I’m Hard-Headed Too

He is forever chasing me. In the darkest pits of my rebellion, He gently reminds me that He is my set of guardrails. He lets me know that He will not make me slow down. He will not make me drive on the right side of the road. But that when I crash…and I certainly will…He will be there..to put me back together again. “Love is patient, Love is kind. Love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs.” – 1 Cor 13:4-5

I think about how hard-headed our kids can be sometimes…refusing to listen to our instruction and our guidance. We only want what’s best for them. We only want to protect them from harm and unnecessary pain. But most of the time, they are far wiser than we. They have more control over their lives than we know. Nothing as dramatic as the imaginative and horrific musings of their parents..can ever come to fruition. Right?

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And yet…in spite of myself…I remember that I am a child too. Who sometimes…isn’t so great at listening to her own Father. God only wants what’s best for ME too. God only wants to protect ME from harm and unnecessary pain too. And I’m not afraid to admit…I have rolled my eyes when my ability to control my life has come into question. Ok, I did it once. Something tells me…He saw me do it too.

The truth is this. “Love Never Fails.” Never. Not Ever. – 1 Cor 13:8

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There is no amount of rebellion or sin that can keep us from His Love.

This is worth repeating.

There is no amount of rebellion or sin that can keep us from His Love.

I love the concept of the guardrail….based on Andy Stanley’s message from years ago. It can still be found on North Point Community Church’s website today.

guardrail

Guardrails are not designed to make you slow down or make you drive on the right side of the road. Instead, they are designed to protect you from the disaster of running off the road into opposite on-coming traffic…or down into plummeting terrain. By the same token, God is not in our lives to force us to drive the way He wants us to drive. He leaves our decision-making and our choices to us. He provides us with boundaries to let us know when we are heading for disaster. It is entirely up to us to heed His warning….but even when we don’t….He is still there to Love us back to life.

Love Never Fails. Not Ever. No Matter What.

 

Go-Go Green Juice

Let me start by saying, I LOVE my Go-Go Green Juice!

I do not love it more than pizza, hot wings, or vodka, but when those things are off the table, I LOVE my green juice.

Every year, my household chooses a fast to participate in for different reasons. And…those reasons vary…typically by age group. If you’re in the “under 21” bracket, your reasons run along the lines of, “Because my parents said so.” Honestly, taking a break from chocolate chip cookies for a period of time…killed nobody.

If you’re in the “over 21” bracket, your reasons could be spiritual, dietary, to break gluttonous habits….

I haven’t yet decided if I will talk about those things in more detail later…..but the point is…my current intake is primarily my green juice.

Doesn’t this picture just make you want to try a glass?

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People do not believe that something so green..could be so good! And…that one time..when I used too much celery and not enough other-stuff…I admit….it was damn near horrific. BUT!!!…..It was just that one time. Maybe two.

Try it. Your body needs it….to boost energy…to boost your immune system…and to promote the umm…the…well…the removal of shit your body doesn’t need. Pun intended.

Here’s the recipe for a gallon.

4 – cucumbers

2 – bags of celery

1 – bag of honey crisp apples

4 – bunches of kale (yummm)

2 – lemons

1 – thumb ginger root

1 – bag of oranges

I core my apples, peel my oranges, peel my ginger root and run it all through the juicer. On the lemons, I cut them in half and squeeze them into my juice at the end.

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This picture is just pure wholesomeness. For the sake of clarity….these are granny smith apples here. They work…but honey crisp are so much better!

Enjoy!

Down the Rabbit Hole

down the rabbit hole

Soooo..I apparently think about my blog about once every year. Maybe twice.

Not really, I think about it all the time. I want to be here. Want to write. Want to share my fantabulous thoughts on damn near everything with….everybody.

But I am a perfectionist. And I am NOT a web designer. I am detailed. And I am NOT a web designer. I am a problem solver. And I am NOT a web designer. So once or twice a year…I come fiddle around WordPress, pay my dues to keep everything running…spend about 12 hours trying to figure out aesthetics….and then die….a slow torturous death at the hands of my unexpressed…..albeit brilliant..thoughts. My headstone reads, “And her blog was still ugly.”

It is maddening.

But I can’t let it go.

What I can do, however…is embrace my cantankerously perfectionista side…right along with my wildly deficient side..and try my hand at this thing again. Maybe this time around, I can allow myself to be mobilized by simplicity. Not overthink it. Not over-dot-the-i’s-over-cross-the-t’s. Just enjoy it for what it is.

And 4 hours later…I’m starting to look for an image to go along with this post…………………..

Who Are You And Why Are You Calling Me Your Wife?

choose you

Have you ever waken one morning, rolled over to a snoring spouse and asked (in your inside-your-head-voice), that question?

If you have been married over 3 months, chances are, the answer is an astounding, ‘yes.’

It happens.

The last couple of weeks or so, I have really been sensitive to the number of posts, comments, and news articles about deteriorating marriages. Maybe they have always been there; maybe I have been oblivious..but something seems to be changing.

angry_couple

While infidelity happens to a lot of us and it is the headliner of juicy topics to read and talk about; I just want to challenge ya’ll to think about a dangerous current of toxicity that we all seem to know about…but we really don’t seem to give proper attention to.

How many times, as spouses have we thought, “Hey, I am not cheating and I work hard. I’m a good parent, soooo I got this marriage thing down.” We believe that we can check all the requirements off our lists and call it a day. Everybody should be happy, healthy, and wise. Because of our contribution.

Right?

Wrong.

At times, I have run myself ragged…working, cooking, cleaning, parenting, mowing, laundering….just to end the day, week, month, year..on a sour note with my spouse…thinking..”What on EARTH could you possibly be pissed off about now?!”

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At times, my spouse has run himself ragged…working, cooking, cleaning, parenting, mowing, laundering…just to end the day, week, month, year..on a sour note with me..thinking..”What on EARTH could you possibly be pissed off about now?!”

Yeah, I’ve said that. I’ve done that. And I’m guesstimating, most of the people reading this…have gotten that t-shirt too.

The marital truth though..is that we tend to focus all of our energy in the wrong places. I don’t know about you, but it is easy to clean. It is easy to mow. It is easy to cook. All you have to do is do it! Expend some physical energy and the job is done. There is no thought involved. No heart-wrenching negotiation. You just do it and check it off the list.

just do it

Did you know that all the physical labor in the world…will not your happy marriage, make?……….

It just won’t.

Some questions I am learning to ask myself and every married person might consider asking themselves too are:

“In all that work I checked off my list today, did I tend to my spouse’s heart and needs?”

“In all that work I did today, did I build my spouse up?”

“In all the chaos of an exhausting day today, did I pray for my spouse? Love and respect my spouse?

What did I do today to protect my spouse? Place a covering over him/her?”

Ohhhhhhhhhh and perhaps the hardest question of all….

“Did I submit my will to my spouse’s will today?”

black couple love

I can assure you, I am not a good submitter. I’m more of a….battle it out to the very end. And then battle it some more. Like…if my husband tells me not to pour hot grease down the drain, I will argue that if I run hot water with it, it will be okay. And six months later, when he is taking the pipes apart and pulling tons of lard out of them, I will still contend that maybe the water I was running…simply wasn’t hot enough.

It really did happen. And no, I no longer pour grease down the drain.

We have all found ourselves at the intersection of,  “If she asks me to run ONE MORE errand,” and “If he doesn’t put the seat of the toilet down ONE MORE time.”

But we have a choice to make every day. We can choose to make our marriages all about ourselves…or we can choose to consider our spouses before we consider ourselves. Even when we have to do it through clenched teeth. (I am a work in progress, I tell ya…)

At the end of the day, if the foundations of a marriage are not built on the right Cornerstone, the entire house will fall.

We are better together.

If I focus on physical labor instead of protecting my spouse’s vulnerabilities to the world, the house will fall.

We are better together.

There is a reason the Bible doesn’t talk about washing dishes, keeping laundry done, and such.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7..tells us that Love is patient and kind. But it also reminds us that Love ALWAYS protects, ALWAYS trusts, ALWAYS hopes, ALWAYS perseveres.

The heart things, not the physical things…are where we should start focusing our energy on.

Cute black couple talking and holding hands

For those of us that are in marriages that are not our first…we are especially at risk. Whew! And the older we are when we re-marry…..the higher the risk. Let’s just add to that intersection, “No, sir, I am TOO OLD for this ONE MORE mess!”

No.

We are better together.

Let’s take time to rethink the way we treat the people we are married to. Let’s take time to eliminate the toxicity. Let’s take time to keep our marriages together. Let’s take time to focus on the heart things, not the physical things. Let’s take time to show our children better.

We are better together.

We really are.

couple holding hands

Drop a Planet for Me, Please

It is February. And it is 70 degrees, in Tennessee.

I locked my dog in the garage so I could sit out on the porch alone for awhile..soaking up the warmth. The kids are gone. The Mr. is gone. It is just me…the people in my head, the birds, and the cows. If you don’t know country life…you do not know bliss.

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It has been a week of blessings…specifically…answered prayers. Every answered prayer is a miracle but these were not like the dramatic ‘pay-$12.00-per-ticket-to-watch’ miracles. Nobody was physically ill and suddenly received healing. Nobody was starving and suddenly had fish to feed the masses. Nobody asked God for a thunderous roar and lightening struck right down from the sky.

No, these answered prayers were more of the quiet, confirming kind. Where you ask. And then you receive. And you know, that you know, that you know…..God heard and responded to your plea.

It all started last Sunday..when a young someone…unexpectedly told me about an encounter they’d had with God. It was a supernatural thing, no doubt. It was that…kinda unbelievable type of occurrence where the young person had to have a bag full of courage swag, (not of the hot sauce kind) to share it.

I became more aware of the time, my time, and the lack of willingness to put God first in the time He’s given me. I’m always thinking in my mind…”I want THAT kind of experience with the Lord…but I don’t want Him to get too crazy with it so I get scared or look and sound weird.”

Inspired, I led family prayer that night. I was a little bit embarrassed but I figure if that young someone can have a crazy-spiritual experience with the Lord, then I have to be radical too if I want the same thing.

So I asked for a clear financial strategy for our family. And I prayed for our discipline with our tithes to be honored. And I thanked Him for the blessings He bestows upon us, ESPECIALLY the ones we fail to recognize and appreciate Him for. It was a big prayer…a deviance from the normal, “We thank you for this day, please place a hedge of protection around our household, etc.”

A couple of days later, I approached an individual about an opportunity that had been on the table for me for months. Door slammed shut.

At the same time, my husband approached an individual about an opportunity that has been his heart for years. Door cracked open.

And then my husband received a phone call about an opportunity that our family needed. Out of nowhere. Big blessing. And right on time.

I blog about all of that to blog this.

There is no doubt in my mind that God loves me and has plans for my family and me. I sometimes doubt He is aware that I’d like Him to softly drop a planet out of the sky for me once in awhile. You know…just to build my faith and stuff.

animated-planet-image-0016

The truth is though….God is aware that my flesh is lazy. That I want all of Him but I want Him to be obvious to me….like on billboards and stuff. I want Him to just place Scriptures in my head…like..through osmosis that I can absorb while I’m doing other things and stuff.

But God doesn’t work like that.

He wants to be first. He wants to be pursued. He wants us to talk to Him. And He wants us to work for Him. Listen for Him. Look for Him. Place Him first on the to-do list. He wants us to fervently run after Him more than we do for our paychecks, our families, our hobbies and such.

Was I disappointed my opportunity didn’t work out? No. I was so impressed and thankful for a final closure and peace that I think I did the moonwalk on top of my desk after the conversation was over.

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Some of ya’ll will get it.

Matthew 7:7 tells us to, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Pursue God first every day and seek His presence in All things…even the small things.

I Am NOT Smarter Than My Fifth Grader

I have several kids.  Two are very young, ages 10 and 8.  And yes, they are in the throws of their elementary education.  One is in 3rd grade, the other in 5th.  Frankly, I’m not smarter than either of them.

In my defense, I earned my MBA from a bricks-n-mortar university and my BSHA at an online university.  I have a pretty good job.  And I’m pretty fairly seasoned and polished.

Now before I am slaughtered for the whole, “Just because you have two degrees-thing,” let me say this.  I by no means…think formal education makes me smarter than anyone.  However, it has sharpened my skills at resourcefulness and it SHOULD qualify me to help my young children with Reading, Writing, and Rithmetic.

Common Core Math.

Back in the day, you know “old school,” our teachers would give us a problem that looked something like this:

6 1/2 – 4 3/5

We would find the common denominator: (10) and then change the mixed fractions to improper fractions and subtract them.

65/10 – 46/10 = 19/10.

Convert our improper fraction back to a mixed fraction and WAH-LAH!!!! Our answer: 1 9/10.

Very simple.

Today’s youngins got something else altogether going on.

Common Core Math.

Same problem:

And by the way, I have now become the expert after many, many consultations with Google and the Khan Academy on YouTube (with my MBA-havin self)….

6 1/2 – 4 3/5 becomes this monstrosity.

Find the common denominator. (10)

6 5/10 – 4 6/10.

Now regroup.

(6-1) + 5/10 + 10/10 = 5 15/10 – 4 6/10.

Did you get all that?

Sigh.

The answer is still: 1 9/10.

Common Core Math.

Where parents who never even understood pre-algebra until their adult years in the first place…are now being required to re-learn astro-physics to compute pre-algebra solutions to help their elementary-school kids pass their math tests today.

Do you know one of my child’s teachers had the nerve the next night..after I mastered the whole Common Core fraction subtraction thing….to send home homework problems that required us to subtract and THEN turn around and add them?

Back to Khan Academy I go.

Slap Ya Mama Salad

Well, I do a little bit more than blog.

I definitely fall short of the title, “cook,” but I do some things in the kitchen once in awhile.

I took a recipe I found online for a 7-layer salad and then made it my own.

If you dare try it………..you just might end up..you know. Slappin ya mama.

Beware though. She might just..slap you back. Ha

This is a good side item to add to your Thanksgiving dinner!

For the salad:

1 – head of lettuce, chopped and layered on the bottom of the dish

1- lg can of peas, drained and layered on top of the lettuce

1 – lb of bacon (microwaved to perfection) for your next layer

1 – head of cauliflower layered next

1/2 red onion on top of your cauliflower

1 – head of broccoli for your next layer

3 – hard boiled eggs for the next

And then for the dressing part:

I did this to-taste so my measurements are approximates only.

3 – cups of mayo

3 – cups of sour cream

½ or 1 cup of parmesan cheese

1  or 1 and ½ tsp sugar

About 1 tsp of pepper

About 1 tsp  garlic salt

About ½ tsp paprika

Mix dressing ingredients together and cover salad.

Top with 1 – lb of sharp cheddar cheese.

Chow down…and slap ya mama.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Don’t Make Me Stay, When It’s Time For Me to Go..

This is a deep, introspective thing.

November.

A warm day..that one whose cruel evening transition signifies a change in the season. The wind stronger than it has been in months. Frigid.

The season of change.

The chill in my bones. The cloud that comes to stay. He kicks off his boots, his socks..lays back on the couch, my couch…for the winter. I let him stay…when it’s time for him to go.

I am well familiar with my cloud. He comes to visit every November.

“Be sensitive! Be fragile! Be dramatic!  Be melancholy!”….he says.

Sorrow.

In November…

I reflect..on the year my great-grandmother encountered her journey of change.

In November…

I reflect..on the year my home burned down and my grandfather soon after…began his journey of change.

In November…

I reflect on my grandmother’s birthday and the warm fall day when I accidentally or coincidentally encountered a frightful experience with a darkness unexplained.

In November…

I reflect on my sister’s subtle unraveling shortly before she unintentionally pursued her own journey of change.

In November…

I reflect on a conversation with someone I love with my whole heart…and for whom I will be a decision-maker one day…she said…”If anything happens to me like..’that,’ you know…’the journey,’…I know you will want to keep me here because you will be scared and sad and hurt. But please don’t do anything to keep me from going Home, when the time comes.”

Don’t make me stay, when it’s time for me to go.

The journey, seemingly omnipresent.

But God.

As my cloud settles in this time, Jesus comes to mind….

He whispers to me, “Through Me, through My name, you have unimaginable strength and power over your cloud. I came that you may have life abundantly.”

But God.

He continues, “That does not mean that you will forever escape sadness; escape hurt; escape pain; escape loss. It means that those things, your ‘clouds,’ don’t have the power to consume you. Unless you want them to. Unless you hand the power I gave to you…over to them.”

But God!

So tonight, I celebrate…those that have been granted their journey…to our glory land, with our Daddy. Tonight, I remember my great-grandmother, my grandfather, my sister, and other family members and friends. Tonight, I publicly accept that it’s okay to be sad…I mean…really, really sad, sometimes. And tonight, I choose to kick the cloud off my couch because God says…”Don’t let him stay when it is time for him to go.”

 

“I’ve lived my life, I’ve lived my life.

It’s time for you to know.

My name has been called; my plan fulfilled.

Don’t make me stay, when it’s time for me to go.”

Charlie Sheen Has HIV…..and..

This is a “who-cares-so-I’m-going-to-not-care-more-by-blogging-about-it-anyway-thing…”

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I had something really juicy to share with you all today…but I’m feeling judgmental and concerned..so I’m going to talk about STD’s instead.

I haven’t read all the headlines. I don’t have to. I already know what they say. He’s infected but being taken care of and all the women he didn’t tell about his status are in an uproar…screaming and crying because he…threatened..or destroyed their lives.

I want to say I’m sorry for all of the people involved. I don’t know them like that though.

Did that sound cold?

In case it did, let me qualify my sentiment by saying…there is just something about recent world events…that makes this announcement…..

Well.

Stupid.

And I will qualify my sentiment further by saying….in the next week or so..I’m going to talk about some pretty irrelevant and unimportant things myself. I’m okay with my blogging contradictions.

STD’s are serious. Protect yourselves. Choose your behaviors wisely. There is a reason the Bible says what it says; like it or not. God wants His best for us. And HIV ain’t IT. It is that simple. Why make life more complicated and complex with unprotected sex outside of marriage? Trust me, every adult that made it to marriage…after a wild hair or two…thanks their lucky stars every single day for their negative status.

Meanwhile, the people in Paris are burying family members and living in unimaginable fear..due to behaviors they did not choose. Many people are facing their first holidays without loved ones..due to behaviors they did not choose. And nearly two weeks ago……a woman I graduated from high school with….had to tell her young kids and her family…that she would not live to celebrate their next birthdays; would not live to spend their next summer vacation with them; would not live to see them all married and her future grandbabies…..due to behaviors she herself..did not choose.

But Charlie Sheen…has an STD.