Tag Archive | children

Mama’s Reinforcer

My 3 brothers and I were rambunctious, curious, headstrong kids who were constantly experimenting, trying out new things, building contraptions, getting into scrapes.  Especially when we concocted pretend battles that earned us scrapes and more than one hilarious–if unexpected–outcome. (Tale for another time)

Yet when Mama said jump, we did.  Didn’t ask why.  Or argue.   We just understood that she was Mama, she was in charge, she knew best, and she had a little maple switch to back up her words if we disagreed.

She didn’t use it much.  She didn’t have to.  She knew that our history with her and our aversion to pain had taught us to trust her at her word.  The few times our egos got in the way and that little guy with the horns on my left shoulder prompted me to flip that big toe over the line a bit too far…I had the Truth of what I already knew reinforced.

Don’t get me wrong, I would never dare to complain about this.  It wasn’t excessive; it wasn’t cruel or meant to harm.  It was love in action; love showing us that we had firm boundaries in place for our safety and protection.  We knew that from her perspective, in her many years of wisdom earned the hard way, that she absolutely knew what was the right thing for us to do.  Our doubts were set to rest with a bit of stinging on the legs, a few tender tears, and a much chastened ego.

When I read again John 2: 4 today, (about the wedding in Cana) I had to think about mothers and their children.  As a mother of grown sons today, When I see a need to be filled, I quietly direct my sons in the same way that Mary did.  “Jack, we need more tea,” or “Seth, that box is too heavy for her.”  I know without hesitation that they will acquiesce, and help in whatever way my statement implied.  I know that’s taking huge license with the Saviour and His relationship to his mother, but that’s my personal frame of reference here.

Yet Jesus’ statement in verse 4 was, (as stated in the Hebrew Names Version),

4 Yeshua said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come.”

Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful or refusing to obey; He was simply asking her to consider His own perspective of His mission of salvation versus her more immediate temporal concern.

That is a huge lesson for me right now.  Recovering from an unexpected divorce, I have my own laundry list of immediate wants and needs that I’ve taken to Him, confident that He cares.  But He’s reminding me that His perspective is different from mine.  His purposes in the trials I face today are eternal, not temporal.

That’s quite a lesson for me.  I wanted to pass it along, for what it’s worth.  And to share with you one more bit of serendipity…the verse to encourage me that came to mind from this study was from I Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV).

Now, I have a children’s memory verse pad—it’s a post-it note pad with a different verse printed on every page in large print—I guess it’s used in VBS or children’s classes.  The top one was about children obeying their parents.  I used to stick them on the mirror and around the house, as reminders.

Haven’t used it in a while.  In a pinch, I turned it over and scribbled I Peter 5:7 down on the back of the last well-worn sheet that still had a bit of sticky on it. I folded the sticky edge down and stuck it with the verse I wrote showing on my bookshelf beside my desk.  It was a few moments later when I stood up to leave the desk, that I glanced at the notepad to see what the new memory verse would be.  Here it is: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”


Memory verse pad

We’ve Got Drought…or Black Thumbs are Inheritable

Northeastern Oklahoma in all its beauty is becoming a dry and barren wasteland.  Claremore has water rationing in effect–voluntarily at this point, they say, but the end of all living things is in sight–and so my beautiful hydrangeas, hosta’s, and my prize possession and a special blessing–my brand new butterfly bush, is dwindling down to die.

We used to sneak out and offer a little comfort, we’d water in the dark late at night, hiding from the water police…but the situation seems so dire, we gave up and quit watering.

So I’ve watched the struggling, spindly plant shrivel up, turn brown and brittle, and basically die.  Besides, it’s only survived until now based on the fact that Vernon, my husband, has faith and has handled the watering.  You see, I have a huge black thumb.  I kill every living plant I come into contact with.  I don’t think it runs in my family, because my Mom on the other hand, could jab a yardstick in the ground and make it grow and bloom.  I’ve watched her!!  The great Atlanta Plant Whisperer of 1983!

My daughter Shannon phoned from Houston, Texas late this afternoon to share news of her promotion at work.  It was a real accomplishment for her, a career ‘star in her crown’.  I told her I’d love to send her a plant, but until we discover if we’re solvent or not (has to do with short-term disability payments), I said I’d just send her photo’s of the  beautiful peace lily we just received from our church following my husband’s shoulder surgery.  It would be a sort of “congratulations/plant IOU”.

We talked back and forth, touching on 43 topics in the space of 10 minutes or so–we had to be quick ’cause she was at work.  She started trying in her compassionate way to make me feel better about losing my butterfly bush, and shared a story.

“It can happen to anyone, Mom, it’s just the odds.  We planted three white oak trees that were a gift from a friend.  Two were placed in the back yard, and the third tiny one in the front yard.  We did everything exactly the same for them, yet no matter what we did, the one sad little guy didn’t make it.  So we pulled it up and threw it away.  It’s a loss, but it can happen to anyone, trust me,” she went on.

In our mother/daughter fashion, I started listing things she could have tried–‘did you water them well? Did you feed them like the directions say? Did you…’  I went on in my helpful, searching voice.  Then she began to giggle.

“Wait, Mom.  I figured it out.”

“What?  What’s different about your three trees?”

“Robert (her husband) planted the two big flourishing trees in the back yard.  It was ME that planted the one that died in the front.”

“Well, welcome to The Curse of the Black Thumb!” I cried.  Now you know why I don’t water the butterfly bush myself.The flowers of a peace lily plant.

We finished our conversation and I let her get back to work.

My next move was to take a few interesting pictures of the church family’s peace lily to send to Shan as her “IOU plant”.  I placed the HUGE peace lily with its satiny red ribbon, nestled in a woven basket on a table by itself.  It’s just spilling over with dozens of white blooms shaped like a shell, sort of a ‘jack-in-the-pulpit’ shape with the bumpy pistils each standing up in the shade of its own white shell.

I took a couple of shots of the entire plant, and then thought we needed a closeup or two of the blossoms.  As I pointed my viewfinder at first one cobra-hood shape and then another, the old brain decided to take a left turn…the plant began to come alive!  And I texted Shannon the following:  “This is a big green jungle of leaves, hard to get it all in the frame.”   “These white blooms are nodding at me.   There’s so many they’re starting to bob and weave.”    “Sheesh, Shan, I thought I heard them whispering…I think I’m going to give them names.  One just said something about ‘the neighborhood…'”  Realizing I sounded as nutty as I felt, I stopped all that and sent her the pictures…When it comes to plants, if ya can’t keep ’em, just fake it!A picture of Peace Lily along with its leaf. C...

Twirling on the Coffee Table or DON’T OPEN THAT BOX!!

I’ve been reading a book which totally fascinates me.  Granted, you always need to read with the Scriptures in mind and with your intellect intact—in other words, don’t believe everything you hear or read at face value.  Nonetheless, I’m captivated by the basic ideas in the book, “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge and its companion book “Wild at Heart” which explains the same concept in relation to men (same authors).

And I saw it in action, within myself—and my childish, if femininely justified–actions this afternoon.

We need pots and pans.  We REALLY need them.  The ones we have are worn out, the lifetime non-stick coating has way outlived its lifetime, the lids don’t fit tightly anymore, in fact, some of the lids have no pots, and vice versa.  I’ve put off the purchase for 8 years, it just seems like a lot to spend on me.

I did my thing, which is researching in depth online and by interviewing my friends and reading dozens of reviews regarding this pan and that.  I finally narrowed it down to the ones I wanted–and discovered some really NASTY reviews, that made me back out.  So I started over, repeated the same process with new information and came to a new conclusion.  THESE (Emeril’s hard anodized set) had many things going for them, and although they also had a few really vicious reviews, for the most part I was satisfied that I’d done my thorough investigation to the ultimate.  I was choosing the best set.  So I ordered them.

The part of the story you don’t know is that Vernon (my longsuffering husband) saw a set of very nice pans previously that were on sale, and suggested them.  I’d read about them, did a bit of research, and ordered them.  He was in on the operation, he approved, and he was fine with that.

So the very next day when I discovered the failings of the original set and eventually found the Emeril set at $50 cheaper, I told him that I switched, and he seemed satisfied with that.  I did tell him.  Ok, ok, so he was reading a novel, he wasn’t listening with “both ears”.   But we had already decided on the purchase, this was both a savings and a switch to a better brand, so how could he complain?

A day or two later the UPS truck went down the street and I said something like, “I hope that’s my pans, they should be getting here any day now,” to which he replied, WHAT PANS?  I thought you canceled them!!

What?  You mean that little, ‘oh, we can’t really afford these, we should just cancel them and buy a cheap little skillet and a cheap little pan and let it go’ speech?  You took me seriously, you silly boy?  I overreacted and insisted that 1) he had approved the first purchase, 2) this was less money and 3) he never heard me say I had cancelled the purchase.  He insisted he heard and knew nothing, until we were barely speaking.  I was hot but fortunately not hot enough to cancel the purchase.

A few days went by and we forgot the whole thing, it seemed.  We were both looking forward to the pans’ arrival.  Vernon went to the door this afternoon as he said, “That’s UPS, I guess your pans are here,” and went out to retrieve them.

I’m female.  Hormones, idiosyncracies and all, the old “mysterious nature ” and all that.  I plead “female” as my defense.  But if you’re either female or you’ve been married to one for years you totally know where this is heading.

He came back inside the front door with the huge box when I said, “Just set it down right there” meaning the recliner that’s just inside the front door.  That way it would be at waist level when I opened it and I could get the pans out okay.  Did he do this?  No he did not.

He marched straight into the combination kitchen/dining room and put the box squarely on the dining table out of my line of sight.  Disturbing? Yes.  I’d just have to go get them and bring them back in the living room so I could open them.  THEN he proceeded to OPEN the box, and take out each pot and each pan, exclaiming over them.  I was livid.  How could he open my pans?

Ever seen a little girl of 3 or 4 playing dress-up, or all dressed up in her Sunday best, and climbing onto the coffee table to twirl and whirl, and have her Daddy tell her how beautiful she is?  That’s just natural, isn’t it?  That’s the way each of us is made.  We want to be unique; we want to stand out; we want to shine and bask in our Father’s approval.  Many of the typical passages in life for a woman are momentous in her mind, in her heart.  Her first pair of high heels; her first real date; her first purchase of a sofa or dining table, those material things that show she is a woman with taste and individuality—simply a grown-up version of the little girl saying, “See?  Aren’t I pretty?”  “Didn’t I do well?”  (This is the jist of the book “Captivating”).

And here was this….this boy getting into my things.  Opening what it so happens is only the second set of pots and pans I have ever actually picked out by myself.  He OPENED them!  He took all the wrappings off, even read the instructions out loud to me…(I was good, I didn’t cover my ears and go yeayeayeayeayea the whole time).

Now I could have been the grown-up, mature woman I’m supposed to be at 59 years of age and said, Sweetheart, I really wanna open those all by myself.  Leave them for me, please?  And he might have done so.  Most men would.  Most.  But I just didn’t believe that he would have stopped what he was doing.  But like I said, I could have done the adult thing.

You’re waiting for the punch line, aren’t you?

I jumped up, ran to the guest room and proceeded to make up the bed while seething, little rivulets of smoke coming out of both ears.  He came down the hall behind me and asked me something.  (this reminded me of that poor little goat they lowered over the raptors’ fence in Jurassic Park, victim waiting to be devoured) I don’t remember what he asked, something like, “What are you looking for?” and I snapped at him.  I kept making the bed (funny it didn’t need making before, it’s now 5:30 p.m. of course we had to make it right now) and then saw the vacuum, so I grabbed and proceeded to vacuum THE ENTIRE HOUSE.  He knew something was wrong.  He HAD to.  But did he stop me?  Did he apologize?  Did he ask me what he had done wrong?  Or what he could do to help me? No.  He just kept out of my way.  (Big mistake, guys.  Jump in and take your punishment, get it over with).

When I vacuumed our bedroom I saw a basket of laundry that I had folded earlier and set on the bed.  I dumped it and proceeded to hang up and put away the clothing there.  He brought a load from the dryer into the bedroom and to his credit, began to fold his own clothes, although he lost points for tossing towels and my things out of his way and ignoring them.  I oh, so virtuously folded them, too, before he had a chance.

I wish you’d had a bird’s eye view of this, the two of us standing on opposite sides of the king bed, folding clothes and not speaking.  In retrospect it’s hilarious.  The toy maltese and chihuahua were cringing, peeking from under the edge of the bed.  Smart dogs.

Now I said I could have (and should have) chosen the adult behavior.  But I’m sorry, he’s a 55-year-old man, he’s been married for years (before me) and should know better than to usurp a woman’s pleasure in opening her new tools.  Would I have run to the garage and opened and set up his new drill?  His new thingy to fix the truck engine?  I know better, that’s his thing.

So, this little girl has lost the chance to open her treasure.  To ooh and ahh and carry on about how pretty they were, and how delighted I am that we finally were able to purchase them.  They’re sitting on the dining table still, waiting for me.  Yuck.  I told him he needs to put “his” pans away somewhere.  And so it continues.

I even thought of something to use them for and went to the kitchen and chopped an entire onion in preparation for making French onion soup, my favorite (which takes 3-4 hours to simmer).  Yet then I realized I’d been making my snotty remarks about “he” should put away “his” pans now that “he” had opened all of them himself.

If I chose the large saucepan, pre-washed it, dried it, and used it, it would water down the whole big hissy fit that I put so much energy into.  Wouldn’t it?

So although I’m starving, and the soup sounded SO good, I just got out a zip lock bag and quietly put the onion slices away, washed the cutting board and utensils, and left the kitchen.

Some days, you just can’t win.

Maybe I’ll make soup tomorrow.   But not until he uses a pan first.

The Little Measuring Man

I didn’t know what to do. Vernon’s boys had only visited my apartment a couple of times. I had put all breakables away when they came for safe keeping so I wasn’t sure how they would act in our new home.  We had just settled in and things were still in disarray, but the pathways were clear so Trent could scoot about and Dalton could find the remote, so I figured we were okay.

Moving day was the day after Thanksgiving in 2003, so we put up our Christmas tree right away. Not sure how to proceed, I sat the tiny tree upon a rather tall table. None of the ornaments were breakable so I thought we would be safe.

We carted in all the equipment that goes with two disabled children from the car and piled it in the den. I sat Trent down on the floor and smiled as Tillie (my rambunctious toy Maltese) inspected his face, washing it with her pink tongue. He grinned, began his little frog sounds and hopped away to inspect the rest of the house.  He seemed to find peace in the quieter, out-of-the-way spots, and preferred to keep to himself.

I heard the front screen door close and headed back to the living room doorway to encounter Dalton.  A definite aura of reverence came over Dalton’s countenance when he entered the living room and saw the small green evergreen, covered in red and gold ornaments with an angel beaming from the top branches. He proceeded slowly across the room to the Christmas tree and paused in front of it with his hands folded as if in prayer.

Few heavenly hosts could compete as his clear bell-tones rang out, tolling the notes of “Joy to the World”.  I hardly noticed that the words were indistinguishable as I caught the holy worship in his tone and the set of his shoulders.

Dalton looked up at me for approval and touched my cheek with one hand as if to ask me to join him in his song. Through my tears I sang the words to “Joy to the World” although I knew the words made no difference at all.

This serenade was just another innocent gift that I will always cherish and ponder in my heart.  Yet my lessons were only just beginning.  I dried my eyes and followed the sounds I could hear coming from around the corner and down the hallway.

I peeked around the corner to see Trent, face composed in his studious frown, in full swing, lecturing the dozens of videotapes that we had stacked in rows on shallow shelves from floor to ceiling. The occupants before us had walled up a linen closet, leaving just enough space for row upon row of videocassettes.  You’d think the tapes were hot or sticky, the way he delicately lifted each one by a corner, swinging it deftly, sort of weighing and “measuring” it for some mysterious reason only he could fathom.  He would lift one tape from the shelf with his left hand and place it, swinging it gently, behind him to the left.  Then he’d rise to his knees and reach for another with his right hand, repeating the sequence, hefting the tape as he lay it behind him to the right.

This process fascinated me.  Trent would concentrate, very serious, just jabbering at the tapes, excited to have managed to get this far in his little army of destruction.  I left him to his industry, not about to get in the way or to stop him.  Once again I had something to ponder.  Was he upset with me?  Did he love the confusion of the pile of tapes all over the floor?  He seemed extremely proud of himself as he reached higher and higher up the shelves.  Maybe this was a project that delighted him, designed to show his prowess or his endurance.  I knew one thing for sure, though.  In this rickety old house with its creaky floors and drafty halls, I had discovered a young mind that fascinated me.  A tender heart that humbled me with its reverence.  And I was totally and hopelessly in love.

Author’s Note:

Trent is a my husband’s son, a young man who weighs about 40 lbs.  He doesn’t speak, although he’s extremely expressive.  He doesn’t walk, doesn’t eat and his activities are pretty limited.  He conquers the world in spite of cerebral palsy, mental retardation, aphasia, asthma, a feeding tube, incontinence, and a myriad of other disabilities almost since birth.  You wouldn’t know that Trent is soon going, Lord willing, to celebrate his 22nd birthday.  Yet I’ve been so very blessed to have known him since 2003.  And this is the story of the day my life changed–when I met Trent.

Dalton is Trent’s younger brother.  Dalton is now almost 20 years old; he weighs about 125 lbs and blossoms daily in his own beautiful autistic world of wonder.   He can walk and at times run, he’s a whiz with a TV remote, but neither speaks nor hears very well.  He’s severely retarded, also aphasiatic and incontinent, but otherwise sees the world through brilliant eyes.  At the time we met, he was 11 and Trent was 12.

© 2012 His Kid, Inc.