Category Archives: Family

I am a Patient Soul! No seriously!

Speaking of vision boards.

My theme for 2014 has been patience. I pasted, “I am a patient soul” in the center of my board. I was trying to do that thing where you speak life, purpose, vision… Yeah.

If you’re a Christian or have ever been around a Christian, you’ve probably heard us warn the less initiated about prayers for patience. Typically God answers that request with “opportunities for growth.” Apparently one learns patience by facing challenges. By being confronted with real-life scenarios that fly in the face of any naive imaginings about holiness and personal enlightenment. (I’m not bitter!)

I have a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. And, my God, it’s hard. For seven years I rejected the diagnosis. I tried to speak life, purpose, vision into my child and into our home. I prayed and fasted. I cast out demons. Seriously.

Paul wrote a letter to the people in Corinth about a troubling issue, a “thorn in his side.” He wrote about how he earnestly asked God to remove it, until finally God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” In the very next sentence Paul wrote, “most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” But I wonder how much time passed between God’s “no” and Paul’s boasting. Was it a couple seconds, or days… or months? Because when I realized God was pretty much saying the same thing to me, I spent a couple years being angry with Him.

Fast forward to this year, and the whole “patient soul” thing. The anger has passed, but in the meantime, I have never been so… challenged. At least once a week I wish I hadn’t put it on my board–even though I know I had to. I mean, it wasn’t my idea to put it there. It had to be on my board.

This isn’t one of those posts where I’ve got it all figured out. It’s true, I’m no longer angry at God, but I ain’t boasting yet! I know God has invited me to call myself patient because He has something in mind. With each difficult encounter I have to choose to trust that God’s grace is enough, that my weakness is the perfect vessel for his strength. It’s hard! I sometimes struggle to believe any good can come of this.

But I’ve seen God do more with less.

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He Picked Me | January 12, 2010

Today is my husband’s birthday.

This morning as we held each other, I thought of him when I first met him: A gangly 16-year-old with a gumby haircut! We were in 12th grade chemistry together. He had a crush on my friend; I had a baby-daddy, so I didn’t think twice about him. When and how did that change? I never dreamed he would be my husband the first time I saw him. (That skinny kid was destined to be my husband … so strange!) Yet he began calling me his wife two months after we met, at least four years before we started dating.

I don’t know why he chose to love me. I mean, isn’t that weird? To choose someone and love them? Why me? What a devoted man–mine for more than half his life, mine before I was even his.

This morning when I thought of him, I thought of our life together. So many valleys, so many fights and struggles and tears. How far we’ve come! How far God has brought us! So much has changed, and so much is the same. That gangly 16-year-old is 37 today, not so gangly anymore. He’s still funny and goofy. No man has ever made me laugh the way he does–that has never changed. And he’s so good-looking! I love it when women look at him with admiration. Go ‘head, look! It feels so good to be secure in his love. I couldn’t always say that.

He’s a grown man, my husband, the father of my children–all of them, even those who do not physically share his DNA. So strange to see him grown up now, fathering. He constantly tells me how much he loves me, how beautiful I am, how talented I am. He makes me feel special, and I’m not sure I deserve that.

He’s mine. He picked me. Wow.

Happy birthday my love.

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Wonderful Asking

In the early days of my salvation, I prayed for God to show me things from His perspective. I knew my attitude toward many things–including my marriage–was poor, and I wanted that to change.

That night I was feeling “put-upon” by my husband. As we lay in bed, he reached out and began to rub my back. I knew what that meant!

I silently prayed, “See Father? He only touches me when he wants something!” To which I heard the response, “What a wonderful way to ask for something, by giving it first!”

Blew my mind. And I find that simple sentence to be true in so many ways, beginning with Jesus asking me for my life by giving His first.

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Happy Moms!

I was practically skipping as I left Sears today. Why? Because I walked out with two new, free pairs of jeans. And I didn’t steal ’em! So I have two shout-outs today.

The first goes to Sears. They have a Kidvantage program that guarantees if your child wears out his Sears clothes or shoes, they’ll replace them with an item of the the same size and comparable price, no questions asked. Now, my 11-year-old is known the world over as the Destroyer of Jean Knees. He can blow out a perfectly good pair of pants in a single bound (i.e. 1-3 months). After I learned about the Kidvantage program, I bought jeans from Sears in August 2008. DJ just got the first rip in the knee last week. Seven months … that’s a miracle in and of itself! But then, to walk into Sears and just replace them–with no more hassle than it took to find his size and take them to the register: Priceless! Sears, you rock. As long as my kids are kids, Sears has my loyalty.

My other shout out is to my girl Nikki. I found out about Sears’ Kidvantage program because of her blog. And that’s not all! Truth is, I’ve learned many “mommy helpers” from Nikki’s blog entries. It’s so cool that we get to share experiences in this way when I only generally see her once a week at church–and even then it’s in passing! She’s willing to share about the seemingly mundane things that we (women, moms) deal with every day. They’re small things, but they matter in a big way.

The truth is, the advice of moms in the trenches like Nikki is so much more meaningful than some random advertisement or circular. I would never have known about Kidvantage, or Always Infinity, or glutein-free diets, if not for her! And I know there have been times I’ve shared knowledge with other moms, and other moms have shared their knowledge with me. It’s a circle of “mom-tested” dependability that, frankly, good marketers should seek out.

More than that, it’s proof of the beauty of God’s gift of community. So thank you Nikki, and all you other moms who contributed to making me proud to be a mom and a woman and a blogger today!

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Angry Moms

19178313I read an interesting article in Parenting Magazine a couple weeks back, and I decided right then to discuss it on my blog! The article’s called “Mad at Dad,” and it appeared in their February 2009 School Years issue.

Here’s an excerpt:

These are the kinds of things we see parodied on TV sitcoms, where bumbling husbands get laughs for feeding the kids frosting sandwiches and sending them to school in scuba gear. These are the kinds of things we moan and groan about when we get together with our other mom friends, often playing our irritations for laughs. Honestly though, it’s not that funny. None of us signed up to live in a sitcom. [Emphasis mine.]

The article goes on to share the results of a survey of over 1,000 mothers. The results surprised me. I honestly thought my frustration was a rarity. I assumed most families were trucking happily along, that in this day and age most dads were doing their fair share to bring about a happy home. Based on the results, there are a lot of guys who are doing it right. However, more moms than I thought are angry. And now that I know I’m not alone, I want to talk about it.

Here are some of the mom statistics (of the 1,000+ women surveyed):

  • 46% get irate with their husbands once a week or more.
  • 44% say dads don’t notice what needs to be done around the house or with the kids. (This figure jumps to 54% for moms with 3 or more kids.)
  • 40% say their husbands seem clueless about the best way to take care of kids.
  • 31% say their husbands don’t help with the chores.
  • 33% say their husbands aren’t shouldering equal responsibility.
  • 50% say their husbands get more time for themselves.
  • 60% don’t tell their friends what they’re going through.

Okay people, here’s the deal. Rather than let this become a bashfest (and it very easily could–with me as the ringleader), what I really want is perspective. This is 2009! I thought we were past this whole “Me man, me drink beer; you woman, you barefoot, make baby and sandwiches” thing!*

This is what I want to know:

  • Men, seriously. Do you* really not notice these things? If the answer is an honest no, hasn’t your wife mentioned them? If so, why aren’t you doing anything about it?
  • Perhaps men* believe this is what women were “meant” to do, so we should just suck it up and do it. But if we’re really meant to be satisfied with this, why aren’t we? More importantly, does it matter to you that we aren’t satisfied?
  • Maybe men* believe they’ve done their share at the office. But … we work too, whether it’s in the office or at home with the kids! Let’s be real here!

I’m just not buying the assertion that because I’m a woman, I have some special perspective on parenting and household duties. Men are intelligent, strong, able-bodied… What’s the deal? Is this stuff really that confusing?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it. Ladies, some of you may disagree, but here it is:

Men, we need you. We need your strength, but we also need your tenderness and concern. We need to see a side of you that nobody else sees. We need to know you care, and we need to see your care in your actions. When we’re overwhelmed with the kids, the house, the job, et cetera, we need you to show us we’re not alone. We need you to share the load; we’re not meant to carry it by ourselves. And when we’re feeling upset, we don’t need a bouquet! Flowers can’t possibly compare to a man with a mop in his hand. (Unless he has already mopped.)

Thoughts? Perspectives? Opinions?

*DISCLAIMER: I know, I know. This isn’t directed at all men. More than that, the statistics only represent one side of the story. Further, these are the women’s perspectives, not necessarily reality. Finally, the statistics make it clear that these feelings aren’t shared by all women. So if this doesn’t apply to you, go in peace!

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A Conversation Between Husband and Wife

I receive an email from an old friend I reconnected with from elementary school. I smile and occasionally laugh as I read it. My husband walks in.

DERWIN: Watcha doin’?

ME: Reading an e-mail.

DERWIN: How come you don’t laugh and smile when you read my e-mails?

ME: Look at this! [I point at the screen, demonstrating the e-mail’s hefty, detail-filled length by scrolling up and down with the mouse.]  It’s about her life! There’s actual stuff in it!

DERWIN: No, you just don’t care about my e-mails like you care about everyone else’s. I see how it is.

ME: What? You barely send me e-mails, and when you do they’re, like, one line! You don’t tell me about your life either! Plus when I e-mail you, you don’t even reply half the time!

DERWIN: Fine. I’m going to send you an e-mail about my life.

ME: Yes! Send me an e-mail about your life! And your feelings!

[Derwin rushes out of the bedroom and to his computer. Five minutes later he comes back and looks at me expectantly.]

ME: You couldn’t have sent me anything worth reading that fast … [I check my e-mail. This is attached.]

This is why I love my husband!

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Ugly, Hard, Messy Lessons

The other day my 10-year-old son got in trouble in school again.

His troubles began when he was 2. My sweet, precocious and very active little boy suddenly began having tantrums. My husband and I were separated at the time, and I was pregnant. I attributed this out-of-the-ordinary behavior to his age and the circumstances.

But it never stopped.

Eight years later, he’s been kicked out of four child care providers and has been suspended from school several times. It’s not a normal week if I don’t have at least one conversation with my son’s teacher, assistant principal or principal. I have these horrible, tense conversations with the adults in his life, listening as they describe his latest failure, and I feel their judgment. I feel their blame, and I fight the urge to wheedle.

So when DJ came home from another rough day, I sent him to his room to wait for me. When I went in, he was sitting on the floor wrapped in three blankets, his face and head covered.

“Why are you sitting there like that?” I asked. He took the blanket from his face and looked at me.

“I don’t want to be this way.” I could hear the truth of his words in his voice. “But I feel like I can’t change.” There were tears, but not the hysterical kind. They were resigned tears. My heart broke (again).

I sat down on his bed and invited him to sit next to me. We talked about how hard it is to change our thinking and our actions, how it’s like making a new path in a wildly overgrown wilderness. We talked about Jesus, about the power the Holy Spirit gives us to change. We talked about how it’s not easy. As we talked, I looked down at his knees, knobby and ashy and small, next to my own. I put my arms around him and I held him very tightly for a long time. I thought of the people who only know him as a trouble-maker, and I wished they could see him now. This little boy is my son, my baby, and he’s worth loving and knowing! This isn’t a choice for him! I feel like I’m the only person who knows that or cares to know that … and even I forget sometimes.

I disciplined him. Then I hugged him again, and I left the room.

It’s not always like this. Most of the time I’m impatient with him. Most of the time I’m angry with him. Over the years I’ve sobbed, I’ve raged, I’ve pleaded. I’ve been defensive and embarrassed. I’ve been sad and scared. I’ve been fierce and I’ve been torn. I’ve been depressed, and I’ve been indifferent.

This year in particular I’ve been angry at God. How much did I have to pray before he would make all this go away? How much faith did I need? Didn’t he care that our lives were miserable? I came within inches of abandoning my relationship with the Lord. I mean, the skin of my teeth, you know?

In the meantime, I have prayed generally for patience (an area of great weakness for me) since I got saved. I’ve prayed to see people through Christ’s eyes, to love the way he loves. I want to be this great Christian and I want God to answer all my pious, silly prayers …

The other day my 19-year-old son said he wanted to join the military. He wanted to be an officer, so he wouldn’t have to salute people, they’d have to salute him. I said, “Why do you always want the shortcut to the perks, but you’re not willing to do the hard work to earn them?”

Speak for yourself, Sparky. What a dumb-ass I am.

Look, if this is what it is … and it is … then what am I doing? Sitting around being pissed at God instead of learning to love my son the way Christ loves him and me: patiently, overarchingly, graciously, hopefully, and consistently. I don’t believe God sends hard things solely to teach us a lesson. On the other hand, I don’t know why this is our lot. But it is. Ugly and hard and messy as it is, I just won’t waste it anymore. I don’t think it’s a situation God created solely to answer my prayers. But the situation itself has created an opportunity for God to answer my prayers. So if there’s a lesson in this somewhere, if nothing else, I want to learn it.

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Sweet

I’m sitting in church, snuggled in my husband’s chest, his arm around me, listening. We haven’t done this in so long … sat in church together and listened. We don’t get to sit together anymore. Too busy.

Our anniversary was the day before. We had a big fight. It was about 87% my fault. I suck. But he’s here holding me, and I feel alright. I feel like he’s holding me because he wants to, not because he has to.

I wish our marriage could be like this all the time.

Now the speaker’s calling me out and he doesn’t even know it. My eyes are trying to well up, but I’m taking command of my emotions and holding the tears hostage under pain of injury! You will not cry, I insist. Phew. Crisis averted.

Now the speaker’s inviting us posers to turn ourselves in at the altar. Great. I’m gonna cry, I just know it. Oh well, it is what it is.

“I’ll be right back,” I say to my husband. I join a bunch of strangers rushing for the altar, and I carefully fold myself onto the floor and sing along with “Lead Me to the Cross.” Why that song? I freakin’ love that song. Here come the tears and snot.

The service is over, but church is still happening. Derwin comes over, and he kneels on one knee and holds me with his good arm. His chest is behind me like a sturdy wall, and his shoulder is like a corner where I can hide my face, and his arm is like a strong ledge I can rest on. It was safe to cry with Derwin all around me. It was very lovely, very sweet.

I’ve known Derwin since I was a child. Now he’s my husband. We’re grown ups on the outside, but we’re still children inside. I love him so much.

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Catch-Up

Hey y’all. W’sup.

I know I’ve been underground lately. Sorry. Life has been sort of marching on, and I’ve felt like I’m working too hard to keep up with the daily grind to dedicate any brain power to blogging. Sad, I know. Forgive me.

So here’s what’s been going on:

  1. My oldest son graduated from high school. I know, right? I’m way too young to be the mother of a high school graduate. (Anyway, that’s what I keep telling people.) When it was Kyle’s turn, I remembered a moment from when he was about 18 months old. My mom used to get him ready for me before school and send him out when she was finished. On this particular day he strolled out of my mom’s room (with his cute little baby legs) wearing a little white turtleneck and bright blue overalls. His hair was freshly brushed and his face freshly lotioned, so he was all shiny and clean and adorable. And to top it all off, he was carrying a huge Red Delicious apple that was too big for his little hands. I took a mental picture of him that morning, and that’s the picture that popped into my head as my GROWN MAN bopped across the stage and took his diploma. Sniffle.
  2. My mom and dad just left from a week-long visit. They came down from Massachusetts and enjoyed the freakishly hot Carolina weather. They also spent an inordinate amount of money on their kids and grandkids. I also had a rather frightening realization while they were here: They’re getting older! My dad drives like an old man with a hat. (Everyone knows if you get stuck driving behind an old man wearing a hat, you might as well take your foot off the gas and add 15 minutes to your travel time. I thank my aunt, Gilli, for this proven wisdom.) ‘Course, he does wear a hat … and he’s got grey in his mustache and beard. What the! They’re not allowed to get old. I’ll have to send them a memo.
  3. My parents are now Wii-addicts. I never thought I’d see the day my parents would station themselves in front of the TV and play video games as the day wiled away. But this day (and a couple more like it) arrived this past Wednesday. Like any good dealer, I offered to let them test it first. “Just try it; I think you’ll like it, but if you don’t, we’ll turn it off.” Suckers! Within 15 minutes my mom was like, “This is FUN! We need one of these for the boys!” [i.e. the grandkids back home.] Meanwhile as my mom’s playing tennis, my dad’s all, “You’ve got to use your backhand,” etc. I just sat back and watched as he was sucked into the allure of Wii Sports Tennis. Before long he too was a Wii-head. The best part was making their Miis. They looked just like them!
  4. In fact, I’m addicted to making Miis. I’ve made Miis of all my co-workers. I’m having trouble with April’s, but everyone elses look just like them. Giggle!
  5. I’m taking this ministry course that at first I wanted no part of. It’s about joining people in their pain so you can minister to them. It’s also about recognizing our own junk and learning how to unravel it. Now, I’m no counselor and have no desire to be, so I didn’t want to take this course. But after the first class I was blown away by all I learned and very excited. However, after the second week I’m ambivalent again, though for a different reason: I have junk. I’ve worked very, very hard to avoid that junk. I built a fortress around it, locked it up and hid the key so carefully even I didn’t know where it was. And now, with this course, God is like, “Oh wait … here’s the key! Yeah, I’ve had it all along, by the way. And … we’re tearing down the fortress.” Greaat.
  6. We went to see Kung Fu Panda. SEE IT! It’s hilarious! Plus I love Jack Black, so.
  7. We went to see the new Indiana Jones. Um … wait for Network TV on that one.
  8. We went to see The Incredible Hulk. Um … wait for it to come to the dollar theater.

Anyhoo, I’ll write again soon, promise!

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“She Baw-heh”

Okay, this might be a black thing. I don’t know.

But yesterday morning, my husband and were lying in bed making stupid funnies about my “baw-heh,” (or “bald head” in the King’s English).

I made a joke at my husband’s expense (those are always fun), and he retaliated with, “So, you baw-heh.”

I laughed. “Baw-heh? You sound like a little kid on the playground!” Then I became that little black kid on the playground, retaliating from a remark some other kid made with, “So, I don’t care, you baw-heh!'”

We giggled. Derwin came back with, “So, yo’ momma’s bawl-heh!”

We guffawed! I responded in the classic childhood taunt song, “Yo momma’s baw-heh, yo momma’s baw-heh!” (To the tune of “I Got Some Ice-Cream” by Eddie Murphy.)

Now we’re cracking up.

I like acting stupid with my husband.

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