Anxiety · Christian · culture · Family · Kids · mothers · Parenting · Relationships · sad · Single mother · Single parenting · Spiritual · Uncategorized

I Don’t Need You

Image result for LOVE public domain

“How do you do it?” her new friend gasped incredulously. My kid sister Jackie was at a children’s birthday party and had just shared that she was a single mum.

She got this reaction almost every time.

This time an extraordinary sense of ownership welled inside her. “I do it just fine with the Lord.” She knew this wasn’t a fashionable statement but it slipped right out of her mouth before she could stop it. She felt strangely galvanized inside and her chest puffed out slightly.

Kayla was seven now. She was the hardest yet the best thing that had ever happened to Jackie. Kayla’s dad walked out on them when she was about two. To be honest, Jackie can’t imagine what life would be like with him around. My heart warms every time I observe these two for any length of time and I marvel at what a fool he was to have walked out on this.

I love the amazing and simple life they’ve created for themselves. Jackie works a few days a week as a therapist. She walks Kayla to school in the mornings and they chat about wanting a cat, the naughty boys at school, anxiety about going to the doctor for shots, and everything in between.

Especially earlier on, Jackie’s life was peppered with regrets wishing life had played out differently. She’d known all along he wasn’t great marriage material but had mercurial hopes of some future together. News of Kayla’s very presence in the universe had rocked Jackie’s world and filled her with dread. This was not her plan. She could terminate the pregnancy and continue her life like nothing had ever happened. No one would ever need to know.

I distinctly remember her phone call to me shortly after she found out. I was crestfallen and lost for words to respond to her announcement. We had an unspoken pact that we’d save ourselves for marriage. I couldn’t imagine the angst this was causing her. She was the youngest of  seven siblings and with humility, boldness, and dignity, she called every member of our family to tell them. She called her pastor and told him. She went before her church and told them. She was embraced with the associated grief and swallowed up with love and acceptance. She was overwhelmed with the love of God’s family. I couldn’t have been more proud of her, worlds away. It tore me up that I couldn’t even hug her or hold her beautiful face.

I ate up pictures she sent of herself as her bump progressed. She was gorgeous. And afraid. And sad. And excited. And oh, so remorseful. This was not what she wanted…

The first year was a blur. She had a horrendous birthing experience. Then Kayla had to go to her dad’s house for visits every other weekend. How Jackie dreaded that. She sent her off with instructions to him. And clothes. And food. “Here’s some pain medicine, she’s teething so she needs it every 3 hours. And don’t forget to use the barrier cream. She had a terrible rash last time.”

He was a man of very few words but was he even listening? She paced her house the whole time her baby was gone. She cried herself to sleep and awoke ten times before morning dawned. Why wasn’t he answering his phone? Was he with his drinking buddies again? She was ready to pull her hair.

Jackie would sob with relief when they finally got back. She kissed her chubby cheeks with a million teary kisses and held her close, thinking her heart would burst. She hated that, subconsciously, she would start the dreaded countdown till Kayla would leave again. Within a few months Kayla would actually cry for him when he dropped her off. Jackie didn’t know what to do with that. Fortunately, she was easy to redirect. Still, with consternation, she would open the diaper bag and find that things she’d carefully packed away and given instructions on, were untouched. It made her want to shake him.

And then one day he fell off the face of the earth. No call, no words, no goodbye. She heard that he had left the country and wasn’t coming back. She wanted to dance with glee. Then a new grief hit her: the loss of a dream. That can strangle one as mercilessly as the death of a loved one.

She ploughed through the banal experience of child-raising. It was peppered with constant reminders that she was alone. There were more blatant aspects like buying a piece of property and building a home: every signing appointment, every minute detail regarding the home – from qualifying for a loan to choosing counter tops, roofing, doorknobs, lighting, flooring. It would have been so helpful to have someone to run decisions by.

They talked about him now and again. Kayla asked where he was and when he’d be coming back. She asked if it was anything she had done. She wondered if he thought of them. “Will I be the only girl in the world without a daddy?” She would sob and disconsolately throw herself on her bed. Jackie answered her questions gently, thoughtfully, honestly.

She perpetually found herself having to explain, in one circle or another, that he wasn’t in the picture. Always, an awkward silence ensued along with an attempt on her part or the other person’s to recover some semblance of dignity.

Jackie snapped back to attention as the herd of screaming party goers stampeded into the room to open presents and sing Happy Birthday. She smiled through the whole affair as, almost beholding on a screen, she reviewed how good God had been to her despite immense hardships. He had seen her through. And that beautifully!

He HAD met her every need. He had helped her overcome the poignancy of her wants that He didn’t fulfill. He had housed them, healed them, provided for them. He had protected them, comforted them, delighted them. God had done more than Kayla’s dad could ever have done had he stayed in the picture. Of course she longed for a physical consort, a life partner. Someone to laugh with and encourage her. Someone to help her discipline and train this handful of a child.

But she solidly learned that she had all that and more. All her fountains were in Him, Psalm 87:7. He was a fountain of constant cleansing; a fountain of refreshment that slaked her every thirst; He astounded her when He thundered like the Niagara with power in her life; He delighted her when He filled her and her daughter with levity and delight in life.

She determined that she would raise her daughter to know that she had a Father who loved her more than anything. She had an identity and a family. She was whole and lovable, incredibly made, wanted and chosen before she was delicately knit together in her mother’s womb. She was pursued and desired, cared for, and delighted in just as she is.

Always. Tenaciously. Unconditionally. Loyally.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/loyal/

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Anxiety · Authority · Christian · Cows · Daughters · Death · Faith · Farming · Fear · Health · horror · Humor · Maturity · Mishaps · mothers · Spiritual

If You Believe

black cow

If you know anything me, it’s my feelings about cows. You can find contributing factors here: https://thukumainen.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/wild-about-cows/. And to think I am married to a man who calls himself a rancher. Very sad. I posted that blog a year ago and my feelings haven’t changed much.

Shortly after that, Emma who’d grown up on a dairy farm shared how she was washing dishes in the sink one sunny day while her kids played outside. She was watching them dreamily in the sand pit through the open kitchen window. She’d just picked up the last glass from the warm sudsy water when she heard a sickening bellow. She looked up to behold her 3 year old daughter sitting on the bottom rung of a gate to the field while one of their massive cows came running across the field. “Oh God,” she moaned gripping the side of the sink. There was no way she could even set that glass down before the cow got to her baby, let alone get out there to rescue her.

In slow motion, it seemed, little Layla hopped off the gate she was sitting on and authoritatively stuck a stubby little hand straight out in front of her and yelled, “You stop!”

The colossal brown cow skidded to a screeching halt not ten feet from Layla. The cow lowered her immense head and pounded the dry ground. She seemed to be reconsidering her actions and she mooed, projecting slime all over the place. “No! Bad cow!” commanded the little girl, hands akimbo and stomping her miniature pink cowboy boot in defiance. That cow sniffed at the dirt and slowly turned her head before walking away.

Emma barely heard the glass shatter, muffled by the soapy water, as she tore through the door.  She ran pell-mell to her baby in the field, tripping over broken branches while her apron fluttered like a flag in the wind. She grabbed her like she would never let go, sobbing fitfully.

“Mama sad?” asked Layla quizzically placing dirty little hands on her mother’s tear-stained face.

“No, baby. Mama’s very happy.”

__________________________________________

This week I have encountered many people who are going through various degrees of apprehension for one reason or another. It has astounded me, I don’t remember it being this unbridled, almost epidemic. Many posts I’ve visited have entailed details from anxiety ridden writers expressing hopelessness about the world’s plight and our leaders’ wanton disregard for us. Sitting in prayer groups, I’ve prayed for people dealing with fears of flying, fears they can’t put their fingers on, and fear of the future.

It seems we are being pummeled by angst and asphyxiated under its weight.

Are we paying too much attention to current events? More importantly are we basing all our trust and hope on the shifting sands of circumstances? Are we listening too closely to the primal internal voices that are gifts for our survival, but which we have amplified with the megaphone of attention?

The resulting degree of stress is ravaging our health, our wellness, and our souls. It exudes from our every pore so that we contaminate people around us. It’s affecting our children and grandchildren and shortchanging any chance for joy and a vibrant life. It grows like a cancer and stifles our very lives.

Can we, like little Layla stand up to these demons and gain control of ourselves and our reactions to our stressors. We can drop and allow them to trample us mercilessly and fling us up in the air. We can turn and run like lightning with the massive cows in hot pursuit. Or we can stick our little hands out in their face and scream “STOP!” This lion must find a heart.

See that day, Emma learned and then taught me about authority that is vested within us. It is the authority of a thirty pounder against a thousand pounder. Within me is mastery and dominion over my reactions to circumstances. But I must learn to wield it. It is a spiritual weapon that I can brandish to quell the enemies of my soul.

Jesus died that I might have life, and life abundantly. Peace and His presence are two things He has assured me He will never withdraw from me. Hope and joy are mine to enjoy despite the worst possible circumstances in life. Otherwise what is our faith for? I’ve tried many others and they are all sinking sands. He alone has seen me, and countless others over the ages, through thick and thin VALIANTLY. His are promises that we will not be shaken if we stand upon the Rock that He is.

If you don’t know Jesus, He is a simple invitation away. All you have to do is believe He is the son of God who died to save you and who came back to life so YOU might have life. His presence in your life is the authority to speak over your perspective on life’s circumstances and command your fears to be still.

Here’s a great truth: You can’t think two thoughts at the same time. And tough times call for soul talk.  In 1752, Katharina A. von Schlegel penned “Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side.” What a great mantra. It has amazing words. Enjoy Kari Jobe’s rendition of it.

Ages before, King David said, “Why so downcast oh my soul? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,” Psalm 42:11. Sometimes I say, a thousand times, “I trust you Lord, I trust you Lord.” I’ll sing a song or meditate on and recount a piece of scripture. Scream it if you need to or just think it, though your knees are knocking.

And should the circumstances do you in, you have a blessed promised eternity awaiting you. One of complete rest and bliss in His presence. Death will be your final enemy and you WILL overcome it victoriously. You can’t lose!!

So put your hands on your little hips and stomp those sparkly cowgirl boots. Silence that bellowing cow and speak your truth.

Image retrieved from https://i.pinimg.com/564x/09/3f/5b/093f5b9a471196711493b2115f47cd8c.jpg

on 10/9/17 7pm.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/believe/

Brothers · Family · Humor · mothers · Relationships · sons · Teasing · Uncategorized

Orange Flying, in Slow Motion

It all happened so fast, so I’m not quite sure why I recall it in slow motion. My boys were fooling around and laughing. They rarely play together so I relish these times. I was standing by the kitchen about to open the fridge.  James, moving at his usual 300mph dashed by the kitchen counter and grabbed an orange then flew the next few feet into the living room. Paul had just hopped over the arm of the red recliner  and was bouncing on it, looking out the nearby window into the yard and telling a funny story.

This is where things slowed way down: out of the corner of my eye, I vividly saw James in his blue and white striped shirt and grey camo shorts. He took on very impressive form, swinging his right arm with the orange in it while he stepped off his left foot, rotated his shoulders so the left one synchronized forward to power the left one which was lunging back as it propelled the orange at an astonishing speed  straight towards the back of his unwitting brothers head, just as James’ right foot planted onto the carpet. Wow!

Dictionary.com describes a symphony as “an elaborate musical composition in three or more movements, similar in form to a sonata but written for an orchestra and usually of far grander proportions and more varied elements.”

What I was witnessing, my friends, was a mesmerizing movement symphony of grand proportions!

In no time, Paul, with a discordant whelp, raised both hands to the back of his whip-lashed head and tumbled off the chair and onto the floor like a stuntman.

“What was that for?” was his loud, prolonged, barely articulate lament. Babe Ruth’s eyes grew to the size of a large orange and he jumped up and down like a yoyo, “I’m sorry Paul, are you okay? I’m so sorry, are you okay?” He repeated this about 8 times without taking a breath, bouncing in place the whole time and becoming more frantic.

Our stuntman rolled back and forth, clearly in the throes of death, moaning his final words, “Whhyyyy?” and never letting go of his fatal wound.

I snapped out my daze and yelled, “that is the most unintelligent thing you have done all day!”

He answered with the most unintelligent thing he had said all day, “I didn’t mean to hit him!”

I chimed, “What, where you planning to hit the window a foot away from his face?”

“No, I didn’t mean to hit him.” He said that 8 times, still bouncing up and down, but now big tears falling straight from his eyes onto the floor.

“He does it to me all the time and he never gets in trouble.”

“What, he kills you with an orange all the time?” I stuck a pointing finger at Paul in his pitiful predicament, and glared at James, “Is this the time to bring that up?

“I didn’t mean to,” he wailed woefully.

Paul’s howling reached a deafening crescendo and James cried all the harder. What a cacophony!

I leaned down and touched Paul for many reasons. The first was the principle. If he didn’t die, and I didn’t think he would, he would in years to come be sitting at a counselor’s couch recounting this trauma, and she would ask him, “And what did your mother do?”

It would be terrible to have to answer, “She laughed so hard she fell on me and smacked my forehead with hers.”

Secondly, I needed to embrace the victim and distance from the perpetrator. That would not be the time to say, “James, that was amazing! I wish you could have seen it.” No. That would have to wait ten minutes.

I finally pried a gasping Paul’s fingers from the gaping wound so I could inspect it and he was disappointed and shocked to learn there wasn’t as much as a mark. And I looked really close, for a really long time, the whole time repeating, “Wow!” in monotone.

So the melodrama died down eventually. We hugged as Paul reiterated that he didn’t trust his brother to be in the same county, for obvious reasons. I slapped my hand across his brothers mouth as he dried his tears and started to say, “He does it all the…”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/symphony/

Family · mothers · sad · sons · Uncategorized

Even Ever!

My sweet Paul was very articulate at a young age. When he was three, Nana took him to her house for a weekend. He loved her cabin in the woods and came home full of stories of his imaginary friend, Ima McGack. He also had frequent encounters with his pet zebra and the zebra’s dolphin friend who lived in the woods by Nana’s house.

He was smitten with Thomas the Tank Engine and we had inherited a fabulous wooden set with many of the trains. Every day, he spent hours with Thomas and friends in our sun-room constructing intricate railroad designs. He chatted happily with the various engines and laughed at their funny responses; he’d raise his pitch when he talked to Emily and growl deeply at Diesel #10. His tracks went up and over, in and under, round and round. He had been working on the current elaborate design for several days before he left for Nana’s.

Dust bunnies had accumulated around the set and I took the opportunity to clean up while he was away. As I tore up the set and put it in the clear plastic bin, I felt a tinge of guilt knowing how much time he’d spend putting it together. I justified it with the fact that we had agreed he would clean up all the tracks and trains every night before he went to bed.

First forward to Sunday afternoon. He came home and gave me a cursory halo.  I was standing at the kitchen counter prepping dinner. My eyes widened and I bit my lip nervously anticipating his reaction as he walked past me and bee-lined for the sun-room. He walked into the room and I peeked around the corner. He’d stopped short in his tracks and was inspecting the room, aghast. He turned around and marched back towards the kitchen, huge-eyed. I jerked my head back and pretended to keep chopping vegetables.

“Mum,” he swallowed hard and gasped, “Did you put Thomas away?”

“I did,” I said nonchalantly, staring wide-eyed at the cabbage.

“Mum.” He was quiet. His little heart was breaking.

“Don’t-ever-do-dat-again.” His bottom lip was quivering as he thrust his chubby index finger at the floor, accentuating each word. His little chest was rising and falling pathetically.

He turned on his heels and approached the sun-room as a lone survivor approaches a killing field. Shaking his head like his father, he threw his hands up in the air in frustration and defeat. The tears wouldn’t come.

I was devastated and my heart sank. I heard his little feet heading back for the kitchen and hastened back to my vehement chopping.

“Never ever!” He stated as he strode towards the TV room, the tears finally coming. “Even ever!”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fast-forward/

Family · Humor · mothers · Uncategorized

The Unravelling

My mother raised five girls, God love her.

Towards the end of her life, all five of us snollygosters were regularly cracking up at her fashion sense. An ounce of wisdom shared among us would have warned that things were falling apart and that our lives were about to unravel with the ending of hers. But no, there wasn’t an ounce of wisdom to be found among us, we were too busy trying to catch our collective breath and recover from a new round of side-splitting laughter. Sometimes we laughed till we cried.

I could count on the others to burst at the seams, convulsing on the floor when I wore her clothes, in mockery, in the most clashing combinations possible and imitated her walk and mannerisms.  It was all I could do to remain upright. Ours was uncontrolled buffoonery beyond compare. Did she dress in the dark or was she just feeding this foolishness frenzy?

She’d chuckle quietly and call us idiots. She’d shake her head and watch us carry on, incredulous that she had allowed any of us to live to adulthood instead of eating us as babies, like many other species do. She’d look down at her attire and smile. We knew what was coming next: she’d pat and straighten the outfit  with her pretty hands. This was a gesture of approval and a sure statement that she had no inclination to go back upstairs to change. This led to a fresh wave of howling and hawing among the idiots, slapping at the table in disbelief.

It was only made worse by the fact that she was extremely fashion-forward in her hey-day. She was famous for stunning outfits worn with grace and elegance. So really, she brought this upon herself. Sure we felt sorry, but for crying out loud, where on earth does one go to buy a skirt like that? Har, har, har! Oh, that was good.

I am filled with guilt and a desire to make atonement as I write this. To mock one’s own mother, God rest her soul, is truly unforgivable. My eyes start to tear and I feel a surging deep within me. I bite my trembling lip, and shake my head pensively as I try to compose myself. But this heaving is not remorse! It’s a memory of the time she wore the black and yellow striped sweater with the…

Here we go.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/unravel/

Family · Humor · mothers · sons

Smell you Later

(I blogged this 2 years ago and it was a little weird to see a prompt with the exact same title. For a second there I couldn’t find it in my archives and I thought, ‘They’ve deleted my article and stolen the title!!’ And then I found it.)

My son James catches his kindergarten bus at 12:18pm. He and I kick rocks and philosophize while we wait at the stop. We have special mother-son moments that I’ll relish for life. We sit there quietly and hold hands, or tell stories, or dissect bugs. I teach him the names of flowers and tell him what little boys in Africa do. He tells me a million facts about soldiers and the army. I eat up every minute, all too cognizant that my baby has flown the coop.

Some days he rudely awakens me from my maternal trance and asks me to wait in the house while he catches the bus.
One sunny afternoon around 12:16 while we waited for the bus, he frantically needed to use the bathroom. We tore into the house as he fumbled with his belt. I realized we had forgotten his library book so I dashed into  the kitchen, grabbed it from counter, and rushed to the bathroom to put it in his backpack. In the deep recesses of my mind, I heard the rumble of the old bus coming down the hill.

I stood aghast in the bathroom and things started to move in slow motion. So many questions flooded my mind: How on earth could so much fluid sit on the toilet-seat in a matter of seconds? How could there be gallons more on the floor? I was swirling in a urine tsunami, powerless, disoriented, confused.
He has two simple instructions to follow before he pees, and three after. We all know them. They are listed here in their irreducible complexity:
1. Lift up the seat.
2. Aim into the toilet.
Pee.
1. Put down the seat.
2. Flush.
3. Wash your hands.

My final question was ‘where is he?’

I staggered to the front door like a drunken sailor, just in time to see him nonchalantly hopping onto the bus. He gave Driver Dan his daily high-five, looked back over his little shoulder, and smiled at me.

I exploded through the front door screaming “Get back in here!” Dan took one look at my face, assessed the imminent doom, hastily shut the bus door, and peeled off. He was taking corners on side wheels and was a block away before he remembered to retract the stop sign. I was chasing them down the road, occasionally leaping into the air and waving my fists wildly. I don’t remember what I was yelling. If I had warned my boys once, I had warned them a million times.
Eventually I stopped. Hopeless, I walked back spent and ragged. I was mumbling and probably drooling. I dragged my heavy, sodden feet with fistfuls of my own hair and a lousy library book in my hands. One neighbor cursorily shut her blinds. Another hurried into his house and double-bolted his door.
Could Dan be an accomplice to this crime?  I suppose, after all his years as a bus driver, he has a capacity to read premeditation on the face of a determined mother and was actually saving me from life in prison.

Thank you Driver Dan.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/smell-you-later/