Best-Laid Plans

Best-Laid Plans

So, I’m sitting in the Chick-Fil-A parking lot, enjoying chicken minis, hash browns, and coffee. An unexpected contribution to my hips and thighs. My plan was to start the day with a tablespoon of peanut butter spread across a slice of wheat bread, chased down by a cup of grapefruit juice. God’s plan was different—and much tastier, as it so often is. This all started at the kitchen table. I was reading e-mail and gathering the gumption to make “breakfast” when I thought I heard a knock. Did that sound come from upstairs? Then I heard it again, but more persistent, demanding—rap, rap-rap-rap-rap! Lone Ranger peeked through the foyer entryway and came running, “It’s the police!” I trooped to the front door, wondering about unpaid tickets, mistaken identity, and ending up on the evening news: “Woman in silky black hair cap and pin curls arrested today for…” But it wasn’t anything like that. Instead, the officer asked for my address and informed me there was a gas leak in the neighborhood (Is that what I smell?) and we all had to evacuate. Immediately. No time for peanut butter, a comb, or my phone. I did yank Hubby from the shower, the little people out of the study, and my handy dandy Macbook off the kitchen table. I didn’t expect to go to Chick-Fil-A this morning, or fill up the truck at Costco, or pick up bagels at Panera, killing time until we could safely return home. But it seems like God had intended for Hubby to wear his bright orange t-shirt with the John 3:16 scripture on the back that attracted the...
Grace Retained

Grace Retained

About two months ago, the dentist fitted Brown Sugar with an “appliance” to fix her underbite. She struggled with it in the beginning. The first night, she lost it somewhere in her room while she was asleep, and she came downstairs in tears, fearing Mama’s wrath. (No worries, we found it under the pillows and toys.) She had to get used to wearing it practically 24/7 and storing it in her case during meals. We all enjoyed hearing the way it affected her speech, and we’d ask her to repeat certain words—it just added to her appeal, if not ours. But Brown Sugar was a champ—diligent, mature, faithful, and good-humored. She quickly adjusted to life with it (including our teasing). She brushed her teeth and the appliance after each time she ate. She dutifully wrapped it in a napkin when she wasn’t wearing it (because she couldn’t always keep up with the case). She soon got used to the pressure on her tooth, the dental checkups, and measuring her progress. We anticipated the day when the dentist would say she could put it away for good. Well, that wonderful day arrived at last. Brown Sugar’s hard work and patience made her precious, gap-toothed smile even more precious. The problem now? She’s struggling to get used to life without it! “My teeth feel weird,” she commented after a few minutes of freedom. Later she pointed to her teeth and worried, “They’re hitting each other. Are they moving back?” We’ve had to reassure her that all is well, that they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. Once again, she’ll have to get used to life without the appliance....
July 9, 2017

July 9, 2017

During Sunday school, we talked about “serving.” When we visualize that concept, we see Jesus turning water into wine, healing the sick, encouraging the meek and poor in spirit on the Sermon on the Mount, washing the disciples’ feet, and ultimately giving His life for ours. But as we chopped potatoes and whisked eggs, Hubby helped the little people grasp servanthood as more than a spiritual ideal. It’s what we do day-to-day; it’s our attitude regarding our work and our calling; it’s a reflection of our relationship with God and a result of our relationships with others. In serving we should…  “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12) Relationships was on the menu in church as well. First Corinthians 10:32, 33 says, Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Sometimes, that passage feels like another lofty ideal. But it’s imperative we live it out in real, practical ways in our service to God and man. That scripture doesn’t mean I should lie about my beliefs and experiences to appease others or ignore my core values to seem chill to my little people. It means I need to live true to my faith—choosing love, not legalism, and “putting relationships over rules,” as Pastor Livingston taught. And I need to do that as a parent, a friend, a child, a believer, and a servant. Yes, we’re breaking all kinds of rules over...
Declaration of Dependence

Declaration of Dependence

This morning, TD announced, “I’m going to dress myself!” Armed with a few key reminders (“Tag in back,” etc.), he did just that, lickety split. Now, this shouldn’t be a big deal. By this age, the other little people were sewing their own clothes, not just putting them on—okay, not really, but close. They all had at least one younger sibling to share their spotlight; they were little helpers and leaders—“knee babies” as Grandma called them, who had to move out of the way. But TD is everybody’s baby, and he works the roomful of eight mamas and papas willing and able to cater to his every whim. My constant prayer is that we don’t let our precious fruit spoil on the vine, but I’m starting to notice some overripe spots, right behind the ears he doesn’t wash himself. The blessing and the curse? He’s the last. The last I breastfed. The last to get a first tooth. The last first steps we witnessed. The last to learn to read. We all cling—and yes, I more than most—because we won’t get these “firsts” again. We delay their arrival and departure as much as possible, even to our own detriment. Sure, it makes more work, but it also keeps him…well, a baby. So, call us Dr. and Mrs. Frankenstein. Meet our cute little monster. But as I watched TD struggle to put his right foot through the right leg of his shorts, I took heart: he’s still my baby; he still needs me. And that won’t ever change, if my own Mama is any example. Even with a husband and my...
July 3, 2017

July 3, 2017

  Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. (Isaiah 55:2) We’ve been ripping and running the past few weeks, and we’ve skipped a lot of things. Sadly, eating hasn’t been one of them. No matter how far we roamed, our stomachs insisted on going with us. Cooking and kitchen cleanup on vacation? Ain’t nobody got time for that! Eating out every meal? Ain’t nobody got money for that either. Ouch…but oh, those Duck Donuts were good. Our comings and goings also impacted our worship. We’ve done devotions standing up, tuned into sermons in the car, abbreviated Sunday school, missed Bible study, and sprinkled prayers over folks as they’ve run out the door. We didn’t dive as deeply as I like, but we kept our toes in the water. I suppose that’s the greatest blessing in this technological age that drives me crazy with all the accessibility it creates: Have Jesus, will travel. Yesterday felt like a “Throwback Sunday.” It was the first in a bit that we sat down and ate and worshipped together, even though it was a missing man formation. And really, I can’t remember when I last had fried bologna with my grits. Talk about memories of sitting around mama’s table–memories that were tastier than than the crab cakes, asparagus, and saffron jasmine rice I enjoyed with Hubby over the weekend. No, that bologna wasn’t the fanciest or the healthiest or the prettiest on camera, but it did my heart good. The sermon also gave my heart a...