Monday, April 24, 2017

When I Was OK With Dirty Teeth.

So, it's been a long weekend. We traveled four hours back to Louisiana on Friday and then the four hours back home to Florida late Saturday night and then had a big, long, good day at church yesterday. It was a weekend filled with family and crawfish and Popeyes and potlucks and post-church service foyer games of tag, BUT IT WAS LONG. 

We got home last night and the looming idea of the kid's bedtime routine made me want to carve my eyeballs out with a spoon. The brushing and flossing and flouride-ing.  Then the Bible reading and the praying and the cuddling and kissing and re-tucking-in-ing. It's like a whole big, 30 minute process in our house and most nights, I can totally do it. But y'all- last night- IT SO WASN'T GONNA HAPPEN. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets burned out by the bedtime routine thing.) Something was going to have to give. I needed to shave some time from our routine, and given the fact that we'd just been at church FOR LIKE ALL DAY, our Bible study time was looking like it was going to be on the chopping block. Please don't judge me for my honesty here, y'all- but skipping the 15 minute reading and just going straight to prayers and cuddles after the tooth brushing montage was looking mighty tempting. 

But then it didn't. 

I thought about it some more, and realizing that as exhausted as I was and as ready as I was for the day to be DONE, I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to open His word with the kids so I decided to trim the time from another area AND I SENT MY KIDS TO BED WITH DIRTY TEETH INSTEAD. I know, that given my past history with my kids and cavities that foregoing the nightly dental cleansing routine IS NOT IDEAL. On the nights when I, the item I usually skip over is our Bible reading because in my mind- cavity prevention thing trumps all the things, but last night I realized that I'd rather spend time cleaning their hearts instead. 

I'll do better tonight and they'll go to bed with clean teeth AND hearts, but last night I gave myself permission to break the rules and I felt SO MUCH LESS GUILT over not brushing their teeth than I do when we skip studying and just pray together instead. So tonight I'll do it all, but it felt good to feel good about choosing the right, best choice for us last night. And if one night of dirty teeth leads to a mouth full of cavities, it'll be worth it. 

I'm going to work hard this week to make better and wiser and more Godly parenting decisions. (And to brush all the teeth in our house twice a day, EVERY DAY. Bless it)  

Happy Monday, y'all! 

Friday, March 24, 2017

I Can't Eat That.

So y'all, I love apple pie. LOVE IT. It's superior to both peach and lemon. You'll never convince me otherwise. IT IS FACT.

So what would happen if some sweet neighbor lady (because we live in an amazing neighborhood and it's basically a 2017 version of Mayberry) bakes me an apple pie and brings it warm from the oven to my house with a half gallon of Homemade Vanilla Blue Bell (again, superior to all other store bought ice creams- there is no room for debate) a cuts me slice that would make Paula Deen proud but JUST AS I WAS ABOUT TO TAKE MY FIRST BITE tells me that during her assembly a roach crawled into it and bless her heart, she tried- but she just couldn't get it out.

But she promises me it was a teeny, tiny roach and that I'd really, REALLY have to look hard to find it, and that if she would have never told me about it before I ate it I'd probably miss it all together- Do you think I'd still eat it? Do you think I'd still feed it to my kids? Ain't no way. You can come over and have a slice and be our guest, but I'll have to pass.

Now when all is said and done, YOU BETTER BELIEVE I'm gonna pour some Community Dark Roast over a spoonful of that Blue Bell because ice cream coffee is like manna from heaven. Go try it and see if I'm wrong...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

CAN I Be Their Guest??

In a recent interview, director Bill Condon has shed light on Disney's plans for their first homosexual character/plot line in the upcoming live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. 

Let's talk about it.

Here's the thing: I've spent untold and countless hours degrading my mind with garbage in books and on TV and through social media. I was Downton Abby's biggest fan and they included homosexuality during the very first episode. Friends and Seinfeld are two huge favorites of mine and they are both filled TO THE TOP with premarital sex and promiscuity. Don't even get me started on the hilarity that is Anchorman or Bridesmaids. (I'm ashamed to even admit how funny I found those movies.) And man y'all- even Andy Griffith includes the town drunk, Otis, bless his heart. 

There is and has always been some level of sinful behavior displayed on just about every television show/film produced nowadays. (Except maybe When Calls the Heart. Nerd alert: I love that show!) And some of those shows are soon good and well written and fun to watch- I totally get it. I do. It's so hard! So see here, friends- I'm chief of all y'all when it comes to filling my mind with images and situations that are pointless, empty, degrading and vile. I'm like the Paul of awful past television/entertainment choices. And that's what makes drawing a line in the sand with this movie so hard because I feel like one ginormous hypocrite.

My heart is broken! And y'all, I hesitate to even publicly take that position because I'm worried that there will be friends and family who will fear that I'm gonna judge them with an all seeing eye if their decision about the film is different than mine. 

So please hear me now: Pick it or Pass- I will still love you.

And y'all, as far as Beauty and the Beast: This "gay moment" could range from overt to subtle and I'm sure that at the end of the day, I will have seen way worse on cable television but here's the thing: THERE HAS TO BE A LINE SOMEWHERE and for me, Bill Condon just helped me draw it.

I don't know where your line is- that's the beauty of you having your own individual faith. I'm not going to sit here, drink my 4th 5th cup of coffee for the day and tell you that you can't go see a movie that's got a man struggling with the temptation of same sex attraction. I can't split that hair and condemn you for watching something with that particular sin and then justify my watching a show that deals with a different sin like drug addiction or gluttony or premarital sex because sin is sin is sin. I'm not going to start nitpicking through exactly what is or isn't appropriate for you to watch on television because by doing that I'm taking away your free will and turning myself into a legalistic judge and jury. And that ain't right!

I will say, however what I've realized for myself today- that going to a movie or watching television or reading books that normalize sinful lifestyles and glorifies choices that are in opposition to my beliefs as a Christian is wrong. That's where my line is. You've got to seek out your line for yourself just like I did for me earlier this morning. (And it wasn't easy. I recommend a Bible opened up at Paul's letters to the early church, a cup of strong coffee and some cookies. The cookies are because I may eat my feelings sometimes.)

Here's the kicker, y'all: The thing that's affecting me more than opting to skip this beautifully shot adaptation (I'm pretty sure I'm responsible for at least 17,925 individual YouTube views of the trailer. SO PRETTY.) of my most beloved childhood movie is how drawing this line in the sand will affect my FUTURE entertainment choices. I don't want to be lame, or backwards, or out-of-touch, but something's gotta give! I can't keep filling my mind with situations that paint sin as socially acceptable or fornication as love. I realize that my Netflix queue is going to be drastically reduced. It stinks. (Especially now since they've pulled Murder She Wrote.) I've still got lots more pruning to do on my heart. My conscience has been pricked today and I'm still not sure how deeply it goes so I'm going to have to keep digging.

So let's turn down the instinct to judge others' movie and television choices and let's hone in on our own hearts. Let's dig into The Word and focus on what He tells us and decide for ourselves where our own lines are. Start in Galatians 5. Drop the accusing finger pointing and use that energy to find your own balance- I know that's what I'll be doing. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What Was I Thinking??

It's nearly 5pm on a rainy stormy Tuesday afternoon. It's been pouring for over two hours and the kids are going bananas crazy with the thunder and lightning. Popcorn and puzzle pieces are strewn from here to kingdom come and I'm pretty sure the dog is wearing his leash and I DO NOT KNOW WHY. 

I've been home from Bible Class with zero additional plans for leaving the homestead since about 11:30 this morning and I looked down about twenty minutes ago and realized that I WAS STILL WEARING MY SKINNY JEANS. It's like my brain had temporarily left my body.  My mantra is this: No Real Plans= No Real Pants. In my book, unnecessarily cutting yourself in half with the Denim Demons that are sometimes referred to as skinny jeans is an unforgivable sin. WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF IF IT ISN'T NECESSARY??

 I remedied the situation by immediately peeling them off my poor, tired midsection and promptly replaced them with my most steadfast and trustworthy pair of yoga pants. It was like my whole body, no- MY WHOLE BEING exhaled. Bless it. 

I've poured myself a cup of collagen coffee, topped it with a generous squirt of Fat Free Redi Whip and have settled down for 90 minutes of animated Disney distraction with my three hoodlums- I mean "blessings".

The storm is going to pass, supper will get fixed, the kids will bathe and bedtime will come AND UNTIL THEN- my elastic waisted confidant, my caffeinated companion and The Holy Spirit will hold my hand and see me through. 

Hallelujah. Amen. 

::sips coffee::

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lingering at The Cross

So I'm nearing the end of The Gospels and it's usually around these chapters that I push myself through The Hard Parts of Jesus' trial and beatings and crucifixion so I can get to The Empty Tomb as quickly as possible. 

It's painful to walk that path with Peter, to feel his fear and bitter anger. To watch as Judas' despair literally kills him. To listen as Jesus stands silent against his abusers and endures torture my mind can not fathom. Watching him stumble up the road to Golgotha and seeing him give John the responsibility of caring for Mary (ALL THE MOM FEELINGS) hurts me.

 I can not stand near the foot of The Cross and remain unchanged. It strips my heart and leaves me raw and exposed while I wait those long three days for sunrise. I normally work and read to get myself to The Garden Tomb as quickly as possible, but not this time. This time I'm going to allow myself to wear thin. To feel the scourging. The denial. THE PAIN. The loneliness and abandonment because I realized that by rushing through The Bad to get to The Good, I can take away The Weight of what His sacrifice really means. 

So, for today and tomorrow and the next day, I'm going to be feeling all my feelings. I'm going to be journaling and weeping and drinking an extra cup of coffee here in my chair while I allow myself to feel The Price of my sin because The Freedom that I have in Him is even more compelling when I stop and breathe and look at what it really cost. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Be A Barnabas.

I've never been good at keeping resolutions, so a few years ago, I decided to stop making them and the same holds true as I begin 2017. So while I won't be making any grandiose proclamations, I have decided to start a new and encouraging habit: letter writing. 

I love, love, LOVE to receive snail mail. Seeing a handwritten return address on an envelope addressed to me positively sends my heart fluttering. Seeing that sweet little square waiting for me to open And I know I'm not the only one! 

Life can be hard for me sometimes. There are hours and days and stretches of homeschooling and squabbling and cleaning up the same series of messes day after day that can really start to weigh me down. (All you SAHM or homeschoolers, I know you know what I mean. And even if you're not, I know you understand the feeling of insanity that creeps up every time one of your precious bundles of joy decide to fight over a two inch piece of broken crayon or the stale animal cracker someone found under a toy doll house. Or wait, does that sort of thing only happen in my house?) 

The hamster wheel of routine becomes monotonous and it's easy to slip into a valley of deflation and dejection and if I'm being totally transparent- DEPRESSION. And an idea to combat that came to me last week- I'm going to bless myself by blessing others. 

I've just gone out and purchased a cute and LARGE box of blank Hallmark cards. There are 50 of them! That'll give me just about one card to mail every week for this entire year!! That means that every week, when my three hoodlum children are acting like fools and the dog has vomited on the rug and the hamster has escaped AGAIN and two-digit subtraction has made me want to pull my hair out or shave my eyebrows off on desperation- I WON'T HAVE TO, because I'll be able to stop, sit down, drink a cup (or twelve) of coffee, turn the focus off of myself and onto someone else while I get ready to surprise that special someone with a note of encouragement. 

For 15 minutes I will stop thinking of myself and my insane house and the two day old laundry in the dryer and start thinking of others. And I have found that there's no better way to turn my attitude around than by changing my focus. Constantly thinking only of myself is not only selfish, but it's dangerous. By turning my eye to others and focusing on how to encourage and bless them, I'll be encouraging and blessing myself. It's a win/win, y'all! (Thanks in advance for helping me make sure I'm not a melancholy, self absorbed freak this year. You're awesome. ::wink::) 

So you see, y'all are going to help me be a Barnabas this year. And THAT GUY KNEW HOW TO LIFT PEOPLE UP, amIright?? (Check out the story of how he helped the church in Antioch in Acts 11:19-26. Spoiler alert: VERSE 23 IS MY FAVORITE.)  And so by being that encourager and that friend, I'll become encouraged as well. And like I said before, my house is at best a well trained circus and at worst a zoo without cages. I need all the opportunities possible to push the focus away from myself and onto blessing someone else. So I've got 50 blank cards waiting to send out this year. Can I send you one?? 

Happy 2017, y'all!! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

But I'd Promised Him Waffles.

Little known fact: I HATE SYRUP. 

Wait. That sounded wrong. I don't hate syrup, per se- I really, really, really enjoy syrup. Especially the maple kind that comes from New Hampshire. (Shout out to my bestie's Mom for hooking me up again this year with that delicious Yankee goodness. I am deeply spoiled. Y'all, she also sent bacon. ::drops mic::)

So I love syrup, (obviously) because I have a soul and functional taste buds BUT I HATE SYRUP because I have three young kiddos and anyone that's ever topped a pancake or drizzled a waffle or crowned a biscuit with the stuff knows that the very second you crack open a bottle of the stuff around kids it's immediately everywhere. The bathroom doorknob is sticky. The television screen is sticky. The dog is sticky. The book on the a shelf in a room behind a locked door IS STICKY. I don't know what sort of voodoo magic kids possess for random stickiness, but mine have it. 

And it 

They'll scrape their plates in the trashcan (and coat it with long dribbles of syrup) then carry them to the sink (leaving a trail of sugar droplets on the floor just waiting to be stepped on) then go wash their hands (touching everything from the couch to the walls to the ceiling on their way). Oh, and before you ask, I've tried wiping and washing and wishing away the syrup from their fingers at the table, but it only does a marginal amount of good in the Random Stickiness Department. Somehow, some way they can still manage to spread that liquid sugared goodness on at least 12 available surfaces. It's a gift. Or like I said- voodoo magic. 

So yeah, I hate syrup. Which brings me to my point. 

At bedtime on a previous night, I had bribed promised my youngest a warm, homemade waffle for breakfast if he'd settle down and go to sleep. He was ecstatic (because he is, after all, my son) and immediately put his angelic red head on the pillow and drifted off into a sugar plum wonderland filled with bacon and maple syrup. He slept like a cherub that night. BUT HIS OLDEST SIBLING DID NOT. 

By 11:30pm I was cleaning vomit from no less than three rooms of my house. I was running puke saturated towels through the washer with an extra rinse/sanitize cycle and holding throw up bowls and rubbing backs and blowing post projectile vomit noses and watching Curious George with him until approximately 3am. I eventually fell asleep on the couch with him after watching more television than I'd ever want to watch between the hours of midnight to 3am and woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a bus. It was a decidedly unbeautiful morning. 

7:30 rolled around and my precious carrot top calls out from his room "Momma! I see the sun! Is it time for maaah waffles now??" And OH MY SWEET MERCIFUL HEAVENS I WANTED TO CRY. There were so many things that I did not want to do that morning, and whisking flour and warm milk and eggs into batter and watching for that little green light on top of our waffle maker was only one of them. Bless it. 

But here's the thing- I'd already promised him waffles. He wasn't the one up sick all night. He went to bed. He slept quietly. He did his job. I couldn't back down on my end of the deal. God always fulfills His promises to us, and when it's feasibly in my power, I want to parent my kids that way, too. Sure, it would have been easier to fix them toast or cereal or throw them candy canes and marshmallows, but what would that have taught him about my consistency? About my validity? About my laziness versus my desire to keep a promise? I didn't want to break his trust just because I was tired. 

We've been going through an interesting phase in our house lately. There are some boundaries that are being tested and pushed and experimented with and some attitudes that are beginning to show signs of flippancy and maybe even a hint of disrespect. (Shocking, I know, because I'm sure there is nobody else out there who has had one of their perfect little snowflakes answer in whiny tones or develop a terrible case of selective hearing.) I don't know if it's an age thing or a hormonal thing or a too-much-Christmas-excitement thing, but I pulled my trump card last week and had a serious (and literal) come to Jesus with the offending boundary pusher. I'd recently studied on my own several accounts of Paul's instructions to families in Ephesians and Colossians in an attempt to sort of realign my focus as a parent so I sat down and shared those scriptures with them as well. 

I didn't start with the typical "Children, obey your blah, blah, blah..." ones, but instead focused on what God was telling me, as their parent, through Paul's letters. I told them that God had given me a goal and a duty and a JOB to train them and discipline them and coach them and show them Jesus. To be an example to them on how to live a Christ like life. How I'd been convicted lately for the times I raised my voice unnecessarily or lost my temper over unimportant things or overreacted to innocent mistakes. I started my conversation with them by sort of lifting the veil and letting them see how I truly and honestly want to be the best parent and example I can be and that I still mess it up sometimes. I pointed out my flaws and weaknesses and areas that I ask God to help me do better. And then I showed them the specific scriptures I study to help focus my vision onto those goals. How I don't want to be a Mom that frustrates her kids (See last scripture at bottom of post. Paul can throat punch a Mom for inconstancy, y'all. It's painful. But good, too.) by saying one thing, then acting differently. It was only after that revelation, that honesty, that laid bareness that I brought up the other side to Paul's instructions- what he wanted children to know. 

"And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." -Paul, Ephesians 6:4

We talked about the promise God makes when He says it will "be well" with them and they will have a "long life" because of their honor and obedience. We talked about how many blessings God wants to give us when we obey His will and put our focus on being like Him. We talked about what it means to obey, even when you might not understand the reasoning behind it. We talked about Abraham and his faith to begin the journey God led him on. We talked about Solomon and what he had to say in Proverbs about guarding our hearts and our minds and the power of our tongues. How strong the words we say are and how much hurt or healing we can speak with them. I used real life examples of things I've said to them that both hurt them when I lost my temper and raised my voice and also built them up when I was encouraging and compassionate. I opened their eyes to realize and see that their words have the same power. And then, when we were both done crying and apologizing- we prayed. We confessed our sinful attitudes and asked God to give us strength to do better. And we are doing better. 

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." -Solomon, Proverbs 18:21

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the Earth." -Paul, Ephesians 6:1-3

"Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord." -Paul, Colossians 3:20

So early that post-vomit-apocolypse morning, when my youngest asked me to fulfill the promise I'd made to him after he'd come through on his end of the bargain, as tired as I was and as much as I hated the thought of the mess it would leave, I made him waffles anyway. 

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart." -Paul, Colossians 3:21