Monday, July 11, 2011

Time Flies

So, last night I was given the very distinct honor and pleasure of holding the most perfect, precious little angel in the world.  Her name is Lily Elizabeth and she was born three days ago to my dear friend Claire.  This is Claire's first trip down baby lane, so as I visited her in her home, I was tickled by the hovering, the oooing and ahhhing by her parents and grandparents.  And then I noticed that I was doing the same thing.

Then as I sat back and watched my friend settle comfortably into nursing her child, I looked over at my eight year old angel and like a brick wall, I realized I now have less than ten years with this angel in my home... unless she's a mooch and decides that she wants to live with us forever.  Somehow I don't see that happening, so I think I'm looking at less than ten years with her.

What the heck?!?!  Where did the time go?  I feel like the wind just got knocked out of my sail.  I mean, I spent so much time waiting for her to grow up and teaching her, guiding her, arguing with her, laughing with her, but in reality, what did I DO with that time?  Has it made a difference?  I mean, have I wasted these first eight years, or have I honored God with the time I've spent?

Since the invention of Facebook, I know for certain I have wasted an insane amount of time...  doing nothing. I'm not sure what the pull is to Facebook, but for some reason, I can waste more time trying to come up with the next most entertaining status or trying to find out other people's business than I do focusing on my own business.  Somehow I have lost my way- lost my priorities.  Facebook isn't the only culprit.  I often find my days have been occupied with so many other seemingly important things like housework or errands or other "important" tasks.

I read this quote on my friend's Facebook Wall the other day and it made me think:  "I really am your gift. I am not just a little person who needs to be "raised" and taught, and taken to activities....I came to the people in my life to bring a message: slow down. Feel. Be. Over and over again. When you do, you will notice immediately, that I am not an obstacle to your work, or inconvenience to your daily life. Instead, you will come to appreciate my honesty, humor, presence and love."-- Bruce Scott

I had several thought trains after reading this. My First thought was- wow. They really are my gifts. I know I sometimes take them for granted. I have spent so much time wishing their lives away that I have completely missed out on what's been right in front of me for years.  It started when they were babies.  I couldn't wait until they could sit up- then I couldn't wait until they could crawl- then walk- then talk...  and pretty soon they weren't little babies any more.  They were toddlers.  Then I couldn't wait until they were older so they were more mature.  Then they got older and I wanted them to stop growing.  It's too bad I can't keep them young forever...

Knowing that time travel and freezing time aren't an option for anyone except Marty McFly, I think I'll just take more advantage of the time I have with them.  I'm currently at home with them... during the summer.  I've been busy all summer making memories with them and teaching them but the past couple of weeks as the stress has built up, I've gotten back into the housework rut.  I learned that housework is my escape from having to be hands on with reality.  So, recognizing that, I think I'll step away from the mop and the broom and make a little more time for Yahtzee and Hop Scotch.  

So, Claire and Aron (and all of you other new parents), if I could offer you one piece of advice, I'd say- take advantage of this time you have with your little angel(s).  Take time to soak in every single memory, every single breath.  Don't wish her life away, instead, thank God for each of the moments you have with her.  Don't get so caught up with getting everything right and being the perfect parent- but rather- focus on the perfect gift that you have been given.  When she's ready, she'll crawl and walk, and eventually talk... and eventually talk back to you (yes, that part is SO much fun).  In the mean time, oooh and ahhhh and cuddle that little piece of Heaven all you can.  

As for me, I'm going to cuddle all of mine and enjoy the rest of my summer making memories that will last the rest of this lifetime.  Here's to the parents, young and old, experienced and inexperienced:  May you never forget what is right in front of you as you walk this blessed journey.

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom


Monday, July 4, 2011

Jail... Been There, Done That

So, I've been to jail.  Judge me.  Go ahead.  Is it okay that I admit that?  I mean... I hope this doesn't discredit me or disqualify me from being a Christian author.  Anywho, I wrote a check when I was about 18 years old and it bounced. I moved about 10 times after I wrote it, so it never caught up with me... until I was about 25 and driving to church on Wednesday night.  
My mother in law was in town visiting and I got pulled over for an expired sticker.  That's when the fun started.  Before I knew it, I was cuffed (ever-so-tightly) and in the plastic back seat of a police car- because, yes, they issue warrants for hot checks- just in case you were wondering.  So for about three minutes, I thought I was on candid camera- but the fiery redhead who arrested me wasn't laughing and seriously missed out when they distributed the humor in the personality line.  So anyway,  I had completely forgotten about everything I did when I was 18.  I was now a mother of two and an upstanding, church-going, tax-paying citizen... who, instead of going to church, as planned, was now on her way to jail.

Seriously.



I spent a very long night in jail (because, of course by the time I got pulled over, the judge had gone home for the day).   So I had to change out of my clean-smelling, cute church clothes and into some awesome jail scrubs.  Then I was escorted to a room that was about 12' X 12' (if that) where I met and befriended the "Queen" of the Latin Queens gang as well as about 20 other very interesting ladies with whom I spent the next 24 hours getting to know.  There was a 17 year old girl in there who was about 12 weeks pregnant by an unknown partner.  She was in jail for skipping school (who knew you could go to jail for this?)  There were about 5 women who were coming down off of one drug or another.  There were women in there for robbery, for fighting, for prostitution, and for so many other things- mostly drugs or DUIs.  So it was a fun night of "Guess why she's here."  

Because I was the low man on the totem pole (first offender- whereas most of these ladies were multiple repeat offenders), the "Queen" guarded me, agreed to protect me.  She shared the tiny bench with me so that I could have a place to sit and made sure the ladies who were coming down off of Meth kept their distance from me.  Apparently some of these ladies were friends... or at least acquaintances.  Needless to say, I was scared, felt out of place, and had no idea how long I would be there or what would happen to my kids.

I used the pay phone to call the hottie... collect.  He had to work the next day, so guess who had the honor of watching my kids while I sat in jail, awaiting my turn with the judge?  You guessed it- my MOTHER IN LAW!!!  Kill me.  I seriously had no idea how I was ever going to explain that.  "Hi, Terry...  yeah... I'm in jail.  I know you thought I was a good little church girl, but apparently I have a naughty side, so could you watch my kids while I sort this out?  Last time, I swear."  She was so sweet and non-judgmental...  at least, as far as I know.  She stayed with the kids and then MY MOM came to bail me out the next evening. Could it gt any worse??? 

So for 24 hours I was stuck in a room with feisty females- most of whom I wouldn't have otherwise gotten an opportunity to meet.  But I learned something- most of them were so much like me- hurting, searching for something to fill a void.  In that one day, I was able to visit with this sweet, young, confused girl and encourage her.  I listened as these women explained their hurts, their pain, their frustrations with men, with life, with family.  They were real people with real pain.  Some of them made one stupid choice and it forever changed their lives... sound familiar?  I've been there.  I've done that.  I paid my physical debt and my slate was wiped clean (not too clean.)  I was warned that I would never be able to be president...  because, you know, that was on my radar before all of this went down (#imsokidding).  

But while I was in there, I was thinking and analyzing.   I was thinking that these people- just like you and me- these were people Christ died to save.  He didn't just die to save the "church-going, tax-paying, clean-cut, upper-middle-class citizens".  He died to save the gang members, the robbers, the murders, the drug addicts, the liars, the gossipers, the slanderers, the poor, the rich, the blue collar, the young, the old, the clean, the dirty, the smart, the not-so-smart, the funny, the boring, the educated, the girl working in the McDonald's drive through, the police man, the fireman, the business man, the pilot, the janitor, the unemployed, the boss who degrades his employees, the sexual offenders, the pastors, the teachers, the students, the actors, the gays, the heterosexuals, the athletes, the obese, the bus drivers, the man next to you in traffic who just cut you off, the man who held up the bank yesterday, the rude man at the grocery store and the woman he knocked over in line, the woman at the post office, the lifeguard, the camp counselor, the prostitutes, the President of the United States, the computer repair guy, the Mary Kay lady, that annoying Facebook guy, the football hero, the cheerleader, the biggest nerd in school, the choir kids, your best friend, your worst enemy, and the list goes on and on...

I realize that Tom Cruise may have coined the phrase "You complete me" when he professed his undying love to Renee Zelwegger, but the truth is, there is not one person or one thing outside of God's love that will ever complete us.  I realized that I've spent far too much time inside of my bubble and far too little time trying to impact the ones who have yet to hear what we bubble dwellers already get to see and hear every week- that God created us all so that He could love us and then died for US ALL.  People everywhere are searching for hope- for truth- for this truth:  The Bible doesn't say "for God so loved THE CHURCH that He gave His only begotten son..."  John 3:16 reads "For God so love THE WORLD that He gave His only begotten son.  That whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life."

So no, I may not ever become President of the United States (thank goodness!) but I do believe I have a word to share- God died for US ALL- for THE WORLD.  I need to remember these little lessons when I get stuck inside of my bubble.  As I clean out the closet and share my skeletons with you all, just remember- we're not all that different.  I'm still growing and still changing, still learning and still being reminded that there are so many out there who need to hear this wonderful news.  For now, I'm just so glad to have had an opportunity to get out and to experience real people, just like myself... 

No Longer stuck in the bubble, No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Freedom

Some people write eloquently- I am not one of them.  Some people use mature, SAT-type words when they blog to sound more sophisticated- my vocabulary is not that extensive, so again, I am not one of these people.  Some people like to paint pretty pictures of the lives they live and paint an unattainable ideal while the rest of us ponder our lives and beat ourselves up for not living up to those expectations- so I may have done this a few times.  I think I used to be really guilty of this.  I wanted everyone to think I had it all together, but folks, let's face it- I don't.  I'm still very much a work in progress.  


A friend told me once that she read my blog and my posts on Facebook and it made her feel bad.  This, in turn, made me feel bad.  My goal is to minister to others- to reach out and encourage, but by "having it all together", I think some of my writing may have had the opposite effect.  So, here I am- I'm going to let a few skeletons out of this closet and let you all see a few pieces of me.  


When I was about 19 I moved in with some friends from my church and got a job about a mile and a half away that I was able to walk to.  While there, I was told I needed some better clothes to wear to work.  I didn't have any money, so I stole some clothes and shoes.  Yes- that's right.  I stole.  I was a thief.  I got caught and repaid my debt but it caught up with me.  A former co-worker shared this information with someone else and... well, let's face it- when you're from a small town, EVERYONE knows EVERYTHING.  So, my business became the business of others.  I never tried to justify it- I made a stupid choice and was forced to make up for the mistake.


Fast forward a couple of years.  I was living with some friends in an apartment.  At this time, my job was to clean for the family of one of these friends.  So once a week I would clean the house of my friend's parents to help earn income to pay the bills.  At the end of this season, I was accused of stealing from these people.  They had misplaced a few valuable items (which, later turned up- and not by my hand) and came straight to me because, you know- someone who stole once is officially a thief, right?  Wrong.  This hurt so badly, but it was also a consequence of the choice I had made a few years earlier.  


Try as I might, I wasn't able to convince them I had not taken anything.  They continued to spread the word- to pastors, to friends, to family... it got to the point where it felt awkward to be in the homes of friends because it felt like they, too would think I was a thief.  I stole one time... one time and it labelled me.  I tried to claim that verse "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" 2 Cor. 5:17 but my friends and roommates made the choice to believe the lies.  


A few years passed and I saw this woman- the mother of my friend.  She was the woman who had spread the rumors and lies to everyone I knew.  She walked up to me in a dark church parking lot and greeted me with a silent, long hug, and a kiss on the cheek.  It was as if she were- in her own way- apologizing for what she had done.  Her own choice had been no different then mine.  What I stole was physical, but what she stole was so much more.  She slandered me and revealed my past to others so that they might also believe I had stolen again.  She stole my life.  My integrity that I had worked so hard to rebuild.  Once I left the retailer, I committed to God and to myself that I would never allow myself to be tempted in that way again and since then- I have not.  I truly believe that God freed me from that label so that I might not be known and Christi, the thief, but Christi- child of God, mother to the millions (or 5...), wife to the Hottie, and so many other beautiful crowns that I wear.  


But I don't share that to say- hey, look at me!  I share that because I know at times, we have all worn hats of different kinds.  My label was thief.  Perhaps your label has been gossip, or judgement.  Perhaps it's coveting or adultery (yes, even in the mind).  It could be anything, but we've all struggled with wearing a label.  I've had so many that, at times I forget whose I really am.... I am His.  And if you aren't sure which hat you are wearing- or how people see you based on your past, let me remind you of this:   "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  8 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.  So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[e] so that we could be made right with God through Christ."


So just as I had been forgiven of my sin and was made new, I forgave this precious woman and have since had a wonderful relationship with her and her entire family.  What freedom forgiveness can bring!  




So anyway, I just thought I would share that with you tonight.  Again, I know it's not the best writing you've ever read, or the most sophisticated, but these words are mine, from my heart.  I know some of you are long time friends and supporters of mine and for that, I thank you.  Others of you do not know me and may never meet me this side of Heaven.  Thank you for reading anyway.  And if you don't understand why I write, it's very simple.  I have a heart to encourage people- people who are like-minded, people who are not like-minded.  I believe it's my job to bring God's hope and light into the world.  I know you may not like or agree with everything I write- and that's great!  I love feedback and I'd love to hear your opinions- even the negative ones.  If my blog is offensive, keep reading- one of these days I'm bound to write something you'll like, and if not, there are millions of other bloggers out there who are hungry for new readers.


I hope one of these days I can encourage each and every one of you.  Just know- you may not understand it, but I'm praying for you- each and every one of you.  Thanks for reading!  


No Longer I,


The Real Life Mom