Give Me Some Sugar

I have been off caffeine since June.  It was, and is, worth it.  I knew the next big hurdle would be sugar.  In late January and early February, I took a stab at quitting.  Right before Valentine’s Day.  That was just careless.

It stayed in front of me.  I knew I still needed to do it.  I know this sounds strange to say, but it seemed there was no jumping off point.  Then, there was.

Lent.

The Lenten Fast.

BOOM!

I quit sweets.  Not all the foods that have any ingredient that’s just sugar with a cute name.  Just sweets.

It only took a few days to come face to face with my need of a Savior.  I felt desperate.  I lied about what I ate.  (They don’t care, and Jesus already knows.)  I cheated like a card sharp in the old west.  I let myself slip.  A lot.

I realized I felt I couldn’t live without sugar (People do.  It isn’t air.).  Then I realized there are a lot of things I can’t live without

And.

There are a lot of things I have been saying I can live without…that I can’t.

BOOM.

Yes, I have a lot of idols.  (Anything you feel you can’t live without.)  I’m also holding myself prisoner in a lot of ways, too.  Depriving myself of things God says are good. Going hungry at my Father’s table.  Thirsty, at the source of Living Water.

Who do I think I am?

Imagine you provide delicious food for your child and she sits in the chair and feels the hunger pains and doesn’t eat.

How does that make you feel?

Really freaking sad. Right?

You love her and you want her to be healthy and you want her to enjoy the things that you provide with just her in mind.

That may be confusing, but I’m not talking about the sugar anymore.

I’m talking about seeing my need of a Savior.

Seeing how much the Father loves me.

About nothing I could have anticipated or imagined.

 

~disclaimer:  I’m uncomfortable writing while in the middle because I’m not sure that you’re supposed to talk about the things you do spiritually.  But I felt led for some reason today.  And Lent is not in the Bible.  It’s a church observance.  So… Please forgive my continued clumsiness, in any case.~

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Child God Gave You

The offspring (can you call your adopted children, offspring?) were trying to look busier than their siblings, so I wouldn’t hand them a task.   I was distracted by the unanswerable questions that 16 year-old girls ask. If I answered straight up, they’d see my responsibility to minister to those I’m in relationship with. I get enough of that from Jesus, as it is.

Then, somebody did something awesome.

I’d like to give credit, but time passed.  I wouldn’t be able to remember 15 years of pop music if I made brain space for things like who did this one thing. The fact is, whoever did, whatever it was, is lost in the mists of time, but it stopped me in my tracks.

“It all boils down to loving the child God gave you.”

About 10 years ago, Robyn, told me to, “Enjoy your kids.”

I ignored her, because I was more concerned with fitting them into my idea of “what life should look like”, than who they were designed to be.

Today. I can’t not enjoy them.

My vision for homeschooling?  I had to let that go.

We’re dreadfully undisciplined. We don’t invite our germaphobe friends here. It’s like the zoo. I don’t give them all organic foods. We fight. They talk back. They have bad habits that need to be broken; they call them sociological imperatives. Their table manners and their conversation make me want to lay down in a darkened room and remain until God takes me home.

But.

Maybe we’re making up for lost time.

Maybe we did the rebellion thing when they were acting like mental patients as 10, 11, and 12 year-olds. One shares, as part of her Christian testimony, that her behavior toward me was deliberately destructive before she believed.

Maybe I’m an utter failure.

A long time ago, I told a counselor about my relationship with my dad, “He loves me, but he’s like that Eagles’ song, ‘Desperado’.  He just doesn’t always express himself.”

He looked at me for a long second and said, “You are telling me about your relationship with the picture in your head of who your dad is.”  He was saying, you have to deal with the dad God gave you.

I have to deal with the kids God gave me.

There was a moment last year that put every thought I had under the microscope:  :

“Why am I wasting time on this?”

“Is this important enough to dedicate the energy to?”

“I am holding on too tight.”

“It’s okay for her to pout, as long as she does the task.”

“Is that the worst thing that can happen?”

Those thoughts drove to the heart of living for my mental picture of the perfect child, the incredible mother, the ideal public image.

Of course, I’m back to majoring on the minors– Who didn’t put the freaking toilet paper on the holder?  Whose cups are all these in the living room?  Why can’t we follow the towel guidelines?

Back to saddling up and riding behinds.

Back to deciding if it’s a cross to bear or a broom to ride.

Enjoying them when they need their butts kicked.  It’s a complex art.

Someone has to do it.

Loving the kids God gave me.

Making up for lost time.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What To Do About Anger

Like I would know.

Very complex life experiences.

I need a mom to lean on, too.

God didn’t give me that mom.

In His beautiful, holy, grace; he made me that mom.

But I am helpless, hopeless, hurt and hobbling.

I have no good answers.

No timeline.

No authority to speak into the lives of people around me.

Who would listen anyway?

It’s only Maggie.

I can only get out half the thought.

Because I’m trying to condense, I cut out volume.  Miss meaning.

Only a few understand, yet it’s not their situation.

I am empty.

Falling.

Need a word, that isn’t forthcoming.

It’s said, that God trusts us in His silence.

He must be about to speak, because there isn’t anything left of me to go on.

 

 

 

 

 

Something at First Sight

At the end of the major street that split the subdivision, was a lake.  Next to the lake, were ball parks, a playground with picnic areas, a golf course and a sailing club.  When school was out, ball was on.  So, being healthy 15 and 16 year-old girls, we climbed in Mikayla’s massive family wagon (In my new color block top that had the tie on the side.) and headed down to the ball park.

All the usual suspects were there.  And someone new to me.

He was taking our dollar at the gate and selling the cokes.  Red hair, exceptional medium build.  Eyes.  Eyes forever. My heart still squeezes.

We hadn’t even been seated in the bleachers for five minutes, when someone told Mikayla he wanted to talk to me.

Being so young and so unused to that kind of attention, I didn’t leap right up and run over.

The game had barely gotten underway, but Mikayla was soooooo boy-crazy, she wouldn’t even leave me alone.  So it was get up the nerve or be gnawed to death by Mik, I had my choice.  I went with getting up and walking over there.

I went to the concession stand and waited quietly; while a BUNCH of our friends bought candy, interspersed with people who weren’t nosy; they wanted a snack.

Then some people came and needed to pay their dollars to get in.

Then he had to go unlock something.

Finally, he was free to chat a bit.

I stood there in the shade of the concession stand.  Our eyes met and held.  It felt promise-y and comfortable as broken in jeans.  Not silly or self-conscious.  Seen.

We’d barely started to talk, when Mikayla had to leave.

When we got in the car, she jabbered away in her usual style.  Completely unaware.  You didn’t tell her anything remotely confidential.

His family was moving.

That week.

I guess they must have.

That was 1982.

 

 

 

With Miles to Go Before I….Sleep

While we waited at the light just before the post office, a ’78 Z-28 turned left in front of us and cruised up Washington Pike.  I startled, then sighed, “Mike drove one of those…”

“Mike, who?”

Another sigh.

“I can’t tell you.”

“Then why’d you bring it up? You can’t just do that.”

“Surely, I’ve told you about Mike.”

In the small hours this morning, I remembered Mike, again.

It was Valentine’s Day, but for my friend and I, just Wednesday.  We were taking a walk.  We paid no attention to the Z-28.  We couldn’t drive and the car didn’t belong to anyone we knew in the neighborhood.

The he must have been lost, because he passed us four times, before he stopped.

“Do you know where Joy Miller lives?”  We gave him directions and he took off.

Then he came back.  He hadn’t needed directions.

We managed not to faint as he introduced himself and asked for my number.  He was a junior and I was still in junior high, a freshman.

Valentine's Day 1982

Valentine’s Day 1982

He called a couple of days later.

We talked on the phone.  He made me laugh.  Somehow, I made him laugh, too.

“NO, you can’t date, you’re too young,” and it was true. I’d barely had my 15th birthday.

I had to tell him I couldn’t go anywhere with him.

Several calls and several nights later, after the house was quiet, the tap on my bedroom window was not a surprise.

I climbed on a chair, and opened the high window and there he stood.  Looking up.  Tennis shorts. Expensive haircut. Halston 1-12 thickened the warmth that radiated up to me.  Glad for the window, he’d never know I was trembling so I could barely stand.

We talked for a long time.  As I watched him walk back up the driveway, a strange feeling passed over me I’d never felt before.

Several nights later, we’d agreed again on the same signal.  This time, he was more persuasive or I was bolder, but I wasn’t trembling when I slid open the door, went to the gate, and let myself out.  Or him in.  Who really cares?

We talked for just a minute.  He stepped closer.  He had not come there to chat.  We could do that on the phone.

He took my face in his hands.

And he kissed me.

For an hour.

When my knees went weak, he put his arms around me.

And he kissed me.

I forgot I didn’t know how.

His hands never traveled.

Not so it’d matter.

For another hour.

“Go back in the house and go to bed,” he whispered.

And he kissed me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Wisdom I’ve Gained…In All the Same Areas My Mother Did…

Mom and Grandma told me that “nothing jiggles” on a lady.  Or at least it shouldn’t.

At that time, the information was of no use to me, as I was 5’2″ and weighed 95 lbs. soaking wet.

I think you’d agree, time keeps slipping into the future.

Today, the opposite is true.  The absence of jiggle is also not any mark of a lady.  The presence of jiggle is not a way of separating the ladies from the women or broads.

I am also no longer 5’2″…

Fashion trended away from “leave a little something to the imagination”.

Fashion, that excellent slave–that terrible master.

Has driven culture to the point that Southern Living Magazine would devote a half page of copy space for a young writer to apologize and explain her reasons for appearing in ankle socks elsewhere in the issue*.  As if they would lose readers, if there were not some sort of editorial responsibility taken when a young woman keeps her toes clean and safe as she learns to fly on the trapeze.

I digress.

Discreet fashion choices that emphasize strengths and downplay weakness is out of the question.  Utility and appropriateness to the event or activity is relative.

Maybe it’s my home training, but I don’t think of the trends as my “right”.  If it shows me for what I am, I figure I don’t need to make my problem yours, and I cover myself. Vanity?  Heck, YEAH!!! But I’m leaving my struggle with chronic pain, depression, and gravy to your imagination.

My point?  Years ago, in an effort to prevent “jiggle” and “leave it to the imagination”, a woman had an arsenal of “FOUNDATIONS”.  The girdle has gone by the wayside.  Unstylish.  Unattractive.  Indicative of some sort of bondage….  Today, a young woman would never admit to wearing a girdle to cheat her way into a garment that is really made for a different body type.  Because they are a thing of the past.

Today, we have “shapers”.  Spanx.

Because those aren’t girdles.

Yes, they are.  Spanx are girdles.  Just say it.  Don’t apologize.

You are wearing Jane Jetson’s girdle.

There you go.  The emperor is now free to put his pants back on and look better in them.

 

*About 5 years ago, before Lindsey Biermann took over and turned it into Hipster Living. I subscribe and complain every month.  Mickey thinks it’s PMS.

 

 

Wherever You Are

Dear Birth Mother,

I hope this finds you well.  The weather here is fine.

It’s a beautiful, awful day.

I am thinking of you and the selfless life-changing decision you made.  Of your stated reasons.  And the ones you will never tell.

And what I know is true about us moms.

You are thinking of us today.  Of the promise you trusted in, that someone would love your child with their unique needs.

No matter how fantastic the celebration, you’ll wonder what’s up with us.  I’m getting the recognition for how these guys turned out.

Well.  I need to let you know.

Most days, I am pretty sure that anything good in them is all you.

They are amazing.

They stop people in their tracks.

They move in incredible natural gifts.

They make the issues unavoidable.

Your decision changed your life forever, but if I may say.  It keeps on changing lives. More than I can count. Every day.

Wherever you are, I honor you.

With love.  Fearless.  Like yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Still

“Be still and know that I am God…”

Not really very easy in this age of distraction.

Be still…

Until you can smile at the mess.

Until you can say, “It’s beautiful.”

Until you can say, “I have no need.”

Until your mind is changed.

Until you are okay without the answer.

Until you let go of what you want in favor of what is given.

Until you let someone stronger lift the load, someone wiser solve the problem, someone more loving fill the cup.

Be still…

Be quiet.

Be satisfied.

Know.

And be known.

The dork.  The cowgirl.

The patient.  The impatient.

The loner.  The liar. The lover.

The mind. The body. The soul.

Be still.

Until you know.

 

 

 

 

 

Gritty By Grace

When I was little, we moved off the farm and into the city and mom made me wear dresses all the time.  Short ones.  Remember Cindy Brady?  That short.

I wanted jeans.  The cousin, who supplied all my clothes, passed down a pair of embroidered jeans.  I wore them until they disappeared.  When I was in 6th grade, my mom bought me a pair of ‘straight leg’ jeans. In seventh, Hazel took me shopping to dress me like I belonged to someone. I came home with Calvin Klein Jeans.  Shortly, I’m not exactly sure when, Levi’s Shrink-to-Fit 501s came in style.

And stayed awhile.

Through the years, my mom did a lot of things to give me a better education than she’d had.  We lived in better neighborhoods with better schools.  She kept me in church; finally finding the Episcopalians, with alcohol in church and being cool with divorce and incredible networking.  I sang in their whizbang choir and my fellow singers were from the best neighborhoods and attended the best private schools.  We attended the arts festival for the egg rolls.  We went to the ballet.  We ate at the Magic Pan and shopped (without buying) at high fashion shops.

It was bread and meat to a girl who couldn’t have extra-curriculars because working moms couldn’t pick kids up from practices and needed to spend their money on nachos and vodka (that’s her story and she’s sticking to it).

When I was about 11, this guy decided he was going to get to her by spoiling me (WRONG TREE!!! WRONG TREE!!!).  He profiled me– reader, straight As, wearing rags but knows where Balliet’s is.  And sent me subscriptions to Smithsonian and W.

When I began to dress myself I was strictly tailored.

My soul wears navy blue and pearls. It believes the rules are there to help us live like civilized human beings. Manners are to help others feel comfortable; not to manipulate them into pretending you aren’t being ungracious (Target Line Cutter Lady, I am talking to you). Education doesn’t stop at the 3 Rs, but extends to the arts and culture.

When I was in high school, I heard stories of wild parties.  I never was invited to one.

I dated a college guy at the end of my senior year.  On the outside, he was all conservative Republican, Son of a Fundamentalist Preacher.  On the inside, he was a monster.

Navy blue and pearls girl may have gotten a little damaged.

Lesson learned: The outside is for your mama, the preacher, and the person who watches rated R movies but condemns people who curse. The inside is what you are.  It’s what monsters want to destroy.

One day when I was wearing my navy blue and pearls, my jeans got a little rip.  I liked the little rip. Eventually, I’d find a best friend whose jeans had a little rip, too.

When I was in college, I wore my Rockies or my Wranglers when I was feeling like flying my freak flag. Which good girls aren’t supposed to have. But I do.

Jesus knows about the freak flag.

He made it, so I would not have to carry my own books.

I lavishly adore buttoned down; it goes so well with barefoot, ripped jeans, and hair loose.

Because grace is sometimes gritty and perfect love sometimes sees you in your lucky pants.

 

 

I am linking this post with PYHO @ Things I Can’t Say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riding the Short Bus to Heaven

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the lessons babies learn in Sunday school are just coming to me in middle age.  I’m 45 years old and may have opened the book on learning to receive God’s love in the way that He expresses it.

This weekend, we got together again with friends from our church in the other city.  3 families.  6 adults. 16 kids. I dreaded it , because I knew it wouldn’t be enough time. Ray, whose house we were at, voiced similar thoughts about getting together making him remember. It was a phenomenal time and place.  The relationships are proof that God is at work and it all really happened.

We went to the church.  Participated in worship in three languages.  And in the quiet of the celebration, I realized it is so prideful of me to worry about being understood. I am so busy wishing for more than what God has given, that I don’t experience the fullness of what He has given.  And that, my friends, is sin.

If I worry about what is not happening or the scarcity of time or the fear of this being the last time we’ll see each other.  Or what you’ll think of our house or kids or the chins I’ve acquired since we last met.  I miss out on the growing more “What-Makes-This-Great” memories.  The thrill that your kids have grown up so beautiful and wishing you ‘Happy 21st  Anniversary’ and how precious and nourishing this time is for my daughters.  And discovering that, when I was attending your son’s birth, my son had, just 4 days earlier, come to the orphanage in China.  The thrill of simply standing in line at Wal-Mart together.  The necessary goodness of sharing late into the night.

Living in the past and the future misses today.  Wanting more than is given leaves me continually hungry without being filled, and continually consuming without ever feasting.  It is a subtle rejection of the manifold richness of abundance of God’s deliberate personal outpouring of love to us.

I don’t merit anything in the Kingdom.  It is all favor.  While I wish for more time and more money and a BLT that will make me lose pounds and inches, I rebelliously overlook the FACT that He has privileged us more than most.

It has taken me longer than the average grade school child.  But now, I know.

Thanks. Again.  Good Friends.

 

 

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