That thing you give others so freely

People.

This one is going to be short and sweet tonight.

 

You can only do the best you can do with what you have at the time.  

Don’t look back and question yourselves.  Don’t give yourself a hard time because, looking back, you can clearly see what you should have done.

I am putting these words on “paper” tonight because I’ve had to speak them to more than one of my sisterfriends this week.

Just as my Mama said them to me numerous times over the years.

She was all about doling out some grace, that one.

And more importantly, she was all about telling me to give myself some grace.  (And ironically, she didn’t cut me any slack or give me any grace when I wasn’t giving myself grace…..if you can follow that train of thought.)

Grace.  I know you can give it.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve been on the receiving end of it.  (Thank you for that, by the way.)

Now how about you give yourself some?

You did the best you could do at the time.

Yay, you!  Well done.

And so now, we move forward.  To tomorrow.

To do the best we can do with what we are given then.

Grace and much love to all.

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Always Heading East

Tonight after the pizza supper that Cooter requested special for his 9th birthday (I can’t even with this whole 9 year old thing y’all, so that is why we are NOT talking about it right now), we were headed home.  The sun was setting, and as we do from everywhere we are at any and all given times, we were headed east to go home.

Apparently we never travel east of our home because we always seem to head into the darkness this time of night.

The Fella had to stop for something, so he pulled off the main road into the store parking lot.  I sat, peering into the darkness feeling, well frankly, sad.  Tired.  Listless.  It’s dark.  I can’t see.  There’s so much I can’t see in the unknown ahead.

To get out of the parking lot, my Fella had to turn the car around to the west before getting back on the main road and heading east.  When I looked up from my gloomy thoughts, what met my eyes was breathtaking.

One of the most beautiful sunset paintings I’ve ever seen.  I can never get enough of those, but this one–this one was truly spectacular.

We started back on the road to home with the painting behind me.  I turned in my seat to see it just one more time.  When finally I had to turn back and face the darkness to the east, I was different.  I felt different.  I was better.

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by the darkness, by what’s ahead.  Maybe when we get to that point, we need to take a moment to turn all the way around and see what else is out there. What is directly in front of us is rarely all there is.

I believe in the power of pulling over.  Of taking a breather.  Or a shower.  Or a nap.

You know.  Whatever it takes to change perspectives.  To lighten the load.

Love to all.

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Broken For You: The Tale of the Pie Caken

While my brother and his family were here staying with us last week, several things were less than perfect.

Our Princess succumbed to the upper respiratory crud for two days.

Thirty minutes into our outdoor viewing of “The Apple Dumpling Gang,” it started drizzling, and we shut it down. (But it was really, really cool while it lasted!)

The cake fell.

Miss Sophie got overexcited and barked and was quite upset when folks ran through the house.  Which, with a houseful of 10 and unders, was bound to happen.  A lot.

The blueberry custard came out a little soupy.

It rained.

And it rained some more.

None of which I had any control over.

In every single case, it was what it was.

And–

we dealt with it.  It was all about our attitudes.

And thankfully, when the tears (okay, my tears) threatened to fall over the cake AND pie messes, my brother had me laughing over the whole “pie-caken” idea–the dessert version of the turducken I suppose.

I don’t know what I’d do without that crazy, belly filling laughter.

It saves me.

Our Princess and I had a few minutes before she had to be at dance the other day, so we stopped by our favorite used bookstore.   As I walked down the shelves, remembering how I used to do the same thing all those years I worked in the library, a title caught my eye.

“Broken for You.”

I have no idea what the book is about, nor will I likely look it up anytime soon.  (Okay, just kidding, I just did.)

But those words.  They have been zigzagging back and forth in my mind all evening.

Broken.

For You.

For me.

For us.

This life is full of brokenness.  Children are going to get sick, and we can’t control that.  (If you’ve figured out how, PLEASE let me know.  Three different viruses in less than three weeks’ time–I’m a little over it.)  Cakes, despite our best efforts, are sometimes going to fall.  All it takes is a child taking a misstep on the stairs or one happily hopping through the kitchen or just a lousy coincidence.  Soupy pies?  Well Mama’s not here to tell me why that happened, but you better know one day she and I are going to talk about the vagueness of that recipe!

I don’t really think that the Universe is out to get me (despite what I say sometimes) nor do I think things are broken on purpose–sometimes they just happen.  But if I can look at the brokenness as an opportunity to share laughter (thanks Bubba) or to slow down or to be thankful for what did go right…..

perhaps the cracks are how the light of good thoughts gets through.   If I can look at it as being broken for me to work on my response, then there is a redemptive quality to so many things we are facing (I get it, not all things)–including a fallen poundcake.

I mean, we get better at something by practicing, right?  (I sure hope so–at least that’s what I’ve been telling my reticent mathematicians.)

So how can we get really good at being thankful,

at finding light in the darkness,

at laughing despite the hard times,

at choosing the right attitude…..

if we don’t get any practice, if everything always goes as planned?

Perhaps that’s what purpose fallen cakes and fevers and soupy blueberry custards can serve–

broken for me–

so I can work on not letting it all get to me.

In this life, we can let things break us, or–

maybe–

we can see it as being broken for us to practice our “attitude adjusting” and show what we’re made of.

I can’t say that I won’t get a little *ahem* upset the next time my pound cake falls (oh me), but I will remember the pie caken and find something to smile about in the midst of the frustration.

It’s a start.

Wishing you all the ability to laugh when things fall apart.  Or just fall.

Love to all.

 

My poor fallen sour cream pound cake.  Some folks around here say they prefer them fallen--they might be telling a tale, but I'm okay with that.

My poor fallen sour cream pound cake. Some folks around here say they prefer them fallen–they might be telling a tale, but I’ll take it.

 

Best Advice for Graduates…..and everyone else

I’ve listened to a lot of graduation addresses.  I’ve even given one once many moons ago.  Last year I contemplated how different that would have been if I were to write it now.

But now, now I have heard very possibly the best advice ever given in one of these speeches.  For graduates.  For all of us.

And it was offered by the salutatorian, Divine Francis, of Veterans High School, one of the local schools here in our county.

First Divine said that he didn’t know the secret of success.  He said if he did, he’d have already written the book and made a million dollars and retired to the Bahamas…..basically, not be HERE.  Then he described a movie.

“What if I told you there was a new movie coming out, two hours long, of watching paint dry?  And that if you paid the admission price, you could sit there and watch paint dry for two hours, up there on the big screen?”  He paused.  “You’d probably shake your head at me and ask, ‘Divine, why would I want to do that? Why would I want to waste two hours of my life doing that?  That’s dumb!'”

“But what if it’s the night before finals and you decide to go to a party instead of studying.  That’s just as dumb. I say, ‘Why would you want to do that?'”

“And I think that’s the best thing we can do as we go forth.  Don’t do dumb things.  That’s it.  Don’t do dumb things.”

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Y’all I’ve never been crazy about that word.  But I have to tell you this.  I clapped.  As did so many who heard the words of this still seventeen year old–“I have a late birthday.”  That pretty much wraps it up, doesn’t it?

In whatever you’re about to do, don’t waste your time on poor choices–instead make the effort to do the smart thing, the right thing.

Truth.  From a graduate about to set out on a new path.

I think he’s going places.

Y’all too?

Tonight I’m thankful for a young man who stepped outside the box and didn’t give the traditional speech filled with sentimentality and inspirational quotes and challenges to make every moment count–I’m thankful for his keeping it real and sharing simple wisdom and truth.

Love and an overabundance of wise choices to all.

 

 

Thrown in the Deep End

This morning didn’t start off so differently than any other day.

I got up, got the littles’ breakfast, and sat down for a few minutes to catch up on my day to dailies and the like.

And I came across this.

“A Declaration of Life – legal document to convey your wishes,

that should you be murdered,

you do not want the perpetrator to receive the death penalty…..”

The original legal document can be found here. 

I’m not here to debate the pros and cons of the death penalty.  I’ve stood on both sides of that fence actually.  It was in 2011 in the case of Troy Anthony Davis, a man not quite a month older than me, that I revisited my stance on the death penalty.  My husband was deployed, my Daddy had just been admitted to Hospice, and a man was on death row with lots of questions still unanswered.  On the night of September 21, 2011, I found myself sitting on the side of my bed, willing that life take priority somewhere in the chaos that my life seemed to be at the time. The execution had been scheduled for 7 p.m. but delayed as the Supreme Court reviewed his case.   As I thought about his family, I felt compassion.  I knew what it was like to watch someone you love die, and I knew what it was like to walk through what seemed to be a hopeless situation.  When word came down that Troy Davis had indeed been executed at 10:53 p.m., my heart broke and I wept.  For someone I’d never met.  For all of us. Hope drained from me that night.

So I guess it was that night that I began to rethink my position.  In reality it is easy for me to say, “Oh yes, I’m against the death penalty.”  Forgiveness, allowing second chances, giving grace, praying for a change of heart–all of those can be wrapped up nice and neat and seem so…..full of grace…..and loving.  And lovely.  What a lovely, non-angry thing to say.  To be for life.

But when I read about this document for the very first time this morning, I felt like I’d been thrown in the deep end of the pool when all I was expecting to do was wade along the edge peacefully. With my clothes on.  I wasn’t prepared. I felt overwhelmed and unsure of myself.  Of what I believe.

If I believe what I say I believe, then it should be a relief to me that a legal document exists that I can print out, sign and have notarized and tuck away with my other important documents, right?  (And I’m not debating the document’s legal merits either–if I were to move forward with this, the first person I’d talk to after my Aunt–oh there’s good news, she’s thinking–would be my attorney.)  Surely if I am against the death penalty now, I should be against it after I am gone.  Even if I am the victim of a murder…..well, huh.  I hadn’t thought of that.  Or what if the victim was someone I loved more than life itself?

I don’t have the answers, but as I’m figuring out, the older I get, life tends to give us more questions than answers, so I will attempt to work through this one just like many others. Maybe without ever finding the “right” answer.  But I have a point that has nothing to do with which side of this fence you are on.

When we state what we believe, so adamantly, so full of certainty (as I have on occasion) that this is what we believe and it is right–we might be treading water in the shallow end of the pool.  I think that if we were thrown in the deep end, surrounded by the actual reality of issues that get folks riled up, like the death penalty, abortion, gay marriage, legalization of medical marijuana–oh, the list goes on and on–we might not be so certain of our stance anymore.  When it becomes personal, it might just seem a whole lot different.  When it involves and affects us and the people we love, we might not be so certain anymore.

And so maybe what we are called to do, instead of judging others for where they stand, is to keep a check on our own position.  Keep ourselves educated and always being willing to admit maybe there’s something out there we didn’t know, we hadn’t thought of.  And being open to change.

And perhaps, when it’s all said and done, that’s the most grace-filled and loving position to take after all.

Still figuring things out…..love to all.

That 20/20 Hindsight

Tonight I’ve been thinking about me way back when.  Maybe it’s being back home, going through things that are markers of our childhood and growing up years, I don’t know.  Whatever it is, it’s got my thoughts going back and wishing I could tell Then Me a few things that Now Me has learned as time went by. 

What I wish I’d known thirty years ago–

that it’s never that serious.

that of all those things I worried would happen, most never would.

that my body was absolutely okay.  The best it was going to be.  That I was beautiful, and the voice in my head talking about my weight or my ears sticking out too far or my elbows….it was lying to me.  None of that mattered.  I was beautiful.  Just like I was.

the brand of clothes I had…..or didn’t have…..did not matter as much as those who did have the “right” brands would lead me to believe.

my parents were smarter than I thought.

they really did love me.

they really weren’t the meanest people on earth.

and I am glad they were my parents.

one day they would become my best friends, and one day a while later I’d miss them with every breath.

a stick shift is cool to drive, and one day I would miss having one.

one day I would miss our house and home…..and all the people in it.

one day my siblings would be among my best friends.

no boy or guy or man is worth compromising what I believe.  Or shutting others out.  Or worthy of all of my time and attention.

no friend who really loves me will tell me just what I want to hear.

no job is small.  Every job is worth giving your all.  One day I would be glad I did.

the worst mistakes I would ever make wouldn’t be the less than satisfactory grades or the accidents I had…..they would be the words that came out of my mouth that I couldn’t take back.

my parents were way smarter than I ever gave them credit for, and they were dispensing wisdom I wish I paid more attention to.

my favorite color would change.  Often.

my favorite pillow would not.

the lady in England whom I met was right.  One day I would come to love planting flowers and thinking about which ones were my favorites.

clotheslines are cool.

one day I would miss the smell of sheets dried on the clothesline.

the number of times I rolled my eyes at my parents would come back to me in spades.

the music my parents loved and the shows they watched would become my favorites too.

when my friends asked me what I thought about this boy or that fella, I should have kept my mouth shut.

I would fall in love three times with people who couldn’t walk or talk or speak my name.

old people are the best.

The best.

old cars are the best.

old roads are the best.  Forget about the interstates.

old houses are the best–new ones feel a bit pretentious sometimes.

I would travel the world and never find a place that brings me comfort like the places I grew up–my Granny’s, my Great Aunt’s and home–Blackberry Flats.  Ever.

my faith is not static.  I should not be afraid of my evolving beliefs and growing questions.  It’s all part of growing up and learning about the world and all we believe.

it’s the little things I would remember the best.  I wish I had spent more time on the little things–like taking walks with my brother and playing games with my sisters.

if I want to be a writer, write.  If I want to be an artist, create.  If I want to be a storyteller, tell stories.  I need to make my own magic.  Not sit back and dream and wait.  Dream and then do.

in fourth grade, if I don’t tell the teacher why I put the quotation marks there, I will carry that for the rest of my life.  Stand up and speak out.  More.  At all.  Make my voice heard.  It matters.

I matter.

sticks and stones, well yeah, but words.  Sometimes they hurt most of all.

no matter how bad things were that I went through or dealt with, I would do it all again to keep my children from having to go through that pain and hurt.

the drive away from home in frustration and anger when I was a teenager was way shorter than the drive back as an adult when one of my parents was sick.

I wish I would have spent more time loving me and less time looking for someone to love.

More time swinging under the tree and dancing beneath the stars and less time worrying, “What if…..?”

I wish I had shared more grace and light and spent less time being afraid of the dark.

I wish, I would have, If only…..

but for tonight, I’m thankful for the journey I have had.  Thankful for the ones who guided me on it, who very likely spent much time in prayer over me and my ways.  I give thanks for friends who don’t just tell me what I want to hear and for my parents whom I miss more and more each day (especially today).  In the midst of looking back at what I wish I knew then, I am very glad to know what I know now.  Which in another twenty years (Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise) probably won’t look like much in hindsight either. We’ll just have to see.

Until then, love to all.