Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stuck in the Muck

I haven't written in two months. I know. Not good. Because I really love it. It's therapeutic. But I've had no desire or urge lately.

I'm stuck in the muck. 

Not stuck in a rut. That's too easy to get out of. You just lift your foot up and step out. It may take a little desire and gumption, but it's not impossible. But stuck in the muck, now that's a different story. When you think about muck, what comes to mind? I think of dark, gooey, sloppy mud. It's smelly. It's thick. Your feet literally sink into it - perhaps all the way to your ankles. You are actually stuck. Every attempt at lifting your feet out sucks you deeper and tighter. On your own, there is no way out. Pretty dismal. 

And that's where I am.

Jackson and I returned from JH Ranch different people: Conquering fears. A heart of gratitude. A soul of obedience. A mind of dependency. Godly parenting. Honoring our parents. Deepening our relationship with each other. We still talk about our experience daily and what it meant to us.

As I've mentioned before, I subscribe to Proverbs 31 daily devotions. You'd think that because they are readily available in my inbox every morning, I'd be so faithful. But to be perfectly honest, sometimes I look at them and think, "I'll read it later." Then I put it in an email folder where I save those I really find inspiring or timely. Anyway, that's where I found their "Stuck in the Muck" devotion.  You can read it here.

Boy, did that speak to me. You see, I am sooooooo stuck in the muck. And (as I journaled about this yesterday) it shows in almost every aspect of my life:
1. My weight is creeping back on. I lost 35 pounds (goal was 45) and have gained 7 back. No will-power. And that is so depressing. 
2. I am being sucked in by the unhappiness of someone close to me.
3. Teaching is stressful! And therefore, I come home emotionally exhausted every day. 
4. My solo time with God has gone down the tube - as well as Jackson's. We were so on track and held each other accountable for the two weeks following JH Ranch.   

It's funny how as I wrote this, I felt such comfort. It was a confession to God that I am stuck and can not get out alone. To quote the author of the devotion, "Does He, in His love, let us fall into a muddy puddle so we can feel the discomfort of life without Him? Isn’t it true that when we find ourselves stuck in the muck of life, we long more deeply for God’s loving arms to come and take our hands and lead us out? We cry out, "Daddy, I need You. Please pull me out of this mess!'"

So I prayed.

Lord, I need you.
Oh I need you.
Every hour I need you.
My one defense, my righteousness.
Oh God, how I need you.
I am not unhappy. Yet I am not fully joyful as I was a few short weeks ago. I know is is my own doing and my disobedience. You desire a full relationship with me, and I know that to be fully blessed, I need to be completely engaged in your word. I need your help. I thank you for the wise counsel of Godly friends. Thank you for a loving husband and sons. I also pray for them that they will continue to grow in their desire for you.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Countdown to JH Ranch

The countdown app says 10 days, 3 hours and 26 minutes. He's filled with excitement, anticipation - and a bit of the butterflies. We've known about this trip for months, been planning the travel logistics for weeks and are now finalizing our packing lists.

Jackson and I are flying across the country to northern California where we will be attending the Mother/Son Week at JH Ranch.

From their website:
The content of our programming at JH Ranch is taught primarily through the challenges of practical experiences in the great outdoors. With each purpose-driven program, our goal is to teach and model the Great Commandment: love God and love others. Through this, our guests leave JH Ranch with practical Christian principles for everyday life, not simply inspiration.

This week long gift from my parents to Jackson and me was one that grew from the intense prayer and discernment of my mother. It's been almost four years from the fatal wreck that killed my grandmother. Jackson was only nine at the time and was trapped in the car with her leg on his shoulder. The other sights and sounds he experienced those moments scarred him in ways that were not so evident to us at the time. This happy, funny thirteen-year-old has not spent a night away from his family since then. He can't do it. This athletic, cool kid can't bring himself to try new things that might challenge him or take him out of his comfort zone. It's taken this many years for him to finally admit that he might possibly have a form of PTSD. My mother was convicted by the Holy Spirit that she was to give us this week to help with his healing -  and that we were to receive it. (And how do you argue with the Holy Spirit? You don't! You are obedient!)

At first I was worried that when I showed Jackson the website, he would say no. Because there are many challenges throughout the week - and times of quiet reflection from the Biblical teaching sessions. But he didn't. He was kind of interested. Going in a trip, just the two of us to a place his brother hasn't been? That's pretty neat. In the mountains? That's cool too. And as we continued to talk over the next months, then weeks and now days, the excitement grew. Tonight, we watched a video from a week earlier this summer. It painted quite a thorough picture of all we will experience. And he could hardly contain his excitement. He is so ready!

Afterwards, we were talking about what he would want to keep in the backpack he is using as his carry-on. I mentioned his iPhone and charger, Eno, GoPro, gum - all the things I though he would be interested in. Without skipping a beat, he said, "Oh yes. And also my Bible." (How big was my internal smile?!)

I admit it. I've been so concerned about his head being open and ready for this adventure. But I now know that his heart is too. And that is where God will work in Jackson's life - and mine too. In our heads, but mainly in our hearts. We are being obedient. Our hearts are open. And we are excited with the anticipation of what great things He will do in our lives!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

I Respectfully Disagree

I've never been one for confrontation and conflict. My family and friends can attest to this. I tend to clam up and hold things inside when I am directly or emotionally affected. (Not very healthy, because I finally explode in tears.) However, when asked to mediate between others - or (when I'm forced to) on my own behalf - I try to be very careful and deliberate with my words and intonations. The less conflict the better. I want everyone to feel that they have been heard.  Really listened to - and with dignity. It upsets me greatly when I feel others are more interested in making sure that their point is the only one that matters. They yell. They curse. They mock. They belittle the others person's opinions and life's experiences.

I find that happens more and more in this age of social media. We live in a world where not only can we write an initial post or article, but the rest of humanity can comment and even battle back and forth between themselves. One time I posted something on my own Facebook page and two friends who don't even know each other battled back and forth for what seemed hours. Neither one wanted to listen to the other. Their conversation was smattered with snide comments and innuendos as to the other's intelligence and moral fortitude. It was like hosting a dinner party where two belligerent guests had overstayed their welcome and would not leave. I finally had to politely ask them to stop.

These past two weeks have provided much to show the divisions and differences in opinion in our country. And the comments and posts from friends showed the passion, and sometimes mean-spiritedness, from both sides. 

I too got involved and shared my excitement of the Confederate BATTLE Flag coming down in my state. Goosebumps abounded as my husband and sons watched it live on television.

I consider myself a conservative (See, you can't lump us all together in our views!) and follow the website/blog Chicks on the Right. They also agreed that the flag should be removed from our State House grounds. After reading some of the comments that strongly and rudely disagreed, I felt the need to share my own views. You can see my exchanges with two other readers that ensued and the lessons learned...

Politeness Lesson Number 1: If they pick up that you won't get hostile, they will drop the conversation.

Politeness Lesson Number 2: Someone who strongly disagrees with you can honor your views. (You might also make a friend.)

And so I thank you for listening!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Memorial Service

We walked into the beautiful church. It was smaller than mine. Then again, most churches are smaller than mine. It was also older. And more traditional. A beautiful stained glass window depicting Jesus kneeling in prayer was over the pulpit. The organ played softly. A woman greeted me warmly, handed me a funeral home fan and guided me to an empty seat in the pew. My youngest son looked around expectantly. He had never been here before. Neither had I.

It was the first time either of us had set foot in Cumberland AME Church. And had it not been for the horrific event of Wednesday, June 17, 2015, we would still be strangers to the sanctuary.

But it did happen. And I read about tonight's memorial service on Facebook. I told Jackson that we were going (my oldest son is out of town), and another friend of mine was joining us. I told him that he might not get why it was important for us to be there, but he would later.

The sanctuary was full - almost equal black and white. But I still felt a little like an outsider. Not that any of the others there caused my apprehension. At all. It was all me - because I was not affected in the same way as they were. Of course, as a South Carolinian, I was deeply saddened, horrified and pained. I cried many times over the past few days. But never had anyone in my family been murdered in cold blood because of what they looked like. What did I know about any of their experiences?

But it was important that I be there.

It was lovely and somber and appropriate. The organizers and staff of the church had made it a beautiful memorial. And then people were invited to come forward to share. And what words. What strength. What hope. The faith of these men and women of God, young and old. As their words poured out, I furiously scribbled notes on an envelope I found in my purse:

~ "We must love this young man. We must pray for him that the evil will leave him."

~ "It's not easy to understand what God does or why He lets things happen. But I know this: God will make a miracle out of this mess."

~ "Do not hate. We are all brothers and sisters."

~ "We forgive. For God forgives us every day."

~ "It is not about skin color. It's not!  It is about the evil presence that is trying to take over. But God and His love will prevail!"

~ "Let us love one another for we serve the same God."

~ "Some of my friends want to start 'packing' (a gun) when they go to church. Not me! I am going to be packing something much stronger: the Word of God!"

And finally, a woman stood up and started singing "It is Well with My Soul". The entire congregation stood up, clasped hands and joined her.

It's one thing to hear people say all these things on news reports and interviews. It's an entirely different emotion to hear it in person a few feet away. And I left feeling not as an outsider. I left feeling as a true member of God's family, as a sister in His larger community. And although we know there is such evil out there in our sinful world, I left feeling hopeful - and in a sense, emboldened and empowered by my time with my brothers and sisters.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My Birthday...

I woke up this morning to my younger son bringing in me breakfast in bed. He made me a double coffee, cut up strawberries "real fancy", and picked a flower bud from our yard. What a great way to start my 46th birthday. I took my dog for a walk and came back to wonderful birthday texts from my dearest friends. It started our so much better than last year - which really s*****, because it seemed to kind of fall by the wayside. I felt pretty special this morning!

And then I turned on the news.

The horrific murder of nine African-American Christians, who were praying in their church. In my state. One block away from where my family was staying this past weekend for the joyous celebration of my cousin's wedding. These adults were studying The Word and digging deeper in their relationship with their Savior. Worshiping with their families. In a safe place. A church. A place which has institutionally and historically been a sanctuary for all - the faithful or not. Why? Why? Why?

I wish I had the energy to find words of comfort or understandingly this TRAGEDY. But I can't. I am overwhelmed with grief for my fellow South Carolinians. I am numb. I lift up those families and their children who are weeping. And again, why? Why? Why?

So on a day that celebrates my birth, I am crying over the heinous death of the innocent. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

White Knight

And yet another YouTube video has surfaced about hateful people. No, I'm not writing about the horrible ESPN reporter. I read on the Huffington Post (which I read selectively) about a young woman from Australia defending an elderly Muslim couple as another elderly woman harasses and berates them for her headscarf and their religion. The altercation was also apparently filmed by the Australian woman.

The young woman has been hailed as a hero. And I wholeheartedly concur with everything she said. How hateful the harasser was. Do I agree with or even begin to understand many of the tenants of the Muslim religion? No. And this is not even considering the crazy, sadistic ISIS beliefs. But what happened to this couple would be like someone coming up to me asking why I am wearing a cross or reading my Bible, considering the horrific and unbelievable actions of Westborough Baptist Church or the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda. That is wrong to categorize me with them. It was wrong to categorize this couple as well.

However, I then read this article, and what Ashitha Nagesh, the young woman who wrote this, said hit home. As a white woman, is it my place to be the (no pun intended) "white knight in shining armor"? Do I feel the need to be the savior in such a situation? Am I doing it solely because of my strong beliefs? I want to believe it is. Or is there also just a teeny, tiny tinge of wanting to show the world that "Although I am a white woman who exudes WASP-iness and a bit of privilege, I need to show you that I really am a champion of the persecuted and descriminated". Am I alone in wondering this? I hardly think so. But in today's culture, it's a very slippery slope. Because I believe standing up against what I think is wrong and I am pretty passionate about it. 

Just something to think about...

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...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Just Because We Can, Does That Mean We Should?

It's a question we can all remember asking ourselves at one time or another in our lives. When I was first out of college, I was an assistant teacher at a local private school. I had agreed to work a year-long contract. However, when summer approached, I realized that the school had made a gross error and that the contract was only through May (much to my delight). I could have legally refused my verbal agreement. I could have spent more time relaxing and also finding another job that was full-time. But I didn't. Just because I could didn't mean I should. 

I know this illustration is a stretch for the point I'm trying to make with what is going on in our world right now. But I've been very troubled by what people saying on both sides of the Atlantic. Now before everyone says that we shouldn't be pushed around by religious extremists, I completely agree. We have the freedom in our country to express ourselves however we feel called without the threat of harm or even death. We have that right. I also am not inviting anyone to call me a terrorist sympathizer. I'm not saying that the French journalists at Charlie Hebdo deserved the tragedy that befell them. What happened last week horrifies and terrifies me, and I feel deeply for their families and colleagues. I just don't believe that because we can, it means we should.

As a Christian, it pains and offends me greatly to see illustrations and portrayals of my Savior desecrated, caricatured, and mocked. The Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) is sacred to me. SACRED. For Muslims (and I'm talking about regular, everyday Muslims), it is Mohamed who is sacred. Why should we, as a civilized society, feel the need to deride that which is so precious to others? Pope Francis and I share the same concern. It's not like poking fun at an NFL team, our government, or someone's dietary choices.  So what's the reason except to point back at ourselves how clever or quick-witted - or even esoteric - we are?

Once more, I am a firm believer in the right of free speech and varying opinions. But I am also a firm believer that we can choose what we say and how we act based on what is right and moral and fair. Because again, just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Thank you. Thank you and you and you. I've had comments here and on my Facebook page and in emails. And most of them have resonated the same theme. That YOU have felt the same way. That YOU could have written that particular post. Had I crawled inside YOUR heart or mind? 

I'm just writing what's on my heart. What inspires me, perplexes me - or what causes me to just curl up in a ball. As I've said before, I get most of my thinking and reflecting done in the early morning. It's when the house is quiet and I'm the only one awake. And... I'm in the shower.

It was there that I was thinking about my blog and its name: "It's a Golden Day". A dear friend remembers me in college walking up to all our friends and greeting them with those words. They still say it to me with affection. Should I change it?

Happy, favorable, promising, beautiful. These are words often associated with the word GOLDEN. But that's the finished product. That's when it's all shiny and polished and refined. What about before? Gold is mined from deep in the ground. It's hidden, and then chiseled out. It's covered with dirt and dust. It's rough. It's raw.

And that's where I feel I am sometimes: in the just mined stage. What I write is honest and real. Because I am honest and real. I don't have to be that final, shiny, buffed, perfect, photoshopped, perma-grinned, Pinterest-ified woman. I'm tired of that - aren't you? I want to celebrate the fact that my laundry room is not organized with chalk board labels on wicker baskets, but mountains of laundry. I want to not be ashamed that my family didn't eat organic, whole foods for supper tonight, but Zaxbys. I want shout it from the rooftops that the last few times I had to bring an appetizer, I didn't create something homemade, but brought blue chips and salsa. I want to own the fact that I had my "get though the day without punching something" meds prescription upped. And all these things are ok, damn it. 

But there are some other words that are also associated with GOLDEN, and those are the ones I want to claim. The first is wisdom. I love the fact that with age, comes wisdom. Hence, the term "the golden years". With forty-five years of experiences, from the truly wonderful to the deeply painful, I would hope that I am growing wiser!  The second is valuable. You may know this verse: "Lord, You are more precious than silver. Lord, You are more costly than gold. Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds, And nothing I desire compares to You." No doubt I agree completely with this. But I also know that God feels the same way about me. He values me in all of my weakness. In the state I am in daily: dirty, rough, and raw. I AM valuable. I AM golden.

So I think I will keep the name. It fits. And I like what "It's a Golden Day" symbolizes to me right now.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 The Best is Yet to Come...

Happy New Year! A time of Renewal. Rededication. Refocusing.  And I have three things I really need/want to channel my energy on:

My family
My passion

How vague is that? I'm talking about physically. I have never been a petite person. I think the smallest size I have ever been is an 8. And I really don't want to be that small, because I was that size about ten years ago and my face looked all wrinkly and gaunt - even at age 35! I just want to be healthy and feel good about myself. I want to not feel so tired. I want to not feel ugly. I want to want to have sex with my husband. (That's probably too much information. I think he's amazing, handsome and wonderful, but when you feel ugly, it can deeply affect your drive.) I want to believe him when he says I am beautiful. Now I'm probably going to have lots of people comment and say, "Oh Bevy, you ARE beautiful! You have such a beautiful _____." And that's all lovely and kind and sweet and supportive... bleh, bleh, bleh. But if I can't feel it myself, then...  

So I've decided (just like last year - ugh!) to make a change. Last year I was really on a roll until Mike's "Gallbladder Explosion Diet". Although he lost weight (and lots of it, I might add), I ceremoniously failed. And I never got back on track. But this year I'm starting back, with the help of my school's "Biggest Loser" competition throughout May. The winner gets a bill ol' wad of prize money as well. I have a pretty competitive streak and I do. not. like. losing. (And my husband will reap the benefits too!)

My family
I'm not quite sure exactly where I'm going with this. I just know that we are all pulled in a million different directions. And when each of us finally do come down to land, we crash and isolate ourselves - and I am probably the most guilty. My iPad has become an appendage. Granted I am not always surfing Facebook, Pinterest or the net. I am cropping photos, or organizing lists and recipes, or reading on my Kindle app or e-magazine, or finding second grade resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, or... And my husband is constantly looking at sports scores and researching trends for upcoming games. Sumter is on Twitter. Jackson is on Instagram. Or they are texting their friends. 

This fall has been a bit rough. Both boys have made some poor choices and this concerns me. I don't like being evasive. Neither are involved with drugs or drinking. Nothing illegal. Just bad choices, and neither seem to understand (or care to) why said decisions or choices are wrong. I am beginning to see that this gray, amoral world is influencing them more than I realized. And this is with Bible studies and youth group! My husband and I thought we were engaged. Obviously we need to be more. More with the boys - and more with each other.

My passion
This is interestingly enough the hardest one to even realize - much less commit to. I am in a funk. Not unhappy - just in a funk. It's really hard to write this, but I really don't have anything in my life right now that gives me intrinsic joy. I was talking to my husband about this: He brings me joy. Our sons bring me joy. My sweet puppy, Maggie, brings me joy. Jesus brings me joy. I enjoy my job. But what else? What is it that makes me want to get up in the morning? What excites me more than anything? I just don't know. But I am committing 2015 to find out.

So there you have it. Renewing myself. Rededication to my family. And refocusing on my passion. Here's to 2015!