Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dose of Reality

"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?"  Numbers 23:19

Today I delivered a dose of reality to my children. I’m usually one to threaten spankings, or taking away money, or toys, or whatever, but here lately I’m losing my edge. As the summer wears on, my usual tactics lose their immediate luster.

About a month or so ago, I started telling them, “Do you want me to write it down?”

I’d started a Good List and a Bad List. I told them that whichever one outweighed the other at the end of the day would determine whether or not they got their money, or playing video games, or whatever else it was that they immediately wanted. It had a weird effect. Seeing their transgressions in black and white became a deterrent in and of itself. It worked for a few weeks.

So today, I was forced to change tactics.

After a particularly embarrassing trip to the Post Office, where we set off the doorbell thingy with the electronic eye 999 times and I banished them to the outside of the building where they claimed they were dying from the heat and came back in the building twice, all in a five minute period, I decided to make them a promise that I could keep.

I sat them on their beds and delivered their most horrifying sentence thus far in their young lives.

I told them that if they continued to misbehave and embarrass me in public that I, their one and only mother, would embarrass them in Junior High.

I told them I would tell them “I love you” in front of all their friends.

I told them I would walk with them hand-in-hand to their first day of classes.

I told them that when they take a girl on their first date that I will go with them.

I told them I will kiss their faces in front of the whole school.

Both of their sets of eyeballs nearly fell out of their heads and they sat there half-believing me with mouths agape. The prospects are already horrifying and we aren’t even close to Junior High!

Truth be known, I will probably do much more than just these things to embarrass them during adolescence, both knowingly and unknowingly. But for now, I have laid the foundation. Now whenever they find me particularly embarrassing at any time in the future, I can pull out an “I told you so!”

Heh heh heh.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Grandma Hazel

"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones.  For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."  Matthew 18:10-11

I write a lot about my Nanna on here, but in truth, as a child I had two ladies vying for my undivided attention – My Nanna and my Grandma Hazel.

Grandma Hazel is my dad’s mom, and my dad was the baby of the family, so naturally I was a favorite among the grandchildren (if only in my mind). My dad was 17 and unmarried when I was born, so I was a scandal. My mom hadn’t come around Grandma Hazel’s house in a while, so when my dad told his mother that I was to be born, she said she’d suspected that something was up. It was a Saturday.

“When is she due?” she asked.


I was actually born on Tuesday late at night.

The following year my mom and dad had twin boys. They lived only a day or so each. The following summer another boy was born. He too died shortly after birth. My dad was 19 years old and had had four children and I was the lone survivor. If I’d have been a boy, I would have died too, I was told. My Grandma Hazel took pictures of my brothers and kept them in her dresser drawer for no one else to see.

A few years ago, the time came for Grandma Hazel to move to assisted living, and my dad asked me, “Is there anything in that house that you would want?”

“I want those pictures,” I said.

We spent an afternoon going through a four drawer chest full of a lifetime of family pictures. We collected stacks for respective grandchildren who were not present, and for those children of family members who’d passed away. I found a picture of my Grandma Hazel riding a horse. There was also a picture of my dad on a chuckwagon being pulled by a mule. I kept those two, as I’d never thought of either person as horse people.

Eventually I found my brothers. The twins, Darrell and Gerald, were depicted in their little blue and white caskets. My aunt had written on the back. One looked just like my boys did as infants with his big round head. The other looked more like my great-grandpa on my mom’s side. Then there was a picture of a nurse with a terrible look on her face, pushing a giant baby incubator from the time, and the back of a newborn baby. The pictures were all together, so I assumed him to be my other brother, Darrell.

No really.

Two of them were named Darrell!

“This is my brother, Darrell, and my other brother, Darrell.” – Quick! Name that show.

Anyway, I’m glad she took their pictures so that I could have them some 30 years later. Maybe I’ll recognize them in Heaven.

Grandma Hazel is now 85. My dad called this morning to say that she’d fallen this morning and broken her hip. Please pray for Grandma Hazel and the doctors attending to her. Although she will never regain her vitality and vigor that she had while chasing me around as a kid, she’ll always be a part of my fondest memories. More about her and Nanna jockeying for position for my attention later…

Have a great day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Darth Mother

“You don’t know the power of the dark side.” – Darth Vader

I like to say that I am the Darth Mother.

My oldest is preoccupied with Star Wars 90% of the time. iCarly and SpongeBob occupy the other 10%.

At one time he said that he wanted to change his name to Darth Vader. I told him that I was the Darth Mother because sometimes I have to go over to the Dark Side, not to mention the fact that I almost have the force choke down.

He doesn’t believe me.

“Just try me,” I say.

Anyway, yesterday I had to go over to the Dark Side with the neighbor kids. I had six boys, ages 3 to 13 (my two + four), in our swimming pool and much dunking, splashing, screaming, and crying was taking place. I also looked out to see the oldest, whom I’ve told to stay off the side of the pool multiple times, hanging his gut over the edge and letting gallons of water pour out.

My youngest got out and said they were trying to drown him.

My hub (The Republic) said to leave them alone.

One more wail from the oldest while holding his mouth from a head bashing sent me straight into Darth Mother mode. I could feel the Force.

I Stormed (Trooper-like) to the pool. (Cue: Imperial March music.)

“Why are you crying?” I said. (Insert Darth Mother robotic breathing here.)

“I told them to quit, but they won’t!”

“That’s it!” I said, “Everybody OUT! Come back when you can behave yourselves.”

I used the pool cleaner outer net as my Light Saber. I should spray paint it red.

After all the Padawans had been admonished to their chambers, I turned, pool towel flowing behind me like a big black cape and returned to debate the Republic on the Imperial Senate (garage) floor.

There was a disturbance in the Force.

However, after much deliberation, I was pardoned of my tyrannical tactics for fear of another uprising.

Darth Mother indeed.

After the disturbance had officially subsided, my two minions stared at me with wonder-filled eyes. They were actually happy that I’d gone over to the Dark Side with the neighbor kids. My young Jedi have much to learn in the skills of negotiation and conflict resolution.

Teach them I must.

Wait, that’s Yoda.


They might tell me that the Darth Mother isn’t a REAL Star Wars character, but I’m here to tell you, she does exist.

“Just try me,” I say.

Good luck with your Storm Troopers today, and I hope the Republic doesn’t rise against you!

May the Force be with you!

P.S., all references to Star Wars may be totally inaccurate as I have only a limited knowledge of said movie series and an 8YO to rely on for facts about such things.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chicken Traders

“Honest scales and balances are from the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making.” Proverbs 16:11

Yesterday was the official passing of the torch in chickendom.

My old (and when I say old, I mean 3 or 4 years) rooster had become a nuisance. His son, Betty, had officially become the dominant rooster, and with no hens of his own, the old rooster just kept everyone all stirred up.

My hub took the kids and the rooster down to the sale barn in hopes of getting $10 for the rooster. He was fancy with his poufy head feathers after all. Unfortunately, no one seemed to be interested in buying a rooster yesterday no matter how interesting he was.

It was getting hot, and the kids were beginning to get impatient, so they began to walk around, asking people if they wanted to buy a rooster. Well, now how you say no to my two cute little boys?

One of the chicken traders told my kids that he would give them a baby chick and two dollars for the rooster. Sold!

My oldest son picked out a black chick with a white stripe down its chest and my youngest took the cash.

He then promptly bought an extremely small and extremely loud baby chick. He carries it around in a little plastic snack container and coddles it nearly to death. It still has its egg tooth so it can’t be more than a couple of days old. I’m okay with the coddling because that is the only time the thing is quiet. The reason is because…

It is a guinea.


Yet another baby chick and a guinea.

Remind me not to use these chicken traders again.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer VBS


Ah, VBS season is upon us!

Our church’s is next week and we’d originally had a conflict, so to “make it up” I sent my kids to the First Baptist VBS this week. Their theme has been The Big Apple and my kids have had a high time! In fact, they were so pumped about bible school that they decided to forego our conflicting activity and attend our VBS instead.

And I’m kind of glad.

They are also sad that today is the last day of the Baptist VBS. They’ll have two whole days before they start their Lutheran round! They can hardly stand the wait.

I too was quite the VBS connoisseur as a child. My Nanna babysat me and two other kids and I’m sure the summer would have been a lot longer had there not been the respite of VBS for her. We used to hit the Baptist church where the other two kids attended Sunday School. It was right down the street from their house, so sometimes we would walk.

I remember thinking it odd that they called their pastor “Brother Ted”.

Then we would hit my church’s VBS, where my Pastor would wear his plaid shorts every year.

Then, as a great finale, we would attend the Southern Baptist church’s VBS that was way across town past the fairgrounds. Sometimes we would get to ride the school bus that would pick us up at a location I don’t remember. I remember bouncing around in the backseat on the way to VBS.

The Southern Baptists also had the largest church I’d ever been in and the best crafts. One year we painted concrete statuary. I did a sheep dog with a red tongue and it turned out awesome. The next year I did a rabbit. We had those garden ornaments for years. We also got to make a rope every year. A man came with his rope winding machine and we would turn the crank. Then he would fire up the hand torch and singe off all the excess fibers and give the rope a smoky aroma which it never quite got over.

Now I don’t know if it is too early to proclaim my children VBS hoppers or not since this was our first out-of-church experience, but the other day I mentioned I’d seen that the First Presbyterian Church was having their VBS and their response was, “Can we go??”

I hope you all have fond memories of summer and VBS and red Kool-aid mustaches. I hope you get to do arts and crafts this summer and learn about Jesus. And in the words of the song I learned at Baptist parent night on Wednesday, I hope you…

“Say yeh-yeh-yeh-yeh-YES to vuh-vuh-vuh-VBS!”

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Let Me Just Say This...

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort about his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others."  Philippians 2:1-4


(That’s me breaking out my soapbox.)

WARNING: I’m about to get on my soapbox!

I’m a bit peeved.

Got my feathers ruffled.

I have a bee in my bonnet.

So, let me just say this:

I don’t care if you were sprinkled, dunked, confirmed, saved, reborn, found Jesus, called on our Savior, witnessed, served, were ordained, certified, called, or became a missionary…

I don’t care if you’re a brother, sister, pastor, doctor, priest, preacher, or song leader…


I know Jesus said there were a lot of rooms, but I doubt they are labeled Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, First Christian, or Methodist.

We are all Christians!

And Christ is the only way to that one Heaven.

So, it is my opinion that when friends in Christ get hung up on whose doctrine of what religion is “right”, or “correct”, or what “doesn’t count”, then we are focusing on what man has made of religion and not what should be the core of our belief.

And that should be the love of Jesus and sharing it with others.

And when we say things about others churches and what they may or may not do or believe, or when they do it, then we are not carrying out the Great Commission, and are perhaps discouraging others from becoming affiliated with so-called “Christians” who appear to live as hypocrites.

One Heaven. One Jesus. One Way.

Fortunately, He died for ALL.

This concludes today’s rant on religion.

Hugs and Kisses.

(I’m stepping down off my soapbox now. Hope I don’t stumble and fall!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

In Memory

"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."  Matthew 18:20

My cousin Jamie died on Friday.

She was 34 years old.

Cancer was her killer.

Her survivors include her husband, two young girls, mom, dad, and a slew of aunts, uncles and cousins, including me, even if I was technically her stepcousin.

My stepdad, Roy, was one of eight children. Roy’s family would get together nearly every weekend during the summertime and have a cookout or potluck or some kind of get together. Usually we played touch football or ran around like crazy people. Sometimes we would fish; sometimes we would go on adventures down in the woods. There were always a whole herd of cousins to play with no matter the time of day.

Jamie’s mom is Roy’s sister. Both Jamie and I were only children in our respective families. She was six months younger than I am, so we were a natural pairing.

She was my first sleepover.

My first sleepover birthday party with a bunch of girls.

My first “dance” birthday party with another bunch of girls.

My first horse ride occurred at her house on a horse named Pet.

We had a picnic once down by her pond and 780,000 blackbirds (give or take a few) landed in the tree above us and pooped on our picnic. We screamed and ran back to the house.

Jamie’s house had an above ground pool with a deck to jump off of.

It also always had a bunch of round bales of hay to feed the cows through the winter, but Jamie and I would run on the tops of them.

She had a dog named Country and later another named Okie.

She and I would drive the old pickup trucks in the hayfield in the summer while the adults threw the bales on the back.

We would sing along with the radio and eat chips, and candy bars, and drink Dr. Pepper.

She had red hair and more freckles than me.

Our favorite song was “Wild, Wild West” by the Escape Club.

Over the years and after my stepdad died, I lost track of most of his family. But through the magic of Facebook, I’ve reconnected with a lot of them in the past couple of years. I remember asking Jamie about her illness related posts and she told me about her cancer.

Her funeral is today, some 8 or 9 hours away from my house. I joked that if I had to drive that far with my two boys, we’d most likely have to have another funeral when we got there.

And it would probably be me!

My kids, however, had been petitioning for an end of school party for about a month. They wanted to have all their friends over to go swimming and play at our house. So, after a couple of weeks of announcing its coming, we made that happen last night. We invited friends from school, church, and soccer. We had the pool set up and made a redneck slip and slide out of a big piece of plastic. We roasted hot dogs and everyone brought something to share. We had 57 people all together! Our biggest party ever.

And it felt a lot like one of my stepdad’s family gatherings. Even though we weren’t all related, the kids had a wild time, and played together without any major conflicts for the entire evening. The adults sat in lawn chairs, eating, talking, and watching the kids have the time of their life. It was a little hot, but no one complained, especially after we broke out the water balloons.

A good time was had by all.

Especially me.

I was so excited after the party that I didn’t go to sleep until after midnight. I couldn’t believe how many people showed up. I was happy that they’d all seemed to have a good time. I was glad we had enough food. I was overjoyed to know so many great families with such good kids.

And I know the joy that kept me from sleeping last night is probably like the joy Jamie felt on Friday when she entered through the gates of heaven. Free from sickness, free from pain, and reunited with so many great people she lost along her way.

So even though no one else at our party knew my cousin, I feel it was a sort of tribute to the memory of a wonderful, God loving, young lady. She would have been there if she could!

Friday, June 3, 2011


“When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.” Matthew 21:34

It must be hard being a renter.

There is a rent house just across the street from our pasture and in the five years we’ve lived in our current location, the rent house has seen four different families. The last family stayed for two years and had one full-time child and two part-time children.

Anyway, the full-time child was a little younger than my youngest, but that didn’t stop him from climbing over our fence and traipsing over to our house without telling his mom. When she finally got through to him that he just couldn’t run off without telling her, he would stand at the end of his driveway and scream “HEY!!!” to my kids until they went over to talk to him.

He was just getting old enough that she let him come over and into the house a few times to play with my boys, and then they up and moved, reportedly to be closer to the part-time kids who had lots of activities.

Well, last week we began to notice some steady action at the rent house.

Cars. People. Some stray kids.

And we knew that it was close to being occupied. We’ve been through this four times before, you know.

Yesterday the group was trying to get the yard in order (which was quite a task considering it hadn’t been mowed in a month or so) and everyone seemed to be outside.

My 6YO asked, “Can I go over there?”

I told him yes.

He ran around our pasture and sneaked up under a tree in their front yard and just stared at the kids.

So I motioned him back home.

He ran halfway home and then reconsidered and went back to stare some more.

Then he finally came home and said, “They don’t speak English.”

I told him that I bet they do if he would have just asked, and that it was not nice to stare at people.

And so later, Mother on her Lawnmower went over and introduced herself and scoped out the kid situation. Lots of family members helping the eventual renters (whom I did not meet) get the house in order. Four kids, all boys, just stair-stepping my two would be the renter kids.

My kids then felt brave and went over for a rousing game of tag that lasted about an hour. They came home filthy and excited about the new friends they’d made.

Sometimes it is hard to get to know people, but we’ve learned with the renters that you might not have much time, so it is best to jump right in at the start.

We’ve had countless hours of entertainment out of the other renter children, but when they leave, there is always a hole in our lives when we stare at the ominous empty house. When someone new moves in, we now act like we own the place, march right over to introduce ourselves, or just stare (depending on who acts first) because the new family fills a hole in our lives.

Hopefully there will be lots of chicken chasing, fence climbing and games of tag to be shared. Hopefully we will build a sort of kid-swap agreement from time to time. Hopefully they won’t think we’re too overbearing and write us off as the crazy people across the street.

And hopefully it won’t be so bad being this year’s renters.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

My goal this summer is to be the peacemaker without needing an actual “peacemaker”.

Just kidding. Made that one up myself!

It seems that a lot of my time during the summer is spent saying things like,

“Don’t do that…”

“Do this…”

“Stop that…”

“Why did you do that??”

“What are you doing??”

I know summer is just a few days old, but I think I’ve already said the above like 200 times already.

Today I had an epiphany. I began to hear the above bible verse in my head and decided that I would be the peacemaker. I also decided that I didn’t want their summer memories to be of me hovering over them, looking crazy and yelling things, and killing all the fun.

And so today, I tried something different. I came inside to enjoy the air conditioning and let them play by themselves. Ok, I secretly watched and listened through the window, but they were mostly on their own.

I like to think that my sanity has been preserved. I like to think that they had a better time without me saying, “Don’t do that!” and “Stop screaming!” 1,000 times. I like to think that this will help build their common sense about how to get along with each other.

The truth is: They’ll come inside when someone gets hurt.

And I’ll be there to patch things up.