.  Nobody's listening to what anyone else has to say. 
You get online and your newsfeed is FULL of articles and more articles.....and memes with jabbing captions aimed at the other side of a thousand issues.  It's an "in your face" mentality.  Everyone wants to get their point across and make their opinion known.  Some of it is truth spoken by Christians, but the delivery......well, it's hard to tell if it serves to heal or divide.  Discord and hate and controversy are just blaring at us no matter where we turn.  
It does leave one to wonder where the love is.   
If we don't have love, the Bible says we sound like clanging cymbals. 
YES!  That's it!  That's what it's all starting to sound like!  A room.....with horrible acoustics.....full of clanging cymbals.......played by people, whose only goal is that their cymbal is heard above everyone else's cymbal.   
We're all just about to OD on the noise.  Our lives are so full of noise.  Loud, chaotic, swelling noise.  It's become all about the cymbals and the 24 hour news cycle, the internet, and social media.....they have made it possible for us to hear every single, obnoxious, clanging beat. 
That wears on you after a while.   
Some days, I wish I could do just what we, parents, have to do when all the kids are fighting in the backseat of the car.  I just want to slam on the brakes, put the car in park, and turn around and scream.......
"SHUT UP!!!  Every, single one of you just SHUT UP!!!!!  That goes for ALL of you!  I don't care who's right and who's wrong, I DON'T want to hear another word out of ANY of you!  Do you understand?!?"       
The Bible defines love for us in 1 Corinthians.  It's very specific about what love is and what love does.......(oddly, I don't see where "Shut Up" is listed) 

 Love is patient; love is kind;
love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it keeps no record of being wronged;
 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
 Love never fails. 
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Since hate is the opposite of love, we can use the Bible's definition of love to define hate.  It is everything that love is not.     
Hate is impatient; hate is cruel;
Hate is envious, boastful, arrogant, and rude.
It insists on its own way; it keeps meticulous records of being wronged;
It rejoices in wrongdoing and rejects the truth
It perseveres in nothing, has faith in nothing, hopes in nothing.
Hate always fails. 

Whoa. Sound familiar?
I think I can add even more to that....
Hate is mean spirited; hate is cold.
It is never satisfied; always hungry for more.
Hate seeks revenge; it takes delight in destruction.
It is contagious and enjoys an epidemic. 
Hate is all-consuming.
Hate never finds what it's looking for. 

With the news like it's been, I've detected a social media trend of people sharing pictures and stories of love and kindness that they see along their path.  It's an attempt to change the lyrics.  To slow down the tempo.  To play their instrument above the brash cymbals. 

I wonder if we heard more about them..... 

And less about them........
Would it make a difference? 

I wonder if we quit giving all the solos to the cymbals......quit letting hate lead the music.......and tuned our responses just a bit.........would it change anything?

We've got enough cymbals. 

As God's children, we need to pick another instrument if we're going to join the orchestra. 

Let's all share something good that we see today!   

Have a great one!   



Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Houdini Act

I ran out yesterday afternoon to just kick around in a few stores.  I didn't really have anything, in particular, to buy.  I just wanted to get out and ramble a bit.  I found myself in a store with a couple of dresses in my hand and began that big debate we all have with ourselves.  Do I want to try these on here or take them home with an 89.5% chance of having to bring them right back?  I decided I'd bite the bullet and head to the fitting room.

I put the first dress on and everything was going smoothly.  It fit and I liked the way it looked on me, so I put it back on the hanger and grabbed the next one.  I put my arms up and pulled it over my head and could tell right away that it wasn't going to work for me.  You know that snug feeling you get when something just isn't going to accommodate your girth.  Kind of like a swaddled baby only not near as content.  Perhaps it would work if, say, you didn't have to inhale or exhale, but since that's preferable, you know it won't be going home with you.  It will have to continue to hang on the rack and wait for a smaller, more wispy girl to come along. 

So, anyway, I start taking it off and make it all the way up to my upper arms and then it happened.  The dress got stuck around my shoulders.  I couldn't go up with it and I couldn't go down with it.  I was trapped.  They say that the shoulders are the most difficult to expel through the birth canal during labor and I can attest that this same general rule also applies when attempting to pass through an ill-fitting dress.  Perhaps, a pair of forceps would have been a welcomed sight at this point in the story, but I digress. 

My arms were bound to my body by the dress and I couldn't do anything.  I'm familiar with the "You break it, you buy it" policy, but I wondered, as I stood in the dressing room clothed only from the shoulders up, what the standard procedure is for customers who get stuck in things.  You become lodged in it, you buy it?  If only there had been someone with me, who could've come and pulled me out.  There was a lady in the fitting room next to mine, but exposing yourself to a complete stranger from the shoulders down is generally not something that is well received. 

The temperature in the dressing room suddenly began to shoot up about 20 degrees and I started to have difficulty getting a deep breath.  Panic had set in.  I have a slight case of claustrophobia, you see.  I decided to just stop and take some slow, deep relaxation breaths before I made another attempt to escape from the dress now turned tourniquet.  It was important that I keep a sufficient oxygen level in order to maintain consciousness as I tried to imagine an attendant finding me on the floor with the dress around my head and how that whole scenario would sound on the police scanner.  I was starting to feel like the Great Houdini......only right side up and not nearly as magical or impressive. 

After regaining my composure, a couple of more attempts and a mile of stretched threads later, I did finally free myself from the situation and am still here to tell about it.  I know you're all glad of that since this is such a riveting tale.   I'm sure the wispy girl and the dress will be happy together.  I trust that she will find the seams to be good and broken in now. 

Why do I tell you this story, you ask? 

I have no idea.

But, surely, there is a moral in there somewhere that I can dig out for us all- no matter our situation.......

When life is squeezing you....I mean, really, really squeezing you.  When it has you in a very tight spot and you feel so small and dainty up next to your problem, always remember...
never underestimate yourself, you are bigger than you think.   

Amen and amen.   

Have a great Monday, people.        

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Are We Still On for Tomorrow?

We've all got friends.  We've got lots of different kinds of friends.  We have friends from childhood and high school and college.  We have friendships with mothers whose children are friends with our children -I had dinner with some of those this week.  We have work friends -had lunch with a group of those kinds of friends yesterday.  We've got friends who have the same interest as, music, running, sewing.  We've got friendships that form in specific friends, sorority friends, gym friends, soccer mom friends.  There are a thousand different ways to become friends and who doesn't enjoy a little friend time?  It's good for the soul.

With that being said, there is a phenomenon, related to socializing with friends, that I feel is universal.  Something that I believe we all experience from time to time and don't tell me you don't do this.......   

About two weeks out, we make these grand social plans with our friends.  We're all going to get together, go to dinner, catch a movie, and then invite them all back to our house for dessert.  It will be so much fun and that sounds great to everyone........when it's two weeks away. 

About a week out, you start to think about the logistics and the reality that those logistics bring...... 
Do we need to leave the children home alone for that long?  Can we find a sitter?  I have to be at work early the next day.  I have to clean my house and what dessert will I make?   It's going to be so late when we get out of the movie.  I didn't know I have a meeting that afternoon.  I'm so tired. 
Blah, blah, blah.    

So, about 2 days out, we start looking at the weather.....any sign of a hurricane making landfall or any sort of watches and warnings.  I mean, it wouldn't be safe to go out in any of that.  If the weather forecast is clear, we may start to send out texts to feel everyone else out.  "Are we still on for tomorrow night?"  Deep down wishing someone has forgotten and has made other plans.  In that case, you could reschedule a time which is better for maybe in two weeks.  Everything sounds good in two weeks.  After all, it would be the only considerate thing to do to make accommodations for everyone's schedule.

And you certainly wouldn't wish sickness on anyone, but if only one person....just one.....was feeling poorly, then it would be best to just wait when everyone could go.  "Let's just wait until we can all go" is code for "Please, please, please, don't make me put on a bra and go anywhere tonight".

You start to experience guilt and worry for feeling this way.  I mean, what is wrong with you, anyway?!?  You love your friends!  Get yourself together!  What are you 87?  You start to question, if given the opportunity, would you be content to just become a hermit living in your own filth with 45 cats to scratch all of your social itches.   

We do this with starting something new, too.  "This summer, I'm going to start going to the gym" or  "Next month, I'm going to do the 5k run".  My friend, Julie, and I were going to start yoga in August.  I mean, after all, we're closer to 50 than to 40 and we need to improve/maintain our flexibility.  If by "starting in August", we meant August 31, then we're still on track, but it's just not coming together like we envisioned.  It's all fun and games talking about yoga in August when it's June, but when it's time to actually drag your tail and your new mat to the only two empty spots, on the front row, and attempt a downward facing dog in your skin tight pants for all of rows 2-6 to see.......well, then it becomes a bit more problematic.        

This phenomenon also occurs when we're planning children's birthday parties.  Three months out, we've got it all planned.  We're going to rent this big, inflatable water slide for the backyard.  We'll invite all the parents, grill burgers and dogs, rent a snowball machine, and the kids can all spend the night.  There will be a glow in the dark piñata, movies on a big screen in the backyard, and after a big waffle bar breakfast the next day, we'll take them all home.  It will be a blast.

Invitations go out.  It's all good......until one week before.  Let's've got 15 kids and their parents and their siblings coming to your backyard (which needs serious landscape attention) to eat burgers.....that's 15 kids, 30 parents, 12 siblings......57 x buns, chips, condiments, drinks, ice cream, plates, ice, yada yada yada.  27 kids with wet grass on their feet going in and out of your house to use the restroom.  Snowball juice on your new sofa.  And what were you thinking when you said spend the night???  Were you doing crack cocaine that day?  That's tacking on 15 more hours of them running after the dog with those foam sword party favors, wetting your toilet seats, spewing silly string everywhere, and spilling liquids containing red dye 40 on your rugs.  Your trial run of the glow in the dark piñata didn't work, so you take that pin off of your "Party Ideas" Pinterest board.  The waffle bar, well, you decide to change that to the Pop Tart bar.  What kid doesn't like those?  And you don't have to get up near as early to remove those silver foil packages from their boxes.  You wrote on the invitation (sent out 2 weeks ago) you'd have them home by 10:00 a.m., but wonder if their parents would mind you bringing them a little earlier.......say 6:15?  I mean, after all, they got up at 4:45.....along with their foam swords, which seemed like such a good purchase a month ago.  

Don't tell me I'm alone in this.  Plans seem the most exciting......the peak of their perfection at 2-4 weeks away.  As they draw closer, you start to see their cracks, flaws, their maybe you didn't think it all the way through.  You know you've all had that friend call and say, "I'm just not going to be able to make it tonight.  Can we reschedule?" and after you've expressed all the appropriate disappointment, you get off the phone and say, "Yes, yes, yes!!!  I don't have to get out in the cold, leave my chair, blanket OR this rerun of House Hunters that never, ever gets old!!"

It's ok.  We all do it.  

I think that there's one simple explanation for this dichotomy.  The desire that exists to see friends, visit with them, and be social and the desire to stay home and be quiet.  I propose that the answer is simple.......

In order to be social, you have to put on pants.  Period. 

That, my friends, is the missing piece to this age old puzzle.  We want to go out.  We want to start new things.  We want to entertain, but.......the pants.   Is it worth putting on pants? 
If there are any other mysteries of life you need answered, please, don't hesitate to ask.  I am here for you. 

I hope y'all have a great weekend! 

See you soon! 


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What Can We Talk About?

Sorry that I've been quiet this week!  It was one of those busy weekends that just spilled right over into the next week.  On top of that, my mind has been blank.  Blank as in.....

Yeah, pretty blank.

From time to time, blankness sets in and you're forced to listen to me babble on about nothing until the blankness recedes.  So, I'm just going to touch on a few space fillers and we'll try to muddle through this word drought together.  Let's shoot for 5.......because 5 is a good number.   

1)  Ok, so not to get political, but the last week or so of news coverage has just been brutal for Hillary.  I can't help it.  Every time I've seen her at a microphone lately, this clip from The Naked Gun plays in my head.........

2) So, have you heard about the adult coloring book craze?  Not "adult" as in naughty picture coloring books, because that wouldn't be very Christian of me to promote something like that......but "adult" as in intricate designs and pictures to color.  It's a big thing now.  We ordered some of these books for the pharmacy gift shop and I decided to get one and try it over the weekend. 

Coloring is said to relieve stress, calm the mind, and increase focus.  Some studies even suggest that it activates the logic part of the brain and stimulates creativity.  I don't know about all of that, but I did notice and can testify that....
1) The tip of my index finger has been numb for 3 days now. 
2) I have that old, familiar indention in the side of my middle finger that I haven't had since grade school. 
3) And I spent 4 hours coloring a bird.......4 hours that I will never get back. 
I hung it on my own refrigerator, because what else does an adult do with the pictures they color?        

3)  Ok, I saw where another movie star was hospitalized for exhaustion.  Is that a real thing?  So, if you can get your doctor to say you're exhausted, you can be put to bed and get out of your obligations and stuff? 

I believe we, regular people, have failed to tap into this medical goldmine, which, to date, has seemingly been offered only to the rich and famous.

We should all make an appointment......and pack a bag just in case.

"Mommy's going to the hospital for a few days.  She's exhausted."

4)  A cold front came through here today and the weather is just fabulous.  Today, the high temp was in the mid 80's, lows tonight are in the 50's, and the humidity was around 33%!   In Mississippi, we usually call that "Thanksgiving", so it was a welcomed surprise and a much needed reprieve from the normal stifling August heat in the deep South. 
If this lasts more than a couple of days, we'll all be like......
5)  Knowing my hard water stained toilet dilemma, my sister-in-law recently told me about a tip she'd read.  If you float a Magic Eraser in your toilet overnight, it will eliminate that pesky ring by morning.  In the interest of mothers helping mothers, in case any of you were thinking of trying that trick, let me tell you what you'll find the next morning.........a sunken, soggy sponge that you have to fish out of the bottom of your hard water stained toilet. 
 Just so you know.   
Obviously, all that coloring did nothing for my creativity or focus. 
I'll be back Thursday, y'all!        


Thursday, August 20, 2015

We've All Got Something

Carson has eczema.  No, I take that back.  Carson has really, really bad eczema.  He's had it since he was just a few months old.  If it's in the asthma/allergy textbook, he's likely got it.  Bless him.       

Over the years, we've seen many wonderful after doctor after doctor.  We've gotten a lot of different advice.  But, we've never really found the silver bullet.  He has enough tubes and tubs of prescribed ointments and creams in his bathroom to sink a cruise ship.  On top of that, anything we've ever read or heard testimonials about, we've gone out and bought those, too.  For some reason, over the last year, it's really gotten miserable for him and the last month has been the worst ever.  

He's a teenager now and, as you would expect, it bothers him more than when he was younger.  I find myself talking to him a good bit about perspective and we all have them.  Every one of us.  Some are visible like his and some you'd never know about, but everybody has something that they have to deal with each day.  Something that taxes them, stretches them, wears on them.  Something that they wish, with all their heart, they could change.  Weight issues, depression, infertility, arthritis, divorce, diabetes, anxiety, impaired vision, addiction.....and yes, eczema.    

I was reminded about this today while I was shopping for groceries.  I was on the baking aisle when I noticed a woman, about my age, pass by with her cart.  She walked with a very pronounced limp and one of her arms was drawn up to her body.  She wore very thick glasses and I felt sorry for her as every step seemed to be such a struggle.   

She went looking at the spices and I was close enough to hear her ask another woman passing by if she could hand her something off the shelf.  Her hands weren't cooperating and she just couldn't grab what she was trying to get.  The other woman was more than happy to help and when I turned around, I noticed she, herself, was missing an arm. 

The lady thanked her for the help in a slow, stammering speech and asked if she could share what had happened to her.  She began to tell a story about an accident.  Her words didn't come easily and she stuttered trying to get them out.  I couldn't hear everything she was saying, but I did hear that she'd had to learn to do everything all over again.  They talked for a while and then the two ladies hugged.  I could tell that they felt a kind of bond in their brokenness.  God knew who needed to pass by the spices at that very moment. 

We're all broken in one way or another.  Some of us can't hide our much as we'd like to.  Some of our struggles are unseen.  It's hard to tell which is harder.  Either way, we've all got something.  Something that rears its head at us every single day.  Something that causes us to grow tired and discouraged some days.  Something that we have to get up and wrestle all by ourselves.

I don't know where I was going with this except that it was just on my heart tonight as I've wrapped warm compresses around Carson's irritated skin.   

I thought how we could all stand to be reminded that everyone we meet is going through their own, little battle.  We're all in hand to hand combat with something.   

Every one of us could use a little slack......and a kind word to make it all just a little easier.

Hope y'all have a great weekend! 






Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Where Has the Time Gone?

You've probably seen it a thousand times over the last couple of weeks .  Pictures of kindergarteners on their first day of being dropped off at college......teenagers driving off by themselves for the first time.....all with similar captions, "Where has the time gone?"  

It's, apparently, what we, moms, say.  It is written in the revised version of the motherhood handbook that upon posting any photo depicting a milestone, it is required that the mother include the caption, "Where has the time gone?"  It's like we're all trying to process the fact that we turned around for a minute and our children had made these huge leaps forward in time. 

Last week, Carson got his driver's permit and Blair turned 21 and started her senior year of college, so I, myself, have been pelted in the face with a fistful of milestones recently.  A sort of golf ball sized hailstorm, if you will. 

It does leave one to wonder......Where has the time gone?

I thought, today, we'd see if we could figure this out.            

Well, a big chunk of it got away all the times you waited to be worked in at the doctor's office after the school nurse called you at 11:30 and, by the time you talked to the doctor's office, all the appointments were filled, but "we can work him in if you can be here at 1:00".  Five hours and four new virus exposures later, you're walking out with a prescription and visible bacteria stuck to every inch of their exposed skin.....for which you'll return in 5-7 days after the incubation period is complete. 

Then, there were the times when you were just going to sit down for a minute and watch a little daytime TV while the little one napped and, next thing you knew, it was almost dark, Peter Jennings was on, and you'd drooled all over yourself and the leather recliner.

A good bit of time was spent waiting on dance class, piano lessons, and ball practice to be over......sitting in the minivan thinking about all the frozen bricks of meat in your freezer and how you were going to transform one of those icebergs into something edible within the hour.  

The time that passed while you waited for them to sound out the words in those first readers cannot be discounted......."the fast......runs fast".  Was any time passage more painful than that?    

There was a good bit of time that went by waiting on them to "tee tee" in the potty.....sometimes, turning the sink faucet on for inspiration.  Please, for the love of all mankind, urinate already.

Don't forget how long you waited in the line on all those Black Fridays to get the last Leap Pad, Tickle Me Elmo, and pink Nintendo DS in our solar system. 

Some time got away while you sat in school meetings in the cafeteria with your feet sticking to the floor, smelling the remnants of the John Wayne casserole from lunch....listening to an explanation of the dress code revisions, the upcoming raffle, and the acceptable and unacceptable drop off points around the school.    

You can't deny the cumulative hours spent trying to get them to burp......and then, 10 years later, the time spent trying to get them not to burp.

Oh, how about the time that we used waiting on glitter glue to dry and blowing the ink on those reading fair projects so it wouldn't smear.  And the days that passed, while we charted the growth of bean sprouts in Styrofoam cups under varying, stressful conditions, should not be taken lightly.  

A lot of sand went through the hourglass while you stood in Chick-fil-A lines that one year they wouldn't eat anything else. 

I don't even want to know how many hours were spent waiting for them to "do it myself" as you finally just stretched out across the floor face first in the carpet waiting on them to get their Keds tied. 

Oh, the moments that crept by while we looked for pacifiers, blankets, stuffed dogs, left shoes, red leotards, baseball socks, and Barbie's pink, plastic pumps.        

A lot of time passed waiting on the oven to preheat and water to boil during those chicken nugget and macaroni and cheese years.   

If you add up all the fifteen minutes that you had to keep them out of the pool after they ate, you might be surprised......oh, and all the 20 minute periods you had to stick around after allergy shots reading outdated issues of People.   

There were, at least, two cumulative years spent sitting in the carpool line behind those crazy mothers who'd get there right after lunch so they could be first.

Then, there are the school forms.  One cannot fail to take into consideration the amount of time invested in filling out the reams of redundant forms required for attending school in the United States of America.       

We'd be remiss not to mention the time you spent trying to sneak out of their bed after you'd promised to lie down with them until they fell asleep.  "Where are you going, Mommy?" .....Dang it.   

Oh, if we could retrieve all the combined time warnings at the playgrounds, parks, and pools, "Ok, five more minutes and we've got to go".........we'd all be a few years younger if we had all that back.

Yeah, there were all those times like....."You better get in here by the time I count to 3 or else!"  Those 3's can really add up over the years. 

There were the moments that passed waiting and waiting and waiting for them to fall asleep on Christmas Eve.  Luckily, Benadryl is red and could be called "Christmas Juice".

I suppose if you consider all the hours that passed waiting on thermometers to beep, bottles to warm, bathtubs to fill, VHS tapes to rewind, nurses to call back, spin cycles to finish, grilled cheeses to melt, and cupcakes to cool, I guess it makes sense.                

Time doesn't break off in big chunks.  It doesn't gush, flood, or surge.  It's not a blowout.  It never takes giant leaps or makes any sudden moves.  Time doesn't make a grand exit.        

It's more of a slow leak.  A gradual melting.  A slight trickle.          

It passes in these small, undetectable increments.  I guess if it passed us in a grander, more dramatic style, maybe we'd be more deliberate with it......more aware of it.  But, since it fools us into believing it's not going anywhere, we're caught off guard when we see how much has gotten by us. 

The next time you find yourself wondering, "Where has the time gone?".....just know that, while you were standing at the stove, reading stories, and sitting up on prom night, that's when it happened.  Yeah, while you were doing all those wonderfully important things, time quietly slipped out the back.

It's ok, though.   

You were busy raising children. 

You were busy being their Mama. 

Happy Wednesday, my friends!              

Sunday, August 16, 2015

15 Things Sorority Girls Know For Sure

After my stint at the sorority house, I decided there are a few things that we could all learn from these sweet college girls. 
1) Sometimes, life can get hectic and inadequate sleep can be unhealthy.  It is a good habit to make rest a priority at the very moment you start to feel tired.   
2)  Friends are so very important and there's no better way to show your solidarity than by using mystifying hand gestures.   
3)  No matter where you live, the kinder you are to the cook, the more frequently macaroni and cheese will be served.
4) Always, always, always check your friends' teeth before posing for a picture. 
"It's right there"....."Did I get it?"......"Nope, still there."    
5)  When caterers drop off a taco bar and tell you that the same amount of food fed the football team the night before with leftovers, consider this a challenge and, on behalf of women everywhere,
 bring it. 
6)  There is no such thing as too much glitter.  Ever.  Among mothers, it is the most misunderstood of all the craft supplies.
7)  If you and your friends all wear the same color, it will be easy to find them in a know, in case you get separated.
8)  On chicken tender night, never be fooled by the term "comeback sauce".  
When you come back, it will be gone.

 9)  Meetings can, sometimes, drag on for hours.  As a result, your attention might start to drift as you begin to lose interest.  As long as you appear to be fully engaged, though, it's all good.
10) Keep your phone in hand at all times just in case it rings, beeps, chimes, vibrates, buzzes, dings, tweets, whistles, "Whips and/or Nae Naes". 
 11)  If your Mom's friend calls and says she's stopping by for a visit, you should always straighten your bed.  Mom friends tell each other everything.   
12) Taking pictures with your heads in a circle....or kinda in a circle.... is fun.   
 13)  Where two or more are dressed in pink chiffon, there is a bond that no one can sever.....a cord that is not easily broken. 
  14)  When volunteers are needed for anything....anything at all, you should always raise your hand and say,
"My Mom can"
15)  Life doesn't ever stay the same for long and friends won't always be close by. 
 You should love BIG while you have the chance!       
Hope your week gets off to a great start!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Slide, Hide, and Wait

So, I had a situation over the weekend that I'd like to address today, because I feel that it's one that is a common dilemma that many women find themselves in at one time or another.  This dilemma I speak of is........what to do when a strange man comes to your front door and you are alone.  A good rule of thumb, this day and time, is to assume that every stranger who comes to your door is there for one purpose kill you.  If you follow that simple guideline, you should remain safe.    

Our front doors are almost all glass and so, while I was sitting bra-less in my chair, watching the morning news, and eating my Nature Valley breakfast bar, a stranger appears on my porch and rings the doorbell.  Even though my chair is a straight shot from the door, he never saw me and, as luck would have it, as soon as he rang the bell, he turned around and looked back toward the street.  I wasn't sure if he was checking for witnesses or what, but it gave me a small window of time to make a move.  There I sat in my pajamas, hair pointing in all directions, eyes still blurry from sleep, and I knew I had to think fast.  While he was turned around, I decided there was only one thing to do.....slide onto the floor head first behind the sectional.

Like so.......
I was careful to take my breakfast bar with me because (A) I wasn't sure how long I'd be down there and (B) I could possibly need the protein if I was going to have to fight him off.  He rings the bell again.  I wait.  I take another bite of my breakfast, wishing I had a swallow of the milk that I'd left on the table by my chair, but it's hard to slide with milk.  "Surely, he'll give up after 2 rings," I thought.  About that time, ding dong....a third ring.  A persistent murderer for sure.
As I looked up from the floor, I saw our unmentionables spread across the back of the couch.  "Oh, crud," I thought.   The sign of  a true southern lady is not wanting her murderer to think she's a bad housekeeper.  The night before, I'd stayed up late and had folded a couple of loads of laundry and, because it was so late, I'd just left the folded piles on the back of the sofa, so to not wake Davis and Carson.  As I lay on the floor, I thought about how the stranger was likely getting an eyeful with Davis' tall pile of undies and my impressive stack of bras perched up there for the world to see.  I wondered if I could reach one and slip it on in my prone position.  That way, when someone eventually found me, at least, I'd have on a bra, maintaining a small amount of dignity. "Water, Water everywhere and not a drop to drink," I thought as I looked up at my undergarments.   
Oh, well.  I couldn't worry about that.
Our half breed guard dog, Sugar, was fulfilling her duties beautifully.....except after she'd ferociously bark at the door for a minute, she'd run over to me on the floor and lick my face.  I don't know if she was trying to tell me that there was danger at the door or if she just wanted to lick the breakfast bar debris from my lips.  Either way, I'm sure it had the would be murderer wondering what was going on behind the couch.   
After giving him enough time to leave, I dragged myself across the floor on my belly and peeked around the corner of the sectional to see if it was all clear. 


I felt like a green plastic army man.....the one who's laid out on his stomach with a gun......only I was missing the gun.  But, being a Mississippi girl, I could've gotten to one or two......or three if the need presented itself.    
He was no longer on my porch., so I crept over to the window and carefully looked between the slats of the plantation shutters.  I felt like I was in a movie and needed to go check behind the shower curtain next......because, well, they always check there in movies, you know.   
Anyway, he was gone.  Crisis averted.  Homicide avoided.     
Why did I tell you this story, you ask.   
Well, there are several takeaways from this incident that we should all remember. 1) Always wear a bra to eat your breakfast.  2) When building a home, consider front doors with little to no glass.  3) In today's world, do not attempt to sell, campaign, or anything else, door to door, as we can only assume that you have an ax, a roll of plastic, and a shovel in your trunk.  The only exception to this rule is if you are 7 and have a box of World's Finest Chocolate in your hands.  In that case, mi casa, su casa. 
So, the next time you're caught by an unexpected doorbell ring, you can remember these simple steps........"Slide, Hide, and Wait"......but, please, do not confuse this with the better known "Stop, Drop, and Roll" in the event you ever find yourself on fire.    
I'm spending the night with Blair the carefree college life.  The sorority girls needed me to come to the sorority house and speak to them on the latest fashions, color trends for fall, and hair and makeup dos and don'ts.  No.....really, they needed me to work in the kitchen, but.....same thing.
So, sleepover tonight with my girly girl. 
I'm sure I'll have a full Greek report when I return in a couple of days. 
Y'all have a good day!  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Where Two or Three Are Gathered

I had something in mind to write about today, but then I went to church tonight.

Our church held a prayer service for a sweet lady......a service devoted to offering up prayers for her healing.  She's what I'd call a young woman........probably because she and her husband are my age.  I don't really know them well, but remember their faces from our high school years.  Her health has steadily declined through the years with MS and a series of other serious medical problems.....any one of which would be challenging and frightening enough on its own.  She and her husband also have a 9 year old daughter.

There were four things that I took away from the service that I wanted to share.  Whether you know her or not, I think that we can all learn from her.    

1)  Real joy that comes from hope in Christ is unconditional.  As I sat in the choir loft during the service, I could see sweet Carol Anne's face.  The enormity of the physical burdens that she shoulders each day have taken a toll on her body, but not on her radiance.  I contemplated how someone so sick could be so joyful.  How could someone, whose medical record looks like hers, manage to shine so brightly?  A smile spread from one ear to the other across the face of such an ill woman?  A beautiful wife, mother, daughter lovingly patting her husband, mother, and child....concerned for and comforting them while she, herself, was in such need?

The only answer that made any sense of the dichotomy.....this unnatural human reaction to her dim circumstances was the presence of Christ in her.  To have joy in suffering can only be possible when one's hope goes beyond what can be seen.  When the next life is seen as a continuation of this one, knowing that life is eternal for those who believe in Him.  And that the ability to get through the days as they come doesn't have to come from our own resources, but that rest can be found in His strength.  The knowledge that we will never be alone.....even when our path is so dark that we can't see much of anything.  The belief that, for every trial we face, we receive a measured dose of strength to endure it.....and victoriously so.         
I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to go speak to her after the service.  I introduced myself and I didn't pray any long prayer with her, recite any scripture, share any profound, inspirational thoughts or anything like that.  I just felt like God wanted me to hold her face and tell her one, simple thing, "You are so very beautiful and your face is a powerful testimony."  You know people like that?  Their countenance speaks volumes.  Their face exudes love.  They convey more in their silence and their very presence than most could say with a novel full of words.  She's that kind of person.  A beautiful lady. 

Her husband spoke the sweetest words of praise, "You light up the room when you walk in it and you leave the light on when you leave." 

What a worthy goal for all of us.    

I felt pretty ashamed that I don't always bring light with me and I have far less weight to bear. 

2)  In sickness and in health is a promise we enter into blindly.  When we stand in the church in our white lace and black ties, we do our best to repeat the lengthy vows through our jitters.  All married people have said them, but I imagine that most, including myself, just think the sickness thing is only thrown in there for extremely rare situations.....kind of like the booklet of fine print that comes with your medications.  It's most likely not going to happen, but we have to cover it. 

I think most of us have visions of living long, wonderfully full lives and dying in our sleep in our soft, warm beds with great, great-grandchildren gathered around.  No matter how many times we play our ending in our minds, our hair is always gray and our skin is wrinkled from the passage of time.  It's just how we usually see our life ending. 

Sometimes, life doesn't play out that way.  Tonight, I saw a husband holding his sick wife and kissing the top of her head.  His body shook as he tried to control his emotions.....all of the emotions bottled up from years of caring for her and longing for her to be well.  The grueling task of watching the love of your life suffer and not being able to help.  The day in and day out of living with disease and its effects.  The anger, the hope, the disappointment, the compassion, the helplessness.  Those are emotions that are only known and felt to the fullest extent by people in the home.  The ones who share life on the most intimate level. 

He spoke briefly on her condition and emphasized that despite all of their challenges that he wouldn't trade the life they have together.....not wanting to spend his days with anyone but her. 

They are an example of God's beautiful plan for marriage in the flesh.  To see love "in sickness and in health" is a most beautiful thing.  A love story in its truest and deepest form.   

3)  To be loved and missed and cared about is good, good medicine.   For almost an hour, we sat as people went by and prayed with the family and spoke words of encouragement.  There were so many tears, hugs, and smiles.  I thought about the healing touch in the love of a church family.  All of the people who'd known her for years were, one by one, showing her their love face to face....with their hands, their eyes, their lips, their words, their arms.  One thing that I noticed is how she responded to that.  Being homebound for so long, it was apparent that the mere touch of those she's loved for so many years was better than any prescription.  There's something incredibly special about belonging to a place where you're loved, cared for, and remembered.  It does the soul good to have a place where your absence is noticed......where you're missed when you're away.  I know that each time Carol Anne's husband and daughter are seen at church without her, her name is lifted in prayer and she is thought about in most loving ways.   

We really do need each other.  I don't know how people get through life without the support of Christian friends and God's church.  I don't think that I've ever seen more tangible evidence of its importance as I did tonight on a sick woman's face.  It was written all over her.  The touch, the words, the love.....after being away for so long......they were healing and comforting and warming........a soothing balm for her spirit.        

4)  God is able, but we have to trust Him.  Sometimes, life leaves us scratching our heads.....maybe even mentally stomping our feet in protest.  Often times, it just doesn't seem fair.  That's where the trust part comes in.  We have to trust that God loves her even more than we do and, because of that, He can be trusted to take care of her.

We prayed and claimed God's promises on Carol Anne's behalf.  We know that with one word from Him, she could be healed.  That's how we would have it work out, but God's ways are higher than ours, so we prayerfully wait with hope.  Mary's prayer was prayed for her, "Be it unto me according to Thy word."

Please remember Paul, Carol Anne, and their young daughter in your prayers.  God knows them well.  He'll know exactly who you're talking about.

I'd appreciate that an awful lot! 

Hope your Monday will be as good as a Monday can possibly be! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Laverne and Zsa Zsa

For weeks, Blair has been begging me to let her do my makeup.  She's really good at all of that, having been to several private instructional sessions and constantly reading and watching the newest online tutorials.  It's just one of her passions.   

I thought that would be a good bonding activity for us before she left for school, so I finally obliged late one night.

Before I get into that, let me start by saying that I grew up between two boys, ok?  I'd venture to guess that a lot of girls who grow up with all boys are not the prissiest of women....especially if they're not the oldest.  That's not to say that I sit around in my camouflage cargo pants with my legs apart, cleaning under my fingernails with a pocketknife and a pinch of Skoal bulging under my lip, but I'm certainly not all things pink, glittery, and frilly either.  As a matter of fact, I can probably count on one hand the times in my 47 years that I have worn pink.  One of them was a bridesmaid dress and another was likely the day I was brought home from the hospital.  I'm sure there were other times sprinkled in between those, but not too many.  No, I'm more of an earth tone kind of girl.  Pastels make me feel like an Easter M&M.  Garish colors make me feel like I belong in a ball pit. 

I guess I'm kind of in the middle of the femininity scale.  I'm not dripping with it, but I do enjoy dressing up and looking nice when the occasion calls for it.  I may do my nails for special occasions or for church, but it's not a do or die situation.  Most of the time, I look down at their scratched finish and think, "the women who wear this stuff must not work with their hands much."  You won't find me in sparkles, feathers, fur, or anything too flamboyant.  Blair would even say my favorite clothing color is black and I can't deny the comfort that I receive from wearing that hue.  I have the basic clothing foundations, but you won't find a purse, jewelry, and shoes to match every outfit in my closet.  I go for comfort in the sleepwear department and my default setting for a lazy day is a worn in pair of jeans and V-neck tee.       
These preferences apparently go way back. My kindergarten teacher called my mother one morning to report a problem, "Joni won't come into the classroom today.  Do you know what might be the matter?"  Well, she knew exactly what was the matter.  Despite my protests, she'd made me wear this awful, bright red outfit with pom pom fringe on the sleeves and pants.  In my 5 year old opinion, I looked like a sombrero.  I should've been hanging on the wall at a Mexican restaurant.  I was too bright.  Too busy.  Too brassy.  And I wasn't going into kindergarten looking like that.   

This aversion to being overly ornate can happen when one grows up with a boy on either side. Not only did I have all brothers, but 90% of the kids in our neighborhood were boys.  There were always boys around....knocking on the door wanting to ride bikes, fish, or get up a game of something out in the yard.  Your choices were to go out and play with them or stay inside and your Mama asking you to vacuum the gold shag carpet. 

There was no contest for me.

When you played with boys, you wanted to dress comfortably and do your best to blend in.  You'd be the last one chosen if you came out looking like a delicate flower.  You were there to play and if you weren't taken seriously, you might as well go in and vacuum.      

I still remember my favorite school was this green pair of jeans with a mottled t-shirt that had a monkey in a palm tree on the front.  It had subtle, green piping around the sleeves and collar and I felt especially good about myself in that.  It wasn't too dressy.  Wasn't too shabby.  I would've worn it every day of the week had it been up to me.  I know y'all had an outfit like that.  The days you wore it, well, they were just a little better than all the other days.

Here are some other memorable, childhood ensembles and my feelings about them have been documented with film. 
    Busy, floral print. Ostentatious collar. Tight elastic sleeves that left marks.
   Not happy.
Solid color. Earthy tone. Soft fabric. Clean lines.
Fast forward a couple of decades and Blair is born.  Ever since the air hit her, she's been drawn to the sparkly things of life.  I'm not sure how that happened......maybe she got my share and her share of prissiness, but she came here with a love for all things girly.  I've never seen anyone get so excited about new makeup brushes, jewel encrusted phone cases, little purses, or eye shadow palettes.  Who spends $60 of their hard earned money on eye shadow?  She loves the dainty, the delicate, the lacy, the fancy, the elegant.....oh, and hair done up in all sorts of ways. 

We all know and love women like that.  They've always got the nail appointments.  Never leave home without looking just so.  Would never go to the grocery store in yoga pants.  They've always got the hair done....all teased....the makeup just right.  They get excited about things like lip liner, the Kate Spade fall lineup, and frilly sleepwear.  They love pink and anything that catches the light.  They have more purses and shoes in their closets than are found in some small countries.  They are put together, let me tell you, and I, for one, am duly impressed with their attention to detail.  It is super hard work and not for the faint of heart, that's for sure.    

So that brings us to where we are now.  Blair wanted to "do me up".  Kind of like Zsa Zsa Gabor wanting to spruce up Laverne DeFazio.  I guess she'd been wanting to do this because I just wear enough makeup to keep the buzzards from circling me.  Just enough to keep people from flinching when I walk up to them.  Yeah, if you startle people, you might need to put on a tad more cosmetics, but I digress. 

Well, we settled on the front end that I didn't want anything too heavy.  She agreed and spread her tools out across the floor and, like an artist, she began to paint the blank canvas that was me.  Who knew that works of art have so many layers?  It was like painting a house.  The prep work, priming, painting, the second coat, the trim work.  It takes a long time to go through all those steps.  She brushed, rubbed, smoothed, and blended.  She made noises as she worked and, between each layer, she would lean back and tilt her head to the side to check her work.  She explained how this color complimented that color eyes and putting eye liner here instead of there made you look younger and this color on the lips made you look this way or that....and on and on.  Her eyes sparkled with excitement as she was in her zone.  She squealed with delight, "Oh, Mom!  My gosh, you look beautiful!"  You never know how to take compliments like that, you know?  Like before I looked like a wart covered ogre who lived under a bridge.
So, it's hard to tell in the picture, but here's what I'd look like if I got up an hour and a half earlier every morning, spent $60 on eye shadow, and could remember everything that she taught me, but since none of those things are gonna be happenin', this may be your only chance.......
Oh, well. 

I had fun letting my girl do her thing.

The world would be a boring place if we were all the same.  I love that she and I are so different in some ways and that we can celebrate that and laugh about it a whole lot.  The things I love and admire most about her are the things that are most unlike me. 

Funny how that works.         

She never ceases to amaze girly girl.

Night, y'all!    

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Call Your Mother, Kids

First, let me start by saying that I have missed blogging more than I ever imagined I would!  I enjoyed being with my kids, cleared some nagging mental fog, and got a lot accomplished over the last two weeks, but I found myself looking forward to writing again on this day.  I may or may not have even gotten a butterfly or two in my stomach this weekend when I realized that it was almost time to get back to it.  I suppose all that means that blogging has become a natural, routine part of my that I enjoy and look forward to and when it's not there, well, I miss it.  So, like it or not, I'm back and feeling rejuvenated. 

Yesterday, we got Blair all moved into her new apartment for her senior year.  Yes, Davis and I have a child who is a senior in college.  I know what you're thinking.......that we look incredibly young for such, but it's true. 
As we ran errands, unloaded vehicles, and darted around the college town, I saw a lot of students and parents moving in and shopping for living essentials just like we were.  Some of the kids, you could tell, were experiencing their first taste of moving away from home.  They had that twinkle in their eye and its name was freedom.

You remember when you first met freedom......"Hello, freedom.  I have lived in the bedroom down the hall from my parents' room for 18 years.  I have shared a bathroom with my 2 brothers, asked permission every time I've left the premises, sat in the same chair at dinner every night for almost two decades, and have been told on a regular basis to get off the phone, so someone else can use it.  It's so nice to finally meet you.  I've heard good things." 

Something about changing things up a bit seemed attractive by the time college age rolled around.

Yesterday, I got to thinking that for every twinkly-eyed freshman that I saw with a bounce in his step, there was a mother out there somewhere who'd be adjusting to his newfound freedom.  And inside every mother adjusting to the  newfound freedom is her twisted, overactive, innate, maternal imagination that will take her straight to the worst case scenario anytime she isn't able to get in touch with him......and the longer she isn't able to reach him, the larger and dimmer the scenarios will grow in her mind. 

It's a mom thing. 

It's what we do.

I think about our parents back in the day before cell phones.  I don't envy their inability to check in with us when we were late or traveling.  I don't know how it was at your house when you were growing up, but my parents always required me to call when I got to where I was going and then call right before I left to come home.  I thought it was a pain.  I had 15-20 minutes to either call to say I was there or show up at home before my Daddy was in the car retracing my route, while my mother produced enormous amounts of adrenaline and alerted the National Guard.  (She was and still is the world record holder for conclusion jumping......a gold medalist long jumper in the conclusion division.)  Back in the day before cell phones, if you forgot to call and check in or you were running late, all your mother could do was just assume you were dead.  Period.  There could be no other explanation for your tardiness.  Just death. 

So, after having Blair home for a few weeks, I'll have to, once again, get used to not knowing what she's doing most of the time.  Not knowing if she's walking through dark parking lots, going out at night in torrential rains, or being driven around by someone with undiagnosed narcolepsy, who mistakenly took Tylenol PM for her headache.        

With school starting back up again, I won't be alone.  There will be kids just starting to drive, becoming involved in more after school activities, and some will be leaving home.  So, I thought I'd talk with the kids today on how a mother's mind works.......sick, twisted, and distorted as it is.  This might help them understand the plight of their maternal unit better and become more conscientious about checking in with her.    

1)  The Situation: You don't answer her text when you get back to college to let her know you made it home safely. 
The Reason: Your roomies asked you to go grab a bite to eat when you came in and you ran out the door, leaving your phone on your bed. 
What your mother thinks:  A deer ran out into the highway and, because of your love for animals, you disregarded all the things your father ever told you and swerved to miss it.  Your car is not drivable, night is falling, the temperature is dropping, and your phone has fallen between the seats just out of your reach.   

2)  The Situation:  You don't answer the phone when she calls.
The Reason:  You phone is still on silent from your morning classes.
What your mother thinks:  You walked in on a robbery in progress at your apartment and are currently tied to a chair with nylon rope, mouth covered with duct tape and two guys named Bones and Rocco, who are wearing black gloves and ski masks, are discussing how they're going to get rid of this problem that is you.         

3)  The Situation: You seem more quiet than usual and go to your room and shut the door.
The Reason: You are exhausted from a long week and just want to be alone.
What your mother thinks: You have fallen in with the wrong crowd at school and are trying to conceal your experimentation with drugs, alcohol, pornography, huffing, prostitution, online bullying, sexting, synthetic marijuana, and terrorist extremism. 

4)  The Situation:  You don't eat much dinner and she made your favorite. 
The Reason: You stopped for ice cream on your way home.
What your mother thinks: You have something weighing heavy on your mind and you don't feel like you can tell her just yet.  Things've flunked out of school, given up on your dreams of college in hopes of moving back home and starting a heavy metal band named Slow Death, which will practice every night in her garage, where some of your friends may need to crash until the band gets on its feet.  You're not just home for the weekend.  You're home for adulthood. 
5) The Situation:  She hears sirens and you're not home.
The Reason: Police are headed to a false alarm of a home security system. 
What your mother thinks: Police have been called to an armed bank robbery......the bank where you were headed to deposit your first paycheck from the Pizza King and are now being held hostage with a shaky gun pressed against your temple, a SWAT team surrounding the place, and a negotiator on a megaphone trying to talk some sense into the crazed freak who has nothing to lose. 

6)  The Situation: She has a missed call from you and now you won't answer.
The Reason: You had called to chat and then decided to go work out at the gym.
What your mother thinks: You are having car trouble on the side of a deserted road and you tried to call her for help.  When you got no answer, you decided to accept a ride with a truck load of men, who were just released from prison, but seemed nice enough and promised to take you wherever you needed to go.

7)  The Situation:  She has a doctor's office or hospital number on her caller ID. 
The Reason:  Her pap results are in.
What your mother thinks: You are sick.  She doesn't know with what, but you are very, very sick.  She's sure of that much.    

8)  The Situation:  You call and say, "Mom, I have something to tell you." 
The Reason: You have just received some great news about an application you submitted.
What your mother thinks: You have eloped with a carni who runs the Tilt-a-Whirl and have quit school to go on the road and live in his pop up camper in which you will raise the twins you are expecting and the four kids he already has.   

9) The Situation:  Your friend calls her and says, "Mrs. Jones, there's a problem". 
The Reason:  Your car has been towed and you were afraid to call and tell her yourself.
What your mother thinks:  You are unable to speak and she cannot think of one, single condition, which renders one unable to speak, that is good.

So, kids, if any of these situations arise, just know that your mother's brain doesn't work like your brain.

It can be a dark place, sometimes.

Bless her heart.   

And you might as well get used to it.  I am 47 years old and last week, I had 6 missed calls from mine on my phone, which was on silent.  She'd seen a wreck involving a white vehicle and since I am the only one who drives a white vehicle in our city and I wasn't answering my phone, clearly, it had to be me. 

Who else could it be? 

Call your mother, kids. 

I'm sure she's worried sick about you for some reason.

Happy Monday, y'all!