Wednesday, September 29, 2010

While we were sleeping.

This morning, Hannah and I walked by a pile of someone's belongings that wasn't there 24 hours ago.

If you live in public housing in West Dallas, and you, for whatever reason don't pay your rent, the authorities come and put all you own outside the gates of your apartment on the front curb.

They dump everything, including the contents of your refrigerator.

Eviction looks like this.

Sometimes, if you know it's coming, you can carry away most of your clothes, your baby pictures, your kids' shoes. Sometimes, it happens while you're at the grocery.

Sometimes, your kids come home from school to find out they don't have a home any more. Sometimes, you all walk to the bus-stop carrying all you can in suitcases and backpacks.

After all you own is dumped on the curb, sometimes your neighbors will come and take what they want from the pile that used to be your stuff and take it home with them.

Then, after everything's been picked through by everyone else, sometimes kids will come by and tag all your stuff with spray paint.

The poor learn to hold loosely to their things because this is a scene they're familiar with. I hold tightly to my things because this scene still surprises me.

I talk about holding loosely to my things because that's what Scripture tells me to do but I'm not sure I really know what that means. If I had to take with me only what I could carry, would the vintage wooden dough bowl on my kitchen table still be as fabulous? The architectural pieces I found at the flea market? My uncomfortable but pretty shoes? My curling iron and flat iron and hot rollers?

Probably not.

It's made me think today, what, of all my stuff really, really, at the end of the day, matters. It's actually, when push comes to shove, very little.

They all have heartbeats.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I didn't know I could sweat this much.

I exercise every morning. It's part of my day and I do it because there's absolutely nothing better in the morning than getting that heart-rate up before dawn, feeling your lungs burn and your muscles ache.

Well, except, maybe, hot, fresh, coffee and a Snuggie.

Or sleeping.

Or public speaking.

Or having bamboo shoots driven under my fingernails.

Ok, those last two...exaggerations.

Actually, I do like exercising in the morning but not nearly as much as Scout or Hannah and they both get all grouchy and malcontent if we don't go walking in the wee hours of the a.m.

And, because it's been 8 billion degrees outside, we kind of sweat. What's even more pathetic is that, more often than not, I'll come home, throw my workout clothes on the floor (deep breath all you type A characters, deep breath) so the next morning, when I'm fumbling around in the dark trying to get dressed, I can just put the same clothes back on.

Gross, yes? I know - but isn't it this kind of honesty that makes you thankful you don't live next door. I know - silver lining. You're welcome.

Anyway, I spent last week preparing for a talk I was giving to a MOPS group on Friday. Although I was a communications major - at an Agricultural and Mechanical School - I haven't spoken publicly in years and the whole process made me really nervous.

I sweated.

A lot.

I needed double-extra-strength antiperspirant. Have you ever tried to spell that word? I had to look it up because I kept getting the red, squiggle, underline thingie.

The group was so sweet and welcoming and didn't hold it against me that I probably missed their annual topic by a mile and forgot the age of my youngest child. Six. She's six. Six.

I remember what it was like being in their shoes - having all my chicks underfoot all day long and what a fun break it was to spend some time with other mom's who were equally as covered in spit-up as I was.

I prayed a lot about what I should say and what I remembered, or wished, someone had shared with me.

Sadie is six.

I really believe the Scriptures are clear on three things in relation to raising kids.

1. Become a lover of God's Word. It is this primary means the Lord has used to reveal himself and there is not a word of advice or counsel or exhortation, inside or outside the four walls of a church, that should not be sifted through the sieve of the Word of God. Love His word and great wisdom is needed so that we don't fall into the trap of thinking there is anything else of significance besides Christ alone.

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

2. Learn to love what God loves. The world launches grenades at us insisting that our End Game is a child who is bright, well-socialized, active in various sports – even great at sports, who performs increasingly well in a rigorous education process so he or she can graduate from high-school, go to the college of their choosing, land a well-paying job and become leaders in their industry – or at least marry one who is. And as for us, our homes are clean and perfectly decorated. We throw fabulous birthday parties with homemade invitations, and still find time to cook all our organic meals from scratch.

In Christ, we have been freed from these all these ridiculous expectations but, unfortunately, like dogs returning to their vomit (sorry, that's gross but I love that illustration from Prov. 26:11), we often handcuff ourselves back to the things we've been liberated from. As we learn to love the Lord, we learn to love the things that He loved. They define our End Game and give us a hope beyond this vapor that is our present life.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:23

And 3. We need to know that Life in the son has always been a corporate affair. His word knows nothing of an independent, individualistic, insulated disciple (Jesus Manifesto, Sweet and Viola). You have been given to one another as a gift – to love, encourage, and exhort one another in the things of the Lord.

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
Philemon 1:7

Perhaps they would have rather had George Clooney just stand in front of them for 45 minutes but I couldn't get a hold of him so that's all I could come up with.

I sweated a lot, more than when Hannah and Scout make me walk, but it was so fun being with young women who are just on the precipice of life with kids. I was way blessed.

And I put my clothes in the laundry basket. And washed them. In case you were wondering.

She's six.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

We are down, but not defeated.

Well, actually, maybe we are.

 We have fought a hard battle but, from the looks of my couches right now, we may have lost.

Taken in defeat are two of my children - finally succombing to the enemy last night - and now propped with pillows, armed with Kleenex and engrossed in their chapter books.  Or iCarly.  I can't be certain when teachers might be reading.

Ragweed, you are a force to be reckoned with.

Last weekend, I faced death head-on in the form of a sinus headache.  I wrote my obituary, picked out a proper burial ensemble, and chose some beautiful hymns I wanted sung at my funeral.  Actually, I didn't, but I felt like I should have.  And, like the generous mother that I am, I have passed down my allergies to two of my children. 

Every year, the enemy comes and we go to battle once again.  A teaspoon of local honey?  Got it.  Claritin?  Yep.  Neti Pot.  Gross...but, yes...we have that too.

Actually, the whole Neti Pot phenomenon is crazy.  It's totally disgusting and yet satisfying all at the same time.  If you don't know what it is, let me explain.  You basically take this cute little teapot, fill it with salt water, and then pour it up your nose.  The water goes up one nostril and out the other and it's like sending your sinuses through the car wash. 

If you're reading this on your lunch break, I apologize.

Anyway, we're prayerfully on the road to recovery.  Although I have not left my first love - the Z-pack - I have found a new delight in Advil Cold and Sinus.  The kind with the Psueoephedrine that the dealers use to make Meth.  I could probably pick some up for a bargin at some trap in the 'hood but I'm pretty sure they're not adhering to FDA standards when their cooking it down in their garage kitchens.  Just sayin'.

On another note, thank you for heading over and visiting Jedidiah's website and representing!  Y'all are an awesome bunch!

Have a great afternoon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So I have these friends...

She is an amazing photographer, mother, teacher of the Word.

He is a pastor, preacher, writer, and, like a pencil in the hand of the Father, he churns out stuff like this once a week...

"How often do you and I find ourselves striving to find a measure of acceptance—either from God or others—which He has already secured for us in Christ? How many of our efforts are at bottom an attempt to outrun fears we cannot escape, or, in our pride, to fulfill expectations we can never satisfy? In either case our unstated worry is always, “Am I good enough?” “The essence of Christian salvation,” says D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “is that [Christ] is good enough and I am in Him.”

You can subscribe to the devotionals he writes for Park Cities Presbyterian Church, here.  Go ahead, we'll wait for you.

Ok, you back?  Good, because here's the great part...

One Friday, several months ago, I got an email.  "Melissa, I know we were supposed to have dinner Sunday night but we got a call and we'll be bringing home our son instead.  Sorry, I know your cooking is AMAZING but this is kinda more important."  She didn't really say that last part - I added it for fun.  Anyway, this couple, along with their two children, have adopted a baby boy named Jedidiah.

He's kinda cute.

But the whole adoption thing, as many of you know, is not free.  Actually, it's kinda 'spensive.  But we serve a Lord who owns cattle on a thousand hills and who blesses us not for our own gain, but so that we may share in extending His kingdom.

And as much a retailers would like you to think these are a good use of your extra Fall cash,  I can assure you, they are not.

I really can't begin to tell you how much the harem pant is not a good use of your cash.

However, I am quite certain, this next item is.  My friends, with the help of their artsy peeps, are holding a fundraiser to help cover the cost of bringing Jedidiah home.

Head over and check out the website.  Look around, take your time, and give however the Lord so leads you...which is not toward the harem pant.  I promise.

Thanks, internet friends!

Monday, September 13, 2010

How was your weekend?

So much to write about, so little energy. Last Thursday afternoon, a tornado blew right over our house. As we were all finishing homework, and the big boys were raiding my refrigerator, sirens started sounding throughout the neighborhood.

We cut on the television only to see a funnel cloud passing behind the lead smelter smoke stack that sits about 1 mile from our house.


The kids ran to the closet under the stairs and I ran to the door with my camera. I know. I KNOW! Trey was out of town and had taken with him, apparently, my better judgment. Graham was screaming at me to get in the closet and the big boys were searching the sky - I didn't get one picture. We saw it and shot back inside and in a second, it was gone. The sky cleared and the sun came out. Just about two miles from us, a building was completely collapsed. We are so thankful it missed us and Trey is never allowed to leave town again when rain is in the forecast.

Saturday morning, Trey was home and we got dressed to attend the most fun event I'd been to in a while.

The Golden Gate Missionary Baptist Church was celebrating it's 80th year and also, it's Silver Eagles - those in the congregation who'd reached 70 years old - at a luncheon. Trey was being honored by the church with the President's Award for Christian Service in the community.

We dressed up and headed to lunch.

Along with Trey, two beautiful women who had given their lives to their communities were also being honored. We shared our table with one of the honorees, Mrs. Fain's, family.

Here's a pic of Mrs. Fain and the Pastor.  Her daughters said she was feisty and still, even at 85, sang and drove her Cadillac all over town.

When the Pastor handed her the mic., this was her daughter's expression.  "Oh, no, Shortcake's gonna talk, we may be here a while."

Shortcake, as they called her, kept it brief but encouraged us to get out and vote.  She may have shaken her finger at us all.

We were all so blessed by the day and we have a feeling Trey might walk in his office one morning and find Mrs. Fain sitting at his desk telling him how the cow at the cabbage.

As we were combing through the program, we saw Trey's name listed again on the program for Sunday morning.  We hadn't planned on joining Golden Gate for church but our plans had been changed for us.

When we told the big boys where we were going, they said, "Is that a black folk's church?  Oh, no!  We're not going there!  Mamelissa, we'll be there ALL DAY!  They'll preach, break for lunch, and just when you think you can go on home and take a nap, they'll call you back in for more preachin'!  NO WAY!"

Well, sure enough, as we started getting dressed, those little stinkers changed their minds and joined us - along with Quincy who stayed the weekend.

It was awesome!  Now, we're coming out of a traditional Presbyterian experience where, if the Preacher goes 59 minutes, you might see some people start looking at their watches.  Not at the Golden Gate Missionary Baptist Church.  An hour and forty-five minutes in, the Preacher was still going strong and people were standing up cheering him on.  He was sweating, and kept wiping his brow with a towel.  Fans were waving and Sadie only jumped once when his voice boomed across the room.  The kids were perfect - mostly because Dea, Darius, and Quincy were such great examples.

I loved so many things about the weekend but mostly, I loved seeing the beautiful diversity within the Body of Christ and how He is the great Unifier.

Afterward, we were welcomed and hugged by just about everyone in the congregation and given a slice of the best sweet potato pound cake I'd ever tasted.  Ok, it was the only sweet potato pound cake I'd ever tasted and it was awesome.

Prayerfully, we'll get to visit again.  There's a little part of us that's afraid Mrs. Fain might show up at our house on Sunday morning to drag us by our ears.

It could totally happen.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What's cookin'?

So, yesterday morning, I ran to the store down the street to pick up some breakfast items. It seems as though our house population increases exponentially on the weekends and, since the additions tend to be basketball playing teenage gentlemen, a bowl of cereal doesn't really suffice.

Breakfast tacos do.

Especially with fresh tortillas from the new tortillaria that just opened next to the Fiesta. Delightful.

While I was shopping, I saw that Brisket was on sale for $.99/lb. so I picked one up. I would have bought four but there was a limit of one with a $10 purchase and I'm a rule follower. I'll send Trey back today. Then, perhaps Tee. I may be a rule follower but I'm also excellent at finding a loophole.

As I'm standing in line to check out, two guys behind me start talking.

"Man, you just buyin' those ribs now? I've had mine marinating since Friday. You behind, brother."

"Naw, I'm O.K. I'm gonna put some rub on them and start them in the oven, then finish them on the grill."

"You shoulda done that yesterday. You're gonna have to crank dat heat. Make 'em tough."

Every holiday weekend, this scene plays out in our neighborhood. Giant smokers are pulled out and fired up. Before dawn, the the sweet aroma of grilled carnivorous delights fill the air. On my early morning walks, I've even tried to invite myself over for lunch once or twice. Sometimes, I get a yes - sometimes, they see my ugly dog and assume negative things about the rest of my family.

I can't blame them, really.

Anyway, so I'm checking out at the Fiesta, hearing this grilling on-upsmanship going on behind me and, finally, I had to speak up. "Guys, I'm just now buying this brisket! Y'all are stressing me out!"

"Aw, baby, you fine! You got a good rub?"

"I DON'T KNOW!?! It was on sale so I bought it! I figured we'd just do burgers!"

"BURGERS?!?!? What? You can't do burgers on a holiday! You gotta BBQ!"

Then, they started going back and forth with the best way to cook a Brisket. Thankfully, Trey wasn't with me because he'd have joined in and our children would have never gotten their breakfast.

Along with my unsolicited grilling tips, I did take a picture of this. Just for fun.

Posted by Picasa

I have to say, I'm a little curious about the scent of Really Ripped Abs.  Curious and scared, all at the same time.  Would it neutralize the smell of BBQ smoke that now covers my darling husband and makes him smell like a pit-master?

At $6.99 a bottle, we may just have to speculate. 

Y'all have a great Labor Day!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Two peas in a pod.

The other morning, Trey and I were hollering, I mean gently wooing, at Graham to get his batookis downstairs because it was time to leave for a birthday party.

He comes bounding down the stairs in a white T, khaki cargo shorts, no-show socks, and his black school shoes.

With the unity that comes with experience in the ways of 'child self-dressdom', Trey and I told him he might need to change something about his outfit.  His black lace-ups with his shorts made him look a little like a grandfather.  Not my grandfather in particular, just a grandfather in general.

For the record, my grandfather, Irv, prefers trousers.  And suspenders. 

Anyway, Graham starts giving a little push-back and out of no where, Dea says, "Man, you just need to put on some slides."

We look over at Dea and Trey and I immediately crack up.  Dea is wearing Graham's exact outfit except with slides instead.  As soon as Graham realized he had accidentally dressed almost exactly like his big brother, he couldn't run upstairs to don his slides fast enough.

And try as we might, we could not persuade either one of them to set their toes free from the fashion nightmare that is sandals with socks.

It makes my feet sweaty just looking at them.