If there's ever an answer...it's more love

Leave it to my wonderful Dixie Chicks to provide the title to this one.
The older I get and the more I learn, the more I'm convinced that the answer to ALL of the world's problems is love. Biblical, non-condemning, non-judgmental love. Somebody wise once said, "Love covers a multitude of sins." Another wise person said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Seriously, if we could grasp that concept, even a little, and release our self-serving and selfish defenses, I think the world would be rocked.
It's a day-by-day thing to practice and learn. It doesn't come naturally to us at all. But it does work. Rewind to my eighth grade year....my first introduction to love against the circumstances.
I played the flute in middle school band. Being a fiercely competitive person, I was always practicing and vying for "first chair." I often got to sit in that seat. The three years of middle school, I attended three different schools. Our district was working some things out, and we moved a few miles closer to town. So in eighth grade, I found myself at a completely new school, though a lot of the faces there were kids I knew from elementary school.
We had band auditions for chair placement...I made first chair! I was so excited!! Until I hit the band room. The flute who had been first chair the year before was suddenly second, and was NOT excited to see me. I'll call her Jennifer. Jennifer and I had been friends in elementary school. But clearly, I had inadvertently stepped on some toes. Jennifer and all her friends from seventh grade were glaring at me, like I had stolen a boyfriend. It's not as if I planned it. You just audition, and the band director places you. About half the flutes were on Jennifer's "side." They would literally just GLARE at me, in the cafeteria, in the halls, in PE. I felt kind of ganged up on. They didn't really even KNOW me. Just decided I was the enemy. As was the case, I went to my mom for some whining. My mom wasn't a fan of whining. She wisely told me that Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. I was to proceed with that in mind. I would speak to Jennifer each day, be nice to her and her mean girls posse, and be kind in everything I said in front of them and behind their backs. I could do nothing but show love. They didn't necessarily deserve love, and they surely weren't giving ME any. But that didn't change the reaction that Jesus required. It took months, and it was pretty un-fun being the girl who received mean notes, laughing when I walked in the room, untrue rumors, etc. But LOVE WON! I guess it just wasn't fun to continue to taunt someone whose reaction was continually kind. I'm not saying I didn't want to haul off and hit her (though she was about a foot taller than I was)...but I held out. And we traded around the first, second, and third chair throughout the year. But, somewhere during that school year, the glares stopped, the snickering stopped. Oddly enough, there was another girl that year that I didn't even KNOW who kept sending me messages through other people that if she and I were ever alone, she was going to beat the crap out of me. But by the end of the year, she came around too. Perhaps I was an annoying person. I don't know. What 14 year old girl isn't annoying to some degree?
But Jesus totally helped me survive that year. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Our only response can be love.

As I continue to have epic battles of will with my nearly-two-year-old, I realize that that's what he needs to learn now. LOVE. We are nice and sweet because we want to show love to those around us. Because we aren't the only person on the planet. Because compassion and regard for others is a better tool for dissolving arguments and tension than any show of force or will.

I control my reaction. I cannot control how you treat me, what you say about me, and even how you might use me. I certainly can't contain or really control Shepard's fits. But I can control the reaction I give you and him. Parenting has really been challenging this in my heart. Shepard will learn of the world and its ways what I teach him. I want to teach him the gentle response, the Godly response. That though we might not deserve love sometimes, God is forever pouring it out. Discipline and boundaries are part of that love, but the Spirit is my guide: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) My prayer is that our family will be Spirit-led and bear much fruit. And if there's ever an answer, it's more love.


Mexican for Mother's Day

We were pulling out of church, full of encouragement and thoughts on friendship. Our sleepy little boy in the backseat, already saying, "All done." Um. We have a 30-minute ride, son. You'll have to get comfy. Being the one named Mommy, I got to pick the lunch spot. I opted for the very close and recently discovered Mexican dive near church, Miguel's. If you saw this place, you'd probably keep driving. It looks like it's attached to a sketchy motel by interstate. But their fajitas are fantastic. And they have an "A" rating.
There we are, and within 30 seconds of entering, Shepard knocks over the basket of tortilla chips. But within moments, we have a Mother's Day miracle! I show him for the 100th time how to drink from a straw (even though he has his own sippy cup, he really loves to play with straws). He takes the drink from me and promptly drinks through the straw! This endeavor is a leap away from last week's Sunday lunch that ended up in a full clothes-change in the Showmars bathroom. (For him, not me) Last week's sippy cup got left behind at the church, so we were trying to help him drink milk from a styrofoam cup. Milk-bath.
Fast-forward to Miguel's. I was so excited. I had started to worry that Shepard would be in his first day of college telling his classmates that the one distinguishing thing about him is that he never learned to drink from a straw.
 Our massive plates of fajitas came, as did Shepard's rice and grilled chicken. "RICE!" That kid loves some rice. As is usually the case, about half the rice makes it to his mouth, and the other half ends up in his lap and on the booster seat. We have at least graduated from the "everything on the floor" phase. As he started poaching the rice off my plate, and I had a teeny moment of "hold up! It's my Mother's Day lunch! Calm down little poacher!" Then I realized. I am his mommy. I am mothering him.  I helped him eat and drink (!), and I'll scoop all my rice to his plate so he can drop half of it. I will cheer him on when he tries the beans, even if he makes yucky face. I will take him outside and shake off his lunch in the bushes by the restaurant. I will carry him, draped over my shoulder in sleep, into the house after church and lunch and kiss his forehead and cover him up and pray for a good nap. I will hold him in my lap in his Elmo pajamas when I should be fixing my hair or doing the dishes...because he climbed up there and that's where he wants to be. I will tell him 298 times to sit on his bum and put him in time out despite his protestations. I will do all these over and over because one Mother's Day in the not-too-distant future, he will sit and eat something he ordered for himself and he will eat it all and ask for seconds and grow taller than I am. His long, lean body will get too long to sit in my lap, and his cartoons will turn into car shows or time alone in his room. I will tell him to sit on his bum because one day he'll be at a friend's house, and he'll need to set the example. I will always mother him to varying degrees, of course, but now I get the privilege of being hands-on. He still takes my kisses and runs to me at the end of a school-day. He still mostly fits in my lap. It takes four times longer to get ready in the morning because he still needs me. One day he'll brush his teeth and put on his own clothes. I constantly tell myself this or that phase will be over soon enough, but in truth, I'm not sure I want it to be. I'm very busy celebrating my "moments made of now."
Thank you, Shepard, for making me a Mommy. It's one of my favorite names.


Flashback Friday: Things I learned from my Mom

After my completely selfish post about Mother's Day, I thought perhaps I should follow up with something more substantial. I have such wonderful memories of my mom from when I was little all the way up until just this week. Of course, after 30 some-odd years of living, I can't get everything in one post, so we'll go with "greatest hits."
1. Speaking of hits. (yikes) Yes, I had a lying problem as a child. I've always been so very bad at it, and my Mom could always see right through my attempts. I would usually get a spanking for that offense, as my Mom needed to know that she could trust me. I was generally not a fan of these moments, but my Mom would always give me a number of spanks ahead of time. Almost every time, she would stop short of the last one, and tell me that she was showing me mercy and that I was free to go. I learned that we often deserve a harsher punishment or consequence, but that God, in His mercy, gives us reprieve. I also learned not to lie.
2. I learned to guard my heart. Not every silly boy who showed up at my door deserved my heart and my affections. While I might have crushed hard on a few boys, I did not have to suffer heartbreak after heartbreak because I entered into relationships with some common sense. When I did get heartbroken, Mom was always there to hug me and to talk, and most importantly pray with me.
3. I learned to be girlie and tough. One of the things I love most about my mom is that she has more jewelry than anyone I've ever met, and could open her own shop with her inventory...BUT, she also has her own toolbox and has been known to turn some wood from an old piano into a rockin' headboard with her saw and nails. She can dress to the nines and install a sink. She taught me both the value of celebrating the feminine, and the strength of doing what needs to get done.
4. I learned to believe in myself and God's gifts in my life. From the time I can remember, my Mom has instilled in me that I could be anything and do anything God called me to do or be. Her favorite saying was, "Where there's a will there's a way." I never felt that anything I wanted to do was out of reach. I wasn't always successful, but that's part of learning and growing. I'm thankful my Mom...Dad were always there to cheer me on, cheer me up, and to believe in me.
5. She taught me about the words to this hymn: "What a friend we have in Jesus...all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer."

(click here to hear my fave version of that song)

 I love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day. And I'm sorry that I just mailed your card this morning. ;)

And...I really need some copies of pictures when you were rockin' your seventies and eighties clothes. 


All I really want for Mother's Day

 Here's the part where I should write something heartwarming about how just BEING a mom is thanks enough. It is, really. I try to squeeze joy out of each minute (even the temper tantrum minutes...that seem so long). I steal kisses and hugs and light up at the thought of all little man is learning.
I can also dream. So, for this Mother's Day, I'm going to dream a big dream...a flight of fancy, if you will.
I'm going to be real. A real working mom's wish list...

What I would love:
1. A grocery concierge. Someone to go put stuff in the cart that will magically turn into meals. I'll pay for the grocery bill. I just find grocery shopping to be overwhelming and tedious. Much like staring at a full pantry and wondering what we have to EAT. (first world problems, I know)
2. Three days in a row with no morning wake-up. No alarm, no video monitor, no lawn mowing neighbors, no worries about whether I'll get an actual shower or have to resort to a bird-bath in the sink. I just want to awaken naturally and feel the cool sheets and wonder what day it is and smell some coffee...ease out of bed and take deep breaths because there's just no hurry. I sometimes get this little delight on Saturday. It feels like a morsel of heaven.
3. For my entire house to be entirely clean, even if it's just for a day. The baseboards clean, the kitchen art free from oatmeal splatters, the assortment of toys under the sofa gone, the corners of the bathroom sparkling, the laundry done, the bills all filed...I actually don't have enough imagination to see this in my mind's eye. I can only make a list and pretend that it could ever be possible in another dimension or world.
4. One day a month to do house and crafty things. Pinterest alternately inspires me and repels me. I find lots of the posts to be actual do-able decorating ideas. I just don't know when or how to accomplish them. There are always other irons in the fire, it seems. And I have limited wall space. But there is a end table in my den calling my name. I need to figure out how to get that re-done. Soon. Perhaps I'll just take a day off and send little man to school.
5. Instant hair-dryer. This one may seem silly to you. I detest drying my hair, especially May through October. It's like willfully submitting myself to a sweatbox. My hair just doesn't air dry for myriad reasons. It must be blown out. If it could happen in 30 seconds, that would be a slice of heaven.
6. More time to volunteer. I know, I went all humanitarian on my dream list. But it would be amazing to have some time that I could dedicate to helping someone else. At this point in life, I just don't know where to fit that in on a regular basis. It's kind of all I can do to take care of the ones I have.

That's a short list, right? Not too much to ask or dream?  :) Dreaming is good for the soul.

And when I get back to my reality, my never-quite-clean house, there's this little nugget to keep me smiling:


Excuse me, can we have April back? Someone stole it.

April was just a blur. There was a birthday, work events, work events, surprises, a trip to Atlanta, a trip to Greenville, work events...and I'm sure we did something fun. Oh yes, we had a birthday date night to see the Hunger Games, ate at the Beef and Bottle and saw Starving Artist's excellent spring show...and got to see Les Mis (musical version).
One fun thing I did was take a break from my no-new-clothes 2012 edict. Yup. I'm okay with it. When I pulled out my summer wardrobe in March ('cause it was already 85 degrees...what?), I realized that I was seriously struggling in the summer/warm weather clothing department. So, I took my birth-month off and picked up a few items to fill out what I had in the closet. Without making an exhaustive list of why I hate summer clothes...I just find it difficult to be dressed nicely and not be hot. I don't wear sleeveless, I'm really pale, and I hate getting sweaty in dress clothes. Just FINDING stuff I like can be a challenge.
But I think I'm back on the horse, so to speak. I should be able to swim through the summer with what I have now, after I exchange a few items that don't work. I still cannot find a decent pair of chocolate brown cotton dress pants or khakis that fit quite right. Alas, this challenge does not include my learning to sew. Maybe one day...I can sew things that fit my flat behind, my 6'11" husband, and my sure-to-be-tall son.
We're keeping up with kiddo news over on www.shepardjones.com. Which of course, ends up being some family stuff too. I'm looking forward to summer, when we can spend some time outside with the little guy and his backyard playground.
I'm thinking a LOT about how to teach him how to be in the world with others, and that he's not the only person on the planet. I'm thinking a lot about making my moments made of now enjoyable. I still need to paint something besides a wall this year. And keep plugging away at freeing the thoughts that run around in my head late at night.
In other news, I finally went back to the short haircut I love. Between that and Shepard finally answering "YES" to the question "Do you love Mommy?" I'm having a pretty good May.