Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sweet Sixteen

Today is Carson's 16th birthday! 
We're in celebration mode over here and I thought it would be appropriate to do a rerun of an old post that I wrote for my boy. 
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 that, one day, I'd likely have to look up to see your sweet face.  I remember how I wanted to keep you little and hold you in my arms forever, but I knew that wasn't 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, uncle, supervisor, leader.  I thought about all the things we needed to teach you first.  How to love, how to share, 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 shake hands, start a fire, run a chainsaw, change a tire, and use jumper cables.  I was a little overwhelmed 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 wasn't 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.  Some day, you might be bullied or come home crying.  You could be mistreated or wrongly accused or feel insecure.  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 wasn't 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 wasn't how God planned it.    

That day, I thought about all the ways you'd make us proud.  We'd likely receive some 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 and certificates 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 excite you down to your very core.  There would be a passion that you would discover along the way.  Something that God had 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 wasn't 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 try to keep you on a safe path where disappointment couldn't touch you, but I knew that wasn't 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 wasn't 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 wasn't the way God planned it.

As I looked down at you, I thought about how, some 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 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 hold onto you tightly and keep you from ever going off on your own, but I knew that wasn't 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 good times.  If I dictated your decisions about God, you'd never know the joy of salvation.  If I kept you here with me, you'd never find your special place in the world.   

And that wasn't 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 do.  No one will cheer for you like I will.  No one will want more for you than I do. 

No one knows what it's like to hold you inside like I did. 

No one.   

And as you grow and mature and start to test your wings, remember that, until I draw my last breath, you will be my baby boy and no one will love you quite like I do.
Happy Sweet Sixteen, Carson. 

It's been sweet, indeed. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Quiet Game

Seems like we've been hit with one sad news story after another.  Just when you think you've heard the worst, some more horrific news rears its head.  If you watch the news channels or stay on social media very long, you will seriously have trouble staying positive.  The sounds of the debates and criticisms and finger pointing drown out anything that could possibly be constructive or helpful. 

Sometimes, I just wish we could call for a nationwide round of the quiet game. 

You remember when you'd play that?  Our mothers used to call for a game of it when there was a lot of bickering or tattle telling going on.  When we were all talking at once and it was getting us nowhere.  It gave us time to take a deep breath and weigh the pros and cons of speaking and remaining silent.  It switched the gears from a fevered pitch to the sweet relief of quiet.
The two shootings in Orlando showed such shameful indifference to human life. Sadly, the growing belief in our society- if I don't agree with you, you must be punished or destroyed- has led to more senseless loss of life.  I'm so sorry that this mentality has caused more needless heartbreak and chaos.      

For the mothers involved in the tragedies of late, my heart aches.  Of course, for the obvious reason of having a child taken from matter if they were 2 or 42.  But, in some cases, for the chilling insult to injury coming from other mothers on social media. 

I know I'm not writing to anyone to whom this applies but my sadness started when a Mississippi mother mistakenly left her small child in the car all day.  Can any of us think of a more devastating moment in time than the second she realized what she'd done?  The threads I read were brutal toward the mother.  From there all the way to the Disney tragedy and several tragic stops in between, it has been difficult to hear any compassion and mercy for these broken mothers over all of the noise of condemnation. 

When did we as a society become that?   

These are mothers who have lost their children. 

They have experienced the very thing that terrifies us all down to our very core.  They are living the nightmare that makes us wake up in a cold sweat and thank God it was all a dream.  They got the phone call that we all pray never comes.  They witnessed things that we can't even imagine surviving.  They are living out the number one fear on any mother's list.  They have images in their minds that will never go away as long as they have breath.  The circle of life didn't follow its usual course for them.  Their children have gone on before them.       

Just thinking about what they've experienced makes most of us teary-eyed.  Not because we know them but because we, too, are mothers.......and grandmothers, aunts, and godmothers, who understand what they have lost.   

For the mothers who have been on public trial in this age of social media......
Forgive us for saying things that have kicked you in the face at the very lowest point of your life.  Forgive us for sitting on our perfect parent thrones and typing our righteous indignation toward your parenting skills which we know nothing about.  Just when you needed support from other mothers who could understand the weight of your loss, forgive us for telling the world how we would have done things differently than you did.  Forgive us for asking you to shoulder some of the blame for your terrible circumstances.  Forgive us for telling you what we'd never do.  Forgive us for thinking we're immune to such tragedy because of our superior judgment.  Forgive us for rubbing salt into your wounded heart.  Forgive us for multiplying your burden and heaping the weight of guilt on top of your heavy load. 

Mercy is defined as the compassionate treatment of those in distress.  Kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad situation.


Something we always expect to receive but are slow to dole out.     

If we could all just stop and play the quiet game. 

Mothers have lost their children.

There's nothing that needs to be said. 

Just have mercy. 




Monday, June 13, 2016

Disjointed Rambling at its Finest

So, I painted this weekend. 

Blair was out of town on her first business trip and I decided to paint her room a more mature color.  She's living with us for a while to save some "getting started money" and I was tired of looking at the adolescent hue that she'd selected back in her younger years. 

Not too long ago, I'd painted Carson's room in one day so I knew there wouldn't be that much to it.  So, I went to the paint store and chose a nice, neutral color, Sherwin Williams China Doll 7517, which I thought would work for her now and for the future guest room that the space will eventually become. 

I came home and started snatching pictures off of the wall.  I'm one of those people who just charges into a project head first.  If I have something on my mind, I want to go ahead and get it done right then.  So, I started with the edging around her built-ins and molding, and, later, got busy with the roller.  I was just moving things as I went.   

I'd covered a lot of wall when Davis got done with his work and stuck his head in to check my progress.  Big mistake.  Davis never sees the point of changing the color of anything.  He just hates painting so much that he can look past most anything.  But, I convinced him to come help me with the rolling by telling him how strong he was and how my arms were getting tired.  It never hurts to admire a man's arm strength when trying to recruit help.    

After about 10 minutes in the room with me, the furniture, the pan of paint, a ladder, step stool, and a couple of extension poles, he was going crazy.  He's one of those meticulous painters who preps the area to death before he even gets started and there I was.......No drop cloth.  Paint all over me, my clothes, my hair.  Too much furniture in the way.  Paint dripping down the side of the bucket.  And my little trail of Sherwin Williams China Doll 7517 tracked down the hall from the bottom of my foot.  But, hey, I was getting the job done. 

One convenient benefit from being a messy painter, though, is that when you're at a wedding the next day, visiting with a friend and telling her about your painting project as the music plays.....Well, when she asks, "What color are you painting?"  You can look down at your arms and hands and point a sample out to her, "This color right here.  Oh,'s a better swatch back there," pointing to your leg.  "Oh, that's a pretty color......I like that."  "You think so?.....Well, thank you."

So, then Blair got back from her trip and Carson left for church camp today.  And I've been gathering things for Davis' and Carson's upcoming hiking/camping trip to Yosemite.  They're going with a group of guys and we went to a planning meeting about it a couple of weeks ago to discuss the flights, the hikes, the dehydrated food, the know, things like that.  We needed help in the "what to pack" department because, well, we're just not big camping people.  I mean, Davis would go to Boy Scout camp with Carson for a night here and there but if you forgot something, well, you just walked back to the truck to get it or drove down to Wal-Mart for it.

Anyway, I sat at the table listening intently.  I knew I would be the one to take notes if notes were going to be taken.  They talked about wrapping their feet with duck tape to avoid blisters, the process of burying their excrement, bathing every 3rd or 4th day, and packing one extra pair of underwear.  I steadily took notes all while praying a brief, silent prayer, "Thank you, God in heaven, that I am not going on this trip. Amen." 

You see, there are people in this world who like to go and become one with nature.  They like to hike trails, climb mountains, sleep on the ground, watch the sun rise, and feel the soil of the road less traveled underneath their feet.  And then there are those people who are content to look at their pictures when they get back.  I will let you guess the group to which I belong.

All that to say......I have been packing and preparing people to leave on a lot of exciting trips, this summer, but have yet to go to a darn place, myself.

I do have some exciting news, though.  My longtime friend since high school, Lynette, has a son who landed a major role in a Matthew McConaughey movie, Free State of Jones which will be released on June 24.  It's based on a true story from the Civil War and did I mention Matthew McConaughey?  Her son, Cade, plays the role of Thomas Yates and they were both impressed with how friendly and down to earth Mr. McConaughey was during the whole filming process. 
So, that's Cade on the left and, well, Matthew on the right. 

  Here is Cade on the right and, well, Matthew on the left with the large gun.
And here is Cade while Matthew is probably taking a 15 minute break or something......or possibly being detained by Lynette. 

So, Lynette and her sweet family are flying to L.A. for the premier next week and I will speak to her about posing as the special cousin who they carelessly forgot to include on the family ticket request form and, if my plan works, well, that should go a long way in making up my exciting travel deficit this summer. 

So, that's all I have today.  Such as it was.

Y'all have a great Tuesday!




Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Problem at Command Central

I don't know for sure but, most likely, your home has a master calendar somewhere.  It's usually the place where the mother keeps track of everyone's events, ballgames, doctor appointments, meetings, etc..  It is command central of the home.  For us, it's located on our refrigerator.  I have one of those magnetic dry erase calendars and, every month, I transfer all of our obligations from my planner to that calendar.  It helps me keep up with what's coming up and things are constantly being added to it.  It is the hub of our social organization around here.  Basically, if it ain't on the frig, the Millers won't be there. 
So, anyway, this past weekend was my 30th high school class reunion.  Yeah, you heard me right, you, young whippersnappers.  It's been 30 years since I've opened a combination lock, drawn bubble letters on textbook covers, or written Friends 4-ever or LYLAS in anyone's yearbook.  My graduating class was over 500 strong but we were more closely knit than you'd expect from a group that size so I've had the reunion on my calendar for a while.

We graduated smack dab in the middle of the 80's so we enjoyed the very best music that synthesizers could offer.......not to mention the slow rock ballads with screaming guitars by bands who had hair that any woman would die for.  Our hair was big and we all had the Tom Cruise aviators and a gold herringbone chain or an add-a-bead necklace as the icing on the cake.  Our jeans were rolled tightly at the ankle and our boyfriends' collars were popped.  We looked good and we knew it.  We watched Sue Ellen's drinking problem spiral out of control all while Alf was adjusting to life away from Mel-Mac and Cliff Huxtable was fooling us all.

Those were good times. 

Good times.      

Well, I'd like to tell you that I had fun at my reunion, visiting with all of my old 80's cronies and rehashing old times but I didn't.  I'd like to tell you that I enjoyed being with friends and ate good food and traveled back in time with some good, retro music but I didn't.

I'd entered the wrong date at command central.  So, I wasn't there.   
Really, command central is not near that flashy or high tech.  It's more like....
But, still.  It works.

Most of the time.   

I started seeing a post or two late last Thursday about getting ready for the reunion "this weekend" and I thought, "Well, those poor, confused souls......the reunion is next weekend.  They really need to get themselves a master calendar like I have." 

Soon, it got to be too many to ignore and I had to come to grips with the fact that they were right and I was wrong but we already had plans in place for the weekend and I had to miss it all.  So, in honor of the class of '86 and all of the hard work that went into the festivities, I would like to show you some pictures of my 30th high school reunion.

Here's one of the gatherings.  Let's see if we can find me.  Uh.......nope.

  Here I am....not at the meet and greet. 

Oh, wait.....maybe I'm inside.  No, not there.

Here I am.....not on the dance floor.

Wait a minute....or is that me?  No, I couldn't take credit for those moves.  Go, girl!

I'm not here......

Or here.....

Or here.......
Or here......

And I'll give you $1,000 if you can find me in the group picture.... 

So, yeah.................I posted on the reunion Facebook page that they could go ahead and give the "First to Lose Her Mind" award to me even though I wasn't there to accept it or give a speech.  I was deserving and everyone knows it. 

Thank goodness for social media or I'd be there this weekend wondering where all my peeps were. 

So, there's my ministry for today.  Making you all feel better about yourselves as God has called me to do.  He wouldn't have made me this good at it if He didn't intend for me to use my gift for the greater good. 

My work here is done. 

And to the Class of  '86.......y'all look fabulous!  I hate I missed you but let me know the date for the next one! 

I'll need to get that on my calendar. 

Godspeed, my sweet classmates.    



Sunday, June 5, 2016

Twas the Night Before Our Daughter Started Her First Real, Grown-Up Job

Twas the night before our daughter started her first, real, grown-up job and all through the house,
Not a creature was deterring her as she picked out her blouse.
The GPS was hung in her car with such care,
In hopes that its instructions would take her straight there.

Her parents were nestled all snug in their bed,
While visions of paychecks danced in their heads,
And I, so gleeful, and her Dad, all pumped, 
Tried to conceal our excitement with a subtle fist bump.

When out of our mouths came such a joyous gush
That we slapped ourselves saying, "What's the matter with us?"
Away to our doorway, I flew like a flash,
Slammed the door shut to continue our bash.

But the light in the window from the new moon above
Gave the luster of midday to objects we love.
When what to our wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature woman whom God gave us to rear. 

With her bags all packed.....her tote, shiny and new,
I knew in a moment this was what parents are called to do.
More rapid than eagles, the years quickly came
And now she's all grown and we liked what she became.

Now daring, now independent 
Now willing to try different things.
And adventurous and lively
And ready to flap her wings.
To the top of her head,
To the top of her feet,
We looked at her and looked at her
and thought she was pretty neat.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
the years....they too quickly mount to the sky.
And with them, the older her parents, they grew
And as nature would have it, their little girl, too.

And then, in a twinkling, it went with such fleet
the pitter and patter of those little feet. 
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
She was walking in heels and charting new ground.

So, we dressed in sackcloth from our head to our foot
And, in sorrow, we were parents coated in ashes and soot.
But we remembered the paychecks and continued our bash.
We tore off our sackcloth and shook off the ash.

Our eyes, how they twinkled!  Our dimples, how merry!
Our cheeks were like roses, our thoughts not as scary.
Our droll little mouths drawn up in a smile
Because daughters cost more than sons by a mile.
For just one daughter, you could have 10 sons.....or more.
Money just goes seeping out every pore.
We were happy and then sad, not knowing which way to go.
We felt about as steady as a bowl of Jell-O.

Then, I was happy again, a right jolly ol' elf
And I thought how she's doing things I wish I'd done myself.
A wink of my eye and a twist of her head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

I spoke not a word as she got ready for work
This was her deal and I didn't want to irk.
And laying my hand aside of my heart,
I was content just knowing that I'd done my part.

As she spreads her wings and steps to the edge,
And takes a deep breath and leaps from the ledge,
She will hear us exclaim as she drives out of sight,
"Whatever you do, do it with all your might."

Watch out world.  She's coming at ya. 

Happy Monday, friends.