Thursday, June 26, 2014

This is Your Brain, This is Your Brain on Drugs

*egg cracked and scrambled in the pan*

Y'all remember that commercial? I feel like it was branded into my memory from a very young age of my PBS watching. A man's voice narrating the entire commercial with dark, dramatic lighting.


Have you ever noticed all the different ways people make scrambled eggs?
Chunky and moist.
Chunky and dry.
Broken down and moist.
Broken down and dry.
Onions and mushrooms added.
Salt, not enough salt.
Pepper, never pepper.
Overcooked, under cooked.

The options literally are endless.

Time continues to grow me.
Time continues to soften me.
Time continues to nudge me more towards a stance that says, "forget all the DIFFERENT ways to scramble, just scramble!"

How often as we journey, do we come upon leftover carnage from the battles people have waged all in the name of THEIR type of scrambled?

Homeschool vs brick and mortar?
Private vs public?
Stay at home vs working?
Presbies vs Southern B's?
Democratic vs Republican?
North vs South?
Grace vs law?
Rent vs own?
Global warming vs fuzzy science?
Cochran vs McDaniel?
Wine cellars vs teetotaler
Walmart vs Target?
Organic vs whatever is at the local store or drive through?
Natural vs give me all the drugs?
Parent lead vs child lead?
Breastfed vs bottle fed?
Grass fed vs grain supplemented?
Dish vs Direct?
FCA vs Choctaw County?
Contemporary Worship vs Traditional Worship?
Home church vs mega church?
Keller vs Piper?
Hatmaker vs Shirer?
Extra curricular activities for the kids vs let a kid be a kid?
Gaming for kids vs absolutely never let my kids near a device?
Frozen vs Tangled?

And one that is very near and dear my heart these days...
Manufactured homes vs traditionally built? :)

You might laugh, but I have seen it all. People lay it all on the line over something so "first world". Arguments, the majority of this universe cannot even begin to wrap their brains around because today they are focusing on surviving the day and hoping to place a small portion of food on the table this evening for their family! They are rapidly breathing, as they watch the horizon for the next militia to come in fear that this time it might be THEIR daughter who is stolen into the sex trade. They lay awake in bed at night, hoping the next terrorists does not blow himself up in THEIR local market. They sleep in boxes at night, right under our own noses, because they have nothing. What they are called to scramble each day should shame our ridiculous, so called battles!

All last week, I listened to the stories my dad is privileged to be apart of with The Sending Project. A ministry that has decided that it is time to stop working AGAINST each other and *mind blowing I KNOW*, start working TOGETHER; despite race, denomination, socio-economic backgrounds, worship style, language, location and vocation.

My dad has been driving a prayer bus around Kansas City with all different types of churches, denominations, races, cultures, etc.. and they go from church to church praying for each other's ministries and congregations. Not their OWN ministries, but OTHER church's ministries. Talk about negating a competition clause. By the time my dad left on Sunday, I was ready to sell every thing I owned and start over. What are we doing? REALLY?!!

I am so weary of smeared scrambled eggs every where I walk.
It's exhausting.
All the weapons in everyone's hands because of deep insecurity and pain.
It is no wonder that people in North America are leaving the church in droves, while the Eastern Hemisphere is exploding everyday with people whose lives have been changed because of Jesus. We are not desperate enough here in our first world country. We numb our pain with screens, endless food, control, safety, the illusion of peace and niceties. We silence our shame by given our ten percent, washing our hands, and walking away.

I am very unsure what kind of eggs I will be scrambling this next year in my kitchen of life, but you better believe I am trying on a daily basis to strip myself of the weapons I have so long held tightly too and just scramble the heck out of all the gifts I have been entrusted with.

A weary heart often helps distinguish what is good and what is best.
A wounded heart often limps along only able to exude energy in areas that are worthy not wasteful.

Here are to some scrambled eggs that are not just good, but the best!
Here are to some scrambled eggs that are not wasteful but worthy!

Scramble on my friends!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why I French Kissed Dating Hello!

Had there been an actually museum for all things CRS, we were standing in it. Circa: summer of 1999, camper week one. Me, with no ill intentions at all, getting a drink from the drinking fountain in the Lodge Hallway. He, with possible ulterior motives, getting a drink at the drinking fountain at that EXACT moment. He grabbed my hand, because one of Mark Littlejohn's love languages is physical touch. My heart caught in my throat and my mind sped ahead, "He's touching my hand, oh sweet baby Jesus, his strong, calloused, sailing, and tanned hand is touching my hand!" I was slightly distracted by the whole hand touching thing because I just knew at ANY moment that Rusty was going to turn down the hallway and fire both of us on the spot for "hand touching!" At the time I had a severe case of "rule follower". Rusty didn't appear and we retained our jobs. PHEW!

His sun-kissed self, wanted to know if I wanted to go on a double date with him on Saturday, June 12th, 1999. Um, yes, yes, I wanted to go on a date with him probably more than anything my seventeen year old heart had ever known.

Looking back on our first date together, I see all the things he displayed that night that attracted me to him that still attract me to him today. Mark was a little late showing up to our first date, but he was late for a darn fine reason. He had hand made me flowers. Melt. Mark doesn't want to be like everyone else, not because he is egotistical or arrogant, but because he desires to take a road less traveled that includes thoughtfulness and precision. Hand made flowers, a first. A road less traveled. Fifteen years later, the man insists to lay the brick around our house himself, not because he is egotistical or arrogant, but because he wants to take the road less traveled; thoughtfulness and precision.

After we ate dinner at Oby's in Starkville, we went and played a competitive game of charades. And no, that is not some kinky, new, sexual game, hell raisers are playing these days. It literally was an innocent, fun-filled game of charades. We laughed and embarrassed ourselves as we tried to act out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles without words. Fifteen years later, we just recently laughed our heads off and embarrassed ourselves whilst presenting "Love Is An Open Door" as a lip sync duet to the camp staff. Mark showed me on our first date, how fun and light hearted he could be even under pressure. Til this day, hands down, I have the most fun and laugh the hardest when my husband is at my side.

On the long drive home from Starkville, Mark gently leaned over in the car and whispered in my ear, "Can I hold your hand?"  Old fashion? Maybe. But what came alive in my soul when I was on the receiving end of the advancements of a true gentleman, still breathes on today in the sacred space of our marriage bed.

June 12th, 1999, was the beginning and the end of a lot of firsts. Unbeknownst to me (although I had a pretty strong inclination) my last "first date" was in the books. What was ahead was not an easy road, but a road that was less traveled; full of thoughtfulness, precision, fun, and gentleness.

There is no one else in this world I would rather sit in a quiet room with.
There is no one else in this world I would rather play "charades" with. *sexual connotation implied*
HEY! We have a license now.
There is no one else in this world I would rather laugh along side of.
There is no one else in this world that pulls out all my fun like you.
There is no one else in this world that has shown me such sweet thoughtfulness and gentleness.
There is no one else I want to walk down this road with, even when it seems bare, old fashioned, out of touch, culturally abnormal, and painfully hard.
I want to walk with you!

Thanks for taking a risk in the CRS museum and asking me out, and not getting us fired. Thanks for being late. Thanks for being thoughtful and precise. Thanks for being fun. Thanks for always being gentle.

I love you!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why My Daughters Will Never See Me Weigh Myself

They are the most magnificent creatures that have ever existed. We have spent hours, months, and years watching their bodies grow, stretch, change, and bloom into the 3 little ladies they are today. Respectively; almost 11, 8 1/2, and almost 7. We are on the cusp of crossing over into the uncharted territory of tween/teendom. We have intentionally tried to be ahead of the game in regards to being the first people to introduce our kids to sensitive subjects such as; puberty, sex, periods, eating disorders, dating, pornography, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, abuse, human trafficking, adultery, fornication, etc...etc... We honestly believe that if they are old enough to ask the question, they are old enough to receive an age appropriate answer.

They have been told since their conception in my womb, they are lovely, they are stunning, and their bodies have been strategically and majestically knitted together by their Great and Awesome God. Up until this point, when we have plopped them on a scale at the doctor or at home, we whoop, holler, and cheer at how "strong" their bodies are becoming with each pound. The number on the scale signifies one thing and one thing only; strength. Lucy just crossed over into the 40 lbs range and I've never seen anyone so excited in their life, "Mama! Mama! Mama! I made it to 40! I made it to 40! I made it to 40!" Pretty sure my right thigh weighs forty pounds :)!

But I see it in their innocent eyes as they begin to absorb what their culture is telling them on how to define "beautiful". They sit with me and look at prom pictures on social media and ask questions like, "would you let me wear that dress?!" To which their father and I, more often than not, unanimously blurt out, "NO WAY!".

The pool, *ugh*, the pool. The never ending slices of skin that young women (and not so young women) insist on exposing as if their body can only be viewed by young, single, available, upright men. News flash: married men, married women, single men, single women, young girls, young boys, upright men and crude men, can see your body, and they too struggle to keep their thoughts honorable and expectations realistic. For the sake of my marriage, my girl's evolving foundation of modesty, and my son's mental roladex, please PUT SOME FREAKING CLOTHES ON!!! *sigh*

My precious mom had an intense struggle with the scale. Her body, her weight, and her physical identity was never affirmed and validated in her growing up years. She bore the youthful scars of criticism and severe insecurity. Even as her mind was failing her, she saw herself as an extra large woman needing a size 16, even though her frail body was swimming in a medium, size 8. For nearly 40 years, my sweet dad fought the good fought of attempting to tear down those negative ways my mom saw herself. Never ONCE, did I hear my dad criticize my mom. His lips spoke only encouragement and affirmation, exactly what her wounded heart deeply needed. But as I am quickly learning, the wounds from childhood are a hard beast to beat, even with the loving affirmation of a spouse and an AMAZING family and friends. The tender soil of a young girl's developing thoughts about her physical identity MUST be nourished and cared for with the MOST gentle of touches and tailored navigation.

We want our girls to love their bodies!! So much so, that when they dress themselves for school, church, or an outing, we are extremely conscientious with our comments. Mostly limited to, "do you feel comfortable and fabulous in that outfit?!" If the answer is yes, then all other comments and concerns are reserved for things that are immodest or inappropriate. Our children will only hear our voices for so long and what we speak into them better be worth using our word count.

Most of the time, (when I remind myself to slow down and watch) I LOVE having my three girls sit in the bathroom with me when I'm getting ready for the day. I love the freedom of allowing them to see me undone and natural! Especially, when "at my worst" their father enters the bathroom and adores me as if I'm at my finest.

They trace my stretch marks with their fingers and ask me to retell their birth stories over and over again. And not even for one second, do I desire to disguise or rid my body of the markings of their time in my womb. They ask me to identify each cosmetic object in my makeup bag, and beg me to tell them again the stories of the pieces of jewelry in my box. They watch me brush my hair, as I remind them of how golden it was before pregnancy hormones had its way with the color. They watch as I select outfits that make me feel comfortable and fabulous. I want them to care about their appearance but only on a level that breathes balance and security.

Some of my most precious moments with my mom were spent sitting on the edge of her bed watching her get ready for the day. I grew up believing with every ounce in my soul that my mom was the most beautiful woman walking this earth. I never saw my mom fight aging. I loved how her hands had the most gorgeous folds and wrinkles, and the incredibly soft way she would wrap my hands in hers makes my eyes burn. Even when faced with a disease that ages your brain and body in an expedient manner, she aged with a grace that silences me. Buying anti-aging agents feels like the worst betrayal to her in my mind. I lay in bed and dream of aging, because in my mind it means that I can be more like her.

Not only do we want our girls to love their bodies, we want our kids to love food in a healthy, non-addictive manner. We want them to be able to have a relationship with food that exudes joy and not a lifetime of prison. We want them to understand food and not constantly be puzzled by a maze of ignorance. Because there are fewer things more intimate than preparing, creating, and enjoying a meal together with people you love, GUILT FREE! BLISS!

We never want them to look to a number on a plastic, man-made scale to derive value. We never want them to think that they are the sum total of a calorie count or clothes size. We want them to know all the way through their gut and into their toes that they are awe-inspiring and breath-taking. We want them to stand on a foundation this world can never take from them about their true beauty. We want alarms to be blaring in their brains when a man, who in pursuit of their heart, diminishes, criticizes, or devalues them ONE TIME about their body. Because you can bet, my kitchen knife will find his manhood, and that Taylor Swift love story will abruptly end.

We don't want them to weigh their bodies. We want them to weigh their motives, their hearts, their choices, and their life long relationships. We want them to be sound, secure, and safe! We want them to know how we feel about them and their bodies long before they start asking others.

We can see very few more important things in this life than teaching our girls about their bodies, showing them how to develop a healthy love and respect for their bodies, and allowing them to grow into THEMSELVES (not some pornographic Victory Secret version of themselves) with GRACE!

Oh, the true weight we bear when we realize the role we play in how they view themselves, not just when they are little girls, but for their ENTIRE LIVES!

Grow on baby girls! You are safe here!

~Mama & Daddy