Saturday, December 24, 2011

The One When I Was 7...

A couple of years ago, I was asked to write about a special Christmas memory, and this is one of the stories that came to my mind.

I remember a Christmas in Virginia. I was 7 years old. My Dad was in the Air Force, and by the age of 7...I think I had already moved 5 times. When we got the news that my Dad would be going to Vietnam for a year, my parents had to make a decision to either stay where we were, or move somewhere closer to "family." Even though we hadn't been in our current location very long, my Mom said we had become involved in school and church activities. We were getting settled in, making friends.

My parents met in high school in Charlottesville, Virginia. My Dad had gone to the University of Virginia. They had a lot of friends there, as well as most of my Mom's family. Everyone begged my Mom, "move home, so we can take care of you and the kids while Skip is gone." At the time, my parents had 3 young children. My Dad thought it would be good for my Mom to have a strong support system while he was gone, so after much thought and prayer, they packed us all up and we moved back "home." To Virginia. My parents found a little house to rent that was right across the street from the elementary school I would attend.

And then my Dad left, and my Mom was home alone with 3 kids for a year.

Of the family and friends who begged my Mom to move home...not one person ever came by.



Oh, they called her or visited with her when they saw her at church or school activities, but that was it.

My memory of Christmas that year was of my Mom taking us to get our Christmas tree. She somehow got the tree...and all 3 of us...home in one piece in the stay-wag. The tree was magnificent. And huge. That whole "go big or go home" was my Mom's motto before it became well-known in the sports realm. In fact, the tree was so big that the trunk wouldn't fit into the tree stand no matter how my Mom tried. She was doing her best to whittle away at the trunk of the tree with a STEAK KNIFE FROM THE KITCHEN, while the 3 of us pulled decorations out of the boxes as fast as we could. I mean, you can just imagine the chaos.

It was only after she put us to bed that I heard her crying. The weight of the family, the loneliness, the frustration...all became too much that night, and the tears began to fall. I didn't know what to do...but I stayed in bed like I was told and eventually fell asleep. I don't know how long she stayed up, but by morning that tree stood tall and proud, stuffed into the tree stand by forces only a Mom with a mission (and a knife!) could understand. It was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen.

My Mom was always strong and determined when it came to getting things done. She was used to taking care of things because my Dad wasn't always able to be there, because of his job. I guess that's one reason why this memory has stayed with me all of these years. She just didn't let much get her down...and yet, as strong as she was, even she had those hard moments. I am thankful for my godly Mom. Even more, I am thankful for a God who sees us in our weakness, and is tender toward us in our times of need. I'm thankful for His help and provision when we are at the end of our ropes.

What this particular Christmas taught me is that mere words aren't enough. How many times do we say, "I'll be praying for you." Or, "let me know if you need anything!" Most of us have good intentions, but our lives just get busy.  

OUR lives.

We need to look around. There are many people, even in our churches, who just need some help. Prayer is good, but maybe what someone really needs is food. Or a gift card. Or new tires. Or help putting up a beautiful Christmas tree that won't fit in the tree stand.

"And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." Galatians 6:9-10

Friday, October 28, 2011

The One Where I'm Old...

I don't know when it happened...but suddenly I have turned into one of the "older women of the church."

How can that be? I have kids. I'm FUN. I still feel young! (key word: FEEL)

There have been signs that things were a'changin' dinner parties and cook-outs where we were the oldest ones there. Jim and I would look at each other and sing the Sesame Street song under our breaths. You know the one..."one of these things is not like the other; one of these things just doesn't belong..." But we shrugged it off because we were having fun and enjoying our new (younger) friends. Oh, we'd get the occasional question from parents seeking advice on preparing their kids for college, but mostly, we were treated like equals in this whole parenting gig. Like, we were on equal footing with everyone else.

Until last week. 

I met up with a group of women from Bible Study for lunch. We try to frequent a different restaurant each week. This time, we met at Chick-Fil-A "so the kids could play" (first clue...because if you haven't been to a kiddie play-land in a while, the kids all have to be little. VERY little). 

Whoopsie! I think I just lost my footing!

But there were women of all ages there, and the conversations ranged from what is going on in preschool (yeah...2nd clue) to whose son or daughter is getting married. People were sharing pictures from their was beautiful.

And happened. One sweet young thing asked me, "Miss Marty, do you remember back when your kids were little..." (gotta be this point, I must've blacked out because I cannot for the life of me tell you the rest of her question). ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What am I...a hundred? I sure hope it's not too taxing on my shriveled up, old pea-brain to remember that.far.back. Sheesh. I have a 15 year old...oh yeah....

And three others who are OLDER. Whoops! Forgot that little detail.

Eeek! I didn't actually forget I had other kids. I had just failed to comprehend the fact that while I do have a 15 year old, I also have a 20 year old, a 22 year old...and a (wait for it) 25 YEAR OLD! Yikes! Some of the Moms there had kids ages 5 and know, the ones that can safely fit up in the castle at the Chick-Fil-A? I just sat there, mentally trying to come to terms with my old-ness. My 3 oldest kids are not 'kids' anymore. Technically, they are young adults. WOW. I guess I am old. And Sweet Thing there asking me the questions? I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to math...but preeeetttty sure I could've given BIRTH to her.

(and if I HAD given birth to her, you can rest assured that she would be spending the rest of her day in time-out for disrespecting her elders)

(and if I HAD given birth to her, her little boys would be my grandchildren. GRANDchildren, I tell you. Oh! I can't wait!)

I just thought that by the time I was at this stage of my life, I would have it all together. Or MORE together. I would be more patient, more loving, more humble. I would be wise. In fact, I would REEK of wisdom...and people would come from far and near to seek me out for my great knowledge in all things.

(I'M KIDDING...sheesh).

Unfortunately, most days, I don't feel any of those things. Oh, I've learned a lot from the experiences God has brought me through...and I've also made a TON of mistakes when I've tried to do things on my own. I am so thankful God hasn't given up on me!

So, yes you MAY open that door for me...and don't talk to your elders that way...and for goodness sake, stand up straight there, young lady!

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." Jude 1:24-25

Monday, October 24, 2011

The One Where Joshua Walks Out of Sunday School...

Joshua is annoying cracking us up with his attention to routine. Well, usually we think it's funny...but it can also be aggravating. Everything he does is in a certain routine, and it's HIS routine. Most of the time, it doesn't make any sense to us why he does the things he does...or when he does them...but to him, I'm sure it all makes perfect sense.

Example: one night we were all sitting in the living room watching TV. All of a sudden, Joshua's phone alarm went off. He jumped up and quickly headed to his bedroom. I said, "what are you doing...what was that?" He said, "8:32...time to clip my toe-nails."


I know. Don't even try to figure it out.

So, Jim teaches the college age class at church, and we all get tickled at Joshua's focus on the time. He does not want the class to run late. He has a certain place in church that he likes to sit...about half-way down and ALWAYS on the end. He must sit in the aisle seat. So he likes to get on in there and 'make his nest' and socialize before the crowd arrives.

This Sunday, Jim was supposed to be deer hunting, but when his plans changed, we went to our class. The Student Minister was there to sub for Jim, and he had brought a PASSION video in for the class to watch. As great as the video was, and we all know that Louie Giglio can BRING IT...not even he could distract Joshua from his routine. I watched it all unfold. I saw Joshua look at his watch. It was 10:37 a.m. Verrrryyy slooowwwly, he closed his Bible. His eyes darted around the room, making sure no one was watching him. He picked up his folder (where he keeps his sermon notes) and put it with his Bible. In slow motion, he put on his sleeve at a time (the video is still going). He got his water bottle and shoved it into his pocket. Then, without saying a word to anyone, he got up and walked.out.of.class. It was 10:40 a.m.

I couldn't even look at Jim.

The ones in our class know Joshua...but this Sunday, another class had come in with ours to watch the video. We explained Joshua's obsession with routine and we all laughed. I mean, haven't we all been there? He just does what we wish we could do at times...and he gets away with it! He does a similar thing during the worship services at church...only he doesn't get up and leave. But, any given Sunday, a few minutes before noon, SPIRIT MOVING OR NOT, Joshua will pack up his pen, paper and Bible. And wait.

Because he's done.

Because it's enough already.


Monday, October 17, 2011

The One Where Joshua Kills a Bug...

 So, the other night we were at the football stadium, watching Clark's game. All of a sudden, this HUGE bug flew down and landed on the row of bleachers in front of me. I kind of jumped, and said, "uh-ohhh!" Joshua said, "what's wrong?" I said, "well, that bug just landed there, and now I'm gonna be so nervous during the game that it will jump on ME."  Before I could stop him, Joshua had jumped up from his seat. Jim (in his best slow-motion voice) said, "Jah-sha-wah, NOOO..." but it was too late. Joshua had already stomped on the bug and squished it's guts all over the bleachers. He looked down at it, satisfied that it was dead, and said, "there." And sat back down. Jim said, "Joshua, someone is going to have to sit there in that seat, and now look at the mess you've made."

[Blank stare from Joshua]

Jim tried again..."Someone-was-probably-going-to-sit-there." Joshua looked at him with a matter-of-fact look on his face,shrugged his shoulders and said..."not anyMORE!"