Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Modern Day Job (not "job" but Job- from the Bible)

Recently, that age old question, "why do good things happen to bad people" has been haunting me.  You see, I have always believed that it is man's own sin that causes the majority of our problems and that God does not will bad things to happen to us. Having said that, I have also always subscribed to the notion from the Bible that God can use anything for good if we will just let Him. Meaning that, if we let go and realize that yes, the situation is bad, but God is greater than any negatives we face, some good will come to us.  And while I still believe that good can come out of anything, I am really wondering why God let's some of us be Jobs.

If you don't read the Bible or aren't a fan of the Old Testament, you might not know the story of Job.  You see, Job (pronounced "Jobe") was the most righteous man in the land.  This pleased God but made the Devil mad.  So the Devil goes and talks to God and says that no man could possibly be that righteous and that Job is good only because he is blessed- no bad has befallen him.  God has such belief in Job's faithfulness that he agrees to let the Devil try his hand at breaking Job.  His only stipulation is that the Devil cannot physically hurt Job. In the course of this experiment, Job loses EVERYTHING- land, livestock, sons, riches!  Job loses all that he counted as gain.

Now, this is where the story really gets interesting.  You would think that Job would get mad at God, turn his back, and head the other way.  Not Job!  Job continues to be righteous and faithful.  God lets the Devil have his way with Job again, and still Job remains upright.  Even his friends, who pose some good reasons for Job to be angry, cannot sway Job away from God.  In the end, God blesses Job and blesses him with TWICE as much as he started with!

To me, this is a great story of perseverance, triumph and a great and mature faith.  This is a story of God's great belief in man.  But lately, I've been wondering WHY God let the Devil go after Job in the first place.  I understand that God knew Job's strength of faith, but WHY PUT THE MAN THROUGH ALL OF THAT?  What was the good in this for Job?  Why would God allow his suffering?  Was it to prove a point to the Devil?  Was it so Job could be a role model?  Was it so Job would have more appreciation for the things he had?  I'm not really sure.

I believe that today, maybe more than ever, the Devil walks among us.  He takes many different forms and uses many of our weaknesses to drive us to sin.  But in the end, we CHOOSE that sin.  So, I guess the real question then is, why doesn't God intervene in these situations?  And why are some peoples problems SOOO much larger than others?

In the last few years, I have dealt with the loss of a marriage.  I have watched friends deal with the loss of loved ones, marriages, families, children and jobs.  All of these are things that brought  myself and my friends to our knees.  And  yet, most of us have managed to get up again.  But what about those who don't?  What about those who are left with NOTHING that resembles their former life? 

Here is my conclusion....I believe that sometimes, we make large mistakes in our lives.  And over time, that one mistake snowballs into many  more mistakes.  And sometimes, maybe, we end up with things that really shouldn't be ours.  In order to get back on track, and walk righteously with God, maybe we have to lose those things which do not serve to bring out the best in us or were gotten from less than stellar ways. Now, I am not saying that the loss of a parent, child or loved one happens because of our personal sin.  But I do believer that God uses those losses to open our eyes to ceratin things in our life.

 Sometimes one thing in our life is so good, but we can't see that having that thing actually brings more pain because of all the harmful things attached to it.  I think the hard part, though, is actually being able to SEE that holding onto those things would hold us back from real personal growth. I know that was certainly the case with  me and my marriage.  My children were attached to my marriage, therefore,  my  marriage must be a good thing for me.  My children are wonderful for me, but as it turned out, the marriage that came with it was damaging to my soul in some ways. I had to let go of my marriage even though it was not what I originally wanted and it was so painful. I lost something that I had really wanted, but I would never have been able to grow into the person I am if I had stayed. So, maybe, just maybe, like me,  we have to be brought to our knees in order to rise up and be the person we are destined to be! Only God has the REAL answers, but that thought sounds really good to me!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lessons Learned

Yesterday I turned 39.  For some people, that number might seem scary, but not for me.  You see, I entered my 30s thinking they would be the BEST decade of my life!  Now, I know life is what you make of it, but my 30s have not treated me as well as I had imagined.  I did, however, receive the two most wonderful gifts of my life in my 30s- Keifer and Hope! So my 30s have had a couple of redeeming qualities, but for the most part, I will not be sad to see them go.  You see, someone close to me keeps reminding me that I have ACTUALLY already had my 39th year and am starting my 40th.  Well, bring it on 40!  I'm not scared of you.  But as I inch  my way to the big 4-0, I want to take a minute and look back at some of the lessons I've learned from the 3rd decade of my life.....


1.  Don't be fooled by wolves in sheeps' clothing.  Putting your trust and faith in the wrong person or thing can have dire consequences.

2.  Take you blessings as they come and be thankful.  Sometimes the best blessings come in the midst of the worst tragedies. 

3.  Only you can know when it is time to let go of something.  Trust your gut!

4.  Love comes in all different forms.

5.  Cultivate patience.  No one catches the big fish by casting their line 100 times in a row.

6.  Life will have greater heartaches than you ever imagined.  You WILL survive!

7.  Not everything is ordained by God.  Our messy, sinful selves create most of our problems and situations that become problems.  But no matter what we do, God will show up.  He might not give us the solution we want, but He's still there.

8.  If it's important, say it.  You might not hear what you want to hear, but at least you live without the regret of never having said it.

9.  Love your children with the biggest love you have.  You never know what tomorrow holds.

10.  Second chances are sometimes the best gifts we get!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sometimes it's Just the Simple Things

If you don't live in the Lowcountry, you missed out on a beautiful spring day this past Saturday.  The Fam packed up a picnic and set off to enjoy a day in nature.  We went to The Angel Oak and hunted white squirrels, out to Beachwalker Park for a picnic, back behind the gates at Kiawah to fish and then ended the day by watching the sun go down on the beach.  It was one of the best days I have spent in a very long time, and I can't wait to do it again.

While we were doing all these things, though, I realized something about my children....they are demanding, impatient little pains in the behind! Now, this does not in any way mean that I don't love them, or love them any less than I did, but I got a chance to see them in a different light, and I was not pleased with everything I saw.

For one thing, I realized my children are VERY used to getting their own way.  K Man pitched a fit and pouted when I wouldn't sit at the picnic table he picked- it was by a very large hole that was roped off.  When I told Hope she couldn't have another soda, she sneaked one and proceeded to open it.  They ultimately thought this was funny but I did not.

Thing Number 2 that I realized is that my children have very little PATIENCE.  We got to our fishing spot, set up "camp" and hunkered down to wait on the fish.  Now, I know that for a lot of us, the fun in fishing is found simply in casting the line.  But if you really want to catch a fish, you have to cast, then wait patiently as the fish decide whether or not they are going to be kind to you on that particular day.  Keifer's line had not been in the water two minutes when he wanted to reel it back in and cast it into another spot.  It was explained to him that he would not catch a fish that way.  He settled in on a rock, but still continued to ask every two minutes about reeling in and recasting.  And don't even get me started on Hope.  She brought her baby and her InnoTab and had no interest in fishing.  She was tuned in electronically and could have cared less about anything but that tablet and getting snacks from the cooler.  So much for enjoying nature!

Diligent work was done to play games and tell stories to pass the time.  We even had the privilege of getting to watch a  mother Osprey teach her babies how to fly.  It was AMAZING, but my children were not that impressed by it.  Which leads me to my next children do not have a lot of awe or respect for nature.  Maybe they are a little young, but I want them to be blown away by the beauty and wonder of nature and animals.

Finally, I came to the realization that when my children are even the slightest bit tired, their manners go right out the window and they act like they are entitled to whatever it is they want.  Mama was NOT happy with this at all! I was embarrassed and actually, a little pissed at them.

All in all, though, it was a great day of enjoying good company and building relationships.  I have smiled more over memories of this past Saturday than I have over major events in my life.  It was just that good of a day.  Now, wait a minute, you might be thinking.  Didn't you  just tell us all about the things your kids did that annoyed you?  Well, yes I did.  But you see, the good of the day completely outweighed the bad.  I was, however, able to see my children from a different perspective.  I have spent much of the past several years giving in to them because I have felt guilty that they don't have their father in their house or even in their town.  What I realized on Saturday is that it is time to let go and let my children grow up.  It is time to use a firmer hand with them.  It is time to make sure I am molding and shaping the people they are becoming.  It is time to know when to discipline, when to reteach and when to let something go.  It's time I stand up and claim my place as their mother and not their "guilty mother".  I want them to be as much of a joy and blessing to others as they are to me.

So, just like with fishing, I'm going to cast my line, find my spot in the sand, and patiently lure- um, I mean guide- my children the right way.  Sometimes it might take some bait to get them there, but as long as they latch on to the right things, they will be keepers for sure!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

UGH!!!! OR Man, I Feel Better!!!!

I'm sitting here at my computer, trying to think of something witty or meaningful to write about, but the truth is I am in a somewhat foul mood.  So all the things that are coming to my head are not very nice.  And I am sure you don't want to hear me rant.  Well, I'm not going to rant, I am just going to make a Top Ten list. 

Top Ten Things That Irritate Me

1.  Insecure people who try to show you up so they can feel better about themselves.
2.  Selfish people who never do anything that is not in their best interest.
3 .Liars
4. Knowing someone's lies and deceptions and not sharing them- either because the person needs to figure things out for themselves or because it's really not my business or often because I don't want someone to be hurt.
5. Unpainted toenails
6.  People who are wishy-washy.
7. Missing someone
8. Being selfish- MY selfishness
9. The smell of clothes that have stayed in the washer too long.
10.  Being the "Bigger" person.

WOW!!!! I know that was not necessarily a fun list to read, but writing it down sure did make me feel better!  After Baby Daddy left when the kids were very small, I sought out the help of a Christian Counselor so I could make some sense of my life.  Her very first suggestion was for me to write down every thought I had that  was troublesome.  You see, she explained to me that although there were things I wanted to say to Baby Daddy- it was probably best to keep them to myself.  But keeping them locked inside me was a bad  option too.  So, she told me to write it down on paper because getting it out of my heart would help me.  She was right then and she is right now.  Still, I am always amazed how putting feelings onto paper- or a computer screen- makes me feel so much better.

You see, my Top Ten List are things I have been dealing with this week.  Some of them are a little silly and others are more serious.  When they are all jumbled up in my head, they feel like a load I might buckle under.  But when I put them out in a list like this, I can see that it's really not so bad.  The insecure person- that's her problem, not mine and now that I think of the situation, it makes me laugh.  Liars- can't change that either.  That's a change that person has to make.  All I have to do is remember where it is and isn't safe to put my trust.  Painted toenails- that will be cured Saturday morning :) and the missing someone......let's see about that one.  That one is a little more complicated, but at least I know it won't be TOO long before I see that person again.

Life is full of irritations.  Some are giants and others are as small as a gnat.  And we all have them.  How we treat one another in times of stress or irritation is really what it is all about though.  Just like my counselor said, Baby Daddy didn't need to hear all the hurtful, hateful things I wanted to say.  It wouldn't have made a difference,  And in our day to day life, sharing the "ugly" in our hearts won't make a difference either.  Kindness, compassion and love go much further than accusations, insults and deception. 

Whew!  I'm glad to get all that off my chest!  When I sat down to write, I had no idea where this post was headed except that y'all were going to be a captive audience to my grumblings.  Now I see that God was reminding me of the person I want to be, and how, in actuality, my problems are very small in comparison to others.  All I can do in a day is be the very best ME I can be.  All the rest, well, it will take care of itself in time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Some Dirty Kids OR Domestic Bliss

Those of you who know me know that I am NO Domestic Diva.  I hate to cook, my house is always at least semi-messy and I have more laundry to do than the Brady Bunch. Although I enjoy the feel and smell of fresh clean sheets, the way pressed pants look on a hanger- and then on me- and how nice the floors look all swept and mopped, I take no joy in making these things happen.  I wish that I did, but I just don't.  When I should be cleaning, I would rather be reading a book, watching my new favorite show, Nashville, playing with my kids, napping, hanging with friends....well, I would just about rather be doing anything but domestic chores.

When I was little, I had chores that were mine to do- clean my room, clean the bathroom weekly, and clean the kitchen on the nights I was told to. But even as a child, I did these things very begrudgingly.  Since this has been my feeling for most of my life, I have come to one conclusion about myself- I am missing the domestic gene.  I  just don't have it.  Or maybe I should say that I only have PART of it.  You see, I like to make dinner on occasion, but I hate to do the dishes.  I love to wash and dry clothes, but I hate to fold them and put them away.  Any domestic chore that has two sides to it, you can bet I like or love one and hate the other.  Because of this, I struggle on a pretty constant basis to keep my family neat, orderly and in ship shape.

I recently told someone that I didn't really like "domestic bliss"- all those wifey, womanly things we women are supposed to do in order to create a happy, healthy home.  I got to thinking about it later, though, and I realized, I may not like traditional domestic bliss, but I sure do like MY version!

You see, in my version of bliss, my kids and I paint ourselves with paint, just because it is fun.  We play in water outside when it's too cold because we want to see how fast the water runs down the driveway.  I skip doing laundry so I can have popcorn and watch a movie with my kids or go to downtown Charleston or the beach and enjoy a beautiful day.  I might not do the dishes so we can go to the pool, play with friends, hang out with Nana, or just curl up in the bed together and read books.  I skip finding recipes on Pinterest and order in our favorite pizza.

Now, I know all of these things don't set me up as Domestic Diva of the Year or as June Cleaver, and my children are probably learning better housekeeping skills from their father than me, but I don't really care.  You see, I am creating the life that I want for my kids and myself.  We are creating a life full of love, laughter, memories, and yes, a few dirty dishes.  But hopefully, when my children look back on their childhood, they won't remember that the house was a little messy or that Mom didn't cook.  Hopefully they will remember all of the fun we had together and all of the love we have shared.  Because, in the end, I would rather them remember a wonderful afternoon making a giant mud puddle, than a Sunday afternoon cleaning their rooms.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Raising Your Son to be a Man

As the Primary Custodian of my children, I have them full time expect for two weekends a month.  In most senses, I am both mother and father to my children on a daily basis.  With my daughter, Hope, this works just fine.  She loves her Dad, and enjoys her visits, but she is always happy to be with Mommy.  This is not so much the case with my son.  You see, no matter how good of a job I do of mothering him, he ALWAYS wants his father.  Every day.  Every single day.

Raising a daughter is a challenge, but for single mothers, raising a son can be very daunting.  There is no way we will EVER have enough testosterone to teach our sons how to be good men.  This is why I don't understand women who think they can raise a son without a father or some type of male influence.

I teach school and every day, I see boys who are being raised by single mothers.  Their moms are doing a good job, but these boys are constantly seeking out adult male attention.  They are looking for a role-model who will teach them to be a man.  Now, some of these moms of course would like to have a positive male role model in their son's life, but ALOT of them CHOOSE to be single mothers and keep the fathers at a distance or out of the picture altogether. I simply don't understand this.  I do everything I can to make sure Keifer is surrounded by positive male role-models.  He spends lots of time with my father, he plays on sports teams coached by men, he interacts with men at church, and sees his father as much as possible.  You see, I want Keifer to grow up to be a wonderful man.  I can teach him to be a good person, a moral person who is kind and loving, but I cannot teach him how to be a man.

Keifer and I do lots of things together- we ride bikes, play soccer, watch movies, build with Legos- alot of which would be done with his father if he were here.  I can fill in those kinds of gaps, but I can't teach him the really important inner "things" that make a male a MAN.  You see, I believe that boys, especially, learn by watching and imitating.  Boys need to see men working hard to support their families.  They need to see men treat women in  kind and gentle ways.  They need to see men conquer their fears and dive head first into whatever task needs to be accomplished.  Boys need to see men being strong for their families and loved ones when all they really want to do is sit down and cry. Boys have to see that wonderful combination of love, bravery and toughness that only men exude.

Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that a woman can't raise a family, put bread on the table, mow the lawn and take out the trash- all in one day, and in high heels.  What I am saying is that we, as single mothers, do our sons a disservice if we try to raise them in a female dominated world with little or no meaningful contact with a man who is invested in him.  Even if I weren't living this now, I would have learned it anyway.  You see, my father's father died just months before he was born.  He never had an opportunity to know his father, but my grandmother understood his needs and did her best to have his grandfather, uncle and close family friends invest time and love in him. My father grew up to be a good man.  Now he is teaching Keifer how to be a good man.

So, if there are any men reading this, I encourage you to volunteer in a school, become a Boy's Club mentor, work with the male youth at your church, seek out your wife's single friends and take an interest in their son/s- be a father figure for a boy who does not have one.  And ladies, if you know a mother who is raising a son by herself, encourage her to let the child's father be a part of his life when it is possible; help her find mentors for her son;give her a break from her son;  do whatever it takes to help her raise a wonderful man.  Because ladies, we've all been "done wrong" by a man who was not raised to be a REAL MAN.  You don't want your son or your friend's son to turn out like that- do you?

From Dr. James Dobson-
Though children of all ages, both male and female, have an innate need for contact with their fathers, boys suffer most from the absence or noninvolvement of fathers. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, boys without fathers are twice as likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to go to jail and nearly four times as likely to need treatment for emotional and behavioral problems as boys with fathers.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

This is for all the Single Moms

Well Friends, I'm back!  I started this blog last summer and really enjoyed writing, but somehow, as much as I enjoyed it, I put it to the side and kind of forgot about it. I've decided now, though, to give it another try.  Here goes nothin'.......

As most of you know, I have been a single mother for about 5 years now.  You would think that after 5 years, I might have gotten better at being a single parent, or that I may have even begun to embrace the challenge- well, WRONG!!!  The truth is, I don't like being a single mother Please DO NOT read that as I don't like being a mother.  I LOVE being a mother. But honestly, without the help of my wonderful parents family and friends, who  knows where my kids and I would be. I have been blessed beyond measure with help and support on this journey as a single parent. I often wonder, though, what it would be like to have a "partner in crime" on this child-rearing rollercoaster.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I think it would have been best for Baby Daddy and I to stay together, but man, would it be nice to have someone else here to take care of the 3 a.m. nightmares or the wet beds that happen RIGHT before it's time to get up.  Being a single parent is hard work.  You are on call 24/7.  The major burden of day to day family life falls straight on the single parent's back.

So, knowing how hard it is to be a single parent, and knowing I am fortunate to have lots of help, I have decided that for Lent, I want to help an organization that works specifically to help single mothers become self-sustainable and to raise emotionally healthy families. My hope is that maybe my experience will help just one person.

Here are a few facts about single mothers:
*There are10 million single moms living with children younger than 18
*50% of single mothers have an income of $25,000 or less
*Only one third of single mothers receive child support and the average amount is $300 per month

Luckily, my situation is better than most single mothers, but I often think about the "what ifs" of this life I lead.  I have great faith in God and know that all of this is in His hands.  If I had to take care of it myself, there's no way it would have turned out as well as it has!

Today, I have a challenge for you.....I challenge each person who reads this blog to seek out a single mother and offer to babysit so she can have a night out; show up at her house with dinner one night; offer to come over to clean and organize (thanks Mimi for all the times you've done that for me); send her a note of encouragement or buy her a cup of coffee.  It doesn't really matter what you do, just let her know she's not alone. In the end, that's all she really wants.

Hold on to your hats for tomorrow's post: Mothers who think boys can be raised without fathers or a significant male role model!