A Backstage Kind of Grace

Our little guy, Cooter, who isn’t so little anymore as he is now exactly two months shy of turning eleven, performed in his acting troupe’s version of “Trolls” this past weekend.  The role of Branch suited him well, as he griped and stomped and put on his unhappy face throughout rehearsals over the past few months.

Friday night was showtime.  He was ready.  He’s not been feeling one hundred percent, as the upper respiratory stuff that has everyone sniffling or hacking got a hold of him too.  But he was feeling good Friday.  We ran lines, and he practiced his dances wearing his Falcons helmet and jersey (a sight to see, trust me on this), and then we were off to the theater.

After the young people of Acting for the Almighty gathered backstage and got in costume, excited and a little anxious, the lights went down and Scene One began.  Cooter had several lines in this scene…..and within the first few minutes, it was time for him to deliver his line and be interrupted.  Which he did and he was.

And then it came time for him to finish what he’d been interrupted trying to say…..

and he jumped to the next page of lines, skipping the lines of several characters.

It only took a split second and the rest of these young actors jumped right in and carried on, finished the scene, and moved on to give a great performance.

But my stomach was in my throat.  Or my heart was in my stomach.  You get what I’m trying to say.

I was sick.  For my little guy.  For the children who hadn’t gotten to say their lines.  For the director and the playwright.

Oh me.

I had friends and family there who hadn’t been to rehearsals or memorized parts of the play from going over lines for three months.  They said they had no idea that lines had been missed.  Which I was thankful for, but I knew.  So did his fellow players.

At intermission one of the volunteers came out to reassure me that he was fine.  She said he took the hit for messing up and giving the wrong line, but “you saw him come out in the third scene.  He put himself back together.  He’s fine.”

The rest of the play went extremely well.  And it was a great performance.  I’m so proud of each one of the children, who bravely did what so many of us would be terrified to do.  Got up on that stage under the bright lights with at least 200 folks watching–spoke loudly lines they had memorized, danced, and sang.  They are our future, and things look really, really good for all of us.

That night Cooter and I talked a bit about the play, and he promised we could run lines the next morning before Saturday afternoon’s performance.  Before he went to sleep, he told me, “Everyone was so nice about me messing up.  They told me it was okay, that I’d go back out there and get it next time.  And I did!”

Bless.  Them.  Whoever “they” were–thank you.  Thank you for not getting upset with him.  This Mama’s heart is so grateful.

On Saturday morning when he got up, he had breakfast and then was puttering around.  I’d forbidden his standard rough and tumble football free for all in the front yard–I did not want him missing his last performance for ANY reason.  That and I’m a worrier, so he played with his friends and their Matchbox car village and did other indoor things on this cold day.  When he came back in and we were getting ready to go back to the theater, he and I had a quiet moment.

“Mama, you know what I’ve learned from this production?”

“What, buddy?”

“Improvisation.”

“Ummm, yeah?  Really?”

“Yes ma’am. Because when someone forgets a line or messes up, you can improvise and carry on. That’s what we did last night when anyone forgot a line…..like I did.”

Well, bless it.

I think that’s kind of what we need to know how to do in this life in general, isn’t it?  Improvise.  Goodness knows we seem to do a lot of it around here.

And, as the Fella says sometimes, we are none the worse for wear for it.

If improvisation were the only thing Cooter carried away from this experience, I’d be thrilled. Ecstatic.

But you know what? It wasn’t.

He learned a lot about grace too.  The way folks were understanding, encouraging, and supportive in the face of his mistake…..

that’s a beautiful gift.

And because of it, he wasn’t afraid of trying again.  Afraid, wondering what it would be like if he messed up again.  Because of that grace, he was able to get back up on that stage Saturday, try it again and do a fantastic job.  (If you’ll forgive this Mama for saying so–actually they ALL did a brilliant job on Saturday.  I am so proud of each one of them!)

I want my son–my children–all of the children–always to know what grace feels like.  So much so that they feel it in abundance and share it with anyone who could use it.  Grace gives folks the courage to try again.  To get up and out there just one more time and not so afraid of making the mistakes that are inevitably going to come in this life.

When Cooter was a baby and baptized, I chose a song for him.  It was Rascal Flatts’ “My Wish” and there was a line that I love so much…..

May “you find God’s grace in every mistake and give more than you take…..”

Tonight I am thankful for the ones who spent every week teaching my little guy and all his fellow actors about drama and singing and dancing and grace and being supportive of each other and how to improvise.  His acting may never be anything more than something he loves to do for fun–I have no idea where he’s headed with this…..but sharing grace and how to encourage others, how to courage on, and how to figure out at the drop of a hat what to do next in the face of the unexpected–all things that these wonderful folks have taught him…..

that they showed and shared with him God’s grace in his mistake…..

well, my heart is full to bustin’, y’all.  This is the really good stuff of life.

May we all be so kind and abundantly filled with grace to share.  And may we all have others around us who jump to wherever we are and help us carry on when the unexpected happens and we aren’t sure what line comes next…..

Love to all.

 

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*****For those who may not know, Cooter is the nickname that my Daddy, his Cap, gave him years ago when he was very small and loved playing Matchbox cars with Cap.  The name came from the mechanic on “Dukes of Hazzard,” which still makes me laugh.  No one really uses that name for him anymore, but I use it here to remember the man who let my little 4 year old guy drive those little cars around and around on his hospital bed.  “Daddy, you can tell him to stop,” I said, after Cooter had circled his bed for about the umpteenth time.  Round and round the bedrail, the foot rail and above Daddy’s head he went.  “He’s not bothering me,” Daddy said. And he meant it.  I’ll treasure that memory for always.  I know Daddy would have loved this play so much, especially when the children all sang “True Colors” together.  It was one of his favorite songs.  And so now it’s mine.

 

 

Showing Me Their World

I continually find myself amazed by, IN AWE OF these creatures I have been given to raise.

Sometimes I’m amazed that they can eat so much or what they won’t eat or how much of a mess they can make or how long they can put off doing something I’ve asked, but mostly–mostly I’m amazed at watching them become their own people.

As my oldest writes her own story at my alma mater, doing things I never dreamed of doing, I’m amazed.  I watch her and think, She’s the cool one I always wanted to be friends with.  And I’m lucky enough that we’re even better than friends.

For the past eighteen months, I’ve watched our Princess swim and swim well.  I can hold my own in the water, but she knows strokes and dives and turns and the ins and outs and it just makes me wonder, where on earth did all that come from?  She is something to see.

Cooter is figuring out who he is and what his thing is.  Poor guy, he often gets stuck doing whatever his sister is doing.  He enjoys it but still.  He plays piano, does gymnastics, and after working really hard last summer, he also made the swim team.

But recently I saw him step out on his own to do something, and it took my breath away.  In that moment I realized I was watching him move one step closer to figuring out and becoming who he is.

We watched a youth performance during Christmas, and it was wonderful.  Cooter loved it, and I saw a spark in his eyes when they showed previews for their spring performances.  He was intrigued.  I mentioned to him that he could maybe try out, and he alternated between nervous and interested.  Aub helped him pick out his audition lines and memorize them.  Those lines stayed on our refrigerator where he could stand and practice them for over a week.

When the day came, he woke up excited.  I suppose there were some nerves in there, but my little ham was ready.  We dropped his sister off, and we were on our way.  He was #2 in line.  We walked to the back of the theater to the entrance to the back where he would be auditioning in front of two of the adult directors.  The helper asked him if he was nervous.  He shrugged and grinned.  He didn’t seem to be very upset that I wasn’t supposed to go back with him.

I, on the other hand, was a mess.  I held it in, but inside I was a rumbly tumbly tee-total mess.  That was my baby back there…..

He went back for a few minutes.  When he came out, he had a grin on his face and walked right past me, not even seeing me.

He’s been excited ever since.  No question, no turning back, no second thoughts.  He’s all about this play.  He’s also had this day, TODAY, in his head as THE DAY for two weeks.  It was two weeks ago that he auditioned, and today was his first rehearsal.  He woke up reminding me of what day it was.

As if I could forget.

What a cool kid, y’all.

He found people he knows to sit with and never looked back.  He clapped for others as their parts were announced and the look on his face when he found out his part was priceless.  At least it seemed to be.  I was all the way across the room with the parents.

Because he’s almost grown now, you know.  He’ll be 9 very soon–or “hitting the double digits next year,” as he likes to rush things and remind me.

It was a lovely afternoon.  The program is organized and fun and a really, really good place for these young people.  The playwright, bless him, didn’t finish writing the play until he found out how many cast members he was going to have.

46.

So he wrote a play with forty-six different characters.

That made me smile almost as big as Cooter when I learned that.

What a beautiful thing for these children.  Each and every one of them matter.  Each and every one important.  I’m so thankful that we happened upon this theater program.  Or, you know, were led there.

Tonight I’m thankful for the experiences I get to have because of these unique people I’m blessed to know and raise.  My Mama used to say, “You brought them into the world, now let them show it to you.”  Maybe she was quoting someone, I don’t know.  But beautiful words all the same.  And they’ve really hit home with me lately.  I love the world my children show me.  One full of love, laughter, justice, mercy, grace, teasing, storytelling, and joy.  Sure, it’s a messy world much most of the time.  But I will tell you this, I wouldn’t trade anything for it.

Love to all.

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By 76slideytrumpets (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Joy After the Door is Closed

Today I found unexpected joy in rebirth and re-creating.  Thanks to an event shared on Facebook by a friend, we were able to see a play today.

I love plays.  I love live theater.

I absolutely adore holiday plays.

We attended a revision of “White Christmas,” performed by young people in our community.

It was different and well-done and completely fabulous.

Looking at all of those faces and their eagerness and thinking about how much of their wonderful lives they have ahead of them, I got teary-eyed.  When I saw a young teenage girl at the curtain call eyeing her parents who were sitting behind us and noticed that she was getting teary-eyed, I started to lose it.  When I leaned over and hugged my dear One who had joined us, I was undone.  The tears came, and I didn’t care.

Sheer joy.

The way the play was worked, all of the children who wanted to participate were able to.  They danced and they laughed and they delivered their lines and they told a story.  An important one about holding others above self.

The whole afternoon was joy-filled.

It was held in  a building that used to house a Family Dollar.  Since this was our first time attending a play there (not my first time in the building), I didn’t know what to expect.

What a lovely surprise!

New life was breathed back into that building and a theater was born.

From Family Dollar’s ending, something truly beautiful came to be.

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, change is very, very hard for me.  I do not like it at all, it’s not my friend, and it will never be on my birthday list.

And yet–

I think there was a lesson in what I felt today.

Things can end.  The darkness can come.  And yet,

joy shall rise again.  New life will come.

The light will shine again.

And I give thanks for that–for all of the lights that shine, from spotlights to tree lights to the bright, warm sun that kissed our faces as we left with our souls touched and spirits lifted.

A day of merry and magnificent memory-making!  I’m thankful.

Love to all.

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The Family Dollar never looked so lovely…..

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so homey…..

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or so completely wonderful.  Scenes from the back of the theater.  

 

All Those Role Changes…..Bravo!

Today the littles, my brother-in-law Leroy, my nephew Shaker and I went to the Grand Opera House to see Junie B. Jones the Musical.

I love that place.  I really do.  It put the art in architecture.  Oh wait…..well, it is beautiful and a sight to gaze upon.  Add in a live performance, and it’s one of my favorite places to be.

Today was Shaker’s and Leroy’s first visit to the Grand.  We were in the right place at the right time and got front row balcony seats.

The play was funny and received many LOL’s (laughing out loud) from my crew.  Especially when the two tall male actors came onstage as Lucille’s best friends who rhymed, Camille and Chenille.  Because rhyming names is an important quality to have in a friend.  Hilarious.

That’s when I sat up and took notice. Well we all did actually, but I started paying closer attention to exactly how many actors were in the performance.  I mean, there were a lot of characters–Junie B, her Dad, her Mom, her teacher, the bus driver, two girls on the bus, Lucille, Herbert (I think that was his name–her new BFF), Gladys Gutzman, Camille, Chenille, three other classmates…..

That’s a lot of people.

Leroy said he thought there were maybe fifteen people putting on the performance.

I watched costume changes and was amazed that this one actress changed shoes with every costume and character change–and these were the lace up above the ankle Converse type sneakers.  Nothing quick and easy.  No slide on shoes for her.

Turns out Leroy was way off.  When the play was over and they had the curtain call, there were six talented men and women on the stage.

Six.  That’s it.

I was amazed and very impressed.

Leroy and I were talking about it this evening.  He said, “Yeah, if that had been me, after about my third line or so, I would have said, ‘Okay, I’m outta here.'”

Me too.  Based on costume changes alone.

While the guys who played the two girls were good, I was most intrigued by the young woman who played Lucille and Ricardo and a girl on the bus.  Her costume change each time was from hair to toes.  And she went from playing a girl to another girl to a boy with a distinctive accent.  It was fun and mesmerizing to watch.

Leroy and I were very impressed with their changing roles and playing so many characters well.

After talking with him this evening about it, I headed out with my chauffeur hat on and delivered little people where they were supposed to be.  While sitting and waiting, I went through my checklist on what I needed to do when we got home.  And the rest of the week.

And then it hit me.

We are all like those actors and actresses, aren’t we?

Costume changes, role changes happening regularly, sometimes with only a moment’s notice.

And we do it.

The only difference is–

We’re winging it.

No rehearsals, no nets, no one to answer when we call out “Line!”

No second takes.

This is it.  And we have to be ready for our next scene at all times.

Now that’s what’s impressive.

We don’t give up after a couple of lines or ask for an understudy to take on the role.

We get up, we get out there, and we do it.

Might not be an award-winning performance every single moment, but hey–we show up and we perform and we play more roles than we ever imagined we could.

I think that deserves a standing ovation.

Tonight I am thankful for the opportunity to share live theater with those I love.  I give thanks for the hands that built the building we sat in and for the powers that be who make sure it stays as it has always been, an important and beautiful part of our cultural story.  I am thankful that the play was good, and that Shaker seemed to have a great time.  Most of all, I give thanks for those in my life who play numerous roles and have set the bar way high for the smooth costume and role changes.

So what if we don’t always seem to get our lines right.  The actress who played Ricardo entered the classroom as him and spoke in Spanish.  “He” then explained that since he speaks two languages, it’s hard for him to remember which one he’s speaking at the time.

I feel you, Ricardo.  It’s like that in real life too.  Sometimes there’s so much going on, I don’t know which way to turn, let alone what needs to be said or what I’m trying to say or where I’m supposed to be.  But, as with the other classmates, grace abounds and we move on.

Tonight I salute you all with a standing ovation.  Way to go!  You showed up.  And you haven’t given up.  It’s not easy, this living life thing, and you haven’t quit yet. That is phenomenal!

Who needs to hear the words “You done good” and get a standing ovation from you?  It’s free, and it doesn’t take long, and it just might put a smile on someone’s face.

And that’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Grace.  Encouragement.

Bravo!  Brava!  Well done!

Love to all.

The Story of Cooter–A Birthday Tale

Today is my baby boy’s 7th birthday.

Whaaaaaat?

Seven.

Oh my.

I’ve been teasing him for a few weeks about how, when he was a newborn, I’d tuck him against my side and hold him while he slept.  He looks at me like “yeah, right, ” smiles that precious smile, and goes right back to whatever it was that he was doing.  Which probably had to do with obsessing over Indiana Jones (no, he hasn’t seen them), Harry Potter (those either), or Star Wars (he’s seen episodes 4, 5, and 6 only).

He entered the world two and a half weeks early at 8 pounds, 8 ounces.  Ahem.  Yes, I’m glad he was early.  Very glad.  We had not looked during that part of the sonogram, so we didn’t know to expect a little guy.  The thoughtful doctor let my Fella be the one to announce, “It’s a boy!” with a tear-filled voice.  The same voice he announced our Princess was a girl with.  It didn’t matter to us either way.  We had the names, we were going to be happy boy or girl.  But I’ll let you in on a little secret.

I knew.

Somehow I just had a feeling.  I can’t point to any one thing, just that things were different this time around.  With our Princess I HATED salads, with Cooter I couldn’t get enough of them.  I know it’s not much, but there were things like that which caused me to think maybe, just maybe this one was a boy.

The Wednesday before he arrived on Saturday I was really uncomfortable, walking rather funny and telling anyone who would listen that yes, I knew I was 37 weeks, but this baby was coming sooner rather than later.  I also had a splitting headache.  The Fella was flying the next day, so after getting Aub off to school, my two-year old Princess and I huddled in the bed most of the day.  I could not, would not go into labor with him way up there in the air somewhere.  Not gonna happen.

And so it didn’t.  I felt some better on Friday.  I think Aub had a school dance (Valentine’s maybe?), so she was out that evening.  I had an egg sandwich because my appetite was a little off.  I remember Daddy telling me and each of my sisters that we would deliver the week we failed to gain weight, because the baby couldn’t grow anymore if we weren’t gaining weight.  And so he was right.  The next morning before six a.m. I woke up with contractions.  Surely not.  I lay there, timing them with the digital clock across the room, glowing red in the darkness.  Six.  Six.  Really?  Wow.  Maybe this was happening.  And then, YES!  Five minutes.  Several times in a row.  I woke up my Fella.  I called the doctor on call, who was not from my practice.  (Shoot.  I was so disappointed.)  He suggested I drink some water, take a Tylenol maybe?, and lay back down.  What.  On.  Earth.  I’d done this a couple of times before, both different, and yet, in the words of Olivia on The Cosby Show–“I KNOW my body!”  I was in labor.  I took his advice for about five minutes, rolling my eyes at the idiocy of it, and I called him back.  “We’re coming in.”

We called my parents, and we got things ready to head out of the door.  My parents made even better time than they did on Christmas mornings.  Before we were completely ready, they were THERE.  I think this was around 7 or so.  Later my up the hill neighbor (our house was literally down a pretty serious vertical drop) told me that she was up early, saw my Daddy’s truck, and said, “Oh we’re having us a baby today!”

Daddy left his truck at our house, and he and Mama drove the two girls back to their house in my Blazer.  They were in the process of replacing their car that had been totaled in an accident.  What timing!  The Fella and I headed up to Macon to the hospital.  It was a beautiful morning for a drive.  Later he told me that he didn’t really think this was it.  But it soon became clear after we parked, walked across the bridge to the maternity ward, and filled out paperwork, that we were having a baby that day.  Very quickly in fact.  For various medical reasons, I was to have a C-section.  (And yes, I did all my research–this was not an easily made decision.  I’d already had one, and I was thankful for it–our Princess was two weeks early, breech, and weighed 8 pounds, 15 ounces–yes, a C-section please, thank you.)  I was in active labor, so the doctor on call insisted that they bring in extra staff on this Saturday morning so he could open up a second surgery room and deliver this baby.  Pronto.

I have to give him credit.  I went in with a preconceived notion, but he was great.  He fought to get me where I needed to be, despite hospital red tape.  He held my hands and helped me focus for the spinal, and he talked with me about Japan and all kinds of everyday things.  He let my Fella tell me that this new addition was a boy, and he was very kind in the end.  I forgave him for his foolishness from early.  He’d had a busy morning.

Before 11 a.m. I was snuggling with a new sweet fella whom I knew would change my world.  I’ve had a little guy in my life before who is now a wonderful big guy, but I’d never had a baby boy before.  Things would never be the same again.  He went from wrapping his fingers around my pinkie, to wrapping my heart around HIS finger.  When my folks brought his sisters to meet him (with their big sister shirts on–my Mama was ever so organized!), everyone oohed and ahhed over him, just as it should be.  Aub got to hold him just as she had her little sister when she was born.  And our Princess looked over at him, held up in her Cap’s arms so she could see, and said, “Oh Mama, dat’s a cute baby, can we keep him?”

You know, I think we just might.

That night as I cuddled him, and his Daddy and I watched the bull-riding as had become our Saturday night tradition, I was full to bustin’ with love and warm fuzzies and gratitude.   And I still am.

Today we celebrated and tried to make it a great day for him.  I had a lot to live up to.  He’s been counting down the days since the first of February, and the weeks before then.  Actually I think he asked me Christmas day  how long it was until his birthday.  I started off the morning making him pancakes.  Star Wars pancakes.  They weren’t the most perfect, but he was thrilled nonetheless.  I used “Goober’s Pancakes 57” recipe from my Aunt Bee’s Mayberry Cookbook (the BEST).  All through the breakfast, my littles were talking about what a good cook Goober was because these were the BEST EVER pancakes ever.  Well, okay then.  I’ll take it.  Me and Goober, that is.   Cooter ate two huge pancakes and then half of a plate-sized one.  Oh my stars, he never eats that much in the morning.  We had a field trip planned to see “Charlotte’s Web” at the Grand Opera House, and the Fella surprised them and met us there.  When we were checking in, I thought “why not” and I asked if by any chance we could sit in the box seats.  The very sweet lady in charge not only said yes, but she led us to the box and told us the best seats for the best view.  Bless her.  My littles were thrilled, and the Fella was too.   I have to admit I didn’t mind the limited view at all, as I saw the excitement and faraway, enchanted looks in their eyes.  They have wanted to do this for a LONG time, and it was a dream come true for them.  Or, as Cooter put it, “the best thing ever.”  After we said goodbye to their Daddy, I drove them across town so Aub could see the birthday boy and give him a birthday hug.  He was so happy about seeing her.  “I don’t think I’ve seen her since…..since…..Sunday!” he gushed later.  Our Princess pointed out that was just yesterday, and he said with indignation, “Yes.  I KNOW!”  He wanted a cheeseburger so we had a picnic in the van enroute to allergy shots, and then we headed back home.  The rest of the afternoon was laid back and filled with play and laughter.  This evening we took him out for supper to the place of his choosing.  After we came home and I whipped up the “triple chocolate brownies” he asked for instead of a cake.  (Triple?  I got no idea.  I threw in some dark chocolate chips, and he seemed happy.)  He ate four little chicken sandwiches at supper, and as I sat watching him, I realized he’s not a little boy anymore.  Seven–that’s a boy.  Not little.  A boy.  When did all of this happen?  I wasn’t asleep that long, was I?

He has been both the delight and bane of his sisters’ existence.  He’s been known to be quite the little mischief maker.  He has a quick wit and a smile that shines on forever.  He is a picky eater, my only child without food allergies or aversions.  He tells folks he’s a “fruitatarian.”  Which comes closest to the truth I guess.  He loves music, can remember verses and artists as well or better than I do.  He has his Cap’s knack for knowing what make and model a car is.  And he can dance.  He just can’t help it.  The music plays and he starts moving.  He loves cars.  When he was very little his fascination with cars was the reason Cap gave him the moniker “Cooter,” after the mechanic on “Dukes of Hazzard.”  It stuck.  One of my favorite memories of him with Daddy after Daddy became bedbound–Cooter would drive the little matchbox car around the hospital bed frame.  Around and around and around.  Oh my land, I just knew it must be driving Daddy crazy–it was starting to get to me.  But when I asked, Daddy shook his head and said, “No, he’s not bothering me, let him play.”  And then he proceeded to answer the same questions over and over.  “Cap, which car is faster?”  “Cap, which is your favorite of these cars?”  “Cap, why do like Mustangs?”

Tonight I am thankful for the gift I was given seven years ago.  I am thankful for all he is.  Every single bit of who he is.  I am thankful he knows he is loved and that he loves his family so much.   I love that he still likes to cuddle at bedtime, and that he asks great questions that really challenge me to think.  I love the Legos I find all over the place (okay, not if I step on them), and I treasure finding Matchbox cars on my kitchen counters and in my tote bag or purse.  I love the surprise hugs and kisses he gives, and most of all, I love hearing him say my name.  “Mama.”  This baby who has changed all of our lives so much, who isn’t a baby at all anymore.  Happy Birthday, Cooter!  We love you.

Always.

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/