Game Changers

Game Changers

You know those scenes in movies with the large family all gathered together with a board game, laughing, teasing each other, playing stuff like Pictionary where there’s lots of ribbing and shouting and just good old fun? Okay, picture that same board game, but take out the laughter, and add a little blood, some sweat and a copious amount of tears. Insert arguing, keep the teasing, put an edge on the laughter, and delete the fun. Now you’ve got Family Game Night at our house. We love each other, no doubt. We study together, cook together, and agree on selections for Family Movie Night. Some days we’re around each other 24/7. We take family road trips, read books aloud, play piano duets, root for the same teams (sometimes), and generally believe in “We all go down with the ship.” But when it goes to Family Game Night…I feel like casting lots, hopping on the Ark with the winners, and praying for the folks left ashore. My little people are just a competitive bunch. They believe in playing by the rules, and board games just bring out all the warts in all of…well, I’ll say “them” and not “us” because I try to take the high road (emphasis on try). Yet, no amount of refereeing, shh-shing, and redirecting helps; when we whip out Taboo, Pay Day, charades, Be Sincere, Qwirkle, and other group games, sparks fly. Rule enforcers become rule benders. Peacemakers turn into peace breakers. I can roll dice with Think Tank in Acey-Deucy or place Blokus tiles with Hubby and Crusader; Songbird and Maven will laugh over Apples to Apples and...
May 14, 2017

May 14, 2017

Dessert after breakfast? Who does that? We do! We’re weird parents: we believe our gratitude for food isn’t measured by our happiness with what’s being served. But Sunday mornings, this credo doesn’t strictly apply. We’re celebrating the Sabbath after all, and our party people should enjoy the party food. So, today, when our block potatoes (hashbrowns to some) and sausage casserole were greeted with a mixture of cheers and jeers, I made a strawberry loaf to serve after church. That’s what we mommies do, and that’s what Mother’s Day honors: our love, care, and understanding of our families. My love is deep enough to outlast TD’s tantrums and wide enough to reach Crusader in college—and it covers all the little people in between. We talked about the meaning of Mother’s Day during our Sunday school lesson on Exodus 20:12: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” My little people know that giving me flowers and preparing my favorite foods on the second Sunday of May isn’t what it takes to honor me. Honoring me means they express gentleness and solicitude toward each other, act with obedience and respect to us as parents, show deference and consideration in their relationships with others, and most of all, are faithful to and trust in God. So, “honoring” isn’t just about pleasing. It’s not all flowers, though it is all heart—love is what you do and feel. It’s a well-traveled, two-way street. Today, Central Church of God honored Pastor Livingston and his forty years as their shepherd. Just...
May 7, 2017

May 7, 2017

Growing up, we ate a bowl of grits almost every morning before school. I’d push my bowl aside to lay down on the warm spot it left behind. We’ve raised our own little people on Quaker, and today, almost everybody is a grits-eating believer. Songbird is the only holdout; she loves Jesus, but she can’t stand grits. The only way she eats them is smothered under shrimp and gravy. Since we didn’t have any shrimp today, Songbird stuck with the proteins. Nobody can pass up bacon and eggs. While Hubby stirred, fried, scrambled, and toasted, we discussed a different type of provision—spiritual, not physical. We talked about Joshua 7 and 8, which tell of the battles between Israel and Ai. These chapters show that it doesn’t matter the size of the adversary or the strength of its weaponry. Victory depends upon the presence and authority of God. Our morning lesson connected with Jeremiah 33:14, 15: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: ‘In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.’” Today’s sermon expounded upon our Sunday morning devotional. The service didn’t go as planned. We didn’t get to hear all Reverend Livingston’s message; another pastor answered the call and stepped in. But even in this unusual turn of events, the lesson was clear: life in Christ isn’t about what we plan or what we expect. It’s not about how...
Sink or Swim

Sink or Swim

When I was little, I was afraid to get baptized. I thought there might be sharks in the baptismal pool. Eventually, after watching folks get dunked unscathed, I decided to wade in the water. My body got wet, but my stony heart remained high and dry. I remember watching The Ten Commandments on Easter Sunday, the night before “Easter Monday” and the kickoff to our “Easter week” vacation from school. I must admit I didn’t understand what the parting of the Red Sea had to do with our wearing fancy dresses, fighting for a seat in church, and eating ham and candied yams after church. I just knew we loved ourselves some Charlton Heston and Anne Baxter and looked forward to having a homework-free week. When folks told me that Santa rode in a limo and walked through the front door in our part of the country, I swallowed it hook, line, and sleigh. And I continued to cling to the whole down-the-chimney and Rudolph-leading-the-way thing despite our relatively warm winters and not-so-white Christmases until I was twelve years old. Yes, twelve. Looking back, I wonder if I considered Jesus and the Nativity Story just another self-seeking fairy tale to believe in, along the same lines as Santa and his counterpart, the Tooth Fairy. Basically, if I believed in them, they’d give me stuff like money, Barbies, and angel’s wings. Basically, I was confused. Yet, as confused as I was then, I realize folks are even more confused now about the Who, what, when, where, and how of God. Recently, I turned to an educational show about the mysteries of the...
April 30, 2017

April 30, 2017

We love birthdays around here—the cake, the food, the attention. Somehow, we make them stretch out for days before and after the actual day. With nine folks in our family, it seems like we’re always celebrating. And life should be celebrated—meaning life, that eternal gift Jesus Christ gives those who believe in His birth, life, death, and resurrection, not just that special day you first entered the world. We’ve been partying around here for several weeks, honoring births, rebirths, and new life, and Sunday morning we continued the celebration by studying these verses: Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’” John 3:3-8 Of course, no party is perfect without a delicious menu. Sunday morning, a big bowl of fruit salad graced our table (see the recipe below), along with a few other goodies. But as usual,...