Wednesday, November 11, 2015

When the World Kicks You Down

I was having a good day. A great day. I subbed a kindergarten class today that I have subbed many times before this year. The little kindergarten people shower me with I love yous and hugs when I am their substitute. They raise their hand to tell me, "You're beautiful." After my day with 5 year olds I went grocery shopping with my own 2 kids and cooked them a hearty meal with dessert. I am washing their sheets for their beds in their own rooms. I've been subbing a lot the last two weeks. There is a boy I pick up on Tuesdays after I drop my own children off at school. I've worked with him for 3+ years now. One year as his teacher, last year as a tutor, and this year as a mentor. I pick him up at his house every Tuesday now and then and we get breakfast and then I go to Subway and we get a lunch for him to take to school, and then I drop him off at school. I haven't been able to do that the last two weeks because I've been working. He called three times today, and I knew what he would ask- "Are you coming?" I knew it would break my heart to have to say no again this week because I am working, but it's more than that.

Every since I've known him nothing has come easy for this child. Not one thing. Anger, reading, writing, memory, social skills. It's all a struggle, and it is real. I know it is real. So many things affect him that he has absolutely no control over. Family, his home, dyslexia.

I can barely continue. My heart hurts so bad right now. He was in my daughter's 3rd grade class, and he is my daughter's age.

Three years ago I saw Gifted Hands the Ben Carson Story. Please don't think for a second that this blog is about anything political. It is not. I saw the movie one night on BET, and this boy was currently in my class at school. There was such a parallel of my student and Ben Carson as a young boy. The early trouble reading and writing. The single mother that worked as hard as she could and cared for her family but couldn't seem to get ahead. The gaping hole left by a non father figure. The hurt, abandonment, and anger that came along with that loss. I went back to school the next day after watching the movie and urged my student to watch the movie. I told him all about it. All about this man, Ben Carson. This neurosurgeon. I wanted him to have hope. I wanted him to see his future is not yet written.

I wanted him to maybe see for a minute the possibilities that I could easily see in him even if he didn't. The idea of Ben Carson running for president wasn't even a consideration in my mind then. I just saw him as a role model for boys that dealt with the weight of the world like my male student and so many I have taught before and yet somehow Ben Carson managed to come out on the other side.

So I got two or three calls tonight from the student while I was on the phone. I was worried and called him back. He quit the sport he was trying that we have been talking about the past month. Anger. Impulse. Antagonizing adults. And yes I do see adult teachers that should be the voice of reason, adults that eat 3 warm meals a day, adults that have their own cars and homes and beds with sheets that treat students with the weight of the world on their shoulders in a way that would break the most stable of grown people.

I don't want to hear right this second about actions and consequences because I have seen up close a side that just is NOT fair, a side that cultivates hurt, anger, struggle, defensiveness, a spirit of failure, and squelches the mere will to try. He is just a child. There are so many aspects of life that children have zero say in. You don't get it? Be so very freaking glad. You don't have to worry about having a roof over your head or a car to get you to and from school or the store or the doctor when your child is injured or sick? I feel furious right now. How blind we spoiled rich Americans are that we can't even see the precious ones among us in our own country that are screaming out for help. No I'm not talking about lazy people that want a hand out. I am talking about moms that have been left alone with children and elderly relatives to care for. Moms that battle domestic abuse. Moms that work tirelessly and bounce from job to job that still can't afford a car, gas, groceries, a degree.

I feel so numb and tired and helpless at the moment. I just want to cry. The conversation went from quitting a new sport because of being ridiculed by a coach for not being able to do push ups, to a classroom with constant cursing and bickering that is like gasoline to his already lake of flammable anger, to a suspension, to we are losing our house soon and don't know where we are moving to.

My heart.

Have you ever had the desire to help someone, to save them from drowning, but all you can do is watch as they sink further and further under the abyss? The endless chasm of the world's problems. Someone you have cared for, talked with, encouraged, invested time, energy, hope in for years but the life raft you have to offer isn't a fraction of what is needed to truly keep them from going under.

What breaks my already broken heart even more is that I took the time to get to know and try to help this one boy, but there are millions in our country just like him. Fatherless, without resources. Without hope. Without an advocate. Broken and antagonized for being so on a daily basis. Angry. Children in temporary homes. Children that have learning disabilities that impair their reading and writing, but they are tested and ranked. They bravely face a classroom on a daily basis where the letters are like a foreign language, and they are asked as adolescents to read aloud to the class. Where they feel discouraged, humiliated, and exhausted on a day to day basis. But they go back each day hoping it will get better. I would be angry too. I would lose my temper too.

This will be hurting my heart all night and each day after, breaking it. Because I care. I have compassion. That's the kind of teacher I was to him then and want to continue to be, but it is just not enough. I don't have a solution. I don't have an answer.

I just ask that others can muster up some compassion for those struggling. To put yourself in another's shoes. To think for a moment of the world outside of your middle class home in your middle class SUV. To pray for my boy, my student. Pray he can overcome despite reading disabilities. Pray that next week he will have a home. A car for his mother. Some stability and peace that he deserves. Pray that when the world continues to kick him down right in front of our eyes he has the courage and strength to get up.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Diary of a Housewife...

Today I get to be a housewife. I have traded in the role of full time teacher gone housewife gone back full time teacher to being a part time teacher and most of the time housewife this year. Meaning I substitute teach when I want to only at my son's elementary school and then on every Thursday for a couple of hours starting this week teach math. When I envisioned being a housewife last year (which only lasted 4 months) I envisioned actually being IN my house. I realized soon after we should be called "car wives" because I was shuttling kids, lunches, and running errands most of my time.

But today I get to be a "house" wife. I got to wake up, rouse the kids who were actually already self started to my delight, cook them breakfast, pack their lunches and snacks for the day, and take the kids to school in my pajamas (a novelty I love because I never got to do it as a working mom) dog in tow. I came home and stripped everyone's bed and washed the sheets and bedding. I cooked a luxurious breakfast for myself and enjoyed it on the porch listening to birds sing and enjoying the 70 degree fall weather.

After the sermon at Crosspoint on Sunday I realized God doesn't have a preference on my job as long as I am doing it to honor Him. It's all in my attitude of HOW I am doing WHATEVER it is I choose to do. The way I am treating people along the way.

I am taking great joy this morning in the smell of candles burning in my clean home, the wafting of laundry and fabric softener as the sheets and kids' clothes are washing and drying, the smell of dinner cooking in the crockpot.

My satisfaction will be when my family is full and happy after dinner tonight and snuggles into a bed with clean sheets that smell Downy fresh. It's enough for me.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


It is 6AM and I am anticipating the loud alarms that will go off upstairs and waiting for mine. My alarm sounds just barely as I swipe it off on my I phone. I don't hear the kids' so I figure they won't be going off. I get up and head upstairs, but first turn the oven on 400 degrees to preheat and spray a baking sheet and place biscuits on them, take out some sausages and put them to cook on low. I put the coffee on for Paul.


I head upstairs and M is already dressed and ready to tame her lioness curls. This is so M-independent, self sufficient, responsible, first child. W is fast asleep and I know he will growl if I turn on his light so instead I crawl into bed with him and snuggle him awake, luring him out of bed with, "you like to be early to school to play in the better get up!" It works so now I can move his clothes we laid out last night onto his pillow and open the blinds.... no light yet, that's phase 2.


Since I'm there I turn into the laundry room and put a load of clothes in the washer, secretly feeling giddy that I will get home in time to move them efficiently to the dryer, and then continue with the rest of the pile in a quiet house!


I then work on W to get him in the final stages of getting out of the bed. He is layin on the floor in his pjs practically asleep. This is so W. He needs more time, full assistance (or wants it not really needs) coddling, second child-the baby! I push his little back with my bare foot and pretend I am going to walk on him. He laughs and yelps at my cold bare foot. But he also gets up and starts to get dressed.


I go down stairs and brush my own bushy hair and decide that is a good enough start. I unload the dishwasher and load it with a couple of dishes that got left behind last night before I went to bed. I look at the empty sink satisfied but note in my head I need to bleach it back to perfectly white later today. I flip the sausages and flip them again a couple of times. I open the oven to check the biscuits that I slipped in sometimes in my morning wondering. I note to stop opening the oven to check or they will never cook! A voice in my head put there decades ago from either my own mama or hers my grandmother.


I go back to my bathroom to brush my teeth and am accosted by Paul while I am rendered helpless with toothpaste and water all over my face. I decide I'll slip on a raincoat and take the kids to school in my pjs this morning.

The kids start meandering down. By this time I've made their breakfast plates exactly as they like them, turned off the oven, stacked my library books to return today, and probably mindlessly done a few more chores as I walked around. M likes grape jelly on her biscuit with sausage inside. W will want a plain sausage biscuit with an extra sausage on the side. I lay out extra on the stove in the event that Paul will want to eat breakfast this morning-he does. None for myself as I am working on losing a few pounds. Mary grabs a plate and starts taking it apart and making requests. I take the plate back and switch them as she has grabbed W's. Hers is ready just like she likes it.

They eat and get cleaned up. Paul reminds me-picture! I run into my room to grab my phone off the alarm stand and get some shots of my new 3rd grader with his dad dressed to kill. I'm standing in a skirt I slipped on (because W said at least change out of your pajama shorts!) my pajama tank top, flip flops, and Mary's old rain coat I borrowed (I'll take one tomorrow!).

We head out and start the half hour drive to school listening to the Christian channel K Love. One of my favorite songs comes on-Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave. We all are just in peace. In the car, listening to the radio. It's just peaceful. It feels easy for once. It doesn't happen often, rare is this kind of smooth morning. We are on time. Not rushed. Traffic is not too bad. We pass a trooper and I'm going the exact speed limit. Peace. I am overwhelmed with Joy.

I turn in to drop W off for his first day of third grade and I say, "I love you more than you can ever even know! Have a good day!" and he says, "I love you more!" It hits me like an arrow and I want to grab him and squeeze him, but he hops out of the car independently and heads to the gym in his gap khaki shorts, his white crisp unstained school shirt,his tall black Nike socks, and new tennis shoes. I gasp and tell Mary as I watch the back of his camo backpack go inside, "He's SO handsome!" I grab my face and try not to cry and M shouts at me, "Hurry up I need to get to school!!!" I drop her next and have a good cry on the way home. A happy cry. I think of how many of us moms are doing that on our kids' first day of school. I think of this paradise phase of life I'm in-kids ages 11 and 8. I savor it as it will change daily into another amazing phase but not the same as this one today.


On the way home I think of how happy I am. I think how whatever happens in our future, every single day I wake up to my kids is and has been a gift. But I also acknowledge in my head thankfully that this job-being mama-is cumulative without a beginning and end. Yes, the role changes month by month, year by year. It started with diapers and babies, then changed to zoo trips and toddlers and daycare, to school aged kids and being their tutor, always has been maid, chef, dr, nurse, teacher, to social events and play dates, and chauffeur. But the fact is it has no end. I still call my mama each week and tell her all my stories, ask her advice, cry to her, share books and gifts with each other, laugh with her. Last night I was looking up scripture on not growing tired of doing "good" even for those who don't return the favor, and I was thinking all the while of my mama. The scripture she had on doors and walls of our home. The goodness she instilled in me with all my rottenness!

I realized on the way home this morning that every experience, every first day of school, every song sung, every church visit, every breakfast cooked for me by my mama is still within me. She may not be doing it for me daily anymore but as I do it-it is still in me as if she were waking me up to pancakes and singing the breakfast buddy song she wrote about me and my cat! A mother's love is cumulative:


1. increasing or increased in quantity, degree, or force by successive additions

synonyms: increasing, accumulative, growing, mounting, collective, ... more

When we grow old and mamas and grandmamas are gone, they are just as present in us as the day we were born. Their love, their recipes, their stories, their genetic characteristics, their upbringing, their values, their encouragement, their strength. It makes me so very proud to have the title and role of mama. It feels much bigger than myself. I also cherish each moment as mama because the role changes. Mamas adapt to new roles, older children, encourage self sufficiency and independence. I will make room for others one day, and I hope I get to stand back and enjoy getting to see my own kids in the stage of sweet life that I am now. I hope I get to see M be a mama and W be married to one.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015


When Paul and I were in college we went to his cousins and picked a little chocolate lab puppy. Paul was living off campus in a hundred year old shot gun house at the time. When he got the puppy he took him outside every 2-3 hours to potty train him. I knew then he would make a great dad. We had that dog when we got married, all through med school, during our move to Chattanooga, for the birth of both our children. Then, when W was about 3 the dog died of old age. We were all devastated. We went years with no dog. It was just too painful. After having a big strong Chocolate lab who loved the water and lived outside I was ready for a new dog. A small dog. So the summer of 2013 we took the kids to Disney World but that wasn't the big surprise. On the drive home we swung by Knoxville and picked up Sonny!

This was the picture we had of him when we saw him online for the first time! He is a black and white Havanese puppy.

This is going to be a ridiculously devoted blog to why this dog is the best dog in the universe! My Sonny.

He is the most comforting animal. It has to do with his fur. It is the softest thing. Picture human hair that feels like an expensive cashmere sweater! Well he's even softer! Anytime I have had surgery, or am sick, or feeling in the dumps he doesn't leave my side. He stays around on cuddle watch.

His bad hair days are a sight. They are really something to see!

He has the fluffiest paws. They're like fuzzy slippers.

Sonny loves my M. He lets her treat him just like a baby.

As a puppy he potty trained right away using crate training and a cow bell. He still rings his bell whenever he wants to go out. He never has an accident in the house even if he is home alone all day.

He puts away his toys...sometimes!

He looks like a puppy everytime he gets a haircut.

He loves to be close to me....all the time!

He's very photogenic.

He loves books as much as I do.

He's always game to go for doughnuts.

He sneaks kisses whenever he can.

He knows how to accessorize.

He's good for school projects.

He plays dead.

He makes me healthy because he loves to take walks. Long walks.

He grows his own winter coat and -It's SOO FLUFFY!

He's super easy to groom. Wash, dry, release for him to go crazy.

He loves dressing up for Halloween.

And Christmas.

He makes a great napping buddy.

He likes my journals as much as I do.

He's a perfect companion through all seasons.

He'll play fetch all day long!

He loves to travel.

Very rarely does he get the's usually when he can't go somewhere with us.

He appreciates natural light. You often find him basking in the sun somewhere.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Self Righteous Rocking Chair

I feel like I am coming home by blogging today! It has been way too long! I fell into the rabbit hole of teaching for 5 months. It was exhausting, exhilarating, rewarding, did I mention exhausting? Teaching is a time consuming thing. When I am teaching I go to sleep thinking about field trips, lesson plans, the next days' activities. It's why I love it and why I quit all at the same time! I didn't sketch, blog, cook, CLEAN! But here I am in the heavenly spot of summer-Relaxing, NOT! I'm packing, painting, reorganizing, basically getting ready to move houses the next two days. Our 5th house in 5 years! Lucky number 5. Anyway, I am sure I will be blogging about moving soon, but not today. Today I am blogging about this rocking chair and desk....

Oh and the Duggars, and sin, and our Lord Jesus Christ!

Since we are moving I have a renewed motivation to decorate which since we are being frugal still means repurposing the old so it is "like" new!

The new house is a red brick and has black shutters with a porch so narrow that I have decided surely I can squeeze a couple of rockers on there if I slant them a little diagonally. (I have a deep love for porches and rocking chairs as I am from Louisiana).

Luckily, I had two old white dingy rockers from when we lived in the cabin stored in the garage that were ready to paint black. I got my supplies, my paint, and started my painting. I also decided that I would take M's hideous black desk that does not match her room and paint it a mint green to match her room. And as Annie Sloan says if I use chalk paint I can paint it without any prep work! Unfortunately, I chose the cheaper off brand of chalk paint from Lowes....but more on that later.

Have you ever painted a white rocker black?? The kids and I sanded it and wiped it down. Then I began painting it. Meanwhile Mary began painting her desk. At first it looked a lot like this...

Doesn't that look sweet! A summer activity. But soon there was paint everywhere, I was vowing to never let them paint again, and I was a basket case and kicked the kids out to shower while I painted in peace. And then the finished results!

Then this morning I came outside to put another coat on the rocking chairs. We will discuss the mint chalk painted desk later. The reason I ask, Have you painted a rocking chair, is because there are a lot of slats and slits and round curvy's a task. As I was on the phone with my mom last night after two coats, she said, "Oh! You should have spray painted it!" In hindsight I would have to agree. Anyhoo! This morning as I am touching up the rocker that has two coats of black on it, I keep finding white spots here and there. As a matter of fact every time I change my angle or perspective I find places that I have missed. Even after the 5th coat! If I got low I would gasp at a whole area I completely left off. And you know me....that made me start pondering my life. Isn't there always an area we can improve upon? Make better? No matter how many coats of shiny outdoor black paint, aren't there always the unfinished white spots?

I guess this is so true for me, and I know that so well that this is why I am against Christian judgmental notions.....altogether. Which brings me to the Duggars.

I have no comment. I feel it is none of my business. I feel badly that the nation thought they were perfect. To be a Christian and to be seen as self righteous and perfect is the worst thing that can happen to a Christian. Because the moment our sins are exposed non believers and believers think it was a lie-all of it. Even Christ. But that's not it at all. Christ loves us sins and all.

The main prayer I have for my own spiritual life is that I will never feel self righteous enough that I walk around playing God and judging others for their sins. It reminds me of John 8 when the woman was brought before Jesus to be stoned. Jesus knelt and wrote in the sand and slowly all dropped their stones one by one and left. Was he writing the accusers' sins? We don't know.

If our sins were blasted for all to see would we be focussing on others'?

We are all human. We are all sinners. We all have a past or issues. The world is full of abuse, addictions, depression, and hurtful sins. The best part of that story is that God loves us anyway through it all, and we don't have to be self righteous..... no deed or long list of rules will make us righteous. I suppose this is why I'm not against a lot of things. I don't care what church you go to if any at all. I don't care what bathing suit you wear. I'm not going to proclaim you are mentally ill if you take a selfie (that's so ridiculous) I'm not against a "certain" group of people. Jesus was ALL about loving others. Christians now a days would gasp at who He associated with. No action you do or don't do can make you righteous enough to save yourself.

But only through Jesus Christ-

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son. Who so ever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!

We are at the mercy and grace of Jesus. We cannot make ourselves whole or new. But He can. There will always be a need for another high glossy coat of paint. We will never be finished. Yet He loves us anyway and saves us anyway.

Back to the rocking chair and the desk. So the rockers turned out great. But I am not like the rocking chair at all- I am certainly more like this desk than the rocker figuratively because despite my efforts... the lovely Mint green desk looked like this this morning-

A total and complete mess!!

Apparently, the decision not to sand, or to paint on a rainy day, or to let it dry in a humid closed garage wasn't the best idea! And apparently I'm not the do it yourselfer I would love to be! But I know that won't stop me.

Here's to NOT being perfect and God loving us anyway. That's the REAL story of Jesus! Ps. It's the real story of marriage as well! It's not happily ever after. It's loving each other through a whole lot of faults and hard times and hoping for some good ones in between.