Hidden Value

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Sometimes when driving down the road the most random thoughts enter my brain. Then I sit and probably way over think whatever it is that has popped up in my head. This is one of those posts.

My husband and I closed on our house a little over 3 years and really aren’t  looking to go anywhere else anytime soon. We realize at some point we will probably outgrow our little house and need to give our kids some breathing room, especially the boys, as they grow into teenagers. That being said, it’s still fun to look at random postings as they pop up on social media or to look up properties as we see them. While on a run I passed a house I have passed more times than I can count. The front of the property is gorgeous. There is a gate, so you can’t walk up and look around. From the road I can see the house, a greenhouse and a pond. There is a “For Sale” sign in front of it. I knew it would be listed for way beyond what my husband and I could ever afford, but still wanted to know the listing price.

After watching countless seasons of “House Hunters” and “Property Brothers” I thought I had a good guess as to what the house would be worth. Y’all, I was so far off it wasn’t even funny. My estimate was roughly half a million. When I went into Zillow the house was listed at $1.5 Million! I about fell out of my chair. While I knew the house had value, I could only see it’s partial potential from my view on the road. I couldn’t see anything else the home had to offer. I couldn’t see the square footage of the house. I couldn’t see all of the acreage that comes with the house, nor could I see the Olympic size pool behind the house.

As I was driving and thinking about this house, I started to think about people in general. How many people do we write off as not having much to offer? How many times do we look at another person and know they have some skills, but fail to look farther than we can see and fail to see their full potential? I wonder how many people make it to the end of their lives without ever reaching their full potential because not one person in their lives took the time see what it was or to give them a chance?

When I think about my own kids I see their value, but wonder what else they have to offer? What are their talents and skill sets that have yet to be discovered? At the end of May they participated in a cheer/ football clinic. The son I thought would do ok, ended up shocking me. The child I thought would excel, was the one who did ok. In my own mind, I saw potential in a completely different area for my one son and never imagined that he could do what I saw him do on the field that week. I am now really looking forward to football this fall to watch him grow and develop.

As a parent I don’t need to write off a certain activity because I don’t think my child can excel. I need to be open to letting my kids explore multiple activities and see where their hearts, talents and skill sets take them. I don’t want my kids to miss out because I or another adult in their lives failed to pay attention and miss their full potential in whatever the activity may be.

I also don’t want to be the person to write off someone else because I can’t see them for who they truly are and only look at them on a surface level. In a society where we tend to only see what a person puts on social media, it’s easy to pass judgement on what we think a person may or may not have to offer. How many people have surprised others by what they’ve done, not because they weren’t capable of doing whatever, but we didn’t see them as someone who could do it?

The flip side of this coin is, how often do we hide our own worth? We know what we are capable of, but are content, or too scared to come out of our bubbles? It is often times easier to sit back and let the world go by than to let others in to see our true worth. This has been a struggle for me over the past year. I know I am capable of doing so much more than I am, but have let the fear of being seen prevent me from taking any steps. Even in times when we’ve been given a shot at doing something, how many times do we second guess every little thing? I am a huge over-thinker and a recovering people pleaser (blog post on this coming soon). Even though I desire to do more, as long as those above me are happy with what I am doing, it’s easy to coast.

Remember: When a person shows even a little potential, take the time to see what else may be below the surface. I think most people would shock us if given the opportunity. Also, don’t be afraid to let others see your real worth.

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Love Your People Well

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Y’all it has been a long hard road since last June. That week started out with me heading to MI to celebrate my niece graduating from high school and her acceptance to college. The weekend ended with my MIL being diagnosed with cancer. Talk about highs to lows in a matter of days. This would only be the beginning of health issues and death. I shared in my last blog post about a season of death. Well, that season has been extended by the death of an adult child of a dear friend.

When things like this happen, especially with as hard as this season has hit, it causes you take a step back and take stock of life. It causes you to really evaluate who you are, where you and the relationships with the people around you. Y’all please love your people well. I have been reminded of my former pastor’s statement “There is nothing so certain as death and nothing so uncertain as the time.” You never know when the Lord is going to call you or someone you love home. Again, love your people well.

Life can get crazy busy. I am looking at the calendar for the month of May. It is crazy busy for us. We celebrate the birthdays of two of our children. There is Mothers Day and the anniversary of our engagement. Add to that all of the end year stuff/ activities for church and school and by the end I am so ready for a vacation. What if? What if you gave yourself the permission to say “No” to certain things? What if you took a step back to make sure you had time to really be with your spouse,children and friends?

I’ll be honest, I am a people pleaser in recovery. (This is so difficult for me to say and a whole blog post for down the road). I don’t like people to be upset or angry with me, so I struggle to say that tiny two letter word “No.” As I look back at all that has transpired since last June, will I really be upset when my time comes that I said “No” to others and “Yes” to my family? Will I regret staying busy over choosing to grab lunch with a friend or spending time with my husband and children? Do I want my kids to say “Mommy loved us, but she was so busy with other things that she wasn’t there for us?

The end of the school year is almost here. Summer is knocking on our door. I’ll be honest, I’m saying “No” to a lot this summer. My kids will attend VBS at our church. We will go to MI and visit my sister and that side of my family. My youngest will go to preschool day camp. Other than that, we are going to enjoy a slower summer. My husband and I will still have to work, but we are going to take time to breathe this summer. My kids will be a top priority. We will enjoy some much needed family time. I also plan on getting together with my girlfriends. Time for dinners and play-dates will be made. There will also be plenty of what my kids call “home days.” I will say “Yes” to the ice cream truck. I will say “Yes” to turning on the sprinkler for my kids and their friends. I will say “Yes” to trips to the park, the art museum and the library.

I won’t do any of this perfectly, but I will make more of an effort than I have in the past. I have several friends and family members who are hurting because of this season of death. I pray the Lord will use me to be His hands and feet and love on them. I pray that I can be the ear or the shoulder they need in this time. I pray that I can be the one who just sits there because there are no words to be spoken. Sometimes I think when people we love are hurting that is what they need the most. They just need us to sit there. They don’t need our words, even though they may be well intentioned. Sometimes the silence is more healing than the noise. They need to know they are loved. With the friend who said her final goodbyes to her son last week, all I could tell her was that she and her family are loved.

Side note on dealing with grieving loved ones and friends:
1) Tell them they are loved.
2) Let them know you are OK with the tears.
3) Let them know they have permissions to have hard days.
4) Let them know it’s OK to laugh and smile on the good days.
5) Call or text them and let them know you are praying for them.
6) Call or text and ask them to join you for coffee, lunch, or a movie.
7) Don’t give them trite responses to their grief.
8) Remind them as long as what they are doing is not causing self-harm there is no wrong or right way to grieve.
9) Remind them there is NO timeline on their grief.
10) Remind them grief is not a straight line and the emotions will cycle.

If you are in a season of grief or things are smooth sailing, love your people well and reach out and connect to those you love most.

Death, Grief and Legacy

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It’s been a season of loss. There have been tears shed as well as laughter over shared memories of the past. I tend to keep my emotions to close to me and try to only release them when I am alone or with my husband. Given all that’s transpired, I haven’t done a great job at concealing anything. A part of me knows that showing emotion and not attempting to be stoic around others isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Almost two weeks ago, on a Wednesday night, I completely fell apart. Let me back up just a little. Back in November, we lost my MIL to cancer. My husband and children still struggle with her loss, especially my daughter. At the end of January, I lost a sweet friend to brain cancer. Just shy of 2 weeks after that I walked into my office and learned a friend from church lost her husband. I had only met the husband a couple of times, but hurt for her and her children. Then I lost my beloved college president and my high school choral director within a week of each other. It was on that Wednesday that I learned about my choral director.

I thought I was doing ok. I made it through work. Went home and came back to church, even though I seriously contemplated staying home. I attended my ladies Bible study that night and headed to choir. I was holding back the emotion pretty well, until we started singing. You see I love music and it speaks to the very depths of my soul. There are times when the Lord uses the music more than the sermon to speak to me. (My senior pastor is really a great preacher and I love his solid, exegetical preaching). We rehearsed the first song and I was great. A couple lines into the second song, I was attempting to blink back the tears. By the end of that song, I couldn’t read the music in my hands. Since I was sitting on the back row, I couldn’t just slide out. What did I do? I pulled my hair down over my glasses and didn’t make eye contact with anyone. As soon as rehearsal was over and our worship pastor prayed, I bolted.

I was hoping to make it back to the safety of my van before anyone realized that I was crying. That didn’t happen. I reached the back door at the same time as a friend. She looked at me and hugged me, which only made the tears flow harder. In between the tears I shared what had happened. She hugged me tighter, told me she would be praying for me and we walked to the parking lot together. Later, I would receive a text message and a FB message from a couple other ladies who saw the tears. I won’t lie, I was angry with myself and frustrated that these 3 ladies saw it. On the other hand, it was a great reminder that I go to an amazing church and have been blessed with some incredible friends. Church “should” be the one place we can fall apart. Right? I feel like being on staff I should be able to hide the bad and pretend that all is well, even when it isn’t. If someone on church staff is falling apart, then it must mean that we struggle with our faith and in life, so wouldn’t that set a terrible example for everyone else? I get how stupid that sounds. We are not immune from life’s curveballs or fastballs. We struggle like everyone else. Tears will fall and we have people who love us and will come alongside us, IF we allow them. That is a whole other blog post for me. Death and grief suck.

The other thing death does is cause us to look at the life of those who have passed and our own lives. There are beautiful things we see and there are some not so pretty things we see. I honestly didn’t have the best relationship with my MIL, but I have watched how her death has impacted my husband and children. My husband no longer has any living parents. We lost his father when I was half way through my pregnancy with our middle child. My husband has made the statement several times “I feel like an orphan.” I can’t imagine how that must feel. I have watched my children grieve their grandmother. It’s been a struggle for them to understand why she no longer comes to the house, why no cookies appeared at Christmas and why they can’t just pick up the phone and call heaven. I’ve struggled with how could I have attempted to have made things better with her. There is frustration, sadness and regret all balled up into her death.

My sweet friend Lea Anne was an avid runner. I loved the race pictures she posted, especially when her family was involved. She and I had several conversations about running a race together. This would have meant that one of us would have had to travel. We talked about how once she defeated cancer I would make the trek to Arkansas and run a race in celebration of her defeating that nasty disease. Neither race ever happened. I regret not making the time do what we talked about. My heart aches for her husband and 4 children. Cancer stole a young, active wife and mother. She loved her husband, children and life and now she’s gone. Every mile I run this year is in her memory. It won’t bring her back to her family and friends, but it’s a way to honor her memory.

I don’t even know where to begin with Dr. Potts. You see he wasn’t a typical college president. Judson is not your typical college. There are things about my college experience that would be seen the same as most every other college experience. Then, because of the uniqueness of Judson, it was extremely different. We are small school. Between December, April and June graduates, there were only 40 in my graduating class. Judson is a family and Dr. Potts was the head of that family. Dr. Potts may have technically only had 2 biological daughters, but he treated every girl who walked through the gates of Judson like a daughter.

Dr. Potts knew every student by name. He knew our majors and what extra curricular activities we participated in on campus. He knew our family members by name. He could call them by name even if we weren’t with him. Dr. Potts chose to eat in the dining hall with the students. When we were out walking on campus, it wasn’t unusual for him to jump in and walk with us. He truly had an open door policy. You see he wasn’t some illusive figure head at Judson, he was a part of everything on campus. Dr. Potts loved the Lord and loved to find ways for Judson Girls to serve the community of Marion. We weren’t some small private college who stayed within our gates. Dr. Potts made it a point to connect students and the community.

I counted it a privilege to return to Judson to be a part of the Judson Singers Alumni Choir and sing for Dr. Potts’ memorial service. As I sat there it was surreal to sit and listen to people referring to him in past tense. Honestly, I spent the entire weekend waiting for him to appear and his office doors to open. I sat and listened as people talked about the man, husband and father he was. There were some stories I heard that I had heard a hundred times. There were other stories, I had never heard before. I look at the legacy he left and what he instilled in all of his Judson Girls and I know lives are going to be forever impacted because he lived out what he believed.

The Wednesday of the week I headed to Judson, I received word my high school choral director passed away. Carroll High School and the city of Ozark lost a great man and a talented musician. There were three men who instilled a love of music into my life at a young age and Mr. Shirley was one of them. I had the privilege of being a part of Choral Club and musical theater productions under his choral direction. I won’t admit how long I have been out of high school, but I have loved seeing posts and pictures on social media of him leading the next generation. He was actively involved in the spring production when he became sick. Knowing what I know about him, I hate these students missed out on his leadership the weekend of the actual production. His death leaves a huge hole in the music back home. Mr. Shirley also left behind a wife, children and grandchildren. I can’t even begin to guess at how many students  walked through the doors of the choral room and the stage and we all feel his loss as well.

Yes, we grieve and cry. The only encouragement I find in all of this is that we can grieve with hope. You see, these wonderful people had a relationship with the Lord and they are now sitting at His feet. Because many of us share their faith, we know we will one day be reconnected with them. The reunion will be one of great joy. We will all be healthy, whole and will forever worship the Lord side by side. If you have never asked Christ to be your Lord and Savior, I am more than happy to walk through it with you. My former pastor, Bro. Jerry, used to say frequently from the pulpit “There is nothing so certain as death and nothing so uncertain as the time.” He is absolutely correct. I am grateful for my relationship with the Lord and pray those around me who don’t know Him as their personal Lord and Savior will come to a saving relationship with Him.

Please let the people in your family and inner circles know how much you love them. Tell them frequently because you never know when it will be their time or your time to go. My prayer other than people coming to Christ is that the people around us would be loved well.

If you have made it this far, thank you. If there is ever anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to ask! You are loved!

A Weird Lent

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This has been a weird season of Lent for me. I get that being Southern Baptist doesn’t traditionally call for a Lenten fast/ sacrifice of some sort, but I have followed that ritual through most of my adulthood. I have always joked my Catholic/ Episcopalian roots run deep. My mother and I are the only 2 Southern Baptists in our family. (That’s a whole other long post in and of itself). This has also always been a season of where being the grand daughter of my maternal grandmother and my family heritage on that side of the family has been a sense of pride. Wouldn’t it seem appropriate that coming from a long line of devout Irish Catholics would be seen as a badge of honor during St. Patrick’s Day and Lent?

In years past I have given up Coke, Dr.Pepper, chocolate, desserts or some sort of food. One year I either ran or worked out 5 days a week through this season. I have also participated in the 40 bags in 40 days decluttering challenge. This year I did none of that. I prayed about what Lent should like for me on a personal level. I prayed the Lord would show me what this season of the year should be in preparation for Resurrection Sunday. This year the Lord told me I wasn’t to give up anything, but I was to seek His face.

I didn’t get it. The Lord reminded me that my family has just walked through a season of hurt and loss. At the same time, the Lord was breaking things in my own life. I’ve had to lay down a good bit at His feet over the past 9 months. I came to a point where I reached the end of me. The only place I could look was up. So that sounds a bit dramatic, but true. Sometimes the Lord brings you to the end yourself, so you only look to Him. It doesn’t mean that you are involved in some immoral lifestyle or that you lose all of your possessions or even your physical health. In my case, it was a laying down of pride. It’s a laying down of the need for the appearance of perfection. It’s a laying down of saying “I’ve got this.” It’s been a letting go of being “The Major’s Daughter.” It’s a season of the Lord showing me who I am in Him and letting go of the expectations of everyone else.

In my case, the Lord brought me to a place where I have had to lay some pretty large goals/ dreams at His feet. I’ve had to say “Thy will be done.” There are two major goals/dreams I have and they will only work out IF the Lord is the one leading them and opens those doors for me. I have no clue as to what the Lord is going to do with what I’ve laid His feet. I will admit that I lack patience. In my current season, it’s the Fruit of the Spirit I most need. Its the Fruit of the Spirit I have always struggled with the most. When you’re a Type A planner and like things to fall into a neat and orderly schedule of events, this kind of season is difficult. I shared in my last post that I feel like I am in a Chrysalis, waiting to break free my cocoon. I can feel my wings fluttering and am ready to break free from my shell. I also know the cocoon won’t break free until it’s the Lord’s timing and I have to be patient. Yep, there’s that pesky little word again. Patient.

What have I been doing during this season of Lent? I have been in the Word and seeking Him with all that I have. The Lord brought me to a new Bible study group on Wednesday nights this past fall. We walked through “One in a Million” and are currently walking through “Discerning the Voice of God” both by Priscilla Shirer. Y’all the Lord has stepped all over my toes in both of these studies. Courage, patience and obedience seem to be reoccurring themes in the scripture readings. I shared in my last post that I am wearing a bracelet that says “I Must.” It’s a daily reminder that delayed obedience is disobedience and the Lord has been convicting me during this season of Lent.

As we walk into the last couple days of Lent, is there something you need to lay at the feet of the Lord? Is there something you need to surrender before Resurrection Sunday? Is there an “I Must?” I encourage you to seek the Lord with everything in you. Easter may not be your deadline, but it may your starting line. As always I encourage you to pray. If needed seek out one who is wiser than you and allow them to come alongside you in whatever your journey may entail. I have an open door policy, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Happy Easter Y’all!

Men Are Not Creskin

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OK, so this blog post almost 2 weeks after the fact, but something we can take into consideration with our husbands moving forward.

My husband and I will celebrate 13 years of marriage this coming June. While I don’t claim to be a marriage expert, there are a few things I have learned along the way. One thing I’ve learned is that many arguments could be avoided all together if you will just communicate. It’s not fair to set our husbands up for failure. I am willing to bet the majority of our husband are outstanding, incredible men and they deserve to be treated as such.  Please communicate your expectations to them and set them up for success.

My husband and I don’t do huge things for Valentines Day. My mother always gives us a gift card to Maggiano’s at Christmas and we hold on to this gift card specifically for Valentines Day. When it comes to gifts, we only do smaller things. In all honesty, this is how our Valentines conversation went:

Me: What do you want for Valentines Day?
Hubby: Coffee. What do you want?
Me: Books.
Hubby: Deal. You give me coffee and I’ll give you books.

Yes, it really was the easy. This is pretty much how that conversation goes every year. We also keep small things on an Amazon wish list, so we have other options as well. That was pretty much how it went. I gave him a box of Keurig Starbucks Coffee and a bag of chocolate covered cashews. He gave me a Kindle Gift Card. It was win win for us. Simple, but spoke to things we both like.

It seems like after every holiday, whether big or small I see a common theme on my social media pages. Too many ladies complaining because their husbands didn’t get them what they wanted. Many times I see the phrase “He should have known.” Again I ask, how can they know if you don’t tell them? How about communicating with your husband and then bragging on him, instead of finding fault and then bashing him on social media.

I will be honest and share I am completely and totally spoiled. My husband washes dishes and he is the one who cleans the bathrooms. He also fixes the kids’ lunches and takes them to school every morning. I am blessed with a husband who does more than his fair share of chores around the house and is hands on with our kids. I don’t feel like I am left to handle the kids and the house on my own.

Some of this is because it’s just a part of his personality and who he is. When it comes to his love language, the way he shows loves is by acts of service. The kids and I see this on a daily basis. Those who know my husband well, also witness this on a regular basis. The other part of this is I am not afraid to look at him and ask for help with something. If you know me well, you know I stink at asking for help or letting others do anything for me, BUT I have learned how to do this with my husband. We aren’t perfect and there are times when we both slip and have to have a conversation about getting the house back in order.

Communication is where many marriages struggle and it’s a cause of marriages falling apart. If you really look at the things you and your spouse fight about, it boils down to unmet expectations. It’s not an intentional act on either side, but when we don’t communicate what we want or what we need, the expectation can’t be met.

When I was in seminary working towards my masters degree, I was sitting in a pre-marital class and I will never forget the story Dr. Floyd told. I will tell it in a paraphrase because it’s been longer than I care to admit since I sat in his class.

A man and women got married. Most of the time the wife kept orange juice in the refrigerator because she knew her husband liked it. One day they ran out of orange juice. When the wife did the weekly grocery shopping, she forgot to pick up orange juice. That evening her husband came home and was upset because there was no orange juice in the refrigerator. He and his wife had a huge fight over orange juice. When they started talking, it turned out it wasn’t about orange juice at all. It was about unmet expectations. As a child, the husband’s mother always kept orange juice in the refrigerator. His wife’s “failure” to keep orange juice in the refrigerator was a sign, to him, the wife didn’t care. In the wife’s childhood home, things she wanted were seldom available. She didn’t see it as a big deal because it wasn’t a big deal in her home. Both of them had to take a step back and see the situation from the other person’s side.

How many times do we have “orange juice” situations in our own marriage? Communication didn’t happen and therefore expectations weren’t met. There are times when communication is difficult, but necessary. Don’t be afraid of the hard conversations. Don’t fail to communicate with your spouse and then say “Well, they should have known.” Our husbands are not Creskin, nor do they possess Creskin like abilities. We are the same. If you have a need, please let each other know. It won’t solve all arguments you have in your marriage, but it will go a long way to decrease the number of arguments you have.

All Over the Place

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It has been long, hard several months. My brain and emotions have been all over the place. This post may end up all over the place before all is said and done. Let me start by saying that cancer SUCKS!!!! In 3 circles I belong to, 4 ladies have been taken by cancer in the past 3 months. Me being who I am have stuffed the emotions and attempted to pretend I’m ok and not hurting, but the last death brought the emotions and the tears. Cancer is a thief. It takes people before we are ready for them to go. Yes, I could get all spiritual and give the trite response of “Because they had a relationship with Christ, I know I will see them on the other side of eternity and they are whole, healed and in the arms of our Savior.” While I know that to be true, I am hurting and even angry. Last night I had the privilege of getting to see Jen Hatmaker on the Moxie Matters Tour. My favorite line of the night was “It’s not bad Christian PR to admit that you’re hurting.” AMEN and AMEN!!! She gave us permission to hurt and feel all the feelings.

Let me back up and give a little more context to this painful story. Last June my MIL was diagnosed with Bile Duct Cancer. Later Liver Cancer would be added. Cancer would take her the Sunday, the week of Thanksgiving. In my group #the4500, cancer would take 2 of our members, one in November and then one last week. Lexi and Carrie were well loved and are missed by our crew. The day before my MIL’s funeral a friend from another group underwent emergency surgery where bleeding on the brain and lesions were discovered. The following week, Lea Anne would share she was battling stage 4 Malignant Melanoma. Yes, brain cancer. She fought like a warrior. At the beginning of last week she underwent another major surgery. By Saturday night her husband announced she had been placed in hospice and not given much time. Tuesday morning I awoke to the news she had stepped into the arms of her Savior.

My heart aches at all of the loss. I know my own personal feelings are a drop in the bucket to those closest to these ladies. My MIL left behind a daughter, 3 sons, 3 daughters-in-law, a son-in-law, 12 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren with the 3rd great grandchild due this spring. Lexi and Carrie each left behind a husband and 3 sons. Lea Anne left behind her husband, 3 sons and a daughter. They all left behind a large number of friends.

While my MIL had lived to see 75 years, she still had plenty of life left in her. The other 3 were late 30s/ early 40s, so way too soon for anyone to have to say “goodbye.” All of the children, young and old, still want their mothers/ grandmother around. The 3 husbands definitely wanted to grow old with their wives. It’s not fair any of them had to leave when they did. When I think about all of the life experiences these ladies will miss out on and the life experiences the husbands and kids will experience without these ladies it’s heartbreaking. Did I mention it’s not fair. I know life’s not fair, but these losses take it to a whole new level of unfairness.

I don’t share any of this for pity, but for people to realize that we as Christians feel the same emotions as everyone else. We do have our faith, but the pain isn’t any less for us. We still ask the Lord “Why” and you know what? The Lord can take it!!! Yes, we can cry out to Him when we’re hurting. We don’t have to pretend we are fine when we pray. Plus He already knows how we’re feeling, so there’s no use putting on a mask with Him.

I think many of us are open in our prayers when we’re hurting, but we don’t let others in. The Lord gives us spouses, siblings, close friends to be His hands and arms here on earth. My husband and a couple of friends have seen the tears, but I tend to hide the tears and the pain from others. While I don’t think we need to think we need to share with every single person we interact with on a daily basis what we are walking, we do need to have the strength and the vulnerability to let our Tribe in. I have been blessed with an incredible Tribe. I don’t share the way I should, but I’m working on it.

We also need to let those around us know how much we love and appreciate them. My former pastor, Bro. Jerry, used to say “There is nothing so certain as death and nothing so uncertain as the time.” We never know when it the Lord will call us or someone we love home. Last night on the way home from the Moxie Matters Tour event I told one of dearest friends what I appreciated about her. I make sure my husband and children hear on a daily basis how much I love them. I stink at letting others know how much I appreciate them and how I feel about them. I need to be better about this.

The other thing when looking at the 3 younger ladies who passed is that I need to step out and work to accomplish my goals. I have spent too much time timid and afraid. I know the Lord has called me to do a couple of thing and it’s time to take those steps of faith and go for it.

I’ve also realized how much time I have spent wearing a mask and hiding behind walls. Masks and walls are safe. You see, you can be safe and no one can hurt you when you have your masks and walls. It’s really quite lonely. The safety is only imagined. The words to the song “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” have played over and over again in my head:

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me.”

Because I have spent so many years with my mask tightly adhered to my face as well as kept my walls thick and high, it will be a process to figure out who I am without them. I am sure as the year progresses there will a blogpost or two on this topic.

If you have made it this far, thank you for letting me chase a few rabbits and get some feelings written out. The grief process is not quick. It is not a straight line. It’s all over the place. You go back and forth between the stages. I am sure as I walk through this process more tears will fall. I am not a perfect Christian. I am flawed. In spite of what most people think my emotions are large and I feel them with everything in me, even though most people around me never realize it. I could write a whole other post on my personality type and it “might” help people who have to deal with others with a similar personality.

Anyway, if you are walking a similar road please know you are not alone. Please reach out to your tribe. If you don’t have a tribe to reach out to, please start building that tribe. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me.

Princess is Not a Dirty Word

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Before I get into the post, please know this is coming from a self-proclaimed Tomboy. I am happier camping, hiking and swimming out at the lake than I am at a spa or the mall. I am a blue jeans, t-shirt, tennis shoes/ flip flops kind of girl. The only truly girly things about me are my love of dance and my slight obsession with all things Vera Bradley.

As I have read through social media here in the past couple of weeks, I have noticed a trend that’s a little disturbing to me. Many of the posts start with “Please don’t call my daughter a princess” or “Please don’t call my daughter beautiful or cute.” There was one article posted about why a mother didn’t want her daughter to be referred to as “Daddy’s Little Princess.” I don’t get it. Mama bear has come out. When did being a girly girl become something so un PC and something we deemed as bad or detrimental to our little girls?

I am the proud mother of a little girl who is 100% girly. She loves all things pink, shiny and sparkly. More than that, she is 100% Daddy’s Little Princess. You know what? I LOVE IT!!! Growing up I was not close to my father. I was never Daddy’s Little Princess or a daddy’s girl. I was often referred to as “The Major’s Daughter.” My siblings and I were more of Daddy’s Little Soldiers than anything else. This isn’t to say he didn’t love us in his own way, but he was never overly affectionate toward us. I LOVE that my husband and my daughter have that special relationship. My heart melts when I watch the two of them together. I pray it continues throughout their lives.

I don’t see this as a negative where my daughter is concerned. Her room is painted pink. Her bedspread is white with Eiffel Towers, pink hearts and little puppies all over it. She has posters and pictures of Paris all over her walls. If you open her closet and dresser, you will find the whole spectrum of pinks. You will find sequins, ruffles, glitter and all sorts of sparkles on her clothes. Her shoes have a pinkish rainbow on them. She has a bow board overflowing with bows. In the the bathroom, you will find a collection of colorful barrettes, hair ties and headbands. Her backpack is pink, with unicorns and rainbows. She is not a fan of sweat, but will slightly tolerate it in gymnastics.

My daughter and I are the same in some areas and then polar opposites in others. When she looks at me and asks to go get a mani or pedi, I don’t always know how to react. I’ve had 2 manis in my life. The first was for my wedding. The 2nd was for one of my best friend’s 40th birthday. It’s not something even close to being on my radar. My daughter is just shy of 9 and has been into fashion design since she was the ripe old age of 5. She has several fashion design books and is constantly drawing dresses and outfits on blank paper she finds. My daughter also has a love of baking. While my husband and I have yet to turn her loose in the kitchen without supervision, she is learning her way around and I love the confidence I see when see gets to help cook and bake. Depending on what day you catch her, she will tell you she either wants to be a fashion designer or open her own bakery when she grows up. Again, I absolutely LOVE this about my daughter.

I don’t see any of the things I have listed above about my daughter things that need to change. I don’t see how, by allowing to nurture these things in her, that we are raising a terrible human being. You see, on top of all of this my daughter is an honor roll student. Did I mention she is a straight A student in math? Yep, another trait she did not inherit from me. I wish my grandfather would have lived to meet her because he would be thrilled to see a grandchild who can crunch numbers like he did. He was CFO of Butler Paper before he retired. My husband also excels in the area of math and business.

My daughter is also kind and generous. I have had several parents tell me how much they appreciate the way my daughter has welcomed their child into the classroom and befriended them to help them feel comfortable in a new setting. My daughter is a child who other children trust. They know my daughter is a loyal friend. My daughter is also generous. When we go shopping for Operation Christmas Child and Gifting Tree, she would buy out Wal-Mart and Target if we would let her. If she knows of other needs, she desires to meet them. You see you can be a princess who loves all things pink and sparkly AND be kind, generous and intelligent. It’s a both/ and, not either/ or.

While this has been a post about little girls, I will throw in that I am a boymom as well. I have 2 little boys who we are training to be true, southern gentleman. My boys are 100% boy. They are rough and tumble and are happier outside playing with their basketballs, footballs and trucks, in the dirt than they are inside coloring. They are the total opposite of my daughter. My boys are being raised to hold doors open for ladies. They are being taught if a gentleman is present, a lady should never have to open her own door. Is the lady capable of opening her own door? Yes. Does that mean she should? No, it doesn’t. I love having sons who love being boys, just as I love having a daughter who embraces being a  girly girl with all her heart.

The other part of this is that we have taught my daughter and my sons once they accept Christ as their savior, they not only have an earthly father, but they will have a heavenly Father who also happens to be The King of Kings. This means they will have an eternal, Royal inheritance. My daughter is coming close to making the personal decision to follow Christ. I pray she embraces being a child of The One True King with every fiber of her being and know that she will always and forever be a princess in the eyes of our Lord.

I think we as women have pushed for equality for so long that we have unintentionally sent the message to our daughters, nieces and little girls in our lives that being a girl is something to be ashamed of. By being a girl, especially one who embraces it, that they can’t and/or won’t be respected. Society says “Put your daughters in gender neutral clothes.” “Give your daughter toys that would be traditionally meant for boys.” “Put away the pink, the sparkles and the bling because only then can you earn a place in society.” I will give you an emphatic “NO” to all of this. As long as my daughter wants her pink and her sparkles and I will continue to let her have them. I will not teach her to “tone the girly girl.” I love her the way she is and the way the Lord created her. So please, do tell my daughter she is beautiful. Please tell her she is a princess. Definitely please remind her that she not only has an earthly father who loves her to pieces, she has a Heavenly Father who thought she was to die for.

Again, Princess is NOT a dirty word!!!!!