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 9, 2017

April 9, 2017

I’m not a pancake person, but I’ll take Hubby’s creations over Cracker Barrel’s or IHOP’s any day. He has perfected the combination of light and fluffy middles and crispy edges. I found the recipe years ago in a book I permanently “borrowed” from a library and the little people love them plain or filled with blueberries or chocolate chips. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:1, 2 While he worked the griddle, Songbird talked about a different type of creation in Sunday School. She introduced the lesson by asking the other little people, “If you could create something out of nothing, what would you do?” They named everything from a private sweet shop to piles of money and toys they could share. However sweet to the taste and generous of spirit, these desires pale next to God’s hopes and plans for us, including His gift of the world that He spoke into existence—and the power to overcome this same world in His gift of salvation. And God continues giving to His creation. Palm Sunday honors Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and marks the last seven days of His life on Earth, but today’s sermon focused on the Spirit of fellowship, one of God’s great gifts that continues to give. In “Let’s Eat” we heard how Jesus spent His time on Earth nourishing hungry bodies and souls, as our prayers and pancakes feed the little people during...
Getting My Duckies All in a Row

Getting My Duckies All in a Row

Did you know that Peg in “Peg + Cat” doesn’t have a nose? Or that a giant magnet can unleash the stuck zipper of an invisibility suit? Well, thanks to TD I know these facts, and so much more. For instance… There are several dead ladybugs in Think Tank’s window, and that he likes to open it and play his keyboard for passersby. It only takes a single stick of chewing gum to bribe Songbird into taking the little people on a walk. Brown Sugar understands when to strategically play the Reverse, Skip, and Wild Cards in Uno—and she ain’t afraid to use ’em against her mama. Maven knows what allegro and andante mean, but she doesn’t get that “never the tempos shall meet.” It breaks Lone Ranger’s heart to “grow out of” and “pass along” her things, especially her purple bicycle. Yes, the little people and I covered a lot of ground today—and not necessarily what I set out to learn or teach. I resisted these lessons at first. When TD asked me to sit on the couch and hold him so we could watch television together, I explained, “TD, I have things I need to do.” “You have things you want to do, not things you need to do,” he responded. Sassiness aside, it was true. I wanted to check stuff off my list—history lessons, a review of perpendicular angles, a vocabulary test, dinner planning, another chapter on my book—but those weren’t needs. What I needed to do was listen, cuddle, comfort, laugh, and learn. As far as I’m concerned, there is always so much to be done, and...
Father, May I?

Father, May I?

TD peered over the counter and eyed the last slice of quiche—which just happened to be on my plate. “Can I have it?” Before I could hand it over, albeit grudgingly, Hubby stepped in. “You really have to start telling TD ‘No.’ Just ‘No,’ with no explanation.” Saying “no.” As if I needed help with that phrase in this, my “Year of the No.” Well…I guess a little reminder won’t hurt. As you know, I don’t do resolutions, but this year, I did make a decision to downsize my commitments, to deliberately say “no” more than I say “yes” so that I can rest more, write more, and invest more quality time in my family. I wanted to be more intentional about my commitments, to prayerfully consider requests for and usage of my time. But it’s hard to say no—not necessarily to TD’s request for quiche. My little people can attest to my ability to sing “No” in several keys and languages. It’s the world outside my door that I find hard to resist. How do you say no to play dates, lunch dates, and your friends’ requests for help? How do you withdraw from ministry, classes, and leadership opportunities? Sometimes I feel like I’m slapping the well-meaning hands that feed me and binding my own helpful hands that want to return the favor. There are so many good things. Yet I know they aren’t all good for me. And I also know I’m not the only one who struggles handling too much of a good thing. There’s a passel of beleaguered moms and dads, ministers, and well-intentioned believers who think...
You Talkin’ to Me?

You Talkin’ to Me?

Remember the understood you? That parenthetical, unwritten word reigns supreme here in my house, and not just when we’re diagramming sentences. When I say, “Stop!” TD knows just who I’m talking about. He stops lapping up his milk like Oscar or hopping down the stairs or doing whatever it is he shouldn’t. If I say, “Take out the trash,” everyone looks at Think Tank. They know it’s his job (even though he tries to forget). “You” will moan after dinner because she knows it’s her dish week. If I say, “Outside!” Oscar runs for the door. When Hubby lectures about leaving the basement refrigerator door open, the first thing a little person says is “It wasn’t me!” or “I didn’t do it.” Hubby’s response? “Then I wasn’t talking to you.” On the other hand, I can call Maven by every name but hers—and you know I’ve got seven to choose from, eight including the dog (believe me, I’ve done it)—but she knows exactly who I’m talking to. Get the picture? It’s understood. Now, there’s another teeny word that’s understood around here, and it’s now. I’ve told the little people when I say something, assume there’s a “now” in parentheses. In other words, “Sit down (now),” “Do your work (now),” “Stop running! (now),” “Turn off the television (now).” That “now” means immediately or as soon as possible—not after the episode goes off or when you finish playing Clash of Clans or after you’ve hit Lone Ranger. Who knows, maybe there’s a truck barreling down on you? Again, it’s understood. But we’re all somebody’s child. He has something for us all to understand....
The Gift of the Magi…Revisited

The Gift of the Magi…Revisited

Four tickets to a college basketball tournament fell into our laps at the last minute. Hubby and I thought about it for a moment, trying to reason through who would go. Both he and I love college ball, so ✔️️ and ✔️️ . Then we thought, “Who else has college in the blood?” Crusader,✔️️ , and Songbird,✔️️. We knew the girls would rather have movie night at home and whither they goeth, TD followeth. So, we were all set. But not so fast…What about Think Tank? He’s not a basketball fan, and college isn’t on his radar, but spending time with Crusader is always within his sights. There was no storybook ending here. The best option for this mom? Giving up my ticket and sending Think Tank in my place. But Songbird couldn’t bear the thought of crashing my “date night” with Hubby, especially since she’s not really a basketball fan and she didn’t like either of the colleges represented. So, Songbird opted to stay and send me in her place. But the love story doesn’t end there. Think Tank hated to unseat someone, and so he refused to go. We stood there looking at each other, at an impasse, until Songbird and I prayed about it. And after much hemming and hawing and sacrifice we worked it out, and we four Cinderellas—Hubby, Crusader, Think Tank, and I—laced up our glass slippers, hopped into our coach, and headed to the ball…game. Now, if this really was a Disney story, it would have ended with Hubby finding a fifth ticket and my best friend stopping by on a whim to invite the younger ones over for a...