Stand Fast

In: Mish-mash, Mom's Oracles, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

Everyone knows the story of how Jesus was sent into the desert to be tempted by the devil. I’ve heard many sermons on it myself with pastors often focusing on whether it was just of God to allow Him to be tempted, or if Jesus, a member of the Trinity could actually be tempted, if He is in fact God. Few times, if ever, has there been a connection to what preceded His right of passage. For those who may not know, He was baptized by John after which time, the heavens opened up and the Spirit of God descended upon Him and a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

It was directly after that accolade, the pinnacle of success, when Jesus was led into a trial that would challenge His commitment, His integrity, His perseverance, and His willingness to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term success. Similarly, after the Triumphant Entry when He rode into town with palm fronds laid down before Him, and rose petals tossed upon Him like a hero who has returned from battle in glory, He faced the Garden of Gethsemane. The night of anguish that He endured alone without even the support of His best friends or family to see Him through as they’d all fallen asleep on Him.

How many times have I reached a point in my life when I have done the right thing, taken the high road, had praise heaped upon me only to immediately be confronted with an almost unbearable challenge that has left me calling out, “God, why have you forsaken me?” Does that happen to you? If so, try and remind yourself that Jesus, Himself, set an example for us and in so doing showed Himself to be fully Man. He whined, cried, hungered, suffered, and pleaded for mercy. There is no shame there. But He didn’t quit.

I jokingly told someone who proudly wore ashes upon her forehead on Ash Wednesday as a symbol, not of humility nor surrender, but of pride and superiority, that I don’t give anything up for Lent because God doesn’t like quitters. But I was only partially joking. What He calls us to do is “Stand fast.” We are not called to sacrifice, but to endure to the end, whether that is the end of a trial, or the end of our life. In order to do that though, we must keep our eye on the prize. For me, that prize is creating a legacy for my children to point to and say to their children, and their children to their children, “Your grandma was exceptional in every way that is stalwart and true.”

We are all loved by God. We are cherished like all of creation, only more so, as we are made in His image. And for you parents out there, you know what that is like…even when you are irritated with your child, you still love him without reservation and would do anything for him. So it is with God. He loves you without reservation. So the next time you are faced with a trial, give a moment of thanks that you are counted worthy of the challenge, man up, and say, “I got this,” knowing that the One who led you in, will also lead you out. He wants to see you succeed.

By: M7 Tags: , , | 3 Comments on Stand Fast

Stop and Think

In: Mish-mash, Mom's Oracles

Imagine you are at a stoplight at 2 am with nobody in sight. The light remains red way beyond the time it takes for you to establish that it is safe to travel on. And it continues to beam red. How long do you sit there, burning fuel and wasting time before you go, without the permission of the light? Personally, I don’t. I simply look both ways and then I drive. Why? Because I don’t choose to seek permission for that which is within the parameters of common sense and when it does not involve private property.

I recently mentioned my proclivity for burning red lights to an acquaintance who with shock and awe proclaimed, “But that is against the law!” There are two discussions that arose from that observation: the first being the difference between what is lawful versus what is moral; the second being the absurdity of traffic laws and our choices to obey some, but not others, and our justification for doing so. It is in relation to the second point that I have since been on a rant of ginormous proportions.

I feel like Dr. Seuss…”Would you, could you with a bike? Would you, could you on a trike? On foot, by stroller, or with a skateboard roller? Tell me, tell me…what would it take for you to burn that light?” Nobody would wait, at 2 am, for a light to turn green before crossing by foot, or bike, or otherwise, besides with a car, truck, or motorcycle. It would be ridiculous and possibly even unsafe. So why on earth would one who is operating machinery that has required education, a license, registration, and a level of ability greater than all of the mentioned transportation forms not exercise discretion and push on? Fear. And not fear of causing harm or damage to another, but fear of being caught by an imagined authority who has been trained to generate revenue for the state at the expense of your common sense.

The stop sign in the photo could be found in Nashville, Tennessee after the flood in the spring of 2010. And although it is certainly against the law to travel by boat across the road under normal circumstances, it was exactly what was needed that day to save people, pets, and possessions. So how is that really any different than not exercising discretion at any other time?

Please, please, please, stop and think. Think about what you do and why you do it. And then do only what it is that you believe to be good and true. And let the chips fall where they lie. Then you will be your own hero.

By: M7 Tags: , , | 1 Comment on Stop and Think

Growing Pains

In: Mish-mash, Mom's Oracles, Red Said

growing pains 2Every parent watches the development of their child, the first few years of life, with hawk-eye attention, working tirelessly to encourage him on to the next stage. He must sit up by this date, crawl by this one, sit, stand, and then walk.  There is also the gurlging which coos into “mama” or “dada” and the child is gushed over as if he is a gold medal winner. Sounds turn into words, words into statements and then questions. All of these developmental accomplishments warrant cheers, smiles, photo opportunities, and maybe even a call to more people who will repeat the accolades. For the parents, it is pretty easy at this point to know what to do. Granted, education, environment, genetics, nutrition, and opportunity play a part, but unless there is retardation in growth, these stages are typical.

But then, more often than not, “Stop running!” is shouted. “Stop talking,” “You ask too many questions,” and then unfortunately, “Because I said so!” become the far-too-often-heard responses given, once those adorable little creatures begin to develop into more than just animated dolls. It all works well to ensure the child will mold tightly into a box, never questioning, and equating blind obedience to respect which is what garners affection from the authority figure who had previously rejoiced at any new development.

How does that happen? When learning to eat, messes are made. When learning to control gross motor skills, things get broken. When learning to verbally communicate, the wrong thing is said, and the adults often laugh. So why do we laugh when a little kid says “Shit!” when they are simply mimicking someone else, but we take great offense when the same child says, “Fuck you!” as a teenager? They are still trying to learn how to communicate, so what really is the difference?

Trust me; I am not immune. But what I do that is different than my parents is that I am conscious of my hypocrisy, so I work to be consistent; I am devoted to growth; I am committed to trying, no matter how many times I fail, because I love my children and do not see them merely as “the next step” but rather valuable and unique human beings who were entrusted in my care and for whom I would give my life, whether that means taking a bullet, or swallowing my pride. Although, sometimes I think the former would be easier.

I was known by them as Honey Mommy. I was perfect. I adored them and they adored me. Everything I did was magical and their lit-up faces filled me with pride and a sense of accomplishment. But I knew that it was my job to equip them to leave the nest. So at age two when they first asserted their independence, I cheered. However, it got harder, especially when I ceased to appear perfect to them and they found the words and courage to criticize me. It was devastating.  But as difficult and painful as it is to me, I would not change their characters. They are critical thinkers, compassionate human beings, passion-driven participants in life, and fair. They are also loyal- loyal to me, but now, first loyal to themselves. I did my job.

I only hope that there are other courageous parents out there doing the same and that their children will meet up with mine and they will soon give me grandchildren so that I can go back to being perfect and as is the gift that goes with being a grandparent, my perfection will remain. Until then, tissue, exercise, prayer, chocolate, and the camaraderie of a few good friends for whom I am eternally grateful and inspired. So keep on keepin’ on with those beauties of yours! Be courageous, thoughtful, fiercely committed to the task, and love with abandon those little acorns who are growing into their mightiness. They are our legacy and proof we lived.

 

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“What is ‘Is’?”

In: Mom's Oracles

For me, that line is what defines Bill Clinton, his presidency, and what has become a journalistic nightmare here in the US. It is not merely that he used linguistics coupled with his Slick Willy lawyering to create a precedent for questioning the very meaning of a word that is a building block to the language, nor does it matter that he later admitted to having “sexual relations” with Monica and others; the damage had been done: he undermined the fabric of the language and common sense.

Had he instead been honest, or simply pleaded the 5th, or said, “That is none of your business and does not concern the office of the presidency to which I was granted the privilege to serve,” I could respect him. But instead he lied, throwing those women under the bus, and mocking the common man’s understanding of truth. And rest assured, I am an equal opportunity politician basher…George W. should have gone over and bopped Saddam on the nose for trying to assassinate his daddy, but instead, he involved other people’s children and cost future generations the bill for his cowardice. Shameful.

But we all make mistakes, albeit, not as grave as those “great men”, but to err is human. So are we to be defined by our mistakes? Perish the thought! For if so, I should throw in the towel now. Instead, I tried to instill in my children the belief that, it is not what you do that defines you, but what you do after…great

Be your own hero. Act courageously after you blow it; apologize after you’ve wronged someone; eat a salad after you’ve binged on junkfood…get back on that horse. If you do, your mistake will become a thread that is weaved into the fabric of your life and will somehow be made into an opportunity for growth and greatness.

 

 

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“But Mom…”

In: Mish-mash, Mom's Oracles

It is destructive to be looking over your shoulder yearning for something that distracts you from your vision. (Anyone remember what happened to Lot’s wife?) And if the “But Mom” is followed by “I just want”, whoa Nelly, stop the train!

The context of the “But Mom” scenario is always the same: one wants to do something contrary to what is in his or her best interest- a moment’s pleasure enticing one away from what is optimal. So when I would hear one of my cherubs say to me “But Mom”, I would counter with “Do I look like a Butt Mom to you?” which would send them into peals of laughter. Sometimes it was enough of a diversion to help them reboot, but other times, a tone tainted with a whine ensued with a justification for why the object of desire was paramount to their happiness. A logical discussion about the misdirection that the thing in question would cause was much more easily digested after a hearty chuckle.

So if you find yourself in a situation where your version of “But Mom” rises up, do not let yourself get derailed! Instead, step back and count the cost. Whether it is that cookie that will take you away from your dieting goal, the cigarette that seems good to smoke at the time, or the pretty little thing whose company for lunch seems like a good idea, none of those compare to the greater satisfaction you will experience by staying the course.

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