Mondays

Just realized that I posted Bible Tuesday on Monday.  Let’s roll with it people.  It’s just that kind of week.

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The Table – Part One

The Table – Part One

 

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When I think back on my mother’s family, it’s this table that always comes to the front of my mind.  You could fit 8 people comfortably around it (although I rarely remember less than ten).  It took up almost the entire dining room in my granny’s tiny house.  I can search my whole memory and not think of a single time I saw the table empty of people or food.  My mother is the youngest of nine children (11 if you count her stillborn twin sisters – which I always do).  Once they all married and had lots of kids, this family went from large to humongous!

On December 16, 2013, my mother’s oldest brother Billy passed away.  Uncle Billy was 82 years old.  He married once but my mom says he could never stand to be away from my granny and so, for as long as I knew him, he lived at her home.  Since my granny was the family’s main babysitter, all her grandchildren spent tons of time with Uncle Billy.  (And it wasn’t like today where grandparents always seem to be raising their grandchildren.  We just visited a lot and got to spend the night every now and again.)

Uncle Billy and Uncle Vernon at the house on Nix Drive

Uncle Billy and Uncle Vernon at the house on Nix Drive

People seem to think it’s sad that he had no children of his own and I guess in a way I understand that.  As an adult, it’s easy for me to see that my uncle was very likely suffering from some mental illness.  I believe he had crippling depression and anxiety.  But times were different and I just grew up thinking he stayed in bed a lot and really loved his mom.  I wonder what his life may have been like had he been diagnosed and treated.

I wanted someone so badly to tell stories about Billy at his funeral…but that didn’t happen.  So I am going to tell one here.  (That’s why I have a blog – so I can say whatever I want!) Many years ago (like in the 1960’s!) several of my uncles worked as ice cream truck drivers.  Billy could not succeed at this job because he couldn’t stand to let the kids with no money go without ice cream.  So he would give it to them and pay for it out of his own wages. Ya’ll, I think Jesus probably high fived Uncle Billy just based on that fact alone.

I know my uncle Billy is in heaven.  I never doubted his love or devotion to his faith even though he made mistakes and lived like a normal flawed human. One of my uncles seems to believe that although Billy made several professions of faith in his life, the only one that ‘took’ was the one he made during his final years living in a nursing home.  To that my response is BALONEY!  In fact I think people are constantly making new professions of faith because many of us have sold Christianity as just a behavior modification process.  If the only way we can really be saved is to live like nursing home residents, we are all in trouble.

Look, I don’t care if you get mad at me or not but if you think people aren’t saved because they keep sinning, I’ve got news for you.  You have misread the Bible, misinterpreted the Holy Spirit and I ain’t all that convinced on the state of your own salvation (not that it’s any of my business.)  Let me be clear on this.  I don’t mean that salvation won’t change you and ,obviously, if you change then  your behavior will change too.  But if you love Jesus with all your heart and you admit your sin and ask for forgiveness, please don’t live your life thinking you are gonna bust hell wide open because you like a Budweiser every now and again.  Please?

He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’

“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”

Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

Luke 18 :9-14

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When I think of my granny and my mother’s two sisters that have passed away. I like to think they are sitting at that table in heaven.  It may be a childish fantasy but Jesus tells us very clearly that Heaven is a place prepared for us.  And ya’ll it’s near impossible to imagine that my Uncle Billy hasn’t taken a seat at that table.

I will see you soon Uncle Billy.  Save me a seat, ok?

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Practice makes…

My oldest daughters just completed 28 hours of guard practice in three days.  The final day was 12 hours.  Did they whine and complain about it? Yep. Did they survive? Yep.

Some of my fellow guard moms posted about this schedule on Facebook.  And the reaction of their ‘friends’ amused and annoyed me. These women who know nothing about winter guard complained mightily about the length of the practices.  One of them even called it ‘ridiculous’.  I was frankly  a bit shocked by these comments.  You would have thought these kids had been forced to work in a coal mine for 12 hours.  I came away with 2 distinct impressions.

1.  Why do people feel the need to proclaim their opinion about every-friggin-thing on Facebook?  Are you really that full of yourself?  I beg of you.  The next time you are tempted to comment, ask yourself these questions first.  Is this helpful?  Is this necessary?  Is this to build up?  Or destroy?  Because I honestly think some of you just comment on everything because you cannot envision a scenario where you aren’t the final word on every topic.  Let me help you out here.  You ain’t.  Do us all a favor and get a blog.  You can voice your fantastic opinions there and we won’t have to read it.

2.  Why are people so concerned with kids working hard?  I just don’t get it.  If my friends had posted that their children had a 12 hour movie marathon with their buddies, no one would have said a negative word.  And look, I have nothing against movie marathons but trust me when I tell you that the teenagers in America today are resting quite enough. I want my children to have lots of fun and enjoy their lives.  But that’s not my ultimate goal for my beloveds.  Above all I want them to serve God with excellence.

And excellence requires sacrifice.

When life gets tough (and trust me, it will) my kids will remember that they made it through many hard 12 hour days.  And let’s face it, all my kids are going to grow up to be women.  If you are raising a future woman, you better make sure they are prepared for a whole bunch of long days. And hopefully the reward they seek will be no more than having done something well.

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Decorating for Christmas – Stairway Edition

Decorating for Christmas – Stairway Edition

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way right now.

A.  This post is not to suggest that I have any real or superior knowledge about decorating anything.

B.  If you feel that decorating for Christmas obscures the ‘real’ reason for the season well…look we just aren’t going to get along.  So please move on.  The internet is a big place and I’m sure you can find someone out there to agree with you. Try googling ‘how my mom ruined Christmas’ or something.

This set of instructions is for mychildren.  Here’s the thing.  I usually do this stuff while they are at school.  So they actually have no idea how this deal comes together.  And what if something happens to me?  Can I really allow my precious angels to go forth into womanhood without knowing how to decorate for Christmas?

No friends.  No I cannot.

So here we go.

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  • You gotta get a whole bunch of greenery.  Yes.  It must be fake.  If that offends you, again, get out.  Fake greenery is pliable and easy to work with.  If you are desperate for the fresh pine smell, spray it with air freshener or something.  Take this stuff and wrap it generously around your handrail.  (If you don’t have a staircase, no biggie.  This will work on anything from a doorway to a doghouse if you are creative enough.)  Basically decide how many times it needs to be wrapped to look really good and then add one to that number.  This is the foundation.  It has to be solid.  Spend 10 extra bucks and make it look good.

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  • Lights.  Let’s talk for a minute.  If you are doing this for the first time, try to buy really good LED lights.  Unfortunately most of us start decorating when we are young and poor.  That means we use the ‘piece ‘o crap’ lights.  This is what I use.  Every year I vow to replace them.  But before Christmas I don’t want to spend the money and after Christmas I never have any money.  So year after stinkin’ year I replace the crappola cheap lights with additional cheap lights.  Why must they be replaced, you ask?  Well the answer is simple.  THEY ARE CRAP!!!  Do yourself a favor.  Just buy four or five sets early in November.  You are definitely going to need them.  Trust me.  So once you have your lights, start wrapping them.  Make sure they are plugged in and working as you wrap.  I promise if you do all this work and then realize that your cheap, cruddy lights don’t work, you will be mad enough to burn the house down.  One last thing on lights.  You can’t have too many…seriously.  If you trip the breaker for the entire house, remove one set.  That’s pretty much the rule.

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So now you have the staircase wrapped and lit.  Looks pretty good, right?  Don’t worry about the light cords and stray branches. We are going to cover all that stuff up with holiday goodness.

 

  • Ribbon.  I change ribbon constantly.  Like I seriously have a problem.  Spend some time choosing the ribbon.  Try hard to fall in love with it.  Get the widest, best quality ribbon you can afford. And get lots of it.  There’s a lot of different ways to wrap the ribbon.  I usually go all the way up and then back down criss crossing them.  This is a  pain and results in bad words.  If you wanna stay away from that, I feel ya.  Just wrap it in one direction all the way up.  It will still look good.  (Not as good as mine but live with your choices, mmmk?)

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  • Ok.  Now this is really coming together.  But we ain’t done.  Let’s add some hangy stuff.  You can hang just about any light item from your greenery.  I collect small and large ornaments here and there.  I add more every year.  And, honestly, I regret nothing.  If you want to decorate your home in some kind of minimalist, fancy pants, feng shui kinda nonsense.  By all means.  Go  for it.  Get yourself a burlap bag Christmas tree skirt and one sprig of holly for your mantelpiece.  If that’s the way you choose to celebrate Jesus’ birthday then so be it.

But I raised you better…

I try to hang the stuff with some kind of plan in mind.  Try to space things equally and mix colors and sizes.  Usually I hang the giant ones first and then fill in the rest. It doesn’t have to be perfect.  In fact, remember that sentence for the rest of your life.  Nothing is going to be perfect.  Do your best and call it good enough.

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  • Ok.  Almost done now.  The almost last thing is the picks.  These are the decorative things that you stick in the top of your railing.  Again, you can’t have too many of these.  I buy a bunch every year when Hobby Lobby marks them 90%off.  (Note :  There is hardly anything I won’t buy at 90% off.  This is why I am currently devising a craft project using 40 pointsettias.)

httpwww.nashvillefunforfamilies.comopryland-hotel

  • The only other thing I would add is a few bows.  I can’t show you a picture because my bowmaker is missing.  I’m not accusing Kevin of hiding it from me.  Nevermind.  Yes I am.  But eventually there will be bows.  And there you have it!

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One important thing to remember.  Choose your color scheme early and stick with it for life.  Don’t get sucked in by trends.  Not NOBODY is going to be using all that lime green stuff to decorate in 10 years.  Pick a traditional palette.  You won’t be sorry.

Hopefully I will still be alive and mobile when you guys start decorating your own homes.  If so, I will come help you out.  I’m guessing I will have scads of free time once I am not spending all day raising you and stuff.

Also Kevin says we have to downsize to a small storage building size home once you all grow up so I’m going to need you to take a bunch of this stuff off my hands, ok?

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Rewriting

Almost as soon as I think I have forgiveness figured out, God shows me yet another area where I need work.

This week I am starting to realize that forgiveness means giving up the story.

If you know me, then you are familiar with my stories. (If you know me well, you are probably sick of hearing them.)  I have many stories and I tell them a lot.  But my divorce story is my all time favorite.  Wanna guess why?  In 99% of my stories, I come off looking like a complete moron.  But in my divorce story, I look pretty good.  And so naturally, it’s my favorite.  And somehow, along the way, I have allowed that story to become part of how I identify myself.

Last weekend I sat in the stands at a band competition.  I was surrounded by band moms.  These are new friends.  And somehow they missed the story.  My ex-husband sat several rows behind us.  “So,” one of the moms said as she leaned toward me. “I finally met your ex. It’s so great that he is volunteering to help the band this year.”  Several faces looked at me expectantly.  They were ready for me to tell the tale.   In their defense, I can usually talk for 15 minutes about a single trip to the grocery store so they had every right to expect a long, juicy explanation about my ex-husband.

But I just couldn’t deliver.

I looked up at Ryan.  And our child sat on one side of him and his child with his current wife sat on the other side.  And I was just so overwhelmed that I get to serve a great big God who is able to heal so much brokenness.

You see, God has a whole bunch of stories to tell about me.  But He doesn’t because I am forgiven.

I am not suggesting that we have no right to remember or tell people about the stuff we have endured.  But the only person who should look good in my divorce story is God.  Because my story should be His story.

I look at my life today and I stand amazed at the stained glass family that God has created out of all these shattered pieces.

That’s my story now.

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