Friday, December 16, 2011

Me, God and My Job

“Faith refers to loving God with all that we have and all that we are, our hearts, souls, minds and strength.  Faith means fidelity, loyalty to the God who loves us, who rescued us.  All that we do, in word and deed, must be done in the name of the Lord Jesus.” ~Jack Wisdom (pretty cool last name, huh?)

In thinking on this phrase, I have realized that not everything I do at work is done as an act of faith.  In fact, I think of much of my work as a penance. 

As a single mom, there are countless ways I have willingly died to self - and each of those little deaths have brought me untold blessings in the form of joy, deepened understanding, greater capacity to love - give - receive, and taught me what it is to be truly thankful for a God in control of everything. 

Why then has this been so hard for me at work?  I think in large part it is because I do feel called to something entirely different than what I’m doing now.  My work does not equal my calling and my workplace is a pretty negative and dark environment.  So at work I have allowed the negativity to blind me to my overriding call as a Christian - to die to self in order that my life might glorify God. I think this is probably true of many believers who work in a secular environment.

In loving God with all that I have, I have neglected to love him with my job - a job I have told Him I’m thankful for (after all, it does pay the bills) because when I landed this job five years ago I definitely considered it one of God’s many successful rescues in my life.  But in regards to current thankfulness for my job, I talk to God out of both sides of my mouth - from one I profess gratitude, from the other I beg Him for a speedy deliverance from what I now consider my own personal hell on earth. 

What is my job really though?  A place where I can daily use my God-given strengths to minister in such a way that my efforts might restore and redeem brokenness in my workplace and greatly glorify our God.  My prayer: Show me the way Lord!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Curioser and Curioser!

Recently, I read an interview of a man named Dr. John Medina who talked about how curiosity is a really good thing. Questioning is a really good thing. Doubt is what generally leads to both curiosity and questioning. God isn't afraid of doubt, curiosity or questions – and that as believers, we shouldn’t be afraid either, not if we believe that God is the source of all truth.  Dr. Medina states that curiosity actually sets us on the road to God. He equates finding God with true success and does not consider social or professional status, money or worldly possessions success.

I agree with the belief that the closer we get to Jesus and the more we let Him into our life the more truly successful we will be. This is why I also agree that curiosity is important – in fact I believe it is vital to our faith and our life. We should always want to know more - more about who God is, the world He created, the people He’s placed in it, and our purpose while we take up space here.  That’s why I believe it is vital to realize that:

Our social and professional status can be reduced.
Our money can be lost.
Our possessions can be taken away.
Knowledge is ours forever - as is our relationship with God. No one and nothing can take either away. If we are curious about who God is and what His plan for us is, and we endeavor on searches to satisfy our curiosity and follow them all the way through to the limit    I believe those searches will always lead to Jesus. As we become more curious about Jesus, who He is and who we are in Him - He becomes the center of our lives. When Jesus is our center we relinquish our attempts to control (they are absolutely futile anyway). We stop living or doing or being by our human will and instead live by God’s will. Our efforts are then in His awesome and capable hands.

When we are in line with God’s will, we are fulfilling our purpose in God’s plan for His Kingdom - we are doing Kingdom work.  Is there any greater success? No.

Can we ever know all there is to know about God, Jesus and the Kingdom of God? No.

As we follow searches to satisfy our curiosity will we come to the realization that the more we learn the more we have yet to learn? Yes.

Will we also come face to face with our own human failings along the way? Yes.

Will we find Jesus (and God’s mercy and grace) even then? Definitely.

Praying that we all stay curious and search for more of Jesus always, but maybe especially during Advent.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Venom, Wounds, Grace & Facebook

Several weeks ago, as the Casey Anthony trial wrapped up and Casey was released from jail, I was heading to bed and as is my usual bad habit I performed one last iPhone scan checking for any especially inspiring tweets on Twitter or for any newsworthy status updates by family or friends on Facebook. And there, posted by a friend, was a horribly cruel, crushing, thoughtless and almost hateful status, followed up with several equally cruel and insensitive comments. The status and comments were not directed at any one person specifically, and especially not at me. The poster and most of those commenting or “Like”-ing the post do not know every detail of my life’s story, and the ones who did, were simply commenting in agreement with the opinions of the poster. Everyone, from the poster to the commentors, are professing Christians. I know each one and love them all dearly. We attend church together, serve together, and just “do life” together. Still, I was hurt.

I was hurt by these quickly typed and uploaded statements, about as deeply as I can be hurt.

The things on Facebook that night – those kinds of heated opinions and broad thoughtless and cruel statements are the very things that make others cringe when they hear the word “Christian” or think negatively of anyone who says “I’m a Christian.” It’s what makes the general public – both non-believers and some followers of Christ - distance themselves from “believers”. The statements on Facebook that night weren’t “Westboro” crazy – but they were statements made from a (I think unconscious) self-righteous bend that if followed all the way absolutely would end up Westboro crazy. These were my initial thoughts (and I still do think this).

I tried shutting off my thoughts and shutting off the phone off and going to sleep.

But I couldn’t.

Those posts and my hurt wouldn’t let me rest.

So, in a flurry of iPhone “typing”, from my tear-wet pillow, I penned the following Note.

Title: And we call ourselves Christians.

Really? Whatever happened to 'They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love' ?

It's status updates and comments like I see on here tonite, which dear friends sometimes post, that make me honestly want to just shut down my fb so I don't have to see such venom spewing from the mouths of people I love so dearly. I saw some posts/comments tonite that cut me - very personally - to the core and break my heart.

I know that the statements weren't even made with me in mind, they aren't statements directly about me and not a single friend of mine would intentionally seek to hurt me - and therefore I feel no anger toward anyone. What I do feel is a real concern for the hearts of others, and just really sad.

No matter how well any of us may know each other, none of us can know entirely every experience, situation, or circumstance others have faced in their lifetimes. So it is impossible to know these things to any degree at all about total strangers - yet we are super quick to condemn, aren't we? We've no right to, and judging others in this manner is a sin.

God is all-knowing and He is the source of all wisdom (the wisest among us are ignorant in comparison). I for one, am overwhelmingly thankful for God's ready supply of mercy and grace, two most precious forms of love that we humans find great satisfaction in withholding from others, others who are usually the ones most in need of seeing mercy and grace from us who are supposed to know about it. I am forever grateful for the forgiveness He has given me and I praise Him that there is NO condemnation in Christ!

I beg of you my friends, I beseech you even - do not be so quick to judge! And if you are, please don't be so quick to post your judgments to fb. When you draw harsh conclusions about people you don't know who are facing circumstances you never have, you draw blood from the wounds being carried by people you DO know.

It is my prayer tonite that God will show all of us what it truly means to be Christ-like and that He will show each of us the areas in ourselves that are so desperately lacking in compassion for others. And that we would be reminded that to the same degree we cast judgment on others, such is the judgment we will face.

God's peace and love to you all, and know that I love you too!

(I shared this here, not for sympathy – the Lord, through his overwhelming grace and unfailing love, gave me comfort for the life wound that made me sensitive to those particular posts. I share it here because I think it bears repeating and remembering – I know for me it does. I’m certain there have been times in the past when I have posted some opinion I held, and I probably thought nothing of it at time. I pray that I haven’t unintentionally brought fresh pain to someone’s healed over past wounds.)

I did also, that night, make a commitment to myself and to my Facebook friends to be more intentional about what I post and how I comment in the hopes that what I put out into the social media world is positive, loving and full of the same grace God gives to me daily. I hope you’ll join me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Delta Dawn and Daddy

It's my earliest memory and I remember it like it was yesterday. I was standing in the “sitting” room near our white crushed velvet couch - the one with matching crushed velvet pillows - in gold (really). The sitting room was my favorite room in our home because it was filled with beautiful things – the crushed velvet couch, Mom’s piano upon which sat a green glass candy dish – the top cut at interesting angles, and a long, low, glass-topped table covered with potted ivy and many pots of African Violets. I remember well how Momma loved those violets, and how she was mildly disgusted at her inability to keep them alive. Everyone was being still and quiet, all eyes were on me, and I was singing Delta Dawn with cues from my sweet Daddy while Mom recorded us on a large reel-to-reel audio recorder. My older sisters, Emmy and Lydia, were in the room. I’m almost positive one of those pretty girls had on plaid pants and I’m sure each member of the family had on at least one item made from 100% polyester. Yes, we embraced the 1970's with the same enthusiasm that we embraced each other, my family and I.

Thank you, Lord, for this memory. So crisp. So clear. Filled with the people I first loved and who first loved me. The depth of gratitude I feel to God for this seared in my brain and on my heart memory moves me to tears and even bended knee – thankful, so incredibly thankful.

We didn't, but families often fight after the death of a parent.

They fight over…



…family photos.



Which of these brings back the deceased parent? Not one. There is not one thing that will ever bring them back. Oh, I understand the comfort of having a memento. I got a shirt of Daddy’s. I got a special coffee mug of his, some coins collected overseas during his military career, several photos and such. Nothing of monetary value. Nothing even of particular sentimental value. (Daddy’s memory is so much more valuable than simple sentimentality.) I enjoy the things I have, sure. I’d trade them in an instant for just one more day with Dad. One more hour. One more minute.

That however, is not possible. I learned so much through the death of my Father, and I am thankful to God for the lesson: Hang on to what’s important – the moments with your loved ones while they’re alive – the loving of them, laughing with them, crying with them, moving through this life with them while they are here. Don’t stress over their money, property, the things. Just love them and cherish them and find ways to create memories with them. What brings me more peace than any of his things ever could, are my many memories of a good Dad who we knew – and took for granted even – loved us. Daddy was a wonderful man. I miss him always, but especially so on today – what would have been his 72nd birthday.

Happy Birthday Daddy! I miss you so! Mom’s doing well, but she eats more sugar than she should – can you mention this to the Big Guy for me please? Emmy, Lydia and I are all doing just fine – happy even! Your granddaughters – aw, Daddy, you’d be so proud of them! And you’ve got the most beautiful great-grandchildren – you just wouldn’t believe! There’s even a boy Daddy! A BOY. I hope he grows up to be a lot like you. I’m remembering you Dad, everyday and especially today. And listen, I’m playing our song – this one’s for you…

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Time Keeps Slippin' Into The Future

It is strange to me, the unlikely and mundane times that something strikes me and gives me pause.  For some it's a beautiful sunset. Or crashing waves. Or the birth of a child.  The death of a loved one.  Milestone occasions like graduations, birthdays, weddings.  Most of these give me pause - and I understand why. 

But this morning, passing by my daughters bedroom, seeing her hair stick out of the top of her covers, legs out the opposite end - her on the bed at an angle - feet dangling in spite of nocturnal efforts to fit all that length onto one mattress, this morning I was struck unawares and overwhelmed with a sense of pause. 

That lanky, sleeping thing - that's my baby girl.  I stop.  I look -  take her in.  What am I seeing?  I'm seeing the 15 year old version of the baby I grew in my womb - in the core of my self -  she is growing into herself.  I can't physically carry her anymore.  She stopped needing carrying long ago.  But sometimes I still get to hold her.  Just sometimes - when we are watching a movie or reading a book. She'll forget she's a teenager and allow herself to remember that no matter how old we are there's nothing like our Mother's loving touch - those times I still get to hold her.  How is it that even as she grows to heights that tower over me, she still needs me?  

Kind of.

I feel a catch in my throat. That catch - it's the physical manifestation of an emotional and intellectual  realization.  A realization that she doesn't need me as much as she used too, as much as I need her too. As much as I need her

One of our biggest "issues" is that she does not move physically as fast as I do.  Seems I'm always ready to go while she's still getting ready.  It makes me crazy.  I make her crazy.  She often hears the following, in full, or in part:

"Can you move a little faster? Please!"
"What is taking you so long?"
"Ok, I'm walking out the door now."
"Hurry up already!"

15 years ago, it was impossible to grasp just  how much Time was going to "Hurry up already!"  Impossible to grasp that the quick passage of time would find me one morning, standing in the hallway holding back tears and longing for life to slow down, longing for some of those years back, wishing I'd been wise enough in her early years to not wish away the diapering, the shoe tieing, the chopping food into little bits, the hair washing, bathing, hand-holding to cross the parking lot, 'read this to me one more time Mommy' mundaneness of it all.  What I would give now to have even one day of it back! 

Oh, when I think of all the time I spent rushing, hurrying myself and my daughter along to the next thing. It brings a certain heaviness to my heart.

Recently when I was rushing her she said "You know, you're my Mom.  You're supposed to wait for me."  Isn't it ironic then, that while physically she moves slower than me the natural course of life is causing her to grow into a wonderful young woman.  My baby.  Turning into a lady right before my very eyes.  I don't feel ready yet.  I want to yell at Time "SLOW DOWN! WAIT!  YOU'RE GOING TOO FAST!"

15 years I've waited for her - I hope she'll take note and be patient now that she's the one waiting for me.

Thinking on this all today as I have been, reminded me of this song (it's one of our favorites):

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Asking for Grace at Not Quite 40

Ok, so for those not up to speed:

Last month I applied to college.  Specifically I applied to enter the Access Program for Adults at Atlanta Christian University.  The Access Program allows working adults to obtain an Associates Degree in just 18 months, and some Bachelors Degrees in as few as 24 months.

I was pretty much scared to death to actually apply.  The last time I was in college it was 1990, I was more interested in having a good time than persuing higher education, and as the baby in my family I was in many ways ridiculously immature. I didn't leave college of my own volition.  No, I was asked to leave.  Placed on academic suspension.  Sent home with my head hung in humiliation to face the disgusted disappointment of my parents and the "Awww, that's too bad" looks and head shakes from friends.

I spoke about flunking out of college with my friend Adam, who is usually wise and full of excellent advice.  I told him that I didn't want to include my two short semesters at Tarleton State University on this entrance application.  He said I should go ahead an include it.  He'd worked in college admissions years ago and assured me that they wouldn't even include that transcript in their consideration, it wouldn't even matter.

Guess what folks?  It mattered.

ACC cannot just approve my application.  Because of my low GPA from Tarleton, 21 YEARS AGO, I have to write a "Grace Letter" to the Admission Committee.  And so I have.  But I haven't sent it in yet.  I wanted you to take a look at it and let me know your thoughts.  I refuse to grovel.  I know where real grace comes from - the Lord - and He has given me more than my fair share (as is His usual way.) At the same time, I have to do what I have to do.  I want this for myself.  I need this for myself.  Even I deserve a second chance, don't I?  So, here's the letter below.  Feel free to offer your opinions and suggestions.  It is overly wordy in many sentences and I spell out numbers, that's because the letter has to be between 500-750 words.

Dear Atlanta Christian College Admission Committee,

The purpose of this letter is to seek your grace in accepting me into your program. Once a very long time ago as a young adult who was immature for my age and who didn’t feel ready to take on college, I told a lie. I began by telling the truth. I told my parents I didn’t want to go to college immediately after high school because I was not ready. Then I caved when I saw my mother cry. I opened my mouth and told her I’d changed my mind and I took on college, with no real intention of applying myself.

That attempt at college was twenty-one years ago. I was eighteen years old, not focused on academics, and had no grasp at that time of “the future” and what bearing my actions (or non-actions) would have on it. From the age of 18 until about 22, I lived in the moment and for the moment. To be frank, I drank heavily, dabbled lightly in smoking marijuana, and slept through most of my classes. It’s not a time in my life that I am proud of. I did not maintain my grades, my GPA was too low, and I was placed on academic suspension. Flunking out of college was and still remains a deep personal failure for me as well as a huge disappointment to my family and friends.

To say it took every ounce of courage I possess and a whole lot of cheering on by friends just to go on-line and fill out the application to the Atlanta Christian College Access Program for adults would be putting it mildly. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – and I’ve done some seriously hard things. Everyone assured me that a low grade point average twenty years ago wouldn’t matter in the least. Yet here I find myself with my past failure rearing its ugly head. Mattering.

Although it was disheartening to receive, I took the news that I’d have to submit a Grace letter as possibly being God’s way of letting me know that undertaking this endeavor of obtaining (finally) that elusive college degree is going to be a lot harder than clicking submit and showing up for classes. It’s going to be a lot harder than telling people “I just applied to college!” and having them light up and say things like “Way to go girl! I’m so proud of you! You can do it!”

Twenty-one years ago the phone call from Earl informing me that my old GPA was too low for acceptance at college would have been the thing that stopped me dead in my tracks. That phone call would have been the thing that allowed me to convince myself it’s not worth it, that I’m not capable, and that I should just give up. Twenty-one years ago I would have been too afraid of my own weaknesses versus the strength of a college institution to keep on trying. Twenty-one years ago I would have given up. But today, I am not who I was.

Today I am a woman who survived and left a physically abusive marriage. Today I am a woman who for fifteen years, all fifteen years of my daughter’s young life, has been a single-mom. Today I am a woman who has twenty years of full-time work experience under her belt, which you can peruse on the attached resume’.

It was disheartening to receive that phone call from Earl – so much so that it made my tender-hearted daughter cry to see my face when I told her I didn’t just “get in”. However today I am a new creation by God’s grace and am seeking your grace also. My belief is that God has called me to His work and I am asking you to grant me one more shot at college. There is much I believe I will learn from your school. Additionally, it will be a testimony of God’s power in my life. The life experiences I’ve had over the course of the past two decades (which I am happy to discuss in a meeting with you), being transformed and sustained by my faith in Jesus (which by His strength is how these examples came to be), give me strong reason to believe that I am now prepared to successfully navigate the challenges I will encounter in an accelerated academic program. My hope and prayer is that you’ll agree.

Melissa M. Martin
This video featuring "You are More" by 10th Avenue North sums it up about right:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What "Full of Life" Looks Like

This has got to be one of my all-time favorite photographs. Ever.

Ashleigh, Full of Life at age 4 - June 2010

This photo of my fun godchild was taken almost 1 full year ago, in my TV room, during her 1st 2 week visit to my house in Atlanta.  Normally she resides in Louisiana.  To say that Ashleigh is a handfull is an understatement.   

To say I was in no way prepared for how full of vim and vigor and silliness, and energy, and constantly questioning, and never-ceasing movement she was during last years visit, would be accurate.  I had no idea what I was in for.  My own daughter was 14 - so it'd been a long time since I'd been responsible for all that your average 4 year old is, and Ashleigh was no average 4 year old!

She helped herself to anything and everything within arms reach, including, but not limited to: chocolate, green beans, nail polish, perfume, soap, shoes, markers, candy, laundry (clean and dirty) jewlry, books, movies, cats, towels, scissors, blankets, pudding, a noisy singing and swinging snow lady (that I'd not gotten around to putting back in storage after Christmas 6 months prior), the curtains, and almost anything else you can think of in a house.

She corrected, at about 10 decibels, a stanger's child in the local Chic-fil-A.  She smashed bags of chips at the grocery store (I think she liked the sound).  She sang songs from VBS, repeatedly, ad nauseum.  She almost always responded with a curt "No." the first time I'd ask her to do anything different than what she was currently doing.  She asked me "Why?" about five-thousand times a day.

I haven't had that much fun since I don't know when!  And I'll tell you the best "Why?" she asked.

Rebecca and I are very verbally and physically affectionate with each other.  Several times a day she'll say "I love you Mom." and I'll respond "I Love you too Becca." or vice versa.  We hug a lot, just because.  If we're on the couch watching a movie, her legs are draped over min, or we're leaning shoulder to shoulder.  While Ashleigh was with us, we'd be sure to also say "I love you Ashleigh!".  For the first week, she'd just look at us - with a quizzical expression on her face. At some point over the second weekend we had the following conversation:

Me:  "I love you Becca."
Becca: "I love you too Mom."
Me:  "I love you Ashleigh."

Silence.  Ashleigh comes near and very seriously asks,


And so I took her little girl hands in mine, I looked her in the eye and I said:

"I love you because your Mommy is my best friend and I love her, and we are like family.  I love you because you have pretty eyes, and a beautiful smile.  I love you because you make me laugh like I've never laughed before.  I love you because you remind me what it means to have a really good time.  I love you because of all the things that make you, YOU!  You're my godchild and that means you and I have a special relationship, you're my special girl and I just love you!"

A smile slowly spread across her face and reached all the way to her eyes.  Her face lit up and she said:


Yes, Ashleigh's a handful alright - she's a handful of pure Sunshine.  I can hardly wait until June!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Excuse me, but that's my seat...

Flowers are blooming everywhere.  Flowering trees are splattering beauty and color throughout neighborhoods (here in Atlanta we're enjoying the Dogwoods).  Most days are bright and sunny.  Dried up brown things are transforming into lush, dewy green things.  More and more people are hitting the streets in tenni-shoes, finally addressing that resolution they made to "get fit" at the turn of the new year.  And all good church-folk are in full swing of the Lenten season, preparing - in varous ways - our hearts and minds for Easter, our highest holiday.

I wonder though, are we also preparing ourselves for Easter Sunday Worship services?  Services that will surely be, as they always are, standing room only, filled with new and unrecognized faces, and a stranger or two daring to sit in our places in church pews.  You know -  The places we always sit, every Sunday, when our "good" selves are where we're supposed to be.  The nerve of some people, right?

Well shame on me.  I can't tell you how many times I (and I'm not the only one) have attended Easter celebrations in the past and whispered to a friend or family member:

"Where are all these people every other Sunday of the year?" 

"Niiiice. We have to stand, TODAY of all days, because someone decided they'd show up for church.  How come they can only manage to get out of bed on Christmas and Easter?"

Let me take a detour long enough to say that my church, and I know many other churches, are wonderfully welcoming places who are always excited to meet new people. Even so, sometimes a person's claim on their place in the pews can override, if even for just a moment, their desire to be welcoming and gracious.  To be totally honest, I've thought these things myself - on random Sundays that aren't even tied to a holiday. As much of a "hugger" as I am, I like my seat, and I like space around me. I've even gotten up and moved when I feel like others are "too close".  Can you imagine! Those are the days I find myself brushing up against the very real need to "get over myself". I mean what a crappy attitude to have.  I sure don't want to have it on Easter of all days!  I don't want to be that kind of Christian - I don't want to be that kind of person - ever, not in any setting. I especially don't want to display that kind of reproachful, self-righteous, unloving "all about me" attitude on a day that is all about our Savior. 

The truth is, I should be thrilled that there are people giving faith in Jesus another shot this year - or maybe even giving it their first shot ever. And when I successfully remove my desire for self from the equation, I am honestly thrilled to see new faces in church pews - even if the new face is in my seat.  After all if the new face is that of someone who is throwing their hands up, fed up with life as they've known it, desperate to find out if this whole "savior" business has any substance to it, and finally willing to give Jesus that one last shot - then they're someone a lot like I was many years ago. 

And so wouldn't it be a sin for any of us regular church-goers to render an audible sigh (and maybe even a roll of the eyes) when having to squish in or find another seat - possibly making someone feel unwelcome, unwanted and unloved?  Don't enough people struggle with these feelings day-to-day already without having to feel them during a yearly visit to a local church?  Maybe that new face is someone looking for the unconditional love and acceptance that can only be found in Jesus. Maybe they're hoping that this is the year they've stumbled into a church full of people who upon seeing a new face in church - even when that new face is staring up from your seat - smile warmly, stick out a hand to shake, introduce themselves and say "Welcome!  Happy Easter!  It's so nice to meet you."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Songs in the Key of Love

Happy Valentine's Day!  I always love a good love song, but this holiday set aside especially for love has me thinking about some of my favorites more so than usual.  Here's a listing of a few love-related scenarios and the songs I think capture the feelings experienced by each:

When you romantically love someone so much you’ve just gotta tell ‘em how you feel – Aretha Franklin’s cover of “Baby I Love You” (when you hear her sing this, hard to believe it wasn’t always “her” song! It was originally recorded by The Ronnettes.)

When you first find out someone you love, loves you back, and you are really and truly “In Love” - Katrina & The Waves “Walkin’ on Sunshine”.

When you think back to your first love – The Judd’s “Young Love” and Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine"

When people doubt your love/relationship, but ma-a-an you sure don’t – Tracy Ulman’s “They Don’t Know”. (Gotta be one of my ALL-TIME favorite songs, I'm sure that says a lot about me.  My daughter and I also decided last year that this is the ultimate Edward & Bella love song! We read/watch/enjoy the Twilight Saga – so sue us.)

When you love someone you think loves you back, and then find out it’s someone else they love romantically, and you are just a “friend.” – Bread’s “Diary”. (Such a beautiful song.)

When someone is trying to get in between you and your love – Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough”

When you’re lonely, and you’re ready to find another lonely person to carelessly numb your feelings with: #1 Don’t Do It! The feeling will pass. #2 Do pour yourself a glass of wine and turn on Willie Nelson’s “Help Me Make It Thru The Night”.

When you know someone who lost love, is changed forever by the loss and who hangs on to that love til the end anyway – No Show Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today”.

When the one you love, loves you no longer – Skeeter Davis’ “The End of The World” and Roy Orbison’s “Crying” (Now, I adore Roy Orbison, but my favorite version of this song is by Carrie Underwood – she sang in way back on her American Idol days. )

When I remember my first love – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ in the Dark”.

And because Valentine’s Day isn’t only to celebrate romantic love:

When I think about my mother-love for Rebecca – Bette Midler’s cover of “Baby Mine” and Helen Reddy’s “You & Me Against the World”.

When I think about Andrea, who for years has made sure that Valentine’s Day does not pass without me receiving flowers in some form or fashion (real flowers, cookie flowers, emailed photos of flowers, text message flowers – you name it), and friends who send me Valentine’s cards – “Thank You For Being a Friend”.

I'm sure I've missed many love experiences/scenarios here - what are some you can think of with a song to go with?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Letter to My Fellow Single-Moms

Because of my status as a Single Mom, married friends often share stories about the struggles of other single moms they know with me.  I consider it a privelege to hear these stories and pray for other women who are on similar life journeys to mine.  Today is only Tuesday, and I've heard three stories already just this week.  This blog is just a glimpse of what I'm thinking and feeling for fellow Single Moms...

Dear Friend,
My heart broke for you today when I heard of the very difficult struggle you're experiencing right now.  I don't know the details, and I don't need too - it's enough for me to know that a storm is raging in your life and making a mess of things for you and your child(ren). I know how totally alone you feel. I have felt that kind of alone before myself -  too many times to count, one time no easier to bear than any other. I know how scary, desperate, and isolated you're feeling to be facing what seems an insurmountable trial - and to be facing it without the resources neccesary:  money, energy, know-how, emotional strength, confidence or even the ability to just speak your struggle to friends, family or even to God - likely you're lacking a combination of all these things (when I face trials I usually am).

I know what it's like to lie down at night, urgently needing to whisper your fears about a situation to someone who loves you, then rolling over to nothing more than bitter tears on your pillow and your own troubling thoughts. I have been where you are - when what you need is a downpour of something good, anything good - but instead you're getting a monsoon of misery. I know what it's like when there's nowhere to go but up - yet even looking up means that rain will get in your eyes and blur your already unclear vision. I understand what it's like when life seems to be unraveling and even just clinging to the Lord is incredibly difficult.

I know, intimately, the shame you're feeling.  It makes me sad to know that right now not a minute of your waking hours pass without you telling yourself things like:
"I should have ____________!"
"I shouldn't have ________!"
"God I'm so stupid!  I can't believe I ____________."
"How did I get myself in this situation?"
"Why am I always back to square one?" 
"When will I ever learn?"
"I can't do this alone.  I can't handle this!" 
"Why can't I get it together already?"
"What am I going to do?"
"Where is God when I need Him?"
"What's wrong with me?"
"This is why I'm alone, nobody will want me with all of this crap to deal with." 

Please don't be so hard on yourself.  You have nothing to be ashamed of.  You've done the best you can with what you've had every step of the way - it's not easy to be the worlds best decision maker when there's no one readily availale to bounce ideas off of and the decision has to made quickly.  It's not easy to have it all together, when there's no one available to pick up the slack as you're slipping because work, parenting and the tasks of just living day-to-day in the modern world often make handling it all effectively a slippery task at best.  Take a deep breath, take your time and keep putting one foot in front of the other.  If you need help to do this - email me or call me - I'll try to hold your hand through the slick spots. (Oh, and everyone has crap to deal with - even our married friends.)

I know what it's like to have those feelings of shame confirmed when you finally find the strength to speak your struggle to friends and family who in turn say things that indicate their true feelings of : 
"What were you thinking?" 
"How did you let this happen?" 
"You've got to learn to make better choices."
"When are you going to finally get it together?"
"And you really wonder why you're still single???" 
"You really need to be more responsible.  What did you expect?"
"You're going to have to clean this up yourself, it's the only way you'll ever learn."

Yes, there are those who choose to condemn and judge you and your current circumstance ("Out of love" of course, right? Wrong. With that kind of "Love" most of us singles wonder how the self-righteous manage to stay married!). Also ignore advice from those who swear they know what you're experiencing because in their early married years they were broke/facing a problem/whatever too. Truth is, there's a HUGE difference between being married & broke with someone physically by your side to go through the struggle with you and being broke/single/raising kids & struggling alone.  It's not the same. They don't know. Their advice is annoying at best, harmful at worst. So fuggetaboutit. Let their condemning words and judgments pass over you and fall away like so many harmless raindrops. Because...

There are also friends and family who are crying with you and who have compassion for you. Instead of offering advice, these friends will offer you space under their umbrella and will share your struggle with you.  These friends will come along side, actually do what they are able to do - and if that happens to be nothing - they'll help you problem solve in whatever way they can.  Let these people love you and shore you up and with time, the tears on your pillow will turn to tears of relief.

Finally, it is from experience and with a strong hope that you'll experience the same before this is all over with, that I can tell you with great confidence:  Right this moment God is working things out for you.  He does hear your cry.  He loves you where you are, as you are. No matter how difficult things get, no matter how long this struggle takes to play out, He's not leaving your side.  Even if you did "get yourself into this mess", He's not going to rub your face in it.  He is going to love you through it.  He is going to use this storm for good - someway, somehow. Keep praying my friend, and know that I am praying with you.  I honestly believe that before all is said and done, He will dry your eyes and when you look up you'll see the sun.
Loving you, praying for you, and In His Love -

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Soundtrack to an Ordinary Life

Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul. ~author unknown
Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence. ~Robert Fripp

Music has been my playmate, my lover, and my crying towel. ~Buffy Sainte-Marie

Music is what feelings sound like. ~author unknown

I adore these quotes on music.  I have always loved music - all kinds.  Music truly enhances life, I can't imagine life without it.  So much so that I have found myself throughout life assigning certain songs as the soundtrack for the many things encompassed in life: various experiences, people who have crossed my path, phases of life, big and small events -  and of course the feelings and emotions that are tied into all of these things. 

Often in my blogs, I'll include the lyrics to a song that speaks to me in direct relation to what I'm writing, or sometimes a link to the video.  Today's blog about the soundtrack to my life was actually inspired by a friend's blog and my overly-long comment to it - sorry Adam!  You can check out his blog here: . 

So, in an effort to let you know a little more about me, here are a few tracks on the soundtrack of my life...

When I was teased in elementary school, I loved

When I remember my sisters and I putting on "shows" in the living room for dear ol' Mom and Dad, I think of my signature solo 

When as a high school sophomore I finally realized that a pimply-faced boy named Larry didn't love me back (Oh yes, I was nine-kinds of dramatic!)

When I packed up myself and my daughter and moved to Atlanta to start life over even now when we hear this, Rebecca lights up and says "Mom, it's our song!"

When I’m driving, windows down, you will likely find me listening to because nobody rocks like THE BOSS! His music *feels* like the pulse of our great country.

When I'm overwhelmed with life as a single person/single-Mom , ,

When I think of my Pawpaw & Mawmaw I think of it's what visiting them in Louisiana felt like.

When I think of my usually darling daughter, I think of  (bring on the tissue!)

When it's been a tough work week and Friday won't get her soon enough

When I think about life overall this is the song I think of

What I hope other people will someday think of if they ever ponder my life

When I need to jam, it’s probably something along the lines of  I mean, come on – That’s ROCKIN’!

That's the short list folks.  I wonder, what are some songs that speak to you?

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Road To Hell

... is paved with good intentions.  That's what "they" say, right?  Well, watch out folks, I'm about to be intentional!

So, I'm a huge fan of resolutions. I've had a list of resolutions every year for the past 6 years, and have managed to accomplish in full, or 95% of each list. They've been very concrete/specific resolutions that I could measure pretty easily. This year, included in my short list of concrete "to do's," is a somewhat heftier resolution to become more intentional in my approach to life and how I am living it.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I tend to rush headlong into every endeavor. I've always tried to make this a positive as in "It shows I'm eager! It shows I'm not afraid of a challenge!" Many times everything works out just fine, once or twice even for good. As such, I’ve had folks say that my rushing in wasn't so bad, why even many Bible heros often made quick decisions! Me? I’m not fighting Philistine’s! I don’t have to approach everything as if I’m “going in like gang-busters!” I make quick decisions on everything, whether something big or small is at stake. That’s not wise. When my snap decisions haven’t worked out, there's usually been a long road to travel before I'm finished dealing with the consequences. I’ve mastered the “art” of I learning the hard way – even when what I’m doing is in and of itself good. This year I want to slow myself down and prayerfully and mindfully consider how I spend my time, my resources, myself. I want to become a humanBEING instead of a humanDOING.

How I’ve operated thus far: I don’t want to turn down anyone’s dinner invitation. I don’t want to turn down anyone who is asking me to dog-sit. I don’t want to turn down any request to help or serve whether it’s at church, work, or at community service. This is not to say I don’t want to do any of these things at all – quite the contrary. Aside from work these are all things I enjoy doing.

What I know and want now: I have a strong desire to serve at church, but I can’t serve any area well when I’m trying to serve too many areas. I want to do a good job at work, but I can’t perform at my best when I don’t say no to any project, when I work 50-60 hours a week and become exhausted, or when I bring work home. I can’t effectively help in any community service endeavor when I am meeting myself coming and going, 24/7, 365 days a year. No matter how much I want too - I can’t be all things to all people in my life, so I must learn to be more comfortable saying "No."


First let me say this, life is pretty darn good when you’ve got so many loving friends that a “problem” is too many dinner invitations. I honestly do not view this as a problem at all. The problem lies in the fact that when I try to accept every dinner invitation I receive, I’m not spending enough time with any friends to truly develop a deeper, stronger relationship. Let me be clear people: Please DO NOT STOP inviting me to dinner! I want to come and eat with you! Food and friends are pretty much my favorite things. Most of you are really gifted cooks. That said, when I have been away from home 6 nights in any given week, and I’m invited to dinner on the 7th, sometimes I need to be honest with myself and with you by admitting that I need to keep my behind at home! (Another option: Maybe we can plan dinners with more friends - I know, that’s technically a party – but who doesn’t love a party?)


I am no longer going to work myself to death at my job. I’m going to do a good job, but I work so many hours in an effort to make more money. Even so the money always runs out, I don’t ever have enough to pay my few bills – necessities, not shopping bills. They way I’ve been working myself is evidence that I am not even close to trusting God to provide – though He promises me he will. When I am spend all my time at work, I don’t leave anytime to do His work. Oh, and ask me if I’m a good example of Christian loving-kindness in my workplace. (That would be an easy “NO”.)

To be totally honest, I’ve worked so much that I have denied myself and my daughter the necessary “time out” from daily life that we all need called “vacation” for years! The last time Rebecca and I took a bonafide vacation, she was seven years old. Rebecca will be 15 in four short weeks. That’s too long folks. This is my official notice that we will be on vacation the 2nd week of October. Why so far away? I’m actually PLANNING the trip (see, that’s me being more intentional right there!). Oh, and funding. A single-mom’s gotta save up, ya feel me? (How I’m planning on saving will be another blog for another day in the near future.)


I am going to continue to serve at church as a Middle School Youth Leader, Small Group Coordinator, take my turn in visitors reception each month – I enjoy each of these, and feel they are where I can be best used at church. I’ll even continue to dismiss the children when I’m asked too! Chances are I’ll say yes to the random need here or there. Someone recently asked me if I was going to take back any of my “Coffee Angel” duties. Nope. No. Nada. Not because it’s a horrible task – it’s not, in fact, it’s a cool task because EVERYONE loves the Coffee Angel! But it’s neat to walk in on Sunday morning and never know who is going to be there making coffee – great to see different people being able to serve our church.

I am going to spend more time in prayer, more time being still, more time being quiet (don’t roll your eyes! I can do it – really I can!). I want to surrender more of myself and my time to God so that I'm a better reflection of what He can accomplish in a person’s life, and a truer reflection of His love to others as I serve His people and my church family. In doing less, I think I’ll serve more – more effectively. He’s a Big God, but when I serve while running on empty, people don’t know it.


Run two half-marathons this year.

Write more personal letters and thank-you ‘s.

Clean out the clutter at home , minimizing stuff to maximize peace and comfort.

Get the porch kitty neutered, vaccinated and inside - he’s cold out there!

Finish reading Anna Karenina and maybe, just maybe, tackle some Dostoevsky…