Valentine Sentiments

The sun is shining. My wind chimes are singing a simple melody (versus thrashing against the tree they’re hanging from like they do when the wind is out of control). It’s Friday. What a great day to blog. That is…unless your husband stole your idea. 

Both girls were up before the crack of dawn this morning… because, you know…it’s the last schoolday before Valentine’s Day!

  
It’s been a rather gruesome week so I haven’t ran out and got all the ingredients for a successful “last schoolday before Valentine’s Day”. I did grab a little something to give the kids on Sunday and box of strawberry and grape Fun Dip packets with a To: and From: section for their classmates, and something for myself (but I’ll talk about that in a sec). 

Wouldn’t you know this Valentine’s Day would be the one where they’re all into the giving spirit. 

Watching both the girls prepare their Valentines last night reminded me that sentiments come in different shapes and sizes. 

Hallie is gifted in sarcasm. Here are a few of her Valentines. 

  
  

My favorites?

You’re ok. 

You have nice elbows. 

I personally appreciate practical gifts when it comes to special days. If there’s something you need, by all means put a bug in the right ear. I don’t do this very often. In fact, at Christmastime I can seldom think of a single thing I want or need. But I’ve really been needing an area rug for our living room. 

  
I picked it up early at Target (one of those days I didn’t have time to get school valentine stuff) and I’m rather enjoying it. I fully expect that the rest of the family will gain from its cheeriness.  

  

Hayden will gift us with his presence this weekend. That’s enough for me!

Rylie’s 10 so she still sticks to the sweet stuff. Even though I got her the “ready to hand out” Fun Dip packets, she decided to hand make her cards. She enlisted my help, distracting me from the democratic debate so that I wasn’t able to talk back to Bernie and Hillary on TV when they spoke nonsense. 

Her Valentines are a notecard with a unique handwritten sentiment and sticker, folded up. She then colored a different heart on each card. A Pokemon card was stuck inside each card. We then had to tape the Fun Dip packet to the outside. 

She made duct tape flower pots and pens for her teachers. A little chocolate never hurt either. (I knew I was going to used those feathers I’ve kept in a bag someday.) 

   
 
I’ve been thinking about a post I saw the other day where a teacher friend of mine heard a woman complaining in the store because she had to get “stupid stuff” for her kids teachers for Valentine’s Day. That rude woman…  

Sometimes I am that rude woman. 

This go round I’ve been reminded to keep it simple. Make it practical. Share your gift of sarcasm. Extravagantly give. The key is heartfelt giving. 

And humbly receiving. For we’ve all been given much. 

Love must be sincere. Romans 12:9

Posted in Home | Leave a comment

Eight Titles I Won’t (But Could) Post About

I “keep a record of wrongs (of a sort)” to later write about in the notes section of my iPhone. There’s also a large section of my brain reserved for complaints. Talking (negatively), (at length) about situations that don’t meet my idea of sensible is my modus operandi. Here are eight gripy titles  in which I could “bring it”…

To the People Who Don’t Follow Shopping Cart Courtesy Rules in Walmart 

Why Does Jason Get the Car With Seat Warmers?

Death to Algebra (but revive cursive writing)  

How I Really Feel About the Standoff in Oregon 

When Did I Become a Fuddy Duddy?

Your Two Ingredient Queso Fails- Ok, so…What’s Next?

When Being A Control Freak Or Flippant Do-Nothing Mom Seem to be the Only Two Choices

Why I Used to Hate Valentine’s Day

I could easily write an eight-hundred word post to go with each title…but I won’t. In fact, I’m devoted to making sure this post is seven-hundred words or less. I’m trading my bellyaching for a more light-hearted, sunny disposition. I’d love to say I thought of it myself. I wish I had a cute little inspirational illustration describing how I became joyful. I don’t. 

  

As I sat myself in my closet this morning (my make shift prayer room), I wrote three words in my prayer journal. 

Do everything without …


That’s all she wrote.

I didn’t remind God about my “leftover from yesterday” worries and frustrations. I hate leftovers. I wonder how God feels about them. I decided that today I would follow the words from my favorite chapter in the good book. Philippians 2 says:

Do everything without grumbling and complaining. 

Do everything without grumbling and complaining so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation”. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16

Refraining from grumbling is an act of obedience. God told us to do it. 

Not verbally “letting off steam” is an act of trust.  There’s a “SO THAT” following our instruction to not complain. A no grumbling zone is a better place to demonstrate trust that God is transforming us (“so that you may become blameless and pure).  

Sure God can handle our idle protesting, but even in its most harmless form, it doesn’t show a lot of confidence in, or gratitude for the One who’s present and working in a situation where there are aggravating Wal Mart shoppers and in the real injustice in life. 

I’m thinking shining stars are more attractive than the melancholy. 

We tend to be a petty people. Virtuous speech is like wearing high heels. Both make us look good, but it’s only a matter of time before they come off.  In our comfort zone we’re in bare feet and unbridled speech.  We can tell how we really feel. 

A whole-hearted attempt to cease arguing and complaining is a worthy act of worship. Of course I’ll stink at it… As probably will some of you who choose on a fine Friday (or a somber Saturday) to attempt less eye-rolling and whining. (I hope my family members and close friends don’t remind me how terrible I am at this). We’re not without help as we hold on firmly to the word of life. 

You can turn off the sun, but I’m still gonna shine. -Jason Mraz

P.S. Ironically I learned a new word today. Nugatory (adj.)-of no real value; trifling; worthless 

-Making our words worth something. It just might be great new style of worship. 

Here are a few verses to “hold firmly” to:

Ephesians 4:29 

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Colossians 4:6 ESV 

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Ephesians 5:4 ESV

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Psalm 141:3 ESV 

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Matthew 12:36 ESV 

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak…
Proverbs 12:25 ESV 

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.

James 3:9-10 ESV 

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
2 Timothy 2:16 ESV 

But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness…

-Making our words worth something. It just might be great new style of worship

Don’t forget to type your email address in the subscribe box if you want to receive posts by email. 

Posted in Home | 2 Comments

Lessons from a Cockroach and Our Kids (A Letter to Moms)

My ten-year-old woke me up this morning to rescue her from a six-legged beast in the bathroom. My girls are as terrified of roaches as I imagine they would be an axe wielding maniac. She stood in the hall as I calmly annihilated the vermin with the flat lid of her older sister’s Hawaiian Tropics lotion bottle. The exterminator says our flat roof is very inviting. And so I’ve become accustomed to leading bug invaders to their death. 

It’s learned behavior like killing cockroaches without batting an eye that makes me a little more appreciative of what it means to be a mom. 

I concentrate too much on the lack of glamour in my forty-something life. I complain about my thickening waistline and the quickly appearing grays, the headaches brought on by changes in hormones and my current inability to look at a Hostess cupcake without my pants getting tighter. But why pay so much attention to THAT? 

Today I feel the duty to reflect upon the beauty of being a mother and I sense an urge to share it with you.  

  

Cherished Mothers, 

We are bold. We don’t shrink in terror like we once did in the presence of the unsightly. Several years ago I wrangled two snakes (that had slipped inside our house during renovations) with a cookie sheet and a small trash can. When you can’t cry to daddy or the husband isn’t available you learn to do things you thought you never could. Be it from sheer courage or the lack of choice, we women hold down our babies when they need their shots. We clean up explosive vomit, whose sight once made (and maybe still makes) us gag. We give our children “the talk” when we know that we are incapable in preparing for such a thing. 

We’re fierce. The times our children have done wrong and the times they’ve been done wrong have proven that; like the time one of my kid’s fifth grade teachers decided to unnecessarily belittle him in front of the class one too many times. My fury was uncontainable. What about the times our  kids try sassy backtalk when we’re trying to correct them? Our ferocity is boundless when it comes to ensuring our kids will be good and will be treated good. 

We’re humble. This partly comes from realizing, that even our ferocity to teach our kids right from wrong will not ensure that they behave perfectly. We teach them how to act properly and are aghast the first time we catch them in a lie or the time we see the curse word they typed when texting their friend. 

We’re probably all guilty of thinking of at least one “that” which our kid will never do (“My kid will never do THAT”). And there’s at least one “that” they’ll do whether it’s bully another kid or hide important stuff from us.  Our kids teach us that our parenting isn’t kid-proof. We’re kept modest by unexpected experiences like the whole lice fiasco that lasts for months despite the pinched nerve in your neck that says her head should be clear. We’re humbled upon hearing our three year old tell her siblings in the hallway, “Our mom’s a jerk”. 

We’re enduring. Resilient. We’re bold and ferocious and still find ourselves failing at subjects like patience and grace and signing our kids agenda and field trip permission slips. We don’t just decide we’re not good at this “mom” thing. We try again. Try harder. We fall (While we’re down there we see the mount of trash and clothes under the bed. We get back up again with determination that they WILL CLEAN THEIR ROOM.). We realize we haven’t spent enough time with our middle kid and then make a concentrated effort to spend more time with her even when the schedule is stretched. We make a Plan A and then follow Plan B when Plan A doesn’t work out. We carry on when there IS NO PLAN. 

We’re knowledgable of the complex. It’s in parenting we realize complexity is beauty and mystery. Our kid’s delay in speaking or potty training or their two year insistence that they be called “White Kitty” teaches us this. We understand that “one size really doesn’t fit all” as we explain to our kids that they don’t have to be a certain size to be pretty. We comprehend the unsimplistic nature of human beings when we “get it” that our kid may not receive excellent conduct marks, not because they’re not “good kids” but because they’re impulsive and easily distracted. As we hang our kids’ pictures of stick people on the fridge proudly, or stay silent regarding the first report card with a hard earned “C”, we’re aware that their work doesn’t have to resemble perfection. 

We love and we know love. We rock them and sing them into a slumber arrested by the way their long eyelashes curl up from their sleepy lids. We laugh at their wittiness and smile at their kindness. We cherish the way they still hold our hand or send an impromptu text that they’re grateful for us. But it’s the hardest days and chapters of parenting that our love for our children finds new depths. Our’s is a love unphased by fatigue and unfaltered by the seasonal inability of our children to understand it. The combination of these two loves gives us a slightly better picture of what God’s love is like. 

Let’s respect the bags under our eyes (until somebody finds a cheap effective cream for that). Let’s celebrate with a Hostess cupcake now and then. 

We’re roach slayers and comforters of nightmares. We been given the capacity to show a fierce love that protects and disciplines. We’re the perfect picture for our kids of “When at first you don’t succeed…” as we get up and do another day of an important job that we sometimes feel like we’re not doing as well as we should be. 

God is using the difficult and unattractive to refine us. 

 May all we do, and fail to do, point our families to a God who makes all things beautiful. May we understand the gift in a God who abundantly provides and perfectly loves. 

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Encourage a mom today. 

Don’t forget to subscribe if you want to receive these posts by email. 

Posted in Home | Leave a comment

Lessons from a Cockroach and Our Kids (A Letter to Moms)

My ten-year-old  woke me up this morning to rescue her from a six-legged beast in the bathroom. My girls are as terrified of roaches as I imagine they would be an axe wielding maniac. She stood in the hall as I calmly annihilated the vermin with the flat lid of her older sister’s Hawaiian Tropics lotion bottle. The exterminator says our flat roof is very inviting. And so I’ve become accustomed to leading bug invaders to their death. 

It’s learned behavior like killing cockroaches without batting an eye that makes me a little more appreciative of what it means to be a mom. 

I concentrate too much on the lack of glamour in my forty-something life. I complain about my thickening waistline and the quickly appearing grays, the headaches brought on by changes in hormones and my current inability to look at a Hostess cupcake without my pants getting tighter. But why pay so much attention to THAT? 

Today I feel the duty to reflect upon the beauty of being a mother and I sense an urge to share it with you. 

  
Cherished Mothers, 

We are bold.  We don’t shrink in terror like we once did in the presence of the unsightly. Several years ago I wrangled two snakes (that had slipped inside our house during renovations) with a cookie sheet and a small trash can. When you can’t cry to daddy or the husband isn’t available you learn to do things you thought you never could. Be it from sheer courage or the lack of choice, we women hold down our babies when they need their shots. We clean up explosive vomit, whose sight once made (and maybe still makes) us gag. We give our children “the talk” when we know that we are incapable in preparing for such a thing. 

We’re fierce. The times our children have done wrong and the times they’ve been done wrong have proven that; like the time one of my kid’s fifth grade teachers decided to unnecessarily belittle him in front of the class one too many times. My fury was uncontainable. What about the times your kids try sassy backtalk when you’re trying to correct them? Our ferocity is boundless when it comes to ensuring our kids will be good and will be treated good. 

We’re humble. This partly comes from realizing, that even our ferocity to teach our kids right from wrong will not ensure that they behave perfectly. We teach them how to act properly and are aghast the first time we catch them in a lie or the time we see the curse word they typed when texting their friend. 

We’re probably all guilty of thinking of at least one “that” which our kid will never do (“My kid will never do THAT”). And there’s at least one “that” they’ll do whether it’s bully another kid or hide important stuff from you. Our kids teach us that our parenting isn’t kid-proof. We’re kept modest by unexpected experiences like the whole lice fiasco that lasts for months despite the pinched nerve in your neck that says her head should be clear. We’re humbled upon hearing our three year old tell her siblings in the hallway, “Our mom’s a jerk”. 

We’re enduring. Resilient. We’re bold and ferocious and still find ourselves failing at subjects like patience and grace and signing our kids agenda and field trip permission slips. We don’t just decide we’re not good at this “mom” thing. We try again. Try harder. We fall (While we’re down there we see the mount of trash and clothes under the bed.  We get back up again with determination that they WILL CLEAN THEIR ROOM.). We realize we haven’t spent enough time with our middle kid and then make a concentrated effort to spend more time with her even when the schedule is stretched. We make a Plan A and then follow Plan B when Plan A doesn’t work out. We carry on when there IS NO PLAN. 

We’re knowledgable of the complex. It’s in parenting we realize complexity is beauty and mystery. Our kid’s delay in speaking or potty training or their two year insistence that they be called “White Kitty” teaches us this. We understand that “one size really doesn’t fit all” as we explain to our kids that they don’t have to be a certain size to be pretty. We comprehend the unsimplistic nature of human beings when we “get it” that our kid may not receive excellent conduct marks, not because they’re not “good kids” but because they’re impulsive and easily distracted. As we hang our kids’ pictures of stick people on the fridge proudly, or stay silent regarding the first report card with a hard earned “C”, we’re aware that their work doesn’t have to resemble perfection. 

We love and we know love. We rock them and sing them into a slumber arrested by the way their long eyelashes curl up from their sleepy lids. We laugh at their wittiness and smile at their kindness. We cherish the way they still hold our hand or send an impromptu text that they’re grateful for us.  But it’s the hardest days and chapters of parenting that our love for our children finds new depths. Our’s is a love unphased by fatigue and unfaltered by the seasonal inability of our children to understand it. The combination of these two loves gives us a slightly better picture of what God’s love is like. 

Let’s respect the bags under our eyes (until somebody finds a cheap effective cream for that).  Let’s celebrate with a Hostess cupcake now and then. 

We’re roach slayers and comforters of nightmares. We been given the capacity to show a fierce love that protects and disciplines. We’re the perfect picture for our kids of “When at first you don’t succeed…” as we get up and do another day of an important job that we sometimes feel like we’re not doing as well as we should be. 

God uses the unattractive and difficult to refine us. 

 May all we do, and fail to do, point our families to a God who makes all things beautiful. May we understand the gift in a God who abundantly provides and perfectly loves. 

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Posted in Home | Leave a comment

Empty Chicken Buckets and A Full Friday 

Updated 11:38

My mom asked earlier today if Hallie was excited about Hot Hearts. You have to understand that we fondly refer to Hallie as our cat personality. Here’s the exchange with my mom about Hallie’s attitude toward Colton Dixon performing and the whole Hot Hearts shebang. 

  

Well let’s just say I picked up the cat, and the cat was excited. She’s already making plans to go next year.  One of her friends made a life-changing decision tonight too.

Cat surprise gone right!

Updated 6:29

I got to chat with Colton Dixon and his wife Annie about “Making a Murderer”. Super nice people. 

  

Below is Mike Dodson of The Digital Age from Waco…what, what! Nice guy!!!! He’s been hanging out with us in our backstage office (storage closet). The key he wears on his neck has a powerful story about why he does what he does. 

  

There’s a lot of energy in Ford Park right now. There’s a lot of noise. 

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

…And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:10-11

Praying God’s whisper would settle on each heart

  

Updated 2:50

It’s hard to think about all the details that go into an event like this. Around 8:00 this morning someone had to come and work on the heat. Inside Ford Park it was a chilly fifty eight degrees. Pray for the details. 

Lighting and sound…seating 

Safe travels 

That those flip-flopping on whether or not to come will choose to come

Pray for no distraction

Pray for the speakers and artists

Pray for counselors, leaders and youth sponsors. I’m thankful for each of them. 

  
Pray that God’s message is the one that will be spoken from every mouth and that it would be received in every heart

Colton hasn’t asked to meet me yet, but here’s his bus. 

  

11:18 AM

 We just drove Colton Dixon’s driver, Mike, to his hotel.  I would have gotten a selfie with him but he looked pretty tired. 

Here’s a pic of Colton Dixon, Christian artist and American Idol alum.  (Pic compliments of Hairstyler.com). 

  
Let me add we somehow looked important enough to be handed Newsboy fan mail. 

Praying for the thousands that will be  “seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word”. 

   

9:29 AM

Ford Park

I saw on Facebook last night where one youth said she wouldn’t be able to sleep because she’s so excited about this event. And then there’s another who’ll be here who doesn’t necessarily want to come. There are thousands of scenarios. The number given this morning was 6,936 (bought tickets so far). Pray for all the students who will fill the seats tonight. 

  
 

  

8:02 AM 

We just picked up hundreds of chicken buckets at the church. They’re currently empty, but both the buckets and this day are set to be filled with good things.  Hot Hearts is here. Say a prayer for youth and others involved. Be looking for updates. 

 
  

Posted in Home | Leave a comment

Choosing Betty, Win or Lose

I have a terrible habit of writing long intros. Some story pops in my head and I have to tell it. I often come up with an application just so I can tell my story. Here I am this time with an intro to my intro. Forgive me and keep reading. 

  

I had the most interesting dream last night; one I’m writing down before I forget it. Jason and I were on an overnight getaway. We so happened to notice there were horse races going on to the left of the highway. We decided to eat at a connected restaurant. The waiter not only could take your order, but he could take your bet too. 

I remember there was a display showing all the horses that would be racing. Some horses’ pictures had ribbons boasting won championships. I scanned the names and each horse’s record and impulsively chose one named “Betty” whose name wasn’t the slightest bit interesting and whose record was nonexistent. We gave the waiter three dollars. 

I’m sure you can guess, Betty won. 

After high-fiving Jason, and complete strangers, I hightailed it to the desk where you get your earnings. The lady behind the counter gave me three one-thousand dollar cash cards. 

To finish this long introduction,  Rhea Perlman (better known as Carla from Cheers) stole my money after we’d layed our belongings down for just a split second. I chased her on foot as she drove off in her brown Chevette. 

Here she is. 

What’s in the bag Mrs. Perlman? (photo belongs to Huffington Post)

I lost the money. 

I thought, as my dream was coming to a close, about how I wanted to share my story with everybody at church, but decided I couldn’t because I probably wasn’t supposed to be at the horse races anyway, being a Baptist pastor’s wife. 

This morning I woke Jason up and made him listen to every detail…how I cheered Betty on to the win.  I thought about how giddy I was when the lady handed over the three thousand bucks (in cash cards). 

Out of my slumber I realize how I’m how grateful I am for having chose Betty,…and  for having won! I’m even thankful for Rhea Perlman too. Sure she stole my money. 

Looking back, she’s part of the experience. 

I find it no coincidence that my daughter and I were just talking about the inevitability of loss in life last night. 

We gain and we lose. Loss happens in relationships and in opportunities; you lose a friend…an opportunity falls through the cracks. In times of tenderness we can be guilty of wishing we’d not had certain opportunities given the unlikeable outcome. 

Time and wakefulness weave our experiences, good and bad, into something that increases in beauty as our experience becomes more complete. 

I’m without that three-thousand dollars I clutched with my eyes closed, but I’m not empty-handed. I’m left with the memory of winning and the image of Rhea Perlman’s taillights. In our wins and losses, we always have our story. That’s something we can take to the bank. 

Embrace your story. 

What loss have you suffered in the past that you can now be grateful for?

Posted in Home | Leave a comment

The Challenge of Motherhood; Finding Your Happy, Healthy and Holy

 
2 Corinthians 9:8

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

I remember a childhood challenge I was given by my dad upon losing my first tooth. “Your new ‘big’ tooth will come in gold if you can keep from sticking your tongue in the hole where you just lost that baby tooth”. I took the challenge perfectly serious every time I lost a tooth and did my darnedest to keep my tongue away from the gap between my teeth. It was easy initially, as my resolve was newfangled like the hole that had just sprung up in my mouth

I lost a mouthful of baby teeth over the years and gained a whole new set of permanent choppers, but not one of them are gold.  Not for the lack of trying, but I never quite met the challenge my father gave me. If there’s anybody out there with a natural golden tooth, we need to talk. 

Funny. My white teeth are a sort of reminder of a challenge (tried many times) in which I failed. But I guess that turned out ok. 

I don’t remember facing many difficult challenges as a child. By the time I became a teenager, I remember paying a little more attention to expectations around me. I tried out for cheerleader in junior high school for no other reason than a teacher told me I should and I didn’t want to disappoint her. 

  

I despised putting my arrhythmic self in front of a crowd of people. I don’t even like standing in front of people, but for three years I yelled through a megaphone at them. 
Ironically, I’m still in front of the crowd in adulthood, dutifully performing. 

I’ve outgrown my gold and white pleated skirt and puff sleeve sweater and my megaphone has been put down. I now face the challenge of motherhood with an onslaught of onlookers whose approval matters more than it should. 

I, like many of you, want happy and healthy families who gravitate toward loving Jesus better. 

It’s a challenge many of us feel we’re not meeting, though we’re dogged tired from trying. Many of us are distracted from our idea of happy and healthy by a hoard of other voices.  They tell us their version of success is key to ours. The crowd before “us moms” holds a megaphone, and through it, “do’s and don’ts” are shouted as we try our best to support our families. 

Do breast feed. Dont co-sleep. Do fix yourself up. Don’t let your kids watch TV. Do vaccinate. Don’t let your kids spend the night with friends. Eat non-GMO only. Don’t read the “Jesus Calling” devotional to your children. Do work out. Don’t drink soda, it’s worse than marijuana. Do spank. Don’t look at Facebook when you’re eating out with you’re family (because if you do I’ll take your picture and post it, making you seem like a negligent parent in the world of social media). 

This week I saw a terrible meme bearing a picture of an overweight child with the caption 

“If you allow your child to be overweight, that’s child abuse”. 

I cringed. The original poster boasted that he wasn’t a parent but knew with certainty that obesity is an impossibility in children whose parents care about their health. This “Don’t let your kid be fat” post has been shared and liked numerous times. Commenters emotionally tried to explain how they have a child who they’ve made sure followed a healthy diet and got proper exercise to no avail. 

“Guy who doesn’t have kids but knows how to keep them slender” is one example of a well-meaning adviser who doesn’t serve us well. 

Happy, healthy and holy are unreachable for many of us because the definition of the three comes from a wide range of so-called experts who suggest one-size-fits-all. 

There’s room for advice, but we must seek it wisely. 

We need to be more choosy in what part of the crowd we tune our ear to. Learning to drown out the voices that don’t cheer us on is key to contentment, and a mama’s contentment is an important factor in the mood of families. 

We have to learn to spend time away from the crowd with trusted friends. The best friends have more encouragement to offer than they do answers. They’ll pray for you instead of thinking your challenge would be resolved if you’d only adopt their way of thinking. 

We’ll never parent perfectly. Spend time alone with God receiving the grace that He grants alongside unmet challenges. Sustaining grace helps us meet the pressures we face tomorrow. And grace will never shout out the answer, rather it is the answer. 

 Grace is the gold in the gap. 

Posted in Home | 2 Comments

Nothing But the Truth, So Help Me; Dear Your Honor

Dear Your Honor 

(and in regards to the many others this concerns including but not limited to the prosecution, defense, defendant, complainant, and their families, fellow jurors and the court reporter),

I heard the dreaded “uh-oh” when my husband Jason fixed his eyes on a certain piece of mail yesterday.  I knew immediately what he held in his hand. Nope. It wasn’t a bill. He’d already started a small stack of those on the kitchen counter. I received a jury summons. 

Now before you roll your eyes and stop reading because you think you’ve heard every “I can’t be on the jury” excuse in the book, let me assure you you’ve never heard one quite like mine. 

Photo belongs to www.loc.gov

First, I have a founded fear when it comes to serving on a jury (as opposed to an unfounded one like those who’ve yet to experience jury duty). I have a fear of crowds (I’m a self-diagnosed agoraphobe). This condition is worsened with the request to respond to the simplest of questions like “What is your name?” or “Do you personally know anyone with the prosecution or defense?”  There are physical manifestations. My heart pounds invisibly outside my chest and I sweat profusely and visibly from my left armpit (This alone should exclude me as a juror). 

Truth and justice are better sought, for me, from the comfy brown chair at home on the weekends watching crime dramas and documentaries. I make a great armchair detective, lawyer and juror. I’ll be glad to review any cases you have. I’ll respond with my opinion by email. 

In the courtroom (and in that little room where jurors congregate during trials) my anxiety prevents me from sharing what I believe to be “the smoking gun” or the piece of evidence that exonerates the defendant. I will listen to the best of my ability and will hold on to the truth that I firmly believe, but my social anxiety causes a tongue-thickening speech disorder which makes my participation in discussion difficult. 

 An additional problem comes when I’M UNSURE of the defendant’s guilt or innocence in which case I’ll be the hated one in the room causing a deadlock. I know you must hate it when that happens. I might be the only one in the room that thinks the defendant is innocent, but because of my inability to speak in groups, I won’t be able to explain why my vote differs. That would be frustrating for everybody involved. 



I think I made myself sound better than intended by my earlier boasting about my listening skills and vigilant quest for justice in which case I must tell you that in the midst of my listening and internally deciding “he’s guilty”, my thoughts may instantly turn to what I need from the grocery store or I may become fixated on juror six, the loud breather. I may miss some vital stuff. I’m not going to let on, that I’m clueless as to what transpired in the last fifteen minutes. I’m excellent at pretending I know what’s going on. I know that’s not what you want. 

If this isn’t enough to convince you I’m not juror material I’m able to provide you with two judge’s names who will probably testify to my being a bad choice. But to save your time and theirs, let me share my experience in past courtrooms.  My first opportunity to serve as a juror was fourteen years ago, but I distinctly remember parts like it was yesterday. 

I was sat as juror number one. It must have been a popular number because I was asked a lot of questions by counsel from both sides. While one question was being asked, I became so nervous that my head started to swim. The lawyer’s words could be described as sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher “wah wah wah….wah wah wah wah wah wah”. I asked him to repeat the question…..twice. I still could not comprehend his words  and responded “I don’t understand”. I’m still clueless as to why I was not only allowed to stay in the room, but was asked more questions. 

I do remember one thing that was asked by the defense. “Would my client’s prior drunk driving conviction make you think he is more likely to be guilty this time?” I answered yes. The next thing I knew both lawyers approached the judge’s bench and had a discussion. I was then asked to join them at the front of the courtroom. You cannot understand the duress I was under at this stage.

I walked toward the front to a spot where a wooden railing of sorts separated me from the judge and lawyers. I was asked to come through the partition, having to push a small wooden, waist-high door to walk through. The hinges must have been mighty “springy” because when I walked through, the door bounced back so hard that it thrust past its return spot and knocked over a chart and easel that would later be used for evidence posters. Against their better judgement they STILL allowed  me to stay. I was asked to clarify my answer of presuming his client’s probable guilt. Who knows what I said. But if you can believe it, I was chosen as juror number one. 

Five years later I cringed when I received another jury summons. (I think I might have received one or two in-between at which times I thankfully had babies who needed my care).

 This second jury “opportunity” was far less traumatizing but I continued to serve as a distraction to the court. After being chosen as a juror once again, I sat in my chair determined I would dutifully listen. At some point during the trial I got one of those tickles in my throat that demanded attention. I ignored the tickle, but a cough escaped, followed by an emerging fit of coughs. A neighbor juror handed me a cough drop, but a full-blown choking episode was now in session. It was the kind where excess fluid pours from your eyes and nose and your face turns beet red. Court was paused as people stared and a water bottle was brought in. Your honor, this had to have messed with the prosecution’s questioning flow. 

I must also add that in both cases the defendant plead guilty before we jurors had to make a decision concerning their guilt or innocence. My record shows that I am both distracting and un-useful.

Please consider permanently removing me from the jury pool. At the very least allow me to spend Monday, January 25  with the school children I work with and the children who are my own, instilling in them values that will hopefully keep them out of your courtroom (at least as a future defendant). Hopefully they’ll end up being better jury material than I am. 

Thank you for your time,

Kristi Burden

Posted in Home | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Foodie Friday at Judice’s Cajun Cafe

Today’s outing was special. It included my two favorite guys and fried oysters. It was a trip worth crossing the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge in dense fog (more easily said because I wasn’t driving). 

  
 
Judice’s Cajun Cafe in Bridge City has oysters worth boasting about. For $9.99 you get half a dozen nice-sized plump and juicy oysters that haven’t been over-cooked or over-breaded. I would have been in seafood paradise with six oysters like this a la carte. But they were served with fresh cut French fries; the kind so good they make you forget about catsup. 

    

To top off such good grub, the tissue paper (or whatever you want to call it) is decorated in finials. Look back up there ^. So cute.

 (I looked up “finial” to see how to spell it but saw three different ways 1.fennial 2.fenial and 3.finial ( provided by Webster-a good choice I think…I was getting way too distracted.)

Hayden ordered the oysters too and was as pleased as I was. Judice’s doesn’t play around when it comes to oysters. 

Jason ordered pistolettes for an appetizer. I thought they might serve as the perfect test of the effectiveness of my acid reducer prescription. But I gave my full concentration to my oysters. Jason said the pistolettes were fresh and hot with tasty etoufee on top. 

He also had a big bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo topped with potato salad good enough that he lifted the bowl to his mouth and threw his head back, sucking up every drop. I tried to get a picture, but my phone camera only caught a blurry image…the bowl was dry in a matter of nanoseconds.   

 

 A big group of guys on their lunch hour, I presume, chose the steam table. And choose they did. I couldn’t tell exactly the size of their plates (staring is rude), but I did see a wide variety of fried “sea stuff”, boudain, ribs, veggies and cornbread overflowing on what appeared to be trays. (I might be making that up). It seemed like a lot of food. They looked like this wasn’t their first Judice’s rodeo. 

Great date. Great place

  

This was probably the last time to get out and talk with Hayden before he journeys back to “Sam”, but I didn’t say that. He accuses me of treating his impending leaving like a death, full of “the last this and last that”.  

I don’t think that at all. My heart is happy and full from a lunch date  so well spent. My stomach is too. This wasn’t a last anything, but rather a first of many eating dates at a great spot. 

Check out the blog menu for other “foodie reviews” in SETX. 

And don’t forget to subscribe if you want to receive posts by email. 

Posted in Foodie Fridays, Home | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Disappearing Hairbows and Pictures on Walls

My girls had the big hair bows. I loved the Sam Moon store, if for no other reason, because they sold a colored assortment of hair bows. You could buy a strip of twelve of them for twenty dollars. 

I remember the days of hair fixing. I’d let them sit in front of the TV so they would be more subdued. I’d shape my legs loosely around their torso and legs, forming a three-sided pen of sorts so they couldn’t escape. I’d have my handy-dandy bottle of Suave detangler (watermelon scented) and a comb. I’d place the comb on the left side of the crown, drawing a near-perfect straight line toward the back, creating a neat part. 

Several inches to the right I made another nice line with the comb. I’d finish by gathering the hair inbetween to the right, securing it in one of those tiny elastic rubber bands you could buy by the hundreds. And almost always, I’d stick a bow in underneath the band. 

  
It didn’t seem to matter if their clothes were hand-me-downs or getting too short. The matching hair bow made them seem more properly put together. 

We’ve graduated from hair bows. I bought Hallie one of those curling wands for Christmas that comes with a styling glove so you won’t burn your hand. She’s been fixing her own hair for years now.

 I still aid Rylie in hairstyling, but she doesn’t like it. TV distraction is no help. I’m lucky now to get a brush through her hair long enough to gather a quick ponytail. I smooth it down with a headband (still some form of my wanting to keep things in place). I’d say she reacts worse to tangles these days, but I suspect she’s seeking some hairdo independence. 

It’s not just a hair thing. 

Five years ago when we moved to Nederland we had pictures made by Olan Mills. Our church needed a new directory and individual pictures just so happened to be a bonus. Those pictures have hung on the stairwell  wall since; Hayden’s on the seventh step, Hallie’s on the fifth and Rylie’s on the third.

 For the past year, Hallie complained that she wanted a new picture saying she’d outgrown the one hanging. I ignored her request to a point where she took matters into her own hands. 

Two months ago the picture of ten-year-old Hallie with her fists on her hips was removed by Hallie herself and subsequently replaced with a preferred  watercolor of a horse she found on a shelf. I’ve left it there. 

  

Rylie followed suit this weekend choosing a picture she felt was a better reflection than the kindergartener on stair three with all her baby teeth. She’s been replaced by a delicate flower on a poppy-colored background; something she painted a ways back. 

I’m not ecstatic that perfectly spaced pictures with matching frames are disappearing from the walls.  Neither am I pleased as punch that my girls have moved on from their hair bow days. 

But I’m finding much pleasure in the unique and unfolding beauty that’s neither been crafted by my own hands or painted by my pen. 

I’ve decided to make space for blossoms and spirited horses. 

I’m lessening my attempt to form and preserve “sugar and spice and everything nice”. 

 I’m taking up the art of influence, joining them in picture making. I’ll spend more time expressing who I am as a child of God and more time enjoying who God is making them into. 

I’m learning to trade in the hair brush for a paintbrush, finding that the art of parenting growing girls is knowing when to hold the brush and when to share it. 

Posted in Home | 4 Comments