Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"I Like Your Christ. I Do Not Like Your Christians"

 "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
~Mahatma Ghandi

Ouch. Talk about a zinger. Kind of a gut-punch, isn't it?

One day a couple of weeks ago, I was driving my kids to school, lecturing talking to them about how important it is to remember to be more respectful toward each other and to be a blessing and not a burden to their teachers and fellow students at school. On this day, I was in a mood. Bogged down by what seemed like a thousand little loose ends and details I just couldn't seem to pull together. Sound familiar? So, anyway...I remember doing a lot of mental complaining and griping about how much I had to do, how I didn't have any help, how I wished I could just go back home, pull the covers over my head and go back to bed. You get the idea.

My husband (who is the sweetest man on the planet and who I'm still amazed picked me out of all of the women in the world he could have chosen) called me to check in and see how my day was going. Well, he unfortunately got an earful as I proceeded to download all of the stuff that was weighing on my mind and basically overloaded him with nonsense about how overwhelmed I was and didn't he feel sorry for me for being so over committed and under prepared which of course is ALL MY FAULT TO BEGIN WITH. (I am a self-confessed yes-aholic and chronic volunteer). As always, he listened patiently and calmly and said all the right things and told me it would all turn out okay and even complimented me by reminding me that I am always able to pull everything together and work it all out in the end. I hung up after the obligatory 'so...how is your day going?' which he answered by saying, "Me? Oh, I'm fine." Classic David. I love him so much.

I felt much better after that, of course. Cranked up the car radio just in time to hear someone on KSBJ talking about remembering to focus our attention on being more Christ-like in all of our interactions as Christians (he was referring to the contentious political climate) and then he shared the quote at the top of this post. And then...WHAM. My self-centered fog lifted and I realized in that instant that I was doing exactly what I had admonished my children NOT to do that very morning. I was being a burden, not a blessing. Fleshing it out, as it were. I was being burdened, period. I stopped and remembered what Jesus said:

Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. ~Matthew 11:28-30

This is what Jesus said about himself. 'Learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart.' In all honesty, I can see why Ghandi said what he did. As much as I hate to admit it, this is exactly what I have been seeing playing out all over social media and in conversations I've heard between friends and even in my own interactions with others. If this quote makes you feel convicted, that's probably a good thing. It certainly did make me stop and think. I hit the reset button that day and kept repeating that quote over and over in my mind and let it sink deep down into my spirit.

No wonder so many non-believers are turned off by some Christians. Why? Because self-righteousness and hypocrisy and a 'holier-than-thou' attitude are not attractive. Guilt and condemnation aren't, either. So much stone throwing and finger pointing going on in this world. Sounds more like the behavior of the Pharisees to me. If memory serves, Jesus had some serious issues with those guys. Seems to me that quite a few self proclaimed Christians are loudly blowing their horns about this sin and that sin and how bad everyone else (besides themselves, of course) is behaving. Being unapproachable, condescending and offensive. Passing out judgments and condemnation like Halloween candy. So unlike our Christ.

Are they well meaning? Probably. I would hope so. Am I perfect and without blame? Absolutely not. Am I condoning sin? No, of course not. Am I saying that he who is without sin, go ahead and cast that stone? Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying.

While watching the recent violent uprisings in the middle east that coincided with the murderous attack on our US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, I was struck by the amount of passionate hatred in the eyes of all of those thousands and thousands of radical Islamic jihadists who banded together to make their presence known. It made me think. Why aren't we, as Christians committed to sharing that kind of passion when we seek to demonstrate the LOVE of Christ? I'm not talking about radical, fundamentalist anger and condemnation. In my opinion, that has NOTHING to do with the teachings of Christ. I'm talking about a committed, passionate, peaceful outpouring of love and forgiveness and charity and understanding that is news worthy! Why aren't we making news every day by showing how loving and compassionate and respectful of others we are? Why aren't we fired up to show the world the gentle and humble heart of Jesus and His salvation by living it out loud by example in our every day lives? How powerful and uplifting would that be?

Yes, I said it. Some Christians could learn a few things about expressing passion and dedication to their faith  from Muslims. You may not like that but I think it is true. Yes, even in my own life. Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them.

I have (what I think is) a great idea. I'm too busy with my crazy life and I can't afford to fund it but wouldn't it be really awesome to have a new cable news channel called GNN? The Good News Network. All good news all day and all night. Reporters traveling all over the world to cover stories of unsung heroes and people doing unselfish good works and people being healed miraculously? Highlighting kids for putting others before themselves? Outrageous athletic accomplishments? Compassionate humanitarian efforts? Videos of people all around the world doing humorous things?That kind of stuff. Doesn't need to be religious...just any good news will do. Hey, it would be great to see people trying to make the news by doing good things instead of being knuckleheads or criminals, dontcha think? Somebody get right on that, will ya?

And, hey...if you need any help getting it started, I'll be more than happy to volunteer to brainstorm ideas and search for stories or help design an ad campaign. Of course it would have to be after I tear down the decorations from Red Ribbon Week and then the big fellowship I'm planning and then of course Thanksgiving....then there's the Christmas parade and by then Christmas will be here but maybe after that..... ;0)

Blessings and Love


(I love this song 'Proof Of Your Love' by For King and Country...take a listen).

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Just Admit it...You Were Wrong

Strange how even a simple squabble between siblings can become a teachable moment in the lives of everyone involved. Yes, even on a Monday morning. Before I elaborate on that, let me just say that I don't always go about imparting wisdom into the lives of my children with patience and perfection. Nope. Sometimes it's more along the lines of vexation and vocalization. Oh, well...whatever works. My motto? If it achieves the desired results then I get to call it a success.

As the kids were getting ready for school, I held up an old teddy bear which had been left on the floor and I said "Poor Buddy. Somebody just dropped him and left him here. I bet Buddy's not feelin' the love this morning." I was trying to make light of the fact that I couldn't walk through the family room without stepping on or around some random toy or article of clothing that had been thoughtlessly dropped and left behind for someone else to deal with. That someone being me, of course. This is a really annoying recurring theme in my household and I was irritated but wanted to take it a little easy because everyone was just sleepily rubbing their eyes, waking up and trying to come to terms with the fact that it was Monday morning again. No sense harping on them to add to that stark realization.

Because Mattie is female, and it is imprinted on her DNA, she can't seem to resist the urge to make some remark or to 'out' whomever she deems to be the guilty party in any given situation. Little girls seem to get a special tingle out of seeing other people get what they deserve. To put it nicely, Mattie has a very acute sense of justice. Or is it vengeance? I don't know...maybe a little of both. Anyway, the irony is that two thirds of the debris field in question belonged to her. Most likely the teddy bear was discarded by her since Patrick doesn't even play with it anymore. Of course, that didn't seem to register at all. It rarely does.

So Mattie says, "Buddy is Patrick's and he should do it because it belongs to him." And unfortunately something got lost in translation because  all Patrick heard her say were the words "Patrick" and "stupid." Aaand...cue drama. He called her out and insisted that she said he was stupid and demanded that she apologize. Michael, wisely trying to remain neutral up to this point, quietly piped in from under his blanket, "Dude, really...she didn't say that." Patrick wasn't having it. Then, he ordered me to make her apologize. Yeah, well...a ten year old making demands and ordering me around never goes over well with me but especially rubs me the wrong way first thing in the morning before my coffee. What followed was a ridiculous exchange worthy of two bickering toddlers. I said "Patrick, she did not call you stupid." He said "Yes, she did, I heard her!" and this deteriorated into "did not!"..."did too!" until I realized the absurdity of what I was doing and then ended it by telling him very firmly: "Patrick, you are wrong." He shook his head 'no.' "Yes" I said. You. Are. WRONG!"

Wrong. He hates to be wrong. He got up and declared he was going to the bathroom but we all knew he was retreating because he was unable and unwilling to admit his mistake. He was going to believe what he wanted to believe and refused to be persuaded otherwise. Pride is a pretty powerful thing, isn't it? I had to wonder why he wanted to believe the worst instead of acknowledging that he simply misheard her. There are so many insightful, psychological conclusions to draw from that but really it all just boils down to pride. Pride is a place where we all stumble and fall.

I know better than to push my kids when they are in this frame of mind. It only makes them more resentful and resistant. I tucked a note into Patrick's lunch kit that read "I hope you decide to make it a great day. Please remember that it takes a person of great courage to admit they are wrong. Be that person. Love, Mom." I urged Mattie to go to Patrick and tell him that even though she hadn't called him a name, she was sorry they had a disagreement, which she did. Patrick was still sullen and mumbled "okay, fine" or something to that effect. Still not budging.

When we finally got in the car, I spoke quietly to the kids on the way to school about the meaning of courage. I told them that being brave was not just about facing fear but also about letting people see them when they are not at their best. That being vulnerable and letting people hear them say "I made a mistake" was a great example to set for others and that in order to be a great person or an effective leader, we have to be tough enough to be willing to be wrong in front of everyone. Then, I turned to Patrick and said "there is no shame in being wrong, son. Everybody makes mistakes." His eyes filled with tears and he choked them back and finally said "Sorry, Mattie...I guess I didn't hear you right." Boom. And just like that: revelation and reconciliation. Everyone all smiles and giggles for the rest of the trip. Thank you, God...what a relief, as I can't stand unresolved conflict.

Don't we all hate to be wrong? As adults, pride and arrogance make us resistant to admitting any wrongdoing. I see it everywhere day in and day out from my little kids to the highest government officials. Denial, lies, cover-ups, corruption of every type imaginable. Guilt and shame and regret all because of an unwillingness to confess the simple fact that we have been wrong. Made a bad decision. Blamed the wrong person. Lost our temper. Forgot to do something important. Gossiped about someone without knowing all of the facts. Betrayed a loved one. The list could (and does) go on and on.

My challenge to myself and to anyone who may be reading this is to search ourselves and ask the question: Do we have what it takes (humility and honesty) to do what my ten year old son was eventually able to do? To suck it up and be willing to say, "My bad." To own our mistakes and to be accountable to those we have wronged? To atone for our transgressions?  I say yes... I'm up to the challenge. Are you in?

Here's Mom's lunch box wisdom for you, shared from my heart  to yours as it was for Patrick:

"I hope you decide to make it a great day. Please remember that it takes a person of great courage to admit they are wrong. Be that person." 



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Monday, September 24, 2012

Really...Who DOES that?

I would venture to say that almost every day, at some point, I come across a fellow human being who does something that I don't like, I don't understand, that I don't agree with or that just plain annoys me in some way. I mean...people do some weird things that just leave me shaking my head saying..."Who does that?" Case in point: A couple of days ago, I was getting gas in my car and saw someone a few rows over smoking a cigarette while pumping gas. Is it not bad enough that I'm standing there watching the gas pump readout furiously escalating past the $75 dollar mark? That alone is stressful enough without this knucklehead putting himself and everyone else around him in danger of being blown sky high on a beautiful fall day. KABLAM! Yo, dude...that big, red NO SMOKING sign applies to everyone. Even you. Seriously...

Or the lady driver who sped up and cut me off so she could be one car ahead of me in the pickup line. And we were there 45 minutes before school got out! Were they handing out 'Absurdly Early and On The Ball Mom' awards that day and I didn't get the memo? Why the big rush? I don't get it. Someone (well meaning, of course) actually sent me a Facebook message last week saying that it was a good thing my dog had been put to sleep because (and I quote) "I'm just glad he died peacefully. It would have been a lot worse if he had died after being hit by a car or something where he had to suffer." Now don't get me wrong, I know they were trying to be comforting and I appreciated the intent but I was really grieving and that just missed the mark for me.

I worked myself up into a real lather the other night over something someone said to me because it hurt my feelings and (if I'm honest) brought some of my own insecurities to the fore. I allowed myself to be provoked into irritation and I know I was unable to hide the fact that I was annoyed. After I got home, I prayed and reflected on the situation which led me to a place that I can see now was exactly where God wanted me to be. The situation shined a light into a dark area that is: my often narrow focus on myself. Or what I call 'Me-ism.' Being so aware and involved with my own reality and how it makes me feel that I unfortunately miss out on the opportunity to learn something important or to experience something special in my life or the life of someone else. Me-ism happens to everyone. It was happening to the guy at the gas station. And the lady who cut me off in the line at school. Even the well meaning friend who made a thoughtless remark. It happened when I became overly sensitive and reacted negatively with a friend. We can all be self absorbed and do these kinds of hit and run offenses toward others without even realizing what we've said or done. I know I need to work on that and with God's grace and mercy, I'm becoming more aware. Please keep me in your prayers and offer me forgiveness as needed as I grow in my journey of faith.

The Bible says we are to strive to live our lives as Jesus did and let me tell you, He is a pretty tough act to follow! I try not to carry offenses and to be forgiving but sometimes, in the moment, it can be hard  (okay, sometimes impossible) to overlook the behavior of others and keep a calm and loving demeanor. Believe me, I've tried. I guess the best we can do is ask for guidance, apologize when necessary, try to look beyond the sins of others and keep trying to mature and grow through the renewing of our minds through God's word.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV) says, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?'  Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.' "  

By the way, This means forgiving ourselves, too.

Once upon a time, there was a godly man who had purposefully traded a heavenly existence for a life of hard work, long hours of teaching and who gave his all for the sick and the broken. After performing miraculous healing and acts of provision for those in need, he continued being misunderstood and misrepresented, being scorned, despised and rejected. Eventually, He was tortured and killed and endured, even embraced it all in the name of LOVE. Asking forgiveness for His tormentors even as He suffered and died. He defeated death and the grave and kept His promise to return and show Himself alive to those who believed in Him. All in the name of redeeming those who had wronged Him. All in the name of justifying those who had rejected His father's love for them. He did it all for love. I mean, really...who DOES that?

Only Jesus. He is where I am putting my focus. Less 'Me-ism' and more 'He-ism.' More on loving as He loved. Forgiving others as He forgave me. On trusting our heavenly Father with this life He has given me. Of living with an attitude of gratitude for this experience on Earth. If I continue to do that, whether I understand it or not, everything else falls perfectly into place in the exact time that it should. Jesus is alive and well and living in those who, by faith and trust, believe in the whole story just as it is written. Unbelievable as it may seem, there are some who continue to tell this remarkable story because they are confident in the knowledge that there is power and life everlasting in accepting as truth the good news of the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Really? Who does that? Well...I do, for one. I pray everyone who reads this will hear the call and surrender it all. And live, really live. Happily ever after.



Monday, September 17, 2012

Losing Lucky...From Reeling to Healing

We've all been there. Cruising along on auto-pilot, feeling pretty good about life and feeling somewhat comfortable and maybe even a little carefree. Then, WHAMMO...major turbulence in life swoops in, knocks you sideways and forces you to grab the controls and try to right yourself before you go into a tailspin. This is the way I would describe the events of this past weekend. We've taken a beating and been sent reeling but we banded together and are unsteadily but surely making our way back onto solid ground.

Mattie's journal entry the day we saved Lucky
Let me explain. A few months ago, we adopted a dog who was scheduled to be euthanized. You've seen their haunted faces on the pages of Facebook. Looking pitiful and frightened, your heart melts and you think: Maybe I can make a difference, I can save this dog and give him a good home and we'll all live happily ever after. That is exactly what I thought and intended. That's how we found our other dog, Sparky. The kids and I fell in love at first sight with Lucky. He had a little heart on his forehead which we took as a sign that he needed our love. Impulsively, I made the call, saved the day by saving the dog, and made arrangements to drive the six hours to Port Isabel, Texas to pick him up. We made it into a little mini-vacation and stayed at the beach the day before we picked him up. It was a wonderful time of expectation and giddy nerves as we were anticipating meeting Lucky and bringing him home.

Lucky meeting Daddy and Sparky
It was seamless. Although he was heart worm positive, he showed no symptoms and the Laguna Madre Humane Society offered to cover the cost of his treatment. He was easy. He was obedient. He was sweet and quiet and slept the whole way home. He met our other dog and they got along fine right from the beginning. After a few hiccups during the adjustment period we realized he was a perfect fit for our family. He pooped and peed outside. He was loving and sweet, a total mush and he followed me adoringly around the house. We grew very attached to each other and I loved him so much. He was too good to be true. I see that now.

There were signs. He was aggressive toward other dogs which we attributed to his being in the shelter. He was very protective and was uneasy when people came to the front door. All of this stuff seemed workable and he was improving all the time. We let our guard down and believed we had hit the doggie jackpot with our sweet Lucky dog. This weekend, we unfortunately lost it all.

One of Mattie's little friends came over unexpectedly for a visit on Saturday. Lucky had never met her before. There were a few other neighbor kids over and the usual noisy chaos was in full swing. This little girl reached down to pat or hug him. He was confused and stressed and he lashed out and bit her in the neck and hand, and scared her to death. Her ear was cut and she needed medical attention. We cleaned her up, comforted her as best we could and David and I drove her home. After we were sure she was okay we got into the car, looked at each other and I burst into tears, knowing that Lucky would have to go. Even though he was wonderful with our kids and had never done anything like this before, there was no other choice. Biting someone is one thing but he had intentionally gone for her throat. Of course we could never risk that happening again to anyone. Ever. After consulting with the shelter and the vet, the decision was made that Lucky would have to be put to sleep. We were crushed. Devastated. We were emotionally wrecked and I was wracked with guilt.

The kids took it hard, all of them sobbing and begging us not to take him away. Michael wrapped his little body around Lucky's kennel, trying to shield him as David came to take him out. His agonizing cries of "Nooooo, don't take him away, he's sorry...he didn't mean to" will haunt me for the rest of my days. The kids insisted on taking a picture with him which I did all the while my stomach was churning and I was trying desperately in my mind to think of a way to save him, knowing there really was no way. We all took turns saying goodbye. As I cried and hugged him for the last time he nuzzled my face with his velvety soft nose and licked the tears from my face. Loving me and comforting me as always. I was undone with grief. I felt I had failed him miserably. I felt guilty and wished I had never seen his picture on Facebook, never set my kids up for this trauma. If not for me, that little girl would have been safe. Guilt and regret washed over me in relentless waves.

David asked me to promise we would all stay together and grieve as a family until he returned, which we did. We cried and shared memories and laughed through our tears. Michael said that he thought maybe God knew Lucky only had a little more time to live so he gave him to us to love before he had to go. We all took great comfort in that. As we were holding onto each other in our grief, David was in a veterinary clinic in Beaumont holding our sweet Lucky in his arms, whispering words of love and praise into his ear as he peacefully passed away. This was a terrible, tragically beautiful moment etched permanently into our family story. Painful but peaceful. We held on tight and prayed and wept and we loved each other through it. It is amazing how the worst moments in life tend to unearth the treasures deep inside of us.

I've struggled to make sense of all of this but quite frankly, I haven't been very successful. It is senseless. Period. But I've learned that God really can take any bad situation and turn it around for our good. That God is purposeful and that He is the great Master Conductor of this symphony we call life on earth. There will be moments of discordance. Things may seem off beat for a time. We will feel that we are suspended and holding indefinitely with no rhyme or rhythm to the process. And yet with one wave of  His hand, there is resolution and resonance. Harmony is restored and the movement is complete. All that is required is that we obey His direction and let the music flow in His perfect timing.

Today, we are beginning the process of healing. I am drifting with the tide as calmly as I can. I'm so grateful for the ebb and flow of tears and emotions which allows us to release the pain and cleanse and heal our wounds without overwhelming us all at once. Our heavenly Father put such loving care into us, His creation. He truly is an awesome God. We were never promised a life free of pain or troubles. He did promise that He would never leave us or forsake us. We experienced that promise this weekend first hand. We felt the prayers and the love of friends and family. It has been hard but we are on the mend and all will be well in time.

Rest in peace, sweet Lucky
 I told my kids this weekend that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. They seemed pretty skeptical and I guess I don't blame them. Love is a risky proposition. The outcome is that at some point there will be loss and it will be painful. There's no way around that. But I believe it is what we were ultimately created for and that love is the very essence of God. Yes, I wish I still had my beautiful dog but after all is said and done, I guess you could say that at least for a time, I was Lucky in love.



Friday, August 31, 2012

My Fellow Americans...We, the People are a Hot Mess!

Since this blog was originally started to leave a legacy behind for my kids and to chronicle their childhood life and times from my perspective, I feel like I can't shy away from this topic any more. What I am about to say may make some of you uncomfortable but I'm going to go ahead and say it anyway. Besides, It's just my opinion. Okay, here goes...

First of all, I hate politics. I love America but politics give me an Excedrin headache. Usually I like to stay out of politics mainly because I'm not under the illusion that I know it all, unlike so many others I see blowing hot air all over the internet. Since I am aware of my intellectual shortcomings, I try to do a lot of research about the issues because the mainstream news media is, for lack of a better word...whack. Since this is an election year which I believe is crucial to the well being and the very future of the country I love so well, I have rolled up my sleeves, removed my rose colored glasses and taken a hard look at both candidates and the issues whirling around them. In this case, I am an inquiring mind and I  really want to know. What I am discovering is that politics are not necessarily the underlying problem. The problem, my friends is none other than We, the people.

Before you get all indignant and outraged and whatnot, hear me out. I will admit that I am very blessed to have a loving husband, 3 healthy children, a home and safe vehicles to drive around in our safe little city with a great school district. I worship God freely in a church I love. I am here, at this place in my life by the grace of God, the incredible integrity of my hard working husband, some sacrifices made in the early years of our marriage and some hard choices we, as a couple and individually, have made along the way. Some may look at my life and say "Must be nice to be her." Well, quite frankly...it is. I am immodestly proud to say that because, well... it wasn't always 'nice' to be me.

If you've read my blog you know I've been on my own since the age of 16 and there was a time in my life when my 71 Chevy Chevelle was my only  home. I existed on Fritos and baloney sandwiches and the kindness of my friends' parents and sometimes even total strangers. I have worked at countless minimum wage jobs doing all kinds of manual and service oriented jobs. I know what it is like to have plenty and I know what it is like to have next to nothing. Homeless is about as poor as you can get. So...when I hear people saying that if someone is a Conservative (which I am), then they must automatically hate the poor and are out of touch with social issues and are just a wealthy, Bible thumping bunch of windbags, stepping on the heads of the downtrodden to climb the ladder of success, I must respectfully call BS on you. I will point out that you are unfortunately doing something that I believe is systematically unraveling our society and that is: judging an ENTIRE group and placing them into a category which you judge to be despicable. You denounce them and dismiss them all outright, refusing to listen to them, without taking a moment to realize that we are all INDIVIDUALS with our own story and experiences. Conservatives and Democrats and other political parties are all doing this. I see it every day and it makes me furious. It also makes me sad.

Here's one reason why I think we do this. And remember I'm stating my own opinion based on my own experiences, here. Some people...lets call them fringe groups...get so 'in your face' while trying to recruit others to adopt their philosophy that they go off the deep end. Westboro Baptist Church n.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church is one of them. Complete lunatics who have no shame and commit hateful acts in the name of God. They don't speak for Christians and are a disgraceful hate group. Here's another example: I was astounded to discover that there is group of women, who call themselves feminists, dressing up and parading around in (and I'm sorry to say this out loud) vagina costumes in order to call attention to their feeling of victimization because they want the government to, and I quote, "stay out of their wombs." This kind of childish nonsense is not serving anyone and basically sends the message that women (by their definition) are apparently only the sum total of their girly parts. If you don't believe me, I'll show you what I'm talking about. I'm sorry in advance for the tacky nature of this picture but I didn't think you would believe me unless you saw it for yourselves. I find myself helplessly giggling in horror at the absurdity of this image. Who thought this up? Why did anyone agree with it? Where does one purchase a pattern for a vagina costume? So many questions....

"Code Pink" activists
Is this the most constructive way to make a point for your cause? I think not. Though I suppose you mean well, I'm a woman and I say: Change your clothes, grow up and do something more productive and appropriate with your time. You are embarrassing yourselves, which is your right. Still, I'm sure a lot of women wish you would stop it.

I'm going to give it to you straight, ladies. There is no 'WAR on Women.' What a ridiculous notion. We may strongly disagree on issues of abortion and paying for women's birth control pills and other female reproductive issues. We can debate that thoughtfully and respectfully and most importantly with the most powerful resource we have...the right to VOTE. Please don't buy into the assertion that anyone is at WAR with women. To do so is an insult to anyone who ever served, fought, lost their life or lost a loved one in combat. War is war. It is hell. Debating women's reproductive rights is a difference of beliefs and opinions that is being considered and (whether we agree with the outcome or not) will be legislated by our elected officials. That's the way our system works. It is not war, it is a constitutional debate. Get that straight in your heads, please. (P.S. Condoms are cheap and abstinence is free).

My fellow Republicans, this is for you. Democrats should not be recklessly characterized as atheist, socialist, tree hugging, activist, hippie intellectuals. Members of my family are Democrats and are some of the smartest, funniest, socially conscious, responsible and hard working, sweet, and loving people I know. They are amazing parents. Though we may not always agree, I respect them and their views. I learn from them. I am certain that not all thoughtful and intelligent Democratic or liberal women agree with the kind of spectacle shown in the photo above or advocate these women speaking for them. Why? because it detracts from their message and makes them look foolish.

The same goes for the other side. Todd Akin said some painfully ridiculous things about his cockamamie ideas about rape. It made me cringe. It made 99.9% of Republicans do a nationwide, simultaneous  groan and eyeroll. Let me make this abundantly clear: Just because a bunch of women dress up in nutty costumes doesn't mean all Democratic women are supporting them. Just because Todd Akin is foolish and irresponsible with his words, doesn't mean all Republicans agree with his outlandish comments. Do you see where I'm going with this?

We the people spend way too much time shouting our own message and too little time listening to each other. I mean listening with the intent to understand. The thing is, opinions by their very nature can't be wrong. It's just a personal belief that is expressed. They are just opinions. Why argue over it? Listening to each other, especially our differences, that is how we learn. It's all about respect. We need a lot more of that if we're going to come to a better understanding of one another. After all, we are called the United States of America. If we're not careful we'll just be the Divided States of America.

One more thing. When President Barack Obama was elected, although I did not vote for him, I stood in front of my TV and tears came to my eyes as I saw him take the podium for his victory speech. It was a momentous event in American history. I was proud for him. I was really rooting for him. Praying for him to succeed. I was hopeful for the change he wanted to bring about. It sounded so great. Four years later, I am sad to see that he was unable to move the country forward as he thought he would. Through research, I've learned more about him and his background. I don't agree with many of his core beliefs and don't believe he has proven to be an effective leader. Some say he wasn't given a chance. I have to wonder how many years worth of a chance a President should be given. We are beyond the point of blaming this side or that. There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the aisle. I'm voting for Romney/Ryan because what is going on now is not working. I feel we need a President who has a better understanding of the way business and finance work in the private sector. Here's another thing...I am not a racist because I'm not voting for Obama. Casting a vote for the other guy does not make someone a racist. Voting for someone strictly because of the color of their skin would more likely fall into that category. I'm not doing that. Please don't assume that about me or anyone else.

Life and death are in the power of the tongue. As a nation, I pray we will come together and stop talking so loud that we drown each other out. Of course as a believer, I'm trusting God and His will for our country. Whoever wins the election, I will do my best to stand behind them and do my part. I'll try to be careful with my words and opinions. I will listen and give others a fair hearing. The Bible tells us to do that. As you can see in my comments above, I don't suffer fools gladly. It's not always easy but the most important lessons never are.

I'm hoping and praying that by the time my kids read this they will be able to say "Wow, I'm sure glad people started behaving like responsible adults and cleaned up that hot mess they had back in 2012." I hope they look up to our generation with gratitude and pride in the same way we respect and admire the generations that came before us. Don't you?

Peace and Blessings


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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Meteors, Adam and Eve and the Wisdom of Children

Many of you who know me would probably agree that I tend to turn just about anything into a party with my kids. If there is a thunderstorm, we go out into the porte-cochere with snacks and blankets and have what we call a 'Boomer' party. We count down from the lightning strike until the thunder crack and then raise our hands and yell "TOUCHDOWN" at the top of our lungs. This is big fun for us because we're essentially a bunch of dorks. We have family movie night, epic Nerf gun battles with the neighbor kids (David is the instigator and director of these battles), geode rock busting parties and various other really cheap and fun activities that the kids enjoy and since I get to participate in my pajamas, it's a win/win.

So...when an event like the recent Perseid meteor shower comes along I immediately think: Shooting Star Party. We arranged all of the deck chairs into what we decided were the ideal positions for meteor observation, David popped popcorn, I made lemonade and we invited some good friends over to hang out. Overall, it was really fun and we got to see quite a few meteors. The kids watched in awe for a while until their attention spans gave way to other more exciting pursuits. We all made some great memories and to me, that's all that is required to call any party a success.

The most poignant memory I'll take away with me from that night doesn't really have anything to do with meteors, though. It will be of my son Michael and his ability to 'wow' me on occasion with the way his amazing little mind works. We were gazing up at the night sky and together we recited the old rhyme "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight...I wish I may, I wish I might...have this wish I wish tonight." At the end, I asked the kids what they had wished for. Mattie (being Mattie) said "I wish I had a million dollars." I can't say as I blame her. If you're making a wish, might as well make it a big one, right? Then it was Michael's turn and I'll never forget this. He said quietly, while still looking up at the stars: "I wish God had forgiven Adam and Eve right from the beginning because things would have been a lot easier from then on."

Wow. I wish I could report to you that I had some meaningful response to this statement. I really don't remember what I said because honestly, I had never even considered this observation in that context for some reason. He got me thinking. 'Yeah...why didn't He forgive them? Michael is right. It would have been a lot easier. If God is such a forgiving God, why didn't He just give them a pass? He knew they were going to eat the fruit. Why did it matter so much? Why 'THE FALL' and the sinning, and animal sacrifices and the wars and chaos and plagues and pestilence and punishments? Why the ultimate torturous sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross to reconcile us with the God who created us and loves us? It could all have been avoided if He had just forgiven Adam and Eve on the spot, right?' Kinda makes you wonder...

I prayed on this. I pondered this. Eventually, I even Googled it. The answer came one morning while I was out walking our dog, Lucky, and was having my prayer time. I felt God speaking into my spirit and then it became clear to me. In order for us to have what God wants most from us, which is relationship, there has to be free will. The God of the universe had to give us the choice to reject Him. To let us 'go it alone' and then return to Him freely if we desired to do so. Imagine someone saying to you "Love me because I said so." Doesn't work that way. Real love means we choose to love one another despite our faults or imperfections or regardless of how powerful or powerless the object of our love is. To be loved, chosen for love, is probably the most enriching human experience of all. I believe it is what we were created for. Love. Praise. Honor. Worship. Cultivating relationship. With each other and with our Creator.

I see this fallen world as something like boot camp to prepare us for everlasting life. Without the experience of loss or grief, how could we ever fully appreciate life and how precious it is?  Without sadness, how would we measure pure joy? Without feeling lack we would be unaware of the blessings of provision. Without sickness and pain in our bodies we wouldn't comprehend the perfection of our heavenly bodies to come. Without the bondage of sin we would never understand the unimaginable gift of grace, mercy and freedom in Christ. Trouble and difficulties, even emotional pain, cultivate our faith and teach us obedience and surrender. It all makes sense to me. Easy isn't always better. I am learning to be more grateful for the ongoing refining process of life. Nobody said it wouldn't get hot and uncomfortable in the furnace. The promise is that we will come out more clean and more pure and more beautiful than ever before. I can live with that. God knows what He is doing. After all, He's been doing it forever and in the infamous words of Prince...that's a mighty long time.

Our children have innate wisdom. They say things that confound us, challenge us and sometimes even push us to seek out answers we never even knew we had the questions for. My children are such an incredible blessing in so many ways. Once, Patrick, my oldest, said "Mom...why do people have the urge to do things that they already know are not going to be good for them and then do them anyway?" That one struck me dumb for a moment or two. I don't remember what I told him other than "Wow, that's a really good question. I might have to get back to you on that one." I don't think I ever did. Last year, Mattie was sitting in my lap on the couch and said "Mommy, why do people always say they are seeking God and that He is invisible? I see God all the time. All you have to do is look into the eyes of His people and that's us." I remember hugging her with tears running down my face and thanking her  for sharing that with me. There's such wisdom in children hidden underneath all of the dirt and the noise and the sticky fingers and such. Yes, there is incredible wealth there that I am enjoying digging into every day. Such is the joy of parenthood.

Mattie explained that we can see God in each other's eyes and I am a witness to that fact. On a clear summer night, not long ago, as ribbons of light brilliantly streamed across the sky, I looked into the awestruck face of my eight year old son and clearly saw God's perfect love shining in his beautiful blue eyes. That's life, isn't it?



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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Does This Chicken Offend You?

I swore to myself I would stay away from this one. Guess I need to stop swearing, huh? I really wanted to just stay out of the whole Chick-fil-A vs the same sex marriage debate. Why? Because there is so much misinformation and religious hypocrisy and hate and political posturing in that pool that I thought I'd be better off just sitting in a deck chair sipping a cold drink as I observe the last vestiges of American common sense slip down the drain.

Well, I changed my mind. I do that a lot. You'll get used to it. I've decided to weigh in with my OPINION which is worth exactly what you paid for it. If it offends you, you are free to close your eyes,  read no further and then hit the delete button which is your RIGHT. I won't mind. Actually, I won't even know. We are all way too easily offended these days which is what led to this latest brouhaha over what the president of Chick-fil-A, Mr. Cathy (no relation) said in an interview in The Baptist Press about his stance on traditional marriage. If you have not read the interview (I had to look for it...I didn't even know there was such a thing as The Baptist Press) and you have commented on this issue in some social media outlet, then you are not using common sense. Sorry, but you should get your facts straight before you form an opinion. Then you can actually have what is referred to as an 'informed opinion' rather than a 'random opinion' which (in my opinion) is pretty worthless and potentially even dangerous. Here's the interview in which Mr. Cathy was speaking to a reporter with The Baptist Press which I'm guessing he probably assumed would be read mostly by...well...Baptists:  http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=38271

That's it. He has said out loud in front of God and everybody that He built his company on Christian principles and believes in 'traditional marriage.' He means between a man and a woman in case anyone is confused by the reference to the bible. (Some biblical marriages were between a man and a harem full of women...I think it's safe to assume that since he was talking to a Baptist publication, he wasn't referring to that.) That's pretty much it in a nutshell. Hello, tempest...meet teacup.

I never saw anywhere in his comments that he was anti-anything. Or that he refused to serve anyone or hire anyone based on their sexual orientation. (Apparently they don't discriminate in either area). He was simply stating what he believes in, which is his right. He can model his American built company on any principles he wants to because last time I checked, this is a free country. He can give his charitable donations to anyone he wants to, as well. But don't worry. Here's the good news: When you build your multi-billion dollar company from the ground up, you can give your charitable donations to whomever you choose because that will be your right just as well. Nobody says you have to like what he says. If Chick-fil-A offends you, don't eat there. That is your right. Don't eat there every day!! That'll show 'em! Simple as that. However...When the mayors of two major US cities jump into the ring and threaten to keep this company from getting permits to build new locations there based on this man's beliefs, that IS discrimination. It is also illegal. It is also bullying and it scares the snot out of me.
 **By the way, if you are going to base how you spend your money on where businesses stand on moral or political issues that don't line up with yours, you might as well just start walking everywhere, growing your own food, live in a hut and give up Slurpees forever.

Now, let's flip the switch for a moment. To all of my Christian friends out there...I feel ya. I know where you're coming from and I understand the feeling of desperation as we see traditional values and morality and respect for our Christian beliefs being attacked and taken away in the name of political correctness. I get it. But what are we supposed to do about it? Million dollar question, right? But let us take a deep breath and a step back. I must now be completely cheesy as I say to you: What would Jesus do? Let me say this clearly. As a believer, we know that Jesus died to reconcile our relationship with God. Every single sin was nailed into the cross with Jesus that day. This includes but is not limited to lying, cheating, adultery, murder, stealing, gossiping, coveting your neighbor's wife and his shiny new boat et al. If you are a Christian who believes homosexuality is a sin then it was covered too. So, you say (with a plank in your eye) Living in sin is wrong! We are supposed to hate sin and reject it!! Is that what Jesus did? The way I read it, the bible tells that Jesus approached sinners and was a friend to them. He loved them and healed them and forgave them day in and day out. That was His ministry, for heaven's sake. Hate the sin but love the person. Our relationship with God ultimately will come down to Him and us. As a body of believers, we are to spread the gospel (good news) about salvation and the amazing fact that it is free for ALL. Yes, fellow Christians I said all. How about we focus on doing what we were called to do as believers and trust God to shake things out as He sees fit? Just a thought.

So where do I stand on same sex marriage? I think it's a lot about semantics. Demand the word 'marriage' and you'll have a fight on your hands. Same sex unions? I believe in the right for people to choose who they love and for them to be allowed rights that other unions are allowed. Doesn't really matter if I agree with it or not. Don't we have free will to live our lives on this earth as we choose, especially in America? There are consequences to every choice we make. Still, my choices will result in my own consequences as others' will for them. We all have to live with that. I try to live as best I can by biblical Christian principles. Still, I'm a sinner. In word and deed more often than I care to admit. I'm not anti-anything. I'm pro-human and pro-love. I'm pro-Jesus. Furthermore, I think anyone's sexuality is a personal subject that I would rather see remain a private matter discussed between the individuals involved. For the record, if you are gay and Christian people are mean to you, or belittle you I'm sorry on their behalf. Please forgive them. They know not what they do.

Now, remember...this is my opinion. You don't have to agree with it or like it. But I get to say it anyway and if you are an intelligent, decent person you will respect my right to express it.

Let's all take our common sense out for a little exercise. We could all use it. Tolerance is a two-way street. If something offends you, walk away, turn away, tune it out and let it go. Forgive the shortcomings of others. Give yourself the gift of not taking everything so seriously. Pray for the sinners and the broken hearted. Live and let live and let God be God. Believe me He is way better at it and it's too big of a responsibility, anyway. Eat the chicken or don't eat the chicken. There's no need to be offended by the chicken. God's will prevails either way. If you don't believe in God, that is your right. I will still love you and pray for you because Jesus said I should.

Peace and Blessings,


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Guilt, Pocket Frogs, and 'Having It All'

I like to consider myself to be a pretty awesome mom. I wouldn't be too impressed, though. I also consider staying up really late and whiling away hours at a time with my kids while we play Pocket Frogs on our iPods/Phones to be a worthwhile activity. I am, shall we say, a bit eccentric in my parenting style. Well, lets just get it out there...I'm eccentric in most areas of my life. I've come to terms with my quirkiness and unconventionality. My kids, being innocently unaware of anything to the contrary think I'm a great mom just the way I am. I admit that their opinion is the one that ultimately matters the most to me. Honestly, that unconditional love from my kids is like the fuel in my engine. Really keeps me going, especially on the days when I don't feel much like 'going' if you know what I mean.

This summer has most definitely been lazy, a bit hazy and completely crazy at times. I've had a lot to deal with. Recovering from surgery, various bizarre setbacks and a MRSA Staph infection that really wiped out what few reserves I had begun to build up. I am on the mend and doing much better but after emerging from the cave that is my bedroom and squinting painfully into the light that is my household responsibilities, I felt akin to a vampire (no, I don't believe in vampires but like the metaphor) emerging into sunlight for the first time. "Aaaaiiiiieeeeggghhhh!!" Is sort of the sound that the little voice in my head makes as I survey my little kingdom and see it in ruins all around me. I've wanted to fold my proverbial cape over my eyes and retreat into the safety and darkness of my cave on more than one occasion. Actually, in the interest of truthfulness, on more than one occasion, I've done just that.

Daily, I hear that little voice in my head saying things like "Seriously...get your act together. Have you seen the pantry? You used to keep everything organized by color and alphabetized, for Pete's sake!" Or "Hey, how about you make up your bed for the first time since MAY? Whadda ya think?" And "You stay home all day with your kids. Other women have full time jobs and still find a way to keep up with everything and keep orderly, pristine homes. They are out there having it all. Marriage, career, kids, household...I mean, what exactly do you DO?" You get the drift...

After listening to this dialogue for a couple of minutes, I usually tell the little voice to bite me and just zip it. Lucky for me, like a stubborn strain of bacteria, I have become increasingly immune to the negative little voice inside my head and am resistant to take it all that seriously. The loving, positive little voice is getting much more air time these days. Denial? Maybe. Whatever works, right? Here's the thing...I do feel guilty at times. I wish I could do more. Wish I were more motivated or that I had my  usual mommy-mojo back. Sometimes I feel like a failure. I pray for strength and wisdom.  And then I guess I snap out of it and realize that I'm really doing the best that I can with the cards I've been dealt. Grace washes over me and I just let it go. I see things more clearly and realize that my kids don't give a rat's rump about an unorganized pantry or unmade bed or having a pristine home. They just want me to  put on my jammies and play computer games with them. They want my time and attention. My husband wants me to rest and get my strength back as the doctor has ordered. He doesn't care that his kingdom is a little messy. He just wants his queen back. The only one who's been putting pressure on me is, well...me. I'm working on that but old habits die hard, you know? Say a little prayer for me, will you?

Thankfully, there's a vacation to Colorado on my horizon. I really need a change of scenery. Getting ready for a trip is a lot of work but I'm really motivated to get the heck out of my cave for a while. I'm 'going to grandma's' and I know we will all be spoiled rotten and nurtured like crazy. I've gotta tell you...I'm going to eat it up like candy.

Yes, there are superwomen out there 'Doing it All' and 'Having it All.' I will always admire them wistfully from afar. But honestly? They can have it all. I really don't want it. I'll just be on the sidelines in my jammies silently cheering them on and happily munching popcorn as my kids and I advance to the highest levels to be attained on Pocket Frogs.

After all, summer will be over soon enough and the realities of life will take over. The memories, though...we'll have those for a lifetime. Ribbit, ribbit... :o)


Thursday, July 5, 2012

I'm Not An Intellectual But I Play One On TV

Being famous doesn't make you smart...It just means that a lot of people know who you are and it gives you a really big audience to be ridiculous in front of. 

Why am I writing about this today? Maybe because I've had a fever since Sunday, I'm on a bunch of antibiotics that are making me nauseous. I'm bored and maybe a little grumpy, so I've been playing around on the internet and inadvertently stumbled across something that really blew my mind. It was a collection of 4th of July Tweets, which were posted by celebrities. Most of them were upbeat and positive...the stuff you would expect. And then there were the ones that made me do the mother of all eyerolls. I won't bore you with all of the hate and vitriol, you can Google it for yourselves. It was along the lines of 'America sucks, America is bad, America is oppressive' and so on and so forth. The one that really got my attention was the one from Chris Rock. He said:

"Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren't free but I'm sure they enjoyed fireworks."

Here's the thing. I'm not going to debate his right to say that. He has every right AS AN AMERICAN to say whatever snarcastic (my new word) things he likes. I'm 100% in favor of free speech....messy as it is sometimes. I personally happen to think what he said was ridiculous and divisive and an insult to African Americans all across the US...most importantly every African American veteran or soldier who is currently deployed who put themselves in harm's way to protect Chris Rock's right to say whatever dumb thing impulsively pops out of his mouth. Of course that's just my opinion. Apparently some people thought it was really funny and they 'got it' and agreed with him.  Oh, well...As Grandma used to say: "It takes all kinds to make the world go 'round." Historically speaking, he was kind of right but kind of wrong at the same time. Sadly, he probably doesn't even know exactly what he is saying. He just thinks he knows. That can be a dangerous thing.

What gets me about Chris Rock and countless other celebrities is that they use their power of influence by making flip remarks or fevered political or humanitarian statements without really having any real grasp of (A) all of the facts or (B) the impact of what they are saying to impressionable people who (for whatever reason) are sadly looking to them as role models. I don't have a problem with famous people stating their opinions, I'm against the rest of us regular folks looking to them for wisdom and letting ourselves be mentally manipulated by people who are essentially entertainers and actors and of course, politicians. (You're saying to yourself...'what's the difference?') Anyway, these people have publicists and media experts managing their careers whose sole purpose is to get and keep their clients as popular and as visible as possible. They will say and do anything to keep themselves in the public eye including stirring the pot and creating dissent. Yes, some of them really mean well and their hearts are in the right place. Some do amazing charity work and mobilize people to do incredible things for their fellow man. It just bothers me when I see people blindly following and believing celebrities and their agendas and causes without seeking the facts for themselves to ensure that they are really and truly on board with what their favorite celebrity is advocating.

The solution? Do your own research. Everything you need to know is one click away. Find out the truth for yourself and then, by all means, align yourself with whomever you feel best represents you and your core beliefs. And try to remember this:

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” Proverbs 26:4-5

Look, maybe Chris Rock just made a bad joke. Maybe he was having an off day. It's possible, I guess. Let's face it, all of us have said things that we didn't mean or just got all wrong, myself most definitely included. I'm just a regular person. I have a very small audience and little or no influence on the world at large. Still, I say dumb stuff sometimes and hope others will give me grace and hopefully another chance. So...Chris Rock, if you're reading this: I forgive you for being irresponsible with your remarks to your fans on July 4th. I know this is a massive relief to you. You're welcome.

If you want further proof that famous people say dumb things, here you go. Most of these made me laugh out loud:

This one is one of my personal favorites from Tom Cruise who has a whole selection of silly quotes dedicated solely to him.

"I will never be done with love. Never, never. I love relationships and I love women. I’m going to get married again. I’ll never give up on that." 

He also said: "There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance."

(I wonder what Oprah thinks about that particular statement, don't you?)

If that's not enough side-splitting fun for one day, here you go: 

See, Chris...no worries. You're in good company. 

One Parting thought: As Malcom Forbes said..."The dumbest people I've ever known are the ones who know everything."  

That certainly puts me out of the running! :0)



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

No Nitpicking Makes For A Lousy Summer

Ahh, the good old summertime. Texas style. Blue cloudless skies, sizzling sultry days, sprinklers whirring, lemonade and popsicle stands sprouting up, the smell of outdoor BBQ, squeals of laughter and then, of course, there's the inevitable sound of my bored children bickering.  My least favorite sound in the world (right up there with nails on a chalkboard, Marks-a-Lot on cardboard and Styrofoam rubbing together) would have to be hearing my kids fussing at each other over petty and mostly ridiculous offenses towards one another. I like to think I am a pretty patient mom but the arguing really sparks something in me and I just get righteously annoyed when my kids get into it with each other.

At the beginning of the summer I would lovingly get involved- kind of like a concerned therapist with a neutral attitude- and I would help them calmly sort things out. I would say things like: "Michael, how did it make you feel when Patrick stole your Lego and then kicked you in the knee when you tried to get it back?" and then: "Patrick, it's disrespectful to kick your brother in the knee. Please apologize." That lasted for a few weeks. My approach then morphed into something more along the lines of house detective as I became determined to figure out who was instigating the problems. "WHO STARTED IT?" is something you might have heard me asking in my authoritative mom voice. "I want to know who touched who first!" This would be answered with a trio of mumbled "I dunno's" in unison followed by three identical shoulder shrugs. Tell me this: Why is it that they can be going at it like prizefighters but when mom steps in, suddenly they stick together tighter than spandex on an opera singer? I don't get that. Another of the many mysteries of childhood psychology that eludes me.

It seems to me that as the temperatures creep up into triple digits, my level of patience sinks to practically zero. Here lately, if there is any kind of scuffle coming from the direction of where my kids are playing I just walk into the family room and belt out "KNOCK IT OFF RIGHT NOW!!!" to no one in particular. No questions, no fact finding, no interest whatsoever as to the cause or blame. Just squash it immediately before it turns ugly. Maybe I won't be up for parent of the year this year but it seems to be working. The incidences of nitpicking and griping are way down and that makes Mama happy.

Speaking of  'nit picking'...I was recently appalled to discover that for the first time ever...our family had become the unwilling hosts at a party we never planned. Yep, that's right. Head lice. "Eeewwww" you might be saying to yourself right now. That's okay...I couldn't agree with you more. I said it a lot myself at the beginning. Then I did what all moms do in a crisis. I rolled up my sleeves, girded my loins, got all my ducks in a row and then sat down at my trusty laptop to surf the net in an effort to discern what the best course of action might be. I mean, this is war, right? I'm not fooling around with this nonsense for a second longer than necessary. The result? I got lucky and I found the perfect one, two punch to get rid of lice immediately and for good and it was completely NON-TOXIC! Since I'm a nice guy, I'm going to share my new found wisdom with you just in case you ever find yourselves in the same situation.

First thing you can't do without? A Robi Comb.

 I can't say enough good things about this nifty little gizmo. One AA battery and you are off to the races on your hunt for the lousy little critters. Mattie and I actually made a game out of this and laughed until we cried and I had to make a detour to the potty to avoid an embarrassing incident. It really was actually fun. We got a Ziploc bag and turned on the comb and as it finds lice or the little eggs, it ZAPS them with an electric current and they stay in the comb for you to brush into the bag. "Bzzzz" the little comb would say and then Mattie would open her bag and say "trick or treat" or "buggies for the baggie" and we would laugh like hyenas. The best thing is that this comb can be used indefinitely to detect and kill any lice. Great product that really does what it says it does.

The second thing you absolutely must have is this: Lice Freee Spray.

This is totally non-toxic which is great because you can use it as often as needed and it is safe. Best part is you probably won't need to use it again because it actually kills any active lice and the eggs instantly. I treated everyone in the family even though only 3 of us had symptoms. You simply spray it in, comb it through with the little metal comb, and let it dry naturally. This worked for all of us without fail. Only one use and all the lice were gone and we never saw them again. Killed the eggs, too. Awesome stuff.
The only down side (which didn't bother any of us) is that it has a strong smell of Anise or black licorice. If you don't like that smell, this may be a problem for you. Still, I would use it anyway. It works!

Of course we followed conventional wisdom and it was a lot of work to wash all the linens and vacuum the mattresses and the furniture, etc. We made it into a war game and the kids really got into it. "Kill the buggies!!" we would say as we dragged the sheets to the laundry room. "Take no prisoners!" I would shout as we sprayed each other down out on the back deck. "I won't say it twice...death to lice" and so on. It was a team effort and we were victorious.

Last year we had the summer of Strep. This year, major surgery, recovery and various episodes of nit picking.  (Don't even get me started about the dog getting sick all over the carpet.) I'm not gonna lie... I really need a vacation! We are getting ready for our annual sojourn to Dallas and to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to visit  family. Yes, 20 hours in the car (with the dog) is always an adventure. There will be laughter. There will be Buc-ees and turkey jerky. There will be multiple potty emergencies. There will be beautiful countryside to admire. Mostly it will be great fun but sometimes it will be lousy. (Not literally, I hope). There will be barking and there will be bickering. So, here's to the Kingsbury road trip extravaganza. We may be a mess but I don't mind. Come what may, I love my family and I love summer. Happy trails, everyone.

Summer blessings,


Friday, June 1, 2012

I'm Sexy and I Know It

Okay, okay...simmer down. I know you want to run for the hills but before you get all pious and pinchy in the face with righteous indignation and become all judgmental and skeptical and whatnot...gird your loins and hear me out. I'm going somewhere with this.

Let me start by saying that first of all, I've been monogamously married to the same man for 15 years. Sex is not a dirty word. Second of all, I'm forty-(nunnayobizness) years old and have some pretty solid life experience behind me to share and third of all...I'm three weeks post-op from a hysterectomy/prolapse repair surgery and the only thing going on in my bedroom these days involves a lot of reading and channel surfing and some epic napping. So why the racy title? Because this is my final chapter in the whole hysterectomy journey saga and I'd like to end it with a bang. (Pun most cleverly intended!) ;0)

You see, I came into this whole experience with a lot of pre-conceived notions, most of which were obtained by second hand information both from well meaning friends and family and from reading (often horror) stories of those who had boldly gone before me and then decided to post about it on the internet. I cannot stress to you enough how much I wish I had NEVER looked up 'hysterectomy, prolapse repair success stories' online. Talk about TMI!! Nope, no more seeking medical information online for me. Just ratchets up the anxiety level and who needs that?

One of  the recurring themes that I encountered most often was that after hysterectomy, a person's libido could be permanently adversely affected.  As one woman in an online forum put it: "When my husband looks at me in that way, I want to run and hide." YIKES! I won't lie...this was my #1 concern (aside from not waking up from the anesthesia) going into surgery. I'm in a healthy happy marriage and intimacy is a big deal. I did not want to lose that part of our life together and for it to be all my fault. I fretted and read more stuff and the more I read, the more I fretted. Typical of me. In the end, I did what I should have done right from the beginning. I prayed and asked God to have His way in my life and my health and my marriage and just gave it all to Him. What else can you do?

My surgery was a success. They removed my uterus, which was rather enlarged. I also had a fluid filled Fallopian tube that had expanded and was basically like a water balloon. I am so glad to have all of that out! Aside from some setbacks here and there, I am recovering well and healing slowly but surely. I am so grateful for all of the excellent care I received from the doctors and nurses at Woman's Hospital of Texas. I'm glad it's over and glad to be home resting. And there's another thing I'm glad about...

Two weeks after my surgery, I had showered and done my hair and put on a cute little sundress and a little makeup just so I could feel human again. I was standing in the bathroom, brushing my hair and my husband came in and said "Wow, you look so beautiful, honey." We stood looking in the mirror at each other for a moment and all of the familiar feelings came rushing back. Maybe even a little stronger than before. Suffice it to say that even though I can't do anything about it for a few more weeks, (wink, wink...nudge nudge) I have most definitely NOT "lost that lovin' feeling." (Said with a big grin and an emphatic fist pump).

So...why am I risking embarrassing myself by telling you all of this? Because it is SO important to me to get the message out there to anyone, young or older, who has to go through this surgery (either now or in the future) that there is hope. That not only can you feel better physically, it is not a death sentence for your love life. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Even if it isn't right at first, my doctor assured me that there are things that can be done to help along the way. Just trust and all will be well. Also, do yourself a favor and try to stay off the internet.

Just as I prayed, I'm already feeling that when all is said and done, I'll be stronger than I've ever been. Healthier than I've been in a long time and back to my sassy self again very soon. It may take some time but I'm content in the knowledge that everything is as it should be. You never know...I might be taking up Zumba in a few weeks. Better look out, David. Hey, if you're lucky I might even give you a running start.

Me, sexy? You better know it.


Monday, April 16, 2012

The Old 'Switcheroo'

My mom used to say "The only thing permanent in life is change." It's been 3 years since she passed away and I'm beginning to realize that my mom said a lot of cool stuff that I ignored because, well...she was my mom. Sometimes I wish I would have listened to her a little more. But that's not really where I was going with this.

What made me think of that particular quote has to do with some events that transpired last week. As most of you already know...I'm scheduled to have a hysterectomy on May 9th. I have been through several emotional ups and downs since deciding to go forward with the surgery but was glad to finally have all of the logistics buttoned down and was basically just ticking days off the calendar until the big day. I was finally in a place of peace about the whole thing. Silly of me, I suppose. In one phone call to the doctor's office, all of our well laid plans were upended and now there is stress and a mess. Change.

It all started because I got a notice from my oldest son's teacher and realized that his spring play was taking place on the same day at the same time as my pre-op consult. Naturally, I am not willing to miss the play so I wanted to reschedule my appointment. After holding for a  l-o-n-g time, I was connected to my doctor's nurse. "Oh, Mrs. Kingsbury" she said..."We were going to call you." Ugh. That is never good, right? "The thing is," she continued, "your Dr. is retiring on April 27th." Retiring? What the what? I just scheduled this surgery less than 2 months ago. I felt gut-punched. I was angry and confused. My first instinct was to let her have it with both barrels but thankfully, I didn't obey that instinct. (That's probably because over the years, my first instinct hasn't always yielded the best results, if you know what I mean. At least I'm living and learning in that regard). So I was just quiet and I listened. Totally out of character for me. Ha!

The nurse went on to quickly 'reassure' me that my surgery was still on the schedule with another Dr. and that my pre-op consult could take place on May 2 in order to allow me to go to my son's play and wouldn't that all work out quite nicely? Wow. I just sat on the other end of the line with my mouth literally hanging open. Seriously? I'm scheduled for surgery without my knowledge with a doctor I've never even met and nobody has even bothered to consult me first? Not cool. I don't know when they were planning to let me in on that little tidbit. Good thing I called, huh? My husband has rearranged his work schedule to take time off to care for me. My in-laws have already booked airline tickets to come and help out. I don't have a lot of time to figure out a plan B. I was upset, to put it mildly.

As it turns out, there is a very legitimate and understandable reason for my Dr. suddenly retiring without much notice. I won't go into it here. There is also a reason why I am not feeling secure or comfortable with the Dr. they have rescheduled me with (won't go into that, either). I'm glad I was not openly angry or confrontational on the phone. Wouldn't have done any good and would have made me appear foolish and without compassion. I do have compassion and I do care. The thing is, I have some big decisions to make in a short time. I won't lie...it's all a bit overwhelming.

The funny thing is, I really do see God in this situation. I know that none of this comes as a surprise to Him. I know He already has the solution in place. The problem is that it came as a surprise to me. I am trying my best to strike a balance between trusting God to work it all out in my best interests and taking the appropriate action required to ensure the best possible outcome. Not an easy line to walk when emotions are high and other peoples lives and schedules are involved. My prayer today is that God will illuminate my path forward and give me the discernment I need to recognize His will and to have the peace that comes with knowing what He would have me do. I could really use your prayers right now, my friends. Thanks in advance.

Yes, change is a constant in life. Thankfully, so are grace and mercy. I'll be needing a lot of both in the weeks to come. As of now, my surgery is still scheduled for May 9th. If that doesn't work out, I guess I'll just have to stop, drop to my knees and then roll with the changes. Either way, I'll keep you posted.



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Next Stop: Get A Gripsville

Okay, so where we left off last time was not exactly a happy place for me. Crying on the phone to my poor, unsuspecting husband in the middle of a crowded restaurant about my impending hysterectomy. Not to mention that even though I wanted excessive amounts of chocolate to make me feel better, I'd given it up until Easter. *sigh* Luckily, I've never been one to linger long in an unhappy place. Is that because I'm strong and optimistic and resolute? Well, maybe I am all of those things. Probably, though, it has more to do with the fact that I get bored easily and have the attention span of a gnat. Either way, it serves me well. I'm not one to wallow in the pity pit or hold a grudge. Frankly, I just don't have the stamina for it. I had my moment of public boo-hooing. It was time for me to get a grip and quit feeling sorry for myself. At least for the moment, anyway. (Just promise you won't hold me to it, okay?)

In the following days, I resigned myself to the idea that it was time for my extraneous uterus to be relegated to the same great beyond as where my stone-filled gallbladder and one damaged Fallopian tube have already gone. Reminded me a little of old an Chevy truck, losing a part here or a screw there but chugging along happily nevertheless. While on this train of thought I was reminded of the NASA spacecrafts which use up their valuable components and then jettison them as soon as they become redundant in order to complete their important mission. I've settled on the rocket analogy, as it seems to fit a bit better with my psyche than comparing myself to an old Chevy truck. Once again...I digress.

Though I decided to come to terms with the whole idea of this surgery, let me let you all in on a little secret. I spent a few days mourning my uterus. Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? But I did. I cried and grieved and I still may not be done yet. There is just something so final about having your uterus removed that is just hard to explain rationally to anyone who is not in this situation. I know I don't want to have any more kids. Funny thing is that my intellect is totally on board with the necessity of this journey. My heart, however, is still back at the station trying to decide whether or not to buy the ticket.

As someone who went through seven years of infertility I spent many a day, month after month, year after year cursing the inability and ineffectiveness of my 'lady parts' for not being able to get the job done. Conversely, after two successful IVF cycles, one of which resulted in twins which I carried for 35 weeks and had without a C-section, I was joyfully praising the same parts I had been cursing before. Lots of conflicting emotions circle around the issue (no pun intended) of my female anatomy. Three beautiful children and the fulfillment of a life-long dream later, this hysterectomy feels kind of like the end of an era. I guess I've never been very good at endings. Beginnings are just more fun, aren't they?

In the last day or so, I've turned a corner in this process. The date of my surgery has been scheduled (May 9th) and I know what's coming. Having a hysterectomy and prolapse surgery (don't ask) is not going to be fun. It will be painful and I will need to take it easy and nurture myself through the recovery process. I will have to allow others to help me and that is not always easy for me. Though I am dreading the procedure itself, I am beginning to look forward to the outcome. I am seeing a silver lining in my stormy sky. My sweet husband is taking 10 days off of work to take care of me. We will have time alone together while the kids are at school. My in-laws are coming to help out with the kids the second week and they are all so excited to see their grandparents. I will be free of the health problems that have been pestering me for the last two years. See? All good things.

As I've been praying about this situation, God has repeated the same message to me in numerous ways and I am believing and trusting what He says. That I will be stronger than I've ever been in the months and years to come. That I will be in better physical, emotional and spiritual health. That my best days are in front of me and that I will continue to be blessed as He uses me and my life to be a blessing in the lives of others. My job is to surrender to the process and trust in His goodness and mercy. I've invited Him to 'get a grip' on me and never let me go. He holds me now and always and I am going to rest in that. I'm standing on His promises and I really like the view from here. In fact, if I squint a little, I think I can see chocolate on the horizon!

Please take a moment to watch this video of a couple of songs that I was so honored to be able to sing with David and Nicole Binion when they were visiting Lakewood Church last month. These songs have been speaking to my spirit and give me such hope. They are the anthem of my life during this season and have really blessed me as I hope they bless you.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Sentimental Journey...Grace and Chocolate


I've been debating about writing this. It is very personal and may not be relevant to everyone. So, I almost chose to go through this next chapter of my life silently and without comment. Almost. Then I remembered why I started this blog in the first place. To give my children (and hopefully theirs) a window into who I am and what I think about life and family and faith, etc. Someday, I hope they will read these blog entries and feel connected to who I am. I also hope that anyone who reads what I have to say can relate and will have the assurance that they are not alone out there. In light of that, I am going to bring you all along on a journey with me. Feel free to jump off the train at any time if you're not enjoying the scenery. I won't take it personally.

Let me set the scene for you. I'm sitting on the table in my OBGYN's office waiting for her to come in. I'm nervous. Feeling vulnerable as ever under the little square sheet. Like many women, some of the most dramatic moments of my life, both negative and positive, were played out in a setting such as this. Waiting to hear the verdict in any number of different scenarios. Today I'm feeling particularly apprehensive. I know something is not right. I've know it for a while now. Enter Dr. Patrice Firpo. She is awesome. She is bubbly. She is extremely knowledgeable, honest, direct and caring. She is everything I like my doctor to be. I'm so grateful to have found her. Especially now.

She starts talking and I'm hearing words tossed around. Fibroids, anemia, prolapse, hydrosalpynx, surgery and then THE word I was hoping not to hear. Hysterectomy. My stomach drops and my heart kicks it up a notch and somewhere from deep within me I feel a silent moan surfacing, "Noooooo!" My eyes fill with tears but I breathe deeply and pull it together. I tell myself to suck it up and pay attention. I need to ask questions and get all of the information I can. I have some big decisions to make. In this moment, even though I am not by myself, I feel terribly alone. The decision is mine, no one can make it for me.

I walk out of the exam room a little in shock and somehow changed. Older. Defective. Empty. Must be something about that word. Hysterectomy. I hate that word. Reminds me of the word hysterical. Then I laugh to myself, "Hey, maybe it's not such a bad thing to have a hysteria-ectomy. I could use a little more peace and a little less hysteria in my life, right?" Might as well laugh if you can't cry.

I want my mommy. I want my husband. I want to push the rewind button and hear a different diagnosis. I tell myself, "stop feeling sorry for yourself. It's not cancer, it could be so much worse. People have this done all the time and they are just fine. Think about it...no more periods, ever. No more pain. It'll be an improvement. You'll feel better after the recovery, etc..." I'm trying to see the silver lining, here. It's not really working that well but at least I'm trying. I start praying for strength.

As I emerge, squinting into the grey glare of the rainy day and head toward my car, I'm suddenly hungry. I want a big, juicy burger and a chocolate sundae with extra hot fudge because everything feels better after chocolate, right? But I'm in Kingwood and I don't know my way around and I'm really not in the mood to go exploring right now. I spot a Jason's Deli across the street. Resignedly, I get in the car and head over to eat a healthy lunch telling myself that there will be an opportunity for chocolate later.

I find a table in the farthest corner of the restaurant and open the book I brought with me, hoping to distract myself. I ALWAYS have a book with me or on Nook so that no matter where I am, I won't ever be bored. Today, I am reading the same line in my book over and over and it is not penetrating my cluttered brain. I decide that a restaurant filled with a noisy lunchtime crowd might just be the best place to call David and tell him my news. He is always my rock. My anchor in the storm. I know he will make me feel better. He answers on the second ring and the moment I hear the deep timbre of his voice, I realize my mistake. The emotion of the day is triggered by that familiar voice that I know and love so well and I am overcome. I immediately begin sobbing right in the middle of Jason's Deli all over my Chicken Caesar Wrap. Great. Just great. Yes, I'm going to need plenty of chocolate for this one. Jumbo Godiva Dark chocolate. Nothing less will do. Add to that the sweet grace and mercy of God and the loving arms of my husband. If I have all of that, I can do this thing. Let the journey begin...

~To be continued~


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Who Do You Think You're Talking To?

**WARNING: I"M MAD...This post contains passionate language that may make you uncomfortable. If it does, good. That means it is probably meant for you. Most of you will agree with me and will feel as strongly about this issue as I do. If so, then obviously this post is not directed at you.**

I saw something today that completely pushed me over the edge. I have officially, completely reached my capacity for patience when it comes to observing the way some people out there talk (and I'm using the term 'talk' loosely here) to their children. If you are one of the people I have seen out and about screaming at, demeaning, cursing out, belittling, or otherwise abusing your children publicly (I shudder to think what you do in private) then this is for you...

There is absolutely NO excuse for your behavior. None whatsoever. Zero. Zip. I don't care what excuse you make, I will not accept it. Go ahead and try me. I can counter you excuse for excuse. In fact, here are a few I've heard that hold absolutely no weight with me: (To clarify:  I'm not talking about normal, run of the mill fussing at your kids or having the occasional inevitable melt down, we all do that. I'm talking about chronic verbal and physical abuse and dismissive and demeaning interactions that demoralize children).

  • The "My parents did it to me and I turned out just fine" excuse. 

Really? You sure about that? If you learned to repeat the behavior of your parents who treated you badly then I would call that a less than stellar outcome. Ask yourself: How did I feel when my parents called me names or didn't listen to me or screamed at me in front of other people or hit me instead of talking to me? Was that okay with you? If so, keep on doing what you're doing. You're continuing a legacy, after all. If that's what you want to pass along down through future generations I suppose that's your prerogative. Only problem is, it doesn't just affect you and yours. It trickles into the lives of everyone around you. It contaminates our society and our ability to communicate productively and peacefully. Your kids learn to speak disrespectfully from you and they learn intolerance from you and they learn to demean others from you and then they go out into the world and spread it around. Then it affects my kids. I guess you think that's "just fine." Well, a lot of us don't happen to agree with you. I'll just speak for myself, here...It is NOT fine with me.

  • The "I don't know any better way" excuse.

Good for you for at least acknowledging that you have a problem but that's just not going to cut it. I have heard this excuse come out of the mouths of many a person. It never ceases to baffle me that someone would be aware that they are hurting their kids because they don't have healthy parenting skills and yet do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about it. Buy a book. Take a class. Ask a friend or mentor for help. Watch a video on YouTube, for crying out loud. Oh, wait...I can hear it now..."I can't afford books." Really? Go to the library. "I don't have time, I'm a single mom." "I'm a busy stay home mom. I have too much on my plate." Poor you...Boo flippin' hoo. How about you make the time. Make it a priority. Give up something. Make an INVESTMENT of your money, time, resources, etc. to become a better parent if it does not come naturally to you. Saying that you don't know of a better way just means that you haven't made the effort to educate yourself because obviously it is not that important to you. There is a better way. Figure it out. Your children are depending on you. So is the rest of the world, by the way.

  • The "It's their fault for getting on my nerves or behaving badly" excuse.

No question. Our children will challenge us, test us, try us and make us temporarily insane from time to time. That's what kids DO. I won't lie...there are moments when I lose my temper and get frustrated and raise my voice at my kids. Everyone does. It just goes with the territory. The question is, who is in control? If you constantly find yourself losing control, then there's your answer. I tried an experiment once and started whispering at my kids while they were in the middle of an argument. They all stopped talking in order to hear what I was saying. Kids get immune to yelling. They tune it out. Let's face it...yelling is not that effective and usually doesn't do much good. There are other approaches that do. The point is that kids behave badly and get on your nerves because they are kids and they don't know better. As parents, we are supposed to set limits and create an environment of learning so that they will learn to control themselves and become responsible little people. Children emulate and model their behavior after their parents. How will they ever learn control from you if you are out of control yourself? Think about it.

And just who do you think you are talking to, anyway? You want to know who you are treating like that? Never mind that they are your kids. Just who are they? Only the future. Just the people you and I will be depending on to sustain us and our world as we grow older. They are only future policy makers and physicians and scientists and skilled laborers who will build the roads and bridges and airplanes and automobiles that carry us around. Potential food growers and world leaders. It's not like they matter or anything, right? Who cares if they have low self esteem and feel like they are no good or stupid or aren't worth bothering with? Seriously...get a clue!

I could go on and on here but I'm not going to. I think you get the point. I get so heated about this because I was raised in a physically and verbally abusive environment. I have every excuse in the world to be a lousy parent but guess what? I'm a good mom because I CHOOSE to be. I'm not perfect by anyone's standards but I'm doing everything in my power to break off the generational curse of abuse, neglect and selfishness that is prevalent in my family history. I choose to make a difference every day because I know it matters so much. Because I love my children so much, I don't just want them to be happy, I want them to be better as a parent than I am. To make better choices than I have. And to pass it down. That is the legacy I want to leave behind.

It's all about perspective. Children are a gift, not a liability or a burden. It's all about how you look at it. As soon as you decided to have children, life ceased being ALL ABOUT YOU. You are not just 'you' anymore. Raising your children is the most important thing you will ever do. Don't take it lightly. You will have to make sacrifices. You will have to give things up. You will have to put some things on the shelf for a while. Your life will be taken over completely. Get used to it. Better still, embrace the opportunity to put yourself aside and focus on someone else's needs for a change. It'll be good for you. It's good for all of us to focus on others instead of ourselves. Your children will almost always be a reflection of you. I hope you like what you see in them. If not, I implore you now to make the tough changes you need to make in order to be the best parent you can be. 

You may be asking yourself "what is in it for me?" Simply...love. The unconditional, beautiful, pure kind that only comes from the beautiful hearts of your children. They are full of it. They want to pour it out for you if you would just be willing to receive it and return it in the same spirit with which it is offered. Just like the love of God, it is offered freely and it is up to you whether you choose to accept it and embrace it or scorn and reject it. There are long lasting and powerful consequences to either choice. I recommend you choose wisely.

You may be thinking I should mind my own business. I'll just toss that right back to you. Mind your business so that I (and everyone else around you) won't end up having to mind it for you someday in numerous ways. If you don't like my tone, that's unfortunate. Kids are serious business to me. Anyway, it's just my opinion. Worth what you paid for it.

**end of rant**