Monday, December 19, 2011

a little holiday miracle...

Yesterday was laundry day.  Again.  I have not yet figured my way out of laundry day...  And we were going to have to wash clothes or make a trip to Walmart before our showers, so laundry day it was.

Some parts of the world don't have it so easy as simply a laundry day, so I choose to rejoice in my abundance.  But that is for another day.

Awhile back my husband, Michael, lost his ring.  Not his wedding ring - the other one.  It was his commitment ring to God.  A few years ago he was gifted a ring with a cross cut out of the center.  It was to be used as a silent reminder of his commitment to Christ.  And since that day when Michael was gifted that ring, he has worn it.  When Michael was struggling or angry with God or needing some quiet time to sort through his thoughts, he turned the cross inward.  When he felt strong enough to be a disciple of Christ working in his life, he turned the cross outward.  But every day Michael wore it.

Until recently.

Because, one day, it disappeared when he took it off to shower and get ready for work.  We looked everywhere, but we could not find his ring.  And for Michael, that was a pretty big deal.

So back to yesterday, and laundry day.  There I was sorting through the bins of dirty clothes, and I wondered why the clothes towards the bottom were burning hot.  So I pulled the bins away to look.  And the picture below is what I found.....












There was an old radiator in the baseboard that we thought did not work.  And up against that old baseboard radiator was our laundry.  And our plastic clothing bags.  And our extra bath mats.  And a painter's drop cloth - with paint on it.  And underneath this burning pile of stuff - stuff that had been melting and burning since it turned cold, stuff that had smelled, but I couldn't figure out why - was Michael's ring.  I wanted to take a picture of the ring for you, but he's wearing it and he is at work today.  It's just a normal Monday.

Could have turned out much differently, save for the miracle.  Could have been a tragic Monday instead.  See, there is a family at my boys' school who just lost everything.  Their house burned to the ground just three streets over from ours.  I bought smoke detectors, but I haven't taken the time to figure out how to attach them to an old 1940's plaster ceiling.  So this- this salvation from fire - it is a true miracle. 

I don't know why God saved us and yet our neighbors are having to rebuild their lives.  We certainly don't deserve to be saved while they suffer.  I have no answer.  But I am grateful.  And I recognize God's saving hand. 

My oldest son, Key, saw the burned pile and his first words say it all.

"Praise be to God we are okay.  Mom, Praise be to God."

Yes, Key, Praise be to God.  And thank you, God.  Thank you for guiding us to your ring.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advent 2011 Week Three: Apostles Visit (and JOY)

We went home today.
 
Columbia home. 
Uncle Bryan and Aunt Ginny home. 
Seeing all the Hatches home.

Church of the Apostles home. 

And, oh, it felt so good to see those familial faces and feel in person those familial hugs.  We love all of our family and we miss living close enough to see them every week.  But what made it even more special was seeing genuine joy on their faces at the sight of us. 

It's honestly the mutual joy of being real together, of having life together, that makes each place home. 

What's funny is that in all of our church hopping lately, we miss the preaching and teaching of the clergy at Church of the Apostles.  So, ironically, we ended up visiting on a day that they had a guest speaker.  This guest, Wesley Hill, started talking, and he didn't sound like home.  He sounded comfortable and polished and all together, but he didn't sound like what I had come for.  I found myself looking at my husband, with me thinking, "Damn it, every Sunday we keep hearing all these smart professory people, and my husband is just soaking it all in."  I also found myself assuming that the reason God kept sending me to intellectual sermons was because He needed to talk to my husband and He needed me to sit still and be supportive.  I seriously doubted there being any purpose to today's message and me. 

But, I figured, since I was already there, I might as well try to pay attention.  I mean, I can be smart too if I want to be.

When Wesley Hill finished, the man sitting next to me abruptly got up and left immediately after the sermon and never came back.  I had been so immersed in myself and my thoughts that I started wondering if the way I had been leaning in to hear the speaker over the air conditioner had offended my neighbor in some way.  I did not consider that maybe he HAD actually listened - all the way from the beginning - to the speaker and been rattled by it or had something in his life that needed his attention. 

So, a few minutes later, when a man walked in and sat down in the seat my previous neighbor had just abandoned, I figured I should be nice.  After a few minutes I handed him my program so he could follow the rest of the service.  I explained that we would have communion.  And when he asked if he could also take communion, I explained that it was, indeed, open to all baptized people.  I also invited him the go to the altar to receive a blessing if he was not, after all, baptized. 

And this is when God laughed at me.

This sweet humble man proclaimed in the most beautiful accent (Kenyan, it turned out) that he was born again.  He was joyful to receive communion.  He then asked me what the message for the day had said, being that he was visiting for the first time and had gotten the service time wrong and missed it.  So I summarized that stranger in the pulpit's sermon.

The Kenyan, well, he quietly whispered, "Amen."

And he smiled. 

That is when I heard God's laughter.

God also whispered to me, "Welcome."


Truly, for now and maybe always, Apostles is home.

Because of our friends. 
Because of the messages we hear - even the ones delivered through the voices of the guests.   
Because when we walk in the doors, God's grace meets us. 

And most of all, because it is where I can hear God laughing. 

And that, my friend, is reason for joy.



**Coincidentally, week three of Advent stands for JOY in liturgical churches.**


.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent 2011: Days 3 - 5 - It's All About the Timing

Timing is everything.  At least God's timing is.  Everything, I mean.

Back around Christmas 1985, I wanted - more than ANYTHING else - a pair of red Arabian belly dancing pajamas.  The pants flowed and moved and looked to a young girl, well, intoxicating.  I had to have them.  Needed them.  Craved them.  Could think of nothing else except those red Arabian belly dancing pajamas.

So in the weeks leading up to the B.I.G. day, I searched for them.  And I found them.  Hidden.  In the basement in a big blanket chest.  And I felt fabulous knowing that those red pajamas would be mine.

The only problem was, I had not found them under a tree on the B.I.G. day as my parents had intended.  Instead I had cheated, and by doing so, soiled the Christmas experience with a nagging, annoying, mood spoiling emotion.  Guilt.  I had messed with the timing of the gift giving.  I had taken from my parents the ability to surprise me and feel joy over making their daughter happy on the B.I.G. day.  And so I did what any good, guilt ridden, nine year old girl would do.  I faked it.  I acted surprised.  I acted as though I hadn't known that I was getting red Arabian belly dancing pajamas and that the joy on my face was R.E.A.L.  But it wasn't.  R.E.A.L.  It was forced.

I did still wear those suckers all over the place, and I did still love them, but it wasn't quite the same as it could have been.  I had shadowed, ever so slightly, the joy.

Looking back now and dealing with lots of transition and lots of decisions makes me wonder about God's timing.  I want to feel settled.  I want that dream house and that comfortable bank account and a church in an actual building that is designated as a church all seven days of the week.  I actually almost had all that.  For a little while.

Makes me want to force life's blessings like I did back when I was nine with those fabulous pajamas. And yet, I must remember the consequense of the timing.  I must turn the almosts and the not quites and I want it nows all over to Him. I must trust in His role as Father, Provider, Comforter, Teacher, Redeemer, Soul Saver, God.  I must trust and come to understand that Christmas Day will come.  Maybe on December 25th.  Maybe another time.  But on that B.I.G. day, in His perfect timing, that joy - well, it will be R.E.A.L.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent 2011: Day Two - laundry lists

I've got a laundry list, which includes actual laundry, to knock out before the B.I.G. day.  You know, when Santa arrives and the kids innocently show on those cherubic faces whether or not Michael and I picked correctly from their laundry list of wants.  My favorite post on facebook recently was a parent that said that her daughter refused to write that laundry list because Santa knew exactly what she wanted.  Talk about a panic moment.  How could anyone do their shopping without The List, much less Santa

And between now and the B.I.G. day, the kids are anxiously counting down with an Advent calendar.  The only minor glitch is that Momma accidentally bought an obviously agnostic Advent calendar that starts on December 1st, not November 27th - the first Sunday of real actual Christian Advent.  Being Christian, we ate the first piece of chocolate out of said agnostic calendars yesterday and are now four days ahead of schedule.  We are currently counting down to December 21st.  Oops.

Here's the thing.  I remember being that age, when the excitement of what was to come held potential wonder and abundance and happiness.  I remember craving the frenzy of that day, of the exasperation of having to wait for the whole house to wake up and for Mom to make coffee and Dad to get through his morning constitutional and anticipating, imagining, practically combusting over what could possibly have magically appeared behind those closed doors.  The ones leading to the living room and the tree. 

And I want my own children to feel that same excitement, that same craving. I want them practically combusting as well.  So that when we read the Christmas story, about the R.E.A.L. day, they can taste what it means to wait for something momentous.  They can get what it feels like to want in earnest for that better thing.  To want with anticipation, so that when we go and we sit in the darkness. And we hold a candle. And we sing ever so softly Silent Night .... they will be primed in the deep crevices.  Attuned to the waiting.  So that just maybe, before the frenzy of that next morning, they'll get the goosebumps.  The ones that come in knowing. 

Christ, humbly and weakly and preciously, has been born into our realm. 

Just before the frenzy.  They'll know.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent 2011: Day One

advent - Arrival, especially of something momentous
Advent - a.  The coming of the birth of Christ; b.  The period of four Sundays before Christmas

- according to Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary

He (John the Baptist) proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."


- Mark 1: 7,8


* picture borrowed from http://www.learning-to-b-me.blogspot.com/ *

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunday School and those d*** Republicans

Have you ever been in church and looked around to wonder who might not REALLY be a Christian?  You know, the situation where the priest, or for most of you probably - pastor, has talked about accepting Christ, and you wonder if there are any people in that room that haven't.  Accepted Christ, that is.  And you look and you look and before long you find yourself doing just as Jesus never intended.

You start judging.

And it occurred to me that when we (namely - me) do this judging, whether intentional or not, we are actually judging a mask.  For it is stated that we are not to know the depths of a person's heart, but that Christ is to know that instead.  And truthfully, we do not know the depths of the people sitting all around us.  We know their masks.

But Christ knows them.  And I choose to trust Him.

Which is why I went back to Sunday school after being called a bigot a few weeks ago.  It was accidental, that name calling, after all.

The way the class is structured, each person consecutively reads one paragraph after another until a chapter from a book is finished.  The class finished the liberation theology book during my absence, and I arrived this past Sunday to start a book about twelve steps to becoming a compassionate person.  It is based on the twelve step program for alcoholics. 

Again, the same gentleman that angrily labeled all Anglicans as bigots, labeled all Republicans as unfeeling, selfish, animals.  He merely related Republicans to an undeveloped feral animal that had been mentioned in his paragraph that he got to read out loud.  We happened to be sitting next to each other.  And I didn't have my own copy of the book.   So I prayed. 

Jesus, why on Earth am I here?  Why am I sharing a book about compassion with this insensitive idiot next to me that keeps hiding behind an academic facade of superiority?  WHY, exactly????

The gentleman that keeps accidentally calling me names is a professor. 

So ... I found myself looking around that room doing that judging thing.  Wondering out of all these academics that show up every Sunday to discuss how to become more compassionate, which ones know Jesus? 

And... I don't know which ones know Jesus.  Maybe all of the academics know Him.  But I do know Jesus knows each of the academics.  And maybe, just maybe, he wants me to see what hiding behind pretense looks like.  To meet Mr. Professor. 

Jesus was never mentioned in that class. I think if I feel called to go back, that would be my purpose there. To keep mentioning Jesus. Out loud. To keep Him in the room.


But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

I Samuel 16:7

Yet there was another purpose for my presence in that room last week.  That Sunday school room.  My heart sharing a book with a heart I call The Professor.  Maybe in stirring up my anger, He intended on stirring up my vision.  Maybe I needed to look a little closer to home.

Maybe Jesus wants me to look inward, at me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Substitute teaching

I have been substitute teaching lately.  First of all, let's go ahead and clear up my motives for doing this job.  I wanted to explore the option of going back to teaching after I ran screaming into motherhood ten years ago, grateful for a reason not to show up to work one August.  That reason is Key, and his younger brother, Kelly, has started kindergarten.  When I left teaching, I could not have been more relieved.  My husband, Michael, was also relieved, being that I had a tendency to get a bit attached to certain oddballs and then foam at the mouth when their parents behaved badly.  Michael was worried about our house being capable of sleeping enough people had I stayed with teaching.  So, as is becoming a completely unintentional habit for me, I am going to school with my own kids under the guise of saving/ making money.  (Subs get paid slave labor wages, just so you know.  Seriously.  $50 for 8 hours before taxes.  Do the math.)  I have a love/ hate relationship with the American educational system, but nonetheless, it is a magnet for me.  We've explored homeschooling, private schooling, public schooling, and we have chosen charter schooling.  We've actually chosen the poorest school in America to send our kids.  Not that we realized we were choosing a school with that particular bragging right, but we did.  And, truth be told, we like it. 

So.  All that to say I am working there.  Part time.  In the special education multi age self contained room.  Got it?  That means I have been with the kids that are struggling more than the others and have been pulled for targeted help and since the school has no money they decided to put the eight year olds with the fifteen year olds and the autistic child with the ADD absolutely no focus child and the sweetest kid in the entire universe that has down syndrome and a six pack set of abs because his mom is the pe teacher kid all together.  Throw in the kid with extra growth hormone and the kid with cerebral palsy and the kid with no motivation and the kid with a killer jump shot and no clue how to read, add one or two adults, and you are starting to get the picture.  Here's the toughest part.  I am in love.  And I challenge anyone to spend a week in that room and not have the same reaction.  Another woman, also a substitute, that was helping me yesterday, said it perfectly. 

"When I look at his eyes, I can't help but see Jesus."

That was about the autistic one with giant brown eyes and a smile I simply cannot describe.  He attaches to certain teachers, and one day when this other substitute came to work in my place, he looked at her and said, "Get out crazy lady.  Where Ms. Hatch?  You not Ms. Hatch. Get out and get Ms. Hatch.  You crazy." 

I know I am not supposed to have favorites, but seriously. 

The thing is, in the oddballs is where Jesus shines through.  It is where no one is afraid to talk about Him and everything goes because there are no filters or concerns about fitting in with these kids.  They fit here because they do not easily fit elsewhere, and so they are open and honest, and they all love Jesus. 

And He shows up. 

Because everyday the kiddos ask Him to. 

(Makes going back to teaching a bit more enticing when Jesus keeps asking for me and calling everybody else crazy.  I mean, wouldn't you at least give it a thought?)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bigots in Sunday School

Today I was called a bigot that hates gays.  Actually Michael and I both get to claim that insult.  The person flinging it didn't mean to call us names.  He just didn't realize that the group he felt justified in stereotyping accidentally included us.  And we happened to be there.  In the same Sunday school class.  Right across the table from him.  The group we belong to?  The one that makes us automatically gay haters?

We're Anglicans.

Yep.  That's it.  Anglicans.  (Such a dirty word, don't you think?)

Problem is, the stereotype doesn't fit.  In fact, it is the opposite of the truth.  Because the Anglican church we still claim as home teaches about loving each person as made by God in the image of God.  We all fall short; we all walk around as sinners; we all need God's redeeming love.  It teaches focusing on Christ.  The issue of gays?  Well now, that's left up to debate amongst the members.  Some might say that being gay is a sin, while others might give genetics all the credit.  They'd go on to state that there's no sin in God's initial creation.   But everybody, no matter the person's opinion or sexuality, gets God's love.  And no matter the debate of what is sin, all are to focus on Christ.  On being Christ to each other.

Michael looked across the table at the man after I explained to him that he was actually insulting us.  We were, in fact, Anglican.  He had that "deer in headlights" look for a moment before he recovered.  We went on to point out we didn't really care what name a church had.  We cared what they claimed as their focus.  As their mission statement.  We cared about Christ being the center of the church.  Any church.  Especially the one we chose for worship.  He looked at us with skepticism as he said he couldn't imagine a church NOT being Christ centered.

Really?

Should we go there?

Michael simply pointed to the framed drawing of Christ hanging in the room.  And then Michael said, "I am here for Him.  I am not making a political statement with my presence.  I am not making any statement with my presence.  I am here for Him.  Just Him.  It's all about Him."

That guy.  The one that called us a bigot, had to leave because he was the reader of the scriptures for the next service.  But the whole conversation made me wonder how many times assumptions and stereotypes I make, whether voiced out loud or merely thought in my mind, fall as far from the truth as today's did. 

How am I focusing on being Christ to others?  How am I the hands and feet of Jesus?  How am I judging others unfairly?  Am I a part of a healthy branch on God's vine or am I a part of a diseased one? 

Anyway, all this to say, you gotta love Sunday school....well....

and maybe one or two bigots.

.....At least Jesus did.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Choosing grace: YPA

There's this kid that's fourteen years old, just over six feet tall, whose body releases growth hormone at a faster pace than his peers, and as a result he has poor muscle development.  His muscles can't keep up with his growth so he is left weaker than his peers.  He walks everywhere, but he walks as an older feeble person may walk, taking stairs one at a time, slowly.  Holding up the whole line behind him kind of slow.

There's another kid, a would be popular kid, his peer, that loves the first kid dearly, and so he helps him every day and every time they must take the stairs.  This kid holds his arm out and supports his friend and offers a steady, stable balance for the first kid. 

It's beautiful to watch. 

There's also a kid in a wheelchair with limited body movement.  Pinching a bite of food and moving it to his mouth can be called labor.  Yet he does it.  Every meal.  He could just get his shadow to feed him everything.  But he chooses to labor for himself when at all possible.  As a tool to help him get around, he rides in a motorized scooter, and since he's eleven, it's a pretty cool thing to own.  Every day before lunch he rides his scooter in the gym in circles as fast as he can go, entertaining the detention kids with his tricks.  They clap for him if the other teachers aren't paying attention. 

I stuggle to decide between public, private, and homeschool.  I mentally second guess our decisions for our kids' education.  This school has lots of problems that accompany its newness and its lack of funding.  But what I love about it is that the school's shortcomings have not translated into lack of grace among the students.  Mixed in with the normal population is the understanding that each person present is socially acceptable.  Each and every one.  It's a matter of choice, of these students choosing to extend grace to each other and therefore accepting each other.  Of offering the opportunity for joy in place of fear.  Just grace.  It seems small, but it makes all the difference.

Again, it's beautiful to watch.


And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’




Matthew 25:40

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Living near Winthrop

I currently live near Winthrop University.  Actually, I could shout loudly and the campus could hear me.  It is often times a faster walk than drive to get there.  Not that we go there, really, ever.  We go in the opposite direction, towards the lake, where the quiet spots exist.  But every morning since the weather has decided to cooperate, my husband and I each take our turns running or walking around and about our neighborhood here.

We used to be a bit lethargic as individuals. But, when the track team runs by your window every morning, you start feeling bad about yourself and secretly hating track.  Or you get up and join the crowd.  We have decided to do a bit of both.  It's hard, being a married couple with young children, responsibilities, and sagging middles in the midst of physical perfection.  I know it is getting to us because both Michael and I are purposely looking in the other direction when young people run by.  Honestly, don't they own clothes?  Last night we were driving in the car, and the blond kid with no shirts and lots of body oil ran down our street.  Again.  And my husband, exasperated, said out loud what we both think.  "Does he have nothing else to do but run up and down our street all. day. long?"  And after a minute, I realized there's more than one.  There are numerous blond track teammates with no shirts because their mommas let them pack for school all by themselves.  That's the only way.

Anyway, after avoiding the campus for six weeks, this morning I faced my insecurities and walked all the way through the campus and all the way around the classroom buildings.  And it was here, amongst the brick towers, that I saw the other kids.  The normal ones that have classes to take and cannot spend every waking moment running up and down my street.  They looked so young and grown up all at once if that is possible.  Made me think back to my college days.  (I've been thinking about my college days a lot more living here that I ever did before.)  Those souls shuffling by with heavy packs and sleep in their eyes looked worn out.  And I remember.  Not having Mom and Dad to cook my meals and keep me home and to look after me so that I felt accountability.  It's hard, learning to grow up and get rest and eat right and deal with stress.  Makes a person homesick, dealing with all that learning.  I conveniently forgot that part of college.  Amnesia. 

So, this weekend, the kids are hosting a lemonade stand for the runners.  They want Lego money, so the lemonade is not free.  But, because of a lovely, eye opening conversation with my brother the professor, the kids will also be offering Chess or Chutes and Ladder games for free.  Right out on our front lawn.  Michael and I can play the role of doting aunt and uncle and the boys can play the roles of little siblings that must win every game, and it will be offered up for the taking.  Hopefully some of those homesick students will come sit with us for awhile.  Forget their worries.  Feel the stability of family.  Just for a bit at least. 

In fact, I pray they do.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Rest




Here are the rules:



1. You write on a given word for the week.

2. You write for five minutes only.

3. You publish whatever you write - the first time - on your blog.

4. You link it all up to The Gypsy Mama's blog so we can all share our thoughts.

5. You say a prayer of encouragement for the person that linked up right before you.

REST
 
I met this man on my morning walk yesterday.  He talked about the folks in the neighborhood, him having been the yardman for most of them his whole working career.  I, being new to neighborhood, provided a fresh ear.  He went on and on about the good ones, the drunks, the ones who had passed away and left their property to the relatives.  Then he told me about some sisters that had inherited a big lot that they were trying to sell. 
 
He remarked, "He was a good man, that Mr. _______, but these nieces, they don't got no sense.  That lot itn'd worth a dollar, much less what they want for it.  And I have to deal with them.  They don't believe in the bible.  How you supposed to deal with people don't believe in the bible?  No, tell me."
 
I answered that I figured I'd probably pray for them if they didn't know about Jesus, because they were missing out big time. 
 
The man replied, "Well, you see what I's got to deal with, anyhow.  AND they live in (grimace) Colorado."
 
I laughed, and eventually continued on my walk.  But honestly, it makes me wonder, do either the nieces or the old man truly feel any rest?  The man seemed so upset he had to deal with non believers that it made me wonder if he had talked this issue over with Jesus lately.  And the nieces are without my God, and I find Him restful, that it makes me wonder how they feel peace.  Rest.  I pray those that have not found it can soon.  I know for me the only place it exists in in the hands of God.  When I get weary and I can hold on to no more, by giving the rest of it to Christ, I am able to rest in His hands. 
 
Amen.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Writing

First, there is a fun giveaway of books for kids in those middle grade reading years.  Go here, read the blog, and give a comment, and you'll be entered into the drawing.  It's about a new book being released, and the whole packet has tons of other books related to the topic - Wolves.  The new release is a cool looking fiction, but lots of the others give neat info and fun other genres all relating to wolves to read.  A bit wordy there?  Oh well, just go enter....

Now, onto the topic of the day - writing.

I write a blog because I am terrible at keeping a handwritten journal.  I write because it is therapeutic.  I also write to share my thoughts with you, as well as record them for my children and family.  A little legacy if anything were to happen.  Not that I am planning on going anywhere, but if I did, my kids and my husband should know that I love them and that I am dependent on God and that He is in control for our good.  If I can state that to them, and they can read it over whenever they need to, then I feel more at peace.  So those are the reasons I write - mainly.

And, then, somewhere along the way, people have started coming to me and telling me I should write a book.  They like the way I write.  Why don't I get published?  At first I poopooed the idea, and said, "Oooh, thank you very much.  So sweet."  But it planted a seed in this little brain, and I have begun to think that just maybe I could give it a try.  Not the book, persay.  But the publishing, well, maybe.  So I entered that contest for Real Simple.  They said No.  I joined a writer's group.  Yet they are in Columbia and I am not, so making those monthly meetings is proving harder than I thought.  For now, I am just practicing.  Here, on this blog - just practicing.  If I ever make it to anywhere else, I will be sure to let you know.  I do plan on venturing out past this page, but I haven't gotten the process organized in my head enough to jump just yet...

A question for those of you that write - blogs, books, journals, devotionals, etc.  Why do you write?



Friday, August 26, 2011

Five Minute Friday

Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday


Okay, I am still figuring things out, like how to add buttons and how to make pictures be the link instead of words, so bear with me.  That picture to the left is supposed to be a button that leads you into another member's little slice of this blog world, but instead you need to click on the words just at the top there.

Five Minute Friday is a writing exercise started by The Gypsy Mama.

Here are the rules:

1.  You write on a given word for the week.
2.  You write for five minutes only.
3.  You publish whatever you write - the first time - on your blog.
4.  You link it all up to The Gypsy Mama's blog so we can all share our thoughts.
5.  You say a prayer of encouragement for the person that linked up right before you.

I think I am supposed to copy her words in all that, but as I said, this is all new to me, and I am still figuring things out, so please grant me a bit of grace and understand my sense of spirited fun is in the right place.

Now, onto the word.
Well, it is supposed to be older, but another woman whose blog I read every day did her exercise last night and since she didn't know the word yet, she wrote on the word unknown
I am going to do a bit of both.

Older and Unknown go together perfectly for me.  See, I consider getting older as a journey in accepting the state of unknown.  When I was younger, unknown could take on various faces, some terrifying and unstable, some exciting and adventurous.  But I always had my parents close by to explain the unknown in whatever the situation.  But in getting older, unknown becomes more real than ever before, and it also becomes more serious.  Unknown becomes more often disconcerting than it does adventurous.  And as an adult, my mom and dad aren't always here to explain it away.  In being older and becoming a parent, I have taken up the position of explainer.  And for me, that's why God becomes so incredibly necessary.  Because, yes, I understand we initially need Jesus for everlasting life.  But for me, on a daily basis, I need God to be my explainer.  In the little things.  I need Him to take out the fear in unknown, so that as I get older, I can get back to my sense of childhood adventure.

End.
 



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beginnings: My Plan

*photo by renjith krishnan*

I have a plan.  And I am excited about it, so I hope it works out.  Of course, I will have to wait to see if it is God's plan.  He always has his own ideas...

I am going to teach in two different ways.

I am going to substitute teach for my children's school, which is kindergarten through ninth grade.  I cannot wait to work with all those kids, and I hope I get asked to cover every grade at some point, from the little bits to the too cool for schools.  This whole substituting is for my benefit, so that I can pick where to end up permanently.  Hopefully God is less selfish and uses me for good while I am experimenting with career choices.  Anywhoo, ....

While I am busy becoming the heroic substitute, I am also teaching during what the school refers to as Monday Enrichment.  York Preparatory Academy (YPA) ends school early on Monday.  I thought it was so the kids could take fun classes, but no.  It's so the teachers can have two hours of weekly professional development.  The fun classes are to offer something for kids to do when their parents don't want to show up early every Monday.  So, being that I prefer to be with kiddos as opposed to away from them (yes, I know some of you think I am crazy) I signed up to help.  Actually, I signed up to help this nine weeks while I write up a curriculum on the history of flight, how it works, and what cool stuff we can make to play with, therefore showing off all our newly acquired knowledge.  I have lots of books from the library, and this computer, so hopefully I can pull this off.

If you have any suggestions, I'd love to have them!

My goal:

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  - Proverbs 31:26




Monday, August 22, 2011

Beginnings: Week Two

The reason for this visit was my oldest child.  He's one of the bravest people I know, and his big heart bumps into mine until mine almost breaks - all the time.  He captures people with that heart.  Kids, teachers, coaches all draw towards him.  And as a blessing and a consequence of this collecting of people, he sees them.  Sees them for real. He senses things.  Things of the heart that show up fragile, tender, and sometimes, not quite right.  When people are sad but are trying to hide it.  When strangers are struggling inside and no one else notices.
 
Why is that person hurting, Mom? 
Why does he not feel well? 
Why is she really angry? 
What is happening that they act like that? 
What's going on, Mom? 

The questions come all the time.  So, wrapped all around his gift of incredible empathy is anxiety of unknowns and icky things.  Fear.  Used to be, I'd go to volunteer at his school, and I couldn't let him see me, or we would just have to go home.  Poor child lost himself because fear took over his little world.  Again, his heart bumping mine and mine just about breaking for his fear.  Then, over time, with help, he grew up enough to cope and walk around and feel secure in himself.  There were lots of ways he figured out coping.  He sucks in fresh air.  He gained confidence through sports.  But the secret cure?   A little rock.  He carries it in his pocket, and every time he touches it, he reminds himself Jesus is with him.  He recognizes he is not alone.  Not going through the day all by himself.  Sounds cheesy to some, a nine year old holding onto a rock to remind himself Jesus is with him.  But if you saw it, you'd be hard pressed to poopoo it.  The rock, Jesus, well, it works.

So today, at my meeting with the guidance counselor (She has the best big southern accent a girl can have), I share our history.  I explain about the panic attacks in second grade and the tears in third and the apprehension with field trips.  And she explains that the reason she could just get to me this week is because she has been meeting with parents constantly for the past five days that have also been sharing about their child's anxiety.  Lots of kids walking around terrified every day that something might show up in their world that they cannot handle.  Fear ruling their day.  I explain my son is stronger now, and that he should be okay.  She told me about a third grader that hasn't survived a full day yet.  The girl's mother just simply cannot be seen or the daughter has to go home.  And I laughed, understanding a little too well.  Because I have been that mother, and I know what it's like being her.

I want so much to go dump a bunch of Jesus rocks on that guidance counselor's desk and ask her to share our secret.  It's a public school, but really.  Jesus isn't too concerned about that.

The Lord is my helper; I will not fear;
what can man do to me?
Hebrews 13:6


For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.
II Timothy 1:7

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beginnings: Day Two

Yesterday my babies started their new school.  Key is a fourth grader now, and sweet Kelly is a big kindergartner.  They both had a good first day, and each of them made a friend. 

Key informed me his new friend, Daniel, wants to go to Winthrop University just like him.  Daniel also knows all the girls' names.  I asked about whether or not Daniel liked Legos or Harry Potter or any of the things I thought might have mattered, but Key looked at me confused.  I had gotten it all wrong.  What mattered was that Daniel was nice.  He smiled.  And he talked to my son.  He included Key in games on the playground.  And for all that, they have a beautiful start to a friendship.  As Key's mother, I am grateful to Daniel, and I am remembering that I prayed for him.  I prayed awhile ago for "another Teriyon" for Key on his first day in this new place.  See, when Key first went off to the big world of kindergarten, he was not quite ready.  And he didn't know important stuff like how to open his own juice box.  Well, God gave him a kid named Teriyon.  Teriyon spotted my overwhelmed little Key immediately and sat by him all day.  He opened Key's juice box and helped him tie his shoes and watched over him.  Teriyon had been in daycare and knew the whole school routine.  Key loved Teriyon, especially that first week of school.  Even though they went on to make other friends, I cannot forget that little boy's sweet protective presence over my Key.

And Kelly.  When we took him to his class, he sat so small and quiet in his chair.  The teacher asked me if he would talk, and I told her probably not.  Kelly doesn't talk to people until he feels safe with them.  Once he's comfortable, though, watch out.  And, well, he's getting comfortable quickly.  Kelly doesn't know his friend's name.  But he knows he liked him.  And they got to go on a walk around the whole school and eat snack outside and a girl threw up yellow stuff.  She had to go home.  And today he gets to share five things from home that show how special he is.  Kindergarten is great.  And again, I am so, so grateful.  I prayed for this too.  Kelly and I have not been separated, and I was worried for both of us.  Again, God has provided.

And me.  Well, I ended up volunteering to teach a class for the boys' new school.  I am really trying to become a substitute teacher and to spend time on writing.  In the meantime, I will be planning an eight session enrichment class for middle school age kids (probably mainly boys) on the history of flight.  We will be making various paper airplanes and kites and at least one big project.  Hopefully once the course is over, the general faculty will not hate me for teaching a bunch of middle schoolers how to make the best paper airplanes.....

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.




Monday, August 15, 2011

Beginnings



So those two little fellas are starting school tomorrow.
I am a bit sad, really, because that smallest one with the bald head is going to kindergarten.
And I don't want him to go.
Really. 
The biggest one is starting fourth grade.
 He's becoming more independent each and every day.
It is absolutely horrible!
 Not really.
It's just that for nine years now I have been home with babies, and tommorrow I will still be home.
But without them. 

It's not just the starting kindergarten thing that makes me cry;  it's the being home alone thing too.  When I gave up teaching to stay home with my first son, I quickly jumped right back in to working through teaching Sunday school and tutoring students on the side.  But when we moved to Columbia, I stayed home with my babies completely for two and a half years.  Meaning, I didn't tutor or work outside of my home or volunteer much at all.  And every time my sweet Key went to school, I would count down the minutes until I could go pick him back up again and bring him home.  Home was a place of safety.  Yet, starting in the spring of his 4K year, I got sick.  Couldn't leave the house or drive kind of sick.  And when he started kindergarten, I thought it would be good for all of us.  I thought he could get out of the house and make new friends, and I could rest with Kelly.  Only, that's not exactly what happened.  I did rest.  And I did need it.  But I also became a hermit, still counting down the minutes until I could bring Key home.  Some days the only time I left my house was to walk across the street to pick him up from school.  There were days when even that one responsibility seemed too much because I felt so nauseous.  So, so nauseous. And even more than the off and on again bouts of illness, the anxiety and fear of leaving home became almost overwhelming.  The anxiety started defining my day.  And home started looking a bit more like prison.

Eventually I recovered from by medical condition, but in the year it took to get well, the walls closed in on me.  And, by default, they also closed in on my children.  If it weren't for my responsibility to them, I might not have ever left my house.  But I did, leave my house that is, with some help from a really good therapist and a lot of prayer and support from friends and family.  And once I was well enough to appear normal, the final saving grace for healing was a place called St. Martin's.  A preschool.  Most people drop their kids and run.  Away.  Freedom for three or four hours.  For most, those hours of peace and quiet are precious.  For me, the solitude I had just escaped had almost sucked the life out of me.  For me, the chaos was precious.  Women.  Children.  All needing my help.  Needing me.  It was a place for me to work, and a place for Kelly to safely emerge from his shell.  St. Martin's quickly became a sanctuary for my precious Kelly and for me. 

So now, here we are in Rock Hill, and we have moved again.
And my kids will start school - both of them.
I am terrified of those walls in my home.
It was the worst kind of fear - not being able to leave my house.
The worst kind of hurt - to feel useless.
The worst kind of guilt - not being that happy, healthy mom.

And I realize that I cannot go back to that kind of pain.
No.

Which brings me to these two quotes that I found last week from Mother Teresa.

Loneliness and the fear of being unwanted is the worst kind of poverty.

I want you to be concerned about your neighbor.  Do you know your neighbor?

These wise words are going to help me conquer my fear of letting my children grow up and of being left behind.

I have a plan.  Several small ones, actually.

And I will let you know how they progress.

But for now,



Dear Lord,

Please be with all of us that are letting our little ones go off into the big wide world each day.  Please be with our children.  And please be with us, that we may fill our days seeking your guidance, feeling your love, and doing your will for our lives.

Amen

P.S.  Please help me not to cry when I drop them off at school tomorrow.  It is just plain embarrassing.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Brothers

My kids are getting on each other's nerves.  BIG TIME.  Since moving, they have had each other.  Pretty much only each other.  We had some friends come to visit, so each boy had the pleasure of playing with non family their own height.  Key has started soccer, which has allowed him to meet new kids here.  Kelly and I have volunteered at their new school, which has allowed him time to get excited about his new class.  But for most of our time, we have done everything together.  We are all looking forward to school...

And yet, my two boys are best friends.  Better than best.  Almost inseparable.

So when Key got a gift certificate in the mail for his birthday, rather than buy the biggest toy on his list, he picked something else.  Something smaller.  So he could share his gift with his brother.  Instead of putting it towards the Wii game he's been dreaming about or getting the newest and largest Lego game in the series he's collecting, he picked another game.  Still Lego, of course.  But less expensive.  Smaller.  Then he took Kelly over to the action figures where they looked for him.  Kelly finally settled on a space police Lego car.  All paid for by big brother.  For the past several days they have been entertaining themselves with a pulley system they designed, where the space police car delivers Legos to a baggie on the lift, and then the pieces get pulled up to the giant on the top bunk who fixes them and sends them back.  Days of entertainment.  Instead of jealousy or conflict. 

Here's the thing.  Key did a simple act of kindness.  He simply shared his bounty.  And in sharing, both of them benefited.  Had I forced this kindness on him, or had Kelly whined incessantly until he drove Key crazy, it would not have been the same.  But instead, it was just a boy that had a thought to think outside of himself.  And as his momma, I could not be more humbled.  (And a wee bit proud.)


Proverbs 11:25

A generous man will prosper;  he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Abundance

How can we complain against God for the poverty and suffering that exist in the world? Can we honestly do so? God saw that everything was good. What we do with things is another matter. ~Mother Teresa



God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. ~Genesis 1:31

I borrowed the quote from a friend's facebook page.  It resonated with me because I had just finished reading yet another article on the famine of Somalia and the fleeing refugees and the 29,000 children that have died within the past 90 days.  At that rate, that is approximately 322 children or one elementary school full of children dying from famine every day.  Just in one country.  That's not a world figure for all the poverty stricken countries. 

And on the same day that I read all that, I made a pot of soup big enough to feed two families or three dinners for a family of four all from organic stock and local produce I had made and procured just the day before.  All fresh.  All from right here in York county.  Had enough to give some away, eat it for lunch, and freeze for another dinner another day.

The next day we jumped in our car and drove over to our local farmer friend where she proceeded to fill up our largest cooler with organic beef and venison and pork because she had too much and it was starting to get freezer burn.  We have a deal to start buying all our beef from her, but for now she just wanted to share it so it wouldn't go to waste.  After feeding the horses and petting the young, healthy, bottle fed baby cattle, we got back in the car and drove down the road to another farm where we proceeded to buy approximately 35 to 40 pounds of produce for around $20. 

Once we got home, Michael started yard work and I joined him.  I accidentally ended up in a yellow jacket's nest, so I ran inside to my bathroom with clean running water and soaked in a cold bath til I was sure I wasn't going into anaphylactic shock.  After tending my wounds, I realized I had broken my glasses, so I started researching eye doctors and general doctors, where I quickly found out that my insurance will cover a number of people.  I just need to pick one.  From the list.  And in a matter of two or three days, I will have stylish new frames.  And hopefully an epipen for the first aid kit.  Which I was able to load full by taking a quick trip to Walgreens and picking out which style bandaids I thought looked cute and useful all at the same time.

Later in the evening, the family decided after such a hectic day, we could picnic in our comfy air conditioned living room with the flat screen television and pick out a movie from the hundreds of choices we have saved up on our Netflix account.  Since none of those suited us, we luckily found Harry Potter on regular tv and settled in for family night.

I am overwhelmed by the abundance all around us.  Everywhere in every crevice of our daily lives.  So imbedded and ordinary in our world we don't even notice it as abundance.  When all the plumbing backed up in our house this week, a plumber came to fix it within a matter of hours.  All the yuck was cleaned up and life back to normal by the end of one working day.  Even in what we consider an inconvenience (having to drive over to CVS to borrow their bathroom) is a representation in abundance.

Here's what strikes me in the verse from the bible - God saw everything that He had made, and indeed, it was very good.

I don't know how to solve the famine issue.  Truth be told, most of the time I'd rather not think about it because I don't know how to help and it is just depressing.  But that irksome thought keeps coming back.  He made everything.  And I know what He made is good.  We just may not be taking care of it properly.  And I know that He is a God of abundance - not of either or.  And I am reminded of One Christ, One Body.  Which means that by turning my head away from the famine, I am turning my head away from the amputation and disease of my own arm.  That is, if I truly consider myself a part of the body of Christ.  So even though I don't have lots of money to throw at the problem, I do have gifts God has given me.  To use.  For Him.  And I am praying He will reveal to me how I can share our abundance of His love for us with the world.

More Mother Teresa quotes:

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.

Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.

I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor.  Do you know your next door neighbor?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This Old House: Plumbing 101

Just so y'all know, roots can block the plumbing in an old house, and when one older gentleman living in a home is replaced with a family of four, it can cause HUGE issues. Like the whole main line backing up and all the toilets and tubs and washers draining into one another and up, up, over their thresholds and pouring out onto the floor. Yes. All at one time. Got some cleaning to do.

But, the place has character. Lots of character...

I was going to write an entry on abundance, but it's taking on a whole new meaning, so I may have to wait til tomorrow when I can stop laughing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Place for Rest

This new place we live in is slowly getting put together. We still have two - half baths, but today we may get at least one whole one put just right. I fixed loose tile in the tub two days ago, and now that the grout has cured I can seal the edges with silicone caulk. I cannot tell you how cool it feels to understand what I just said! I'm learning about paint techniques from books we checked out at the local library, and we are still hanging clothes on the clothesline. The dryer works, but it is so nice not to have it going all the time and the clothesline makes me feel like a southern woman from the fifties.

Eventually all of this slowed down life will come to an end and the hectic days of school and work will tumble back with force. But for now, we are taking joy in sleeping til the sun wakes us up and spending our afternoons with each other since we are the only people we know in this town. I didn't think the week following the move would be a time I call rest, but indeed it is. And for this quiet time of productivity I am happy.

We are blessed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Settling In

Well. It's official. We are Rock Hill residents. We miss Columbia for lots of reasons, but one big one is because our old home had working toilets. And proper hook up for our washer. And our dryer. Here in the home we have chosen to renovate, we have one working toilet, four working sinks, and one working shower. Unfortunately the toilet and the shower are not in the same rooms. We have two - half baths because neither one is completely functioning. We have a toilet currently sitting in a box in the hallway because the floor underneath it was rotten. Which is why it wobbled. The air conditioner and the washer and dryer have been fixed, thanks partly to handy men and partly to us. Paint is peeling from just about every doorway and window, and since the house was built in 1940, it is probably lead paint. The wallpaper adherred to the plaster a good fifty years ago, so that will need to be painted over. It certainly isn't coming off the walls without the plaster attached, and I don't do plaster work, so over it the paint will go.

In other words, we previously lived in a palace. Now, well, not so much. But on the bright side, our new place is a fabulous bungalow with ten foot ceilings, picture molding in every room, a hallway wide enough for a desk, original bathroom tile, and a sidewalk out front that leads to the local college in one direction and to the sports fields and park in the other direction. All the closets are cedar lined (not big enough for half our clothes, but still). And we have plans. So yeah!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beginning restoration

These are our last times in our Columbia house. That I know of. My friend, Cindy, moved back to the neighborhood when her house didn't sell and her husband found a job here again. My friend, Jennifer, prays the Lord uses me in my new place and then uses Michael to open a branch of his law firm back in Columbia. I pray for lots of things. Those things. And for a new beginning if those are not to be. For restoration, mainly.

We are redoing a house in Rock Hill. Our new place. It was built in 1940. Never been sold before now. Still technically not sold, being that we have a year to rent and decide whether or not to go through with the sale. The grandchildren of the original owners are the heirs. And they don't need it. They love it; but not in a "I want to restore this place" kind of way.

Nope. That's how I love it. I look at that peeling paint and old mildewed curtains and hidden hardwood floors, and I think, "What potential!" I see beauty gone stale in this house. A place once loved, but unable to be maintained. And, so, friends and family have come from afar to help me get started in restoring this home. We peeled the layers away. Cindy came back and removed curtain rods. I have cleaned dust and grime from corners. It is once again proud. Worn, outdated, but not sagging in dirt. Stripped and clean. Ready for restoration.

We left a little bit of carpet; didn't quite finish taking down wallpaper. Those remaining fragments will hold on for awhile. Til we have time to deal with them. Until we have time to expose what's underneath. Probably cracked plaster. In need of repair.

Aren't we all just a bit like my new house? Built a long time ago, by a craftsman that took great pride in what His eyes could see His hands had made. Slowly neglected by the owner because of lots of reasons, most valid. Age taking it's toll, not on the foundation, but on the layers and dirt and build up of stuff over the years. Clutter added to our days. Soul searching required to find the beauty, to peel away some layers, to clean us up ready for the restoration.

It is hard work that demolition process. Sweaty, dirty, muscle tiring work. Physical.

It's going to take tender patience to put back what once stood proud back at the beginning. Back at the birth. Of this house.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hangnails

I have picked at this hangnail on my pointer finger of my good hand for the past day or so now. It aches when I touch it, the spot tender from my trying to bite at it with my teeth. It showed up yesterday after I spent my day doing hard labor next to a cherished friend. We ripped carpet and shower doors and heavy drapery out of my new home. We dripped sweat immediately, this being July and South Carolina and all. The labor felt good. Bone weary good. The hangnail proved to be a minor distraction. Again, just something to chew on while I thought of other things.

Today, I went back to the house again on my own. Yesterday, as we ripped out carpet and exposed old floor, peeling away layers of living, Cindy warned me to leave that last layer of linoleum in the kitchen well enough alone. Accept it as imperfect and put a rug over the small raw spot in front of the stove. Peeling it up would prove tedious and sticky, being that it is glued down. Glued to raw hardwood. And just like that hangnail, I picked up that small little corner piece of unglued linoleum. Picked just a bit. Over. And over again. Until I found underneath a big, monstrous, canvas of exposed raw wood and patches of old floor. It looks to the passerby to be a disaster in progress. But I just had to peel away that last old layer. Had to. Expose.

Makes me think of our sin. Hangnails to pick at. To rip up. To expose. Leaves us raw and naked and full of possibility in our restoration.

Filling up that dumpster sure feels good. Gotta tell you, it's worth the cost we're paying to have it hauled away.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our house

Hello to all. I am not writing nearly enough lately, and for that I can explain. I am home for the summer with both of my children. And I am starting the packing process in order to be able to move. And we had to arrange both the house we are moving to and advertise for renters that will take over ours. And Michael is still driving three hours every day to and from work. And he's going to take a fourth (yes, fourth) bar exam one month from now. (We have only lived in SC, but Michael keeps working for multistate firms.) And my kids are home, wondering what fun I have planned for them each and every day as their entertainment director. But I already mentioned them....



So, here's our plan.




Michael - work and study. Otherwise my jobs are useless.




Me - Pack house, feed children, prepare home in Rock Hill, and move.




Kids - Keep a positive attitude and realize that we really do love them and we are trying to do what's best, even if it is incredibly boring and they are going to have to move away from their friends.



That said, what I am trying to do is get back to a routine. In all the hurried life of late, I have given up on praying and reading each morning and having dinner cooked at a reasonable time each evening. We ate at nine thirty last night. There are nights where my kids aren't even hungry anymore because it's bedtime and their bodies want sleep more than food. We are getting frustrated with each other. Michael is stressed out beyond explanation over asking his family to move - again - for the hope of this being the job that settles us. And a lot of it depending on whether or not he can pass this big test while networking in small town America all at once and up until now driving three hours a day to do all that. Yet. There's good.

My kids have built champion forts because they have time and supplies. Boxes stack to the ceiling in minutes and new toys make imagination exciting again. Old friends that we missed all school year are showing up and taking my kids and offering them love and fun and support. The last two or three days I have craved my morning time, and I have taken it, and those days have been good. Blessed by the break. We got the house I wanted (I love it - the rest of them are withholding their vote til I prove how great it can be) and there are sweet college students waiting in Rock Hill to help me get it ready for my family. Michael's new firm is giving him the enitre month off for him to study. No other firm has ever givien him this much time. We are not doing this on our own. All along the way, God is providing sweet friends and family to make this time more than bearable, enjoyable. And for all that I am thankful.

So, in the end, our plan is as I stated in the beginning, but I am adding back to that plan my morning time so that I may remember to tell God thank you and give Him the rest of each day. And I am going to attempt a stopping time in the chaos so that my children don't fall asleep in their dinner plates.

Pray for us!

(We move for good July 14th.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Abide in Me

That was Sunday's sermon - Abide in Me.

And that's what my friend said she was trying desperately to do today when I talked with her on the phone - Abide. In Him.

And that's what I am doing too, because otherwise I would have had fifteen plus some more panic attacks already today.

I drove on the interstate.
I looked at rental homes. For us to live in for awhile.
I talked to four realtors. No. Sorry. Five.
I found out the people that looked at buying our house don't want it.
I found out another person may want to rent it for a short while.
I like that person. A whole lot.
I talked with my insurance agent.
I like her a whole lot too.
I explained it all to my dad. (Thank you, Dad.)
I talked with God. All. day. long. (Thank you, God.)

Here's the deal. I know we are moving to Rock Hill by August 1st because I have stated it out loud to my kids. And they needed a date. A date for when they could stop cleaning their playroom and living in a museum and saying goodbye to people only to see them again. And again.

I asked God for a date and then declared one. I hope He's on board with that.

Truth. I keep demanding a simple when and where from God. And I keep researching endless possibilities to answer those very same questions. What I am having an awful hard time with is the stopping and abiding part. I mean, for goodness sake, I set a date, God! Can't He see that I am in a hurry? Yet, all my tempting Him has not provided me with answers or comfort. So. I am left to abide in Him.

Just Him.

No date.

No address.

Just Him.

And for tonight, I have to tell you, it feels good to let Him take all that for awhile.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Swimming

On Saturday, I went to Aiken. Michael and I felt like we had gone home. Like we were visiting family, and our house was still just down the street. Aiken is, in reality, a day trip on the interstate. But Saturday we were there, at our friend's house where lots of summer parties happen, where my own son's birthday party once occurred, and I was chatting it up with the girls. And I was watching a little boy, James, jump into the water, go underneath the surface, and swim to the ladder. Over and over and over again. No vest. No swimmies. Just James. I told Jennifer, my friend and little James's momma, just how impressed I was with his swimming skills. And this is what she said:




"Thanks. Jesus taught him."




And I said:




"Who's Jesus?"




Jennifer (smiling slyly) - What? Patty, you don't know who Jesus is?




Me - Yes, I know who THE Jesus is. But what tangible being does James associate with Jesus?




And so Jennifer explained. One day last summer when James was even smaller than he is now, he and the big kids played together in the baby pool during that dreaded time called adult swim. When the whistle blew, and the big kids abandoned the baby pool, James stayed to play in his safe shallow water. And Jennifer turned her chair to watch the big kids, but so she could keep James in her vision. James splashed and splashed, going in circles. Finally, he came up to his momma and announced that he now knew how to swim. For real. When Jennifer questioned him, James explained that Jesus taught him. THE Jesus had taught little James how to swim. Then he proceeded to go under the water and swim across the baby pool. After that, he got in the big pool. No vest. No swimmies. Just James from that day forward.




The funniest part is that a few days later, James decided that since Jesus had taught him to swim, and he was now like Jesus, he figured he could probably also walk on water. Unfortunately, that test didn't go like James expected. But still, he trustingly jumps into the water falling beneath the surface and swims just as Jesus taught him to do.




Makes me wonder what waters I could dive beneath if only I had the same trusting faith in Christ as my teacher as James. No vest. No swimmies. Just me.




Monday, May 30, 2011

Growing Up

I have a lot of time to myself today. In fact, about four hours. For some, this can't possibly be enough. For today, for me, it is almost more than I can handle. When I realized I had this much time and that it was not yet half way over, I broke down. Panicked. Because I realized that in two months my youngest will start kindergarten, and I will be alone. Every day. For seven hours at a time. I temporarily decided that I needed to home school. Not for them. For me. So that I won't be left alone.

Once I had calmed down, I realized that what my husband teasingly said to me a few weeks ago is true.

"Someone is going to have some growing up to do come August."

And that someone is me. I am going to have to learn to be comfortable with time for myself, with myself, with my thoughts. When my oldest went off to school, I was chronically ill, and looking forward to some time to rest. My husband was the one that teared up when we dropped him off. But now, I am on my last child, and having only two, I got no practice time between having the first and the last. This is it. Anywhoo... This new phase of our family's life is not just big for the kids, it's big for all of us.

Whew...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Back in the saddle...

And I'm back...

Yesterday I went to the library to use a computer because I was having withdrawal symptoms. And I sadly let the world know my old, ornery computer died. It was a love/ hate relationship we had. During Lent, when I was blogging daily, it would cause great frustration. See, for months, it has been acting up, jumping pages in the middle of my reading or typing. Flashing old web pages in my face randomly. Skipping to the bottom of a page, then the top, then back down again, all while I tried to keep my place. Good times, me and that computer. Michael stopped using it months ago when it started behaving badly. He had no patience, though I knew it was only because it didn't feel well, and I tried repeatedly to clean it up and make it better. Well, my brother in law, Patrick, is going to try to revive my files now, but otherwise, it's mainly gone.

And so, as I was leaving the library unsatisfied, my close friend, Cindy called. She has an extra computer, and she brought it to my house and set it up for me. So that I may blog. (And pay bills, but who wants to talk about those?) She also brought me a bike helmet for my youngest so he could ride safely on his new, hand me down, big boy bike with training wheels. She also brought me washers to fix the bolts on those same training wheels that keep collapsing. How fabulous is Cindy!?! She saved me lots of time and money, and she did it because as she often says, "I just ask that people remember the grace I show them, so that they may do the same. I don't expect anything in return from the recipient, and I have faith that grace will come to me in another way when I need it."

I needed that.

See, the whole reason Cindy knew I was having all of these issues was because I rang her doorbell to borrow her tools to fix the bike because our tools were stolen a few months ago. And then I proceeded to take her wrench and unload all my pent up frustration right onto her shoulders. And she accepted it.

So, to Cindy, thank you! I can't wait to "pass it on."

And now, off to catch up on the news...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Issues

Our computer is broken and I am stranded from the outside world. In fact, I am currently at the library ignoring my children in order to type this brief message. So, just to let y'all know, I am offline for awhile. I will be back someday, and when that day comes, we'll reconnect. I can receive email on my phone, but responding is difficult. In the meantime I have lots to say and lots of issues to work out, so I can't wait to get back together with my computer very soon. Writing it all down - all those issues - helps sort the thoughts out clearly. So, until we meet again here in blog world, I'll be wandering around, befuddled, keeping all these thoughts to myself.

Lots of love,

Patty

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stopping Satan

On the way home from church, Key shared with me what he got out of church. Key won't go to Sunday school because he wants to hear the sermons. He told us he isn't big enough yet to understand them, but he still likes to listen. Sometimes he can get something through the messages. Key said that yesterday, as Father Hule talked about us all being sheep, that he understood a lot of that sermon. But Key then went on to inform us that what he really understood best was the prayers. God bless my precious children. They teach me so much. Really.

Key - When we pray in church, it looks like God is shining on Father Hule, and he's looking up at God, and Father Hule is like a messenger, and his light shines on the congregation. And when we are all praying together, we are all looking down, so we are shining our prayers down on Satan. And Satan can't have any power when we are all aiming God's power at him. It's a big chain - God to Father Hule to us to Satan. Do you think that's right, Mom?

Me - Yes, Key, and I love the way your mind works.

Together, through prayer, we are rendering Satan helpless. And it all starts with our one true power source.
God Almighty.

And it was explained through the words of an eight year old.

Amen.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Daily prayers

Prayers

World - I pray for peace. (Of course.) But seriously, I pray that the people that keeping getting hurt and victimized, the ones that cannot leave home free from fear, the ones that have too little food or water or love or family, that those people feel God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit today. And I pray for the ones that cause the fear and terror and selfishness that leaves others trembling or hungry or both. I pray that those people turn towards you and take a step towards you and open their palms to you and let their anger and hatred and own hurts drain through their fingers and litter the ground. I pray for the whole world.

Country - I pray for grace. I pray that our politicians and president and all those in positions of voting leadership offer a bit of grace today and in return feel grace given back to them. Because in our stubbornness, our country suffers, and the citizens pay the price. I pray for these same leaders to humbly seek your guidance and I pray that they figure out a way to communicate. Really and truly to hear each other. I pray for our servicemen and women and I pray for all those separated from their families that they find a way home soon. I pray for our police and our gangs and our victims and our incarcerated - that they have a moment of peaceful heart and clear mind. I pray for all the clutter of our lives - the mess we have made with our excess - that we find a way to get it all under control. I pray for the USA.

Community - I pray for outstretched hands. For the hands of our neighbors, that those are the hands of healing, not of hurt. That we care for each other and feed each other and lift each other up. I pray for the churches and the missions and that people of the community feel Jesus through hands today. For the hungry and the struggling student and the lonely and the overwhelmed and the underwhelmed. For each person to feel Him. I pray for Columbia and all of South Carolina.

Friends - I pray for my close, dear friend Christie, who had the most beautiful baby boy in the entire universe yesterday. He is almost as cute as my kids:) Actually, he's fabulously adorable. I pray for Jason who is now a daddy and for their whole family as they learn how to be parents. I pray for my friend, Laura, who is single momming it while her husband is gone on duty every week and for all the people whose paths I keep crossing that are single parents. I pray for my sweet bible study friends - that they feel and know God intimately and that He holds them each in the palm of His hand. I pray for Miss Christy and every woman I have the pleasure of working with on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And I pray for all my friends, all the ones in Aiken and Tennessee and Columbia and wherever, near and far, new and old, because without friendships I would go crazy, lala... I pray for friendships.

Family - I pray for my husband. And my babies, Key and Kelly. And my whole extended family on both sides. There's a lot. I pray for our past, our present day, and our future. Family that has gone ahead and all of us to follow. I love my family with a fierceness that only gets stronger with each passing year, and I pray for blessings they can see and taste and feel deeply each and every day. I pray for family.

Me - I pray for discernment. For patience. For wisdom and grace and humor and a light heart. For courage through You. For a life full of joy and awareness and free from fear. For my house to sell and my children to feel comfortable in a new home. For stability. I pray for me.

Amen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I need a pedicure. And an eyebrow wax. And some general beauty time that I keep pushing aside. What I really need most of all is to get back to reading and praying daily, like I did during lent. When I promised God and y'all that I would write for forty days, I felt convicted to follow through. And through those writings I was able to reach out to people, but I was also able to reach back into my heart where some things were getting overlooked or ignored or plain denied. Since Easter I have been so, so tired. Lots of obstacles have come our way, and the extra energy needed for grace and patience has honestly drained me. Completely. I have been telling myself to get back to the writing, but then I tell myself to get back to the writing when I have energy.

Then, I read this:

http://gitzengirl.blogspot.com/2011/05/seek.html

And I realized that the writing gave me the energy for my days, not because I am the next Faulkner, but because in my writing I slowed down and spent time with my Lord. There would have been no way for me to complete forty entries in a row otherwise. So, I am going to get back at it. I make a promise to write three days a week for one month as a start. The threes are for the Trinity, and the month will get us to Pentecost.

And now, I must go at least get dressed, bushy eyebrows, winter feet, and all!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Picking

Today I'd like to add strawberry picking to that list of grace filled activities my children could do over and over and over and over....

Truth. I could too. Last Friday, the boys and I went to pick these delectable berries, and we came home with two bushels. I slipped in the mud and got all kinds of stinky dirty. It was some of the most fun, carefree moments I have had in a long while, and not until I got them did I realize how much that time was so desperately needed.

Sunshine.

My boys.

Wholesome food.

Time.

Precious.

So wonderful, we went again yesterday with our friends. And got two more bushels. Canning will commence shortly...



Do you think God looks at us and says, "Why yes, that one is growing nicely. She's still a bit green and young, but wow, is she ripening. Just beautiful!" ?