Monthly Archives: August 2010

A Missed Milestone

Holidays and birthdays are extremely hard and emotional during a deployment, but missed milestones are the hardest.

Last week, Tucker started kindergarten in public school. It was a “first” that Chris will never get to experience. I cannot express my sadness in knowing that we will never get that day back.

When we walked to Tucker’s classroom, he stopped right before going in the door, looked up at me with his huge brown eyes and said… “Mama, I’m shaking on the inside.”

I know what he meant….I’ve been shaking on the inside since January. 

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Sensitive Servants

I’ve been told I’m too sensitive this year.

I’m guessing, but I don’t think it was meant as a compliment.

Anytime you add the adjective “too”… you are implying that something is happening in excess or to a degree that is regrettable.

Sure, I have regrets. Who doesn’t want a “do-over” on occasion?!?  There are certainly times where I could have responded or handled a situation differently. But in all honesty, I doubt I will regret being sensitive this year. What is the alternative, callousness?!?

I read a devotion today about this very subject. It said, “We miss many occasions for serving because we lack sensitivity and spontaneity. Great opportunities to serve never last long. They pass quickly, sometimes never to return again. Real servants pay attention to needs. Servants are always on the lookout for ways to help others. When they see a need, they seize the moment to meet it, just as the Bible commands us.  When God puts someone in need right in front of you, he is giving you the opportunity to grow in servanthood.  You may only get one chance to serve that person, so take advantage of the moment.  “Never tell your neighbors to wait until tomorrow if you can help them now” (Proverbs 3:28 TEV).

I am sensitive this year. Thank God!

God has allowed this so that I can feel, understand and respond differently to the needs placed right in front of me. The scales of selfishness that cover so many of our eyes have been removed from mine. I will never look at a single parent in the same way.  I will not ignore loneliness. I understand the meaning of a hot meal being dropped off. I know the appreciation of a kid being picked up because it was on the way. I’ve watched the hands and feet of Christ push a lawn mower in my yard. In short,  I’ve been surrounded by servants who were sensitive to my needs.

In my humble opinion, “sensitivity” is the prompting of the Holy Spirit to FEEL.

Our callous world teaches us to cover it up, smile for the camera and pretend everything is all right. In that context, sensitivity is not welcome or embraced. It becomes a “too”… as in “too much” for someone who’s already busy being busy.

My question is…what are you being busy about?  Is your heart too cluttered to feel compassion or see a need? Is someone in your life being “too sensitive” ?!?  

Maybe the issue isn’t the person, but your response.

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Stumbling Homeward

Every family has those childhood stories that get repeated. They are retold so often it’s hard to know what was real or imagined. You find yourself wondering if you actually remember the event or if you just witnessed a secondhand copy. Fortunately for me, some of our stories were backed up by an 8mm movie camera. The difference then, however, is that the movies didn’t have sound. We were left to speculate the contents of the dialogue.

There wasn’t much guessing needed in the film depicting my first trip to the beach as a  toddler.

I was sprawled out, face down in the sand, motionless. For some unknown reason my parents had purchased me a red ruffled bikini for the big beach event. I clearly did not have the body for the suit, but for once in my life that fact wasn’t the issue. All you see in the film is me, a red round ruffled bottom and a silent protest. Occasionally, I would look up to see if anyone noticed my unhappiness. The camera would shake  (I guess my Mom was laughing), I would look up at her with the most wounded look I could muster and then smack my face right back down in the sand. This fit continues while my older sister, Beth, runs circles around me, makes faces at the camera and frolicks off into the sunset… Typical… According to my parents, I hated the beach. It was one of my first trips away and the only words I  repeated over and over again was, “I wanna go home.” 

Quite a few years later, a film emerged of us at King’s Dominion Amusement Park. Beth and I are dressed alike in matching blue shirts and khaki pants. Somehow, the elastic waist pants (circa 1979) look much more stylish on her…but again, that is not the issue. We are standing in front of a ride called “The Octopus.” Once more, Beth is waving excitedly and I’m standing silent looking ill. The film was obviously taken right after we finished the ride. Grandmama Rebecca was our escort on this trip (no explanation needed). I did not want to ride anything scary, fast or upside down. Grandmama needed me to ride things with Beth, so she would convince me in line that every ride was like the monorail (somehow, ride names like “the octopus” didn’t clue me in that it might be a dangerous or daring experience). I was a sucker. The octopus was my breaking point. As soon as we jolted into motion, Beth claims that I hollered… “I wanna go home”…. so incredibly loud that they shut down the ride and allowed us to get off. I don’t remember much about that day, but based on the film and the look on my face…it must be true.

It’s funny how these memories jump back into your mind at the oddest times.

The other day, Tuck and I were home alone. He went out into the backyard to test fly one of his airplanes. I had warned him not to do that while Moses, our dog, was out in the yard…but who listens to me?!? A few minutes later, I heard a shrill yelp from the back. It was a combination of Tuck and Moses rolling in a tussle over the airplane. Moses won and shot off with the airplane between his teeth. Tuck fell to the ground dramatically and began to cry. He was already tired from a full day of activity, so I knew this last defeat was going to push him over the edge….and it did. He was a limp heap on the ground. It was a red ruffled bikini scene all over again. So… I scooped Tuck up, took the mauled airplane away from Moses and brought them both back inside. Tuck was still pitiful and crying. In between his tears, I heard him say, “I wanna go home.” The crazy thing was…we were sitting in our living room.

Home.

It’s a place I long to be… especially when the going gets tough. But, I’m not sure it’s just a location.

Here I sit in my house, wide awake in the middle of the night and I’m wishing for nothing more than home. I’m like Tuck in the living room, asking to go home. It’s a feeling, not a place. It’s a wish for something better; something to soothe your sorrow.

I once heard a sermon about heaven. The pastor explained that God placed a little piece of heaven inside each of us. It’s just enough to make us yearn for more. It’s just enough to make us expect and wish for something better. It’s a small enough sample to create a craving for home. It points us in the direction of Him. We are all homesick for heaven.

After this year, I hope God will not replay some of the memories for me on a silent 8mm film. I don’t need to see my red ruffled bottom in the air to know that I’ve pouted, kicked the dirt and pitched a fit about how unfair this year feels. I’m sinfully flawed for sure. But in the end, I hope He knows that we are all wanting to go home. Some of us stumble… or in my case…lie in the dirt,  but we all know that what He offers is so much better than even the best of what’s around.

God is home.

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Clemson Reading Camp

I know…I know…the words “Clemson” and “reading” placed next to each other is an oxymoron…but this isn’t a misprint. And Chris…I knew you would need to be out of the country serving in a war zone for anything in our family to be associated with Clemson, but it isn’t a bad dream…Tucker is really attending a Clemson Reading Camp.

Tucker and Clemson actually have a long history. While we were living in NC, Tuck attended a preschool where his teacher was a Clemson graduate. To tease us as Gamecocks, the first color she taught Tucker was of course, ORANGE. It sounds harmless enough, but we endured about 2 years where every time you would ask Tuck, “What color is ________” his stock answer was ALWAYS…you guessed it, “orange.”  It absolutely drove Chris crazy, but Tuck thought orange was the most beautiful color ever created.

Fast forward a few years and now… Tuck is attending a Clemson Reading Camp.

I thought it would be great for our “reluctant academic” to get a jump-start on school and have a little phonics refresher in the form of a camp. The only option for something along those lines, just happened to be offered by Clemson University. I guess they are experienced in remedial teaching techniques (sorry, that one was for Chris!)

ANYWAY…

Tuck was thrilled to learn that he would be going straight from preschool into college (or at least that was his interpretation). I was thankful to have someone else take a shot at teaching Tuck. It was a win, win situation.

Or so I thought…

The first day of class, Tuck and I arrived early. I had packed his book bag with “fresh” magic markers, a new notebook and sharpened pencils. As a former teacher, I love buying new school supplies. It’s a rush of sorts. It also must be genetic because Tuck opened his new notebook and immediately sniffed the page (anybody else love the smell of fresh paper…or am I alone here?!?). School/Art supplies are something Tuck and I completely connect with and LOVE. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and said, “Mom, you even bought me new markers!!!”… We were off to a good start in terms of supplies. The class was another story.

The teacher walked in and immediately began singing and rhyming. Tuck looked up from his drawing with an annoyed expression. Apparently, her “noise”  had interrupted his artistic flow and vision….  I began to worry.

The teacher started a rhyming game. The goal was to say as many words that rhyme with the word, “bat.” All of the other kids started raising their hands and offered other words like….cat, hat, sat, mat, etc… I was excited because without prompting, Tucker raised his hand. I held my breath when she finally called on him. Tuck gave her his most serious look and said…..”owl”  

WHAT?!?!?

Obviously the teacher was as confused as I was based on her facial expression. Tuck picked up on it and offered an explanation, “It flies at night”

I’m not sure if the teacher got it. Tuck thought she hadn’t….so he gave another example, “possum”

Yes, that’s right….while the other kids were rhyming words with “bat”… Tucker was classifying nocturnal animals.

I have a feeling this is a taste of what our next school year will be like.  Help me, Jesus!

In all seriousness, please pray for Tucker and his new teacher. We really need someone who will appreciate his “unique take” on life and learning. He’s one of a kind and if he doesn’t learn to read soon…he may be going to Clemson for real!

Just kidding, Clemson friends…I couldn’t resist (it was another one for Chris!!)

Go GAMECOCKS!

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