Friday, August 15, 2014

Back to School


Back to School

It’s back to school time!  So many Mamas are sending their babies off to kindergarten or high school or college!  So many Mamas (and, yes, Daddies) have emotions creeping up and gushing out.

Well, I live in a college town so “back to school” has a different meaning to the residents of my city.  The census for my town says the population is about 176,000.  We are a quiet city without traffic delays and clogged highways.  Wait, we don’t have highways in my city!

But we are a college town – a major university town, I should say.  The student body is about 50,000, so when the college students flock back to town, the residents’ lives change.  Our restaurants are full. Our Wal-Mart and Target shelves are empty. 

I’m not complaining because I was one of those students – many years ago.

I came to this same college town located in the center of Texas from Boise, Idaho.  I didn’t know a soul. Not a soul. And unlike many Texans that grew up attending football games and touring the campus on game weekends, I had only visited the campus one time!

My mom and my aunt drove me to school.  We unloaded my two suitcases
and some groceries at the apartment I would share with a girl I met one time.

Then they said goodbye.  They just got in the car and drove off!  

They drove off!

What were they thinking?

This was way back in the dinosaur days – you know, before iPhones to amuse ourselves with texts, snapchats, Facebook, e-mail or the internet.  Just me and a quiet apartment. 

I was stranded at an apartment ten blocks from campus. No bike. No car. No TV. No one.

No. One.

My roommate wouldn’t show up until the next afternoon.  Hmm…What to do?

I decided to walk to campus and check things out.  I did not realize it was so far – it didn’t seem far by car.

It didn’t take me long to learn an important lesson ~ you don’t walk further than the end of your driveway to get your mail or put out the trash in August in Texas!  Just when I thought I couldn’t take another step, a university bus pulled up next to me and stopped.  The doors opened.

“You heading to campus?” the driver called to me.

“Yes,” I replied cautiously.

“Well, get in.  I’ll take you.”

I could feel the air-conditioning pouring out of the bus.  I pulled my over-heated self up the steps and plopped down on the first seat.  The doors shut and off we went.

In the opposite direction from campus! And we kept going!

“Oh, no!” I thought.  “This isn’t good.  I’m the only one on this bus with this stranger going further away from campus.  Maybe I’m being kidnapped!”  I started to look toward the back door.  Maybe I could get away through that door.

Then we turned.  We turned towards campus.  Whew!  We picked up other students - ones that had enough sense to wait for the bus in the shade.

I eventually made it back to my apartment and somehow entertained myself that evening. I slept well until…

Until in the middle of the night, a train blew its horn as it passed.  I sat straight up in bed.

What is that? 

I had no idea there were train tracks several yards away when I laid my head down that night. I thought the Russians were invading! (For you youngsters ~ this was during the cold war and we lived in fear that the Russians would someday attack America.) I don’t know why I thought we would be warned of an attack by train horns!

Once my foggy brain figured out the noise was a train whistle and not an alarm of imminent danger, I fell back to sleep ~ to the sounds of the clickety-clack of the train.

Welcome to college!

I’ve thought about that day a lot.  What were my parents thinking?

They dropped me off in a town where I knew no one – with no transportation  - and left me.  Two thousand miles away from home.

What were they thinking?

I’d like to think it wasn’t just that they were so happy to have me out of the house. (Don’t say a word, Dad!) J

I’d like to think they trusted me and believed they had done their job well.

And they did.  And they had.  They gave me the tools to succeed.

Yes, they provided for my physical needs growing up.  Yes, they made sure I had a good education – even if they had to hire a math tutor in elementary school.

But, most importantly, they showed me what it meant to love and trust Jesus. They trained me in the way I should go.

Yes, I knew my ABC’s and algebra and, apparently, I even had the skills to escape a school bus if I was kidnapped.

But my Jesus education is the education that has sustained me.  My faith has buoyed me in the low times and calmed me even in the high times.

So, moms and dads and grandmoms and granddads, as you prepare to send your kids off to school for another year, make sure they know the anchor for their soul – the hope of Jesus.  That is more important than fancy new shoes, the coolest spirals or a new backpack.  Those things are important, but not the most important.

And trust that they will be okay! Though you will miss them – whether it’s just during the school day or for a whole semester – they will be okay.  Keep praying for them.  Never stop praying for them but trust that they will be okay.

He will never leave them or forsake them.  Deut. 31:8

He will comfort and love them.  Isaiah 66:13

He will calm their fears and cause their worry to subside.  Philippians 4:6,7

We have this hope as an anchor

for the soul, firm and secure. Heb 6:19


Are you having a hard time as your "babies" head off to school?  Tell me about it in the comments.  I will be praying for you!

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Fear versus Boldness

Fear or Fear Not


It’s been a little over three weeks since my 23-year-old daughter had a preventive double mastectomy.  She is moving into the healing stage just like she moved into the surgery stage – with bravery. 

I have spent the last three weeks processing many emotions and helping others to process theirs.  Leading up to the surgery, I had to deal with those that do not understand. Those that thought the surgery was done out of fear.  It was hard to convince them that it was more an issue of common sense.

Remembering a time that my own boldness was mistaken for fear still makes me cringe.  It had not even been a year since I buried my full-term, stillborn son when a “friend” stopped by my house to drop something off one day as I was backing out of the driveway.  We stood in the driveway and visited for a minute before she asked where I was going.

“Just running by the OB’s office to hear a heartbeat.” 

I was pregnant again.

“Shelly,” she replied with complete sincerity, “you should have more faith then that.”

I tried not to physically rock back on my heels from her verbal blow.  I steadied myself and then caught a glimpse of her infant son in her back seat.  She questioned my faith?  Her son was alive and well and sitting just a few feet from her!  My son went straight from my womb to my arms and then to his grave!

“If I didn’t have faith, I never would have gotten pregnant again.  It is only by faith that I can risk the pain of losing a child again.”

I honestly cannot remember if we ever spoke again.  Not because I was mad.  Just because.  They moved not long after that hurtful conversation and I didn’t pursue the friendship.

I took the chance of burying another child because of a boldness in my faith.  Not out of fear.

My daughter elected to have a mastectomy not out of fear but out of boldness.

I married into a family of bold women. These women knew their grandmother died of breast cancer and that their mother took care of her two-year-old brother.  These women watched their mother suffer from breast cancer and then helped to raise their two-year-old brother (my husband.)  These women watched their sister suffer from breast cancer and have tried to keep her memory alive for the four boys she left behind.

These bold women grabbed a hold of life.  They had mastectomies thirty years ago when it was completely uncommon.  They blazed the trail for their daughters ~ who then stepped out in boldness and made the same decision. This next generation blazed the trail for my daughters.

Not out of fear.  But out of a boldness – or, as we see it, simple common sense. But sometimes it takes boldness to take that common sense step. 

I am grateful.  If not for them, I believe that my daughter would not have made the choice at age 23 to cut her chances of breast cancer from 87% to less than 1%.

Boldness. Not fear. Faith. Not fear.

In the day when I cried out,
You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.
                                                                                                 Psalm 138:3

Are you fearful?  Then cry out to God and he will give you strength and boldness.

So be strong and courageous,
 all you who put your hope in the Lord!
                                                                                                                                                Psalm 31:24

So we may boldly say:
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
                                                                                                                              Hebrew 13:6


Stealing the lyrics of the “The Donut Man”  ~  “Be bold and be strong, banish fear and doubt, for the promises of God are to bless you going in and to bless you going out.” (Interesting fact, my girls went to bed at night and drove around in my car by day, listening to those words being sung. I prayed then and continue to pray now that those seeds planted sprout and take hold.) 


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Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Mastectomy at Age 23

I'm not chuckling today.  I still have my joy but I'm not chuckling.  I don't have a funny story with a spiritual truth to encourage you with today.  Why?  Tomorrow, my very brave, twenty-three year old newlywed daughter will have a preventative double mastectomy!  

She tells it best in her own words and you can read them here.  the-bates.com

                                                                                     Photo: Michelle Boyd Photography

We are grateful that our HOPE is a secure anchor in Christ Jesus!
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Tepid Tub

The Tepid Tub

I have a dear friend who is the mother of four children.  One of her teenagers is a son - the only son - and he has a fondness for long, steaming hot showers.  Even before he gets in the shower, he likes the bathroom to resemble a sauna.  In order to turn his plain bathroom into a sauna to rival that of any fine, luxury spa, he turns the hot water on full blast.  Once the steam is seeping out from under the door, he commences his near scalding shower.

And this is not an abbreviated shower.  Once the steam hits his brain, he completely and utterly forgets that he has a family that might also desire some warmth with their daily bath.  This teenage mutant child takes his time - reveling in the warmth - applying his manly scented body wash, shampoo and conditioner. He takes his time to make sure no soap or shampoo residue remains on him before finally shutting off the shower.

The freshly washed, relaxed and crisply dressed boy is ready for school when his father comes roaring out of the master bedroom.

"How many kids took a shower this morning?" he bellows.  His boisterous outburst falls on one pink-cheeked son who seems mighty relaxed. 

"Just me," comes the honest, feeble response.

The mother begins to position herself between the two testosterone driven creatures - one with steam rising off his skin - the other with steam coming out his ears.

"Well, son. I took a very, very cold shower because you used up all of the hot water!  Did you even think for a minute that someone else might like to have a hot shower this morning?"  He let that sink in before calmly adding, "For the next week, you will take tepid baths!"

"Yes, sir," the son replied to his chilled father.

That night, when the time drew near to the hour when the son would normally begin to create his spa inspired sauna, his father filled the tub with a mere three inches of very tepid water and then threatened him with all sorts of horrific consequences if he so much as heard a drip of water being added. A few minutes into the bath, the family heard noises coming from the bathroom.  The noises were coming from the teenager as he soaked in his tepid tub of discipline.

In a funny, Yoda-like voice the family heard him say, "Me doesn't like lukewarm baths."
" Me likes hot showers."
" Me thinks this punishment is too severe."
" Me thinks one night of a tepid bath would be sufficient"
" Me thinks it'll be a long week"
And on and on...

This teenage boy was taking his discipline, or "correction," with a degree of rebellion.  While not openly fighting against the punishment, he, nevertheless, used humor to make it known that he did not enjoy his correction. 

No one does.  NO one enjoys correction.  How many of us sit in our tepid tub of correction and fight?

~ Proverbs 12:1 says, "Whoever loves discipline, loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is      stupid." 
~ Proverbs 1:7b states, "but fools despise wisdom and discipline."
~ Proverbs 15:5 tells us that "a fool spurns his father's discipline but whoever heeds correction shows prudence and 13: 18 says "he who ignores disciple comes to poverty and shame but whoever heads correction is honored."

According to God's word - we should love correction and strive to be thankful for discipline in our lives.  When we are being corrected, we often sit and complain.

What if when the steam-sauna-seeker received his sentence he celebrated? 

What if he hugged his father and thanked him for saving him from stupidity?

What if he then planted a kiss on his mom's forehead, picked her up and twirled her around exclaiming, "Yippee!  I'm going to be saved from poverty and shame!  I will be honored." 

What if, as the teenager lowered his body into the lukewarm water, he yelled for all the house to hear, "Hallelujah!  I'm not a fool.  I'm prudent!"

What a difference. What if, when the Lord disciplines us, we embrace and celebrate it?  According to scripture, we should be grateful for the Lord's correction instead of grumbling in our tepid tub.

Lord, help me to celebrate the tepid tub of correction, as well as, the
warm shower of grace and mercy. 

Help me to soak in your gentle washing of discipline.

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Have a comment? Have you ever set in the Tepid Tub of correction and grumbled?

Friday, March 21, 2014


I Hate Pinterest

Back in the 90’s, there was a show on cable TV with a homely lady and a geeky guy.  I cannot even remember the name of the people or the name of the show.  But I tuned in to watch each week. I even programmed my VCR to record the show!  And then I went out and tried to emulate the projects they did on the show.  (This was before we had a kazillion channels with satellite, or HGTV.)

I loved one episode where they did a birdhouse themed room so in the kid’s room that was too young to protest, I applied a fence picket wallpaper border, hung birdhouses, painted the room blue with clouds near the ceiling. I loved it.  The daughter? Not so much.

The Craft gods must have been watching us stay at home mommies watching that cheesy show because the next thing we know – BAM!  HGTV! And we were glued to the screen to figure out how to craft our homes into some amazing show home for pennies on the dollar.  And then another channel popped up. 

But these shows were geared to us “older folks.” While we “older folks” were trying to paint and stamp and sponge ourselves into a wonderful home, the Craft gods were watching.  And they created Pinterest. (Actually, Pinterest wasn’t created as a crafting, decorating, DIY site but most everyone I know uses it that way.)

I hate Pinterest. Just today. Just this week.  The week of my oldest daughter’s wedding.  Why?  Before Pinterest, Mother’s-of-the-Brides-to-be just bought their daughter three or four of those big, thick wedding magazines.  That was enough to give you some ideas and pass them on to the cake lady, the florist, and the seamstress.

Now, with Pinterest, Brides-to-be can spend hours and hours comparing.  Comparing and comparing.  (And mother’s of the bride and groom can spend hours and hours at Michael’s and Hobby Lobby trying to gather supplies to copy the ideas that the bride and groom envision with the help of Pinterest.)

Information Overload.  Or should I say, Idea Overload.  Maybe too much of a good thing is  ~ too much. 

All of the ideas are beautiful but it makes the decision making process lengthy and difficult. 

The wedding is two days away so I think it is safe to put away my craft supplies and concentrate on the joyous day! 


Okay, I don’t really hate Pinterest.  Maybe after the wedding, I’ll have time to Pin. #pinterestfordummies  


One last note, because of Pinterest and my daughter’s amazing knack for creativity, her wedding will be much more lovely and beautiful than mine! J


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