Pig Lips

Today was a Monday after an insane weekend.  In. Sane.

Friday evening started the weekend with a bang when a friend who was babysitting our kids needed to leave early because of her little girl’s fever.  And vomit.  Nothing like coming home to vomit on a Friday night, huh?  We were worried for our little friend and I fought the knot that forms in every mama’s gut when she braces herself for the possible onslaught of contagious illness.  I worried too much.  Anyway, during the night our little friend’s fever kept going up and by Saturday she was admitted to the hospital with nothing contagious it turns out, but no less scary.

Hair Color Crazy

Hair Color Crazy

Saturday started with a long awaited haircut to which I dragged my babysitterless boys.  I threatened and promised punishment and reward for their good behavior at the salon.  They were good.  Exceptionally so, actually.  Still a mama can’t really relax when she knows what danger lurks nearby, what thin ice she’s on when she brings young boys to fancy salons and expects them to be quiet, not fight, and not break anything.  When paying the going rate these days for a trendy cut and color, I frankly was sad not to get to relax and fully enjoy the salon experience.  Still, I was desperate for a haircut and completely without a sitter so I pressed on and got it done, grabbing an extra kid (our little sick friend’s brother) on the way home.  Into the rest of Saturday I some how crammed voting, steak dinner at our house with friends, and dropping off and picking up my daughter from a party at City Park, along with dropping off a jacket to my friend at the hospital. (Think multiple trips from one end of New Orleans to the other, honey.)

Sunday morning was a trip to my friend’s house to feed and potty her dogs, then to WinnDixie for coffee (how do I let myself run out of that?) and other stuff needed.  Then house church, then cooking and trying to make the house halfway ready for Mackenzie’s SEVENTEENTH birthday party.  (Breakdown is scheduled for later over the fact that my girl is SEVENTEEN.)

Birthday Shenanigans

Birthday Shenanigans

You know what else I got at Winn Dixie?  Her cake.  (I type this with red-faced shame.)  I got my culinary school student, pastry professional daughter a Winn Dixie cake for her birthday.  Ugh, I so wanted her to have something wonderful and special but time and life ran away from me and she got a grocery store premade, picked up on the morning of her birthday.  The kind they keep in the case for losers who don’t order their cakes ahead of time.  (I’ll be sure to mention that in my mother of the year award acceptance speech…  he he.)

We partied, did dog duty again, hospital again and fell in bed Sunday exhausted.  Monday dawned and I felt yucky, didn’t go exercise, ran into every imaginable obstacle getting my extra kid to school and getting myself to work.  There was dog poop involved and well… I can’t do dog poop.  I have a thing.  Anyway, by the time I got to work, I was overdue for a good cry.  Way overdue.  No big deal you might think, but I’ve written before about how we really count on our weekends for rest and recharge. I’ve let myself get away from such frantically paced weekends.  I’ve not been training for the marathon of crazy that was this weekend.  I felt overwhelmed.  Completely overwhelmed.  So much joy and worry and laughter and huge milestones and frustrations and blessing all in such a short time.

The day wore on and, being Monday, didn’t go easy on me but brought its usual challenges at work.  Then… it happened.

Somebody offered me a bite of pig lip.  Seriously.  As pretty as you please, someone walked up to me, held out the pig lip and said as they chewed enthusiastically “You want a bite of my pig lips?”

And with that wonderfully weird statement, my heart let go of the worries and gave in to the fun.  The tension was broken with an absurd statement that set me free to embrace the totally bizarre and just GO WITH IT.

I know what you’re wondering and no.  I didn’t accept the offer of the pig lip.  But I DID get the blessing of a wacky moment that ushered humor and laughter and silliness into my day.

Those pig lips were my breakthrough. (Can I get a witness?)

All the way home I giggled about the pig lips and realized all over again that I’ve got to laugh.  I’ve got to embrace joy.  I’ve got to refuse to get so bogged down in the dailies that I miss the funny, wonderful, wild, random moments that bring comic relief to life.

It was a reminder I needed today.  Also how many times in life does a girl get to write about pig lips???  Seizing the day, my friends!

How do you like the new color?

How do you like the new color?

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A Crazy Little Thing Called Love

It’s made me drag myself out of bed on a rainy Saturday morning to drive my daughter to a volunteer event at school.

It’s made me spend time and money in a counselors office to enhance my marriage and motherhood.

It’s made me give away my last piece of pie, my last French fry, the last of the milk in the jug.

It’s made me drive fast and slow, reckless and extra careful.

It’s made me ask God to take a suffering person who was precious to me and broken my heart when He did what I asked.

It’s made me stay awake when I was too tired, keep walking when my feet hurt, and open my arms when I’d rather be alone.

It’s made me braver than I ever thought I’d be able to be and it’s made me the biggest coward on the face of the earth.

It’s made my cry tears of sorrow and just as many tears of joy.

It’s made me cook and made me eat, made me go out and made me stay in.

It’s made me give everything my body and mind have to offer and more.

It’s been my lowest low and highest high.

And this was all in the past week!!!

It’s a crazy little thing called love and I’m grateful tonight to have a life full of the stuff.

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For Real?

I’m a terrible faker.  Really bad.  I can’t figure out if it’s because I’m no good at faking or because faking is fake, in and of itself.  Yes, I said faking is fake.  The idea of faking is a mirage because fake effort yields fake results.

You can’t fake being sober if you’re drunk.  Don’t ask how I know, and if you’re one of the ones who know how I know, quit snickering.

You can’t fake being an athlete if you’re a couch potato.

You can’t fake right relationship, either.  Once you’ve gone there, once you’ve experienced real connection with someone, then try all you want but you won’t be able to fake that if something gets in the way.

Here’s where I struggle:  Sometimes I “fake” because I’m not completely trusting God for the results.  It’s a form of self protection.

Here’s an example:  Part of my job is to build relationships with the residents and families at the assisted living home where I work.  I love that part of my job.  I work hard to make real connections with people, show them real love, and give them a sincere hand of friendship during a difficult life transition.  This week, during a pretty hectic day, a family member showed up during my lunch break.  I was irritated.  I had already bent over backwards on more than one occasion for this person and I was a bit annoyed at having to cut into my precious half hour’s peace.  I pasted on a smile and did what I thought was an excellent job of faking it while I handled what was needed.  The family member gave me a quizzical look and said “You seem upset today.  Are you ok?”

BUSTED!!

Now, I know there are times when an honest, painful heart to heart is necessary to clear the air.  But there are some times when it’s just me.  In that moment, when I was asked “Are you ok?”, God whispered to me.  “Why are you trying to fake this?  Why not just get your heart right?  Why not just decide to go the second mile, love above and beyond, and surrender your annoyance to Me?”

Part of having real relationship is being able to “bear with one another,” “forgive one another.”   Part of loving other people is deciding to leave the “fairness” up to God.  You can’t fake that type of surrender.  Start holding onto your “rights” or keeping score, and something shows up in the curl of your lip, the hesitance in your smile, the dullness in your eyes, and your feelings are betrayed.

When it’s needed, nothing can take the place of a true, honest confrontation with another person who has hurt you.  But that’s for another blog.  Sometimes, when I can’t keep my feelings in check, what I’m really trying to fake is trust in God.

Can’t be done.

Real trust and real surrender to a very real God make for the realest of relationships with other people.  I’m learning that you can’t go back to fake once you’ve had what’s real.

Harder work?  Yep.

Painful sometimes?  Yep.

Worth it?  Of course!

I’m for real about that!

 

 

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Lime-life

It all started with three fateful words, texted to me by my friend, Janet. (That’s Janet, of butt blowdrying fame to any who have been reading for a while…) Anyway, back to the text:

Key. Lime. Pie.

From the moment I read the words on the screen of my iphone, I knew. I would be making a key lime pie.

To set the scene for you, about a week ago someone gave an industrial size bottle of key lime juice to my husband, the chef. I was thrilled. Overjoyed. I have a thing for key limes.

Just try. Try to think of something that doesn’t benefit from a twist of lime. I know! You can’t!!

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Is that KEY LIME in those glasses?

Then over the weekend while walking through Walmart minding my own business, I happened to pass a sale on bags of adorable little key limes. What good fortune! Those would go perfectly with everything I intended to mix with my lime juice. So I bought them, of course, and some coconut vodka just in case.

Can I just tell ya’ll that limes are totally one of my favorite things God makes? I just love ’em.

So I’ve used my juice over the last few days to paint a lime-ey ribbon through cocktails, homemade salsa, water, and tea and fed these lime laced labors of love to anyone who put their feet under our table.

And then of all things, Janet texts me about a key lime pie she was having and, not one to be outdone, I knew it was time for the pie. At first I got out my favorite cookbook, going for a “busy days pie” using ready made crust, whipped cream, condensed milk, and lime juice. Then I realized I had no ready made crust on hand, neither did I have whipped cream. A younger, sillier me would have given up, but nah…

I simply made my own graham cracker crust! It was easy!  I have a three-year-old, so graham crackers are a given.

Then I went for a recipe I found here, and it too was easy. PLUS it still called for condensed milk and who doesn’t love that stuff?? I may or may not have dumped a little lime juice in the bottom of the can after I poured most of its contents into the mixing bowl and eaten the lime juice and leftover condensed milk with a spoon. What? You know you’d do it too!

Anyway, I also didn’t have whipped cream, but I DID have whipping cream. (There’s a difference.) So after I picked up my Mackenzie from youth group and while my darling little pie was cooling in the fridge, the whipping cream lived its dream… fulfilled its destiny… it got whipped.

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Mama's piece of pie

So now I sit, alone, all others in the house slumbering peacefully. But I made a pie. And I ate the first piece. You know, out of good will toward the rest of the pie eaters that may come along, I willingly took the always-misshapen, difficult-to-cut first piece upon myself. Don’t tell, but it wasn’t misshapen at all. It cut like a perfect custard pie with all the preservatives in the world. You’d never know it was haphazardly homemade by a silly girl who is lime-crazy.

Limes, especially ones of the key variety, remind me of Florida. They have their roots, their history in Florida and so do I.  I love a bunch of people in Florida so limes make me cry in a happy/sad/lovely sort of way. (What? You don’t cry over fruit that reminds you of people you love? Then I won’t mention the various levels of emotional breakdown I have over green beans, corn, home canned tomatoes or fresh navel oranges.) So I can’t have Florida (you know, the people I love that live there) but I CAN put key limes in everything possible and know that the salsa on my chip, the wedge in my tea, or the pie on my plate is smiling back at me, reflecting a little bit of who I am.

I love limes, ya’ll. And pie. And my mama and daddy.  Lime Life is good.

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Lime life photo by Caleb, age 3

 

 

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Unforced Rhythms of Grace

 

This came from a great blog I follow, Margaret Feinberg. I really like Margaret’s books. Check her out sometime.

Anyway, this scripture was taken from The Message paraphrase. The phrase “unforced rhythms of grace” keeps echoing in my mind. I’ve been learning a bit about those unforced rhythms over the past few years. When I took piano lessons as a kid, I had this old thing called a metronome. It FORCED me to keep a certain time, meaning any rhythm I played had to obey that particular speed. I didn’t enjoy that thing. You wouldn’t know it, though, by the way I lived for a long time. I lived by some very forced rhythms.

Get all A’s. Do everything right. Make sure you live up to expectations. Never let ’em see you sweat.

I have to be honest, I’m so used to marching to a very strict beat, that unforced rhythms aren’t too comfy for me. Or weren’t. Now I’m learning to bask in them. Enjoy them. I’m liking what happens when I stop trying so hard and leave it to God for real.

Sunday morning was house church, of course. We’re on four years of house church now. That means we’ve been meeting since I was pregnant with Caleb. That means Caleb’s ALWAYS been a house church kid. Can I tell you a secret? I’ve been SO scared that somehow my littlest love would know less about God or love Him less than my big darlings. They WERE ministry kids, after all. They went to the Sunday Schools and VBSes and Summer Camps and all that stuff. They got rocked in the church nursery by ladies that love Jesus and came home with lipstick marks on their cheeks and clothes that reeked of grandma perfume. How would Caleb EVER begin to match their God-stuff pedigree? Back to Sunday morning.

We sat in the living room finishing up house church and were closing with prayer. Caleb came to my lap and sat there quietly while Janet prayed. He whispered to me “I want to pray.” I said “Ok, Mrs. Janet is talking to God now and then you can pray.” “No,” he said “All of us pray.” I finally caught on that he meant he wanted us to say The Lord’s Prayer together, as is our tradition every week. Janet finished and another person chimed in his prayer, then I let everyone know Caleb wanted us to pray the Lord’s Prayer. As we did, my baby boy prayed along with us, keeping up with the words, and finishing up with a loud AMEN!

In a very quiet way, I realized that our unforced rhythm is being used by God to work His grace in all our lives. He doesn’t need my metronome to tell Him how to show Himself to me or my children. As I’ve been trying to keep my eyes on Him, follow as best I know how with brothers and sisters and babies He’s given to me, He has still caught the heart of my boy. And this Sunday, my babies worshipped alongside their dad and me, another dad and his kids, a single guy, and another couple who have become as close as family. They had someone to play in the yard with them, hug them, affirm them, and little Caleb had his choice of laps to occupy and arms waiting to wrap around him. God’s family played out right in our living room as it does week after week. Simply loving Jesus is catching, my friends! Perhaps it’s those unforced rhythms of grace that capture our hearts anyway, no matter where or how we engage with the church. It’s Jesus Himself that becomes so wonderful, so irresistible, so all-sufficient.  It’s been Him all along.

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My church “metronome” went out the window a few years ago, and I won’t lie, it ain’t easy to let go of all my church-ey labels and security blankets.  Sunday mornings look like this instead of a pew-filled sanctuary.   I’m learning to simply love God, follow Him sincerely, love His word, and walk humbly with the people He places along the same path. I’ve pried my fingers time and again off of the old confidences I held because of my Christian pedigree and I’m learning to look to God as Conductor. These unforced rhythms are making for a lovelier sound than I ever thought possible.

 

 

 

 

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Serious Business

Guess what?  Around 9 on Saturday morning, an airplane will land at the New Orleans airport.  On that plane will be someone who has been my friend since around the age of 13 or so.  We’ve had weddings within days of each other,  had babies within months of each other, (here’s a pic of those babies about a year ago) we got our first tattoos together.  This lil ol blog even started with her as coauthor! (Check out a couple of blasts from the past about the last time we got away together.  Here’s one by me, one by Christy.)

Yep!  Christy’s comin’ to New Orleans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Her first time here!

Whaaaaat????

And, as a gift for my birthday, my hubby has given me two, count ’em, TWO nights and days with which to do whatever we please!  Don’t hate!  I know I’m a lucky lady, but I also need this BAYUD!!! (that’s southern for BAD)

We are going to paint this town some sort of swirly-type tie dye inspired something.  Forget plain ol’ red.  The owner of the little B&B where we’ll be staying asked if I was a writer.  She read my email address and assumed I was.  She is, too!  She told me she thought I’d find the house and it’s art collection inspiring.  I keep thinking on her words.  It’s been, what? Seven years since our last weekend getaway?  I’m STILL going on some of the inspiration from that weekend, but it’s WAY past time for a booster shot.  Inspiring, indeed!  We shall laugh and cry and whisper and shout. We’ll have a few firsts and laugh at our lasts. We’ll do a few crazy things, but not too-much-whiskey-actin’-stupid kind of crazy.  Just free to be ourselves without worrying about a darn thing crazy.  But if you see us and need to look away, go right ahead.

Let this be a warning to all:  For about three delicious days, these two plate spinners shall not spin.  Not. one. plate.  Prepare accordingly.  We shall return to our regular scheduled programming soon enough, and we promise the world will continue its orbit while we’re gone.   This ain’t your ordinary paint-your-nails, shop-til-you-drop kind of girls getaway.  This is two people who’ve known each other too long and love each other too much to settle for mediocrity and surface scratching.  Depths will be explored, true feelings expressed, solutions brainstormed, goals set, and complacency challenged.  God will change our lives.  Again.  He always shows up when we’re together.  I think He likes hanging out with us! This is serious business.  The business of being friends, of walking the lovely flower-laden paths and navigating the stinky, muddy, sewers of life.  This ain’t no joke.  It’s going to be AMAZING!!!!

Pictures and profundity to follow.

 

 

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Hurricane Schmuricane

Here we are, seven years out from Hurricane Katrina, and what comes along on the EXACT anniversary of ol’ Kat? ANOTHER HURRICANE!! This one was named Isaac, which means laughter. For some reason that fact has been recurring in my mind the whole time we’ve been dealing with Isaac, and I’m happy to report we’ve done a lot of laughing through this. No real traumatic feelings or flashbacks, thanks be to God. Just did our best to be good to each other, make the most of what we had, and have fun however we could.

We stayed home for Isaac. Oddly, though my big kids experienced losing most everything in Katrina, plus the crazy aftermath, they’ve never actually experienced a hurricane weather-wise. So here we are, playing in a hurricane!

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Bex, my bike mom and dear friend, weathered the storm with us. Here we are making smores the night of the storm. (Smores maker courtesy of my awesome mom, queen of thrift store finds and As Seen on TV bargains)

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A few shots of the damage around our area:

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THE WORST part was being without electricity. Here’s our little man sleeping in front of a fan. Thank God for friends with generators!  WE will soon be the proud owners of just such a thing.

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Here we are waiting in line at McDonalds. All the way down the block. When everyday stuff like ol’ Mickey D’s isn’t available, all of a sudden you want some. Real bad.

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Since St. Francis Villa got electricity a few days before our home, the kids spent some time there. Not a lot for kids to do in an assisted living home, but my darlings made the best of it:

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When Friday rolled around and one cook was able to get back to relieve Dwayne in the kitchen, we got out of town for a night. (Residents gotta be fed, storm or no storm!!)We swam in the hotel pool, met some sweet people, relished the air conditioning, ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel where I sniffed Yankee candles, Harvest scent, to a fare-thee-well and found my happy place!!

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We came back home to this!!

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And now it’s over. Well, I guess when schools finally start again Thursday, it will be over. I’m grateful to God for choosing, this time, to bless us and spare us the suffering we could have had. He giveth and He taketh away. This time He giveth, and I’m glad He did.

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Sore Eyes

My eyes are sore from crying.  Literally, blinking is noticeable.  There’s some stuff… yucky stuff… that’s been chasing me for years.  I just can’t run anymore, so here I sit in my pirogue in the midst of a swamp full of tangled up emotions.

I’ve blogged parts of my journey in the past, and going back, you can read through the pain of my divorce, you can see the craziness of Katrina, you can witness the joy of writing a book.  You can read about the person I was, the person I wanted to be, the person I certainly thought everyone expected.  You can read how in the past 7 years I’ve been through two major hurricanes, a book release, seven moves, life threatening embolisms, a divorce, single parenting, remarriage, a life-threatening pregnancy, new baby, new job, and more.  What you can’t read is that though I processed some of my pain through my writing, I mostly got busy with life and ran as hard as I could from the hurt and stress.

For a while now, I’ve written irregularly because, frankly, I’ve often felt too depressed to write anything positive and subjecting the world to my garbage was getting old.  Somewhere… along about the time my divorce was final and I moved to Florida for a while, I got tired of feeling like a bad car accident being gawked at by passers by.  Those things have a way of causing major traffic jams due to rubbernecking, you know.  I felt like I wanted my life to myself, so I shut down.  Those close to me are nodding their heads at this because they know it.  They’ve exchanged concerned conversations over it with furrowed brows.  They’ve prayed and worried and wondered what was going on with me.  They’ve put me to bed on their couches and waited for me when I didn’t show up.  There are a few people who are severely under-recognized for their care and concern, patience and compassion for me.  If you are nodding your head as you read this, then thank you for being my friend when I couldn’t be a friend back to you.

I’ve gone on to try and build a normal life, but this summer has been especially difficult.  You see, a girl can’t run from her pain forever.  A pirogue offers little protection from swamp monsters.  (All my dearly beloved Swamp People fans know just what I mean.)  Having reached a low that not only is hurting me but my darling husband and my job and more, I’ve decided enough is enough.  It’s time to stop running from the pain, to deal with it once and for all, and to learn to fight like a grown up lady.  (Some of my dearest friends would term this “puttin’ on my big-girl panties.”)  Leery of “counseling” due to past experience, I’ve persuaded the only individual I trust who also has a counseling degree to work with me.  The journal and pen are back out on my bedside table.  The hard work has begun and… watch out world… I’m comin’ back!!!

You’ve heard the expression “a sight for sore eyes” and now I know more about what that means.  It takes a LOT of cryin’ to make sore eyes.  And when those eyes open to a friendly face, a glimpse of truth, a reason to hope, a cool cloth, a mother’s touch, a sister’s hand, a husband’s strong arms, a baby’s laugh, a friend’s understanding, or a word from God, the comfort is exquisite.  These sore eyes have seen all of the above, and I’m most humbly grateful for the friends, family, bosses, coworkers, and fellow believers who have been these beautiful sights to me.

Hear my slow, shuddering sigh as I pick myself up and head back to life.

 

 

 

 

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Screaming Hussy

Yesterday a resident at the assisted living home where I work came to me for help.  He asked if I had a dictionary.  I had none, but there was a thesaurus on my desk, so I offered it to him.  “I just want to look up the meaning of a word,” he told me.  This gentleman has very poor eyesight, so after trying to read the tiny word and its synonyms, he asked if I’d read aloud to him.  The word?  Bimbo.

This gentleman is also VERY hard of hearing.  He must be spoken to loudly and slowly.  So, I proceeded to read the synonyms for “bimbo” to him.  I sat there, screaming “HUSSY, SLUT, WANTON, JEZEBEL, JADE, WENCH…” and so on.

Then he asked me to repeat it, of course, more loudly and slowly.

Several individuals walked past, including a brand new resident’s family.  What to do???  Nothing for it, I forged ahead and continued screaming, “HUSSEEEE…”

It seems to me that often life brings situations when doing what we are called to do makes us look foolish, even crazy.   Sometimes others might think we’re odd when they catch a glimpse of us going about our God-given tasks.

I’m not easily embarrassed, so it’s not that I was bothered all that much by the words I was saying.  However, I do love to maintain the illusion of perfection, and what, I ask you, is perfect-looking about a woman screaming at the top of her lungs, “SLUUUT, WENNNCH…”??? Part of my job is to maintain some sort of professionalism and yelling such words is hardly professional.  However, a more important part of my job is to love the people God brings my way.

As the meaning of the word was heard, an enormous grin passed across this man’s face.  He began to chuckle, since he now understood the punchline of whatever he’d been told that got him wondering about the word “bimbo.”  Imagine a man who, since he can hardly see and hardly hear, has almost no social interaction.  He lives most of his days in silence, finding it too frustrating to continuously ask others to slow down and speak more loudly.  A man who once had a successful law career, a wife, and no doubt an interesting life, now hardly has any interpersonal contact.

But not yesterday.  Yesterday, we laughed like old friends.  We shared a silly moment, and I got to see a rare smile and even rarer mirth from this guy who normally gets by on necessary contact, but almost never enjoys a friendly chat.  Sometimes loving another person isn’t the normal sugary sweet stuff.  Sometimes taking advantage of the opportunities God gives us to love means we might end up doing something seemingly foolish.

Yesterday, I loved someone by screaming, “SLUT!!!” at him.  I ignored what I feared others might think, gave this one person my undivided attention, and in turn, made his day and mine.  It’s the funniest thing I’ve been called upon to do in a while, but it’s had me thinking ever since how much I want to be able to seize opportunities to love, even the weird opportunities.  I want to do what I’m called to do, what I’m MADE to do, no matter how it looks to passers-by.  I want to have the guts to own my life, use my gifts, and pour out all I have.  No holding back.  Even if it means screaming “HUSSY!”

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My Christmas Gift

Christmas Day I got an unexpected gift. It was one of those gifts no one but God could have orchestrated for me. I was feeling a little blue because we had an early Christmas with the big kids before they left for their holiday visit to Florida, so Christmas morning was rather anticlimactic at our house. We are in a time of financial recovery, so there weren’t any big gifts under the tree. Dwayne was working, so little Caleb and I got up and went about getting ready just like any other Sunday morning. We made it to church and I got all set up for the service I would be leading since the Pastor was out of town. I had a few minutes to drink some coffee before time to start, but got to the kitchen to find the percolator had lost it’s “perc” and there was nothing but yellow hot water. I sat in a chair, hoping for a quickly passing morning so Caleb and I could get home and relax. I was in no mood to be making merry.

All of a sudden, I heard a voice behind me and turned around in time to get “bum-rushed” by a friend I hadn’t seen in quite a while. I had heard she recently had moved into her own apartment. Not a surprise to me since I knew of the very difficult marriage situation she has been in for years. I yelled “HEYYYYYY!!!” and we embraced, both of us in tears. There just isn’t anything like the open arms and understanding smile of an old friend.

She just decided on a whim to come by and see me at the church that morning. Well, we all know it wasn’t a whim. She woke up to her first Christmas morning alone. I know what that feels like. She knew I know what that feels like. God knew she needed me and He knew I needed her. We don’t attend the same church anymore or live in the same neighborhood, so we hadn’t seen each other in too long, but as kindred spirits can do, we picked up right where we left off. It didn’t take much arm twisting to get her to come home with me, so we spent Christmas together. Hearing her voice in the congregation, catching up over an awesome Christmas dinner made by my sweetheart (duck, oyster dressing, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, apple pie) and then just lazily baking cookies, snacking, and having coffee as other friends stopped by the house. We laughed, talked, ate, baked, laughed, talked, ate, and baked some more. She went home long after dark with hugs and, I hope, a warm heart. I certainly was left with one.

My first Christmas alone included a visit to a church service where the pastor commanded everyone to kiss his or her spouse. I stood there alone feeling horribly rejected, disgusting, useless and gross. But God brings beauty out of ashes. Because I knew what a terrible feeling a first Christmas alone can be, there was nothing more natural to me than to give someone else a better first Christmas alone. I’m THRILLED that my sweet friend knew where to go. She knew whose arms would be open. Believe me, in this town, she could have easily found a party anywhere. What an honor to have been her safe place.

This is my calling. It may have taken on different forms. It may look way less Beth Moore-ey than I expected, but it hasn’t changed. I once thought God calling me to minister meant that He would use me in one certain way. For a while, He did use me just as I expected He would. Then… well, then things changed, and sometimes it’s easy to feel that God isn’t or won’t use me anymore. What a gift it was at Christmas to know that He is not finished with me. No nasty divorce, no hurricane, no crazy job, no amount of stress has taken away God’s ability to use me.

Can’t wait to see what’s next.

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