Friday, October 23, 2015

The Joy Thief

Back when I was working, I used something called a comparison microscope on an almost daily basis. In that setting I was using it to compare toolmarks to see if they were made by the same tool.

For some reason a few days ago thinking of the term "comparison microscope" made me realize that's sometimes what we do with our lives, our looks, our love, our lifestyles. We compare.

Like so many quotes you can see in pretty lettering with a chalkboard background these days all over the internet, I can't give proper authorship to this one (most say Theodore Roosevelt or Dwight Edwards). Whoever said it it is true ...

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Yet we often take a microscope to ourselves and look at all the ways we aren't like that girl on the fitness video, or that mom that wrote that one book or blog, or that wife whose husband can't say enough wonderful things about her.

Sometimes in reading about fitness I find quotes that encourage us to compare to ourselves. Friend, I am 37 years old ... I have had two beautiful children ... I will NEVER look like I did in high school. And I wasn't even happy with myself then.

If I compared every day of our marriage to our honeymoon ... that's just not really fair is it? I love our home, but our room is not nearly this opulent and fragile and child-free. Great for romance, but lacking in rambunctious family clamor that is music to my ears (at least, when my ears aren't trying to listen to Tim or another adult attempt to converse with me). They both have their place and I would have wasted my honeymoon sighing over children to be or I could waste the girls' precious years at home sighing away over that once in a lifetime vacation.

I don't know about you, but I don't have multiple chandeliers and a hot tub in my bedroom ... (though I will own up that I have a chandelier over my claw foot tub and that's pretty close to being on vacation)
Arguably worse is when we take our microscope and put someone else on the stage. "Well, at least I didn't do THAT/have THAT disease/have THAT happen to me."

Bless her heart.

In case y'all ain't from the glorious South ... bless her heart is often another way to say "perk up your listenin' ears y'all cause I'm about to gossip!" Ain't pokin' fun ... when I get riled up I recon I still talk like this.

It isn't a blessing at all but a curse on them and on ourselves. Man, you won't find me in line wanting to be a Pharisee ... but if we aren't careful sometimes in trying to make ourselves feel better about our own situation we become modern day Pharisees and separate ourselves from the people we should be serving alongside.

The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: 'I thank you, God, than I am not a sinner like everyone else ...' - Luke 18:11

In Biblical days, no one had mirrors in every room and HD clarity screens reflecting polished and airbrushed lives back to them. Most translations of 1 Corinthians 13:12 ("For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face." - NIV) use adjectives that do not imply the modern devices of perfect glass coated with pure metals: imperfectly, puzzling reflections, dim, darkly, in obscurity, indistinctly, blurred. They weren't even capable of knowing their features well enough to waste the time of them we do.

But comparison must be part of human nature, because there are warnings against it.

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Galations 6:4-5

When Satan keeps us busy comparing ourselves to others ... at the park, on the jogging trail, at work, on Instatwitface ... we aren't carrying our load. We aren't helping others carry theirs.

And here is joy ... picking up the burden shoulder to shoulder with others whose lives do not mirror our own. Love and peace and fullness of spirit in serving each other as we were intended. Not looking at our differences or ourselves but looking at The One we serve.

Remote village in Nicaragua 
School in Nicaragua

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Let It Shine

As a Christian, I am called to reflect God's light.

I can't do that if I let something come between Him and me. Like anger. Or frustration. My focus is so fickle. And as a mom, when my light goes out it can easily take two little lights with it.

This morning I was packing up a picnic lunch for after story time at the library. I had a to do list and I was doing it. Suddenly I got that "too quiet" feeling any parent dreads.

The ENTIRE contents of Victoria's chest of drawers
They had used the hand-washing stool from the bathroom to empty the chest of drawers in Victoria's room. Every last item of 18 and 24 month clothing was on the floor. Mixed up. In a heap. Jumbled together like nobody's business.

My focus swung from God to the fact that it was 10:05 and we needed to be in the car and ready to roll by 10:15 to make it. My to do list, on which I had been making great progress, suddenly stretched long against one of the busiest days of the week. The light surely dimmed.

What I wish had happened next is that I had gotten down on my knees and said in a soft, kind voice that mommy was upset that they had done this and lets pray together because mommy needs to cool down. You can see from sweet sensitive Shelby's posture that wasn't what happened right away. And another precious light dimmed.

Sometimes I have to polish up with tears in order to get back to reflecting God's light. Sometimes I need someone else to reflect His light into my own dark places.

Depending on which version you read, John 1:5 says:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can not/has not overcome/extinguished/comprehended it.

I want to bring light to darkness, and God's Word says the darkness cannot overcome the light. It is a moment by moment choice I make to let God's light shine. In my home, and in the world.

Waxing poetic about how dark sin is ... how abortion wrecks lives and slaughters innocence, how modern slavery grasps at so many around us but we largely ignore it ... doesn't brighten the darkness. It is the clanging of a gong without love. Love is the way we bring light.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. - 1 Corinthians 13:1

Bringing God's light is the only way to expose and defeat the darkness. While there are many ways I feel like God has called me to bring light, one of them is becoming a Noonday Ambassador. I was still considering this a few weeks ago but now I have embraced that torch.

The name Noonday comes from Isaiah 58:10:

if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

This is a way for me to show others, show the world, that I care. And I get to play with beautiful jewelry and get out of the house and be social. Until I went to Austin Christian Fellowship I thought you weren't serving unless you were completely uncomfortable and ... well, miserable. But I now believe God gives us different passions and abilities. And He wants us to use them and part of our joy is that we enjoy using them!

Noonday was founded by Jessica Honegger when she sold paper bead jewelry from two artisans in Uganda to her friends in Austin to help bring Jack, their adopted son, home from Rwanda. In five short years it has grown. Y'all - they are doing things right.

October is Fair Trade Month and Noonday practices fair trade. Another purpose of Noonday in addition to supporting adoptions is to help the artisans making these beautiful pieces rise up out of poverty against oft impossible odds. Responsibly. Sustainably.

Light. God's light. I am here to bring God's light into the world in whatever ways He chooses to use me. I'm not always the best reflector - I let life eclipse what He wants to do through me. I pray every day He will polish these bumps and dings to refract His light all the more and show other's His beauty.

Have you ever been outside during the full moon away from the city lights? Our barndominium is out in here in the country. It is astoundingly dark when the moon is dark. But you might as well have a security light up when that moon is full. My ability to reflect God waxes and wanes depending on how much of me is turned toward Him. I don't want to shift like the moon. My face longs to be fully turned to Him in all circumstances - even when there four seasons of two sizes of clothing all over the floor and places to be.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sorry! I'm late because ...

Sometimes when I'm late somewhere I feel this need deep down inside to explain why. Most of the time I end up thinking "eh, it's too long a story." So when I told myself that today when we were running late to story time at the library, I thought - aha, a story for the self-proclaimed storyteller.

Dedicated to all the families who are consistently late ... and the apologetic moms who were previously punctual.

When I was single ... I was on time everywhere. Sometimes I drove around the block because I was unfashionably early. I'm fairly certain I had thoughts like "Well, when I have kids I'll get them ready early so we won't be late." What a preventable dilemma. What was I thinking?

It wasn't that I looked down on those who were late. One of my best friends growing up was always the late one. She was always laid back (or had a crazy story about why she was late). My personality is to get anxious when I'm late (though, Lord help me, I'm getting over that) so I always tried to avoid it.

Add two little people to the mix, and you've added a incalculable variable into your timeliness equation.

The day started like this ... darn teeth ... and mean mommy, eating a bowl of cereal right in front of her ...
Story time is at 10:30 and it takes us about 15 minutes to get there ... so I aim to have them ready around 10. Today we were even ready early! Bravo mama!

What do you do when you're ready early? Well, we can't get there early - then they'd be tired of being there before it was even time to start the story. So I decided to straighten my hair. It probably takes 5-10 minutes.

I came out and warned them it was time to switch from cloth diapers to disposable (we can talk about THAT some other time). Glanced at the baby, good she's still dressed! Changed her diaper.

Turned to Shelby ... her cloth diaper was dry! Awesome! Had her sit on the potty. Made sure everything was by the door ready to go. Spied Victoria ... now with only one sock on. DOH!

Reward successful peepee in the potty! Yay! Happy dance! One green jelly bean. One pink jelly bean. One boodoo [blue] jelly bean. One white jelly bean. Done.

Reclothe Shelby. Instruct her to find her shoes.

Search for missing Tori sock. Give up. Find new pair. Doesn't match outfit. Oh well. Find Tori shoes. See Shelby shoes but no Shelby?

Find Shelby. Threaten to skip library.

Both kids by back door. Put Shelby shoes on. Everybody ready?

Climb in car. Strap in seat. Strap in seat. Find sunglasses. Start car. Darn it now it is 10:28!

And then of course, the piece de resistance ... a train. Our county road crosses a track just adjacent to a switch. We came upon a very long train which had just started and was moving slowly. And very long. It strung out before us both ways.

To the right ...

To the left to the left ... everything you own ... um, no.

At least we got to enjoy the fun ding-ding-ding-ding ... the girls always get a kick out of that.

So that's why we were late. It's a long story.

Some other time I'll tell the story about "those parents" that let their children destroy their clothing. I see SO many kids with cute bows and neatly cared for hair. I'm sure everyone could do that if they tried - maybe they just don't care.

That shirt did not come with fringe ...

DOH! Future stylist/doctor/gymnast/momma/... thinks its funny.

Friday, September 18, 2015

My Hope for You, Shelby

This morning was glorious.

It started out pretty good - I was able to do my Bible study, muddle through a workout, and get ready for the day before anyone got up.

But that's just good. What happened next was so much more important.

Victoria was up first, and we were just hanging out for a few minutes on the couch while she shook off the lingering sleepiness and really woke up. Seeing big sister usually perks her right up. We heard Shelby stirring ... some typical, relatively happy mumblings were coming from her bedroom. Yet she didn't come out.

Then she sounded less than happy. She wasn't crying, but she sounded more like she does when someone has to wake her up. She might as well be 16 already in that regard. Trust me when I say that you do not want to have to wake that curly head up.

So sweet and innocent - just caught her like this yesterday - a rare moment
Hoping she wasn't sick, Tori and I made our way back to her room. When I started to open her door I found her just on the other side. She was staring intently into the mirror we mounted on the wall so she wouldn't climb on her dresser to look at her clothes every day.

Her eyes met mine, round with questions, and she said "I want God to take care of me, but He feels far away."

Moms. What do you say? Drawing my spiritual bow I quickly tossed up what had to be the most desperate and pleading arrow prayer heaven has ever received. (Ok, probably not but it felt like it at the time - this is my most important assignment!).

It made me SO happy to hear her say that, but at the same time I felt like I needed King Solomon-strength wisdom. Would the wrong words at this crucial time make her feel like God isn't there? Can't be trusted? Doesn't exist?

Praise Him, it is doubtful this is the only conversation she and I will have about the presence of God. My note to rally the troops of heaven could only be answered with the sword already at my disposal. The sword of truth.

Page 48 of The Best Yes Study Guide (Lysa TerKeurst)
Truth greater than facts. Greater than our feelings. I had just underline a statement attesting that in Bible study yesterday! Shelby was feeling that God was far away, and any scientist might reasonably argue that God's presence was not something quantifiable there in her doorway this morning. But the Biblical truth, the sword I had to slay that lie that He is far away is stronger.

Throughout the morning she has spoken of God. She wanted to give Him a hug. I tried to explain that the only time He had a body like ours was when Jesus came and died for our sins.

She wanted Him to join us for breakfast, so we prayed for His presence even if that didn't mean sitting down and eating. I told her that Jesus broke bread with the disciples and I bet that when we join God forever one day He will probably eat with us.

Later  she said she had looked everywhere for God but that she couldn't find Him. Oh my sweet Shelby Hope. My one hope for you is that you find Him! I told her to never stop looking, because He has promised that she will find Him.

My one prayer, my most important plea, my sweet girls is that you seek and find the Lord. My soul is soaring to unprecedented heights and trembling in awe of what is unfolding before me. Lord please help me guide her to keep looking for You. My greatest joy is for both my girls to find You!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Saying Yes

Last week I started a new Bible study called "The Best Yes" by Lysa TerKeurst. I didn't think I had trouble saying "No." when I know I'm too busy. But I do still have trouble saying no. And I have trouble saying YES when something "feels" selfish. Or like something I would really like to do.

Five years ago I didn't have trouble saying yes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area when Tim asked me to marry him. That trip seems like just yesterday and yet so far away. We've been through so much since then, and now we're a family of four! Victoria Grace was named after the Grace of God, not the lake that tried to kill us. But perhaps she is just as tough as that lake ...

I had to wait to wear it because it was too big and we were paddling a canoe!

I can still hear the loon that was calling when I took this picture
The study has me thinking about the things I want to say yes to. My writing is always the one that is stirring in my heart that I struggling to find what it is God is calling me to. Through this study I am learning to seek and discover and unearth wisdom and then apply it to the decisions I have to make. I feel on the verge of something this time.

The sunrise on my birthday five years ago - He loves us

Another decision I am searching for God's will about is the burning in me to become a Noonday Ambassador. When we were in Nicaragua I bought a pair of earrings and a bracelet a young girl had made. She was selling jewelry to save up for college. When my heart burns angry against the conditions some leaders hold their people in ... the "choices" left for women not wanting to become mothers ... the oft ignored illegal trade of [mostly] women and children as slaves even here in our own country ... with the fire comes the smoky whisper to do something. If you love women like you claim to, DO SOMETHING.

We're not afraid of a little hard work - THIS is camping
Becoming an ambassador would allow me to do something ... to make a demand for the beautiful things these beautiful people craft. To give them the opportunity to do something good. Encouraging. Freeing. I may not be a fashionista, I prefer subtle timeless clothing ... but I love an eye-catching accessory. Especially if it has a story.

Among the thoughts of these pieces with stories, with better lives behind them, an idea was born.

Where are you taking me, Lord? I'm not afraid. Fickle Grace calm as glass ...

Echoing in my soul is the longing to tell stories. Sure, I have my own stories to tell, but what if God wants me to help someone else tell their story? Tears spring to my eyes. Oh Jesus, is this the glimmering gem you have for me? To use the talents you have given me to help someone else put to paper, to words, to the world their stories? My heart and soul cry YES!

This may be my Best Yes. As the morning air crisps in harvest glory ... as dew like scattered crystals kisses the parched summer earth ... I may have found my calling. It is time to dig into that fertile ground in search of the treasure of God's wisdom.

I miss these colors
It felt like saying goodbye ... I long to go back
September ushers in fall and I long, nostalgic, for that season so protracted here in Texas. A taste of what my Wisconsin husband must feel. But as the leaves begin to blaze into the final glory of their being and rustle to the ground ... I will only glance back with a smile and know that God has adventures yet ahead. It's gonna be wild. It's gonna be great. It's gonna be full of Him.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Be Still and Know

Four years ago today, God spoke to me.

Every so often, I hear God speak so very clearly. It's usually when I am low and weak. It isn't necessarily a voice, or in my head ... but it is unmistakable.

This morning ... a verse that is most comforting to me in my busy, noisy mind popped up not once ... but twice ... it was included in both my devotionals. It is the verse God spoke to me four years ago in the middle of a crowd when I thought I was going to loose it in public.

A Cup of Joy: Moments of Faith to Enrich Your Day

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence 
It was the first year of our marriage, and we were expecting a little missionary baby from our trip to Nicaragua ... Lil Bit. Every week I was looking at what Lil Bit looked like, did our baby already have a nose? Amazing! What size fruit was he or she?

Somewhere along the way something started not feeling right. One morning I stood crying on Tim's shoulder in our apartment kitchen, sobbing that I didn't feel pregnant anymore. Surely it was just nerves.

But I began spotting. And spotting. And spotting. Never enough to be sure something was wrong, but enough that I was a nervous wreck. Finally we decided to go in to the birth center we had picked out and even given a deposit to. They felt like everything was normal, but offered to let us have a sonogram if that would make us feel better.

It didn't. I knew without a doubt I should be ten weeks along, and I knew that the empty bubble measuring seven weeks on the screen wasn't what we should be seeing. The tech asked if perhaps I was off on my dates. Everything went quiet. We met with the midwife, something in me still holding out a glimmer of hope ... but she came in and hugged me and said what everyone says when they don't know what to say: "I'm so sorry."

So on September 2nd, I stood outside a building that I would never enter again ... sobbing in my husband's strong arms and wondering how I could get past this. How long would I have to wait for the horror to be over. I did what any sensible girl does when she doesn't know what to do. Ran to momma.

And it was on September 3rd that we had gone to Canton. Distraction is a great medicine isn't it? We were in one of the pavilions and suddenly it felt like there were children and babies everywhere. "No no no!" I screamed inside "Not this ... not the why not me-s and the I wonder what-s." I tore my eyes from a mother kneeling down to comfort a baby in a stroller ...

I actually think it was this same business
My vision filled with crosses. I wasn't hallucinating and it wasn't the tears threatening to spill out shattering my focus. It was an honest-to-goodness wall of crosses. Like a voice out of heaven, the one that came into focus said "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)

A gift my dear friend Leah found for me after I told her this story
Everything went still in the middle of that crowded marketplace. And I knew. It was going to be ok. God was with me. He loved our unborn child who would never be born as much ... more than ... we did. Life continued. We still miss Lil Bit, especially on days like today. This flawed life is temporary and our little brief missionary was a messenger that God is near us even when the world asks how could He be?

And today God spoke to me again. I cried a little. I cherish Lil Bit and I hugged Shelby and Victoria a little tighter than they would have liked this morning. He is good all the time, even in the midst of our sorrows, and it is good to be still and get to know that about Him.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


At the beginning of 2014 I quit Facebook. My reasons were things like comparing myself to others and that it made me feel narcissistic.

Maybe the drama too.

The FB drama follows you even if you don't follow it on FB
A little older and perhaps a little wiser (one would hope) I decided to get back on with a new mindset.

Even though it's "my" Facebook ... it isn't all about me. There are a lot of family and friends who miss out on seeing Shelby and Victoria. Facebook is the most universal way to share these little blessings and their antics.

I'm not here for the drama
Many of the ways I used to communicate with new and old friends have become antiquated. What used to be forums have moved to Facebook groups (which do seem to be easier to use, and puts everything in one place). Some of these friends I've never met prayed me through some of the harder times in my life and even if we've never met they're still friends and I miss them.

Even meeting new people, it isn't unusual for them to ask about Facebook before asking about phone numbers.

I miss family and their kids! Inevitably we've grown up and grown apart. Big holidays are spent with our own expanding families instead of with our extended families the way we did as kids. Say what you will about the authenticity of , but seeing their pictures and thoughts and stories on Facebook makes me feel closer to them than not seeing them at all.

Some changes I've made are:
The kids have enough drama we don't need any more thanks.
1. One problem was that I was starting to get on Facebook first thing in the morning. I've turned off notifications so I'm not having Facebook "pushed" on me. That takes away the temptation to see who liked what before I spend some time with God!

2. I've opened a Twitter account for the more charged things like news and politics. Facebook for friends and family, Twitter for news, weather, sports, and things that tend to start petty arguments and hurtful comments. Perhaps they aren't petty arguments - but no one ever changed their mind about a heated topic because of a Facebook comment war (that I know of).

That's enough about that. Social media and anything on it is only as big of a deal in my life as I let it be. If I'm honest (and I try to be) I'm glad to be back. And I like llamas. But not drama. Unless its llama drama, that I think I could take.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Planned Parenthood

They call it that ... but it seems to me they deal more in the accidental and the avoidance of responsibility. And true parenthood is responsibility - ask your parents. Carrying a tiny human for nine months and giving birth to them doesn't make you a parent. You don't have to kill anyone to avoid becoming a parent.

If you claim to be pro-life and are not angry about abortion, you might need to visit the Center for Medical Progress and view the videos. Because you can't stay on the fence.

Its been a while since I wrote about it, but the legality alone of abortion is horrifying to me. Kermit Gosnell is not the only baby killer - they're all baby killers. But Planned Parenthood has turned it into a business. They have gone beyond what those who think this is a way to stand up for women had in mind.

You can show me that pie chart claiming abortions are only 3% of your business all you want ... why are people who have BEEN INSIDE, and even been ON your side, saying that its a lie? Pretty graphs don't make what you're presenting a fact. Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Heroes like Abby Johnson and Holly O'Donnell have made choices that may not win them any friends on either side of the fence ... but they aren't on the fence. They've been in the trenches and it made them cry out, opening themselves up to personal attack.

I don't care. That's right, flat out don't care if the videos were procured illegally. I'm sure you will sue the Center for Medical Progress and doubt that they are surprised. The light will shine in the dark places one way or another. I love the United States, so I pray it will be before our infinitely gracious and patient God unleashes a wrath the likes of which I doubt have ever been seen in history.

You may think we're above brutality such as human sacrifices by the Aztecs ... but we're matching annually what it is speculated they did in the lifetime of their culture.

Why, in every movie, does the older person sacrifice for the younger? You can say the Aztecs were more brutal because they killed walking, talking, breathing, "living" people ... but we haven't even given 60 million ... SIXTY MILLION PEOPLE ... a chance. There aren't sixty million people in even the largest city-propers in the world. Sixty million is roughly the population of the top 15 largest U.S. cities. FIFTEEN CITIES. LARGE CITIES. Annihilated. Unprotected. Eviscerated before ever even seeing a smile.

Yet in so many of the movies we love, the romantic notions we admire, it is those who have lived sacrificing themselves for those who have not. Women and children first is even to this day practiced in life boat drills.

No, Belle, listen to me! I'm old! I've lived my life!
My heart is broken and burning. Hot tears have trekked down my face with every video released. I don't want to watch them. I don't want to be exposed to the brutality of men; the frailty of our children. But these things are really happening and I don't want to be blind. They can't be brushed under the rug. It's insanity. If you aren't mad you need to get mad. Get off the fence. OFF. THE. FENCE. Why are you so comfortable there?

Towards the end of the most recent video released, Holly O'Donnell makes a harrowing statement. The first time I watched the video, as she spoke of imagining what these children would have been like if they had lived ... I watched my three year old coloring on the iPad. She had just gotten up, put a dress on, and come to my room and asked "I color?"

I can't get over what I was listening to at that very moment. These babies are not mistakes. YOU were not a mistake. Treating life as trash is a mistake. Denying the innocent the right to exist is a mistake. We need to stop repeating that mistake.

I remember holding that fetus in my hands, when everybody else was busy, and started crying and open the lid and put it back in. It’s just really hard knowing that you’re only person who’s every going to hold that baby. It’s weird, because I always think of all these scenarios that could happen, like what I held in my hands could have grown up to be –– and I always think about things like that, like this could be a lawyer, this could be a firefighter, this, this could be the next president. Like I wonder what, cause you can tell what sex sometimes, I wonder if I wonder at age three, if you know, she would like to color, or things like that. I wonder what it would look like, her mom or her dad? Things like that, I think it’s a waste of life. It’s sad that so many people view it like a mistake. It’s not. I mean, life isn’t a mistake. Getting pregnant –– it can be an accident, but it’s not a mistake.

She did become a three year old who likes to color.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Panic at the Library

One of the things I always pictured myself doing when I had children was taking them to the library. I'm a reader. I don't ever remember not being a reader. When I think of summer, I think of the days my mom would take us all the way in to Longview to go to the library. Seriously - all the way in to town. I remember watching the Velveteen Rabbit in the old library and I remember when they moved to a brand new fancy building. I remember spending those hot August days like today encamped in my room building up books to add to my summer reading program list. Sometimes I'd grab a snack and head  to a tree with branches that drooped just enough into the horse pasture behind us for me to climb up into a cosy fork. The lazy summer clouds would pass me by as I lost myself on Prince Edward Island with Anne of Green Gables.

So imagine my horror when I toted a few-months old Shelby to the local library only to be told they most certainly did not have a children's story time. In fact, that did most certainly not seem to encourage children's presence in the library at all. I was aghast! Don't all librarians want to bring up a new generation of readers? It would appear I had been hoodwinked as here before me were two who didn't care one iota if any children learned to love books as long as their realm remained unchanged. Silent. Clean. Orderly. Stagnant. Sterile.

Last year all that changed. I don't know exactly what happened and it really doesn't matter, but we were blessed with a changing of the guard. Now every Wednesday a growing group of children show up at the Cameron Public Library for story time with two ladies who love them, and love books. New children's books are flooding the shelves. Decade long gaps on those little "due date" stamp cards are filling up with fresh ink. A few weeks ago Shelby was crying because the book she wanted was already claimed and I got to teach her about reserving a book so that she could have it next.

Today we left story time (and an impromptu meeting of homeschooling moms and grandmother) with her Disney Princess book under one arm and a Three Little Pigs craft in momma's purse. I had started strapping the girls into their seats, but even with the reflective sun-shade up it was stifling in our car. Reaching between the front seats, I started the car and cranked the AC up to full blast. Shelby was asking for music, so I plugged my phone in and turned the bluetooth on.

Now our car, a 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser, does some things that were quite innovative at the time it was new. You cannot lock the doors with the keys in the ignition. However, if you start the car with all the doors closed, it automatically locks them.

I'm pretty sure the door next to Victoria's seat was open. So I'm not sure why what happened next happened, but clearly it did. I finished getting the girls strapped in and exited the vehicle. Clearly the door must have been unlocked or ajar for me to do that. As usual, I closed the door and grabbed the handle of the driver's door.

And pulled. And pulled. And yanked. Jerked. Stared, stupefied. What was going on here? I tried the door I had just come out of, but it was locked too. Something welled up in my chest as my adrenal glands sighed into my bloodstream. I may or may not have been running as I checked all the doors, in vain. It is mid-August, in Texas. My two beautiful children are locked in the car. In the sun. With the keys inside. With my phone inside.

Chills ran down my spine and bile climbed my throat as fresh adrenaline coursed through me now that danger was doubtless. Mother bear raised the hairs on the back of my neck as I ran through ideas of Things That Would Break A Window. Now we know that, in a panic, I don't lose my mind. The sensible side of me (yes, there is one!) talked down the bear. We are at the library. They have a phone. The car is running, the AC is on. Your daughters, climbers and key-turners though they may be, are safely restrained.

They couldn't see me fly to the door because the sun shade was still up. My face must have reflected my terror because everyone seemed to look up as I opened the library door. I didn't even need to interrupt anyone to request that "whoever you call when you've locked the children in the car" be called. A couple of the other mothers came out to stand with me and chat as we waited. Periodically I looked in at the kiddos and Shelby told me "drive momma." They had no idea.

As my friends reassured me that I am no a bad mother, a police cruiser and a wrecker pulled up. Too relieved to be embarrassed, I watched them work. They never even asked my name or how it had happened. It felt like it took longer for them to break into a 21 year old vehicle than I would have expected, but soon the window was down and the car was unlocked, and Shelby was asking to "go out to eat."

Once upon a time I'm sure I wondered how parents "let" things like this happen. It is easier than you think. Thank you to my friends, Cameron Police Department, and C&W Automotive for making a "bad mommy moment" into a thankful memory full of praise to God that it wasn't serious. I barely even got to thank them ... no questions asked, no exchange of information or money.

Keep calm, ask for help, withhold judgement, and count those blessings - in a moment you could find that you had more than you realized!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Please stop it!

"Stop it!"

I forget when it started, but Shelby tends to blurt out "stop it!" when she doesn't like something that is happening. Getting changed, getting dressed, having her hair combed, being removed from a playground ...

Where did she learn to say that? One day she was being particularly uncooperative when I was trying to change her and it happened. "Stop it!" I barked.

Gasp! Was it from me!? Perhaps it was ... but I had reinforcements.

Disney. Every other Disney movie we own contains "Stop it!" I first noticed it in Frozen:

Oh Olaf ... I guess Kristoff DID kinda take your arm ...

And who wants to get picked up by a caribou?

Then I heard one of my favorite characters shout it. At her children. Helen Parr.

This is so me sometimes. Just STOP IT. Ooops.

See, when mom isn't the one saying it she has a horrified look ...

Now I was LOOKING for it!! At least Rapunzel never says it:

Flynn Rider IS a theif ...

So I guess it shouldn't be too surprising for him to shout it at the justice-bent horse.

And really, does anyone want to say anything "Mother" Gothel says? I think not.

Even an old classic wasn't free of such rudeness:

I suppose a king can get away with it.

It almost seems that the toys made a point to include it in every movie.

I wonder where Andy learned it ...

Note to self, horses and other hoofed animals elicit "stop it" a lot ...

Don't even get me started on idiot. I don't like Lotso. Lots 'o' meanness.

Granted, sometimes the tone of the conversation is everything:

When will we girls just learn to say thank you when complimented?

To her credit Tiana is being attacked with a kitten dressed as a frog.

And oh the rebellious teenager crying out about how unfair her consequences are ...

But sometimes it's appropriate. It's not wrong to stand up for yourself and others in the face of injustice or downright abuse.

You tell them little hermit crab. Bullies.

Perfectly acceptable when someone evil has your father strung up like a marionette.

I want to teach our daughters to be polite and not blurt out "stop it!" or "quit it!" when we're trying to help them ... or get them ready to go somewhere ... or wash them ... or otherwise keep them from killing themselves. But I don't want to teach them they don't have the right to say "NO" to wrong, even if it's an adult they're saying it to.

So I've been trying to teach Shelby to say, firmly, "please stop" instead of "stop it." I've even gone as far as to try to show her if you say "please stop" and someone doesn't listen -  say it louder. "I said PLEASE STOP!"

To anybody. For anything. You have the right to tell someone you don't like what they're doing. Even momma. Especially someone not in your family. Even if it seems harmless. You can be assertive without being rude.

And in the world we live in, I want our girls to know if someone is doing something they don't like, and they don't listen to "please stop" ... It's ok to get rude. Scream. Kick. Get away. Yell whatever you want! Be loud and don't stop until they are gone.

We can sort out the times this happens that there wasn't any danger after it's over. I'd rather smooth some ruffled feathers than inadvertently teach them not to stick up for for themselves when something doesn't seem right.

But seriously Disney. PLEASE stop it. Can't the magic word be a little part of the Disney Magic sometimes?😉