Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Battle Within

I'm far from a poet but I wrote this the other day and I'm following up my post from earlier in the week with it.  So for all you literary types or English professionals you will have to overlook any rhythm missteps.  I just write it down as it comes to me and it isn't always pretty!  My senior English teacher, Miss Morgan would roll over if she saw some of the stuff I've posted.  So apologies to her.  She did try her best to educate me.

The battle is raging though my eyes cannot see
My mind keeps on screaming, "Let me be free!"
Flee from my memory and remind me no more
Stop standing and waiting crouched at my door

Long ago demons I thought were at rest
The struggle is frequent and unrelenting at best
They stir up my memories and mess with my mind
They spin me in circles and leave my eyes blind

Like a heavy black fog they creep into my dreams
Though I try to call out they silence my screams
They lurk in the scents and the tunes of my past
They cling and they claw with a grip that's so vast

So once again in full armor I struggle to stand
I draw out my sword and with bible in hand
I face down my enemy and retreat no more
I press ever forward and shout from my door

"That is not who I am or forever will be.
That is simply the old and the worst part of me!
God Cleansed me and gave me a robe of pure white.
His grace gives me freedom to fight the good fight."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Conjuring Up Fear

I wish that as a child I had understood that God was always with me.  I was told that God was everywhere but all that meant to me was that he knew if I was being bad because he could see me no matter where I was or what I was doing.  Got to love that guilt placed on me and countless other children in catechism classes.  My big confession each week before communion was that I fought with my sister.  The priest finally got so tired of hearing the same thing week after week that he told my parents my sister and I could skip confessing that one so that other people could have a turn.  Seems the penance for that infraction was to spend some time on your knees in a corner.  I'm not so sure my time counted though since I vaguely remember the whole time I was on my knees I was praying for my sister to be nicer!

When I was little I was terrified of the dark.  I was afraid of vampires long before they were cool and werewolves before they had six pack abs.   I was afraid of ghosts, devils, dogs that barked at me, whatever might be under the bed waiting to attack me and the mean old lady that sat on her porch between me and my friend's house down the street.  I hated to be alone.  It was of no comfort to me that God was everywhere.  My experiences with fear helped me to be much more understanding when our girls faced childhood fears of their own.

When Melanie was little she was always afraid to go anywhere by herself.  She never wanted to ask the lady at the cash register for change or make a trip to the bathroom by herself.  Thankfully Melanie had her cousin Ellen, who was a bit more bold, to go most everywhere with her all the way into adulthood.  Her sisters got a little tired of her overactive imagination but Ellen was her rock and let her stand in her shadow all the way to countless bathrooms and to face down the scary people waiting to take her order at the ice cream counter.  Melanie is a bit more bold today but definitely not an extrovert.

Now Lindsay was another story.  Lindsay is the middle child of the second set of three girls.  Lindsay was afraid to go to bed and her prayer each night for years was, "God bless everyone in the whole world except bad men and the devil. Amen."  She use to build a pillow and stuffed animal wall all around herself each night with precision.  I called it her fortress.  She would sleep snuggly in her little cushy cocoon while whoever slept with her complained that all her animals were taking up the whole bed.  The night light never seemed to be enough and she always wanted another light on.  This was also met with sibling complaints of having to sleep in the daylight.  I think that sometimes nights seemed eternal for Lindsay.  She was always the last to go to sleep and I truly did feel her pain.  Today she is still the last one to go to sleep.  Some habits are hard to break!

Today I try to deal with my fear in a more proactive way instead of cowering under the covers.  A popular Christian song has a phrase in it taken from Romans 8:31, "And if our God is for us, nothing can ever stop us and if our God is with us, nothing can stand against".  I love that line of the song.  What a powerful truth and freedom is in those few words.  Not even the worst fears we can conjure up can stand against God and that is comforting for me since I can conjure up some pretty scary stuff.  I've grown to realize that most of the battle is in my mind so it is important for me to fill my mind with the truth of God's word so that I can draw that double edged sword of His word whenever the need arises.

Here is a little something to sharpen your sword...
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you;  he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid;  Do not be discouraged."  Deuteronomy 31:8

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oh Those Funny Phases

Melanie 1987
     When my youngest daughter Melanie was 3, she was captured by a photographer one evening and her picture ended up on the front page of the local newspaper.  Sounds cute and fun doesn't it?  Well, it just so happened that during this period of her life she had a thing for her cowboy boots.  She wore them with everything.  This day she was sporting them with her cute little shorts outfit and no they did not match!!  Not only that but they were on the wrong feet and her hair was a mess. (mostly due to a phase of cutting her own bangs to the scaIp)  I know, I know what could be worse!  Amazing how she still looked precious and no one seemed to think I was a terrible mother.
     Little did I know at the time that this was the first of several of Melanie's quirky fashion statements.  The next one came along when she was around 5 or 6 years old.  She would spend the day dressed in an old maroon nightgown that had been her grandmother's and some size 4 high heels that had been her great grandmother's.  Anytime we needed to go somewhere I would have to get her to change and as soon as we got home she was back in her "special" gown.  I'm not sure how long this lasted but it seemed like forever.
     Next came the roller blade stage.  The downstairs of our house had mexican tile and the stairs were carpeted.  She wore roller blades from dawn till dusk and she would run up and down the stairs in them and hit the tiles full speed ahead.  Those days it was sort of like living in a roller derby rink.  I know, I know, I should've banned them in the house but we choose our battles and after all she WAS the baby.
     If you ever saw the movie "Mr. Mom" you will remember the flannel shirt scene where Mrs. Mom tells Mr. Mom that his shirt needs to go into the dry cleaner hall of fame.  Well, our little Melanie had one of those shirts too.  Her sister Lauren was way into fashion at an early age and I think she still shudders when she thinks of that flannel shirt.  Melanie was more into comfort and she loved her flannel shirt.  I'm pretty sure she wore it 4 out of 7 days a week for close to a year.  I know, I know I could've just hid it but then who could bear to see the panic on her face if she couldn't find it.  Okay, I admit that in all these phases I guess I just didn't have the courage to make her unhappy over something that I was sure would pass with time.  Lucky for us that no permanent damage was done because today she seldom wears flannel and I haven't seen her in roller blades in years but she does still have some cowboy boots she wears on occasion.  

Looking for Lions
Deuce Jordan is ready for bed!
Speaking of present day... Guess who's little man wears his cowboy boots every day?  Guess who's little man insists on wearing his belt even with his pajamas?  Guess who's little man wears a dirty, beat up black felt cowboy hat everywhere they go?  I bet you   can guess who is sitting back and enjoying the show!     
 I love the way God loves us!  He can bring laughter to our lives from what seemed to be a bit of a struggle.  He lets us remember it with humor and not the frustration we felt at the time.  I'm sure He gets frustrated with our phases too but for some reason I kinda suspect that he looks back on some of it with laughter.  If it's all the same to Him though, I hope He never blogs about any of my phases.  We can laugh about those together someday in private, thank you very much! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Man verses Malls

     Like much of the rest of the nation, we were hit pretty hard the past few weeks with frigid, icy, conditions.  Gary and I made a planned trip to the Dallas area and got to spend some time with two of our girls.  The roads were so bad that Emily didn't have school and Lauren was working from home so we were actually able to get to see them a bit more than usual.  We braved the roads with some other obviously not so timid drivers and headed to the only logical place to hang out.  THE MALL!  I'm sure Gary would've had some other suggestions for us but after dealing with 7 women for years now, he knows that he would be outnumbered and outvoted.
     Gary has become a master of the shopping malls, shopping centers and outlets around Texas.  He can get us to one pretty much anywhere in the state with expert precision and can even remember exactly where our favorite stores are located once we arrive.  He patiently paces around, stands outside, carries our bags, visits the massage chairs when available and texts us asking, "R u really still in the same store? Where r we eating?  Meet me in 10?".
     Now this has pretty much been our routine for years but I seemed to notice a slight change up this past trip.  Lauren and Emily's boyfriends came along.  Uh oh!  The teams were now even at 3 and 3.  The scene was set for a shakeup.  Normally our dinner conversations revolve around whatever the girls have been doing lately or which store we are visiting next, what items we need to still purchase, and whether we want to go back and get that really cute pair of shoes or keep looking.  Pretty much the only sports we discuss is our shopping game plan.  This night however, there was a ball loose on the fashion runway.  In the middle of a very animated discussion between Emily and Lauren about how the people on "The Bachelor" get to keep their entire wardrobe and how much they are allotted for shopping, Thomas throws a "Hail Mary" pass with, "So who do you think is going to win the Super Bowl?"  LOOKOUT!!!   Emily trips over the loose ball on the runway and loses control of the conversation.  Could this be the beginning of the end of our domineering reign over all things female?  Did someone just seriously mention something unrelated to fashion?  As if in slow motion I watched Blake block the girls as Gary caught Thomas's pass and I laughed on the sidelines and commented on Thomas's very well timed conversion tactic.  His grin said it all.
     Now Gary wasn't too crazy about the idea of the his girls starting to have men in their lives other than him, but my guess is that he is beginning to see that it might not be so bad after all.  I'm also guessing we are going to be carrying our own shopping bags more often in the future.  For the time being though, I'm thankful that I  have a great husband and they have a wonderful daddy who loves us enough to courageously battle the crowds of any mall, fight for the closest parking spots and bravely go where no man should go alone!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Strange Change - A Mother Story

My mom went out last night with a friend.  Now you might be thinking, "Well isn't that nice."  Just let me say that her going out started an evening of head spinning emotions for my sister, my husband and I.
I'll begin by telling you a bit about my mom so you can understand the situation fully.  Mom is 84 years old and lives by herself in a tiny little town in New Mexico.  She drives to another town about 40 minutes away every Thursday to get her hair done and do her weekly shopping.  This has been her routine for many years.  Mom learned to drive as an adult and while not the greatest driver in the world she is a cautious driver and does very well, umm unless you count when she drove into the cement blockade in front of her local Town and Country one morning.  That's another story.

Mom gets up every morning around 4 AM and starts her daily routine of cleaning or working in her yard, maybe cooking or baking something for an ailing friend, and then going to the Senior Center to eat lunch with her friends.  In the afternoon she may go play games with her friends, take someone to the doctor or just piddle around her house and then catch the evening news.  She is usually ready for bed by 7 PM at the latest and always falls asleep watching one of her shows on TV.

On Thursdays I generally call her in the late afternoon or evening to see how her trip to the beauty shop went.  Now I do realize they are called "salons" nowadays but to Mom it is and always will be the "beauty shop".  Last night I went to my granddaughter's soccer game so I didn't call until around 7:30 PM to check in with her.  No answer.  Thinking she might be in the bath I wait 30 minutes and call again.  Still no answer so I leave a message stating that I'm wondering where she is and to call me when she gets in.  I hang up and call her cell phone which I have finally convinced her to leave on when she is away from the house.  I don't even bother to leave a message there because although I have showed her numerous times how to retrieve the messages, she still can't seem to do it.  I'm mildly worried at this point but not alarmed.  I call both phones every 30 minutes for the next 3 hours.  Around 9 PM I texted my sister to see if she spoke with her and knew something I didn't concerning her whereabouts.  She doesn't.  Now we are both worrying and I've involved my husband also who is a bit upset with her for making us all worry.   By 10:15 PM my sister and I are frantically searching for phone numbers of friends and neighbors.  She was on the internet and I was digging through drawers.  Finally she decides to get in the car and drive to New Mexico.  I'm still digging and my husband continues the internet search with any name  I can think of.  At last we locate a number and I phone her friend.   She of course hasn't spoke with her all day and knowing how my mom loves to go to bed early and hates the cold, she says she will make some calls and head over to her house and call me back.  I call my sister and tell her to wait a few minutes before she leaves town.   The friend calls back in 5 minutes and has located her.  Seems she and her neighbor are at the Senior Center listening to a country western band.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????  My mom is out on the town and has missed her curfew that I have self appointed her and she has not even had the courtesy to call me and ask my permission to be out late.
Furthermore, why did she not have that cell phone we bought her handy?  She should have at least let me know she made it home from the beauty shop.  Here I am pacing the floors thinking she could be lying in a ditch or unconscious somewhere and she's out partying with her friends.  Boy is she in trouble when she gets home!

Whoa there Donna.  Take a deep breath and relax.  She is OK.  Did she not offer you grace on a few occasions when you wrecked your car, came in a bit late, forgot to call and tell her you were going to a friends after school?

The phone rings a little before 11 PM and a timid little voice starts making all the excuses she can think of.  She feels bad for worrying us and I agree that the loud music probably made it impossible to hear her phone that was stuffed inside her purse.  "No Mother, it's not broken it works fine you just didn't hear it."
I listen patiently as she tells me how her friend begged her to get dressed and go with her.  (Yeah that's a good one I've used before.)   Oh and the ever classic, "I was with her and didn't have a way home.  I told her I wanted to leave an hour ago."  (Whatever!)

My daughter Crystal with her Nannie Retta
Wait a minute.  At what point in my life did I stop being the child and become the parent of my mom.  Was all that child raising just practice for this time of life.  Watching your parents age is a difficult thing.    I'm sure it is strange for my mom to watch me begin to age also.  She is convinced that I have more wrinkles than her and that she is healthier than I ever thought about being.  She could be right on both counts.  I'm blessed to still have her in my life and if she worries me sometime then I will count that a blessing too.  I didn't have the heart to scold her when it came down to it last night but I'm thinking she won't be doing that again.  I could be wrong.  I seem to remember thinking my daughters wouldn't do stuff again either.  LORD give me courage!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

You Don't Know What You're Asking

For the past few weeks I have been digging through old photos and family history.  I have traced part of my family back to the year 1000.  Let me tell you right now that when you go digging through the past you better be prepared for a few surprises.  Some surprises are fun and some I would just as soon have never known.  One of my ancestors escorted Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) into town when her army arrived in 1428.  How cool is that?  There were Kings guards, noblemen, mayors, one was the founder of the Templars, duelers and some accused of theft, looting, extortion, rape, arson and murder but were later pardoned by the king.  My family actually ended up in the United States after one ancestor was forced to leave France after an "unfortunate duel and disastrous affairs" in 1789.  Not so cool!  Well...the dueling part sounds sort of cool.

My Grandfather on left in 1914.
I woke early on January 12, 2011 with family history on my mind.  I began praying for my family.  Now often when I pray silently my mind tends to wonder a bit.  But in this moment I was very focused and I was making my appeal to the Lord and then as if He were sitting right there listening He replied "You don't know what you're asking.".

I admit I was a bit confused and surprised by the quick response.  I started going through my list of questions to make sure my prayers weren't being hindered by my worldly view.  Was I asking the impossible?  No, the bible tells me nothing is impossible for God.  Was I being selfish in my request?  I honestly don't think so.  Would it change the course of my family history? Yes.  Would lives be changed for the good in the long run.  Absolutely.  So what do you do in this situation?  What do you do when you ask God for something and you don't get the response you had hoped for?

I've spent some time thinking about it and have come to the conclusion that for me, in this particular instance, God was telling me that He could do it but that I wouldn't be able to bear it.  Since He has promised not to give me more than I can bear, I will take comfort in knowing that He knows what is best for me.  I will ask God to help me pray in accordance with His will so that I  know that my prayers will be answered.  I will remember what my pastor Patrick Payton said in 2002, "Prayer is where my arguments for my will and my choices begin to cease and where I adjust and surrender to the purposes and plans of God.".  I will refine my request until it lines up with God's will.

I love that I can courageously go before the throne of grace and continue to plead my case to a loving Father who will tell me no when it's for my good and encourage me to dig deeper within myself to reconcile the answer.  No matter what the history records say, my Father is God.  I am His treasured child and when I depart this world and my records are entered for future generations, I pray that no matter what else is said of me, that what will stand out is that I was a Christ Follower and that my descendants true heritage lies in heaven.