What Do You Say

For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do? 
~ Psalm 11:2,3 ~

‘What can the righteous do’… or say… when they are overwhelmed by sorrow?

I saw a post on social media this evening that truly stunned my heart. A friend’s family member was a victim of a senseless, violent crime. The article did not give much detail, but did confirm her family member died from his injuries.

I know all too well that the death of a close family member is invariably difficult. But the violent, sudden death of a loved one leaves entire generations reeling. Google can tell us how they are SUPPOSED to feel. But every person experiences loss differently. No response is the same, therefore, no path to “peace” is predictable. And there is still no way around grief.

Who can adequately explain such circumstances to his widow? To his children?? To his grandchildren??? Who can make any of them feel protected or whole? I don’t know. I don’t know what to do. I certainly don’t know what to say. Sometimes, I guess, there really are no words- at least no words I’ve ever written.

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But You, O God, do see trouble and grief;
You consider it, to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to You;
You are the helper of the fatherless.
~ Psalm 10:14 ~

Maybe I can only lend my heart and sincere prayers to my friend. I can stand by and wait in The Lord. Without words.

Then they sat on the ground with him
for seven days and seven nights.
No one said a word to him,
because they saw
how great his suffering was.
~ Job 2:13 ~

 

 

 

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Good Mamas

All mamas are programmed to protect. From our earliest days of parenthood, we child-proof and sanitize our homes, yards, cars, Grandma’s house, and buggies at Target. I’ve actually been known to sanitize other people’s children, in my more zealous moments. All new mamas have.

We cover electrical outlets, pad corners, anchor furniture, prop open doors, and install cabinet locks. And that’s before our babies are even ready to crawl.

My son was already a toddler by the time he came to me. There was no containing him then, just as there is no stopping him now- but I surely tried. I fenced and cross-fenced the interior of our base housing unit like a boss.

Don’t touch that. Don’t wipe that. Don’t pick that. Don’t eat that.

I slept on the floor underneath his toddler bed when his fever was high, because I was afraid he’d have a seizure in the middle of the night. And because I’m a nurse. And a little medical knowledge is dangerous.

I kept all the medicine locked in a fire-proof safe. Until my husband called me at work in a panic. Somehow the ‘baby’ had managed (with a torch, evidently) to get ahold of a bottle of vitamins, and gobbled them all down! I gave him the number to poison control, and flew home, fully expecting to rush right back to the hospital. I found them both sitting in the kitchen floor crying. I scooped up the little one, and the vitamin bottle clutched in his fat little fist. Vitamin C. He wasn’t going to die. But I was gonna want to with all the diapers I’d be changing. Lack of a little medical knowledge is also dangerous.

No matter how hard I tried to be everywhere, I couldn’t. He broke his nose. He almost broke his arm. He got a
cavity. He fell out of a swing and landed on his head. Well, okay- I was there for that one… It was a swing I pushed, and a fall he has never let me forget.

He is already both fearless and dauntless. Fearlessness comes is handy when I need a fellow adrenaline junkie to ride the biggest coasters with me. And not so handy when I catch him twenty feet up the neighbor’s tree. In the dark.

He is never deterred by obstacles. Mostly he doesn’t see obstacles as deterrents.

While he learns to fly, I am learning to let him. Knowing me, I will always want to pick him up, dust him off, and put him together again. All good mamas do.

I have stopped trying to pack him in styrofoam, or encase him in bubble-wrap. He says I’m taking all the fun out of crashing. Don’t all good mamas try?

Not all obstacles can be predicted, prevented, or circumvented. Sometimes he just has to fall back and reconsider his way. He knows I’m right here when he needs me. All good mamas are.

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Be blessed, Y’all. All mamas have been.

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Tiny Kingdom

I may be a bit premature in declaring this week a Parental Victory before the week is actually over. But Saturday is just a technicality.

For the past several weeks, my son has kept my pocketbook empty with his social obligations. I didn’t mind letting him have fun with his friends. Until he popped off at me when I told him I didn’t have $15 for another new DVD. I told him no. He called me “chintzy”.

Wednesday afternoon I was paying bills. He strutted past, mumbling- which provokes me to wrath every time. He said it was funny that I had money when I needed it, but not when he needed it.

Hey, Tiny Little Man, you wanna go a round? Bring it on.

He brought it! I sent it right on back.

He now lives in Tiny Kingdom in which he has been demoted to Apprentice. He serves under a Queen (guess who). Queen Moi serves only The Almighty King.

Tiny Apprentice has a job: he is a full time student-athlete. His wages are earned at his primary place of employment, his school. There is no set wage- he must earn his pay based solely on his performance.

Queen Moi has enacted a hierarchal pay scale in which only best effort is rewarded.

Test Marks: >91 earns 1 coin.
Quiz Marks: >91 earns 1/2 coin.
Notebook: Must be submitted for review on Thursday evenings. Each subject requiring no corrections, earns 1 coin.
Report Card: > 97 earns 10 coins
Report Card: > 91 earns 5 coins

Since Tiny Apprentice loves his sports and riflery activities so much, he has been granted provisional permission to participate unless his grades fall >10%. Queen Moi always covers the costs incurred for team sports. Handled correctly, team sports build disciplined character.

But even a Tiny Apprentice must share equally in maintaining Tiny Kingdom.

Room Cleaning: earns 1 coin per day
Bathroom Cleaning: earns 4 coins per week
Clearing clutter: earns 1/2 coin daily
Trash Detail: earns 1/2 coin daily
Laundry Detail: earns 1 coin per load (washed, dried, folded, put away)
Floor Detail: earns 1 coin per day
Dusting: earns 4 coins weekly
Meal Planning, Budgeting: earns 5 coins weekly
Yard Work: earns 1 coin per hour
Tiny may request extra chores if all else is done, and school work is completed.

Queen Moi utilizes a template to record, verify, and compensate her tiny subject appropriately.
Tiny Apprentice must: save 10% weekly, and give/tithe 10% weekly, and must provide 10 coins toward gifts purchased for parties. Any remaining balance is discretionary.

He may choose to receive compensation in either cash or points (1 coin: 1 point: $1). Tiny must also self-track earnings by reconciling them in a checkbook-style manner.

The Tiny Apprentice must pay to play. Priorities, Young One.
New toys, movies, music, electronics, and TV time are assessed and taxed equally.
Electronic exposure time must be prepaid with earned coins. 1 coin: 1 hour of use. Saturday’s are free if the Kingdom is in order. Otherwise, the only free activity is reading.

Charity coins may be used in many ways. Tiny Apprentice has submitted a list of creative ideas, for consideration. So far, Queen Moi is very pleased with Tiny Apprentice’s enthusiasm.
This morning, Tiny was up at 5am working through his obligations. No quarters are as fair in all The Land!

Truly- as his parent, it is my responsibility to equip my son to efficiently and capably manage his responsibilities and obligations. He is physically approaching independence, but must learn consistency and discretion. By removing myself from the equation, I’m placing all accountability in his control.

He’s a Prince- not a frog! Someone’s Princess will appreciate my efforts…someday.

Be Blessed, Y’all!

 

(c) 2015

Football Rant 2015

Pa and I had our best discussions during football season. He was a devoted fan, loved Crimson, and loathed orange. Pa, though, was very much an old school football fan. He would happily engage in debate over strategy and statistics, but he respected coaching principles.

There are many down here who believe true fandom can be nothing short of full on worship. Super-fans argue one forfeits allegiance by daring to question coaching, staff level decisions, recruiting tactics, and player accountability. Southern blasphemy!

I tend to believe like my Pa believed: College football is a sport. Sports can make or break a life. Sports can only make a life if the player learns to live a life. The greatest (read: winning) minds of college football have always been principled coaches.

Look around college football today- if you can find a truly principled coach, he’s probably regarded as a loser.

I don’t think Pa would see college football the same today, because it isn’t the same. Change may be inevitable, but change does not necessarily mean progress.

Pa’s brand of football went like this: Players should work twice as hard off the field as they would ever work on the field. A player who was late to practice didn’t play. A player who dared break curfew was not permitted on the field or the bench. A player who disrespected an official was tossed out on his pompous rear. A player who intentionally hurt another was banned from the league. A player who got himself arrested- stayed arrested.

There was no talking to the press. Players were players, not celebrities. There was a strict dress code before and after games, both home and away. Coaches had discretion, but Athletic Directors had the last word. Coaches won games; they stayed another year. Coaches lost games. But nobody remembers them.

“Recruiting Ethic” is now, sadly, an oxymoron, and that’s where the demise of respectable college football programs begins. With championships come boosters; with boosters come money; with money comes the illusion of power.

College football players are scouted at least a decade before they can even be legally approached. Good players get attention. And if all a program cares about is putting up stats and wins, they will overlook anything to make it happen (academic misconduct, domestic violence, child endangerment, petty theft, grand theft, possession, DUI, and even rape).

The current numbers break down like this:

  • $13,500,000 for a glorified scoreboard
  • $680,000 for a coach whose name makes college fans cringe- and not because he ever actually succeeded
  • $1,300,000 and $940,000 spent for the recruiting class of 2013- recruiting criminals
  • $165,000 per year, per athlete, as an average across athletics, in 2010- where here in Alabama we all know where the money is thrown (hint: it ain’t volleyball).
  • And throw in another $12,000,000 for two head coaches.

Welcome to Alabama. We have a budget crisis.

Pa and I propose the following, given that erosion is a process:

  • Hiring coaches for their ‘recruiting skills’ while overlooking their complete lack of principles is asking for trouble. Stop doing that.
  • Recruiting players kicked off other teams is not charitable- it’s foolish. Stop doing that.
  • Encouraging individualistic ego in players is not equipping them for life; it is disabling their future. Stop doing that.
  • Grade changing is social promotion. Stop doing that.
  • Draft eligibility should not occur until the player has earned a legitimate degree.
    *For these purposes we define legitimate as ‘If you can’t understand a word coming out of his mouth- there is no way he has aced ‘Speech’. (Read: Those bingo cards you’re using to call plays is a dead giveaway. Taco Bell/Spiderman/Decepticon/Banana?? Uh- yeah, okay! Show blitz, drop back, fake injury, cry! Got it!)
  •  Knowhamean? Yeah. We know what you mean- we just can’t understand it. Stop doing that.

College football was my first love. Maybe it’s time we break up. Of course, that might strip me of my lifetime adoring fan status.

 

(c) 2015

 

True Friendship, Follow-up

I don’t write follow-up posts often, but this one is special. Please see the original post, True Friendship (Here).

It’s now been seven and a half years since I met my friend. She has no idea the magnitude of joy she brings to my life. And I have yet again failed to find words to tell her.

When God gifts imageus people to bless our lives, He also gives us a perfect view of His heart. He makes it possible for us to endure trials. Those trials become our testimony, and our triumphs become fruit for Him.

~ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. ~ Galatians 5:22,23 (1)

Some people just shine- from the inside, out. My friend is one of those people. It is impossible to not see Christ through her. With every step she’s walked this year, she has never wavered in her trust, and for her faith He has blessed her.

I hope I have many, many, many years left to praise Him for her friendship. God knows I am surely blessed by it. I know He has bigger plans for her, still. He knows she gives Him all the glory. She needn’t say a word- we can all see her joy, for it is her greatest testimony.

A wise woman once said, ” I’ve learned that it’s not what I have in my life, but who I have in my life that matters.”

I have her. And she for sure and for certain has me. Here’s to another year.

~ Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. ~

Ecclesiastes 4:9,10