Thursday, February 28, 2008

Just As I Am

Just as I am. Let's see according to the songwriter this meant: utterly hopeless -without one plea, darkly blotted in our souls, tossed about, conflicted, doubtful, frightful, fight-ful, poor, wretched, and blind. yikes. Yet we believe that our Savior, Jesus Christ, meets us in that wretched state and by His abounding mercy and love draws us to Himself "just as I am."

Amazing, isn't it? But then somewhere along the way, thanks to our "maturing" in our walk we decide that this same God who met us just as we were can no longer handle us just as we are. We start believing that we Christians are supposed to be dignified in our pain. Then, if by some horrible loss of our witness, we respond to devastation by throwing ourselves down and pitching a royal fit, we quickly shroud ourselves with guilt; making excuses to God and apologies to others.

And if we don't immediately plunge into the sea of self-guilt, it's not long before some pious Christian brother or sister -usually some legalistic nitwit who's only half way down their check list for earning (or keeping) their salvation; only half way because they just can't get past that "stop sinning" box - gazes down on us through piteous eyes, shaking their heads, and sucking their teeth...for shame, for shame, for shame.

I'm going to say something right now that might get me in a lot of trouble...hesitating... hesitating...gonna say it anyway. If you haven't bitched God out for something that was beyond your ability to understand and that shook you to the core of who you are in the past year or two of life, you may as well go and plant your fake, plastic behind in a department store window. You are a mannequin. A hollow imitation of humanity. And what's worse -you are the only one who is convinced by the mask you wear. Like some poor sap who doesn't know his toupee is on backwards.

I've seen too many instances recently of Godly people who are truly wounded by life, sin, or circumstance who just need permission to feel something less than super spiritual.

God tells us to cast our cares on Him because He cares about us. This makes me think of my children. Sometimes they come to me with quiet words expressing a fear or concern. But suppose one of them falls off a bike and finds themself sliding spread eagle down the pavement. How do they come to me then? Are you kidding me? In legs pumping, arms flailing every which a way, screaming their lungs out, body writhing agony. And I can say with a soft, soothing voice "baby, it's gonna be okay." At which point they will yell back at me "BUT IT HURTS!!!!"

Now, I could look at them and say "well, if you were a slightly more mature eight year old you would be handling this with more dignity." Of course, if they drag it out for six years and are clearly wallowing in the mud of self-pity I'll certainly give them the "buck up camper" speech. But I don't expect my child to stoically swallow legitimate hurts and I don't think God expects that from us either.

I have a song in the wings that will hopefully be ready for intro soon (at least to our church family crowd). One of the verses deals with this very thing:

"You are faithful when I am faithless,
You are strongest when I am weak.
You are mercy when I'm blinded by anger
I throw my fists in Your face, You gently lay me at Your feet.
You are faithful. You alone are faithful."
Copyright 2007

Let's take off the mask and get real with God and each other. You have my permission. ;-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Can't Drive 55

...but I can post 55 concurrent song titles! That's right -this is post #55 and yes, I have been sitting on that song until just this moment.

For those of you who thought I was insane, you'll be relieved to know that the ongoing stroll down musical memory lane was completely intentional. I was challenged back in December by Ron Millender to see just how long I could keep it up. Three months and 55 posts later -here we are. I have a personal goal of 100 but seriously, it's not as easy as you might think so don't hold me to it. Especially since I try to use songs that I know instead of downloading lists of every song written in the past twenty years. It may come to that but not yet.

Here are my post 55 thoughts. I think that today it became clear why Tim and I have had such a hard time letting go of our little beach trip. (You've noticed that, eh?) As I sat this morning holding the again feverish Bella, trying to figure out how to get three other children cleaned, greased, styled, dressed, and ready for church while managing my little cling-on, and discussing with Tim when or how he could come and get them so that Bella and I can stay home and not infect the rest of the world with whatever she hit me. It's all about the hats.

At the beach, I only had to wear one hat (not counting the literal sunhat) -the wife hat. For three days I was a wife. Just a wife. And with that kind of limited focus, I can tell you, I was a dang good wife! And let's be real, it's a very rewarding job.

Back here in reality, I am a wife, pastor's wife, mom, friend, teacher, disciplinarian, chef, doctor, etc, etc, etc. You all know just what I'm saying 'cause you live it, too. Lots of different hats. And the same is true for Tim as well. "Beach Tim" was a husband. "Reality Tim" is a father, pastor, friend, accountability partner, counselor, administrator, etc, etc, etc. It's no wonder we find ourselves looking at each other and thinking who are you? The real question is more like which hat(s) are you wearing right now? If we happen to be wearing complimentary hats (husband/wife, Dad/Mom, Pastor/pastor's wife) life moves along fairly smoothly. It's those days when we find ourselves wearing different hats that conflict finds it's best feeding ground.

This morning for example: I was wearing my need to bathe four children, give constant instruction to three, home school two, while medicating and comforting one MOM hat. Tim was wearing his DAD hat under his need to get to church, staff meeting, 4:00 appointment, visitation tonight PASTOR hat.

The Dad hat prompted him to make this offer on the way out the door:
"If you need me to come home and do something just let me know."

My Mom hat replied immediately:
"I need you to come home and do something."

His Pastor hat stared at me with a pitiful how do I get out of this look.

See the potential for conflict? Fortunately, we didn't fight. My Mom hat whispered in my ear, Suck it up, babe. At least now you have an excuse for wearing your pajamas all day.

So, the next time you feel trouble with your mate bubbling under the surface, stop for a second and think about the hats you are wearing. And ladies, never forget: a good mom hat is the perfect accessory to any pj's.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Danger Zone

I talked to my mom a few minutes ago and got an update on Mamabel. They seem to have been able to regulate her blood pressure but still no indication of what caused the rise in the first place and nothing on the MRI to explain the incoherence. As of this morning, she was beginning to chatter mindlessly again but not quite so bad as before. They plan to switch out a few more medicines and see what happens but have discussed the possibility of discharging her late this afternoon. We'll see.

Mom asked what the crew was up to and I gave her the low down on our day thus far. I had one in bed napping because she has a fever -Bella; one on the couch napping because he had a fever for two days and is tired and moody as shown by his mean treatment of anyone who breathes -Nathan; one in the bed napping because he is apparently to tired to tell the truth and needs to reset his brain -Isaiah; and one sitting at the table waiting for me to start home school -Mamoune. Yes, it was barely 11 in the morning and three of the four were confined to their beds. What a day!

We wrapped up the phone call and said our usual goodbyes but then just before hanging up she said "ok, be careful." I hung up the phone chuckling. Be careful of what? Parenting? The ultimate danger zone. Do they make safety goggles for this job? I took a moment to imagine all of the possible meanings of this and here's what I've got:

Maybe she meant "be careful" because the kids are planning a coup. What did Mamoune tell her in that 45 second conversation?

Maybe she meant "be careful" that you don't kill the children no matter how ornery and grumpy they are.

Maybe she meant "be careful" because someday YOU will be the one in the hospital and they will be in charge of the care you receive.

OR maybe just maybe she meant that Tim and I should go back to Ocean Isle for another week or two and we should "be careful" on our way there. Clearly, we have a winner! Mother knows best, right?

Monday, February 25, 2008

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

Thank you all for your prayers. Here's the scoop:

My dad is feeling much better and was at the hospital when I called a few minutes ago. Good news. Even better, Mamabell was sitting in a chair and is no longer talking to the dearly departed. :-) Not sure what it all means but they have changed some of her medications and think it could be as simple as that. I have no intentions of putting God in a "she's healed and nothing can go wrong now" box but I do intend to be thankful for any amount of time we've been given.

After attempting to talk to her two days ago, only to meet confusion and no recognition whatsoever, I spoke with her just now and the difference was night and day. She knew me and asked about the kids and thanked us for praying for her.

So...just continue to pray that they haven't missed anything and that she won't be too disappointed to have to hang with us a bit longer.

Much love and gratitude to all of you!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Say a Little Prayer (for you)

Hi blog family! I just need to make a quick post and ask for your prayers. My Mamabell (my grandmother who I've mentioned here before and whose story many of you have read here) is in the hospital. She went in last night with incredibly high blood pressure and hallucinations. The first round of MRI/CTscans didn't reveal an explanation so she will have a repeat of those tomorrow. She is 89 years old and has always had a sharp mind even as her body has deteriorated so, my parents were immediately concerned when she began saying things that made no sense and talking to people who aren't in the room. One of the most bizarre comments she's making is that she can hear a men's quartet singing. She can't understand their words but it's "the most beautiful singing" she's ever heard. sigh. Here is what I know:

1. I know that my grandmother is a believer and that she is ready and has no fear of meeting Jesus face-to-face.

2. I know that she has in some ways longed to go "home" ever since my grandfather's passing. She has many loved ones and a baby girl waiting to welcome her into her Father's presence.

3. I know that I am not ready to let go of her.

We are currently in that horrible position of waiting to see if and when we will need to travel to Atlanta. I selfishly want to see her again if the end is near. But I have every confidence that she knows just how much I love her and that I have to trust God's timing. He has every right to take her when He chooses or to heal her if He chooses. I don't have to like it and don't have to understand it. Sometimes humanity sucks that way.

Would you please pray for clear direction and for an accurate diagnosis/prognosis? Would you especially lift up my Dad? He is suffering from a nasty bout with the flu and is not able to be at the hospital with her. He and my mom have lived with her since Papaw died and this is a very frustrating scenario for him.

Thanks guys! I'll update you as I can.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Somebody's Watching Me

I want to begin this post by stating in no uncertain terms that I undeniably, irrefutably, unequivocally, and wholeheartedly LOVE my children! I really do. That might not always come across in the blogosphere but that isn't because it's untrue -only because I am not a very sappy, mushy mom and I enjoy writing about the goofy, insane things they do versus the sweet, tender moments. You'll get a few of those but clearly not a majority.

I'm fairly convinced that if they had blogs of their own, I woud have a huge target on my back and you would hear plenty about my idiosyncrasies and annoying habits. Fortunately, they don't have blogs. I do. And so, having assured you of my genuine affection for them, I will now continue to jank on the little tyrants. =)

Do you all remember the title song? Particularly this line...

"When I'm in the shower, I'm afraid to wash my hair
I might open my eyes and find someone standing there."

Welcome to my world. I took a shower yesterday. I try to accomplish this every 2-3 days on a good week. You might think that taking a shower would yeild a precious few minutes of seclusion and privacy. Think again. In 20 minutes of shower time, my children came into the bathroom not once, not twice, but FIVE times! For the mathematically challenged: that's one interruption every FOUR STINKIN' minutes. Of course, they were needing help with life and death circumstances like -Can I have my FunDip from the fridge? followed by Why does Nathan get candy if we don't? followed by Nathan gave Mamoune candy and I don't have anything! followed by, you get the picture.!! Get out and stay out!

I don't think they realize the danger these episodes put them in. Not physical danger so much but emotional. I had already decided that the next kid who walked through the bathroom door would be forever traumatized because I was going to come out of that shower in a naked rage and flush the toilet on their head. You can choose for yourself which of those things would require years of therapy to overcome. :o) Lucky for them, the fevered pitch of my final threat must of have been enough. The last two minutes of my shower were peaceful.

Interjection: Mamoune just came to me and announced that she is here to audition for American Idol. (She loves this game! Even more than Opposite Day.) She has two church stickers on her stomach and introduced herself as Mamoune Isaiah Sexton Sexton. Not sure how that will all fit on her debut CD. I played along (because I am fun) and said, "what are you going to sing for me today?" She decided on an original song. I wish I had a recording but here was the gist of the lyric:

When I am sweet it makes you smile.

But when I am bad and cruel it makes you have wrinkles on your forehead.

AHA! You thought I was exagerating about that Mommy scowl but even the kids recognize it. Mamoune is the first and only so far to take full responsibility for it. With such an astute observation, I naturally put her through to Hollywood. (insert jumping and high-pitched girl screams here.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Say, Say, Say

Here are some random conversations and happenings at the Sexton house:

While I was trying (hurriedly) to get ready to run a quick errand yesterday, Mamoune confiscated my make-up bag. I told her to give it back to me. She said, "Mom, you have to say the opposite. It's opposite day." I remembered this silly little game from childhood. I thought it was fun then. It is not. I didn't really want to play and as I said, I was in a hurry. I decided to play and not play all at the same time. "Mamoune, if you do not give me the make-up bag, I am going to twist your head in the opposite direction of your body." She accused me of being "no fun." I have no idea what she's talking about. I am so fun.

The photo to the left is a decorative "thing" we have in our house. We've had it for a year or longer. For some reason Nathan chose yesterday to finally reveal his true feelings about it. Out of nowhere he says, "Mom, I just don't get this thing. I don't think it's appropriate for the room." Appropriate for the room? He's eight. He's a boy. Yet, I found myself needing to defend my style choice to him. "Well, I was actually planning on painting the twigs dark brown." He was unswayed. "Yeah, Mom, I realize that brown is your favorite color but I still don't get it." I'll let you know when he has his own HGTV show.

Bella is consistently saying what I would consider to be her first word (not counting the mamamama, dadadadada nonsense that some parents claim. She's the fourth kid. We expect way more out of her.) The word is "esh." Isn't that sweet? Well, if you could hear it, you would melt. Especially when she waddles up to the couch and you ask if she wants to climb up and she says "esh." MEANING: Yes, for any who haven't figured it out yet. Cut her some slack--it's the best she can do with only two bottom teeth. She jabbers like crazy and mimics lots of things but this is the only one that seems to be used in the correct context every time.

Tim and I are working hard to extend our dreamy vacation into real life. We hug a little longer before he leaves for work and kiss a little longer when he gets home. The kids pretend to be totally grossed out by us. We pretend to be a childless couple in our twenties. ;-)

Hope you are all having a great week!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Almost Paradise

It was a wonderful, fabulous, restful, peaceful, fun, romantic, over too quickly get away. On the drive home, Tim and I were discussing this very blog post and what I could tell you about the trip. Quite honestly, we decided it was easier to list the things I could not tell you. I told you it was good. So, I won't be mentioning things like why it's funny that I tripped up the stairs to our room; or how I have a new appreciation for my husbands artistic side; or why the Food Network's "Barefoot Contessa" has become one of our favorite shows. Nope, I won't mention those things.

I will tell you about these things:

Going to the beach in winter is way cool! On Friday, we were completely alone out there. It was a bit cold with the wind so, Tim dug out a little chair for himself. This is where he spent much of his weekend. He offered to make one for me. I requested a chaise lounge. I got nothing. shrug.

Kinda weird to see a beach picture with full clothing and a winter jacket to boot. Wearing real clothes was a plus. No anxiety over bathing suits or cellulite. Huge stamp of approval!

Okay, in the this picture you have to look carefully. There is something different about me. No, it's not that my feet look unusually small (the only time my 9 1/2 clod-hoppers have ever looked small). It's something missing from the center of my forehead just above my eyes. Do you see it yet? There's NO "mommy scowl." My brow is completely unfurrowed and relaxed.

I think it's because I didn't have to remind Tim forty-six times to brush his teeth. He just did it. Amazing. I also didn't have to tell him over and over to chew with his mouth closed. He's very advanced in these areas. And so, no constant need to train and/or discipline = no mommy scowl.

We went into the trip with absolutely no plan and no agenda. We were a total success! We did nothing. Well, mostly nothing. ;-)

We are hoping to make this an annual trip. We will begin soliciting childcare next week. But if you happen to know that you will be available next February and want to get a jump on the rush of volunteers, go ahead and sign in on the comments section. =) Here's a few more pictures of the beachy wonderfulness. Tonight...sweet memories. Tomorrow....reality. sigh.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Come Away with Me

I don't have much time to report because I have A LOT to do. Tim and I are getting outta Dodge. A Valentine's Day rendezvous of sorts. Our children are being dispersed through out the Youngsville/ Wake Forest area into the hands of capable and incredibly generous people!

We will head to Ocean Isle when Tim gets home from work today and will be back Sunday afternoon. We have no plans, no agenda, no expectations... except quiet. It has been a long time since the two of us spent multiple days alone (toghether). Some friends from our old Sunday School class reminded me last night of the last occurence which had been (and for all of history will be) dubbed "Sex Fest 2004." Some day I'll have time to explain how that came to be. The concept, not the details. ;-) Have mercy!

And now, I have a ton of packing and prepping to do. Nathan just brought an armload of clothes he thinks he needs. It looks like he just scooped out the entire shirt drawer. Better get on that. I will try to send a mid-weekend post from the beach -ah, that sounds nice doesn't it? But if you don't see anything new for a few days you'll know why.

Happy Valentine's Day -Kiss your sweetheart!

Addendum: Please pray for Isaiah. He is stressing. This is not his first time away from us but it is his first time away indepent of his brother and sister. He is staying with a friend his age and will have a great time but he is stressing just the same. He's had one tearful melt-down so far. Which means his mom has had one tearful melt-down so far. ugh. He is chattering constantly and keeps hugging/touching everyone. He's not our touchy-feely kid, so it's kinda weird. Pray that he will adjust quickly and especially for bedtime which may be the worst. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Call Me

I've never stressed too much about appearances. I don't get too freaked out when people just "drop by" unannounced. We are who we are. The house is what it is. But for crying out loud people (read: Tim Sexton) if you're going to stop by with a van full of pastors, a two second heads up might be nice.

Bella's napping. I'm web surfing. The kids are playing outside. Life is good. Then Isaiah bursts through the door and says "Mom, Mr. Michael stopped by." I'm like "okay, which Mr. Michael?" He points out the window and sure enough there is Michael Liter (worship pastor for any non Faith-ers) in the church van. I think to myself I wonder why he's not with the rest of the pastors at the meeting? I walk out to see what's up to find that he IS with the other pastors (all seven of them). They're all here in the van in my front yard. And now, I am in my front yard looking like a thrift store model reject - too tight red work out pants - black shirt -no matching purple house shoes -not a stitch of makeup unless you count the black smudges of yesterday's mascara - just ate lunch probably got food stuck in my teeth - soup breath FREAK!

The epitome of a pastor's wife. Tim, you must be so proud!

I know what you're all thinking. From the sound of it, a two second heads up wouldn't have made much difference. True. Maybe just a call saying "hey, we're in the yard saying hello to the kids. Don't come out!" would have done the trick. Oh well. As I said...

we are who we are and it is what it is. shrug.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Surfing with the Alien

yep. The little green goblin who wreaks havoc on my intestines during school is alive and well. I know that none of you were buying the idea that a mattress could change a person's character. It was a pipe dream. But I still think this was the best money we've ever spent. I am a beast of a homeschool teacher. I am impatient and crabby. I have alien lifeforms swimming in my bowels determined to eat my children alive. But I am so doggone well rested. My back feels great. My shoulders don't hurt and my hips are not aching. Why did we wait so long? Oh, that's right. We're cheap.

Now, the only sleep issue which remains is the problem of my brain kicking on the second I lay my head on the pillow. I think I've become a night owl. I spent 30 minutes or so working through parts of an upcoming Bible study before an abrupt shift to absolute stupidness. Allow me to take you on a ride through my thought pattern last night. Warning: keep arms and hands inside the car at all times.

"I need to write the last of the stories for my fairy tale trilogy. Maybe tomorrow. hmmm. I wonder what the Little Mermaid would've done if it turned out that Prince Eric was allergic to shellfish. Wait. She's a mermaid, not a crab. Are mermaids mammals? I bet Tim would know...I...probably shouldn't wake him up to ask that. yeah. Mermaids are mammals. I wonder how they find the right shells for their bras. Maybe they have an underwater Victoria's Secret. oh, a Victoria's SEAcret. That's funny. huh. How long was Sleeping Beauty asleep? Like a hundred years or something. Dude, she would've had some serious morning breath. Rapunzel never cut her hair. Did she shave her legs? This is crazy. I need to sleep."

What a waste of brain power. I won't try to explain it or excuse it. If you've read more than three posts on this blog, you have already proven yourself to be an understanding and forgiving person so, I trust you'll continue to overlook and not report me to the boys in the white coats. =)

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

It's the Same Old Song

Turns out better mattresses do not make better people. I'm the same old me.

According to Ben McRoy (per the apostle Paul) it's the fruit of the Spirit that makes you patient, kind, good, faithful, etc. Not the fruit of the Original Mattress Factory. shoot.

However, I am happy to report that my back ache is gone and I look forward to crawling into bed at night instead of wanting to sleep on the couch. These make me a happier person at least. And in all fairness to the mattress, it will take a few days to see the full benefit. The first night was rough because I kept waking up disoriented. I was waaaay too comfortable to remember that I was in my bed. Last night was better. I didn't even have to get up and pee -that's pretty amazing.

The true test will be tomorrow during homeschool. Will sleep keep aliens from exploding out of my stomach? Is there really a warm, nurturing teacher finally released from the bonds of fatigue waiting to emerge? Will I suddenly have the urge to wear a necklace made from wooden apples? (You know all the really good teachers wear those. Right, Nancy? :-) )

Stay tuned...

Friday, February 8, 2008

Achy Breaky Heart

My achy breaky heart has been a direct result of my achy breaky back.

Tim and I are cheap. Tim has always been cheap. In fact, the first year of our marriage he worked with a sweet lady name Ellary who dubbed him "Mr. Frugal." I think it came about in part because of his 99-cent Michelina's and Ramen Noodle lunches, but either way he had a reputation for cheapness. We bought the cheapest mattress money could buy when we got married. I mean so, so cheap. Like maybe 100 bucks for the whole set. Yeah, you can imagine how comfortable that was. We upgraded once but not by much and then about six years ago we bought a memory foam knock-off from Ebay.

FYI: "knock-off" means they knock several hundred dollars off of the price while also knocking off all true and accurate claims of quality. It didn't help that this major falsely advertised mattress came at the same time I decided we should be "all that" by sleeping on recycled wood pallets as a pseudo-platform bed-Asian decor sort of thing. It looked cool enough. It felt horrible. With four children and soon to be 34 years old -cool is no longer relevant.

And here we were several years later and things hadn't improved much. You wiser and more thoughtful readers are saying "you get what you pay for." We concur. Suffice it to say that when you begin dreaming that strangers have attacked you, are kicking you, and sending excruciating shots of pain up your back only to awaken and realize that it was your brains attempt to tell you that you really do have excruciating shots of pain going up your's time to suck it up and spend some money.

This morning, we went mattress shopping. We bounced, we laid on our backs, our sides, our tummies. We skittered around the store with our shoes off (all four kids took their shoes off, too, just for the fun of it.) We compared, switched sides, compared some more, switched matresses, and on and on for about an hour. And at last we made our choice. The most glorious chunk of cotton/foam/fluff-n-stuff ever! I think it actually hugged my bum when I laid on it. You had me at "pillow-top." Tim says it smiled at him. It new we were the ones it was created for. ah. Oh, but we didn't stop there. No siree, two brand new pillows and sheets. Not that 200 thread count sand paper we were used to. Not on my new mattress. I got the mac-daddy of sheet sets: 600 thread count Egyptian Cotton! I don't know who the poor Egyptian sucker is who had to count all those threads but I hope it's worth it. (yeah, actually, the sheets were on major clearance. I could only fight the cheapness so much in one day.)

Now, I know it's a lot of pressure for one bed to bear but (wait a sec! I mean that in regards to the forthcoming comments NOT in regard to the weight of myself and my husband -just to clarify) I fully anticipate that by tomorrow morning I will be a better person. I will be a better wife and a better mom. I may even be a better blogger. I honestly can't tell you the last time I remember sleeping through an entire night. I don't remember what it's like to not hurt and ache all day; to not feel just as tired in the morning as I did the night before. My worst fear right now is that I am so anticipating the night's sleep that I will lay there wide awake. Oh well, at least I will be a comfortable, bum-hugged insomniac for a change.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Black or White

This is an unusually serious post for me but I feel like it needs to be written.

Tim and I were talking last night about our neighborhood and the perception we had of it before we lived here; before we knew the names that go with the faces; before it was our 'hood. We were disappointed with what we had to admit about ourselves. You see, Tim and I try not to boast in many things (apart from Christ). We know what losers we are and don't mind telling all of you what losers we are. But if there was one thing we had confidence in, I would say it was our indiscriminate love of people. And yet...

Tim was remarking on how he remembers in years past driving down our very street and having a sense of uneasiness; being more on alert than he would be in a typical suburban community. Passing kids on the street and wondering what they were up to. I started laughing. It seemed like such an irony considering that 15 minutes earlier (about 9:30 pm) we pulled in from church and without any hesitation Tim (along with three of our four children) walked straight over to two black gentlemen standing on the corner opposite our house to give them left over bread from visitation. He never stopped to wonder if they were in a gang or if it was a drug deal going down. Never thought about it.

Then the reality of it set in and it wasn't that funny anymore. I mean, if we were guilty of such a stupid mindset at one time, what were people thinking about our kids when they drive by? How many times do white people pass my house and see my kids or others from the area and write them off as "thugs in training?" ugh.

You see, there are different types of racism. There's the racism that exist by default based on a history of privilege defined by color. It's the fact that if I, being white, and a another woman (being black or even hispanic) enter a store at the same time there is the potential that I will be acknowleged or served first and differently just because I am white. I am not actively pursuing a position of privilege but it has been given to me by the lines of history. And unless I (we, you) am keenly aware of such situations and intentionally offer preferential treatment to someone else it continues unchecked. You may think this doesn't happen so much today. It does.

Then we have racism that is deliberate. It is the determined choice to belittle, demean, avoid, ridicule, injure, humiliate, etc. based on your opinion and dislike of another's race. It is the kind of racism that drug a man to his death in 1998, and motivated teenagers to hang a noose on school property in Louisiana just last year.

And the category I think (hope) most of us fall into is racism based on assumption. It's when we assume something about another person based on stereotype or sometimes personal (though usually isolated) experience. It doesn't come from a decided hatred but from an unfair presumption. But it can be just as damaging. Maybe more so because it's too easily overlooked.

We just figured that if we who tend (some would say) to overthink racial issues were surprised by the ugliness we found inside then, what blind spots do others who've rarely ponder it have? Do you ever think about it?

I must think about these things because my children's lives have been and will always be impacted by them. If I cannot admit my own shortcomings how will I ever find a way to graciously confront the idiot (er, I mean person ;-)) who intentionally or inadvertently treats my kids unjustly? I have to prepare for the fact that their may be those in my own church family who have loved and doted on my kids for years who will suddenly have a change of heart when my cute black boys become handsome black teenagers interested in their fair skinned beauties.

It's all very heavy and I'm sorry if you are disappointed in the lack of humor today. I'll try to get something light-hearted for you later. I gave you a list of movies and kids books the other day but here are a few great books for adults if you are interested in learning more about developing relationships and crossing racial barriers to reach out to others.

Grace Matters by Chris Rice
Gracism by David A. Anderson
Reconciliation Blues by Edward Gilbreath
It's the Little Things by Lena Williams
Divided by Faith by Micheal O. Emerson and Christian Smith

(btw, the spell check feature has been shot for a while now so please ignore any horrible spelling.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

...or maybe it's just the Millenders. Per their comment yesterday, I tried to get a few pictures of "Judi" but as I said earlier -she is not big on paparazzi. You didn't believe me and now look what you've done:

Ron and Chris -you will be hearing from her lawyer. She is soooo after you. I think you should consider leaving the country for awhile. ;-)

Bella, on the other hand, is much more cooperative and was happy to contribute these photos to the blog.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Oh My Lord...Lord, Lord, Lord

It's Black History Month! Maybe you haven't thought much of it. I hope to encourage, perhaps even admonish you, to think A LOT about it. We live in the most amazing country ever! But she is not without blemish.

In Exodus 13, God establishes the Passover Feast so that year after year the Isrealites would remember their story and tell it to their children and children's children. It was a story of bondage, oppression, and the ONE true God who delivered them. Our African American brothers and sisters have such a story as well and it is right and necessary for us to remember it and tell it to our children and our children's children -irregardless of color. It is part of HIStory that includes personal suffering and personal triumph; national disgrace and national progress; much to be grieved and much to be celebrated. And MUCH yet to be written.

Below is a list of movies and books that are among our favorites. I've given the title and when possible a link to it's subject matter or the book itself. It is by no means an exhaustive list but it will get you started. I hope you will at least check a few of them out. And just maybe, as we have, you will fall in love with these inspiring men and women who have sacrificed for justice, equality, and freedom for all of us.

Glory -All time favorite. Get out your tissue box.
The Long Walk Home -Another topper on the list!
Remember the Titans
Music of the Heart
Imitation of Life (there are two versions, I recommend the 1959 filming)

Children's Books:
The Story of Ruby Bridges
Follow the Drinking Gourd
Dear Ma's Aprons
Henry's Freedom Box
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
Carolina Shout
Barefoot (Escape on the Underground Railroad)
A Picture Book of Sojourner Truth

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Smokin' in the Boys Room

Motley Crue- that beacon of morality for teens of the 80's. yeah, right. I'm not a smoker but I think I can relate to this song. In a nutshell it's about wanting to escape the classroom to smoke with your buddies in the bathroom. (in case the blatantly self-explanatory title wasn't obvious enough for you ;-))

As I said, smoking is not my issue but if it were, the middle of home school would be exactly the moment I would need a puff to settle my nerves. Challenging it is. Patient I am not. But I am blessed because every Friday Tim is home from work and takes on the task of educating our children while I shop for groceries. I'm thankful for the break but this past Friday, I was betrayed. Opportunity came and the little boogers ratted me out.

Tim was caught in one of those moments familiar to all home schooling parents in which you've repeated the same information 176 times in 49 different ways and they still aren't getting it. As he neared his breaking point he said, "Guys, does Mom ever get frustrated with ya'll?" Well, there's a loaded question and those sell outs didn't hesitate to spill their guts. "oooooh yeaaah, Dad. She yells at us and sometimes she just screams really loud." Note to the Marine Corp: if Nathan is captured by the enemy, he will sing like a bird. Tell him nothing.

I had to come home and face my accusers. I had no excuses, no alibi, no defense attorney. I explained it to Tim this way (maybe you can relate):

"Honey, you've seen Alien, right? (he has) You know that scene where the guy starts feeling sick and all the sudden a creature comes busting out of his stomach? (he knows it) This is what homeschool does to me."
Seriously people. It starts low and grumbly and it just keeps growing and welling up until I have to scream or my head will explode right off of my shoulders. You tell me -which is more traumatic to a child? A mom who occasionally gets loud or blood and brain matter splattered over their math workbooks? I think the answer is clear. So, that explains the occasional random screams. The "yells at us" testimony. That's a little more complicated.

When I think of yelling I think about someone hurling loud and hateful words out of anger. YOU STUPID IDIOT! That's yelling. What I do is more along the lines of desperately impassioned pleading. For the love of all that is holy and for the last time this is the ones place, this is the tens place, and this is the hundreds place! You see the difference, don't you? And as I explained to Tim, you might be tempted to think that since we are all sitting at the table together speaking loudly would not be necessary, however; the actual distance required for the words from my mouth to travel to the light bulbs in the recesses of their brains is far greater than the apparent space between our persons.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. ;o)