Monthly Archives: March 2014

H2O

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5 gallon water bottle

42 pounds…  That’s approximately what a 5 gallon bottle of water weighs.  I had back surgery several years ago and I am 50 years old now, so I rarely fill our bottles for home because my sons and husband don’t really allow it.  Yesterday, I was at the grocery store and I took a bottle to be refilled from home because I just wanted to have a spare at home and I didn’t want to bother any of the busy men in my family.  Truth be told, I did it on the q.t. because I knew one of my men would object.

I finished my shopping and was basking in the glow of remembering to get a bag of ice when I pulled my car up to the curb near the water machine.  Just as I grabbed my 5 gallon plastic bottle, a woman who was about 10-15 years older than me, pulled up behind my car.  I had left my emergency flashers on and after getting the water going, I returned to my car to open the door so that I could put the soon to be very heavy bottle into the car somewhat smoothly.  The water was taking forever…  I went back to see how much progress it was making and then walked to the plants set out in front of the store and asked the store employee if they carried any organic plants.  She told me she didn’t think so, I thanked her and then I saw another car pull up behind the car with the older woman.  After almost 7 minutes my bottle was almost full when this man, who looked to be in his mid-30’s, jumped out of his car with his two water bottles and came right up behind me.  I noticed that the woman was visibly upset and was trying to hurry with her two empty water bottles to the machine.  My mind was racing…  I could not believe that this man was going to cut right in front of this woman who was almost twice his age and more importantly, was there several minutes before him.  He was well aware that she was waiting before he arrived.

I turned with my  heavy, awkward water bottle, looked right at her and said, “You were next, weren’t you?”  While the woman shrugged her shoulders apologetically and said not a word, this man stepped around me and shoved his bottle into the machine without any hesitation.  I was beside myself.  I walked to my car shrouded in disgust for the man who had done this as much as for the woman who refused to speak up for herself.  My first thought was to protect her, in fact, I almost turned my car around to say something to this rude man, but life has introduced me to too many women who allow for this kind of behavior from the boys and men in our society and I was pretty sure, based on her reaction when I spoke up, that she believed that she was being kind or being some kind of peacemaker.  I had this imaginary conversation with her where I shared with her that allowing this kind of behavior isn’t kind, but simply leads to self-centered, rude behavior toward others in the future and that is not beneficial to anyone.

As I pulled out of the parking lot, and I spoke to God about my frustration, I had this lovely thought run through my brain and heart…

My sons would NEVER do something like this.  They probably would have offered to carry the lady’s bottles to her car for her.  Their father has been a wonderful example and we have taught them since they were very small that being a gentleman is a requirement.  When they were small and their grandma would tell them it was okay to not help her with her bags or anything heavy, my husband and I would tell her that we expected our boys to be gentlemen.  It was hard for her to give in to this kind of child rearing, but she honored it and I believe she is very proud of the gentlemen her grandsons have become.

Now, before anyone gives me a hard time about feminism or any of that, I don’t believe that simple good manners will ever go out of style.  I believe in women being independant, but I am also old-fashioned about men being gentlemen.  I do many things for my husband and all of my children on a daily basis, as do they for me.  Common courtesy and respect are requirements, at home and everywhere else.

I was reading this quote to Hannah and Maggie a few evenings ago:

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift.  If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”
―    Brennan Manning,    Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

when they started telling me that I needed to watch Frozen because it was about this very thing.

I think EVERY little girl needs to watch this movie OFTEN.  All of us have talents, gifts that He intended for us to use and become what He sees in us.  Let me preface this by first saying:  Maybe lots of boys have experienced what I did as a young girl, and if this is true, please forgive my ignorance.  In my journey I have only had other women share this common experience with me and this was unique to me, the only girl, in my family of origin.

When Elsa, as a young girl was unable to master her amazing gift and she hurt her sister, Ana, quite seriously with it, her father told her to, “Conceal it. Don’t feel it.”  I was immediately reminded of being told very similar things as a child.  I was not an idyllic little girl.  I was opinionated, passionate and a bit of a tomboy.  My father encouraged me and I could tell he felt very proud of me, even informing me that he thought I had moxie.  I still smile when I remember him telling me that.  My mother was not equally as thrilled with who I was.  Typically I was told that “nice girls didn’t do…” (fill in the blank).  I was also told to “stop being so emotional” on a very regular basis.  I wasn’t easy to like.  I remember numerous occasions when my mother would point out “nice” little girls who were quiet and sweet and who didn’t have mud on their dresses or scuffs on their Mary Janes.  I was emotional and outspoken.  My mother knew the correct things to say and do at all times.  She was embarrassed by the things I said in front of people and I believe at times I said things just to get a reaction out of her.  I think I wanted to punish her for how I felt about myself when I was around her.

I don’t think for a moment that my mother was trying to be mean to me or make me feel as if she didn’t love me for who I was.  I believe with everything in me that she was trying to help me fit in.  She wanted my life to be easier and she understood that women get along better in this world if they are quiet, sweet and agreeable.  Being clean and not disheveled helps, also…

The thing is, is that is not who He made me to be.  He made me passionate, outspoken, emotional and …       nice.   I also understand that with all of our gifts come responsibility.  I am learning to be more sensitive to other’s opinions.  Just because I believe in something, does not mean that it is a fact and even if it is a fact, it doesn’t mean that others want to accept it or even deal with it.  I wish I could go back and have a do-over with all that I understand now.  I wish instead of being ashamed of who I was and feeling resentful of how my mother dealt with me and believing that she didn’t love me, I could have embraced me for who I was/am and I could have understood that my mother was trying to help me in the best way she knew how because she didn’t understand me.

The irony to me as I grew up and became a believer is that I was treated much the same way in the churches that I first attended.  In my experience the church tends to expect women to be seen but not heard and we can support our husbands, but we shouldn’t expect to be in any real place of leadership.  I’ve watched too many women who clearly love our Father and live to serve Him be made ashamed of their talents, their callings, even.  What are we so afraid of?  I often wonder if we committed to helping our daughters, our girl friends, our mothers, and every other woman hone their gifts and passions instead of making them feel as if they should “conceal and not feel” how much more would be accomplished for His glory?

I love my own children, but I know at times I have wondered why they couldn’t just … (fill in the blank), because life would be much easier then.  I fully embrace who each of them is.  None of them is on a similar path, but all of them are in much better places than I was at their ages.  They accept themselves and we all celebrate who God made them to be – most of the time…

I think we walk a fine line in childrearing.  My goal was to love my children unconditionally, instill old fashioned values like respect, hard work, and kindness while encouraging them to be who God intended.  My children don’t fit into “the box” and that has been painful at times.  I admit that I’ve tried to squeeze them in there now and again when I felt unsure of their choices.  It has brought about nothing but heartache for all involved and in my experience it has caused my children to go two steps back before they went forward again.  I’ve had many humbing moments asking my children to forgive me and to allow me to support them in the way they needed me to.  Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I’ll have more of these moments.  I know that I will get better at this and I know my children will do even better with my grandbabies because of the transparent relationship we have with each other and because they are seeing the fruit of living in His will and not in fear.

When I think of what amazing things could happen if we could all embrace each other in unconditional love, it makes me teary.  In raising my children I’ve seen that when I show them this kind of love and support, they are open to my advice because they trust my wisdom based on my experience in life.  When I talk at them, even though I am speaking from life experience and love, they don’t feel respected and they know I don’t trust their hearts or their decisions.  They know I am also speaking from a place of fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) For God  hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound  mind.

frozen water bottle

I think one of my favorite things about Frozen is that the act of true love comes from a sister and not another Prince Charming guy.  Ana loves her sister, Elsa, without condition.  She adores her gift and encourages her use of it.  When Elsa leaves her kingdom and begins to hone her gifts, beauty is created all around her.  Although there is still ice everywhere and people are suffering because of it, so it is obvious that things are still not as they should be.  Almost everyone has turned against Elsa and thinks she is evil.  She is just beginning to embrace who God made her to be, but she hasn’t come to terms with the pain she has caused or the pain and shame her parents caused her.  When Ana puts herself in death’s path for her sister, everything begins to melt and become new.  With Ana’s unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance, Elsa’s heart begins to thaw, she embraces who she is, and her gifts bless everyone in the kingdom. 

I think that’s what He wants us to understand.  If we love each other, accept each other and extend grace, then He’s got the rest.  We don’t have to be afraid of ourselves.  We don’t have to be afraid of each other.  We don’t have to wonder if He made a mistake in giving us this passion for that thing that causes us to move out of our comfort zone surrounded by walls built on the fear that the world has instilled in us.  I just can’t even imagine what kinds of awesomeness would happen and multiply if we all lived with abandon when it came to our own passions and to loving one another, passions and all.   I long for this.  I ache for this…

I pray He gives me the courage and clarity to live like this…

Tomatoes and Blessings…

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Yesterday my Honey and I went to get two new tires on our old, wonderful car that I have come to love.  I was so thankful that we could put the tires (with nitrogen injected into them, btw…) on without having to eat hot dogs for 4 weeks straight or paying the electric bill a week late and then setting up payments.  We went and got a bagel while we waited and then grabbed some things from Costco – LOVE this store!!  Just as we were headed to the front of the  store, they called my Honey and said the tires were on and we were good to go.  Perfect timing…

We picked up our little, old car and she is running smoooooooth, now.  We went to see a matinee and got a free ticket for next time – now, that’s just the cherry on top, isn’t it?!  After the movie we went to Maggiano’s for dinner – I LOVE gift cards!!  We talked, held hands, laughed a lot – do you know my Honey?! – and savored every minute of our life together.  I was especially happy because our fantabulous cleaning lady had done her magic and I was going home to a clean house.  Ladies, does it get much better than that?!

Last night we were talking about how wonderful our day was and reviewing our plan to go to Barton Springs together after he drove two early Duck tours, since it looked like the only 80+ temp sunny day during our spring break.  We have been so excited about ringing in spring/summer at Barton, as we have every year since moving to Texas.  Just before 9:00 last night he got a text asking him to play bass this Sunday at church and attend rehearsal tonight.  So… No Barton Springs this Spring Break…  It’s his first time to play at Gateway and he is a wreck, btw!  So, this morning I made a nice little breakfast for my Honey before he left and then for my two youngest men.   I had the nicest conversations with my babies, who are not babies at all anymore, but will always be my babies.

Bob was supposed to come home for a couple of hours before he went to the rehearsal at church, but the office called and they needed him to drive another tour at 3:30 today.  He’ll go straight to our church and he’ll do an amazing job.  I’ll be home, praying for him and his nerves and believing in him, his talent, his heart…

All of our Texas kiddos are coming for dinner and games, and I am overwhelmed with a greatful heart.  I have the meat in one crockpot, the black beans in another crockpot and I’ve cut up more tomatoes than any one person should cut in a month.  My primary love language is quality time and they are choosing to spend time with me…

Scott and Bailey are coming after he gets out of work.  Hannah and Maggie will be here anytime to help with the prep work.  Caleb is running to the grocery store to pick up the 8 – 10 things I forgot yesterday.  Aaron is picking up Daisy as I type.  I just keep thinking of all of the things I love about these men and women who are more precious to me than any of them can imagine.

Scott is my sweet, grumpy old man.  He is the reason I first began to believe in God.  He is honest, and gruff, and tender-hearted, and loving and strong.   He is so very creative and passionate and I love that he is beginning to see who he really is and is embracing that.  He is a good man.  I always said he wouldn’t date bunches of girls, but when he met the one God intended, he would know, without any doubt and that would simply be that.

Bailey is Scott’s only true love.  She is great at getting through, being strong and surviving.  She loves God and is starting to truly believe He loves her and thinks she is precious.  She has so much talent and drive, but my goal in my relationship with her is to show her that I love her without condition for who she is and not for what she does or is capable of and because God has put that love for her in my heart like I have for all of my children, it will never end.  I am her mama bear and her cheerleader, always.

Hannah is such a mix of her daddy and I.  She has all of his talent, his sense of humor, his ability to go with the flow.  She has my smile, my cynacism and fierce loyalty that often enables those around us.  She is mature beyond her years and is too passionate for her own good, but without her passion, she would be a shell of what He intended her to be.  She is my defender and my girl.

Maggie is so much like me that sometimes it’s a little creepy.  Like Bailey, I have let her into my heart and I don’t think she’s going anywhere.  She is one of our kids.  She is Hannah’s best friend and the love of Caleb’s life.  The fact that the 3 of them have survived this crazy and wonderful triangle of love for 5 years is quite a feat and testimony of their love and character.  I love how she loves my children and how she works at being a part of this family.

Caleb is so full of emotion and is so good at appearing “together” that I have always had a fierce need to protect him.  He is the sassiest of all of my children and the most loyal.  When he loves someone, he loves them completely.  If they betray him, his instinct tells him to close the door and never look back, but he has worked incredibly hard to become a forgiving person and my heart soars when I watch him work at this.  He is my perfectionist and my professor.  He is the one who will run errands for me and take care of “man” stuff.   (Acts of Service is my secondary love language.) If he is interested in something, he will learn every detail about that thing.  If he is not, then he will not…

Daisy is my Aaron’s love.  Three years ago we knew he had a mad crush on her, but now we all know it is true love.  I don’t know Daisy very well, but I see how Aaron smiles when he is with her.  I see that they are goofy when they spend time together and that makes this mama’s heart happy.  She has a great sense of humor, which is essential in this life and this family and an absolutely beautiful smile.  I hope that we will all get to know Daisy better and that she will come to love this crazy family of ours.

Aaron is our baby.  Caleb only has 2 minutes on him, but Aaron is the baby of our family in so many ways.  He is the one who is most like his daddy in the obvious ways.  When he was little I referred to him as my “suck-the-life-out-of-me” kid.  His love language is words of affirmation and being the McDowell that I am, his personality grew me BIG when he was young.  He is the boy who tells me I’m pretty and thanks me for things.  He is also the boy who cleans the house constantly and what mama doesn’t love that?!

There is so much more to all of my precious children.  I wish I could go on and on about each of them.  I am so excited to be part of their lives.  I am savoring every moment as I watch their lives unfold before them.  They are such honorable people.  They all make me laugh.  Sometimes when they all get together and they start to joke around about their mom, I don’t think they’re terrible funny…

accurate, but not terribly funny.  They all really love me and that is so much more than I deserve with all of my human frailities and faults.  How in the world do I get to be blessed with an evening with all of them?   God’s grace, love, and blessings are all more than I can stand…

OH!  I have to go cut more tomotoes and find Taboo…

I’m a Tree-Hugging, Hippy Christian…

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pledge of allegiance

As I was scrolling through Facebook yesterday, I saw a post about children saying the pledge of allegiance daily.  I “liked” the post and then I noticed that my friend asked others how they felt about children saying the pledge each day at school.  I was kind of surprised to see that a few people said that they were against it and felt that it was kind of Hitler-ish or brain-washy to “make” our students say the pledge every day.  (I am summarizing here).  I guess I can see the picture they’re painting, but geez, I’m a kindergarten teacher and I have to tell you that there is a part of me that LOVES standing to do the pledge in my little Texas classroom with my babies.  I love telling them what all of those big words mean and why I believe it’s important to be loyal to things/ideals/people and your country.  There are LOADS of things that I disagree with about my government, but I am very thankful to live in a country where I can express my opinions freely and I have the power to make a difference if enough people agree with me.  I am embarrassed by things about the good ol’ U.S.A. and I’m ashamed when I realize how insensitive I am about issues because I’m an upper middle class white girl that has never had to deal with some of the things that far too many people in our world have to deal with daily.  With all of that said and meant, I do pledge my allegiance to the United States of America because, in spite of it’s faults and failings, it is a blessing to live here and have the freedoms that we are allowed, such as the freedom to openly worship my God, the freedom to peacefully protest corporate giants like Monsanto, the freedom to choose public, private or home school for my children – or all 3, as we did…

Gosh, this world is run by people.  Of course there are going to be shortcomings.  What happened to loyalty?  What happened to being part of the solution and not just turning your back on the problems while enjoying the good stuff?  I’m not advocating ignorance.  I just think that if we choose to live here, we can be part of the solution or we should probably find another place that fits us as perfectly as we believe a place should, where we don’t have to complain and point fingers while encouraging others to be part of the problem, too.

So, then I continued to scroll down my facebook newsfeed page and I came across another friend who posted something about how it would be a better country if people would fight as hard for healthy school lunches as they fight for kids to say the pledge every day.  Well, healthy food is one of my passions, don’t ya know…  I drive our sweet lunchroom ladies a bit bonkers on many a day.  I encourage my parents to pack healthy lunches for their babies if at all possible.  It is heartbreaking what we feed our children because we can’t trust the powers that be to keep the dangerous junk away from us because money is more important than people to them.  If parents knew what was really in a lunchable, they would never buy one for their child again.  I’m sure of it.

Then I realize the underlying belief is that Christians believe that school children saying the pledge each day is more important than feeding our precious children healthy food.  Right?  Because I’m trying to figure out why both of these things seem to be exclusive to one another.  Can’t we want our children to pledge their allegiance to the United States of America AND stand up for them, fight for their right to healthy, affordable food without cancer-causing chemicals in them or breads, milks and yogurts that are full of unnecessary sugars?

I realize I am walking on shaky ground here.  I know I have some conventional farmer friends who just don’t want to hear this and I have LOTS of friends who just don’t want to know or even think about it.  Because you know, if we don’t know about it, it won’t hurt us,

until we get cancer, high blood pressure or diabetes or…

And I realize it isn’t just in our non-organic, GMO food, it’s in the air and the ground from the chemicals we spray on and inject into our food plants, which runs off into our water supply.  Sometimes it feels like too much and a losing battle, but our children are worth it.  We are all worth it.  I think it’s un-American for me not to stand against this wealthy beast that is poisoning us.  I know it’s easier to try to shame people like me into being quiet and treat me as if I’m a bad Christian because I’m passionate about the Earth that He so generously entrusted to us.  I’ve lost a few friends on facebook because of my beliefs.  I’ll admit that I am hurt by those occurrences.  It’s painful to feel so passionately about something that big corp spends billions of dollars trying to cover up.  It’s hard to know that lots of people just don’t want to know and they are angry with you for bringing it into the light even when you know that you are telling people because you love them and want what is best for them.

One of my best friends got cancer several years ago and my daughter and husband started having a bunch of health issues around the same time.  I felt so helpless about my friend that I felt like the only way I could help was to do some research.  I was shocked by what I read.  I am still shocked by what I read.  The first book I bought was from a Christian bookstore and it opened my eyes to the difference between our diet and health system and other countries.  I completely changed my family’s diet.  They hated me for awhile.  The food was pretty bland, at best, honestly.  Since then we have come a LONG WAY, BABY!  Eating organically has been expensive, but I’m a huge believer in “pay now and feel much healthier or pay later and feel worse along the way.”  I still get on my kids’ nerves, but they have done their own research and they are committed to doing the same for themselves and their families.  We all realize that this is not a guarantee that we will never get cancer, high blood pressure, or diabetes, but we are committed to fighting until the end.  My Honey’s and daughter’s hbp has completely disappeared, as has his gout.  He still has diabetes, but his medicine dosage has been lowered twice in the past few years and he’s been able to stop taking the other one.  We are committed to supporting our local organic farmers whenever possible.  We are committed to growing our own food and being informed and standing up for what is right even when others try to shame us because what we have to say scares them.  We peacefully march against Monsanto.

There are times that posts about Monsanto have mysteriously disappeared from fb.  There is corruption in this blessed, wealthy country of ours.  Too many times our government has supported this company in spite of how much damage they have and continue to do to our health and our Earth.  Still, I pledge my allegiance to the United States of America and so do my children because we are proud to be Americans where diversity is embraced, where we can stand against injustice without being jailed or worse, where we can worship our God with abandon, where there is room for improvement and where we can put our money where our mouths are.  I am a hippy, a tree-hugger and a Christian.  Praise the Lord!!!

Life AND Peace?…

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Life AND Peace?…

I’m in a funk… 

Writing is my drug of choice.  If I’m feeling “out of sorts” or simply not centered, it is usually because I haven’t written in a long time.  I can usually figure out what is going on in my heart or my head when I set aside some time and just write.  Once I put it all down on paper or a computer, I feel this freedom and balance that is simply beautiful.  Last month I decided to keep my posts private for a little while because I could tell I was not writing pure.  I was doing this “what will people think of me” thing that, honestly, I’m embarrassed to admit I was doing.  I had gotten several really encouraging comments and messages from people, and I had also gotten a couple of “judgey” and not-so-encouraging comments after posting some things that I still feel a little vulnerable about.  So, I’m coming out…  My ego got the best of me.

Here’ the other thing I realized:  I hadn’t written in my journal since I started blogging again.  My journal is one of the ways I pray.  It’s how I have my best conversations with Him…  How did I think I was going to write with clean abandon if I didn’t spend time with my Father?  I’m too old to keep making the same mistakes, aren’t I?  Thank goodness, He’s patient…

Sometimes I get fixated on things that I see as injustices and I allow that to distract me from things that I can do something about and from the things He wants me to do something about.  It’s hard for me to see people hurt by hurting people and not be able to do anything about it.  As an educator it’s hard for me to watch some of our students deal with the hardships they deal with and only be able to do the little bit I am able to do.  It’s also difficult for me to watch loved ones treated harshly by arrogant, insensitive people and do nothing.  I want to save people.  I want everyone to play nice and think the best of one another, but then I remember that this is real life and we all come from different places.  I remember some people don’t know Him.  Some people don’t know how to do things better or even differently because that’s all they’ve ever known and familiarity is comfortable even when it’s toxic.  I lived for years in that cycle and still struggle with it at times.  All people come from a place of hurt.  It’s the human condition… and here’s my disclaimer:  I don’t mean that it’s okay to live in toxicity and allow it to hurt those around you.  I don’t mean that we just say, “Poor thing is hurting,” so we should continue to make concessions and enable toxic living.  I do mean that we should extend love and grace and allow Him to work and know when we are to step in and “help” and when we are to step back and let Him move in whatever way He sees fit.

The hard part for me is moving beyond the temporary, the now.  Not getting caught up in the moment, so that I can see the big picture, is a challenge for me.  One of the ways I find my way clear of this is to move away physically from my day-to-day surroundings and force myself to “be” in a different place.  It is always amazing to me how much this simple act can change my entire outlook, and how difficult it is for me to actually do this.  Self-sabotage is one of my specialties.  I am a martyr by birth, or at least by example.  It’s something I truly dislike about myself and it’s also something I believe I am getting better at as the people closest to me show me how silly and senseless it is when I try to fall back into that behavior.

The other part that is hard for me is going to Him for the directions.  I want to DO instead of BE much too often.  It’s another one of those things that I am too old to still be making the same mistakes about.  I can’t think of one time in my life that I regretted going to Him in order to be pointed in the right direction.  He always heads me the right way.  There have been too many times to mention when I thought He was wrong or I struggled because of my own pride, but I can say now that He has ALWAYS been spot on – and all of those times that were too many to mention were the times that I grew the most spiritually.  He’s cool like that…

The big picture is being in His will and having an ongoing relationship with Him.  Everything just falls into place when that happens and even when a piece of the puzzle falls out and shatters, I know He’s there with me, so it is all bearable, …  So, why is that such a struggle for me?  I’m guessing it’s a struggle for most people.  Finding time to just be with Him has always been the best peace I have ever known, and yet, I put it off and find a bazillion other less important, temporary things to occupy my time.   I used to have a piece of paper taped to my bathroom mirror at our last house that said, “If satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”  Which is not to say that I’m not “bad” now and again, also… 

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.  (Romans 7:15).  

We can’t do this alone.  We need each other.  We need relationships that are based on His love and grace.  I know that doing that without the support of someone who really knows me and who will hold me accountable in love is SO hard.  But not having that someone in my life right now doesn’t let me off the hook… 

Darn it. 

I asked Him to draw me nearer to Him.  Now I have to do my part.  My journal is my love letter to Him and writing to Him sporadically is not setting a solid foundation for a relationship with my Father.  If I only heard from my husband or my children as often as I truly communicate with Him, I would be deeply injured.  I have to be better.  I want to be better.  Submitting to Him…  I can do that, because it’s really the only thing that makes any sense…

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.  But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

Life and Peace?… 

I’m in…