Have a dressed up day!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When There Is Only One Thing That Matters Now and Only One Thing That Will Matter Later

I remember I thought the beautiful brown stainings on all the moldings of the church and the orange carpet didn't match gray paint.

I thought it was ugly.  Cold gray against the warmth of the other?  I thought it was ugly.

And I said so.  I was just several years out of school with my design degree and young enough to think that should count for something.  It didn't.

It's been close to twenty years and I can't remember what I said.  I can't remember what she said.  I just remember one thing - I'm not proud of how I acted. 

And I say this to her as she cries through the phone.  When I want to reach out and touch her and hold her to me and hear the heart that beat closest to mine before any others. 

Years from now, baby, when all of this is only a bad memory, there is only one thing that will matter.  It won't matter what anyone said,  who talked about you and who didn't,  who hurt you and who didn't.  There is only one thing that will matter.  How you acted.  When you remember this you will only remember how you acted.

Trust me.  I know.

So I tell her it is okay.  I take a deep breath and remind myself that I would fight lions for her and I give her permission to take care of herself - not me.  To stop crying and stop thinking and stop fighting and be what I raised her to be.

Kind, loving, forgiving, respectful. 

And later I lie in the bed and remember the carpet and the paint and tell myself it doesn't matter what anyone thinks.  We're good and I know it.  I say -

Remember, Rie - if you'd fight lions for her you can do this.  You can do this.

She is the only thing that matters in this great big whole mess.  The only thing.

Ten years ago it was she - the one who ten years earlier had liked the gray paint - and I - the young disrespectful  one who didn't - that redecorated that lovely building from one end to the other.

She and I who redid everything - except the gray paint - together.  Who put down new carpet that makes gray and brown work and ate lunch together and shopped together and laughed together.  She who became one of the greatest mentors and friends I ever had. 

And eight years ago when I stood beside her grave and listened I thought about that.  Those good times.  I don't remember thinking about the argument, maybe I did, but I only remember looking at the flowers on her grave and knowing I would miss her.

Because- if you let it- time heals, baby girl, time heals.

Trust me, I know.

So today when more pain layers on I keep reminding myself - remember your lessons learned.  Remember God's grace displays in lessons learned.  Remember, you can't teach her what you won't do yourself.  Remember, Rie.  Remember.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

She's A Very Blessed Little Girl

I lie straight in the bed and stare at the ceiling.

Mommy, I miss Daddy.

So do I, Maxter, so do I.  But, thank you for sleeping with me every night and protecting me.

This son of mine takes my hand and says -
I'll hold 'ou hand, Mommy.  I'll never ever let go.

I don't know where she is or who she is.
I don't know if she'll catch a bus for school tomorrow or wet her bed tonight or run to her parents from a scary dream.
I don't know if she likes blue popsicles or purple, or if she likes the crust cut off her sandwich or not.

But I am sure of one thing -

she's a very very lucky little girl.

(that is if she can get past him leaving on adventures to save the world from all the villans, and that he often misplaces his secret identity mask - and she'll have to find it - and that he likes to pee off the porch)

she's a very blessed little girl.

Monday, October 29, 2012

When The Only Reason Is Because My Father Says So

I told Sandra last night on the phone -

What if people think she doesn't love us - or worse - doesn't want us anymore?

What if they don't know that she stills comes over all the time?  That she still hugs me and tells me she loves me?  That she sends me messages like this one last night at 9:58 -

I love you mama, I'm going to sleep.  Goodnight!

What if they think that because I lie awake at night struggling so hard with accepting and the giving of a gift that she now belongs to others?

What if they don't know that she is her daddy.  Trusting, forgiving, accepting.  Wonderful.

What if they don't know that she believes in me, even when I have no idea what I'm doing and she gets caught in the crossfire.

And she listens and loves me through the phone and she tells me - No matter what, I stand with you.

But right now I have no idea where to stand.  I'm not all that great a choice right now.

And she loves me and baby girl loves me so why do I keep fighting tears?  Because now I know so much more than I knew Saturday morning.

That so many others don't love me.  Don't even like me.  Nauseating?

I hide in the office in the dark so if someone sees the light they won't know I'm in there.  I'm trying to figure out where I went so wrong and the Spirit tells me to be bold and I'm hiding and arguing that I think I'll be better off if I just always always stay so quiet.

And then I remember something I heard on tv just a few weeks ago.  I scribbled it down on white space so I could remember it later -

and now it's later.  It feels like forever since Saturday morning when I very gently hit the off button because I didn't know what to say, because I was at such a loss, because the pain was growing stronger by the second.  Because I was beginning to believe what she was saying.

So I search and I read what I wrote on the white space-

my father says i am.  i am capable, his child, accepted,  i may not feel like it, you may not see it but my father says i am

Then I go to bed without that little pill to stop my tears and tell myself that tomorrow I will just put one foot in front of the other.  And I know I'm wrong so often but I'll just keep putting that one foot in front of the other and reminding myself that the ones that love me are so much more than enough.

And I sing, you are my sunshine . . .

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When Sandra Tucked Me In

I lie awake and wait for him.  It's not too late but late enough and this foot is screaming loud and I just want to kiss goodnight and roll over and sleep.

And then he asks me if I saw the email. 

The one from Sandra.

No,  do I need to read it tonight?

You might want to.

I close my eyes and lose a few moments before what he says registers and I open them to say ok but he's already on that 4 he loves.  He reads words that make all of the ache and soreness and unworthiness and pain of the day go away.  They remove the fear that I might wake up to the negative and the worry that she might wake up sick and the dread of what tomorrow brings in a home not looking like a home. 

The thoughts that I had moments ago of being incapable of functioning in an order of peace.  Of forgetting too much and remembering too much. Of wanting to pull out this hair that's been so unruly lately I stare in the mirror and try to figure out what to do with it and it is the only bad thing that son brought.

Words of loving me and owing me and thanking me.  Of my spirit and my heart and my knowledge.  Of me being her blessing. 

Words of love that come from a heart with much more room in it than mine.  From a mind that thinks of others quicker than mine does and plans unselfishly and stands in the rain with no umbrella.  That cries silly over things most take for granted and loves my kids unconditionally.
From a friend who puts me in my place like a sister and never cuts me off and knows better than to be ashamed around me. 

He looks at me and I laugh.  What does she want?  I joke because it wouldn't take much for tears to come tonight. 
Because just when I forgot to say my prayers and let Father God rescue me from my day He rescues me anyway.  With the gift of her.
With words beautiful coming from this crazy technology into my bed and wrapping me like a warm blanket. 
When my fourth sister tucked me in.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Letter To My Darlins' - remember the maze?

Sometimes we just don't know what to do? 

And in front of us lies two paths.  And both paths will get us to that final destination that is our longing.  Our desire.

But which path we take will determine who we are.  And by one path we are guaranteed suffering.
And by one path we are promised peace through suffering.

Sometimes we forget to pray for wisdom.  We pour ourselves out to our Father and ask direction but then  forget to pray for the ability to discern.  In discerning you perceive and make judgements - based upon your wisdom.  And God grants  wisdom and with His love He delivers unto you two gifts.  The gift of just feeling - of intuition - of just knowing in heart that a path is wrong.

But my darlins', sometimes we just don't want to know that it is wrong.  Sometimes we just want to believe that it really isn't and it is only guilt brought on to us by outside forces that causes us to feel wrong.

And sometimes we are just okay with it being wrong - but we really aren't - are we?  Because our heart wouldn't hurt if we were really okay.

You were knitted in the womb by your Maker.  And in that knitting He intertwined your being to be in His image.  And in His image you recognize wrong by - may we say your gut feelings?

And in His love He delivered the second gift of knowledge acquiredBut even one acquires one's knowledge from a God that gifted us with a brain designed by Him.  Complicated and wired so we may - by grace - gain knowledge. 

So in front of us lies these two paths.  And in our heart lies this desire.  And in a world perfect as created there would only be one straight path to there.  But by sin there are now two.  And only by sin and seperation, for God cannot be where there is sin, will you walk the crooked path. 

With eyes upon Jesus we walk straight ahead.  But with eyes on this world we must make curves and turns and fall into and try to avoid ditches and holes and bumps and piles of wrecked and twistedness that blocks until we are then a wrecked wrong struggling broken person who forgot - or ignored - the prayer of wisdom.

Do you remember the maze from your childhoods that was dark and twisted and full of scares?  The maze we would work hard on one time a year to bring you and others laughter?  Remember the verses along the paths and the light at the end of the cardboard tunnel?  It was to bring you wisdom.  It was a way for me to show you to see and learn. It was a way I prayed one grand memory would help keep you out of the dark.

So you, you who are the hearts of my heart - do not listen to me or to your daddy. Seek out for yourself and you shall see because you belong.
If you want to be wise open yourself up to your Father - for He loves you. 

Seek out what is the truth and then be ready to accept it and follow it. Pay attention.

Far beyond your own abilities you will then be gifted - you will discern - and you will know what path to place that next step. 
And you begin new - fresh and forgiven - always so loved by your Jesus right where you are - trusting and believing you will be blessed. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When I Don't Want Him To Know

Sometimes I think she's Izzy's personal taxi.  Actually, I know she is.

 So tonight I promised to take Emily home.  Way past my due.
It's dark and raining so he takes her - he really is too good to me.
I waited until he left to google Malaysia.
He'll be going in a couple of months.  There to build longhouses.
For 8943 days I've never been away from him for ten. 

Ten days on the other side of the world.
Little feet patter up and lean over my shoulder -
How safe is Mawasia? he reads.
Mommy, 'ou know Mawasia is safe.
And he runs to brush his teeth.
Now I hear in the back of the house a little tune -
How safe is Mawasia?  Oh, ohhhhh, how safe in Mawasia?
And I run to son and see him swiping imaginary sword into space of imaginary something and I say-

Hush, don't sing that.  Daddy will know I googled it.
What is it I don't want him to know?
How nervous I am?  How frightening the thought is of him being so far away?  Of him not being in America?
And I know this is a dream come true for him.  It would be for me.
Or maybe I don't want him to know how little my faith is?
How I'm already questioning is this right?  Him away so far?

Us being left without him?

How I wonder why my comfort can't be with him here beside me when I know there is no comfort in any place other than the place called?

For other than the place called only is restlessness.

For out of will is only restlessness and pieces missing and searching.

And I hear him stomping the rain off his shoes at the front door.  I hit the exit button and promise myself no more questioning.  No more fears of the unknown. 

For faith large only has to be as big as mustard seed. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012


This is proof of yesterday's post.

I wanted a picture of my first camera to show y'all, so I took this -

Izzy wanted a pic of it for her blog and she took this -

 in our backyard on an old board.
What'd I tell you?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When You're Not Good Enough But They Are - and it makes your heart sing

When I was seventeen I wanted to be a photographer.  I didn't even own a camera.

My fella was in the navy stationed overseas and on the day of my high school graduation I opened a delivery package shipped from Japan with a Canon AE-1 camera in it - with a love note telling me I could be anything I wanted to be.

I felt special.  I felt loved.  I might have been the happiest girl in the whole USA.  Quick - who sings that song?

I loved that camera.

I never learned how to properly use it and so my pictures were always overexposed or underexposed or other fancy photog words.

But I remember the feel of it in my hands.

I remember how it felt to wind it and how the click of the shutter button sounded.  There was a rewind button and you pulled it up and turned it and the back of the camera popped open.  And when it popped I felt important.  Feeding the film in and getting it just right on the teeth made me feel like a professional - even if the pictures of the flamingos at the zoo didn't look professional and even though I sometimes opened the back and exposed the whole roll of film. 

I stood in a really long line to register for junior college two months later and when it was my turn all the photography classes were full.  They were full for three semesters and by then my dreams had changed - and so had my fella.

When I was pregnant with Delia He's Too Good To Me gave me a camera on Mother's Day.  I think I probably cried cause I cried alot then, and I remember wanting him to learn how to use it and then show me cause by then I was already in love with the idea of him taking care of me. 

In 2000 I had just started taking some professional photos and tinting them when a drunk driver forgot to turn his lights on and hit us hard.  The left side of my face was broken and for so many years I couldn't close my left eye to use my right eye for the viewfinder.  And I can't wink with my right eye, so that was that  . . .

On my birthday last year he surprised me with my first digital camera - with all the whistles and bells.

 At least I thought he gave it to me. 

She's my baby girl and is four years from seventeen and she already is a photographer.

And isn't it joy to see one of your dreams take life in your child? I wasn't good enough, but she is.

There was more than one thing missing in my dream, and one of them was seeing - something you have to be born with - I wasn't - she was - a good eye.  She sees. 

She's gifted.  Some things are gifts.  One can learn to use a camera but not everyone can see what needs to be taken.

She doesn't want to be a photographer when she grows up. 

But maybe one day she'll stand in a very long line and the only classes open will be photography classes.  Maybe then she will know that dreams change.

But maybe not.

This is a love note from your daddy and me that you can be anything you want to be - take any road you want to take.

She has her own blog now - Isabela Cupstid Photography.  May I ask you to please go to it and leave her an encouraging comment? 

And . . .

Does anyone have a camera I can use?

Friday, August 3, 2012

the bluebird barber shop

He has never liked it, so we decided to make a game of it.

He called and made an appointment with BB at the Bluebird Barber Shop.

He shook hands and introduced himself as Clark Kent -

but 'ou can call me Superman.

He took his place and began telling us about his friends.

He talked about knowing Iron Man, whose favorite food is steak -  'cause he wich,

and Thor - he loves hambugers,

and Captain America's favorite - cheese pizza.

He told us how they come to his house and play games with him.

But then . . .

the fun was over.

Do you think he didn't want a haircut?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In Which A Stranger Brings Me Grace

Yes - each time I notice it when I don't hold it together.

I notice it in a messy home.

I notice it in a laundry room overflowing and a van needing to be cleaned out and plants dying on the front porch.

It's in a kitchen not stocked and a child not being schooled and a husband not being loved.

It's everywhere when I don't hold it together.

 Children fight instead of play and love and even the dog lies lonely in the corner and I lie awake in the dark and despair.

It's everywhere when I don't hold it together.  Cause when Mama doesn't function the world seems to stop spinning order and just slings chaos.  I see the way they look at one another and hear the whispers so why doesn't someone just come on out and say -

Mama's not holding it together.

It's falling apart.  That's what it is.  And it's everywhere when I have days that I feel shook up.  Like a syndrome that shatters.

Like a three day migraine but this is the fourth day of not holding it together and where is a migraine when you need one?  I could count it as excuse but excuse is only that I'm refusing grace and accepting despair tied in a knotted black ribbon.

I'm late for the Pooh movie - cause I forgot the Pooh movie - the only one I wanted to see in the summer showings. When I come in Sandra has bought my tickets and saved my seats and listens when I complain before I ever even say hello.  Maybe I never said hello?

And then a stranger shows me grace and I don't even think she knew it or intended it but just like I used the buttons on his shirt for an impromtu math lesson my gentle Father uses this stranger to remind me that He catches every fall - every one.

I place my order in the drive-thru and she tells me $9.79 and I have a five and three ones and a dollar in change.  And no card.  I'm looking for my card and Izzy's digging for change and I'm looking for my card - the one I still can't find - and I'm remembering that I read somewhere, can't remember where, that only amateurs rush.  I remember hating that when I read it and I'm looking and thinking only amateurs rush when she rolls her eyes and asks me

Is that nine dollars?

Yes, but I'm trying to find my card.

Here. Just take it. Nine's fine.

There was no smile from her, no poor lady she's having a really bad day look on her face. No sympathy - just move the line along.

And I take the bag and wonder if I'll make it home before I cry cause my darlins' will think there's something wrong and there is something wrong but not what they'll think.

Cause now it's shame.  Because it is grace that is everywhere and my Father has a way out all around me and just like Elijah when touched by an angel God shows me that he indeed does care about my struggles and loves me deeply.  He loves me and He is saying she's having a bad day and He whispers a sweet love story to me.

And I listen.  And I ask for courage and faith.  And maybe just a little bit of that sweet life in the hundred acre woods?

And I think I heard my Father say -

Soon, it's coming soon, my child.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saying Yes to the Dress

It's five in the morning and the early morning hours have belonged to my mind now since four.

I was twenty-three years old and a little scared Christmas Eve of 1988 when Lena convinced me to take a pregnancy test. 

Later that day sitting in front of a fire in a little duplex in Clinton he unwrapped a baby's first Christmas onesie.

And it was dark with only firelight and Christmas lite and the light in his eyes and excitement overtook fear and we began a journey together, the two of us with baby now made three and each day has been a step toward another step and then another.

Yesterday was a trial run and I think she figured some things out in her mind and now today in just a few hours we go to buy the dress.  That little onesie was her first outfit and I was nervous so Lena bought it for me and made me wrap it and tell him what my body had been screaming for weeks but love will buy this dress.

She was changing yesterday when I sat quietly where all mothers of the brides sit and whispered into the phone how proud he'd be of her. 

She's trying so hard with the money, you'd be proud of her.  She's not even trying on expensive dresses and she's thinking so hard about the price that I want to scream to somebody to bring her the most expensive one here.  And she's beautiful.

And I kept thinking about that little onesie.  And I cried the first dress she put on because that onesie doesn't fit any more and I know that's not rational because where would I be if that onesie had been the only thing that ever fit but sometimes a mother's thoughts and logic are miles apart.

So today she'll try on dresses and her eyes will keep drifting to price tags and I'll want to tell her not to look but I know I can't and shouldn't so I will pray she knows numbers have never and will never define her worth.  Be it sugar numbers or insulin units or tests passed or failed or money spent or saved in the end there's only love  - for she was and is a dream come true with a little first Christmas outfit while she still grew strong inside me and this dress her daddy will proudly walk her down the aisle in.

If you say yes to a dress today I promise not to cry.  But I don't promise to not lie awake at four in the morning just to think about you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Christmas in July - and rags tied to behinds

I'm sitting at the computer when he comes and plops down on the floor next to me.

Mommy, I have a quest'on


I continue to type.

Mommy . . .

I turn and look at him.  He's spinning circles like a sit and spin and I wonder if he could do this on the whole floor.  It's dirty and I could tie a wet towel to his behind and . . .


And I realize I haven't heard a word he said.

Sorry, baby, what?

Is Santa Claus real?


I panic.  I'm not expecting this on a hot July day.  Maybe a hot Mississippi December day - but July?

Is Santa Claus real?

And he's spinning and could care less what my answer will be, so . . .

from where I'm not sure of I pull from inside of myself - the truth.

And I explain earlier to him than I did to my girls about Santa Claus.

And he laughs and spins and I warn him not to tell his friends cause that's what Mommys and Daddys are for and then I think once again

about putting that wet rag on his rear.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

When Your Future Catches Up With You

You at home?

It's him.

You eat supper yet?

These were the words that came across the cell screen on just this ordinary evening, on just ordinary June 11.

He wants to know if I've eaten.

Nope, her daddy texts back.

You wanta go grab something?  On me.

He wants to know if I want to get a bite to eat. Do I wanta get a bite to eat?

He laughs - maybe I can tell him I've eaten and it'll go away.

 You haven't even if you have, I say.

I don't know.  Do I want to? her daddy texts, trying to give him a hard time.

Ok. I'm about to pick you up.

He's coming to pick me up.

And we just look at each other.  Her daddy smiles, maybe looks a little nervous.  I feel a little something right in the pit. We look at each other with eyes that know no secret.

He leaves and I sit and wait.  I try to imagine the conversation.  Try to imagine a young man's nerves against a father who, well, never plans on giving away his baby girl.  I pray he remembers what he felt like twenty-four years ago, that he shows this new son tonight the love like he will feel for him in all the years to come. 

In the corner of my mind I remember all the laughs back all the years when we played this night in our head.  When I teased him about it, when it was just a joke, a day in the far far away future. When he said he knew all the young men's tricks, that he'd know a young con man, that he'd have his shotgun with him.

 When we really truly had no idea what we'd do.

And now on what was just this ordinary day the future has caught up with us.

What did you say to him?

Just what you think I'd say. 

And he tells me.

Then I told him to love her, to always love her, to love her no matter what. And I told him to never give up. To never ever give up.

Did you tell him you'd be watching?  I half joked.

He didn't answer me.  I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he tried to focus on the television.  And I wondered . . .

how does a daddy feel when he just gave his little girl away?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

You Be Cary Grant, I'll Be Deborah Kerr

Remember at 1:00 in the morning in bed when we were googling favorite love songs and quotes?

Remember that I couldn't find the Cary Grant quote I love?

Found it.

-My world goes around only because of her, she's the focal point of my existence.  Everything I've ever done has either been for her or on account of her.  We've been friends as well as lovers.  If I sing in my bath it's because I know I'm going to have breakfast with her.  Without her I'd not say I'd be lost, but I certainly wouldn't be very clear in my mind.  I wouldn't know which way to turn.

-You must love her very much.

-Love and like and value.
 - - The Grass is Greener

The grass can always seem to be greener on the other side unless you are part of a circle.  Thank you for being my circle.

love you,

Monday, June 11, 2012

Love in every Language

Hey, It's Shelby! Never done this before but I am gonna give it a try!



El amor


       Of course we all know the first word, but do you recognize any of the others? These are all words for "love" in Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian! This one word is known all over the world, some choose to show it while others don't.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life...
Psalm 23:6

Our God loves with a love that we will never comprehend. His love is remarkable and unfailing! I fail God more times in a day than I can count, but even so He never stops loving me. His love reaches to every corner of the world, no one goes without His Love but many never realize they are loved by Him.

Is it not our job to shine His light and spread His love? We all have our differences, none of us are the same but we are supposed to "love our neighbor as we love ourselves..." Leviticus 19:18

In our thinking, acting, and feeling toward other people and God must be done in Love, any of these not done in Love is sin. Even when God punishes us it is done in love.
It breaks my heart knowing that some people will never know God's love, some people will go their entire lives thinking that the world has abandoned them and cares nothing for them. As Christians it is our job to love, we are capable to love because we are filled with God's love!

I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. Ezekiel 36:26

Some people in our lives will be a little difficult to love, I know because I have dealt with it. We are able to push aside our feelings and shine His light and love if we only let Him take control of our situations. He wants to be in the center of our lives, He wants to fill us with a new heart that is capable to overcome our feelings and love with a love like His.

Have you ever sat and looked at young children playing with each other and wonder how they can get along with kids of all shapes, colors, and sizes? It is because they have not yet been shown the hatred that can fill our hearts. Children love without thinking, how amazing would that be? To love without thinking of their religion, ethnicity, family etc.

This week is VBS at our church! I love this week, it is filled with excitement and joy. Knowing that there are children all over our church that come from different kinds of backgrounds and homes but learning about ONE thing! Our God and His amazing POWER! Adults and youth are taking time out of their week to be there and show God's love to these children. Children that they have never met and may never seen again.

We need to walk in our daily lives shining HIS LOVE, not caring about what other people think, only what our heavenly Father thinks! Taking time out of our day to reach out to other people who may just need a little love, God's kind of love.

Christians from all over in Portugal, Spain, Russia, etc all worship ONE GOD, the God who loves us all unconditionally without fail. Even though we are all different we all need to strive for one thing! Loving others and showing what God can do for you! How God can change the lives of others through you, and just think that all of this can happen when you let God pour His love into you!

How Great is our God ( world edition )

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Faked It Till I Made It

I remember the day I made the decision to graduate him early. 

He was flying through kindergarten work.  Reading second grade readers fairly well and bored with his workbooks.

I logically told myself if I graduate him early then I can take two years to complete first grade, or a grade later on that he might struggle with. 

Made sense.  Still does.

So I planned.  Met with two beautiful friends who would be graduating their babies with my baby and we planned. 

They would pledge and count by fives and tens and recite Psalm 23 and a poem and answer interview questions and sing and change their tassels and throw up their caps.

I truly enjoyed the planning - even when I was complaining about it.

And the day drew nearer.

Izzy and I took him downtown and she took photos.  I knew what I wanted and argued with her that we did not need balloons.  She had a plan and stood her ground as the photographer and we bought balloons. 

The balloon photos - they are my favorite.

Izzy, you were right.  Forgive me.  But I'll do it again.  Sorry in advance.

Mom bought him a new sportscoat and I searched for the perfect yellow tie and Delia used the blow dryer on his hair.

And the day was here.

And it was a wonderful time with family and friends.  I don't think it could have gone any better.  Happy children and proud parents and love all around.  He spoke clearly and loudly and smiled till his cheeks had to hurt.

And I faked it - that this moment was what I really wanted.  'Cause what I wanted was when he couldn't say popsicle or when he called his milk no-no.

I smiled large and shed tears at the right moment in the slideshow and nodded to all the compliments on his behalf.  But deep down in the pit of my stomach I knew something.  I knew I wasn't sure that this was the right decision.  I wanted to pull him onto my lap and tell everyone I had made a mistake and we could all go home now.  We'd do this again next year - when it would be the right time.

And you know faking it till you make it?  What we mamas do sometimes - when we often want to give up and more often want to hide and we feel the need to scream - but we don't, we just fake it till we make it through that moment?

I faked it and I made it.  And later that night I watched him sleep.  Him lying there in just his briefs cause that's what big boys do and cuddling three blue dogs now, the third with a cap and tassel on.  I realized I had let my mind wander from the beauty of the moment. That I was thinking too much of what there is to lose instead of the abundant joy of what is here now.

Yeah, well, I'll do that again, too.  I apologize to myself in advance.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Louisiana's Best Kept Secret

At first we really didn't think anything about it. All children love animals, do they not?

It's been since she was very young, but I'm not exactly sure how old she was when I first realized how deeply her heart is connected to God's fifth and sixth day creatures.

 It was after the love of rocks.  There were buckets of them spilling over, weighing heavy and always on the floor.  Patience wore thin the day I put handfuls in the garbage.  She was barely four.  She'd never know.

And then she began to look for her rocks.  The rock that looked like the fish was missing.  Mommy, 'ou see me ittle wock that ooks ike . . .

and then another . . .

and then another. 

Big round innocent trusting eyes holding up chubby fingers to show me size. 

I swallowed hard each time and gave her my sympathy and helped her look and


It was after her love of pink and all things pink.  After the Polly Pockets had been packed up and the stuffed animals began to stay on their shelves.

After Jay Jay the Jet Plane and Bibleman and Squinkies.

But I knew before the day the small dog wandered into our yard and she convinced me to keep him for a few days.  Signs were put up and no one claimed him.  He was healthy and well cared for and I made the mistake of convincing her to let him go. 

He'll find his way home, Izzy.  If not, he'll come back here and we'll do something else.

He ran straight out of her arms and into the street.  Right in front of a car.  I heard the scream and wiped tears for what seemed liked forever and I thought of the rocks I had thrown away and wondered if she would think I had thrown this dog away.

She doesn't.

Over the last couple of years it has become apparent that it is more than a passing phase.

Her brain reads like an encyclopedia of animal knowledge.  

And her heart . . .
is like shelter.

It makes room and houses and cares and is safe refuge for all animals big and small.

We knew we were going the night before, but waited until morning to share - just the trip, not the location

Surprises are as fun on the giving end as the receiving end -
don't you think?

It's Louisiana's best kept secret.  An hour east of Baton Rouge and an hour north of New Orleans.  Ten curving miles out in the boondocks down Highway 445 to 40 East.  Past old barns.  Past century old homes falling down around their stories of love and laughter.  He thinks they need to be torn down.  I know they just need life breathed back into them.

Then there it is, one and a half miles on the left.  Right before the sign telling you children are welcome at the Ole Post Office Pizza and Daiquiri.

It hides in the middle of nowhere.

They look like they are coming, two by two. 
 And then some.

And they are everywhere.

She didn't speak at first.  I thought maybe I was wrong and this was not such a big deal.

It's not Africa, baby.  Maybe not a real safari.  But we can pretend, can't we?

She didn't say a word.  We drove down the curving dirt path to our waiting jeep.

Then she rolled down her window and breathed deep and there it was.  That big beautiful smile. 

Daddy, I didn't know there was a place like this here.

Yeah - he always gets the credit.  He doesn't throw away rocks or kill dogs.

 Some surprises are better on the giving end,

don't you think?

I confessed a couple of years ago about the rocks. 

Thought she'd think it was funny.

She didn't.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Good-bye, Preschool Hall

I gently tried to explain to Max that he would stay in his five year old Sunday school class. Yes, you graduated K5 early, but at church you will stay kindergarten. You'll stay with your friends.

He is so excited that this Sunday he will move upstairs, to the five year old class, out of the preschool hall.

At least one of us is . . .

To hold that first one when she was five just once more. That would be bliss.

To think with my brain and not so much my heart . . . that would be bliss.

I'm not logical or methodical. I'm emotional and chaotic.

And that used to be good enough.

Sunday I'll hold his hand and climb the stairs and feel Gregg's hand on my back and know that Max is beautiful and growing and in love with me still.

I'll watch him grin big and go in like he owns the world and try not to think too hard.

I could parent for hundreds of years and still not want to say good-bye to the preschool hall. 

Good-bye, preschool hall.

Hello, children's wing.

And time taking flight - be gentle with me, please.

Friday, May 4, 2012

When the Need Doesn't Matter

The worries of my world strike hard at four in the morning.  My mind drifts in this direction I yank back hard and turn my pillow to the cool side.  It grows warm and I sit up, stretch my feet that are yelling and give up.

I stand by her door but do not open it.  It's old and loud.  My hand finds that old pane and I utter, please, Father.

And that first child that is flying high has me whispering her own plea to above.  May her sugar be where it should be may she do as she should do and will you please, Father, make me a little better at this letting go. Where do I let go to?   And this new hold is not as easy as the first.

I lie back down and find him in the dark.  It has been too long and there is too much to do and not enough time and all that has held us apart or kept us apart is lost at four in the morning with his arms wrapped tight and I hear the breath I love you.  When he speaks it like a whisper breath and not a closing of a call or an exit out the door and I breathe it in like the gift it is.

I pull the covers up over his little body and wonder how she sleeps in that position and think about my day.

Today I will load the car and forget the camera or the bottle or the small flag he will wave and have to go back in and rush to not run late. 

Today I will stand on the side of the highway for a man I did not know but wish I had.  When he answered her 911 call and stayed by her side and told her it would be okay I should have taken the time to find him and thank him. I wonder how this event in her life will shape her.  He came and protected and comforted and now he was cruelly taken away and shouldn't she be too young for this?


I stand at the window looking out and think about the man that took this officer's life.  How does a person get to a place like that?  Did he not have someone to pull the covers up over him or pray hand on his door?  Did he not have someone to find in the dark?  Did he turn his back and say no over and over until his heart was hard?

This is the only highway I have ever known and each mile has memory and today I take my children and stand in respect and wonder how do you thank enough and why my highway?

Someone said there had to be a first, even in our little city, but why did there have to be?  I think of his child and his wife and who will whisper those words like breath and that's enough thinking and I notice my windows need washing and I turn away as the paperboy drives by and I wonder why don't I drink coffee?

Then - there it is.  What I have grown to expect and need and appreciate and adore.  The rush of comfort and peace and promise.

It always comes.  No matter the time the sun setting or rising no matter the question or the need.

It always comes.

Drawing of me losing my cool courtesy of budding artist, Izzy.

Have a dressed up day!

. . . put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12