Archives for May 2014

The Lawyer and the Mean Boy {Don’t Give Up on Anyone}

He solemnly looks at the principal.

Is it true?  Did you say this?

Yes, it’s true.

Give him points for admission.

This is the same kid who gave me a book a few months ago called One Fat Summer and told me it was the perfect book for me.  (Teaching isn’t for the thin-skinned.)

book

Yet, here I am, listening to this boy and the principal discuss how he’s hurt another student with his words.    And my tears pool.

Geezzzz…this boy has hurt my feelings and disrespected me more times than I can count.  I’ve sequestered him, reasoned with him, and yelled at him.  Not much works.  But when I look at him, I just can’t see the disrespectful bully.

I see hurt.   And I hurt for him.

 I see a boy who wants to be loved.  I see a boy who desires attention and acceptance.

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He looks at me with disdain and arrogance.

Are you going to sign or not? {loosely paraphrased}

I am trying to understand what it’s saying, I say as tears cloud my vision.  .

He rolls his eyes, shuffles papers, and shakes his head.

And I hate him.

I hate him for making me feel less than and dumb. I understand that part of being a lawyer might be intimidation.  But heartless and hateful?  Not necessary.

I want to be spiteful and not sign just to tick him off. {mature, huh?} My daughter is watching me, and in my head I hear…this is not who you are, Sarah.  Hate and spite.

I sign.  The court date comes, and once again, he talks to me as if I am four. I don’t loathe anyone really, except this man.

Today I go to his office to sign the last papers. My stomach tossing and turning as I drive. I pray…mercy, Lord.  I just want to sign and leave.

Prayer granted.  No enemy sighting.  But, as I drove away, I felt God saying…he’s just like that student. He really is.

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The student. The lawyer.  Both crying out for attention in their own way.

One refusing to work and causing trouble

Another racking up case wins and belittling comments.

One using his ignorance and the other using his intelligence to make others feel less than…to make himself feel better.

And my heart has to admit that the root of the insults is almost always {somewhere deep}  a desire for love, attention, and acceptance.

We all want this, huh?  Love (we are worthy).  Attention (we matter). Acceptance (we are liked and included as we are).

Still… I ponder the young boy’s “hope and future,” deciding his future is bleak at best.

As I continue listening to the principal /student interchange, I hear the boy say he goes to church.  {I can’t share what prompted the conversation to head this way, but this boy knows the Bible. It’s evident.}

He gets to church on a bus driven by Miss Mary. {name changed}

And I know…his “hope and  future”?  The one that looks VERY bleak?  The future that to my human eyes seems sad, a bit hopeless?  I’m judging too soon.

Because…

Miss Mary is sewing into this boy.  She is seed planting then watering, tending, pruning, and picking.  She’s faithful.

And I bet Miss Mary would like to throw her hands up some Wednesdays and Sundays as she listens to him drop the F-bomb in her church van. I might have kicked him out.  If you knew this child, you might write him off.

Not Miss Mary. She’s pouring in.

Because Miss Mary knows something we all should learn:  her work isn’t about the now…the immediate behavior…it’s about eternity.

Because I know my efforts to be kind to the mean lawyer are not about the now…his immediate behavior….it’s about eternity. {even if my heart is NOT following any kindness…sadly}

When we say a kind word, love others, and walk alongside them – pouring in – the work is heart work. When we follow our Creator, faithful to a child – or even the lawyer  – He works in ways we don’t understand. Ways we can’t see.

Your faithfulness and work?   It might manifest as better “behavior” someday, but for now, stay faithful.  We’re counting on you – He’s counting on you – to keep pouring in quietly and faithfully.

To your children.  To her children.  To the neighbor boy.  To the gal at church.  To your children’s friends.

It really does take a village, especially if a child’s village is at war. Not paying attention. Self-focused.  Fighting.

My human, judgmental eyes might want to say…don’t waste your time, Miss Mary, or your van’s gas.  But, I suspect Miss Mary knows:  it’s not a waste.  It’s a calling she’s living out each time she pulls up to his house.  She may never know the “fruit” of her labor.

But.

I’m choosing to believe today  the one who died for ALL our sins sees the boy and the lawyer as HIS. Souls he created to glorify Him. And if I believe in a God who knows the numbers of stars in the sky, hairs on my head, grains of sand on the beach…a God who loves me and wants to commune with me daily…

I  must believe in a God who loves and desires communion with the boy and the lawyer.

And you.

All. Equally.  None better than another.

 7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 1 John 4: 7-12

11 Minutes {Life Changes Quickly}

A police car’s flashing lights draw my attention.  I slow down and look to see why two cops are standing on the house’s porch. {Ok, I know it’s not polite, but I’m nosy.}

She sat on the porch wrapped in a blanket, holding a toddler tightly.  Tears streaming.  Fear evident.

The cops stood at the home’s entrance.  A shirtless man in the doorway.  Other activity in the house hidden from my view.

I don’t know the (very) young woman’s story.  But, in that moment my heart hurt on her behalf. What little girl dreams of sitting on a porch, wrapped in a blanket, hugging a small child while cops pace her porch?

Not that girl…not any girl.

I wonder…how did she end up there?  What happened to her or those around her putting her in such a place – in need of protecting?

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I heard my own footsteps echoing on the courthouse floor.  Ascending the stairs toward the courtroom reminded me of walking the aisle to the altar. Both times I looked ahead and my husband awaited.

I took a seat across the waiting area on a wooden bench, which eerily reminded me of  a pew.  The similarities of the two days breaking my heart.

Where did you park, he asked.

In the lot, I say.

I keep my head down, repeating:  I will not cry, I do not care, I will not cry, I do not care.

(All lies…I cry. I care.)

The judge appears in the doorway…Farish…it’s our turn.

We stand and walk toward the door – my husband ahead with his lawyer – me alone because I chose to represent myself.

We take seats on opposite sides of the small room, each stating our names and addresses loudly and clearly for the record. The judge reads the names of my children, and it’s too much.  I break into sobs.

The judge stands, walks around her bench, and hands me a box of tissues. A gift of grace.

Repeating my I will not cry mantra doesn’t seem to be working.  So, I look around the room, searching for something on which to focus.  Just above the door – off to the right – is a pipe with color samples tucked behind it.

Six shades of gray.  I keep thinking…how appropriate.  Six shades of gray in a courtroom.  The irony isn’t lost on me as I listen to his lawyer ask questions for formality’s sake.

There’s a moment in which I almost forget where I am.  It’s surreal.  Like…this isn’t happening…none of it has happened…I am about to wake up.  Because even though it’s what I want to happen – it’s what I know MUST happen – a divorce – I am still sad.

My turn comes.  His lawyer repeats the questions.  I answer.

I hereby declare this marriage dissolved.  {or some such statement}

That was that.

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Eleven minutes.

11

My divorce took 11 minutes.

That young gal on the porch?  Her life changed in less than 11 minutes.

Eleven minutes.

You have cancer.  You’re going to be a mom.  Will you marry me?  He’s gone.  She cheated. I don’t love you.

A wedding.  A meeting.  An audition.  A breakup. A diploma.  An abuse.  A murder.  An accident.  An award.

You’re invited (or you’re not).  Welcome to our church.  I am so sorry.  You’re fired.  You’re hired.  You made it!

A missed meal.  A false accusation.  An unfair assumption.

Eleven minutes.

Words of joy, words of affirmation.  Words of hate, words of dismissal.

All take less than a minute to utter, but stick in our hearts forever.

Eleven minutes can “make” or “break” us, huh?  Those minutes can change your life forever.

An altar and a courtroom – both 11 minutes.

A porch and a policeman – 11 minutes (or less).

Friend, today you’ll get to live 11 minutes about 130 times.  I know you have meals to fix, errands to run, conversations to have, meetings to attend, people to love.

And, 11 minutes will pass – and keep passing – without you even realizing it. But, as I passed a girl on a porch this morning, I felt God reminding me…

The next 11 minutes are different for everyone.  Some pain-filled and others joy-filled. Some life-changing and others nondescript.

I am driving to school and you’re heading to bed after the night shift.  I am saying hello, and you’re saying goodbye.  I am living in the States raising a family, and you’re across the globe raising a village.

All our minutes can look very different.

Yet.

When you happen upon the withdrawn, quiet gal or the loud, exuberant gal.  When you can’t stand all her drama or decide to embrace all her beauty.  When you think she’s broken (and don’t have time for it) or think she’s amazing.  When you roll your eyes or reach for a hug.

Remember…she’s just lived 11 minutes. In a divorce court.  In a happy marriage.  With the knowledge of an affair.  With the compliment of her friend.  After the phone call.  After the news.

Embrace her with grace.  With love and understanding. Ask, don’t assume.  Lean toward love and not “she’s less than.”

Most of all…

Consider the cross.

He knew you (and her) before you lived your first 11 minutes.  He knows each of the 11 minutes you’ve lived and has stood sovereign over all – as hard as that may be to swallow.

He’s in the courtroom and on the porch.

He’s holding you, interceding on your behalf to His Father.  Extending grace and judgment.  Love and mercy. Consequences and help.  Dancing or weeping alongside you.

So, whether your last minutes brought pain or progress – delight or devastation – look up.  That’s where our help and hope come from.

19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf…Hebrews 6:19-20

To the Mom Who… {We Are All Mothers}

Today I celebrate an amazing mom. I can’t tag her- she’s facebookless. I won’t get to see her because I am being a mom today.  But, she knows…she is an amazing woman, not because she gave birth, but because she loves unconditionally.  [And NO one loves better than my MOMMA!]

mom w kids

Because THAT’s what makes a mom – unconditionally loving another, not simply giving birth.

To the mom who stays at home day in and day out.  Changing diapers and speaking baby babble…homeschooling…happy day.  I know you often feel lonely, but you are loved. And when your teen stands in front of you, you’ll say, “I am thankful for those years.”

To the mom who can’t stay home.  The mom who gets up, gets them ready, rushes out the door each day – either by choice or necessity – happy day.  The single mom.  The mom who chooses to make more to give more.  The mom whose salary is needed.   The mom who juggles child rearing, money making, dinner cooking, house cleaning, and much more. You are loved.

To the barren mom.  The mom with the ovulation calendar. The one who has been artificially inseminated and invitro fertilized.  I can’t imagine how this day feels to you.  Pictures on Facebook, wanting to celebrate your own momma, but feeling the weight of never having bore a child.  As if you’ve failed. You’re not fully a woman; a piece of you is missing.

I know you.  My sister, Dawnna, dwelled in your shoes for over 15 years. Waiting, praying.  She prayed aloud in the room she thought would be a nursery. She cried and yelled “why” toward heaven. She gave up.  She mothered my children as if they were her own.

mom and dawn

And today?  She’s awaiting June 25 and Chloe Grace.  Not because she prayed hard or “deserves” a child, but because this is a sovereign God’s plan – for her.  She has said…we all deserve nothing; it’s only by His grace and mercy and that we “get” anything.

And barren one?  You are loved.

me praying

To the mom-to-be.  My sister.  Oh, my word I am soooo excited for you!  Whether you’ve tried for 15 years or for one day, your world is about to change.  And you may already feel loved, but know that when those little eyes look into yours and those little hands grasp yours and that first cry wells from her chest, you will know love.

dawn and casey

To the one whose mom is gone. I am so sorry.  It’s not a happy day, and I will not even pretend to know how you feel. I won’t offer empty words or ask you to put a smile on your face.  Ugh! But, friend, you are loved.  You really are. He loves you. I love you.  I pray you see some love today.

To the one who has no relationship with her mom.  I don’t know why. I don’t know what she did to you or what you did to her, but I am so sorry.  Life is messy. Unfair. Often ugly.  And I pray for your heart today.  The heart looking around, asking God, Why isn’t my mom like that? Why didn’t she love me as I needed to be loved?  Why did she give me up, abuse me, act indifferently?  Was I not good enough to have a mom like the others? 

Yes, you are good enough- more than “good” enough. You are loved.  I can’t even offer understanding, but my heart hurts for you today.  I pray His peace for you.

To the single gal who wants nothing more than to be a mom.  I know how much baby showers and Mother’s Days and weddings hurt your heart. You smile big.  You show up (mostly) with a gift and congratulations. But somewhere deep you wonder.  Why not? Why me?

I want to remind you:  you are loved by so many.  You ARE a mother.  To each child you love – teaching, caring, adopting, hugging, and encouraging.  The children of your heart – they’re yours too. In fact…

We are all mothers.  To be a mom is to love another unconditionally. To offer yourself sacrificially for another.

So, to each of you.  Whatever today “feels” like… I invite you to step beyond the feel to the One.  Your Creator. The one who chose you to be a daughter.  With your birth, he gave the title Mom to another.  Step toward Him because…

HE loves you. 

Maybe the world doesn’t love you. Maybe you don’t feel much love from your husband. Maybe you’re alone, feeling unloved.  Maybe today just stinks because you just got divorced and your own mom is hundreds of miles away (ahem;).

Today, choose to remember that your Father loves you. For He so loved you that he sent His only child – a son – to die a brutal death for you (John 3:16).  And he wants nothing more than to join the joy or fill the ache of your Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day, Sisters. I celebrate EACH and every one of you today.

(And to my precious kiddos…I love you!  I am honored to be your Mom!)

mom and owen     mom and han

I’d Still Have Said I Do {Even if Tomorrow is I Don’t}

The beginning and ending could not be more different.

In 1998 I walked through the doors of Poca United Methodist Church on my Daddy’s arm.  Excited.  Nervous.  Smiling from ear to ear. As I walked the aisle, familiar faces greeted each glance. Friends and family filling each pew.

WeddingHeader

My dress wasn’t expensive, but I loved it.  My fiancé, family, and friends  – all stood at the front, waiting, smiling. Flowers and tulle adorned the pews.

It was a dream day.

Did issues exist behind the smiles? Yes.  Red flags?  A few.  But, I felt God joining us together. Any obstacle we faced, we would face as one.

I have wondered often…if the next 15 years had flashed before me prior to the wedding, what would I have done?  Would I have walked away or said I do?

Walking away would have saved me much pain.  Right, divorced friend? Hurting friend?  Widowed friend?  Lonely friend? If we’d have known then what we know now, we could have avoided it all.

No marriage…no pain.

No commitment to love…no pain.

Right?  Wherever you sit today, if given the chance, would you have skipped the hard?  The humbling?  The heartache?  If my life had flashed before my eyes…

I’d have said I do anyway.

And I’d have changed my decisions and my actions and my reactions. I’d have uttered one (or 20)  less critical word(s) and worried less.  I’d have lived less hum drum and more happy day.

Would it have worked?  I have no idea.  Still…

I’d have said I do.

Because amidst the pain, I’d have spotted the joy.  The joy of having two beautiful children. The joy of loving. The joy of knowing Biblical marriage and redemption – even if it didn’t last.

That day, August 1, 1998, a picture-perfect Saturday was the beginning.

And, tomorrow, May 7, 2014, a non-descript Wednesday will be the ending.

I won’t walk into the courtroom on my Daddy’s arm. He’s gone now. There will be no smiling friends or family (although my momma has asked me 100 times if I need her to attend).  Only a judge will be waiting at the aisle’s end.

Questions will be asked and answers given. And in a matter of minutes – as quick as we said I do – we will say I don’t.  For better or for worse? No. In sickness and in health?  For richer or for poorer?  No and no.  All that we vowed to one another and to our Creator…gone.

Just gone.

We won’t walk out arm and arm. I’ll leave alone – him with his lawyer.  Separate cars.  Separate houses

It sucks, huh? (Really sucks.)

And I am scared.  Scared to live alone and raise kids alone. Scared that I can’t keep all the balls in the air. Even knowing the verses about fear – that I have not been given a spirit of fear but one of power and love (2 Timothy 1:7).  I know it…I recite it…I believe it.

But still.

Tomorrow (about 8:45 am) I ask you to pray. For both of us.  Regardless of who did what, it’s just sad.  The hope we had on that day in 1998 is gone, and lost hope is always sad.

Have you lost hope?  Do you look back, wishing for a do over? Would you have said I don’t instead of I do to marriage, to friendship, to a job, to loving, to payments, to God’s call, to  _________?  

Really? It’s ok to say yes or no.

But…

Don’t overlook the joy.

I’ve lost all hope for my marriage, but I’ve not lost all hope.  While I am sad today, I am still hoping. Hoping in Him for a new life – a life that He uses for His glory.

While that life seems far away – for me and maybe for you.  While we may feel sad and stuck. Let’s hope.  Let’s keep looking up and moving forward…it’s hard, but He’s near.