Friday, August 30, 2013

It may still be hot outside, but Fall is coming. I know, it's not even Labor Day. And the first official day of Autumn isn't until the 22nd. But Fall is the season that begins with subtle hints. The grasses get a little thinner, a little wispier. Around here, the air gets just a little less humid (less humid here means that you can actually breathe the air in without needing a diving mask). And don't the trees just look like they are tired of being green? They look exhausted and ready for a change; like if you had to wear the same thing for 5 months straight you wouldn't want a little "color?"

Yesterday I got up and there was a light fog over the back corn field. Soon the fog will linger and the dew will be heavy and the corn will turn even more golden - oh, it's coming.



I've been thinking a lot about seasons. There have been so many seasons in my life. God has allowed me to serve Him in so many different areas and to be touched by countless examples of Christian character, all "for such a time as this."

As you go through your life seasons, be sure to shine in each one. Moms, your season is so sweet. You begin as a caregiver and grow into a confidante. You are building the end result while you are in the middle of laundry, lunchboxes, and lists. You are quite often the deciding factor of the evidence of joy in your home. Scary thought, isn't it? When all you want to do at times is sit down and as I would have to say, "Think my own thoughts." The songs you sing to yourself are toddler tunes, you know every brand of diaper on the market and have coupons for all of them. This will transition into an in-depth knowledge of crayon colors, cartoons, super heroes, and video games. The details that are so important to you at this time make way for more details that become equally as important.

As your season changes and you move past the physical stage of momhood, you will be vital in the instilling of grace and love in your kids. "Make good choices" and "remember Whose you are" will become your mottos imparted daily. There is, every day, an opportunity for you to make a memory and to build and edify your husband and your children. I know you're tired. I know. But your strength comes from the Lord  (Philippians 4:13) and He is right there with you (Hebrews 13:5). Just ask Him. Sure, other moms are helpful at times, but no one replaces the One Who created you and your kids and Who died for both of you. Run to Him. Run! Seek wisdom and guidance and then trust that you will use it well.

As with every season there is a time for harvest. When it comes in abundance, don't be surprised. Just put on a pot of soup and get ready for Fall.

Monday, August 26, 2013

By the time Spanx will fit me properly I will no longer require them.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Spanx, please allow me to explain. Spanx is the name of a brand of undergarment that Satan created. The purpose of this undergarment is two-fold: one, to humiliate you by adding to your already struggling body image, and two, to push various areas of lumpiness, flabbiness, and pudge around to other areas to make it seem as though there is no problem. This garment is somehow supposed to "smooth" and "refine" your "problem areas" so that you can wear clothes that you probably shouldn't be wearing in the first place.

So I bought some.

The first time I wore them was when we attended a fund-raiser for the children's hospital.  It was a casual/dress up kind of thing in the winter - the kind of event where something slinky and sparkling would be just right. Sequin top, black pants, peep-toe heels, and a killer clutch and I would be all set. At home, in the privacy of my bathroom mirror (which has yet to learn how to lie and tell me what I want to hear) I re-tried the top that fit great in the store and dimmed the lights a little to get the magical glitz effect. As I turned for a better look (and to watch myself shine) I noticed bulges that most certainly did not need to be "played up." Some things just do not need to sparkle. But wait- I have my Spanx - everything will be fine!

If you have never worn these things, here is my warning: give yourself plenty of time to put them on. You may need to rest for a bit in the middle of the exercise. Be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day. Try to think of the end result; for me, it was the mantra of "It's for the kids!" After all, it is a fundraiser for a good cause.

Once on, I donned the pretty top and convinced myself that I looked better. Way less comfortable, but better. Places that had made me cringe before somehow looked tighter, as though they were just large muscles that were slightly misplaced. The outfit as a whole was smoother and I was considerably warmer, probably due to the workout of squeezing my entire upper body into something that resembled a cross between a slingshot and body armor.

This next issue is a little delicate. The Spanx I bought was a one-piece ordeal. I waited as long as I could. It went, surprisingly, fairly well. I managed to half undress and dress in the stall with very little effort. The line did not grow past the inner corridor and most of the women in line remained fairly calm. After all, I had done my share of waiting as well; while standing in line I sized several of the other women up and determined that they were sporting Spanx as well. "Mmm Hmm," nodding my, head, "I feel 'ya girlfriend," I could see myself doing as one after another sister emerged from the stall victorious, held together by spandex and glistening with a combination of sequins and sweat.

The next time I wore them I was not so successful. It happened at church. It was the last event of the ministry calendar year and I was assuming the role of director, to be announced at our annual banquet. In addition, I was speaking about my recent health scare where my head almost exploded. So, I was already a little self-conscious and, in addition to my head being filled with dots from old brain trauma, it was filled with details about running a banquet for 80 women.

But there was a high point- or at least I thought it was. When I was dressing this time I discovered a convenient slit in a convenient area of the garment that would make life more...convenient. Eureka! These people weren't as cruel as I thought they had been---I no longer have to undress in the bathroom stall! I wish I had saved all the tags so I could send them a proper thank you.

As the evening progressed and I was about to go on stage in front of women I love, admire, and often resent for the same reasons I love and admire them, I figured I'd better...prepare myself by eliminating any "distractions." The slit betrayed me and caused me to now have a major wardrobe malfunction of epic proportions. Now I had to enter the sanctuary filled with women who were eager to top off the night of good food and fellowship with music, devotion, and a word from their new leader. They had no clue that her trembles were not from nerves of speaking in front of them or of now becoming the leader of this extremely worthwhile ministry, but that she would be facing them with the lumps and bumps and bulges of middle age. (The Spanxmonster was stuffed into a zip-lock bag in my tote bag awaiting further discipline.)

Looking back, I now know that I was shown, once again, by our kind and loving God that we all have lumps and bumps and bulges. They come in different forms but they still come. Some of them we allow Him to mold and shape and renew. Others we hang on to and don't let Him change, despite the fact that He can and He wants to. As I spoke to the ladies and allowed the Holy Spirit to strengthen me in sharing recollections from a very scary time, I saw the love in their eyes, the compassion, and the connection. It didn't matter to them whether I was less "put-together" than before. It didn't matter at all. They loved me anyway. And so does He, bumps, and lumps, and bulges and all.

Will I wear the Spanx again? Absolutely; combined with a regimen of diet, exercise, and humility they work just fine.




Thursday, August 22, 2013

So today is the First Day of school. I'm not there. First time in 20 years. How do I feel?  I find myself filled with mixed emotions. I am happy, relieved, elated, and extremely grateful. Notice there is not one bit of sadness in there at all. I have waited for it, even anticipated it. But it's not there. Nope, nowhere to be found.

Today I will meet my sister for a little shopping. We'll have lunch and laugh and I will drive to the grocery store and plan a nice dinner for the family, perhaps using some of the vegetables from the garden. I'll spend a little time in the afternoon getting ready for a meeting tomorrow. That's about it.

Make no mistake, I have my stress. I have to get ready for the replacement window people to come and I haven't been on the treadmill all week. So my life is not a constant lunch date. Be honest: this rocks! Why?

I listened to God. He told me it was time to leave and I left. I obeyed and He blessed. That's what happens when you trust the One Who loves you most.

So wherever you are, whatever you're doing, take time to make sure that it's what God wants in your life. And remember, the most important thing He wants is your heart, so give it to Him first, and He will allow you to soar.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Thank you, Lord!

This day was always one of the most frustrating to me when I was working. It's the day that all the teachers return from Summer Vacation. Don't get me wrong: I love(d) the teachers, it was just difficult to hear about their summers when I had been working hard during what was my busiest time. Tales of long days at the beach, memory-making trips, and good books read only served to add fuel to my exhausted fire. I avoided it, and them, at all cost. Until the dreaded Meeting. Everyone gathers to wax philosophical and to launch the year. Words like "pedagogy" and "differential" are tossed out like peanuts at a ball park. All while I would be wondering whether there were books and supplies for teachers and students being delivered and picked up at two campuses. Meanwhile, the line would be forming down the hall to purchase PE uniforms, even though the kids don't dress out for a week. The phone was ringing non-stop and the best possible way to manage it was to tread water in the ocean of voice mails. So, "Welcome Back" to all the teachers, and to all the staff I say, "Stay strong." This too, will pass, and the tales of adventure will die down. As for me, laundry and another cup of coffee await.

I'm in one of those seasons where I just want to retreat. Having the genetic makeup of generations of warriors, those seasons do not com...