Faith

Monday Morning Coffee and a Quote

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Challenge Day 5: My Proudest Moment(s)

My proudest moment is actually a bunch of similar moments that happen over time.

This sounds so cliché, but my proudest moments are seeing my kids step into their gift arena. What I mean by that is I strongly believe that each and every person has been given certain gifts and that we find joy when we are in the throws of using those gifts.

G is gifted at group activity. She doesn’t want to be the star. She wants to be a team player. She’s very good at it. During out years in Nebraska, she was involved in competitive dance. Every time she stepped out onto the stage, I had to make an effort not to literally cry with pride. Likewise, when we moved to Tennessee, she became a member of a huge marching band. F and Z would search my face at the end of the performance to see if I had tears in my eyes. I usually did. We recently went to Texas to see her preach her very first sermon as an intern. Again, I was bursting with pride as she talked to a room of teenagers learning the hard lessons that God tries to teach us.

Band

G’s Senior Year – 2011-12 Nationals in Baltimore

F has been gifted with an abundance of personality and grit. Every time she steps onto the softball field,

Effy warming up before a game.

Effy warming up before a game.

she changes into another person right before my eyes. That grit and determination to win is evident in her eye, and I know she was born to compete.  She’s almost a shape shifter. When she steps onto the stage, she is turns into whatever character she is playing: a hobbit that makes the audience laugh, a bossy school girl who scares all the boys, or a nasty witch’s black cat.  She is also the only kid I’ve met who can actually cry real tears on cue. I’m also a weepy wreck when she’s performing on the field or on stage.

Wee Beastie racing after the ball.

Wee Beastie racing after the ball.

Z is my Wee Beastie, and yes, I get tears in my eyes when I see him doing his thing. He is gifted with incredible athletic talent, and he chooses soccer to develop that talent; although, he can do almost anything after two or three tries. When he was five, he showed a woman selling hula hoop on Navy Pier how to actually hula hoop when he noticed she couldn’t keep it going after two or three spins. The next summer, he won a hula hooping contest at Lulu’s in Gulf Shores, AL. He is an easy going kid who like a physical challenge.

Accomplishments are not the only moments I am proud to call myself their parent. They are just the easiest to identify.  All three of my kids are compassionate human beings – which they didn’t get from me. They don’t like to see people hurting, emotionally or physically. Effy would deny this in a heart beat. She likes people to think she has this hard heart when, in fact, she is moved very deeply by another’s pain.

When they show compassion toward others is another one of my proudest moments.

I am certain that the list maker didn’t intend for the prompt to be answered in such a cliché manner, and I could have easily said that getting my M.A. in English was the proudest moment. That wouldn’t be an un-truth.

These little moments – seeing the joy on my children’s faces as they use their gifts and talents – make me proud because it proves that I did something right. Proverbs 22:6 reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” To many, teaching one’s children about Christ is “the way he should go.” To others, it may also include discipline, teaching one’s children right from wrong.

I agree with both of those interpretations; however, I also find them short sighted. I believe to train one’s child also includes identifying their personalities, their gifts, and their talents and then training them how to use them in a productive manner. I don’t know about your kids, but mine are so very different. Because they are so different, I can’t lump them into the same category and call it quits. Inevitably, one them will not be finding the joy through the use that God intended them to experience when He put them together they way He did.

Therefore, when I witness the joy my children experience when they are in their gift arena, it is my proudest moment. I did something right.

thumbs up

 

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Another Would-Have-Been Anniversary

Today, November 30th, would have been my parents’ 63rd wedding anniversary. They have both passed on, but I remember how I loved to hear my dad tell the story of how they met. The immediacy and desperation of their situation – each trying to care for and support their children a midst crippling poverty, death and divorce – escaped me as I was caught up in the wonder of their chance meeting. Even when I was in high school and thought my parents to be archaic and out of touch with the times, their story enchanted me.

When my father recited the tale of how he met and married my mother all within the month of November, it was always so miraculous, so divinely ordered, and so romantic. It wasn’t until I was out of college that my mother told me her side of the story, and it was all so practical. No divine intervention. Nothing miraculous. Just logical explanation. But that is who my parents were. Dad saw the miraculous. Mom saw the practical.

I am sure to leave something out that is of importance to one of my siblings, because I am sure they have heard the story as often as I have. What I write is what I remember from the stories they told to me.

Dad’s Perspective
Ellis moved his first wife, Bette, and their two children to Houston, TX from Evansville, IN in 1949 because someone had told him the climate was supposed to help his wife’s tuberculosis. It didn’t and he lost his wife in June of 1951. A man new in his Christian faith, Ellis found himself having to care for a 9 year-old daughter, Peggy, and 8 year-old son, Larry. Ellis left their small apartment before the sun rose and didn’t return until well after the sun set, leaving the motherly duties of getting kids ready for and off to school, house cleaning and preparing meals to 9 year-old Peggy. Realizing that it was all too much for his young daughter, Ellis and the children began asking God to send a wife and mother to care for them. They gave no specifics other than a woman that would love them as her own and loved Jesus with all her heart.

One Sunday in early November, Ellis treated his kids to an after-church lunch at the cafeteria in Woolworth’s close to the small apartment he rented. They were seated and he was looking over the menu when the waitress arrived to take their order. Before Ellis could raise his head, Larry yelled, “Mom!” Ellis, shocked at what Larry just called the waitress, received an even bigger shock when he looked up to see a mass of hair affixed to a bony body with lips slathered in bright red lipstick waiting to ask, “My I take your order?” Composing himself, Ellis said, “Yes” and ordered lunch for his little family. Believing Larry’s outburst to be prophetic, Ellis began having a conversation in his head with God. He questioned how this could possibly be the woman for him and his children. She was wearing make-up and working on a Sunday. She was a heathen! But in the quiet of his heart, Ellis knew that Larry was correct. This woman was the answer to their prayers. Ellis decided to do a kind of litmus test and invite her to church. After all, he would not be unequally yoked in marriage to an unbeliever.

When their food arrived, Larry again addressed her as mom. Although feeling the title a tad premature, Ellis thanked her and, before she could walk away, added “One day, I’m going to marry you.” The waitress smiled kindly, asked if there was anything else she could get for them, and then walked away. When the bill came, Ellis asked the waitress if she would go to his church’s evening service with him, and, to his surprise, she said yes. She gave Ellis her address. When he noticed that they lived in the same apartment complex, he took it as divine confirmation that indeed God had handpicked this woman just for him and his children.

Mom and Dad

Ellis and Helen

Later that day, Ellis went to her apartment to pick her up for church. When she opened the door, Ellis was taken aback by the bright red lipstick she was wearing. Composing himself, he told her she couldn’t go to church with him unless she washed it off. She said, “Okay,” went back into the apartment, washed off the lipstick and went to church with Ellis and his kids. Less than a month later, Ellis and the Woolworth’s waitress were married.

Mom’s Perspective
At nineteen, Helen found herself divorced with a 3 year-old son, Charles, and living in Houston, TX. She lived in a small apartment complex and was a waitress at the little cafe in Woolworth’s department store, a job that paid the rent and little else. She had been divorced for about 6 months and wanted to return home to her mother in North Platte, NE, but she could barely scrape enough money together to feed her son after the rent was paid, so there was no possible way she could afford to move back to Nebraska. She was all of 98 pounds and losing weight. She wasn’t sick. She was starving. At times, when the hunger was too much, and she couldn’t feed her son, or make rent, she contemplated prostitution. The thought made her sick, but she had no other recourse and she couldn’t let her son go hungry.

In the apartment complex, there was someone that would watch Charles while Helen worked, an elderly lady that acted as a grandmother and makeshift daycare provider for the children in the complex that were left alone while their parents worked during the day. Charles would stay at the elderly woman’s house until the other children of the complex arrived home from school, and then he would play outside with them until Helen returned home. Helen enjoyed coming home to see her son playing with the other kids. She would stop and chat with a few of the children playing with Charles before she would take him in for the evening. Some of the children began to call her Mom because that is what they heard Charles call her.

One Sunday in early November, Helen had the chance to work an extra shift at the Woolworth’s cafe. She didn’t usually work on Sunday, but she needed the money. She worked the breakfast and lunch shift and would be home in time for supper with her son. During the lunch shift, a man and his children sat down in her section. It wasn’t until she got to the table and the little boy shouted, “Mom!” that she recognized the children. It was the little boy and girl that were always playing with Charles when she got home from work. She didn’t know their names and she had never met their father, so she smiled and greeted the little boy before asking if she could take their order.

She brought the food to the table; she smiled as the little boy called her mom again, and set the plates in front of each of them. The man thanked her for the food and before she could turn to help another table, the fellow said, “I’m going to marry you.” Dumbfounded, she looked at him and, not knowing what to say, asked if there was anything else she could get for them. She walked away wondering if he was serious. She didn’t want anything to do with another man after what she had been through with her ex-husband. This guy is crazy, she thought to herself. Just give him the bill and walk away, she told herself.

She was startled when, as she delivered the bill to the table, the man asked her to attend church with him that evening. She startled herself even more when she heard herself tell the man, “Okay.” She couldn’t help notice the excitement of the kids and the smile on the man’s face.

For the rest of the shift, she argued with herself, pointing out facts such as not knowing the man’s name and just meeting him, only to have herself rebutted with Charles plays with his children every day and how bad could a guy be that takes his kids out to lunch after church? By the end of her shift, despite her better judgment, she had decided to go to church with the fellow.

When she arrived home, Helen told Charles that they were going to go to church with some of his friends, so they need to take baths and get ready. After dressing Charles, Helen put on a simple dress, tied her unruly hair back in a low pony, and put on her bright red lipstick. By the time she heard the knock on the door, she had convinced herself that if the fellow was serious about marrying her then why shouldn’t she accept? He obviously had a job that paid well enough to eat Sunday dinner at a cafe instead of eating at home, and she wouldn’t have to contemplate selling herself to provide for her son. He needed a mother for his children, and she needed someone to support her and her son. It seemed to her that they would be helping each other out. If nothing else, it would be good for both her and Charles to get out of the apartment for the evening. So when she opened the door, she was not that hesitant to comply when he told her, “You can’t wear that lipstick. You’re going to have to go wash it off.” She went into the bathroom and washed it off.

She and Charles went to church with this man and his children quite often through the month of November. By the end of the month, Helen became a follower of Christ and married the crazy man (she did eventually learn his name and the names of his children).

My Perspective
I thought for certain when my mother told me her version of their courtship it would have been at least as romantic as my father’s version. I was left wanting. Something of the miraculous left Dad’s story when Larry’s outburst wasn’t confirmed as prophetic, but he had known Mom because he played with her son, Charles, every afternoon. It was very hard to hear that my mother decided to marry for security rather than for the divine appointment of true love; however, now I know why she didn’t tell me her version until I was much older. For quite some time after hearing my mother’s side, their story lost its romance to the point of being pale.

So much of each of their stories screams, “Bad decision!” I don’t know many people who would recommend marrying for convenience. I don’t know many people who would advise others to marry after literally knowing each other for 30 days. Yet, my parents made it to 46 years of marriage before my mother passed away, Dad still the romantic and Mother still the pragmatist. Today would have been their 63rd anniversary. They added seven more children to their little start-up brood of three, and it would be easier to number the stars than to count the grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren they now have.

Ellis and Helen and family (Charles is not pictured)

Ellis and Helen and family, abt 1992 (Charles is not pictured)

So really, even with the reality of my mother’s situation, their story is no less divinely ordered, no less miraculous, and no less romantic, for during those 46 years they truly fell in love and raised a particularly handsome family.

And that bad decision ended up making one good story.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Pops!

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Monday Morning Coffee and a Quote

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Monday Morning Coffee and a Poem

photo credit: www.sothink.com - creative coffee and cafe logos

photo credit: http://www.sothink.com – creative coffee and cafe logos

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Call for Humanity

Stop killing each other.

 

Start saving each other.

 

Video credit to WeAreChange Gloucestershire.

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My Plan Failed for Lack of Planning

In November of last year, I tried for the third time to take part in NaNoWriMo with no avail. I failed miserably like I had the two years prior.  At the end of the month from hell, I determined that I was going to write during the summer when things were less hectic.

My Plan: Put the kids in every VBS available.  Vacation_Bible_School_Kids

My Reasoning:  The schools School Aged Child Care program (SACC) was too expensive to enroll them for the entire summer. Hiring a sitter for a couple hours a day posed less of a financial burden, but there would still be interruptions. My kids don’t understand “Leave me alone.  I’m working.”  Vacation Bible School solved a lot of my problems. It would entertain the kids for a couple hours while providing supervision, and the best part, it’s completely free, if you don’t count the dollar a night per kid for offering.  With 65+ churches in a 20 mile radius of my house (not even an over-exaggeration), it was probable to have them in a different VBS every week throughout the summer.

My Failure: Lack of thorough planning.  The churches around this area place banners at every street corner a week or two in advance announcing their VBSs date and time. I figured I’d keep my eyes open for a banner, and *boom* I found my free childcare for that week.

I headed into summer pumped and ready for action. The first week of summer, I was going to be busy helping at my own church’s VBS – MegaSports Camp – and then I would be free for the next six weeks do write, write, write!

The Devil, as we all know, is in the details. What I didn’t anticipate, and could have been avoided had I done a little upfront planning, was that three of the other churches that I was counting on taking my kids to also had their vacation Bible schools that same week.

But… but… but… didn’t they know that I had planned to write those weeks?  Didn’t they know I needed them to take turns having their VBS for the next three weeks?  How inconsiderate!

My plan failed the first three weeks of June, but the month wasn’t a complete wash. An area church ran it’s VBS Sunday through Thursday of this past week, and then kids went the first two days. It was wonderful. I had the evenings to myself and actually got some ideas down on paper. I forgot to inform my husband of my grand scheme, so his wanting to take the kids to Monsters University (which was adorable) on his evening off threw a wrench in the works. I conceded because we get very little family time.

I know. I’m a giver. 😉

So what have I learned so far this summer?

  • Call the area churches a week or two prior to the end of school and find out when they are having VBS.  It’s so simple it’s almost frightening. 2012 Agenda
  • Plan out the entire summer.  With something as important as making time for myself to write, I can’t believe I was so cavalier to just wing it. I keep a day planner which details every family members schedules, so filling in the gaps with summer camps and VBS would have been a cinch. Yes, I’m slapping my forehead. Repeatedly.
  • Fill in the gaps with area summer camps by using websites like MySummerCamps.com. Local colleges, universities and community colleges usually have summer camp offerings posted on their website. Your local newspaper may also have a summer camp search engine like The Commercial Appeal’s.
  • Have projects organized into order of importance prior to school ending. All winter I’ve been researching court documents, taking notes, talking to my phone’s voice recorder, and transcribing recorded notes into Word. I’ve also been jotting down plot ideas, skits to songs, and ideas for blog posts.  Having them organized by order of importance is crucial. There is no time wasted trying to decide which project to work on first because it’s there waiting for you.

Although most people who know me think I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl, truth be told, I’m a planner. I’m flighty so I have to have a plan with steps to complete or nothing gets finished. I’m a list person, but I very seldom accomplish my list.

With all that being said, I understand that not everyone works the same way I do.

What is your secret for making time to write?

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Have Tissue Handy

There is too much to say about this video, so please just watch.

Reblogged from Toemail.

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Monday Morning Coffee and a Quote

Facing this rainy Monday morn with a warm cup of joe and a reminder to have eyes that see.

wpid-IMG_20130506_080057.jpg

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