Thursday, March 5, 2009

Going to Heaven

Riding home from dinner one night, Josh grew quiet. Since this rarely happens, his silence always gets my attention immediately. I shifted around to see him better. He was staring out of the window with a frown on his face, chewing his lip, deep in thought.

“What’s up, buddy?” I asked him. My husband, Kris, who was driving, watched him in the rear-view mirror.

“Well…” (that’s the way he starts almost every sentence, and it sounds like Way-uhl…) “Well…did Granny go to heaven?” My father’s mother recently passed away, and Josh was very close to her. This had naturally begun questions about deep theology, such as did Granny’s hair go to heaven with her, did she have coffee in heaven, did she go to heaven with her dress on, and where was the door in the sky that let her in. Kris and I were prepared. So we thought.

“Yes, buddy, remember, she’s in heaven with Jesus now.”
“Well…does evuhweebody go to heaven?”

Kris cleared his throat – loudly and a little longer than necessary – and finally answered him.
“Everybody that loves and obeys Jesus goes to heaven, buddy.”
Still more silence. Josh was really thinking this one through.

“Well…my fwend Rhett…at school…he’s not going to heaven. He talks mean to me sometimes on the pwaygwound.” A gleam was forming in Josh’s eye. His voice got louder.
“I’ll tell him he’s not going to heaven, Mom, ‘cause he doesn’t obey Jesus. I’ll tell him that if he doesn’t share (shay-ur) the jeep on the pwaygwound tomorrow that he’s not going to heaven.”

This led to a very long evening. Josh came up with all sorts of lists of things that would keep someone out of heaven. According to his standards, not anyone I know will ever be there, except, of course, my Granny. Even Josh’s baby sister, Kristyn, who just turned one, will be kept out because at some point that night she took his G.I. Joe when he wasn’t looking and tried to eat it. Josh solemnly condemned her as he took the dripping wet toy out of her chubby little fingers. Kris and I looked at each other. We had to set the record straight.

“Joshy, buddy, come here a minute.” As Kris explained to Josh about how to get into heaven and what it all meant, I thought about the marvelous grace of God. That really, without the blood of Jesus, Josh’s harsh standards were just about right when it came to keeping me, or anyone else, out of heaven.

The question of Granny’s hair and clothes going with her, thankfully, was put to the side for another day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More Josh

Tonight at the dinner table, I sternly and with authority informed Josh that, beginning tonight, once he got up from the table that was more food, for the rest of the night. No more pleading for a last snack before bed (a stall tactic, I know, I see through it). He leaves his entire dinner on his plate at the table because he wants to go play, and then right before bed decides he is THEN hungry.

"This is it, Josh," I warned with as much seriousness as I could put into my voice, "you may not eat again tonight...are you sure you're done?"

I am not exaggerating this next part. Huge tears filled his eyes, and he looked at me with trembling lips. "But Mommy," he said softly, "God MADE us to eat food... He CWEE-ATED the food for us to eat. Dat's what Miss Roof (Mrs. Ruth is what he's trying to say) taught us at church...PWEASE let me eat the food that God made for me to eat, PWEASE!"

I had to get up and leave the table and let his father take over from there.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Josh's Lesson Learned

So, for those of you who don't know...the Thursday before Christmas, Josh broke his arm. Here's the scenario: I'm sitting at my desk in my classroom when the principal and the head of the daycare appear in the doorway. My first thought was, "Of course! The one time I'm sitting down & not up and teaching, the entire school administration comes for a visit." But then I saw how nervous they looked, and I got scared. They told me to hurry to the daycare office because Josh had hurt himself pretty badly.

Everything after that was a blur...I remember how white his face looked as he sat in a worker's lap, waiting for me...I remember him begging me to make his arm stop hurting..."put a cold washclof on it, Mommy...pwease give me medsin for it to stop hurting"...I remember thinking (as I ran as fast as I could across campus to get my carkeys) that of course THIS was the day I chose to wear the brand new pointed stiletto heels...there were no parking places anywhere near the ER and I had to lug a three-year old across two parking lots (again, in the stilettos)...I remember how I had to calm my rage and panic as the bored, methodical, we've-seen-it-all-and-your-case-by-far-isn't-the-worst ER employees asked me to sign in, take a seat, and wait for our I could tell how scared he was by the bright lights, unfamiliar noises, sharp smells, and sharp objects in the ER room, and how that made me choke up all the more because that showed me all the more how brave he was really he buried his face in his daddy's chest when Kris got to the hospital and sat super-still after that until the doctor came in...

Once the X-Rays were finished and the cast was set, I finally got the whole story from him about what happened. Apparently, the whole preschool class was still really wound up from their Christmas party earlier that morning. Two girls in Josh's class, Alex & Bella (whom I hear about ALL the time..."Bella says I'm four, Mommy, but I'm really three, can you go up to the school and tell her she's wrong?...Alex tried to make me eat a bite of her lunch and she cried when I told her I wouldn't let her share with me") evidently were telling Josh that he didn't know how to jump right...or that he couldn't jump high enough...something like that.

So, of course...he climbed up on the highest table in the classroom and jumped. Onto the concrete floor. And tripped as he jumped. And landed on his right arm and the right side of his head. He showed them, didn't he. And when Kris asked him if he would ever jump off a table again, Josh said, "ummmmmmmmm... I tink I might later... but I'll make sure the gwound is weally soft first." Yep, lesson learned. I can't believe it's taken us three years to break something.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Years ago, Kris & I lived in a 1-bedroom apartment with cinder-block walls and neon pink stairs. I carefully budgeted every cent, and we lived on Jiffy cornbread, Hamburger Helper, and canned vegetables. The one old car that we owned broke down (nothing shocking there) and Kris had to ride a bicycle across town lugging a heavy car battery in his backpack. It weighed him down as he pedalled MILES to the nearest auto-parts store, got it fixed, and then pedalled MILES back home to then work for hours in the hot, sticky darkness to fix it. We did what we had to do. I remember being so broke that I watched as a coworker put 50 cents in a Coke machine, and tears welled up in me because we couldn't afford the luxury of two extra quarters to spare on such luxuries as a soft drink. We've gone for months at a time each working multiple jobs and only seeing each other minutes a day.

Lately, Kris & I have been looking at all the blessings in our life and how far we've come...I decided that from time to time I would keep track of everything I have been blessed with, from the monumentally huge ones to the ones that seem little and insignificant. However, it's the seemingly insignificant ones that I think if we could all stop to appreciate would make our lives so much more enriched; we would realize how blessed we all truly are...

***my beautiful sunken living room, with hard-wood floors that my husband did himself

***I can afford cable & that gives me Discovery Channel, TLC, & HGTV

***God gave our family Donna-perfect partner for Dad, couldn't think of a better step-mom for us, and she was BORN to be Nana...

***God gave our family Donna's cooking... :-)

***2 dogs in my backyard that bark anytime anyone comes close to the house, giving me a taken-for-granted sense of security

***my students that inspire me, cheer me, motivate me, keep me going

***I have inlaws that love me and are wonderful grandparents

***the secret stash of chocolate Mrs. Linda keeps for me at work

***I have a washer and dryer in my house and don't have to go to a laundrymat to clean my family's clothes

***the baby clothes that sweet, generous, precious friends give to me
***I have a college degree

***I work right across the hall from one of my best friends

***my girlfriends that I meet with on Thursday nights...what a support system!

***I got to say goodbye to my mom, and she got to say goodbye to me


***I had all 4 grandparents in my life until my thirties, and I have pictures of them with my kids
***my parents taught me how to love God and how to be loved by God as His daughter...something I took for granted until I realized many people have a block when it comes to being able to do this

***I am still best friends with my best friend from high school, and she constantly inspires me

***I own a dishwasher....something that I will never take for granted after living somewhere that didn't have one

***the sweet people who volunteer week after week to take care of my children at church, both in preschool and in the nursery

***2 nice, working vehicles with heat/air conditioning, glass in all the windows, seat warmers, radios/CD players, all working parts...(I saw a family getting into a car last night with a was SO cold, and they had only Hefty trashbags taped to where the windows should be, and that image has stayed with me)

***the fact that my children are within walking distance from me all day while I'm at work

***there is a Starbucks close to me

***my son has slept through the night, in his own bed, with no problem since he was 8 weeks old
***although my daughter doesn't yet, she's a really sweet snuggler

***I live in a time when disposable diapers have been invented

***the sweet teachers in my ADK chapter

***when my son spilled a bottle of bubbles all over my laptop and completely fried it, I could afford to get another one instead of it being a HUGE disaster

***I understand French

***I am at a job that I miss when I'm away from it for too long

***I have managed to find the absolute best: hair stylist, Tae Kwon Do/kickboxing teacher, house-cleaner, pediatrician, dentist, obgyn, and family doctor

***I can get email on my cell phone...and text messages...and sudoku...and pictures of my family

***the ladies I eat lunch with and work with every day keep me sane

***I have my grandmother's piano, and I can play it for my kids

***The LifeGroup (Sunday School Class for you non-Brookwoodians) that we're in is filled with the most AMAZING people

***I have a closet full of do my kids and my husband

***my church that loves everyone and accepts no compromise on preaching the gospel, while at the same time refuses to be stuck in the rut of tradition

***I have a fireplace

***my son LOVES his preschool teacher, and she loves him back

***I know how to play the flute

***I have an espresso machine, and a husband that can make REALLY good cappucino for me in the mornings...or at night when we curl up together on the couch...

***I know how to cling to my faith when all else fails me...and I've had that tested and proven true

***I teach at a school where I don't have to worry about IEPs, 504, standards/benchmarks, Madelyn Hunter lesson plans, or the government's paperwork

***my 2 sisters that are my best friends, share my sense of humor, understand the importance I place on my faith, and are the only ones in my life that understand exactly what I've lost in life by not having my mom anymore

***my niece that is SO beautiful, SO smart, SO sweet, SO talented, and looooves her aunt...
***a healthy, beautiful, hilarious son that is sharp as a whip, sleeps through the night, loves fruit and veggies more than fried foods, opens up his heart to his mommy, idolizes his daddy, and is the sweetest big brother I've ever seen

***a healthy, beautiful, super-happy daughter that barely ever cries, smiles through anything, snuggles whenever given the chance, is showing her genius by already talking, and already knows how to bat her long, dark eyelashes at her daddy

***a husband who loves God more than his wife, his children, or anything else; who puts his family first above everything else in this world; who takes the trash out, does the laundry, does the dishes, cooks, takes his son to school every morning, sends me texts that he loves me, makes me laugh like no one else, holds me when I need it, lets me go when I need it, knows how to apologize and how to forgive, and feels keenly his responsibility as a spiritual leader

***my relationship with God, which I would not give up for all of the blessings listed above; how could I survive without it?

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Eight years ago, my sister, Jennifer, gave birth to a baby girl that was in EVERY way perfect, beautifully gorgeous, and more than any of us could ever have asked for. From the second Jen told me she was pregnant I was head-over-heels in love with this baby girl. I was in the delivery room when she was born, and it was one of the most emotional days of my life. The night after she was brought home, her mom called me to come babysit so the exhausted parents could leave the house for an hour or two to reclaim partial sanity. I remember lying on their couch with this beautiful little baby who was sleeping face down on my stomach, her head under my chin. She smelled like a newborn baby smells, that sweet mixture of baby lotion and newness, and her breathing was soft and steady. I couldn't believe that she felt safe with me...I was scared to close my eyes or even breathe for fear that she would fall off of me or break a in love I was with that baby!

Today, eight years later, I'm still infatuated with her. She is the smartest child her age that I know, too smart if you ask her mom or's hard being the parent of a kid that's so sharp she's usually one step ahead of you! But what I really love is her sense of humor. Nothing is EVER boring around her. She always looks for something to turn into a joke, and has such a quick wit that she keeps everyone on their toes...

For her 8th birthday (on November 8th) I took her out for a girl's night on the town. We got mani/pedis, went clothes shopping, and ended up at Cheeburger Cheeburger. It was a blast! I've been trying to really focus lately on blessings that God has given me. She is one of the biggest blessings in my life, and I thank God for giving her to us!
She was really interested in how they got everything ready...

Alahn soaking her feet...

I'm still not sure what she thought about the massage...

She picked neon green polish "because it matches Mommy's eyes..."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

History-Both Made and Repeating...

MY GOODNESS!!! What history has been made last night! I find it interesting that at the same time history is being made, it is also repeating itself as people stand by and celebrate.

So much to say...I've said some of this to some of you that may read this already, so I apologize if you hear it twice...

First, let me say that my political views are dictated by the Bible. Many people believe these two things-politics and the Word of God-should be kept separate. Keep the Bible on your coffee table, by your bed, or on your bookshelf, to indicate that yours is a "Christian" household. Bring it with you on Sundays when you head to church. Even crack it open during the week for some encouraging devotional time. But when it comes to politics, what the Word of God says is often smothered under a bubble wrap of political correctness. If we see that what Jesus taught offends some people, then our voices falter and our opinions on right and wrong waiver. How interesting that not wanting people to get offended is usually all it takes to weaken the passion in a Christian.

Even though the Bible clearly states in the New Testament that homosexuality is a sin, Christians still voted for a leader who has backed giving rights to homosexual couples getting married (note: many say that the Bible cannot be trusted as a source on this because it is in the Levitical law that it condemns homosexuality, along with things like stoning for adultery, etc., and of course we don't stone for adultery now...however, when Jesus came, he set all Christians free from following the Mosaic law, then AFTER THAT homosexuality was reaffirmed as a sin). Gays and lesbians should, by all means, be loved with the love of Christ and welcomed into the church as a means to show them the path to Christianity. However, it is possible to love the sinner and condemn the sin. Many Christians go to either one extreme or the other on this. They either hate the sinner because of the sin and think gays shouldn't be allowed in church (while at the same time turning a blind eye to all the premarital heterosexual sex going on around them), or they refuse to condemn homosexuality as a sin, even though it is clearly stated as such in the Bible.

Even though the Bible clearly states that all life is sacred and that God formed us in the "secret place" and knew us before we were formed in our mother's womb, Christians still voted for a leader who has voted for late-term abortion. I can't even get into how any human can rationalize that one out...that's another blog entirely.

Even though the Bible clearly states that sexual immorality is destroying your body, which is the temple of God if you're a Christian, Christians still voted for a leader who has worked with the porn industry lobbyists to protect their "freedom" of speech on the internet; not just allowing the porn industry on the internet, but protecting their right to send out unasked-for pop-up ads.

So, there are those who do believe that while what the Bible says is all well-and-good for our individual, personal, private lives, we shouldn't lead a country based on it. I'm trying to make sense of how I should then have a relationship with Jesus if I were to believe that. How could I say to Him, "Well, I understand that Your wisdom and teachings are valuable enough for you to die for and that you commanded me to take up my cross also, every day, and follow You. You commanded me to learn Your word and follow it. However, I'd like to be led by somebody who doesn't agree with Your teachings." It makes NO SENSE to me.

How are there mega-churches with thousands of people celebrating the name of God in a loud, unified roar of praise, and yet the vote went the way that it did? How are there nation-wide revivals at huge Christian concerts and events, and yet the vote went the way that it did? There is a hugely sharp contrast, it appears, to what the Christian wants to get FROM God and what the Christian wants to keep God OUT of. When things go wrong in our country (9/11), we wonder where God was. Yet, we ask Him to please stay out of things like abortion and moral issues.

I think about the Israelites...God's named, chosen people. They went for generations with warnings and second chances, with God always restoring them, forgiving them, loving them, reviving them. Then, one day, God finally said, "Enough!" Israel was rejecting Him, blatantly and directly in the face of God, saying that His word was not something that needed to be followed. They worshiped the idols of their neighbors. They forgot the laws He had given them. They no longer taught it to their children, like God had commanded them to do. And when God finally removed His hand from them, the once-proud people found themselves invaded, torn apart, and forever changed as a consequence for turning from Him.

But that brings me to the other point. As Christians, we should be mindful of this history that is a part of our belief system, and we should be wary of repeating it. However, those who are not Christians don't have the Bible as their authority, and so they don't worry about anything like God removing His hand from our nation. They should, however, be mindful of history repeating itself from the last few centuries. Redistribution of wealth? SERIOUSLY??? Like I said last night, read Orwell's Animal Farm, people!!! This plan has proven, time and time again, to fail!

It is a MONUMENTALLY stale, idealistically naive tactic, promised in a Wizard-of-Ozish way to a nation full of people who obviously slept through their World History class! Behind a curtain of promises Obama can sit and deliver his speeches, but when the curtain is pulled back it will reveal, like it ALWAYS has before in history, nothing but a short-term procrastination band-aid fix to the economic problems.

I don't make a lot of money, but I don't want to accept the wealth of those who spent years of sweat, time, money, and sacrifice to invest in their future! Those who are wealthy earned it. (Okay, most of them. Granted, Paris Hilton has done very little...) Where is our pride? Are we really a nation who now wants to just sit back and take from those who have worked so hard to get to where they are? Does no one remember the bread lines that stretched forever in Russia? The family that risked their lives to escape communist Germany by sailing in a homemade hot-air balloon over the Berlin wall? Has anyone ever read The Giver? I don't ever want my children to be handed a free pass at receiving someone else's money. I want them to know the simple policy of work=reward. I WILL teach them that there is an issue of personal pride that comes from working hard, investing in yourself, and reaping the rewards later down the line.

Now, I am not cold-hearted. As a Christian, I do believe the Bible also commands us to help those less fortunate than us. But giving them a long-term planned free handout is not helping. It is enabling them to stay less fortunate than us for the rest of their lives. Remember the Chinese proverb that says, "give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him for life..." That is what we should be focusing on, and redistributing everyone's wealth is not the way to do it.

I am extremely proud to be a part of a nation that has finally overcome a huge racial obstacle, and I am aware that the fact that we have a President who is half African-American will be a wonderful motivator to those trying to make themselves better. I am proud to be alive during this history-making moment, and I will always remember where I was when they officially announced the next President of the United States. But I will also remember the look of sheer ecstasy from the roaring crowd on television waiting to hear Obama speak. And I will never understand.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 teaches that I should pray for those in authority over me. It doesn't say only if I agree with them/only if I voted for them/only if they can give me what I want. It simply says to pray for them. And I will...I will pray for Obama. I will pray for him to have wisdom. I will pray for him to realize that he cannot handle the monumental task of leading our nation without spending time on his knees before God asking for guidance. But with that prayer, I also am praying for the Christians of our nation. They, we, MUST take a stronger stance on what we proclaim to stand for. Upholding moral rights that are taught in the Bible must be our top priority...we must learn to desire a leader that wants, himself, to be led by the guidance of God.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What a Job!

There was a time in my life when I DREADED Sunday nights. The closer to bedtime it got, the worse my mood got. I hated it because it was a reminder that I was about to start another week of going to a meaningless job, sitting behind a desk, doing useless things. It wasn't a hard job, it paid well, they treated me nicely...but I absolutely HATED it because I knew it wasn't where I was supposed to be. This was not supposed to be my life, just punching that time clock over and over and over again.

I never thought, never DREAMED, that I would be in a place in my life where I would crave being at my job. But, and I give God ALL the glory for this, I have arrived at that place in my life. For the last four years that I have taught seniors at Calvary Academy, I've had a peace that only comes when you are doing what you know God has called you to do.

When I say I love my job, that's an understatement. I can't believe I get to do this, day after day. And it's because of 2 reasons: first, I love English, and I love to teach. As cocky as it may sound, I'm good at it. I can make the kids love Shakespeare, improve their grammar skills, and teach them to write better.

But it's the second reason that is such a blessing to me: the kids. I love my students. Not in a you-have-to-love-everybody-with-the-love-of-God kind of love...I really love them. They try so hard, day after day, to navigate a life filled with personal issues, school responsibilities, jobs, extra-curricular activities, and family demands.

I think about how I felt when I went through some severely trying personal issues, all while working a 50-hour a week job and taking a full college load. I remember thinking how unfair it was that I had to go through all that and that life wouldn't stop for me. I couldn't take time off from my job because I still needed to get paid. The college professors wouldn't excuse me from assignments or attendance, even though I had not one but TWO traumatic events going on at the same time in my life. I was still expected to keep going through life, keep showing up, keep performing well, and deal with everything on my own time.

I've thought about that a lot lately as I interact with these kids. They go through so much, and yet for the most part they are not excused from their responsibilities because of their personal issues. So many deal with parents fighting and/or divorcing, and the kids still have to show up and do well in classes, or it affects their transcript. There's no place on a college application to explain that the 1st semester D of 10th grade Biology happened because of a really hard time at home. When they break up with their boyfriend/girlfriend, there's no time of "mourning" that's allowed by their teachers. And many of them have to still see this person in the classroom and in the hallway! How hard would that be in our adult lives if we got a divorce and then had to come into contact with that person every day?

And then there's the pressure of the future. Did they do well enough in school for the right colleges to look at them? Are they performing well enough on the football field/basketball court/baseball team/cheerleading squad to actually stand out among everybody else that's competing for the same things? Their coach expects them to do their best and push themselves to the limit, even if they really need to be at home doing the Calculus homework they forgot about. Their teacher expects them to have everything finished for class, even if they were at practice really late the night before. And they don't have full control over their decisions yet, so they also have to answer to parents for what they do.

I know a lot of you reading this are adults that are far removed from those that are this age, and you may be rolling your eyes at the degree of sympathy that I feel for these kids. But I've got to tell you, I admire them. They do something EVERY DAY that impresses me. They come into my English class and do their work, learn the material, take the tests. But they also make me laugh, open up about their lives, ask advice, and in general they make me feel just about as blessed as someone could feel. I thank God for calling me to do this, and I thank my students for making it so easy to love my job and to love them.

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