I slow-danced with another man and I liked it

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photoMy first experience slow-dancing was traumatic.

Picture a teenage girl going to a Mormon youth dance. She misses her mom who’s in the hospital. It’s a weekend night. Her friend’s name is Michelle.

Platform shoes, lip gloss, a tender heart, polyester

Abba music playing in the background

This Catholic girl alight with anticipation

Who will pick me? Am I pretty? Has that pimple disappeared? More importantly, will there be enough disco music???

Then the creepiest, dweebiest guy asks me to dance. How can I say no? He isn’t cute but he’s the only one to approach.

Pressing me close to him, he slowly removes his glasses and whispers…

“I don’t need these to see you, now do I?”

Every shameful feeling a teenage girl can experience joined me on the dance floor that night

Clumsy feet step all over his until I can’t take it anymore.

I run into the girl’s bathroom, lock the door.

And upon my return home, immediately shower to remove that guy from my person.

Yeah, I’d say that qualifies as a traumatic slow-dancing event, wouldn’t you?

Since then, my slow-dancing skills haven’t improved.

Foot surgeries, knee problems, my list of excuses will impress.

It’s a standing joke with the Hubs.  I can’t slow-dance, I can’t follow his lead. It’s so silly when I even try.

But more than three decades later, there’s another guy who wants to dance with me.

My middle olive shoot – Aaron

On his wedding day no less…

Did he not remember the legendary tale? I mean, I only talk about it a couple of times a year. I plead with Aaron to not humiliate me by forcing me to slow-dance in front of people. Can’t we just leave it alone?

I send him videos of moms choreographing wedding dances with their sons. Don’t they look amazing? Doesn’t that look like fun? I think we should do that, don’t you? Heck, I even work with an up and coming dj on a dance mix.

But no.

The kid won’t budge.

He wants to dance with his mama.

Tears flow after the father/daughter dance. I know I’m next.

Aaron, I can’t do this.”

“I’m crying. I’ll look stupid. People will laugh. I will uglyphoto cry.”

“No, Mama, you can do this.”

He takes my hand and leads me to the dance floor.photo

Suddenly I don’t care. I almost feel pretty. I know I feel proud.

I’m in my son’s arms.

My charming, safe and oh so handsome child. He’s a married man. Sweet melodies serenade my heart-strings.

We step all over each other’s feet.

I twirl him to lighten the mood.

He spins me around. We look ridiculous. At one point, we miss intersecting after a twirl.

It’s a hot mess.

But I cry and look deep into his eyes. I caress his soft cheeks just like I did when he was a baby.

10172643_10203755528669758_7964348490121130609_n“Oh Aaron, I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Mama.”

And then it’s over.

The music stops.

I leave the dance floor glad. Really super duper glad.

10345846_10152968220578018_3115487111255556271_nI nearly passed up this imperfect moment.

I look at the pictures afterward and reflect.

I almost got in the way. Pride and self-consciousness, as clumsy as my feet trying to move at a gentle speed, nearly ruined the moment.

But the sun had streamed on the spot where we danced. We were unaware at the time. I had no idea. Beholding the images now, God’s hand held us together. 

Quite simply, despite our lack of skill, we were GRACE-ful. Not our feet but our hearts.

I feel resplendent. I feel healed. I’ve been dancing on air ever since.

Here’s my message to you moms – don’t pass up moments due to insecurity. Those times don’t come around every day.

And to you sons – encourage your sweet mothers. Take us by the hand. We get scared too. Tell us you love us and guide us to the adventure. You will never regret it.

Why God gave me these kids

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One of the sweetest pictures in my collection.

One of the sweetest pictures in my collection.

“Oh, God, why did you give me these children???”

I have said these words

More than once

There have been times when I have exclaimed this in a most screaming doleful and lamenting tone.

“OH GOD, WHY did you give me THESE children???

Those moments when mothering is troubling and my spirit is weary. When Nate screamed bloody murder in the bathtub for no reason at all or when Aaron threw handfuls of dirt on the carpet after repeatedly telling him to leave the dirt in the planter. When Ike flew into an angry tirade and it felt like body parts were exploding on the walls. And those are just a few of the stories I could share.

I suppose my OS have their own share of meltdown moments from me as well but we’re not going to talk about that. They can get their own blog and share those stories one day!

But in much larger measure, I have inquired of the Lord,family5

oh God, why did you give ME these children?”

And I can’t say I have totally figured this out but I do see a theme and hear an answer when I enter the holy places of the Lord.

“They brought you closer to Me.” This is the refrain which resonates the most true.

With each successive olive shoot, my need for Jesus became clear. Here’s what I mean.

Nate

Nate

Nate taught me celebration. He was the toe-headed boy who began walking at eight months and wrote the words “hallelujah” in a prayer journal in elementary school. He is my adventurous, always-looking-for-a-challenge child currently plodding away at Ranger School.

Aaron danger boyMy middle Aaron has been used by the Lord to instruct me on the value of submission. As a toddler, it was apparent we were well on our way to raising an absolutely adorable jerk. We had to implement structure and discipline into our home. When he bit into the face of the daycare director’s granddaughter like she was a hamburger at Bull City Burger, we knew something had to give.

wh2202And Ike, oh, my soul, my adorable, orange hair, freckle face OS, he is God’s lesson in absolute dependence on the Lord. The boy who nursed just on one side, pushed his food away as a toddler as if he had been served a bowl of salty mush, Ike has rocked my world in ways I never dreamed. He is ornery and tender-hearted, stubborn as a zit on a middle-age woman and contrite in spirit to the point where it brings me to tears.

Without each of my children, I’m not sure I would know Jesus. Thankfully I’ll never know! God placed each one of my olive shoots in my life to give me life eternally! The Hubs and I couldn’t do this family thing on our own with any measure of success without Him.ikebball2

What about you? Have you ever wondered the same thing about your children? Why did God give you your babies? I’d love to hear!

Five minute Friday – home

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I came home to these people.

I came home to these people.

I became a full-time stay-at-home mom 15 years ago on my husband’s birthday. I wanted to mark that significant day on a day I wouldn’t forget. March 6th is now a day of double celebration for my family.

For so long the ambition of my life was to get respect and recognition.

My observation of full-time motherhood was that it was rife with disrespect and sadness. Obviously I wanted none of that. So I had my own business, attended graduate school, practiced writing M.Ed. at the end of my name.

Individually these things are not wrong. But ultimately they were not what the Lord had for me.

On March 6, 1998, I started working for a new boss. I no longer served myself. A cataclysmic shift occurred in my heart.

God wanted me home.

With only five minutes to write, you'll have to trust me. This is what happened to me when I decided to stay home. Thanks be to God.

With only five minutes to write, you’ll have to trust me. This is what happened to me when I decided to stay home. Thanks be to God.

When I made that decision, priorities changed. My three olive shoots no longer attended day care or after school programs, they returned home to me. The significance sought outside in the world, was comfortably discovered within. Parts of me I had long denied began to blossom.

Within my home

Within my soul

There are times when I don’t always feel appreciated but I felt that way in the business world as well. This is where I belong. Home.

We rock one word for FIVE MINUTES! It's the best! Join the fun!

We rock one word for FIVE MINUTES! It’s the best! Join the fun!

Pleasure and fulfillment rest with my decision, something I will never regret.

“Thank you, Cindy”

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I took this picture just before going to meet with Charlotte. I had no idea what to expect.

I took this picture just before going to meet with Charlotte. I had no idea what to expect.

I began my career as a stay-at-home mom when my youngest olive shoot was 18 months old. I had experienced a spiritual conversion to Christianity in December 1997 and instantly felt the Lord beckon me to be more present with my husband and family.

What I didn’t know is that just before leaving the corporate world, apparently I had made a profound impact on a person’s life. Honestly I only have a vague recollection of the small effort I exerted. A competent professional was deserving of the referral I offered. For me it was no big deal, a no-brainer. But for Charlotte, it was life-changing. Don’t we all want to positively influence others and make a difference?

Today, I’m privileged to have Charlotte as a guest blogger. I’m sharing her words with you today to encourage YOU.

Charlotte carefully wrapped a beautiful gift for me. She even carefully picked the ribbon.

Charlotte carefully wrapped a beautiful gift for me. She even carefully picked the ribbon.

Now, here’s Charlotte…

In 1997, Cindy recommended me to one of her corporate clients. Fifteen years later, I am still providing consulting services for that company. My sincere thanks to Cindy for the referral and for her confidence in me and my business. I met with her a few weeks ago to celebrate the 15 years and to give her a special gift. As I reflected on the great gift she gave me in 1997, I thought of these “Three R’s”:

Receive – Through Cindy’s generosity, I was given an opportunity to receive. It was clear that I could never repay her for what she did for me. Yet I could pray for her, for peace and prosperity in her life. In addition to the gift of the referral, it is a gift to be able to receive without any strings attached.

Remember – I am intentional about remembering those who have blessed my life and my business. Cindy’s name remains on that list. Though I could never repay Cindy for her generosity, I do take time to remember her and to express my appreciation. This year when we met, I gave her a gift of art and it was a total surprise. We shared updates with each other and through our laughter and tears, we remembered, reflected, and relaxed.

I just sat there stunned at the kindness. I had no idea.

I just sat there stunned at the kindness. I had no idea.

Repeat – Another way to express my appreciation for the referral from Cindy is to make sure I support others by making referrals, connecting people, and cheering them on as they pursue their dreams. Each time I do so at the company I mentioned, Cindy’s one act of generosity in 1997 continues to be shared with others.

This is Charlotte!

This is Charlotte!

Thank you, Cindy. You have made a big difference in my life, my family, and my business. May God continue to bless you and your family today and always.

With a grateful heart,
Charlotte

Whether you are a professional career person, a retiree, a college student or a stay at home mom with a side business selling soap nuts and stuff (um, that would be me!), employ the three “R’s” more often. Your efforts, however seemingly insignificant they may seem at the time, can bless others in ways you never imagined. Expressing gratitude can help move someone from the miry pit to a place of hope. Charlotte did that for me and I guess I did the same for her. Blessings replete with potential and healing await, truly!

What “R” are you going to do today?

Charlotte Purvis is a communication coach and highly rated professional speaker. Since 1985, she has partnered with individuals and organizations seeking to take their communication skills, customer service, and presentation styles to the next level. She’s also a lovely and generous person I call friend. To contact Charlotte, here’s a link  and her email  charlotte@purviscommunications.com. 

Cycling is like life – another woman’s story

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My inbox held a special treat. A friend from a former church had written me with something to share. Honestly many times a feeling of nervousness comes over me just before I read an email or a message. Am I in trouble? Did I tick someone off? Are they going to tell me something really sad or disappointing? That’s honestly what I wonder but whew, that wasn’t the case with Debbie’s message.

She told me that after returning home from a recent solo, very warm bike ride, many thoughts flooded her mind. Although not typically one who uses writing as a creative outlet, she felt compelled to write about an epiphany of sorts she had experienced on this ride.

As I read it, I knew I wanted to share it with you and so with Debbie’s permission, here are her words. As you read these, I encourage you to think of a daily activity or passion that you have…how does God speak to you through it?

This bike has taken Debbie on quite a journey

cycling is like life:

Super cool pic of Debbie and her hubs out hiking, one of her favorite pics following a really long hard hike in TN/VA

some rides I anticipate, look forward too, am excited for,
others I dread, look at as a chore, see as mundane,
some rides I encounter difficult climbs or easy descents, others rolling hills,
some rides I encounter beauty beyond compare, others not so beautiful,
some rides I encounter bee stings and accidental ingestion of bugs,
others I have witnessed awe-inspiring butterflies, birds and animals,

some rides I get a flat tire, many I don’t,
some rides I have been cursed at, spit on (yep), given the finger when I was doing everything right,
others I have been shown immeasurable grace when it was me who made the mistake,

I mean seriously, how could anyone spit at this lovely woman while she’s biking?

some rides I have been disliked just because I am a cyclist on the road,
others, maybe, I have inspired another,
some rides are extremely hot, cold, or surprised by storms,
others beautiful, sunny and calm,

some rides I have met wonderful, ‘want to be around’ folks, others not,
some rides I have gossiped unfairly, others I have been gossiped about,
some rides I put my best effort forward, some I have not,

Here is a huge turtle Debbie and her cycling buddy stumbled pon this summer!

some rides I have encountered dogs that want to attack, others that don’t,
some rides have unknown potholes, rocks and gravel, others smooth and beautiful,

some rides I am inexplicably weak, others I am inexplicably strong,
some days I have great ride, others not so great,
but no matter how the ride was,in the end,
I am so glad I have gone,
I am joyful to accomplish the ride
I am thankful to be healthy enough
thankful for my experience,
thankful for the journey.

Like my bike rides,
some days are smooth with perfect temperature,
sunny skies, dog free,
full of stranger kindness and feelings of strength,
other days are wrought with potholes, heat, bugs, winds, meanness and weakness.

Pic of new freeway intersection – this stretch of road actually promoted Debbie’s writing. Old US 1 just reopened after putting the bridge for 540, an ominous intersection for cyclists “out in the country side” in the heart of North Carolina

In spite of my anticipation and preparation, each ride has a life of its own.
I choose to embrace the journey of each ride, each day, for I know it will make me stronger and I will be glad for it, but I can only do it if I rely on the One Who is bigger than me.

cycling is like life

The more I read Debbie’s words, the more I relate to them. The more I want to take my bike to the repair shop and get on it! Thank you Debbie for inspiring me and trusting me enough to share it. I’d love to hear from you also. If  you have a story to tell, let me know, maybe I can help you speak your words to others.

A few other things about her: Debbie Douglass is married 25 yrs to a wonderful man, Jay  and mom of two sweet college aged kids. She’s also been a cyclist for 30 years. I’m not a biker but Debbie and I have a few things in common, we both are a lover of pretty tables and we’ve both been Christ-followers for 16 years (and oh SO thankful!!)

It’s truly a privilege to share her lovely message.

The party guest I invited

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Some of the decorations outside

Over 100 people came to my middle OS’s college send-off party.

It was a beautiful celebration and I just revelled in God’s goodness as I looked at the crowd.

I recall my high school graduation party and it was nothing like this one.

Mine had a keg of beer, Michael Jackson music and I remember my tube top falling down unexpectedly. Someone had yanked on it and whoops, there it fell right by the kitchen door leading out to the backyard.

I nearly died of embarrassment but shrugged it off because bursting into tears is just plain gauche for a burgeoning French major.

Possibly one of the sweetest sights at Aaron’s party is this one. People pausing to pray for my son. Such a tender moment, thank you precious family and friends.

Aaron’s bash was nothing of the sort…No booze, (none necessary) folk music, Christian fellowship and everyone remained fully clothed to my knowledge. 😉

Among the treasured guests were our current church family, close personal friends, extended family, pastors, friends from our old churches, some of Aaron’s former teachers and classmates that were in choir and drama together.

Our pastor spoke a beautiful prayer just before dinner which was a gift in itself.

We ate Chicago style hot dogs from Sonic, Chicago style pizza from Rosati’s and filled in with healthy food like cranberry quinoa salad, lentils and jasmine rice, marinated mozzarella, watermelon juleps and other lovely treats.

All the hard work paid off seeing the faces of people who obviously loved my olive shoot and felt cared for by him as well. Afterward, I told Aaron it was like a wedding but no wife and no sex. He wasn’t sure how to respond but appreciated the sentiment and just chalked it up to another one of Mom’s awkward sayings of which he has quite a collection.

Oh yes, knit Chicago style hot dogs and knit Chicago style pizza slices!

But in the back of my mind throughout the preparations and during the actual party, when I allowed myself to think,

I remembered that a year ago on this same day marked my grandma’s last full day on earth.

That is a very hard thing to process when one is getting ready for a party, I assure you. Myriad emotions wafted in and out.

I loved her so much, she was so dear to me.

She profoundly loved my babies.

How had I even survived this year without her?

Step right up and get your picture taken with Aaron in front of the Sears Tower!

It was a Chicago theme celebration since our ministry-minded OS is going to Moody Bible Institute in the heart of the Windy City. As many of you who have been reading my blog have noticed, I built a Sears Tower (I refuse to call it Willis Tower) in my family room.

Each guest got a picture with Aaron in front of our own homemade indoor skyscraper and I chuckled to see small lines of families getting ready for their turn in front of the impressive structure.

And in my own way, unbeknownst to most people, I secretly invited my grandma to the party.

She had to be a part of the night and oh how Grandma loved to party. The poor woman couldn’t cook worth a darn but she was an enthusiastic and memorable party guest. Young and old alike loved it when Grace was coming over. She had a way of getting a party started as many will attest.

My orange hair freckle face OS and his great grandma. She made everyone smile.

And that’s what I did.

I took her to the party.

It was hard to do but I wore her Chicago Cubs shirt to my OS’s celebration.

It didn’t matter that it wasn’t especially flattering or that it slightly clashed with my skirt, I wanted my grandma there with me.

I also wore her high school necklace which rarely leaves me. And I ate some hot dogs. Grandma ate like a bird but loved hot dogs.

Grandma joined the celebration last night. She would have had a blast even if she had some Alzheimer’s, rarely wore her hearing aids and needed a cane. Heaven is the only thing that stopped her from making an appearance and if my grandma is with Jesus, I completely understand her not wanting to leave the ultimate celebration.

All of us, Nate is even in the picture. And I’m wearing my grandma’s Chicago Cubs t-shirt

As the night drew to a close and August 5th soon approached, more tears fell from my tired eyes.

The one year anniversary of my grandma’s passing had now arrived.

I saw my family’s facebook statuses change and their profile pictures show photos of them with Grandma.

I was not alone in missing her.

And those tears mingled with the tears of joy I experienced toward my treasured OS. I can scarcely take it all in today but all is well.

I miss her.

I love her.

I will miss my boy.

How many people can say they have done the YMCA at their grandma’s 80th birthday party? And how many can say that later on in the night, they danced a conga line through their aunt’s house with that same grandma? I did both and will treasure those times forever!

I love him.

I praise the Lord for all the tears, all the people, all the kindness, all the sadness, all the memories, all the love, truly I am blessed on this most notable day.

These two people were crazy about each other.

PS. In honor of my grandma who loved to party, remember to enter my give-away for a fun party gift! I’ll draw a winner tomorrow! Leave a comment on this page if you want to be entered in.

Ambien, part three – ways that can help

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Lavender sleep mask = best friend

I told the Hubs last night that I just want to be over this whole not taking Ambien thing. I want to have this behind me.

I imagine this is a common feeling with a lot of people struggling with a dependency.

They just want to be on the other side of the problem, you know what I mean?

Thankfully, I married a sweet man. A good man. A loving and righteous man. And yes he snores and can leave his socks on the floor by the bed and yes, those things REALLY annoy me but I so appreciated his response.

He told me, “Mama, you’re doing it.”

And that blessed my tired soul.

Waking up in the morning with 6-7 hours of sleep free from Ambien is victorious. It’s like I battled some dark, evil dragon and won. But I don’t feel that I’ve got this all figured out yet.

Fan is a must for sleep

Of my own strength, I’m vulnerable and weak so when I told my oldest OS what I was doing, I appreciated Nate’s full attention. At 22 years old, he has a life of his own and doesn’t always hear me and can be easily distracted. But this time, Nate sincerely listened to me. And he said this.  “Mom, I’m really proud of you. That was nasty stuff.” Oh my, this matters to him. I want my family to be proud of me. (Lord, let my family be proud of me because I’m relying on you.)

So since I realize that I’m not the only one with sleep problems and I’m seeking to find natural, restful sleep, here are some things that might help. These are drug-free and healthy options. I’m dissecting the things I’m doing because I hope to encourage someone else. You can do it. Actually you can’t but God and you can. I’m an imperfect example of someone that’s moving forward, giving it all I got and letting Jesus fill in the rest.

I go to bed early, around 10:30. The later I go to sleep, the more I stress about how late it is and how I’ll never fall asleep. It becomes a vicious cycle of despair and fatigue. Hitting the sack earlier allows me some time to unwind.

This goober gave me good advice and I love him for it! Btw, he was holding this bag of beans because I asked him to and I thought it was funny!

I listen to my family’s advice. Wouldn’t you know that the Lord recently used a teenage kid to offer me sage counsel? It came from my middle OS Aaron who was positively insistent that I go to bed early. My ministry minded OS learned of my desire to rid myself of Ambien and he reasoned quite logically that if I went to bed early and it took me a while to go to sleep, at least I would probably sleep through the night and feel more rested. And you know what? That guy was right! If you are struggling in this area of life, what advice are those who love you most telling you? If it’s healthy advice, take it. If it’s stupid and will just lead you down another bad path, fuhgettaboutit.

I’m careful about what I put into my mind. Have you noticed (because I have) that there are some really terrible tv shows on late at night? One night while taking Ambien, I fell asleep on the floor with the tv on. When I awoke, I couldn’t believe what was on tv, it was something I never needed to know about or see. And btw, I wasn’t watching porn before I went to bed, thank you very much. But I am discerning about what goes into my system emotionally, physically, spiritually and nutritionally. I’m aiming to fall asleep PEACEFULLY and NATURALLY and this is an easy thing that makes a difference. I guard my mind and all of me, body and soul feel better.

This is the stupid box and I need to turn it off before I go to bed.

So if you are trying to learn how to sleep, what are you putting into yourself throughout the day and especially just before going to bed? I have a very sensitive constitution. Things bother me easily. I avoid loud music, alcohol, illegal drugs, crazy stuff on tv, sexual content, graphic violence, disturbing images, intense music, books and internet sites especially before bed. It might work for you. Seriously, what have you got to lose besides getting another monkey off your back?

Clock, you are not my friend. I shall not set my sight on you, mon ami, at least not late at night. Be gone! 😉

Don’t look at the clock. The Lord told me (and not like in a big, booming voice from heaven but actually deep within my spirit), He said, “Don’t look at the clock. It will thwart your progress. Trust me instead.” So when I have a late night trip to the restroom, I do not glance, not even for a second at the clock. Sure sometimes I’m tempted and I have  looked before and God was right (as usual) it didn’t help me. Jesus does though. Don’t look at the clock.

I’d love to hear about any of your suggestions too. Freeing myself from this drug is a big deal and while I’m don’t feel that I can claim total victory, I’m making progress. Thanks for your encouragement and support. You bless me. Sweet dreams and I really mean that.