Five Minutes

I need a five… and a one, I guess. These are not supposed to be on my wall. Hmmm.

During the school year, I have one set rule when we get home from school, cheer, games, errands… whatever it is. For five minutes, I get a hot shower. By myself. Uninterrupted. Or that’s how it’s supposed to work. I am a preschool teacher. Preschoolers require lots of one on one attention. The job is a combination of physical and mental stamina, similar to parenting. So when I come home to my own teenagers, husband, and preschooler, that five minutes is not a luxury. It is essential.

Since being quarantined, that five minutes is not always available to me. Between preparing lessons and work packets for my students, keeping up with laundry, housework, and feeding five people, taking a break does not happen often. Some days are better than others. There are so many posts on social media about being Supermom and being thankful one hundred percent of the time we are with our children. I have had a BLAST being at home, but these types of posts make it easy to feel guilty about having an “off” day. Today has been that day.

The morning started with my husband getting up, going outside, and setting off the car alarm… at 4:15. I am not a morning person. The dog began to squeal at 5:50 and my toddler followed suit at six. So much for sleeping in. I had a two-hour Zoom meeting, then it was time for lunch and nap. “Um…. who fried pork chops and left grease everywhere?” I thought. The rest of the kitchen did not look much better. My little one was NOT about taking a nap today, either. Great.

By this time of day, I have usually done some housework, played with my little one, and worked a little. Nothing was getting done except the little one and I both stepped in dog poop (our dog is STILL not house trained), and then he stepped in it again. The mail didn’t pick up my package and I had to redo some work I thought was correct. I figured a hot shower (and five minutes alone) would be the ticket. Little did I know that my husband, toddler, and daughter were walking in the bathroom together as I was standing there about to get in the shower! Typical!

I guess what I am trying so say is that during this challenging time and, really, any time… it is okay and necessary for moms to take “five minutes”, whatever that means to you. Honestly, I cried for five minutes today, and I just really needed that. Praying, listening to music, taking a shower, and, yes, sometimes even crying for a few minutes is what can make us better moms. I hope you find your five minutes sometimes today… and every day. You ARE doing a wonderful job.

Brave

I am not brave. This sounds almost as if I assumed at one point in time that I possessed this trait. Actually, I am naturally inclined toward anxiety. There are times during this pandemic that I feel almost numb. Then, the fear and uncertainty of it all washes over me like cold water and I feel the need to gasp and steady my breathing. During these moments, tears, insomnia, and even irritability supersede any effort to remain calm. Hopefully, some of you can see yourselves as I see you…This blog post is dedicated to all of you, the brave ones.

To our medical heroes. You are brave. From the front lines of hospitals and clinics, you fight for others. You are in harms way, often at the expense of your safety, your family life, and sometimes, unfortunately, even your own.

To my fellow educators. You are brave. Providing an education for your students in new and different formats is challenging and you have stepped up to the plate. What we do is a calling. I applaud you.

To the Class of 2020. You are brave. All I can say is how sorry I am that you and your parents are missing milestones that cannot be replaced. My son graduated last year and this would break my heart as a parent. There will be new, wonderful memories to be made, but no one should deny your disappointment.

To the essential workers. You are brave. My husband is one of you. I pray for his safety, as well as yours, and pray that our families stay well. You keep the country going, stock the shelves, build the ships… and you are vital.

To the parents. You are brave. Many of you are working from home and doing school with your children. Remember that you do not have to be just like the teacher. If you are a single parent, I pray extra blessings and grace for you.

To the one who lost a job. You are brave. Life is not fair for you right now. Do not give up. So many are praying for you….there will be better days ahead. Keep going.

To the students. You are brave. Adapting to a new way of learning and isolating from friends are hard on their own much less at the same time. Give yourself grace. This will strengthen you in the long run.

Finally, to my three children… you are the bravest people I know and I love you. One of you has had to leave close friends and roommates and an inaugural college baseball season. Another is also isolated from friends and is still waiting to wear the beautiful ball gown in the closet for the spring ball. The youngest is somewhat confused but understands enough to know that he misses his friends… he asks about them daily.

Thank you for being brave. Because you are, I will be, too.

Normal

The Escatawpa River is fairly quiet right now. This isn’t normal for spring…. but nothing is right now.

Easter is my favorite holiday. I love it, not only for its Christian significance, but because of the memories I have as a child. My Mamaw used to make all my Easter dresses and my momma always bought me a new pair of white patent shoes. I remember hunting for eggs we had dyed and sometimes one would get overlooked and start to smell in our yard. As a mother, Easter has meant finding the perfect outfits for my children as well as making sure they understand the spiritual significance it holds for us as Christians. I also must add that spring is my favorite season because it has always meant watching our son play baseball and watching plants bloom after the winter. Easter and spring signify new life.

This spring has definitely been anything but normal. What has struck me, though, is how some things never change regardless of the circumstances. Just this morning, I’ve headed off my little one’s hissy fit so my husband can sleep off night shift. This is fairly typical for our house. The dog has managed to pee and poop on the rug even though I just took him outside. He’s probably mad because I bathed him. My older two still ask. “What is there to eat?” several times a day. When I checked the mail yesterday, I took some pictures of the cows and the wildflowers. The woodpeckers were working on their respective trees, and dragonflies darted around. Nature goes on as intended, vastly unaware and unconcerned about a worldwide pandemic.

Since we’ve been out of school, several things have changed. I’m cooking more. The house is neater. We spend more time together as a family. I’ve also seen changes outside our home. People are more unselfish, patient, kind. This reminds me of how things were after Hurricane Katrina… neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger. The small things are the big things. And it’s wonderful. The juxtaposition is that a pandemic has seemingly made us come back to what’s important…. and there’s nothing normal about that.

I will never forget these precarious times. I wouldn’t want to, for I’ve been broken into a million pieces with the realization that MY normal hadn’t been what it should be. I hadn’t put my faith and my family first. And as I internalize my new normal, my new priorities, I must go now. The dog needs food and so do the children. Some things never change. Thank goodness for that.

Grace

One day at a time, little one…

Grace:(n) “….. the unmerited favor of God.“. Unmerited:(adj.)”not deserved.”

Where do I even begin? The day started innocuously enough. Granted, my husband woke at 3:30 to get ready for work. I’m a light sleeper so going back to sleep sometimes eludes me. However, when the puppy woke at 4:30, I began to wonder how this day would actually unfold. My rest during the night had been at least fitful. Every noise meant a quick awakening to check on the baby. I believe this is referred to as being “on edge.” Obviously, I had already arrived at this state.

If you would have told me two weeks ago not only would my school be closing for at least a month, but that we would also be scrambling to find groceries , I wouldn’t have believed it. I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around what is happening. This blog post is one I started two weeks ago…. I’m just now getting to sit and finish it. Well, technically, I’m just now TAKING the time to finish it. My other excuse for not completing it sooner is that if I write this, I must face my emotions. Fun times.

Because I started this particular post two weeks ago, I can’t vividly remember the specifics of the day. I do, however, remember exactly why I began writing this. I remember because of the same reason I’m writing tonight. I need forgiveness and grace. From God. From my family . From myself. On this particular day about two weeks ago, I ran out of patience with my little one. I’m sure it wasn’t for lack of trying, but he is three and he is strong-willed. Still, I felt guilty for feeling so impatient.

Fast-forward two weeks and I still need grace, especially in the evenings. Although we have made so many wonderful memories in spite of the threat around us, bedtime tends to be the weak link in the day. This tends to begin at supper, and tonight was no exception. Little one began to get more and more “active.” He wouldn’t sit down to eat and kept rolling on the floor and making me worry about germs. More than once, I found myself getting short with him because it seems as if his little ears cease to listen around 6 pm. Guilt began to wash over me.

During supper, our college-aged son began to talk baseball. This isn’t unusual considering he’s been playing since he was four, but it struck my heart. Just like thousands of others, his first season in college was cut short by this insidious virus. He has prepared to walk on a college field for 15 years. As I looked at my daughter sitting at the table, I thought of the times she mentioned others her age still congregating on beaches despite the warnings. Two weeks ago, she bristled at our stance of no socializing at this time. Now, her attitude about the quarantine had changed and she seemed older and wiser in such a brief period of time.

All of these thoughts began to swirl simultaneous, and as I walked to the pantry, I began to cry. Truthfully, I’ve cried many times in the shower. I couldn’t even make it past the pantry, though! I cried for my son and his disappointment over baseball. He hasn’t complained at all, which somehow breaks my heart even more. I cried for my daughter’s loneliness. We are blessed to live on a beautiful river, but she has no friends nearby to even sit safety apart with outside. I cried for my lack of patience with my little one. How many times has he asked me where his friends are and why he can’t see his grandparents? His little heart doesn’t understand what is happening. Mostly, I cried because my children, ALL children, are facing some hard realities that just seem so surreal.

My husband put little one to bed and the “games” began. He asked to get up and potty. Then, he asked again. After that, he wanted his lamp on. Get the picture? I remembered asking God earlier in the day to give me grace… to just be patient and give me another chance. Really, I was asking for forgiveness . The realization that my children deserve the same grace wasn’t lost on me. I turned on little one’s lamp. Instead of leaving, I sang his favorite songs and he asked me to rub his little eyebrows as I sang. I did…without hesitation. One day I’ll explain this unprecedented time in history to little one. I’ll explain grace to him, as well. But for now, I’ll just be thankful for God’s grace. I’ll pray for the strength to extend the same grace to my three precious children. And I’ll show them grace, one day at a time.

My sweet daughter
My handsome older son

First, Take Care

It’s all going to be ALL right!
Corinthians 12:9

This is going to be a quick one. Wait. I’ve used that line before. Oh, well. This IS going to be a quick one. There. The time change is messing with me, so I’m staying awake and will pay dearly tomorrow. What with church, groceries, and International Women’s Day, it’s been a busy one. I had never heard of this day until today and keep seeing lots of inspirational posts on social media. I’m not going to get into the specifics of International Women’s Day because I’m not the expert on the particular day itself. However, I AM an expert on being a woman.

In church this morning (yes, this is going somewhere), my pastor preached on what to do after putting on the Armor of God. Without getting wordy, the Armor of God are spiritual truths which one uses to stand against evil. He spoke of praying for oneself, praying for others, and praying for pastors. My pastor pointed out that we must pray for ourselves first.

Me? Put myself first in prayer? As a woman and a mother, this surprised me. Isn’t the point of my life to take care of others first? The term “self-care” is really popular right now and sometimes it can come across as being shallow. As he continued to preach, my pastor used the example of a rescuer. If a rescuer goes to help someone and he/she doesn’t take care of his/her safety FIRST, then both the rescuer and the one needing to be rescued are doomed. This made perfect sense! A firefighter can’t run into a burning building without a fireproof uniform and oxygen. A police officer cannot rescue a hostage without a bulletproof vest.

As a mother, I need to pray for myself. Before I can have the wisdom or strength to help guide my family, I must ask for God to equip me. By myself I am neither strong or wise enough. I need to put on that protective “armor” that only He can give. I’m not saying that moms should never have alone time, time with friends or a spouse, a much-deserved pedicure, or the like. I love ALL those things! But when I feel at the “end of my rope”, weary, worn down, and discouraged… I can go to the One who can provide strength, courage, and hope where there seems to be none.

Take care of yourselves, moms. It’s okay to be first sometimes.

Give Thanks (and love those who need it)

“Sending love to everyone who is trying to heal from the things they do not discuss.”
Anonymous

You got cut off in traffic…. he can’t pay his car note.

You found a wrinkle on your face…..she’s recovering from a double mastectomy.

Your husband didn’t do the dishes…..her husband’s having an affair.

That co-worker doesn’t pull her weight….. the man in the grocery line has to tell his wife he lost his job.

The baby kept you up last night…..she’s tried to conceive for years.

Your parents live far away…. her parents passed away.

That group of ladies didn’t invite you….. she’s new in town and has no friends.

You haven’t had date night in weeks…. her husband is deployed for six months.

Your teenager is disrespectful …. their teenager ran away.

Give thanks. And love those who need it right now.

You Have To…. But Not Alone

I’m thankful for this view.

“I can’t do it anymore.” I started to think as a feeling of dread washed over me. The situation(s) at hand hadn’t changed for the better. Actually, they were somewhere in between being at an impasse to possibly worse. Every time I thought something was about to change for the better, I was dealt another blow. “I can’t do this anymore.” was the thought that ran through my mind again. My stomach began to turn and my heart skipped. “What do I do? I’ve done everything humanly possible. Why isn’t this getting better?” I hadn’t prayed at this point of my helplessness.

Pray. This wasn’t lost on me. I HAD prayed. One million times. Maybe more. Obviously, nothing on the part of my human striving was solving anything. So pray, I did. One step at a time. One day at a time. I will keep going. I have to. You do, too. When the situation at hand seems impossible, keep praying. It’s not the only thing to do. It’s the best thing to do. When the fear washes over you and makes you want to cower and hide, be brave. Bravery is the choice to act in the presence of fear and regardless of that fear. When you lose hope, be thankful for the small things… a cup of coffee, a flower, the sound of your child laughing. Thankfulness begets hope.

I’m not going to tell you it’s easy or feign spiritual deepness here. But I will say that God is bigger than any circumstances you are facing. He hears your prayers, your questions, and even your “why’s.” Growing pains hurt. Profound, huh? Ever work out? You’re actually tearing down muscles just so the fibers can build themselves up even stronger than before. Hard circumstances are much the same. It’s going to hurt. It may even break you down sometimes. There’s no way around that. You have to feel the pain to develop the strength. But you don’t have to do it alone. Pray. Keep praying. And when your stomach lurches and the tears start…. pray even more.

This Time Last Year

Sewanee, TN, where my son visited last year. It was beautiful, but he is happily playing baseball for my alma mater, Hinds Community College.

This time last year…..

I had just started a blog. It was exciting and I would write once a week… mostly funny things. Getting older and the perils of shopping for Mardi Gras formals were the “choix de jour”. It was funny to me and (hopefully) slightly entertaining.

My son was a senior in high school. We were navigating scholarships, prospects for playing college baseball, and graduation invitations. Dorm shopping had commenced.

My daughter was still a girl. No talk of driver permits or even plans after high school.

The baby was still a baby.

This time last year….

I had hopes, dreams, and fears.

And now?

I still have hopes dreams, and fears… albeit different.

Writing is tricky. It takes time. Honestly, blogs are tough at times. . I’d love to be an open book, but life isn’t always funny and cute. I love it and will continue.

My first-born has settled into dorm life. He’s a good student and athlete with a good head on his shoulders….. but I miss him. I miss Nerf Gun wars and prayers at night.

My daughter is almost sweet sixteen. She’s getting ready to drive and talks of future plans. But I miss Build-A-Bears and shopping at Justice.

My last baby, a toddler now out of diapers. Our surprise miracle. He’s getting so big…. too fast for me.

A lot can change in a year.

Nativity

noun

The occasion of a person’s birth

This beautiful nativity ornament is from a friend of mine.

This Christmas I received three different nativity ornaments. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten three ornaments at one time with a similar theme. I have a nativity scene in my home and one nativity ornament. Now I have four nativity ornaments, and I’m very pleased. Not one to believe in accidents, the timing of these ornaments is interesting. This year has been one of growth and with growth comes growing pains. Obedience is tough…. tougher when we can’t see the fruits of our struggles.

To be honest, I started this particular blog a couple of weeks ago. Okay…. three weeks ago. What with Christmas, back to school and work, a toddler, and a new puppy, I didn’t finish it. So here we are in January and my blog photo is a Nativity. I tend to celebrate LEADING up to Christmas, and the blasted tree that’s shedding profusely on my floor comes down ASAP (i.e. December 26). This year, however, I continued to enjoy it for several days afterwards. My Nativity in the living room is still on display.

During this Christmas season, I thought often about Joseph and Mary. What were their plans? I’m certain Joseph fully expected to marry this innocent girl and provide as he should. He probably thought about future children and maybe how he could teach a future son his trade. For her part, Mary was probably excited and nervous as a bride-to-be and was making preparations with her family for a wedding. That’s not what they got, though.

And I thought that this might be an illustration for our lives….the job loss, the health crises, the wayward child, the strained finances, the faltering marriage….no wonder we lose hope for better times.

But God had something better for Joseph and Mary than what they had planned. Actually, He gave them His best….. His perfect son.

God has something better for you, too. You might not see it yet, but His timing is perfect and so is His provision.

And they were obedient to His calling….even though it was uncomfortable and they didn’t fully understand. We must push on and not lose hope, either.

The Nativity… the birth of Christ, our Savior, our hope.

Miracles

This cover picture doesn’t match the title. It’s okay with me if it’s okay with you. I thought it was beautiful. I had tried a new cake recipe which overflowed in the oven… THEN I tried to auto clean the oven and we almost had to move. The smell was horrendous…. I had to go outside and got a few minutes of quiet. This in itself is a miracle, as I have three kids and a husband. My oldest is 18 and very independent. My middle is 15 and still needs me from time to time. The youngest is two so that’s self-explanatory! Add my job as a teacher, and quiet time is literally a miracle.

For a long time now, I’ve been praying for a miracle. You may call it a need or prayer request…. it’s a coveted miracle, none the less. Maybe I should add that I’m not a Hallmark-type girl. I’ve seen maybe three of these movies. They are full of miracles! There is NOTHING wrong with watching them. It’s just not my “thing.” The happy endings are sometimes hard to believe.

Are you waiting on a miracle? Does it ever seem like it will never come? I was thinking about this today as I had a hard conversation and processed some hard realizations. Maybe the miracle is in the waiting. The fact that you or I continue to wait and pray when the miracle hasn’t happened is a sign of faith… and faith is belief in things (and a Heavenly Father) unseen. Maybe the miracle is in the person we become in the waiting…. God’s way of changing us into the person he uses to help someone else. Maybe the miracle is in the strength God either gives us to fight one more day or in the strength of others he has ordained to cross our paths.

The miracle may not come right away, but God does miracles every day. He can do miracles along the way while we await an answer to all our prayers in the form of a friend to help carry our burdens , a strength we didn’t know we possessed but found when pushed to the limit, or even unexpected quiet time to experience His peace that passes understanding. Miracles come in all forms… even while we wait.