Saturday, November 28, 2009

I'm only gonna tell you this once.  Gather together everybody you know, just like you did for New Moon, only this time, go see something that will touch your soul, because it's absolutely true-  

The Blind Side.

I took my bunch o' children yesterday and some friends followed.  Learn somethin' from Mrs. Oher.  Her good heart made a difference on this planet earth.  Isn't it time we all make a difference here too?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's not that I don't have anything to say.  I do.  I just having been making the time for it.

So, here's a snapshot of Nadine's Funeral service.  Her gorgeous sixteen year old daughter picked out music to be played.  Aerosmith, LifeHouse, Dream Boat Annie, Sarah McLachlan.  Yep, they were a rock and roll family.  In fact, Nadine's daughter wrote an incredible eulogy for her mother- articulate, beautiful words that would make the Grinch with the tiny heart break.  She wrote about how her mother's strength would keep her strong.  She ended with a quip about how her mom was in a place where she could, "Rock and roll all night, and party every day." 

My cousin Rosey's husband, Cowboy, was asked to preach by Nadine's husband.  Cowboy came dressed with a Western riding suit coat, fancy pants, boots, a big ole' yet very nice felt cowboy hat, and of course, a worn Bible tucked under his arm.  His sermon rang with honesty and gentleness.  In the southern tradition, he ended with his own quip, "When Nadine asked Jesus into her life on that day, she put her foot on the Rock and got her name on the role."  Yes, my family makes me laugh and cry all at the same time.

Cowboy told me his own story soaked with Vietnam, rodeo, arms dealing, drugs, jail, addiction and most of all, Redemption.  I admire his soft spoken nature and open heart.  Rosie and he have been down a long road.  Rosie and I talked after dinner together.  She grew up mostly in Nadine's family and has lost something much more like a sister than a cousin. She's also lost her mother, Nadine's mom and dad, a brotherish cousin and niece.  Even though neither of us are old women, we pondered how much loss we've had and how hard it is wait to join those in the better place.

The most comforting moment for me was when Nadine's brother, Jay stood with me at the coffin.  He told me he'd visited with her at the nursing home and hospice care.  He whispered in her ear, "If you see, Leah (her daughter who died as a young person a few years ago from spinal menangitis), run like the wind to her."
I pictured Nadine spying Leah's slight figure and radiant red curls in the light and tearing off like there was no tomorrow to greet her girl.  Yes, so comforting to consider them together forever now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My cousin, Nadine, was finally released from her suffering yesterday.   It makes me a little blue to think she's not ever gonna giggle with me or recommend another good read here on this big old earth.  Then again, she hasn't been able to do so for years now, but I always hoped one day something like Awakenings would happen for her.  I'm hoping and praying she is truly in a better place.  Tomorrow is her visitation, and Thursday is her funeral.  The thang about funerals is that it's one of the only times my family gets together on my dad's side, and I really do enjoy hanging with these folks.  They are colorful, spunky and usually give me side splitting laughter.

I'm taking Nadine's death as a symbol of some personal endings and beginnings.  The limbo of being here but unable to communicate was such a struggle for her.  I believe she may very well be in the Hands of God and able to say what she's wanted and needed all these years.  I believe I'm in God's Hands as well, and He's giving me what I've needed all these years of a different kind of limbo in my life. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
C.S. Lewis

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Call the Law

People have their own bus woes, like my friend whose daughter was hit by a car driven by an inattentive young lady on her cellphone after exiting her bus.  Now I have mine.

Day one of my children riding the bus to public school bus led me to chat with the boys about sitting in the front by the driver.  They naively explained how the first day, one boy on the bus screamed and yelled out as the bus drove.  Wise One, who heeds my advice, extolled my wisdom when the second day, Tater, who does not necessarily think I know anything whatsoever, got slapped in the face by the screamer- because he was not in the front of the bus with Wise One.  Buck went to talk with the school and sadly was placated by a administrative assistant.  I, however, have been waiting for the troubled young man to blow it big.  My only hope was that it wouldn't involve my children, but unfortunately, it did.  Tater and Wise One came home with another crazy tale involving extremely dangerous behavior on the bus and in class.  Last night, I was making my plan to go sit in the school office this morning until  I could get a resolution when my cell phone rang.  I found myself speaking to the principal and listening as my son spoke with her.  I explained how fearful both boys were about things said, and how I trusted the school was handling the situation, since she was calling.  I was impressed by her forthright nature and sensitivity.

"I asked your son to report any problems to me before things reach this point again," she guided.

"My husband came to intervene two weeks ago and was simply told to have our children not be friends with the child. I'm sure you have had many interactions with this young man and his family and understand the depth of his issues," I responded.

I heard the regret and a touch of anger in her voice, "No, mam.  I am sorry to say that I have not as my staff has apparently been handling him.  I want you to know how sorry I am, and that this is not acceptable to me."

I ended by telling her we were prayerful and cautious about the situation as the boy lives a few streets away.
She must have called the police to file a report, because the police came over later.  The gentlemen were sweet and assured the children of our safety.  Nothing like uniformed men showing up unannounced to spark a little insecurity.  Golly, I was glad my house was tidy.

Before bed, I could see something in Tater's eyes which is rarely there- gratitude.  The terrible fear of trust associated reactive attachment disorder was stirred up for him, and he watched me handle it all with grace on his behalf.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tis a strange thing to put all children on a school bus for a mom who drove all over the world everyday and homeschooled in the middle.  After the little and not so little people departed, I got to work on chores. 

One great discovery in this new house has been hardwood floors in a room we are changing to an efficiency kitchen.  It was under two layers of linoleum, plywood, primer, and one million hard-to-remove staples,  Over the past week, my hands have grown horribly sore and quite banged up from scraping and muscling up nails committed to a lifelong stay in the floor. I spent the morning cleaning the area. Now it's positively gorgeous having been sanded and minwaxed.

I took off for the gym and enjoyed weights and pool laps afterward.

Yesterday, I attended a job fair. The offerings of employment at the Dollar General, Comcast, a security company, the army, a coffee house weren't exactly in my interest range, so I wandered back home.  The FBI had a booth set up as well, but after half a second, I decided against trying to become a secret agent since I am forty three and require reading glasses.  I spent the entire afternoon applying to a community college for EMT training.  Crazy ain't it? Just figuring out how to send transcripts from four previous colleges made me nuts. 

Wish me luck on training and finding full time work. 

Monday, November 09, 2009

Today I visited an old friend.  At first, I was really nervous.  It's been a long time, and this particular friend can be daunting at times-cruel even if you happen to be a 43 year old woman with lots of imperfections and flubber.  However, I held my breath, looked both ways, leaped off the sheer cliff;   I went back to my old friend, the gym.  I haven't been since my little world flipped upside down and inside out in late August.  That's the longest break I've ever taken from working out, since I had knee surgery five or six years ago.  I started a bit easy, not a whole lotta weight or reps, so I'll be able to stand erect and walk about tomorrow. 

 I'm back at the Knoxvegas gym where there is a plethora of fancy machines and a pool I adore. Loved swimming laps, but I'm not kidding when I say I'm sad about leaving my little town gym where most everyone greeted me warmly.  Miss the theological exchanges with Josh and Randy, the jokes and tricks of Deeder and Will.  I miss Regina's drive, Sissy's smile, chats about art with Erin, and Andy's big ol' heart.  At this big town gym, I put on my headphones and ignore the testosterone flowing like chocolate rivers in Willy Wonka's factory. I didn't recognize a soul today except a staff member who had never spoken to me all those years ago anyway. 

Just so you know, machines and pools don't hold a candle to friends. 

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Pooh Bear's very first school experience this week has been interesting.  I took her Tuesday and arrived as her class was making preparations for a field trip to see a Junie B. Jones play.  I'm not  Junie B. Jones fan, but hey, it's public school.  I was praying for a positive first day, and I considered how a field trip would be a great friend making opportunity and leave a pleasant first impression.  She did make friends.  In fact, she exclaimed, "Everyone wants to be my friend.  All the girls wanted to sit by me.  They all asked to be in my pod." 
  The second day, she got off the bus with a scowl, and started pouring tears as soon as she got in our car.  "What on earth happened today?" I asked.

"I don't FEEL good," she burst out.  "My head is killing me, and my throat is sore!"

"Honey, you can always tell the teacher and I could have come to pick you up,"  I answered.

" I know, Mom.  But I didn't get sick till gym at the end of the day."

Her fever spiked that evening, and she slept fitfully from the afternoon till the next morning. Then again in the afternoon the next day the fevered spiked, so she missed the next two days of school.  I had gotten a newsletter from the school stating not to call if a child is sick, but write a note within five days of returning siting the illness.  I kept thinking, "Man, they don't even want parents to call?"  I'm betting the swine flu has made the office staff nuts.

Overall, Pooh Bear likes her class and her teacher. The jury is still our for me.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 'Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

I read this early this morning and found myself pondering.  It's as if I've been skipping over this passage and moving on without understanding. I will never hate my mother.  Nor my father, or my sister.  Especially not my own children. That isn't how God made me, nor is God a hater.  What kind of God would that be exactly who asks us to cast off humanity? I took it as hyperbole for loving God more than even family but have remained bothered by the implications left through the word "hate".

Today I found myself stuck on the hating "life itself" words.  I thought of how Jesus is the giver of life, loves life, embodies resurrected life.  In fact, we know He is the way, the truth, and the life.  The contrast struck me between who Jesus is and what he is saying here.  So what do these particular words mean?  How could I hate life itself?  It came to me to that Jesus never intended for us to hate life, because He is life.  He only asks that if desperation to hold onto life gets in the way of loving, we should let go of our own life willingly.  When I make a statement like, "That would kill me if..." without seeking Jesus, then I'm sunk.  I've loved my way, my life better than Him.  Therefore, it stands to reason, He also would never have us hate our family, but we must not desperately cling to their lives and let them go when God asks.

Don't get me wrong.  When I prayed fervently that God would spare the life of my mother during her brain surgery some time ago, I don't think I was going against this scripture altogether.  Yes, I wanted my way.  Yes, it was selfish in that I didn't want to live without her on this earth.  Yes, I was desperate.  However, I know the position of my heart was that even if she did not make it or became irreparably brain damaged, I believed God was and is good and would make all things good through the tragedy.  I wasn't attaching my faith to her life saying, "You better heal her God or else!"  If my faith had been entwined with the outcome, I could have become bitter against God.

The battle for us all is that we allow God to be and stop trying to control.  In fact, I have come to the conclusion that anything we try to control is sin.  In which case, I sin a million times a day.  For example, in my new home, things are broken and are taking a very long time to fix.  I've actually been sobbing over a toilet (how dumb is that?) which has been "fixed" twice, replaced, and is still not working.  Why sob?  I'm actually worried noone on the face of the earth can or will fix it, and I'll have to live in a moldy, drippy, leaking, falling down house.  How's that for lack of faith?  Yet I've been consumed.  In order to find peace, I must put on the mind of Christ and play the tape in my head that my friend Jenny, a lady construction manager (!), spoke to me, "Look, if I've learned anything from being in construction all these years, is that anything can be fixed."  Putting that particular tape on repeat inside my brain is a way of intentionally letting go to find the peace I've unwisely traded for worry for a week now. 

As for hating "life itself", I'll reflect on more ways I'm trying to control to let go, so I can get down to the business of real love. 

Monday, November 02, 2009


Changes are still happening with the Vynes.  Besides leaving a good life entirely behind to begin anew, I shuffled something big around for my children.

Tater's response to this particular project was a whooping, "I'm not doing that!  I like the old way better."  It's been his response to everything lately- nothing like a upsetting the apple cart of a rad kid's life with new school, new house, new room, new routines.

Here is my radical lifestyle change.  I went to the store, laid down a big hunk of money, and bought each person a shower basket like the ones we all used in college.  Each child has a their very own stock of deoderant, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrush, razors, shaving cream, comb, brush, floss which is kept in his or her own room, probably on the dresser.

Clifford the big red house has four bathrooms, and the old sharing one sink between three bickering boys is old news, like the first horseless carriage.   The showering until one's skin becomes a wrinkly pink or brown pickle can happen without anyone else becoming at risk of missing daily grooming.  Toothbrushing hypothetically can occur in a another location when a shower hog refuses to open the door.  Hair brushing need not be skipped due to a lack of mirror time. 

There is only bathroom on the kid's floor, so I have heard the occasional, "I can't brush my teeth.  Peace is hogging the shower."  So nice to answer, "Where's your shower basket anyhow?"

Works for me.