Thursday, May 29, 2014

"This Is A Safe Space..."

Saturday I was at Frog and Toad rehearsal and I was directing a scene (Whoa...wait...I was directing a scene..squeal!) and my little "Birds" were speaking their lines and I had to tell one little darling bird "You have a soft voice so I'm going to need you to remember to project. Okay? You'll have a mic but you'll still need to throw your voice out there so people can hear you." And she kind of laughed and said "I have a weird voice."

This seemed like a good moment to stop rehearsal for just a sec...

I told her "You have a sweet, soft voice" and then I explained to all my darlings sitting around the "stage" that this was a safe space. That I knew they heard all sorts of negative things but in this space we were going to affirm and empower ourselves. Realizing that some of the littler darlings were looking at me in quizzical fashion, I took it down a level and explained "Be nice to ourselves and others" I told them that Ms Jasmine and I had picked them for the role they were in because out of everyone that auditioned, for whatever reason, we felt they were the best ones to play the part. That we knew they could do it. That they were going to be awesome. And that they were not going to ruin the experience for themselves by constantly thinking negatively about themselves.

The kids all smiled. The parents clapped, whooped and raised the roof. Two rehearsals later my little bird told one of my bigger birds who was mad at herself for messing up that she needed to remember to be nice to herself.

This, you guys! This! So many things I love all wrapped up into what was, to be honest, three minutes of my life tops. I was ecstatic. I was freaking so happy! And then the voice in my head that never shuts up spoke up...

"Now, if you just practice what you preach."


Do you know where our little lovelies learn to be mean to themselves? And before you say school (which admittedly is a huge factor), think about what your kids hear you say when you look in the mirror, before you go out the door, as you look at the menu. All the Mamas who were clapping and lifting their hands want their kids to feel good about themselves but do they feel good about themselves?

I mean, I get it. I hate my feet (wide, flat and horrible toes), my nose (my Mom once jokingly told me God forgot to give me a nose so He took the gum out of his mouth and stuck it on my face. And I have never forgotten that! Geez!), the fact that I'm overweight...

The list could go on. Shopping for a dress is a for jeans...okay, let's be for anything but books leaves me so depressed I need a bowl of ice cream and a movie I can cry over to make myself feel better. I haven't shopped for a bathing suit in over five years. If we go swimming, I wear shorts and a tank top.

And then my 19 year old daughter comes downstairs in a bathing suit looking curvaceous and gorgeous and just WAY too dang grown and I am smiling at her and may or may not have a tear in my eye because of the amazing young lady that is before my eyes. And it takes me ten minutes to convince her she looks beautiful and even then she may have agreed with me just to shut me up.

You guys...this amazingly beautiful girl needs my help to go out in public in a bathing suit! What the what?!

One day I was baby sitting a rising second grader...a 2nd grader...and she turned down ice cream because she "needed to be on a diet". (This girl is about as big around as my arm ya'll.) And so we talked...and she'd heard her Mom say that she needed to be on a diet and for some reason decided she must be overweight too. (Mom isn't much bigger than my arm either...just for the record).

Our children hear us. They see us. And if we want them to go out into the world believing in themselves and feeling good about themselves and being confident in themselves...then we have to teach them. And this is no "do as I say not as I do" business. More like monkey see, monkey do (You guys, I am always going to have a little of the Head Start Teacher in me). We have to practice what we preach. To teach our children to believe in themselves, we have to believe in ourselves. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Throwing Rocks

(Side note before I start...if you don't know who Glennon Doyle Melton is, have never read "Carry On Warrior, and/or you don't "like" the Momastery Facebook page...get busy! In my humble opinion...of course)

The other day, the Momastery Facebook status said:
"Whenever I hear Christian folks discussing how certain they are that God prefers a "traditional" (nuclear, husband and wife) family - I always wonder. If God holds the "traditional" family above all others- why'd God give God's only son to an unmarried, young girl? God only had one shot- and he chose for Jesus a single mama and then a blended family. It seems likely to me that God has wide ideas about what makes a family legit and worthy."

I "liked" immediately. It should come as no surprise that I'm all about celebrating diverse families. I'm a single Mom. I was raised in turns by my Mom and her husband, my Grandma, my Aunt and Uncle, my Dad and his wife, his wife, and then my Mom again. I have friends raising kids in blended family, friends raising their grandchildren. I have friends who foster, friends who adopt...and yes, I have a friends in same sex relationships raising children or trying to. I'm into diverse. I'm okay with it. I celebrate it.

Anyone want to take a guess how quickly the comment section became a quagmire of contention as everyone immediately started arguing for and against same sex marriage? There was no celebration of Jesus and his mother, no celebration of single parents persevering.

There was a lot of rock throwing though. Because there is nothing new under the sun and we are as ready to throw rocks as the Pharisees. Only we don't stop to think about our sin or whether we are without it. We don't stop to think of the pain we'll cause. The irreparable damage that is being done. We call ourselves "defending the gospel" and we let those stones fly.

I'm reading Sarah Bessey's book "Jesus Feminist" and it absolutely wrecking my world. It literally took me a week just to digest the introduction (Yes, I said was less like reading and more like a process). She is hoping for a day where we can come together as Christians in peace and relate together. She says

"We'll stand before the piles of stones that used to be weapons and we'll build an altar. God met us here"

At the time, reading that, I was still camped out in John 8 with the adulterous woman and the stone carrying crowd because there is just so freaking much you can glean from it!

But, reading Sarah Bessey's description, I suddenly had a mental image of all the stones that were dropped as the crowd realized that none of them were without sin. One minute they are ready to throw rocks...and the next they are building an altar. Perhaps not intentionally but that is what that pile of rocks represents. An altar. An altar of grace. And God met them there.

Guys...I'm not sure who we like throwing rocks at better...the LGBT community, the politicians (the ones on the "wrong side" Also known as, not your side) or each other. In the meantime, we aren't building altars. And we aren't righting the wrongs of this world. Children are hungry, women are hurting and men are trying to find their way. And we can't stop throwing rocks long enough to help them. To show them the way to the altar of grace.

Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. The rest of us should get busy reconciling ourselves and a lost and broken world to the only one who had the right to cast the stone...and didn't.

Monday, May 19, 2014


Here is the truth...I understood there was a Creator before I understood there was a God. I understood Creator the first time I saw a picture of the Grand Canyon and my teacher explained that a river had created that through a process called "erosion"

These days I know more about God the Creator...And the process of erosion. How something small but constant can wear away, create caverns, change the landscape. A constant trickling of bills and sick orders lost and trying to come up with $1100 for the rent AGAIN...daughter's who need computers for schools and sons getting ready to join the military..the car tearing up...your job driving you crazy...

And that's all in one week.

I don't know how or when or even if it will let up or get better soon (or for that matter, this side of heaven) . But here is what I do know, God uses erosion to create beautiful things.

 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Demand For Justice

Trigger Warning!!!

It's estimated that every two minutes, a rape occurs in the United States.
Take a deep breath...count to 120. 
1 Mississippi
2 Mississippi
3 Mississippi
When you get to 120, that is two minutes.

Every two minutes.

Each year there are approximately 237.868 rapes.
That's the population of Bellevue, Washington...a midsize city just outside of Seattle.

Only 40% of rapes that occur in the United States are reported to the police.
97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.

Her story:
"I had been staying with friends. It was their son who found me. He'd come to pick me up from work. He later told me he almost ran over me. Apparently when he picked me up, I punched him. He had a black eye the next time I saw him. I still feel bad about that.

He took me home. This was before everyone had cell phones so he had to leave me there to go find his parents. He took a moment to gather up the knives in the house. Maybe I'd said something...

I don't know how long I lay on the couch...I stumbled to the kitchen. Realized there were no knives. I took a glass from the cabinet and busted it in the sink. I was thinking clearly enough not to want to leave a mess. I got into the shower, turned the water on...nothing but hot...and got in...

The problem was, they had those thick glasses. I managed to scratch my arms up really well but not enough to bleed to death. So I took the pieces and swallowed those I could manage. I think I thought it would cut up my insides and I would bleed to death internally. It didn't seem to be working fast enough and I knew that I wanted to be "gone" before they got back. So I opened the medicine cabinet and began taking pills. I was being treated for depression and anxiety at the time so I had several prescriptions. My friend had some. Her husband had some for his health problems. I don't know how many I took. What I thought would be enough I guess. I put my night gown on and went to bed.

I don't remember the ride to the hospital at all. They tell me I tried to jump out of the car and the son had to slap me to calm me down. Guess that makes me feel a little better about the black eye. I came to in the hospital. They'd pumped my stomach. Apparently the glass was too thick too do much damage going down. When they pumped my stomach, they got most of that too. Or I threw it up. Whatever. It was a lot of trouble for nothing. I can't be sure but I think they laughed at me when I told them what the glass was going to do to me.

I was still in the ER when I came to enough to talk to the investigators. My hands had been strapped because I had apparently kept trying to pull out my IV. There was a man and a female. They were trying to ask me questions. They explained they needed to examine me. Gather evidence. I didn't want to be touched. Ever. I guess I'd voiced that because the male investigator got irritated with me. The female investigator talked to me about getting the guys back who had done that to me. Justice. The male investigator told me they already had an idea who'd done this to me. That there had been others. That the last girl had lain in a ditch for three days before anyone found her. She'd made it, but barely. He told me it was my duty to make sure these guys never got the chance to hurt another girl. That got me. So I let them.

I find it ironic it's called a "rape kit"...that sounds more like a tool box for a rapist than one to catch him. They clean under your nails. They take semen samples. It doesn't hurt. It's just...intrusive. Maybe it's because you've already been violated. Because control has already been taken from you. And the people who are helping you are violating you and it's for a good cause...but it's violation all the same. It didn't help that the investigator felt the need to tell me that by taking a shower I'd probably destroyed evidence.

I spent three days in ICU, a couple more days in a regular hospital room. I think that had more to do with the staff being afraid I was going to hurt myself than anything. I spoke to the investigators several more times. Answered questions about what I was wearing, why I was where I was...told the same story over and case I missed details or changed my story I guess.

Two weeks after I was out of the hospital, the investigators told me the suspects had taken off...supposedly for Texas. I was told they wouldn't pursue them but would wait until they were picked up for something else...they were bound to get caught for anything from speeding, stealing, assault. Getting picked up for another rape wasn't mentioned. I guess they didn't because I never heard anything else.

...The rape kit? I don't know...never thought about it."

There are over 400,000 unprocessed rape kits sitting on shelves across the United States. Some of them have been there so long the statute of limitations has run out. Reasons such as lack of resources, staff, etc are blamed. Recently in Tennessee, a bill was introduced suggesting the state spend $2 Million of the $40 Million the General Assembly has in reserve to process the 12, 000 rape kits sitting untested in Tennessee. The bill was voted down 22-8 with two Republicans joining the six minority Democrats voting for the funding.

400,000 women were promised justice...or they were at least told it would be attempted. They endured rape kits after already being violated and that evidence sits on the shelf. 

Where are our priorities? Where is justice for these women? How can we encourage the 60% of sexual assault victims who will never come forward to do so if the cold hard truth is that coming forward will do them no good???

It is time for us to stand with these women and demand justice. 

Check out RAINN's Action Center for more information.

*Our story is true. And the teller will remain anonymous at her request.
* Statistics provided by RAINN
* Malignant comments will be deleted. Keep it positive people.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The other day my foster daughter sent me a text.

"I cleaned the floors."

I was super pleased because in the new house, that is quite a feat!

When I got home that evening, I was a little confused. The floors looked terrible. And they were greasy. I asked Grace, "What did you use to clean the floors?" She said she used the Murphy's Oil Wood Soap. Embree quietly said "She didn't read the instructions and used way too much." That explained need a cap full. She used half the bottle. I mean, the normal rule (in our house anyway) is the more cleaning product, the better!

I went to grab the mop so I could remove some of the cleaner but the mop was completely dry. I called upstairs, "Grace...what did you use to mop the floor? The mop is dry."

Grace called down "I used the mop with the orange cover."

So I taught my sweet girl what a dust broom is...

It brought to mind this little gem from Pam Parish:

Why Did My Towels Turn Pink?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Office Supplies and Emotions

It was a rough week at work.

Nothing life shattering, just one of those weeks where you are overworked, everything that can go wrong will, you are getting audited by the Department of Labor, there is a virus going around.

And then it got better. We were all still feeling pretty blah. I ran into Staples for some stuff we needed. I was on my way to the cash register when I saw the pretty colors!

Seriously, one minute I'm thinking "I need to blah, blah, blah" and the next I'm all "COLORS! PRETTY!"

Post It Notes has these new city themed packets with colors that are supposed to represent certain cities, have you seen them?

Perhaps this is not exciting to you. Perhaps you do not share my obsession and love for office supplies...especially colorful office supplies. But whatever. If you cannot understand the thrill that my sould experienced at that moment...this might not be the post for you.

I was immediately distracted and stopped to inspect them. The moment I saw the NYC pack, I was lost.

The thought process was something like "I love New York City! Broadway is in New York City! Idina Menzel's new show is opening this week! I NEED THESE POST ITS!!! I DESERVE THESE POST ITS!"

So they went in the cart. Suddenly I felt destressed...and then I thought EVERYONE in the office deserved prettily colored office supplies. So I bought something for its, paper clips, etc. And by everyone, I'm talking like five people. But still...

I may be too emotional to be in charge of buying office supplies.

I just may be too emotional for life. But it isn't something I can just fix. I can usually manage it. By manage it I mean only fly off the handle half the time.

But it is something I need to remember when I'm feeling left out, offended, or lost. Because the reality is that most of the time no one meant to ignore me, lose me, or desert me.

I only mention this because it feels like emotions are running high on quite a number of issues these days. Maybe we can blame social media but it's getting re-dic-u-lous! It's time for us to take a deep breath and remember that though we are emotional creatures, we don't always have to act emotionally.

I remember hearing a pastor speak to his congregation about the woman accused of adultery. The crowd is ready to stone her. They bring her to Jesus because they are going to kill two birds with one stone. Denounce Jesus and throw rocks at the harlot! Jesus, before He stops the party by reminding everyone that none of them are perfect, stoops down in the dirt and writes something with his finger. The pastor said that Biblical scholars have tried for years to figure out what Jesus was writing...but that he (the pastor) thought Jesus needed a minute. That for just a second the human side of Jesus almost took over long enough for Jesus to yell "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE???" so Jesus stooped in the dirt long enough to get a hold on his "second response". And in doing so, competently handled the situation.

I've kept that in mind for ages. It is one of my favorite sermons to date. And it's good advice. Take a deep breath. Stoop and write in the dirt if you need to...but remember that your first response isn't always the right response.

Unless it's brightly covered office supplies...that's a no brainer.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I made a Mama cry today...

A few days ago I was at auditions for Frog & Toad and the Director passes one of the audition sheets over to me. The Mom had written "he has special needs"

So this kid comes in and he has got such a personality and he does a good job on his monologue and song and by the end of his audition all of us at the table have agreed without saying a word...this kid needs to be on stage.

So today I call to offer him the role and the Mom is so excited but she's a little nervous too. Can he handle it? Can we handle him?

And I could tell her the Director teaches special needs children. I could tell her I was once a head start teacher with a classroom filled with behaviorally challenged kids. But...for whatever reason, I don't.

I tell her about his audition. His manners, the way he handled himself, made eye contact, remembered his monologue, sang his song and managed the scales. About how everyone agreed this was a boy who needed to be on the stage.

And she cried. Because she was proud of him. Because we wanted him. Because we saw the special more than the needs. God bless all the Mamas who love their babies so well.

She was so excited to be able to tell him. And all day long I thought about her having that to look forward to...and I smiled every time.

Be encouraged Mamas. Your kids are awesome. And you are doing a good job.

Ya'll pray for this new "drama mama"...she has no idea what she's getting into! LOL