Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Evangelism...

I'm not sure if you know this, but I'm not a terribly confrontational person.  Now, my very closest relationships would probably disagree, because I'm not AFRAID of confrontation, but I don't seek them out in outsiders.  I'd rather keep you a little at arm's distance when it comes to those things that REALLY matter to me, unless I know you pretty well.

A friend of mine from facebook posted a link to this video a while ago...

It bugged me for a week or so, and then I forgot about it so my mind had some time to gel around it.  When I came across it again just the other day, I found that I had something to say...

See, I can see it from both sides. 

I like the preacher, I've seen him do a few other things in the past. I agree with much of his theology and have a had a few "RIGHT ON" moments listening to even though in this clip we don't actually know what he is telling the crowd, I believe that I would have probably agreed with him.  Probably.

And yet, I can hear this girl's heart.  I can understand her desire to shut down angry judgment and focus on the love of God, and the saving GRACE of Jesus.  I can see myself arguing in exactly the same manner.  Honestly, one of the primary reasons that I DON'T like outside confrontation is that most people approach open confrontation from a spirit of judgment. They then USE that judgement to make assumptions about MY argument without listening.  We all do this to a certain degree.

People hear I'm divorced, they automatically assume I'll stop this homeschooling nonsense, or that one of us cheated or some combination of the two (weird combination of things to fixate on, I know).  People see that I'm heavy, they automatically assume that I sit around and eat piles of food every single day.  People know that I'm Christian and they automatically assume that I dislike entire people groups, and various natural activities because I have to if I'm Christian.  They also assume that I AM judging them, constantly and harshly.  Assumptions make communication super difficult.

Interestingly enough, by every religion that measures these sorts of things, I am a sinner.

Like Totally!

In my life I have been drunk. I have screamed at people in anger. I have committed murder (abortion).  I've have more than my fair share of caffeinated beverages AND shellfish. I have had lustful thoughts, enjoyed sex outside of wedlock. I've lied, I've coveted, I've disobeyed my parents, been disrespectful to my husband, gossiped, been divorced...and the list goes on and on and on.

You want someone to judge?  I'm your girl.  I'm the one that whole sermons have been studied and memorized and preached to convict and benefit.  But where, in this list, do you find a place for me to have secure enough footing to judge anyone...ever?  I'd love to know, because I can't find it.  I hate some of the things I've done in my life. I'm so very thankful to not be on some of those paths anymore.

It's what I love most about my faith and Jesus in particular.  He knew ME.  He understood the options I would have, the temptations I would be presented with and fall to, and He was not ever shocked.  He knew where I would fail, and how long it would take me to succeed.  He saw my belligerent defiance, and watched me break.  He knew my intellect, my propensity to doubt and argue points in my head, my procrastination.  He knew when I forgot to flush the toilet or didn't shower.  And far from judging all of that, and telling me all the ways that I HAD TO CHANGE, he took my sin to the cross and died with it there, so that I could know him, know the Father, have the Holy Spirit with me to guide me even when I did NOT want Him.

In the end, although I am not a missionary, I think they are both right.  I think people need to be loved.  I think some people NEED the jostling of their belief systems that a solid sermon on sin can cause.  That fight...the debate that pits RIGHT -vs- WRONG is necessary to fire the brain and solidify the track of thought.  I've been blessed to fight these fights on occasion. Sometimes I've been correct and sometimes I've had my understanding of the world and my core actions about that understanding challenged and corrected.  Iron sharpens iron, but it's not a gentle process.

I think some people NEED to be held gently, carefully...safely, until they find their feet.  And most of the time every person will need BOTH the igniting of the mind and the cushioning of the heart at some point in their lives. This isn't even the flip side of the coin...this is simply one facet of the diamond that IS loving cantankerous, beautiful, intelligent people.

And that's all I have to say about that.

See ya around...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What You Do In a Day...

I think I learned something for the first time today.

Did you know that you can only do so many things in a day?

Did ja?

Now wait a minute...before you say, "Well, duh, Stace, thanks ever so much for that piece of wisdom...Oh, look, Trivia Crack is calling," give me just a minute.

You can only do so many things in a day.

I live in a world of opportunity these days.  There are LITERALLY tens of things I could / should / would do in a day.

Let me give you a list...

I should...feed the kids, do laundry, walk the dog, pay the bills, wash the dishes, wash them again, make the lesson plans, school the kids, work a little, weed the yard, mow/weed whack the yard, get the tires checked, grocery shop, menu plan...

I could/would...grow a spectacular garden, work on my quilt, craft with my kids, paint a wall, paint another one, get the windows fixed, consider a new fence, walk the dog, watch the TV, take a bath, cook something fantastic but not particularly good for me, blog, play with friends, call friends, text friends, post on facebook...

I have a list somewhere around here of all of the things I really feel I should or would like to do.  It is at least 4 yellow legal-pad sized pages long at this moment.  I wrote it as a means to remember the stuff...all the stuff...that slips my mind so that it doesn't get completely lost.  It was written as a dream list.  A "Wouldn't it be wonderful if only I could accomplish THIS stuff" list.

Somewhere a long the line, it has become something else in my mind.  Instead of a good thing that someday I will accomplish these things, in has become a, "GREAT!  Look what I didn't finish AGAIN today" burden of guilt that rides around on my back, like a grasping monkey.

In my life, if it needs to get done it's up to me to see it done.  If something in the house or with the car needs to be done, I do it.  When the kids eat, sleep, need to be medicated, need to learn something new academically...that's me.  If the kids need to be trained to DO a household thing, because they are capable, because I need the help, because they should learn some basic skills before I foist them on some unsuspecting roommate or spouse someday...I'm the one who needs to train them.  That's just the way it is.  I don't always like it.  Honestly, with a teen and tween and that other one who would prefer to remain ignorant in the ways of cleanliness, I don't like it A LOT of the time...but I do recognize that it's my job.

And I do that part.  ALL.THE.TIME.

What I don't get to is the other stuff.  The seemingly constant need to sort every busy area of my house...the pantry...the garage...the yard...right now, the front room. 

The epiphany that I was telling you about happened BECAUSE of one of these things.  I've needed to reorganize the garage for awhile.  I've done a bunch of small projects around the house over the last few months and the tools have become jumbled, the paint cans scattered, and there were a few Christmas things that still needed to be put away in the boxes that were already packed and put up.

So I did.

I found everything, gave it a place.  Made it possible to find the hammer and the drill and the paint and the screws and the handy pack of drill bits...all of have a place.  And I swept.  The GARAGE.  I swept it.  And I spent about 3 minutes looking at what I had wrought...and oh my, dear reader, I found it good.

So very good.

And then I walked back into the house, where, while I'd been cleaning and sorting, people had been living...and playing, and wearing clothing, and playing with the dog...and now, to add insult to injury, wanted to EAT.

I gotta tell you...every single one of those "good" feelings broke open and oozed frustration right out on the floor.  I remembered that I'd forgotten to remind Monkey-Face to empty the dishwasher, so she hadn't emptied the dishwasher.  Because she hadn't emptied the dishwasher, Bean hadn't washed the dishes resulting in a dirty sinkful of grossness that needed to be washed before anything could be cooked .  Bear had needed a clean shirt and because I was in the garage she had dug through instead put away the basket, meaning that I needed to either fold it again (the easier option) or parent her through re-folding and now putting everything away.

So very NOT good.

Then I had a stroke of luck.  Right as I was about to lose my mind in a most un-motherly-like fashion, my neighbor (let's call her Dimples) showed up.  Dimples has a special place in my heart in that I NEVER feel like I need to clean up for her.  She is new to me since the new house, but as far as I'm concerned, she's family...which is handy for this story.

So in she came, right into the worst of the mess, right at the worst possible moment where I had been seriously considering loading the girls into the car and dropping them off somewhere unsavory...and she said, "How's the garage?"

I'm sure there was more conversation.  I'm sure I blubbered about what a mess and a failure that I was and how someone more mature than I was could do all this better and probably make it look easy and anyway, someone more mature wouldn't want to kick the wall (I didn't, but if I'm honest, I wanted to).

But in that one question, "How's the garage," I knew that I HAD done what I was supposed to do.  I'd done a good job with a BIG project and because I had, I'd be able to find things that I'd been having trouble putting my hands on and had lessened my stress level.  And honestly, I was proud of myself for taking the time to do it.

I realized that I did THE thing I was put on earth to do in that moment...for that day...and I realized for the first time, just like any other person, I can only do exactly how much I can do in any given moment.  If I do this...then I can't do that.  It's simple.

I've spent a lot of years making less of what I do because it isn't what another person does...comparing my worst to other people's best.  It's wrong-headed and destructive, and I'm not alone.

If I want to do this, need to do this, feel compelled to do this...then I can't do that.  My list.  My choice.

It's a pretty freeing thing actually.  Realizing that you CAN NOT do it all and forgiving yourself for it even in the midst of wishing that you could.  I actually kind of like it.

I think I may start a new list.  A list of things I did INSTEAD.

Because I want to remember.

See ya around...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Wonderful Wordiness of Words...

I was reading today.

Not that odd actually.  I read SOMETHING everyday.  But today I was actually by myself, with a real live hard backed book, reading something that I wanted to read with no one asking me questions or expecting anything out of me at the end of it.

It was lovely. 

As I was reading, I found myself sinking into the words. And then, a real live interruption occurred.  Not a big deal, normal, daily life edging out the quiet space the author and I shared.  I went on with my day, but in the quiet moments, I found myself going over the words that had delighted me.  Chuckling to myself, finding joy in the cleverness of words strung together to paint a picture for me to experience inside my mind.

I know I'm a word person.  From lyrics to poetry to prose, words have always stuck with me.  OTHER people's words.  The details of a scene that can be shown with words...the simplicity and the magnitude...words are cool.

Things like:

"Lastly, in lieu of these shifting scenes, came back the rude market-place of the Puritan settlement, with all the townspeople assembled, and leveling their stern regards at Hester Prynne--yes at herself--who stood on the scaffold of the pillory, an infant on her arm, and the letter A, in scarlet, fantastically embroidered with gold thread, upon her bosom." Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter


"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all..."
Emily Dickinson


"Jesus wept" John 11:35 NASB

I don't really memorize, but I do remember the jist.  Thankfully Google / Bing / Yahoo and the like have made it unnecessary to memorize popular words so long as I always have my phone near me.  I'm a little ashamed about it.  I mean really, my mom knows all the words I know and more, and she never spaces out on how to spell them...maybe I'm more jealous than ashamed.

I just know that I'm an odd ball because of this passion for words.  Now it's kind of cool.  In my 40s my peers understand me and often think me charming for my quirky vernacular. (or at least that's what I tell myself.)  But...oooo...growing up?  Not so much.

My bestie, Kehaar...I've told you about her...we lived in Florida at the same time from the time I was 9 until 13.  She was a word nerd, too.  And I have many lyrics and rhymes in my head that we learned together in those years  But then, as happened a few times in my life, we moved, and then moved again...Two high schools my freshmen year doesn't make for deep friendships who understood my...ehem...charm.  Honestly, I didn't like to write back then, so I didn't chase where the other wordy kids hung out.

But in my second high school, my English teacher, loquacious in her own right, pushed me (kicking and screaming, I might add) onto a path that would eventually lead me to my love of Shakespeare and eventually my love of chronicling...and I suppose even blogging.

Someone teased me the other day that I speak like I write.  I had no idea what she meant, I mean, doesn't everybody?  But I suppose she meant that she liked that I have too many words and a nutty vocabulary...and I'm glad because it is fun to figure out new words that fit the situation.  Except when I'm tired...and I'm out of nouns...then I use words like doohickey...and stuff...liberally.

or if I've had more than one glass of wine...then all bets are off...

Just keepin it real.

See ya around...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I do this thing.  It's always been a secret...until this year when paint has been so much a part of my life...and I got caught.

I paint my prayers on my walls.

For all that this screen is my favorite form of communication, I am a pretty tangible person.  I like to get ACTUAL letters because it means that the person that wrote to me actually touched the paper.  I love things that people touched, wore, used in someway, because it gives me a hand to hold long after the person has gone, whether it be across the street or on into eternity.  I'm a toucher...always have been...this is just an interesting quirk of the same weird-touchie-aspect.

So under every wall I've ever painted (alone, because again, like fight club, we don't talk about it) there are names of people that I love. But then, I paint over the names, because like everyone else, I painted the wall for a, baby.  But I still can tell you where certain people's names are. When I'm missing those people I still touch their names and pray about them.

A few months ago, a friend was helping me paint one of the many walls I've painted this year and I knew her well enough to share my quirk.  Pretty soon, the kids (hers, mine already knew) were involved...and then another friend, and her kids.  Turns out, they had prayers too.  Things that hurt so much that they couldn't share exactly what was going on...but they had I handed them each a brush and a little pot of paint...and everybody got a turn.

And then time went on.  I painted over the names.  They are still there...but underneath because that's what you do, right?

Yesterday, one of my children brought one of the other little girls on the street over.  My Bear wanted me to help her friend with the STAAR test studying.  OY!!  What do I know about STAAR testing other than every kid on the street worries and hurts because of them?  Seriously, I remember testing as a was kinda fun...I don't remember just was what it was...a couple of days of number 2 pencils and booklets and sitting in the gym (those were the fun ones...way too many people) or the classroom not doing homework.  WOO HOO!

Except, that's not what I'm hearing from these kids.  Realize these are my neighbors, my kid's friends...random children who pass through my house, hurting and wanting help with these tests.  Actually no, not really wanting help...actually wanting to know that this test will not be what defines them.  This test won't be what measures their worth in the world.

Like I said, I don't know anything about these tests.  Homeschoolers don't have to take them at this time in history in this state.  We may have to in the future, but not right now.

But I do know something these kids need to know.  NO TEST can define you.  Sure, we can measure what you've learned in the last week or so.  Some of them may be able to tell if you are a good test taker or if you are able to read at some level or if you are good memorizer.  We can measure some stuff that you know TODAY.  But what exactly does that matter for your worth?  See, the thing is, tomorrow you may learn something more and you may very well be even smarter than you are today.  Sometime in the future, something might happen that makes you forget this stuff that you absolutely know and you might have to really think about it to draw it back out of your mind...(Hey mothers...let's have a HOO RAH for the stupefying factors of child birth and infant rearing, huh?)

This is a moment.

It doesn't define who you are.

You still get to choose who you will be.

Did you hear me?  I won't care if you remembered the ROCK CYCLE tomorrow.  I'd forgotten there was a rock cycle until yesterday.  You matter, rock cycle or not.

You will be a beautiful amalgamation of joy, and intelligence, and talents, and humor, and kindness, and courage and maybe pain.  But let's not have an arbitrary test on arbitrary facts that someone has decided that you REALLY need to know today cause you pain.  That stuff REALLY doesn't matter and anyone who says it does needs to spend an hour in the company of a child.

So I'm outing myself.  I'm painting on my wall again...and this time, I don't think I'm going to paint over it.  I'm praying for little souls today.  Not tests.  Not that they do well.

I'm praying that they realize that no matter how they do...THEY MATTER.  And I'm praying for my teacher friends who have to administer these tests because I know that THEY know what I'm saying.  These tests aren't coming from teachers who love our kids and teach them and struggle with them and triumph with them over every skill taught.  These tests are from much too far away to ACTUALLY matter.

When the psalmist said,
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are WONDERFUL, I know that full well. 
He didn't mean, "Wonderful until you go and screw it up with that STAAR Test."

I'm just sayin...

See you around.

P.S.  Let me know if you need a brush and a pot of paint...