Sunday, March 22, 2015

Good Kids

Yesterday was the Aiken Steeplechase. We decked ourselves in our brightest togs and hats and celebrated a beautiful day of horse racing. Under our tent, we sat sipping cocktails and eating delicious food. We bet on the horses and had a marvelous time. 

My husband and I 

Our teenage children checked in every once in a while and then went off to visit friends and "see and be seen". Sumter spent most of the day at the Young Life spot, so I was only able to catch Jackson for a picture.

We are lucky. Our kids don't drink.

I say this because social events such as Steeplechase are havens for pretty girls in Lilly dresses and boys in seersucker pants and Vineyard Vines ties to get completely fall down drunk. Most of these are college students, but you may see a high schooler as well. And it's never really bothered me as much as it did this year. I guess it's because we - and all our friends - have teenagers.

But by the end of the afternoon, we saw a precious girl trip and fall down on the ground.  She just lay there for a few seconds until one of the boys she was with pulled her up.  We saw a young man with an almost empty handle of Jack Daniels just standing there, staring off in space. Later, another girl saw her date storm off and immediately burst into tears. She stumbled around with her girlfriends as if lost.

And this year also provided us with an event we have never experienced before. Towards the end of the day, our pastor and his family stopped by to visit us. It was not ten minutes later, and not fifty feet away, that we saw around ten uniformed police and sheriff deputies bust up a party and arrest seven people. It was quite a spectacle. Some of them were underage, some legal - but all were incredibly drunk and physically confrontational.

We all stood, watching and commenting among ourselves at the stupidity and blatantly belligerent behavior. And then, our pastor said something that - at the time - I thought was almost a little too saccarine and optimistic.  He said, "How sad. They're good kids." I looked at him next to me and smiled at his kind remark. But what I was really thinking was, "Really??? No, they're not. Our kids are good kids. Those guys are punks with no respect for themselves or anyone else."

It was not until today at church that I got a deeper understanding of what he meant. I don't know whether it was the songs we sang, his message, or God's voice. But I was drawn back to what our pastor had said the day before: "They're good kids." Maybe not to me. But they are to God. Because He created them. He brought them into life. He loves them. And we know that God loves what is good.

So it was then and there that I prayed for those who were loaded into those paddy wagons the day before. I prayed for His precious children who I don't even know. I prayed that if they didn't know God, that they would open their hearts to Him. I prayed that if they did know God, they would come to Him and listen to Him lovingly tell them to turn away from behavior that could destroy them.

Because just like you and me, they're good kids. They're God's kids.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

I've Been Zapped

The upside is that I've had no appetite since this past Wednesday morning, so I've barely eaten anything since then. (And I'm now down 25 pounds - that's exciting!)

But I don't "do sick" very well. Yesterday, I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with some "weird strain of bronchitis", and I have been forbidden by the PA to leave my house until Tuesday. She is concerned that it might develop into pneumonia. So now I am the proud user of an inhaler and some intense black market cough medicine. Sadly, the cough medicine hasn't done squat and I've sent Sumter out for some industrial strength Mucinex.

Earlier today, I posted on Facebook:

So I am here. At home. Inside. On a beautiful day. 


Thinking about all the things I'd love to do - if I had the energy. But to be honest, even writing this is zapping any creativity and insightful musings. And I guess that's what really bugs me about being sick: the exhaustion of even getting up to get some water from the kitchen or just moving from my bed to the sofa in my sitting room. I am superwoman.  Doesn't bronchitis know that? To tweak Sweet Brown's quote, "ain't nobody got time for this!" 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Failure to Submit


Just this afternoon, I was reading Finding Hope in the Mess, a blog by Brooke McGlothlin. She began: "Do you struggle to control your emotions? Ever feel like they're doing a better job of controlling you?" As a mom of boys, she spoke of how she just loses it sometimes when the circumstances (in other words: her sons) overwhelm her (in other words: make her mad as hell). She also wisely pointed out that like her, "there are millions of moms who need help submitting their emotions to God.  They're in an unforgiving cycle, and need to get out."

I was actually reading this while waiting for my Starbucks Skinny Grande Whatever-it's-called. I had just finished my hour long expedition through the grocery store and needed a little treat. How insightful this Brooke was. How wise. And how true. We've all been there. Once... or more.

And then I arrived home. Drained. With about fifteen bags of groceries. To a son who had been playing basketball and/or his xbox for most of the day. And "did not hear" me when I called out for his help to unload the SUV. But proceeded to complain and argue why he had to carry most of the bags. Because he was too tired. And he had to make three trips. And these bags are horrible. And there are too many bags. And why wasn't I helping him?

And right then and there, I FAILED to submit my emotions to God. Instead, I owned them and exploited them. I yelled. I screamed. I said quite a few choice words. I got in my thirteen-year-old's face. And then made him go somewhere else in the house because I couldn't even be in the same room with him.

I thought I would have felt so empowered. So much better. So vindicated.

But I didn't. 

For although my anger was justified, I was disheartened by how I reacted. I had been consumed with unrighteous anger, not righteous. I was not using my anger to teach, train and reprimand my son. I was using it in a scathing, vindictive and sarcastic manner. 

My son came in about twenty minutes later. He apologized for what he said and did and talked about how he knows how much I do for the family. It was from the heart and of course I accepted it.

I wish I could say I also apologized. But I didn't. (I still had just enough pride and stubbornness to tell me that I had every right to have been angry.) I will - both to my son and God.  Because I have been given the gift and privilege of being a mother.  And moreover, I am called to be a Godly mother. One who submits those hurtful and caustic emotions to One who is bigger... so much bigger. And both my sons deserve that.

"God, help me when I am so frustrated and overwhelmed with my emotions. Convict me to release and submit my UNRIGHTEOUS anger. Instead, fill me with Your Holy Spirit and place on my heart a calmness and gentleness that is only from You. Amen"


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Power On

When my husband and I were building our house, we were not yet married and I was living a little over an hour away. I would travel every weekend with anticipation to see what had been accomplished the past seven days.  At the beginning, it was quite eventful. First, the foundation...then, studs... next, subflooring... roof... brick. Wow! What progress! How exciting! This was going to be our dream house! Yippee!

And then I arrived one week to NOTHING. Damn. The next week we saw a little electrical wiring, but all in all, NOTHING. Damn, again. The next week, just a little more wiring. And Damn to the third power. What happened? What is going on? We were still paying them. Had they lost their momentum? We were still communicating with them. I want some results... NOW.

Fast forward to today. Most of you know of my Renewing Myself weight loss plan. I am really working the Weight Watchers program. And boy, have I seen results! Until today. Here is what I posted on Facebook this morning.


WTH? I was committed to this. I was empowered. I was woman, hear me roar! So... WTH? I really am a bit depressed about it. Part of me wants to eat the chocolate chip cookie dough that is in the fridge. The other part just wants to starve myself. Yeah, I know, such healthy talk.

But I've just received a comment from a high school friend I haven't seen in over twenty years. In many ways, Hilary and I were as different as night and day - but were so extremely close. And then life happens, and people drift apart to the places and events that will shape who they will become. Her wise words spoke to me in the sweet, lyrical voice that was quintessential Hilary:

"...your greatest push over the plateau is your BRAIN - believe in the image you are moving to and your brain will make it so. Spend time thinking about the shape you are making so your brain knows what shape to make. Also you're gorgeous and deeply loving, so this is just extra perfection :)"

Isn't that neat and empowering? I just love what she wrote. I can believe in that. And because the image I see is much healthier, happier, and prettier, it must take time. It's also the same image God has for me too. He promises "...I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

So thank you Hilary - and God. I'm ready to power on...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day a Year Later


I was wondering what Valentine's Day would be like this year. I wondered how I would feel. I wondered how the day would be spent. I wondered... Because one year ago, Aiken had the disastrous ice storm that crippled our town for weeks. And one year ago, I could have lost my husband, my knight in shining armor.

One year ago, we spent Valentine's Day at the doctor's office because of stomach cramping that had grown until it was unbearable - and then to the hospital for blood work. And the next day, February 15, he was rushed to the emergency room in Columbia for a stay that lasted 24 days. His gallbladder had ruptured so violently that the doctors couldn't tell exactly what happened from the CT scans - his body was septic.

I actually woke up thinking about last year. I looked at my husband sleeping beside me and thought of what it would have been like not to have him with me. What if God's plan was to take him home? (And not the one we shared with our boys.) Right now I can literally feel my heart racing and my breathing more labored. I am overwhelmed thinking about where we were last year. How our lives stopped. How scared and confused I felt, yet how strong and calm I had to be. One year ago, my husband was telling me that he didn't want an open casket. That he was worried that I didn't know how to take care of taxes and other things. That he was scared. All while we held each other's hand... and I silently prayed and pleaded with God.

But we ARE here. Now. Together. (Almost) back to the way he was. Able to talk about it and both use such wonderful words as "last year" and "remember when" and "oh, how I loved you in that hospital room". Remembering how God blessed us with His healing so that we could share more Valentine's Days.

...And we DID share cards and breakfast TOGETHER IN OUR HOME this Valentine's Day 2015.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

One Month Checkup

It's been exactly one month since my 2015 The Best is Yet to Come post. And (until I don't feel motivated to do it anymore - or just plain forget) I thought I would give you an update every month. If only to keep myself accountable. When you present you weaknesses to the world once why stop there?

Renewing Myself
I'm pretty happy with the way this is progressing. Yea me! I've lost 15 pounds, thanks to Weight Watchers Online. I am addicted to the app and don't feel the need to attend any meetings. In fact, I loathe those things. I weigh every morning and have seen an ever so slight change in my face and hips. I'm even staring to like what I see in the mirror. I also have a goal date and weight of the first week in April. Our Disney Cruise! We went two years ago and I can't wait to compare the pictures from this vacation to that one.


Rededication to My Family
After writing, I shared my thoughts about this with my husband. I'm not sure he quite gets what I'm talking about. I told him that just being there is not enough. Going to Jackson's basketball games is not enough. Being in the same room is not enough. And although this is the age where it is very common, the boys think we need to be around other people to have fun. That's one reason for the above mentioned cruise. We are not traveling with any other family. It's just us.

And... Refocusing on My Passion
Well I thought this would be the hardest, but maybe it's not. So far, this is what I figured out:


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Being Brave and Saying "No"... It's OK


Sometimes the hardest and bravest thing you can do is say "no". Especially when it is something you feel will serve and honor God. Especially when you feel it is something you've been called to do. We all feel that when we are called to serve Him - we must not say no. 

I have dear friend in my "Prayer Ninjas" group. She is an absolute superwoman who not only has a husband and four children to manage, but a part-time job at her church as the Mother's Morning Out Director. Last week, she texted the other five of us the following:

"I need some ninja guidance. I have been offered a full time  job as Program Director for Children's Ministries at church -- Sunday school, baptisms, Nurturing Center, children's chapels, vacation bible school, some retreat coordination and who knows what else. I'd be working Sunday mornings, clearly and then four weekdays. I'm struggling. Idk if I can handle all that AND run my house. But it would be really helpful financially and I love working at the church. I worry about the Sunday gig interfering with visiting "oldest daughter" in college and other weekend stuff. I'd have to give up tennis (which is on its way out the door anyway from work this year). But it is an outlet for me. Anywho, too much for a text, but WWPND???"

Each one of us offered words of encouragement and prayed for discernment. We suggested she make lists of pros and cons. Was there a Godly woman she could talk with? Would she feel passion with this new position? A purpose? A peace?

Today she let us know that she has decided not to accept the position. She said "no". And I'm so proud of her. Some other extended family issues have arisen and she realizes that she is needed there. That being said, she still feels some guilt that she's not able to "do it all."

How hard that must have been. I had a similar situation last year where, after vacillating back and forth, I had to defer and not accept a call to serve. Although I had initially not felt a peace or surety about the position, I still felt that I let God down. I felt that I was not walking the Christian walk. I felt I was not glorifying God and His kingdom. I felt selfish. 

But I learned that there was a reason I was not even aware of at the time: my husband was going to be admitted to the hospital and then have a very long recuperation. In some ways, he's still not (and may never be) where he was before. There was no way I could have served God and His kingdom the way I should have. And like my friend, I still felt a little guilty.

But in the midst of my searching for what I felt I should do, I now realize God was saying, "Its ok. Trust me. Take care of yourself and those you love right now. Today, in those private, precious moments, that is where you can serve and glorify Me. Don't feel that you have to do everything for Me. I'll be fine. For I am sovereign. I am mighty. I am powerful. I am your Father who loves you and always will."

And it's ok to say no...