On Sacred Ground

Today I walked on sacred ground.

I do that more often than one might think, but I find sacred ground in some of the oddest places–once I stop and really consider where I am.

A writerfriend, whose first book I was introduced to by Karen Spears Zacharias, released her new book yesterday.  It’s been exciting watching her share the process on Facebook and on her blog.  (Social media does have its upsides, doesn’t it?)  And yesterday was the day.  I was out running errands with crew in tow yesterday afternoon, so we stopped at the big box bookstore, just in case.

Sure enough, they shook their heads and did their standard, “But we can order it for you” dance.

Umm, no thank you.

When it comes to books I want, I got skills.  I got this.

I had an appointment in Macon this afternoon that would put me within fifteen minutes of Mercer University Press, the company that published my friend’s new book.  On a whim (and hearing my Mama in my head–“What’s the worst that can happen?  They say no?  Well you’re no worse off then, are you?”) I called up to Macon, and a very sweet person told me that sure, she had four copies not spoken for and she’d be happy to set one aside for me.

And that’s how we get things done around here.  If you don’t ask, you just don’t know.  They might even say yes.

After my appointment, I followed the directions given to me over the phone and stored in my head.  I only had to turn around once.  Turns out I was right around the corner from my Great Great Aunt’s old house on Coleman Hill. I just love old historic neighborhoods, y’all.  I was in my element.  I walked up on the front porch of this old home with a humble sign informing me that I was indeed at “Mercer University Press.”

As I’d been told, I rang the bell.  It was an old-fashioned twist kind.  I was enchanted.  And also, I want one.  (As if the whole “old-fashioned” bit hadn’t already told you that.)  Another nice woman came to the door and let me in.

Oh y’all.

I caught a glimpse of stacks of books in the adjoining room.  I didn’t want to gape and stare but in the few moments I was there, it gave me the impression of a very old and dignified old gent, sitting in his leather chair with dark wood everywhere and beautiful carpets at his feet.  I don’t know if that’s what was actually there, but that was the impression I left with.  I’d been in the presence of greatness.  I mean these people choose other people’s words to immortalize in print.  I am amazed and enamored with it all, and I stood in. that. place.  That place that makes writers’ dreams come true.

It was a sacred moment in a sacred space.

As I handed over the exact amount I had scraped together when sitting in the gomobile in the parking lot (if you believe in “signs” surely that would have to be one, right–I didn’t know what they would charge), the person who had welcomed me in handed me the book that had been set aside for me on the chair by the door.  Oh y’all.  The feel of a new book.  The anticipation.  The excitement.  And to know about the excitement that the person who wrote it is going through–priceless.

I think I remembered to say thank you–I was that distracted–and I took my leave.  I walked back down the steps and turned.  What a neat little adventure I’d had, all because I took Mama’s advice and asked.  I wanted to mark the adventure somehow, so I did what most of us do in such a case.

Pulled out my phone and took a picture.  And then came home to write about it.

My thumb showing off my new book written by someone I've grown to love, posing in front of Mercer University Press in Macon.

My thumb, showing off my new book written by someone I’ve grown to love, posing in front of Mercer University Press in Macon.

And now you know why it’s a must read.  That title alone, right?  The really good things in life.  I cannot wait to sit down and curl up with it.

Tonight I’m thankful for Karen, whose book “Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide? ‘Cause I Need More Room for My Plasma TV” rocked my world and introduced me to ideas and challenged my beliefs and priorities six ways to Sunday.  She is a great writer, and I love her dearly.  I’m also thankful for the people she has introduced me to, one of whom is Renea Winchester, the reason for my adventure today.

I don’t know if I would have gone on such a trek if it hadn’t mattered to me that my friend had released her new book, an effort of love and much hard work. She has shared her journey and done a great job of making all who followed feel a part of it.  That is why, after I have read her stories and shared it with my Aunt, this new gem will go on this shelf in my library–

My library shelf with books written by my writerfriends--talented women who work hard to share their gifts with all of us--all of them now Mercer University Press authors.

My library shelf with books written by my writerfriends–talented women who work hard to share their gifts with all of us–all of them currently Mercer University Press authors. (I was going to retake, but my thumb is enjoying its moments of fame, so…..)

As I was toting my book back out to my gomobile, ready to head out on the next errand, I crossed paths with students–probably from the law school there at Mercer.  I stopped for a moment.  As dear as Wesleyan College is to me, Mercer also holds a place in my heart.  That is where I did my postgraduate studies.  And my own Wesleyanne is considering doing her postgraduate work there too.  I imagined her walking amongst this group of young people, and it warmed my heart.  If it is right for her, may it be so.

I took one more look back at the old home that houses Mercer University Press.  Sacred ground.  And maybe more sacred because one day, good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, maybe one day I will find my way back there.  Only maybe, just maybe, I will have my own stack of papers in hand.  And a dream in my heart.

If it is right, may it be so.

Here’s hoping you can find yourself walking on sacred ground and the place of your dreams too.

Love to all.

 

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If any of you want to have your own copy of this wonderful book, go here and order directly from the old house on Orange Street in Macon.  You don’t have to ring the doorbell or anything.  They make it really easy for you.  Y’all take care.

Encourage a Mama, Hug a Child

It’s here again. The flipping of the calendar pages and it rolls around again.

When I was little, Mother’s Day was about making homemade cards, writing poems that rhymed, and making some kind of special food for my Mama.  I probably crocheted her a bookmark or something small a year or two in there somewhere.  It was a day about my Mama, making her feel special.   I don’t know if I remembered to say thank you every year but I sure tried to make it “HER” day.

Later after I married, it expanded.  It was about my Mama and my mother-in-law.  Dividing our time between the two.  Hoping they feel loved and treasured.  And appreciated.  Even after my first child was born, our day was already so full, it just seemed the obvious choice to keep it about them.  I was fine with that actually.  Having no expectations prevents disappointments. (And if you will recall, I’m a script writer from way back–but if I don’t write one, it’s all good.)    I enjoyed making it all about these women who had built the foundations for my family.

Fast forward eighteen years.  As I prepared to face my second Mother’s Day without my Mama, I pretty much decided the best coping mechanism was denial and avoidance.  The mantra–“it’s just another day, it’s just another day”–was working for me.  It is easier to handle feeling nothing than to feel the pain.

And then this happened.

20140510-224924.jpg

A card.  From my oldest’s grandmother.

When I read the sweet note that thanked me for the gift of her granddaughter, two things happened.

I cried.  Bless her.

And then…..I felt ashamed.

I’ve been so busy feeling sad for me, or rather, avoiding feeling sad for me or anything for anyone else, that I failed to realize that this is a hard day for her.

The first Mother’s Day without her child.

Something no mother should ever have to experience.

Something in me broke in that moment and the floodgates opened.  And I wept.

I can’t celebrate tomorrow with my Mama sitting across from me over a Stevi B’s veggie with pizza spice–giving her all my mushrooms–or with fried fish plates.  I can’t hear her laughter as she reads the two or three cards I give her–I never could pick just one.  I won’t see her wrinkle her nose and look at me and tell me how beautiful I am–all her ways of telling me she loves me dearly.  And I won’t hear her say my name–this woman who gave me the name and gave me life–and who pronounces it like no other.  I just won’t.

But I’m one of the lucky ones.  Because all of those things have happened.  Often.

With the big day approaching, women whom I love and respect, women who are caring and are not as self-absorbed as I, shared posts that, along with my sweet card, served as an impetus for me getting off my pity pot.

On Thursday, my friend Renea Winchester, who blogs here, shared this:

For many, Mother’s Day is a sorrowful time. Women recall the pain of babies who were never born, or were taken from them too soon. Daughters reflect on strained and broken relationships with their mother, and wish with everything in their soul that the relationship could be better. Some, who had a deep friendship with their mother, miss those times with a pain the heart can never overcome. Darling girls whose mothers are in the fight for their lives also hurt with the uncertainty that today could be the last day. I’ve seen many posts from friends who have lost their mother this week. My heart goes out to them. So for those who have their mothers with them on this earth, let us not only reach out to her, but to our sisters today, tomorrow, and every day. Let us purpose to be a woman who uplifts and encourages another sister. Could you do that today, and every day?
Oh my heart.  What a beautiful soul she is.  And yes, we should strive to do just what she says.  Uplift and encourage another.
Then on Friday, my sweet friend, Karen Spears Zacharias, who blogs here and here wrote:
And yet again I am reminded of how many kids come from homes absent loving mothers. This is a hard, hard week for those who have spent their childhood being the parent their moms failed to be. We have created a culture where too many children never know the tenderness of a loving mother. They have no idea what it means to be nurtured. Don’t just take time to thank your mom this weekend. Take time to hug a child who needs it.
*tears*
Between these two beautiful, strong women who create beauty and inspire movement with their words, I was awakened.  There are sisters who are hurting over this day.  There are children whose hearts are aching.  What better way to overcome my own pain than to do something to help ease the pain of another?  Be the feather?  Yes.
And then this was on my screen yesterday…..in preparation for their graduation today, the class of 2014 at my alma mater, Wesleyan College, shared their message about the education of women and standing strong for sisters everywhere:
Photo courtesy of the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association

Photo courtesy of the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association

I don’t remember a time I’ve been more proud to belong to this place.
Again, tears.  There are mothers who are weeping daily over the loss of their daughters, over not knowing, their fears and anxieties and their imaginations taking over.  My heart breaks for them.
As I picked up my card again last night, giving thanks for the one who took the time to think of it and to send it, filled with heartfelt and loving words that washed away so much hurt and pain, I contemplated how to make this day easier for her.  Or more bearable.  Sending flowers just seemed so trivial, considering all she’s going through.  I mean, what do you give someone who has already started dispersing her things?
Your time.  Your ear.  Your shoulder.  Your laughter.  Your stories.
It came to me, whispered on the air, like a dandelion star floating across the sunlit yard.  All of these things.  More precious than gold.
So I called.  I said thank you.  And I love you too.  And we laughed.  And talked.  And shared in the sadness and reveled in the joy of the good memories.  And it was good.
I don’t know exactly what tomorrow will bring.  I have a to do list that would be nice to get through, but it’s not set in stone.  I plan to take down a candle and put it on the counter and light it tomorrow for all of those Mamas in Nigeria and all over this world who weep over their children.  And for those children who don’t know what it’s like to have a Mama hug them tight, call them beautiful, and wrinkle her nose at them.  It hurts to think about all of this pain–it would be much easier to ignore it…..and my own.
But numbness can be painful too after a while.
Tomorrow I hope to have an opportunity to hug a child, encourage a Mama–but then, in the words of my friend Miss N, “Why’s it gotta be just one day?”  I hope tomorrow is the start of something good.  For all of us.  Time to find someone in need of refuge and be the feather.
Love to all.

Whom Do You Need to Kick Out?

Y’all.  Yesterday was a moment in time I will replay over and over in my mind.

Those fingers were flying y'all.  And what they made that banjo do was nigh unto amazing!

Those fingers were flying y’all. And what they made that banjo do was nigh unto amazing!

Banjo music.

I was done for.  I sat with my toe tapping and my heart singing.  I once heard someone call good stuff for the soul “soul tanning.”  Too true.  I didn’t even recognize the songs but it didn’t matter.  It resonated with me and I was home. Sitting there in one of my favorite places surrounded by friends and family.   I could have sworn my Granny was there too.   The banjo player is a friend of Aub’s from college.  This young woman is going to go places.  She is not even a college graduate and yet she already recognizes the value in preserving, sharing, and celebrating things from the past.  Like this toe-tapping, ear-pleasing music.  I could have listened for days.

As if that weren’t enough, two of my favorite authors took the stage to share about their newest books.  Karen Spears Zacharias (“Mother of Rain”) and Ann Hite (“The Storycatcher).  They shared stories from their pasts and stories from their books.  It was entertaining, informing, and just downright fun.  I love hearing the stories of others about as much as my Daddy did.  What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Ann Hite and Karen Spears Zacharias sharing "Conversations with Mountain Women." Too much fun.

Ann Hite and Karen Spears Zacharias sharing “Conversations with Mountain Women.” Too much fun.

This morning we were back at our favorite coffeehouse, which hosted the writers’ events.  Ann led a Writer’s Workshop and Karen wrote along with us and shared her thoughts as well.  It was the most encouraging, challenging, and exhausting two and half hours I have had in a long time. (With this crew I live with here, that’s really saying something.)  And did I mention exhilarating?  Yes, that too.  Definitely.

I haven’t written fiction in a long, long time.  There are things you give up and then you look back and think–when?  why?  And I have my suspicions but no definite answer so let’s just say I gave it up.  But today we were writing and sharing fiction based on writing prompts Ann shared with us.  Pen to paper, and lose that editorial voice.

Lose who?  You mean that voice in my head that constantly quirks its eyebrow over word placement, comma usage, and for goodness’ sake, have you completely forgotten how to spell everything?

Yes.  That one.

Perhaps that wasn’t the hardest thing.  Not to nibble on the end of my pen and wonder what this character’s name should be.  What room in the house are they in?  Ooops, I should really rewrite that.  None of this is worth reading anyway.  Might as well just start over.

Hush up.

And just write.

It doesn’t matter if it’s good.  Ann Hite said that too.  It doesn’t matter.  We will write junk on the way to the good stuff, and it’s okay.  Karen said that the reason people get published is that they don’t give up.  Well that would do it, wouldn’t it?

I’ve thought a lot about that voice today.  It used to sound a lot like the voice from my previous life.  And I’ve thought a lot about the voices we let in our heads in general.  Whom do we have to kick out of our heads to allow us to TRY for that full potential?  And what will it take for us to finally do it?

I had a sweet, precious, and tenacious lady who was a patient of mine when I worked with Hospice.  We became fast friends.  She was younger than most of our patients, too early for retirement anyway.  She had a degenerative disease, so her husband had placed her in this nursing facility.  I got the impression that he wasn’t a kind husband to begin with and suspected that she actually might have been better off in the facility than at home.  But she didn’t talk a lot about that.  I soon figured out that she still heard his voice and that it was a negative one.  One day we were visiting and she shared that her husband was on a hunting trip.  We shared stories, and  I complimented her about something.  She pretty much waved it off.  I was being sincere and I said it again.  She said, “No no no.”  I knew she was dealing with all the negativity she’d been handed very possibly for years.  I touched my temple with my pointer and said, “Is that what he says? Is he in there saying all of that?”  My sassy friend cocked her head as best she could, smiled, and pronounced carefully and deliberately, “No.  He’s in the woods.”  She laughed, and I did too.  At least she could keep her sense of humor about her.  But I’m not sure she ever could completely silence his voice.

I am thankful for the voices that are much, much louder than all of the others, especially that negative one from the past.  I hear my Mama saying, “You can do anything you want to do.  Just try.”  Or my Daddy asking me, “Did you not have the time or did you not make the time?”  Believe it or not, that is a positive one.  He reminds me to be intentional with that one.  They both told us girls that we could do the same things that boys could do, not to let that limit us.  I always felt encouraged by them and I still do even though their voices are only echoes of things said in the past.  They said them enough and with so much conviction that I believe their words will always be with me.

I do wonder what voices my children will carry with them and hear in the future.  Will it be the “hurry up we have to go now” or will it be the times I’ve told them what a good job they have done, or how I’ve told them people trump everything–relationships are what is most important in our lives?  I know what I hope it will be, but I really don’t know.  It reminds me of a Brian Andreas quote:  “There has never been a day when I have not been proud of you, I said, though some days I’m louder about other stuff so it’s easy to miss that.”

I need to learn to be louder about the stuff I want them to remember and hear from now on, long after I can’t say it to them myself.  And I need to work on kicking out my own negative voices and dreaming of what I will try if those voices aren’t telling me I can’t.  Scary but exciting, all rolled into one.   Oh, and I definitely need to listen to more banjo music.

Whom do you need to kick out of your head?  Go ahead.  Try it, and dream big.

On my Bedside Table

pic of bedside table books

I was inspired by the book I was given yesterday to get my reading act together.  As we wind down our “official learning” school year, and shift into mostly reading, I thought I’d get my “wish list of reading” put together for summer.

Before I get started on my rather lengthy and somewhat intimidating list (focus is a little hard these days), I thought I’d look back at what I have been able to read lately.  Just to remind myself I can.  *sigh*  I used to be able to read all the time.

Last book read:

Tornado by Betsy Byars–I read this one aloud yesterday morning to the littles.  We got all comfy and listened to the timely story of Pete, the farmhand, who gathered in the storm cellar with the family and told stories of his dog Tornado to keep their minds off the storm.  I really liked this one.  A lot.  So did the littles.

Before that:

Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran and Barbara Cooney–I love this one.  But then I’ve already told y’all that.

And before that:

The Invisible Girls: A Memoir by Sarah Thebarge–Another excellent read.  The story will change how you look at people as you go through your day.  And how you can change your world.

I really haven’t read much in completion before those three.  At least not since last year.  In looking around here at my plethora of books, I was thinking.  People sometimes will ask you who your favorite author is.  That is hard to say depending on the mood I am in or what genre I’m reading at the time.  But if someone were to ask me, what author has affected you the most?  Easy.

Karen Spears Zacharias–I’ve read all of her books except one. (She also writes over here.)  She is the author of Hero Mama, also published as After the Flag Has Been Folded, Where’s Your Jesus Now?, Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide? (‘Cause I Need More Room for My Plasma TV),  and A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder.  She has also written Benched: Judge Rufe McCombs, which is in my to be read stack of books.  Each one of her books has affected me, challenging how I think, what I do about what I think, and how bringing justice in this world requires each and every one of us taking a stand.  She’s a strong woman whom I was delighted to meet over a year ago.  I love her as a person and a writer.  If you want to have your world turned upside down and a fire lit under you, go find one of these books and set aside a few hours of uninterrupted time.  Each one of these was hard to put down.  I read Silence in its entirety in less than 24 hours after I got it.  And everyone was fed and clothed as required.  Even though you know the ending, you find yourself not believing that it’s actually going to end like that.  And then she puts making a difference in the reader’s lap.  GREAT BOOK.  If you’d like to know a little more about these books and their amazing author, watch this interview.  It was done when she visited us last May.

So on to my stack of to be reads–these do not include the ones on my wish list that I have yet to find at our local used bookstore or at the library.

Sitting on my bedside table:

Snake Oil: The Art of Healing and Truth-Telling by Becca Stevens–I love Thistle Farms and the Magdalene project.  Rev. Stevens is doing some amazing things, and these women are healing and getting stronger.  You can check them out here or find them on Facebook.   Here are the words I read that made me HAVE TO HAVE this book.

From Rev. Becca Stevens' facebook page

From Snake Oil: The Art of Healing and Truth-Telling

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh–This book was recommended by Karen Spears Zacharias.  More than once.  Yes ma’am.  It’s getting read in the very near future.  The plight of young people aging out of the foster care system has been weighing on my heart and moving me to take action.  This book tells the story of Victoria, an eighteen-year-old who has been emancipated from the system and tries to find her way.  I look forward to reading this and seeing where this will lead me on my journey.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans–Our Wednesday book group started this book back in January.  I was so excited about it.  Unfortunately the HospitalStay and life’s circumstances intervened, and I haven’t been able to get back to it.  Our group had a blast reading this, and I know I will too.

Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite–Another recommended by Karen Spears Zacharias.  She and Ms. Hite are going on tour together this fall with new releases for each of them.  I want to read this one in preparation for the tour.  I am hopeful we can host them in our area, just as we had Karen down last year for her Silence tour.  I’ve already learned that if Ms. Zacharias says it’s a good read, it’s a GOOD read.

Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain–A collection of stories and essays written after the death of his wife and one of their daughters.  This was recommended by a good friend, and I was able to acquire it through the old bookstore I love so much.  In the title story, Satan writes a letter to his fellow archangels about the inconsistencies of human religious faith.  Oh yes, this is going to be good.

The Saddlemaker’s Wife by Earlene Fowler–I was at the library last week, picking up a book on reserve from our princess’ reading list, when I wandered over to the new release section.  Because, you know, I don’t already have enough books here to read.  As I looked around, I saw the name–Earlene Fowler.  My chest tightened, and I took a deep breath to calm my spirit.  She was one of Mama’s favorites, and old habits are hard to kick–my first thought was, has Mama read this one?  Does she know about it? When I came around, I decided to check it out.  I used to read Ms. Fowler’s Benni Harper mysteries years ago, and I really enjoyed them.  When I read the blurb, I realized this was not in that series, but the sequel to The Saddlemaker’s Wife, which they did not have.  Nor could I request it at the time.  My favorite bookstore to the rescue again–I have a much loved copy here to read.  And remember Mama.  I do wonder if she read this one.  She wasn’t able to focus much on books and stories the past couple of years, so I really can’t be sure.

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings–My Aunt tells the story of my Daddy taking her to a bookstore in downtown Macon and getting this book for her.  She fell in love with reading.  So of course I had to find a copy.  And I will read it one day too.  It will remind me of Daddy, and his little sister.  He used to tell me about them piling up in his bed and him reading to her when she was little.  Precious.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly–When we were doing a major cleaning to prepare for our out of town company a couple of weeks ago, we went through Aub’s books.  We found some to give away, and I found some that I want to read.  This is one of them.  The cover is gorgeous.  I know, I know.  So I read the blurb–the story of an 11 year old girl in 1899, growing close to her grandfather and managing in a household with six brothers.  Sold.  I just know it will be delightful.  (Total sidenote–but the author has the same name as my eighth grade history teacher, whom I adored–what do you suppose…..?)

pic of calpurnia tate 2

The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason–Another one of my “cleaning up” finds.  I don’t know anything about it, except that one reviewer compared it to the works of Madeleine L’Engle.  Stop right there.  No further recommendation needed.  We’ll see.

Finding Freedom: Writings from Death Row by Jarvis Jay Masters–this was my surprise treat that I got yesterday from my cousin.  I’m already 1/3 of the way into it.  Not too shabby for someone who hasn’t been able to get her reading groove back very easily.  I’ve heard grief will do that.  But with this book, the book is hard but the reading is easy.  If that even makes sense.  It is really eye-opening and heart-breaking and hope-filling.  A good book, one that I have a feeling will be another life-changer.

Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey by Margaret Feinberg–My Wednesday book group started this one several weeks ago.  I have missed being with them the past few months, so I grabbed a copy, read some on Wednesday morning and joined them after lunch.  Ms. Feinberg sets out to close the gap between the ancient world and our own.  She visits with a shepherdess, farmer, beekeeper, and vintner, seeking to find the connections.  Really, really interesting.  I’m still working on it, but I highly recommend this one.

So that’s the stack.  I have a couple on reserve at the library, waiting on those to come in.  And there are two that I am most looking forward to getting soon–

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman–newly released by the author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.  That book was so wonderful, I cannot wait to read her next one.  (So yeah, if you haven’t read that one, you might want to.)  I guess it will always be special because it’s one Mama and I both loved and talked about together.

Mother of Rain by Karen Spears Zacharias–This won’t be released until this fall and I CANNOT.  WAIT.  A work of fiction about folks in the Appalachia area.  I am so looking forward to this one.  I will also read Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field in preparation.  She said that was a good idea, and she hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

So, on this beautiful summer Sunday, after we visit with our friends at Daybreak this evening and pour a little coffee and a lot of sweet tea, I will come home and grab a book off the stack and get started.  Today I am thankful I don’t have to set the alarm for tomorrow morning.  I have a feeling it might be a late night…..and a whole summer of them.  Lots of books, so little time.

Who Told You Who You Are?

I had the great joy of taking my littles to the Grand Opera House in Macon yesterday to see Rainbow Fish.  Field trip! I LOVE live theater.  I give thanks for parents who, while they didn’t have much extra, made sure we saw live plays and classical concerts.  Love love love it.  It is so fun for me to see the love of it growing in all of my children.

My 8 year old daughter loves to read.  Over doing ANYTHING else, except maybe playing outside with her friends.  (And in response to my family here, yes, it’s payback–she comes by it honestly.)  She has recently picked up her children’s Bible and is reading through it for a second time.  If she doesn’t become a minister, I will be quite surprised.  The questions she comes up with floor me sometimes.  Over the weekend she asked, “So Mama, is Jesus and all of his family, like Mary and Joseph, living up in Heaven too?”  She’s quite taken with the idea of who all is there now that she has folks she treasures there.

So yesterday morning as we were waiting for the play to begin, she leaned over and whispered, “Mama, who told Jesus he was God’s son?”  Um, what?  “Was it his Mama and Daddy? Joseph and Mary?”

Wow.  Just wow.  Without getting into a theological discussion here, as I’m not a good enough Biblical scholar for that, I had no idea how to properly her.  After doing a little searching, I don’t know that there is a set answer.  So.  Yeah.  Maybe?

The lights dimmed, and the play began.  My littles and I were entranced with the great performance of four fabulous actors telling the story of someone becoming happy when she shared her gifts.  Throughout I found myself thinking about that question.  And then this:  who told me who I was?  My parents.  They not only told me who I was, they gave me the gift of KNOWING I could do anything I chose to set my mind and abilities to.  (Yeah, I know, except for putting that toothpaste back in the tube.  But I am working on it.)  They empowered me to set out on my dreams.  You want to get a job? Okay, we’ll get you there and back, as I couldn’t drive yet.  You want to go to Wesleyan? Okay, we’ll help you do the things you need to do to make that happen.  More than things like that, they told me what I was.  They told me I was smart.  That I was capable.  That I could do great things.  Mama told me often I was beautiful, and while I think she was quite biased, it made me feel good.  They gave me the confidence to step out in this world and try to do the great things, big or small,  they raised me to do.  And when the world hit back, really, really hard?  They opened their door as sanctuary once again, and helped me put the pieces back together.  Yes, it was Mama and Daddy who told me who I was and then gave me the strength, encouragement, and resources to keep on becoming more.

This month is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  It was a year ago that A Silence of Mockingbirds by Karen Spears Zacharias was released.  If you haven’t read anything by her, you really, really should.  Great writer and fantastic soul.  In all honesty, if someone else had written this story, I would not have read it.  I knew the story would be hard, but I trusted Karen that this was a story that needed telling.  And it is.  I had the book in hand by Friday afternoon, and I was finished reading it by Saturday afternoon–AND no one had to wear dirty clothes or go without a meal.  It was a compelling read…..which is hard to believe, considering I already knew the ending.

The story that rocked my world.....holding me accountable for working to change things for these children. When I met Karen Spears Zacharias for the first time last May, she asked, "What are you going to do to change things?"

The story that rocked my world…..holding me accountable for working to change things for these children. When I met Karen Spears Zacharias for the first time last May, she asked, “What are you going to do to change things?”

The thing is, child abuse is something that is hard to think about.  We want to believe that the system is in place to protect children.  Friends, it is not, as Karen shares in her story.  There are holes in the system and WE must be the fillers.  We have to be a part of the system that fights for them.  We as individuals, we as community, we as church, we as the world, MUST be defenders of those who cannot defend themselves.  I could make all kinds of suggestions here on how to get involved, but one the best things to do is read this book.  Karen has taken time to do the right research and tells us what we can do to make a difference.   If you can’t handle reading it, I get it, really I do.  Please contact your local child abuse prevention organization and educate yourself.  There’s great information on the internet too.  If we are educated, we know what to look for and who to call and how to help.  It is imperative that we are prepared.  I don’t know how to say this any stronger.  IT IS UP TO US.  WE HAVE TO ACT.

My parents told me who I was.  Somebody.  And many times, they had to remind me to “Act like you are somebody.”  I knew I was loved and treasured and when they disciplined me, it was because they knew I had better in me.  WE have to be the ones to tell these little ones and big ones, who are trapped in brokenness and who are hearing all the wrong messages, who they are.  They are loved.  They are treasured.  They are capable, and this is not their fault.  They are worth our time and effort and love.  They are worth our getting involved.

Who told Jesus he was God’s son?  I’m not sure.  But I am sure what he told us.  To take care of those who need help–the children.  Today I am thankful for my little minister who made me think about this, so I would re-commit myself to telling the little ones who they are.

For more information about Karen’s book and Karly’s story, go to http://karenzach.com/meet-karly-sheehan/