Saturday, November 06, 2010

Thinking things through lately about this different and beautiful life I'm creating and feeling like it's not where I'd like to be.  I've tied up a few loose ends this week knowing there is more end tying to come.  Still haven't sold the farm- not a great market for sellers at present.  It's a dangling bit of unfinished business I'd give anything to resolve.  Then there are the constant unraveling issues which arise with  children and their needs. 

I cannot be the mom I want to be. 

Peace needs to be looking seriously at colleges, and I don't have time to invest in that like I'd hoped.  I see him trying to be responsible for far too much, and I can't stop it.  Tater is in an okay place now but not much is being asked of  him.  He's trying on his skin and issues surrounding his race for the first time lately.  He's raised questions about having siblings he doesn't know.  Wise One shows shades of darkness I've never seen before, and I don't know where to go with that.  Pooh Bear says her stomach hurts all. the. time.  She didn't have any issues over the summer, but boy howdy, when school hit, she began hurting like the previous school year.  And it's not to get out of anything- it's her absorbing the stress and harshness of school. 

Thankfully, we have good counselors, but lately the amount feels overwhelming.  Three recent session in the last week and a half makes for other things going undone. I knew divorce would not be good for my children, and it is not. 

I want more time with my sons and daughter.

Last week, when I left work to watch Peace's last cross country race, he thanked me three. separate. times.  I eat lunch at school with Pooh Bear once a week, and that in itself breaks my heart.  We had all our meals together just last year.  If I want a conversation with Wise One, I have to ask him to remove his ipod headphones.  He's always been introverted, but I worry he's holding in too much. Tater at least needs me to give him rides to and from his plethora of sports and other activities, and he talks more than a girl to me.  However, his adoption issues get in his way daily.

 I miss the time I could devote to them, and now I have to tell myself, "God will have to take care of that" with not as much faith with which I'd like to pray.  And there is the general reduction of time for remembering my own spirit to boot.

 In so many ways, I'm blessed.  The boys are making it solidly through the teen years without hitting the big problems so far.  All are strong and decently centered people.  May God keep it so.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I didn't even know I needed to  hear them.  I didn't know how simple words could be so healing, and I didn't expect them.  In fact, I told myself that I couldn't need them, because one can't need what another might not have to offer.  But to my surprise, she gave her words away like the balm of Gilead applied to my hidden and grieving soul. 

"I'm so, so sorry." 

I would not allow myself to sink fully into that apology at the moment, because I only wanted part in it if it were true and sincere.  And after consideration and prayer, to whatever extent she could offer, the words are true and sincere.

It's enough for now.  Like daily bread.  And I'll allow myself to eat something wholesome and good for me.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sundry Lessons Learned Lately

Squeaky toy + puppy + netflix= unsatisfying movie viewing experience.

Ipods can come back from the dead after being washed if placed in the freezer covered in dry rice.

Children are never too old to embarrass you at the store.

Fireplaces in the chill of fall are miraculous.

Brave people are rare. 

Sometimes people don't take responsibility for their own actions.

Sometimes justice isn't.

A river and a run give me peace.

Teenagers are the most hilarious inventions ever.

I wish I'd have watched LOST when it was on television. 

School can be rough on kids.

Freshmen football is kinda fun to watch, but I'm hoping for varsity games next year.

Make no bones about it, AP history is a college course even if taken in high school.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I bought a basil plant in Rugby, TN this spring and brought some inside.  I stuck it in a glass jar to use as needed in cooking, and it rooted without me asking it to or anything.  It doesn't flower, therefore it's always usable.  Who thinks it will remain alive for me all winter in my kitchen?
Tomorrow is October and I still have zinnias (and tomatoes growing madly) in my yard.
Hagrid, my very cute and precocious puppy. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

So, what's with the elderly lady who stopped Pooh Bear and I on my way out of a restaurant yesterday to ask about my GRANDDAUGHTER?  Really?  "Nope, not my granddaughter," I announced looking over my shoulder.

"A niece?", she called a bit louder.

"Unh-uh," I stopped.

"Little friend?" she ventured.

I faced the inquiring person.  "My daughter.  She's my daughter."  You can stop guessing now.  I'm insulted enough.  She looks like a mini-me, and besides, do I really look that old?  No. 

Her husband chided her while catching my eye, "That was mean. She's obviously not happy you called  her a grandma."

You got that right, old man.  I mean, I could be a grandma technically.  I'm sure there are plenty my age, right?

Pooh Bear explained to me as we exited, "When we get home you can dye your roots, Mom." 

So, it was a grooming issue after all. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

There is something so magical when a perfect stranger meets ones son and after an entire minute of talking declares something I'd already spoken.  Last night I took Peace to see Amadeus at the Clarence Brown.  A little opera, a lot of terrific acting, amazing dialogue, and a beautiful mix of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra made up a fabulous evening to share with my son.

We were seated beside a woman we did not know.  She began to discuss texting and high school with my son.  She'd read about his school in the's getting rave reviews....She and Peace had lots to say about how he refuses to abbreviate and must use proper grammar while text messaging. She blurted out, "Do you like to write? Are you a writer?"  to which he answered, "Yes."  Then she looked straight at him and asked, "Would you think about becoming a journalist?"  I know Peace thought I'd secretly met her previously, bought her seat beside us at the play, and paid her to propose this question, because I've been talking to him about this very career for a year now.

Just last week, we talked to Barishynikov, a family friend, who has a degree in journalism.   Bary advised Peace to pursue something else as he sees the world of journalism has fallen mercilessly into the hands of blogger and other shady such characters.

I find it remarkable that Peace could get such a direct question from a stranger at a play in such a brief conversation.  I enjoy his writing.  Always have.  His depth astonishes me.  I admire who he is becoming.  I pray he finds his path, and it's straight to the heart of God and impacts humanity in the way he is made.

 And on a completely different note:  how is that this happened at the play as well?  Another woman let us pass by on the way to our assigned seats, and I bellowed a nice friendly and confident, "Hello, where do I know you from?"

She replied, "I work at St. Mary's."

"Nope, that's not it.....ummm.....did I sit by you at the circus in the winter while you took pictures for your grandkids?"

"Yes.  How on earth did you remember that?"

Long silence....

"I have no earthly idea, but nice to see you again.  I'm a little dumbfounded."

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A dear friend of mine explained some things to me over dinner the other evening.  She told me she drew strength from my strength over this year.  Her being such a capable, creative and beautiful person, I took this as an amazing compliment. In our conversation, she observed how she had personally struggled with being down, and was looking for a way out to something better.  She met with a counselor who jarred her into turning from seeing the sadness and moving toward gratitude instead.

I've wondered since our conversation if I had I put this principle intentionally into practice myself during my rough patch.  After consideration, I think I have. From the start of August 23, 2009, I adopted a way to make gratitude a way of living.   I realized fearful, hopeless, or blaming thoughts could get stuck me in the mud, spinning my wheels madly over something or someone I could not change.  So, I began to take the proverb of "No one can change anyone else.  One can only change oneself." to heart.  In fact, I bought myself a ring to replace my wedding band with the Ghandi quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Here's something of the thought life plan I implemented. If I was stuck and finally realized it, I'd identify the feeling.  Next, I'd examine it (if I had the luxury of time) and allow myself to say, "Yes, this hurts.  I'm angry or incredibly sad that I'm in this position."  I understood if I ignored the feeling, that it stayed with me- stuffed waiting like a snake in the bushes to strike at the next person who irritated an already irritable me.  Next, I'd capture the thought each time it came again, and sent it away more and more quickly.  Usually, I prayed for a "what next?" step to take instead.  For example, a thought of one of the participants in the demise of my marriage would haunt and I'd find myself trapped in "what I'd tell them if..." I'd take time to get to the bottom of the feeling, sad, mad, hurt and allow myself to feel it, "Is this what you wanted for me God?  Do these people not understand what they have wrought with their hands?  I am angry for what they have done to me personally. How could..." Eventually, I'd realize how no good fruit could come of the thought, much less the action, and I'd say, "God, what should I work on next?".    The answers were simple, "True, cull your all your stuff.  Everything you keep will be something you'll have to care for besides your children.  Things all need attention and these precious people will need all you've got."  This was a big work,  a long work, consuming....daunting at times. I goodwilled a googob of boxes, bags, and sold precious books thinking of a simple life with my children in the center.  This active process took my mind quickly from revenge toward creating my own beautiful life. 

When I've found myself down, I'll journal new things I wish to make of my life, or I'll return to previous notes I've made and work toward them.  It's a way to be active for my own good.  So, in a way, I set myself toward the positive, which I believe is related toward gratitude.

I am so very grateful for all that I am and have.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Crash Course in Compassion

So, this year has put me through a crash course in compassion.

There are many reasons haven't talked or blogged at all about my divorce.  One has been simply the embarassment of it all.  I heard many a version of "I saw that comin'" which only brought me greater pain than I was already experiencing.  I needed to hear at times, because it clued me into the depth of the issues.  Other times, I took the snide remarks concerning Buck as hurtful personal insults though I kept it all to myself.  I wanted nothing to do with bitterness which is where any amount of Buck bashing would have led.  I've found myself encouraging him in genuine ways instead, because divorce is such an ugly, harsh thing.  I've found my own encouragement in my faith, and God's grace seems to have been more than sufficient for me...sustaining and ever-present better describe His many gifts to me along the way.  And then there are the precious friends who have always been right alongside me, who never wavered in giving me much needed doses of love, respect, kindness, joy.  

But I've always had a chink in my armor-  I have a big problem with pity.  I loathe self pity. Pitiful people do not bring out the best in me, and I have to work very hard internally to be kind. I suppose I define pitiful people as adults who expect someone to take care of them and all their problems without personal action.  The last thing I'd ever like to be is pitied, and divorce is a swirling cauldron of gossip, blame and worse.  Divorced stay-at-home moms are an ultimate target of pity, "Poor True!  Are you going to have to WORK now and send all those children to the INSTITUTION of school?  Are you going to have to be apart from your children?  How will you make it financially?  Won't you be very lonely?  Can you make it without a husband?  If you are a Christian, why can't you just forgive him and stay married for your children?"  Upon hearing about my news, some well intentioned women felt compelled to explain to me how divorce could never happen to them.  I suppose the women weren't thinking how this shifts blame squarely upon me, as if I'd should been a better wife like them.  I did and still do lots of listening, little talking in these circumstances.  I'd already known for nine years there was no such thing as a fireproof marriage for me.

And I did some serious soul searching, as one might suppose.  I had to find a way out from all that pity to the surface where I could breathe.  From the start, I kept much to myself to stop all the chatter and suggestion for my life. Only with three friends and Jesus could and would I explore the depths of the "why me? and how?".   It has truly been enough to show me a clear path to my very own beautiful life.  No time or room for self pity.

In my examination of pity, I stumbled upon compassion.  I wondered why compassion seemed to work for me.  It certainly did not not leave the same bitter taste in my mouth.  Was it the element of sympathy or empathy at play which makes compassion something I'll allow for myself?  One day I posed the question to God who was faithful to answer.  The root of pity is paternalistic..."I'm in a better place than you that I'll never have to visit, and I feel sorry for you".  The root of compassion is community plus passion....:"let me walk beside you in community and have the same passion for your pain".  In pity, I am the lesser.  In compassion, I am an equal.  I felt tons lighter with this revelation. I've known and still know the comfort of dear friends, especially my friendship with Jesus, walking beside me in my difficult circumstance, acknowledging the injustice done to me, encouraging me toward strength, not dehumanizing Buck or minimizing my pain to reassure themselves.  What a gift.  I strive toward this gift for others instead.  May it be the work of us all.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


After a year of keeping things under wraps here on my blog, I wonder if it's time to be more open.  Monday was the one year anniversary of the day the wheels fell completely off the old painted wagon of my twenty-one year marriage.   That day, I had to decide between looking square at myself with dignity each morning in the mirror, or sucking it up, again, and finding a way to live without having the value of a full fledged human being.  I'd already lived through humiliation and horror for all the years before, and for me, I couldn't imagine staying with something even God Himself gave permission for me to let go.

One cannot fathom the circumstances, weeping, and counseling which would lead a woman of faith like myself to choose divorce.  I'll spare you the details; some are simply unspeakable.

Though it was right and good for me to divorce, I know the worst of it always lands smack dab on children.  My boys and girl have been no exception.  I have never bought the idea that children are resilient, and I get hoppin' mad when people suggest such a thing. Divorce is damaging every. single. time. My three young men have struggled with their idea of a biblical manhood being shoved over a  rocky cliff and shattered into a million little pieces.  I've watched my oldest change from wide-eyed and hopeful to cynical and somewhat jaded.  He's going to have to shelve all he once knew and find a faith of his very own amidst deep pain.  My middle son with attachment issues has jumped off the deep end and gone places I'd always feared.  Imagine the fragmentation of one family, and then a second. My youngest son holds it all in and explodes likes fireworks on the fourth of July on rare occasions.  My daughter desperately wants one thing- parents who genuinely love one another in every way...something she'll never have. What did any child of mine ever do to deserve having his or her world torn asunder, only to watch while the two formative adults in their lives tape broken hearts and lives into separate pieces?  It's incredibly unfair and utterly disorienting.

Of course, being who I am, I have not done things the normal way 'round in hope and prayer.  Though it sounds absurd, I was so glad to have TV Jon and Kate providing a way for me to think outside of the box.  Jon and Kate made a permanent residence for their eight kids, so the children would have a HOME while the parents moved in and out themselves for visitation.  Buck and I struck an agreement to provide something less Hollywood for our children under strict guidelines.  Buck lives in an apartment in my new house, and we share parenting as our work schedules dictate. 

I've lived in a state of grace this year.  God has faithfully whispered His Will to me as I intently listened, and  He has provided all I have needed.  Buck and I are daily respectful of one another. We seek family counseling.  The cooperation between us has lead many to question the sincerity of my divorce.  Make no mistake. Just because I will not undermine the father of my children, I am divorced and have no intention of reconciliation. If anyone besides my children hopes or thinks otherwise, it is heaping insult to injury to me, and I will have none of it.

Now that I've come out with the story behind the story of the new mosaic of my life, perhaps I'll share more.  I have walked the road less taken of kindness and compassion in a world where revenge is the well traveled lane.  Perhaps I can lead others toward a better path. Who knows?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Things I've forgotten

1.  Dogs eat poop.
2.  Puppies don't sleep through the night, just like babies.
3.  Puppies need to be taken outside a million times a day and night for potty training.
4.  Puppies don't naturally match your pace when running.  They must be trained to heel.
5. Puppies lick everything.
6.  Puppies chew everything.
7.  Puppies want constant attention.
8.  Dogs look dead when they sleep.

It's quite alright that I'd forgotten these things.  Just makes me remember baby days with my children and be thankful for the conclusion.  I'm altogether grateful for my new dog.

Hagrid is a gift.  While some dogs are hyper, this one is docile and obedient with a sweet disposition.  He's definitely not the alpha.  Hagrid is a rescue 4 or 5 month old laberdoodle- something my children insisted would never be found, "Mom, it is a designer dog.  Why would anyone abandon a laberdoodle?"  I faithfully quoted, "God will give me just the dog I need without having to buy one from a dog dealer for lots of money. I expect a dog will walk right up to our front door.  That way I'll know it's mine."  It didn't happen just like that, but he did come from a rescue.

I am already in love and won't take for granted my loyal friend.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oh, my. I have time to sit down and blog for the first time in a long while.  What shall I say?  How about what pops into my head? 

My garden.  I have the most lovely garden beds here at Clifford.  I've harvested a blue million tomatoes and zinnias, my favorites.  I've placed vases of brightly colored flowers on every available surface and given away several boquets.  I've made fried green tomatoes approximately twenty times for whomever stops by and for a few of my children who appreciate the finer things in life.  I've cooked squash and green beans a few times. I've used my basil and oregano in homemade spaghetti sauce. I haven't needed to purchase a single bell pepper since May.  I gave away my first eggplant of the season today.  I've included a sunflower in an arrangement this week.  The only thing left is to harvest and consume some of the hot pepper Tater wanted me to plant.  Two things I planted this year have failed- lavendar and thyme.  I suppose I didn't put them in the right location and will try again next spring.  Overall, I am pleased and proud of my gardening endeavors this year since transitioning from farm life. 

My washer.  I had a snazzy Maytag Neptune for which we'd paid a pretty penny which marked my clothes with black stains and actually ripped fabric.  When we paid a repairman $100 to look at it, he gave no good advice on how to fix it and as a bonus, told us our dryer was done. Kaput. Finito.  So, I invested a ton of cash in an gorgeous LG washer.  The only it doesn't do is go to my children's room to collect the dirty laundry and load itself.  Rats! I'm still the laundry slave after all, but the results are much more promising these days than rips and streaks after washing.

My work.  I'm very much enjoying my job as a wrangler of truck drivers.  I've gotten to know many by voice and face, and I've seen them come around to actually considering hours of service instead of ignoring regulations.  Occasionally, we run into a mean old cuss, but I'm surrounded by people willing to help when I'm in over my head. It's an occupation where I really do feel like I can make a difference. 

My children.  I hit a terribly rough patch with my boys, but I'm starting to see some light.  Peace went to cross country camp and on vacation and returned a much happier human being.  I realized he'd couldn't get relief from the same issues I struggle with without just plain getting away.  I'm going to be sure to make space for that always.  He's working in a neighborhood grocery store and on pulling himself together to make Eagle in Scouts.  Wise One turned the corner back to a positive place after one night of yelling out during a family meeting, "I hate it here.  I'm going to find somewhere else to live!"  He walked out the door into the rain.   When he got tired of the rain he went to Pooh Bear's vaulting shed and went to sleep on her practice barrel for a few hours.  He came in with a sheepish grin on his face.  A few days later, he told me he was thinking of moving to Chicago when he stormed out that night, but he didn't really know anyone there.  He wasn't sure how he'd live.  I told him if he ever needed to run away, he might pick somewhere like Grandma's 'cause she'd let him sleep in a bed and feed him.  We both laughed good hard belly laughs during that conversation.  Today Wise One is rock climbing in the Obed with his best friend.  I can't begin to express how much I love that young man.  Tater is another story.  It seems everything we worked for in counseling and therapeutic parenting has vanished and for me, he's an all out kid suffering with RAD. He practically drips with anger and mistrust of me.  I'm not surprised given our circumstances, but I'd hoped and prayed for better.  My support people and my soul are telling me it's too much.  I'm looking for what might work as always, and holding on for a terribly bumpy ride.  Pooh Bear is in a very good place with me.  We are hang out buddies who cook, clean, shop, kick back, read, and play together. It's so very lovely to have a nine year old who adores me and whom I adore.

My Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  I'm an so very happy to say the new church I'm attending is allowing me to train adults this summer to begin atrium in the fall.  I struggle with giving up teaching in Atlanta and getting together for continuing formation of my own with other catechists, but maybe these things will come again one day. I know when training adults this week, I felt that peace that comes with the prepared environment which beckons the Holy Spirit.

Highlights of late.  I held a birthday party celebration for a friend here. We shared a meal and stories in honor of Angel for an evening.  A delightful blogger whom I hope to get to know better someday attended.  Pooh Bear ate with family at my favorite restaurant on earth, swan in the ocean, visited Raymond's new diggs, and completely enjoyed the foot-stomping Flemenco dancers at Columbia in Florida.  I went shopping last weekend and found some pretties with Slesa.  Piper and a few of her children spent the night, and words can't express how much her friendship means to me.  Claire, Meredith Lee, Lizbeth, and Jo continue to be big supporters of me.  I couldn't ask for more.

There is a challenging event on queue this week, but it'll be over soon enough.  Still need to sell the farm.  Can't wait to sell the farm.  It will close some necessary doors for me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sometimes I sit around thinking about stars.  I  go outside at night, especially in the heat of summer just to look at the shimmery night sky.  On my farm, I'd lay on the front sidewalk after I put the kids to bed and stare up into the heavens waiting for my eyes to adjust, my vision to clear.  Haven't made the time or a way to do that here in the city, but I still walk into the night to see what I can see. What makes stars shine? Did God place those stars in order by speaking?  How can the universe have no end or beginning?  Stars make me happy.  Summer makes me happy. 

Other times I sit around and think about hands.  I ponder the work of the hand and the amazing value of all things handmade.  I consider the amazing task of the fingers.  At church this morning, my daughter held my hand today in her palm and traced the lines inside both of our palms. It seemed our lines matched and I wondered if these lines are the same among most people, or is it our shared DNA?   My mind wandered to gypsies and palm readers during Blue Bear's (she came up with this new name for herself instead of Pooh Bear) examination.  I thought of how hands may show industry or leisure.  I use my hands to drum to songs on the steering wheel and dash as I sing (loudly) in my car.  I intentionally conjure new ways to nudge, beat (nicely), shove my teenage boys to meet their mom touch quota. I rub my little girl's sore back after her long vaulting practice. I make art and write with these digits.  I madly swat mosquitoes I encounter on my evening runs.  Hands are not something to take for granted.  Hands make me happy.

So, today when I following along to a new-to-me song during liturgy: 

Come see His hands and His feet,
The scars that speak of sacrifice;

The next line I stopped singing and hung suspended in full awe.

Hand that flung stars into space

My mind's eye created a beautiful picture of The Christ laughing out loud as he pitched glowing shapes upward into the black like a frisbee or in the manner of a discus thrower.  I wish I'd been there that day!

The next words pierced my very heart.  They were quite unexpected- Happy Jesus now turned somber and willing to submit those same hands which made the beautiful sky to penetrating iron.

To cruel nails surrendered

The cross remains a scene I contemplate over and over again in my brain.  The gift for me bound up in pain.  Awe leads me easily to the place I rarely visit, humility.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Three teenage boys.  Who don't particularly like me.

I can't say I blame them.  It's not easy to live with someone who used to listen well, who used to look out for academic, spiritual and social needs.  Now I'm rushing these young men out the door or shuttling from this practice to that meeting.  And I find myself telling them to pick up, sweep up, or clean up.  I don't have time to listen closely, because I just need things done.  So, I tell them more.  Louder.  I resort the weak or non-parenting strategy of arguing.  Some years ago I realized that too doing too much contributes to an ill temper. So, I cut out the doing and began being present for my children.  Now as a working person, the "being present" has ended, and the ill temper returns.  The teen years are not the best time for a mom to become short.  Nevertheless, I'm working diligently with white knuckles to stay positive at best or at least neutral. If you're the praying kind, I'll take 'em.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Really. Challenging. Week.  But I've made it to Friday and am home enjoying what I'd hope to keep a very simple life and home.  Nothing like explaining and helping my children through real life drama. I expect a call from Jerry Springer any moment, but I promise not to answer the phone. At the end of the day, I feel like justice wins.  It's not always like that, but I will take it when it's offered.
And on a completely different note..

In the ordinary, I am taking a class on parables offered by a gentle teacher.  This week we studied the weeds and the wheat.  It's probably been there all the time for others, but some meaning went deep inside me as we pondered. 

1.  The wheat, God's people, could not withstand to be near the weeds being uprooted and destroyed in the days before harvest.  Somehow, this might destroy the good in us.  Could we bear to see evil ripped away without it hurting us to see it happen?  Wouldn't we question the goodness of the One who made us if we had to watch full on justice?   In His great gentleness, He allows both good and evil to come to harvest and does the sorting in the end. 

2. Sometimes evil and good look so very similar.  IOver time, this similarity will be one day be undone with the bearing of fruit.

3.   This parable shows us suffering is best gone through rather than avoided.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Pooh Bear announced Thursday that she'd removed the all the contents from under her bed, in her closet, and in drawers and had put them in the middle of her floor for me to sort.  I've always helped my children dejunkify a few times a year, but this was the first time a child initiated.  I thanked her and told her I'd get to it when the time was right. Inwardly, I calculated hours of service to the project.  She mentioned, "Mom, there is no room to walk in my room.  Won't you do it now?"
My reply, "Not tonight, Love.  Going to my class.  I'll get to it soon."  Yesterday was the day to get down to it.  I spent six solid hours weeding clothes, hair bows, headbands, jewelery, stuffed animals, barbies, art projects and supplies, books, littlest pet shops, doll clothes, and keepsakes.  I came up with three full trash bags and two rubbermaid containers of give-aways.  She was left with only one rubbermaid box of special toys and some prized stuffed animals given to her as presents.  I'm so proud of how she lets go of things so easily.

Thankfully, it's never been a battle with any of my children.  When they were too little to be willing to part with things, I did cleaning while they were away.  Only once did I make a terrible mistake.  I got rid of a truck that looked like a dinosaur (only to my son, Wise One)- and he loved dinosaurs more than life.  A few years ago, Wise One gave his entire dinosaur collection, kit and kaboodle, to a dear little boys who was astonished at such a great blessing.

I'm proud of my givers.  I think it will serve them well the rest of their lives.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

I warned that these posts would not be in form....but I must write

Patches, the one-eyed cat, passed away yesterday.  For a few weeks he's looked like he was wasting away, and God, in His Great Mercy, let Patches go from any suffering.  Buck found him barely breathing and asked  anyone who wanted said goodbyes though  Peace and Wise One were hiking Mt. LeConte with friends and did not have this chance.  Patches is buried under a new raised garden bed in the back yard.  We wanted even Patches' death to mean new life. 

After the boys returned from their three day hike, we celebrated Derby Day with old friends at Svetlana and Baryshinkov's home.  Applause to Calvin.  Again.

After the party, I found my car had been a victim of a hit-and-run.  Things get broken.  Things get fixed.

This morning at church I could not stop tears when a dear old friend, whom I consider a living and breathing saint, text read scripture.  Before he read he spoke.

"I know commentary is frowned upon during this  part of the liturgy.  But, folks, you really want to listen to this.  It's so good.  You're going to love it."

He proceeded to proclaim from The Revelation as if it were now and today.  The thing which touched me so deeply was that when I read this particular scripture about the Coming of Christ and the elders falling at His Precious Feet in my own studies, I'd always pictured this man in my imagination being of the elders bowing at the throne.  It was a moment of Heaven touching Earth for me personally.

Planted tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, snap dragons, basil, oregano and a white crepe myrtle from Stanley's this afternoon in the raised beds.  Gotta plant bean, squash, and zinnia seeds soon.

And a happy elopement and honeymoon to my sister and her new husband.  Best wishes.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Maybe all my posts will be random from now on...

I edited my life today.  Okay, it was just my bio on a website, but it felt so odd to have an entirely different story now.  Thinking of it as a clean slate, new beginning.  Chin up.  Face toward the sun.  All that. 

This week was the most busy (and happy) week for me.  The company in which I work "like a little mine mule" as my sweetheart of a boss says, bought a program which released all driver safety scores from Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010. We were slammed with drivers wanting to know their rankings.  If you don't know it, the trucking industry is about to change radically in November and further into next year when CSA 2010 goes into full swing.  That is, if it is not postponed again.   Drivers will be ranked next to their peers, and violations will actually appear on their commercial driver's license for the first time ever.  Top violators will be at risk of losing their livelihood right away.  I know because I have watched the Keller CSA 2010 video and given the quiz to drivers. Ten. Thousand. Times.

In case you didn't know this about me, I love, love, love the truck drivers with whom I work.  Their personalities differ like winter snowflakes and every day, they'll surprise me in some new way. On any given morning, I'll get nastily chewed out and brilliantly complimented. Even though I work in the Safety and Compliance Dept., and my main job is crack the whip on violations, my co-worker and I have drivers who have been in the hot seat before and now stop by just to visit.  It's impressive.  Believe me. 

Yesterday, a driver called me to give me the what-for concerning his opinion of an new requirement.  "I'm just going to quit!  I'll bring my keys to you personally and walk away!"  Not sure what I would do with those keys as I couldn't even engage something as dauntingly huge as a cargo haulin' Volvo.  I think this young man actually wanted me to beg him to stay, but owner/operators come and go like trains at Grand Central Station. That's just how it is. 

Today he called and said in the sweetest voice ever, "Hey, Ms. True." 

"Hey, Mr. H.  Did you call to make nice after how mean you were to me yesterday?"  I laughed as I spoke. He did too, "Just called to tell you I sent the paper you asked me to."

"I knew you would, man.  You take care and drive safely. K?"

"You know I will."

Another thing I love about my job is that it changes everyday.  I teach Safety classes, look over logs, call drivers, meet with drivers, pull spread sheets, make new databases, and put together power points.  I blushed one day when I was searching google for "rear end collisions" video clips to illustrate a power point and was banned from a site for "adult content".  My, my, my. 

I also even get to write on occasion. Yup, I love report writing days.  I get to evaluate strategies for effectiveness.  My job in particular keeps me working closely with all departments, because safety touches all issues in some way.  It's such a joy to get to know these folks. 

I work with excellent people who make me laugh all day.  The dispatchers have now begun to give me a hard time for being a Yankee 'cause I'm from Kentucky. They're a bunch of good ole' Tennessee boys.

I just can't believe that I landed plumb in the middle of an unexpected field of lillies with my work and get to play there everyday. How exactly does a former special ed teacher, inner city youth minister, catehcist and stay-at-home mom find the trucking world to be so compelling?  It's a true blue mystery.

Evenings and mornings are spent with my children and their plethora of activities in scouts, church, and sports.  It's tough to squeeze in supper. 


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nothing in particular, really

So, I dug my fingers deep into soil this weekend recovering a flower bed from an invasive hummingbird vine.   I used to like hummingbird vine much like I used to admire morning glories.  Not so much anymore. 

I am surprised at how little I sit down to write these days. I have many thoughts I've considered worthy of writing, but I don't.  I think letters to people, and I don't send them. I've abdicated my computer time to homework projects and my children's Facebook friends. 

My life is nothing like it was last spring at this time.  And I'm ever so glad in some ways. In others, not so much. Unknown awful things were happening to me and mine and those things are no longer on the table; this makes me grateful. I have flower beds not gardens. I have far fewer chores without goats kidding and baby chicks hatching. This does not make me happy, because there is nothing like waking up to fresh new leaping life compared to mundane suburb life.  I'm putting three of my children in day camp this summer, because I'll be working.  No more summer swim team, trips to the Cove, weekday overnights with me.  I hope I treasured those times enough while I had them.  I won't get a vacation until I've worked at this particular job for an entire year.  I suppose I'll just plan to make it a good one when that time rolls around summer next. 

I've prayerfully found a new church for my self. I asked God for thoughts and signs when I found just the right one, and He did not disappoint.  This past week, I met with a pastor and children's minister to talk turkey and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  All looks promising there thanks to the good deed of a friend who put in a good word for me.  It will bring me great joy to have that opportunity again, and it has been one of my most severe losses over the last few months.  Maybe there'll come a day I'll be able to make it my life's full time work, but it's not valued like that in Knoxville as of yet.

Here's something which made me giggle all day yesterday.  I met Helen and her daughter for prom dress shopping.  On the way into the store, I passed a display of Spanx.  It actually crossed my mind that I could just give up trying to fit in exercise and just buy lots of undergarments instead.  What an incredibly goofy thought.

My farm is still for sale, but I gladly have caretakers there, so the land and home are getting the proper love she needs.

Clifford is in good shape.  A few things left I'd like to do like get a porch swing and change the frankenstein sink in my bathroom.

Still enjoying my job though I see big change on the horizon.  What will the future hold there?

I'm sharing much heartbreak in the lives of dear friends lately.  Perhaps it's just the time of life when things start falling to pieces?  Keeps me prayerful, humble, and awake.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

RAD and adoption

Dear friends of mine are featured in a news story today.  The Skeirik's adopted Sier from China some years ago, and the road has been difficult.  I am proud of ABC for publishing this at such a volatile time.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hail Mary, Full of Grace

This week Pooh Bear reminded me that she's cut from the same cloth: she's a feminist.  As we waited for her bus one morning she struck up the following conversation.

"Mom, I wonder why women didn't count in the Bible," she questions.

"What do you mean, Pooh Bear?"  I ask back.

"Well, when the Bible counted people, they didn't count women OR children.  It just doesn't seem fair, like we're not people or something," she ventures.

"Hmm.  Well, we are people aren't we, and we should always be counted, huh," I summarize.


"Yep.  I just filled out our U.S. census, and we're counted now.  You and I both on there fair and square.  It took a long, long time after Bible times for people to let women be counted and even vote. Some countries still don't count women or let them vote.  I love that we have that kind of freedom here now.   The people who wrote the Bible down didn't know any better, but God does. God made girls and loves us."

"Yep.  So, I'm kinda mad about somethin' else.  Why did God have to send a son instead of a daughter?"  she inquired.

"There are only two choices to pick from, and God had to pick one.  I like Jesus pretty well.  In fact, I'm crazy about him.  If God had sent a daughter, I'd have loved her just the same.  I have to say I'm not disappointed, but it's okay if you feel that way though.  You want to feel girls are important, and we are."

"I know," she states in her matter of fact, old soul way.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The thirty minute writing assignment started "Like a fish" but the students were prohibited from using words like swim, water, and wet. Here's what Peace came out with:

Like a fish, I spent my weekend squirming and flopping about from place to place. My parents died in a car accident on the same day I was born. I never knew them. I am, of sorts, different in the head. People have been handing me off to the home of some other person. During the accident my brain got damaged. Dr. Lawson says that I'll never recover. I don't mind though. My brain don't work right. I tend to repeat myself due to short term memory loss. My head got hit in the accident. My memory is not its best. This weekend, I spent like a fish would- flopping around from home to home, because no one wants me. And my parents died.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I didn't realize I'd actually take time to read every weekend now, but it seems to be true for now. I finished, more accurately devoured Jenny Sanford's Staying True last weekend. Her faith and life instruct mine. Nothing like hanging out the laundry, and the fact is that her wash is clean, sparkly white. I admire her commitment to family, deep love and respectful way of letting go. Well done, Jenny.

This weekend Helen lent me her favorite book, The Time Traveler's Wife. Enjoying the story immensely so far.

Anyone have any recommended must reads, so I can have some things on queue?

And in the movie department. Thumbs down to Shutter Island and Precious. Sorry, Martin and Oprah. I wasn't inspired due to predictable yet depressing content.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Hurt Locker? Really?

I rented it Saturday from Redbox to watch with my son, Peace. Last week, Peace told me of his re-emerging interest in the military, so I set out to get that boy a war education by acquiring realistic blood and gut films for him to peruse. I nearly stopped breathing last Sunday when we had a where-are-you-headed-in-life talk and service to our country reappeared on the radar. I love this country. I love our soldiers. I am so grateful every. single. day. for how they put their lives on the line for me, but I'm not interested in this particular son heading to the Air Force unless he can convince me it's a word from God for his life. Just needs to hear the voice of God on it- that's all.

While viewing Hurt Locker Saturday, I spent the entire time in agony over the risks. I sucked in my breath and let it out with "Ooh, ohh, ooh. No, no, no, no. Ew, Eeee. Man!" the entire time the movie was on the screen. Imagine me thinking in the back of my head about my son in the risky positions of the characters.

And what to do with my own personal anti-gun and anti-war thoughts?

I think I won't worry about this today, and see where time takes us all. I mean, it can all change in a moment anyway.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm writing a story, only I didn't know it. I reckon it's not the kind of story which will ever be published. It's the story of my life, and it's such a good story because that's who I am. I've been writing it since I was born.

Thicket Dweller generously gave me a book which I'm now devouring called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. No stones thrown please when I say I did not go crazy for his Blue Like Jazz, but this book is about a million miles and a thousand years better for me. In Million, Donald mentions his previous lack of direction, and perhaps I caught onto that rather the snippets which vaulted his Blue to such fame. Makes me wonder if random and ADD weren't so darn popular these days, if Blue could have hit any printing press. Anyhow, all is forgiven as I fall head over heels into Million.

Here's the quote which sunk smack into my soul this morning, but first, let me set it up. Donald describes how a buddy of his, a dad, started living a better story in order to woo his teenage daughter back from a bad boyfriend. The dad took out a second mortgage and started building an orphanage in Mexico after finding poverty in the thoughtless way he'd been living. The daughter asked the dad if her family could go to Mexico together and take pictures in order to involve other people. And she dumps the jerk.

No girl who plays the role of a hero dates a guy who uses her. She knows who she is. She just forgot for a little while.

I haven't forgotten who I am, but I'm encouraged to be the hero of my own novel. Hope it ends well. Though my plot has changed drastically these last six months, I'm working towards the best possible conclusion at the end of the days God gives me. Right now the outcome looks much less like a Nicholas Sparks book and more like Come be my Light, but it's all good.

Dispatch from a Log Dog

In my new position at work, I have a variety of interesting tasks to do each day. My coworker, Puddin', is great, great, great at handling all our data. Even more importantly, she works well with people, drivers in particular. I think we've become quite a team. Our sweetheart of a boss had a sketch of two bird dogs hung in our office, and I mentioned how very apropos. Puddin' and I set to the task of sniffing out violations and are now known together as the log dogs.

Anyhow, yesterday we watched something painfully beautiful. One of our oldest drivers needed to come in, and he didn't recognize office staff he should have known. Though he's something of an old codger, he was handled gingerly. He was given a hotel room though his truck is his home, taken out for a big lunch, escorted personally by an extremely kind owner to the physician and disqualified temporarily from service until he could get home and get more help. The company found a couple of married drivers to drive his truck home for him. This man was treated with kindness and dignity through what must be a most difficult time for him. I am so proud and impressed with my company. I imagine other truck liners might have handled the situation much differently throwing around ugly words involving liability and termination. Instead, our man received the best from each person he encountered. Makes my heart sing and cry at the same time.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

I have the sweetest sweet peas of children. I might not be saying so tomorrow, so I figure I better blog this while I feel it. Remember, I've got three real teenage boys and something of a spicy little girl. Here's the why behind my sweet thoughts today.

Claudette the Chicken was hand-raised from a chick by us in her own personal little single clutch of humans. She became a true pet more than a valuable hen, as I can't remember the last time she actually laid an egg. The kids would wildly swing on the swing-set with her in their laps and walk around with her perched on their heads. When we moved from the farm, friends sold us a red barn chicken tractor to match Clifford perfectly which became Claudette's new home in the city, all at Pooh Bear's request.

Here comes the sad part. Claudette was completely enclosed and safe in her abode, I thought. However, we were working on a fence and only the gates hadn't been installed when the crazy (I'm told but have never met her) neighbor's dogs somehow violently liberated our pet from her house, and you can guess what happened next. What's worse, is that Pooh Bear came home from school found the dogs and Claudette being eaten in progress.

Pooh Bear fell to pieces as you might imagine. She informed me that she would ask her second grade teacher to exempt her from any upcoming chicken projects at school. I asked Pooh Bear, "Exactly how many chicken related work is coming up next in class?"

Pooh Bear replied, "I have no idea, but just in case, I'm telling Ms. Long that I shouldn't have to do any of them. It will make me too sad."

As her brothers heard the news, they were also grieved. Claudette represented a significant part of their childhood and the loss of our farm life. I watched in awe as Peace offered Pooh Bear the rest of his beloved cat, Patches.

This sacrifice may not make sense to anyone but me, so let me explain. Peace's best friend is Patches. Patches came to him as a child via a lady at our church, Francis. Francis auditioned Peace to see that he would make an appropriate pet owner for her very fat and sassy "stray". Upon Peace and Patches first meeting, Patches rolled to his back and let Peace stroke his belly which made Francis gasp, "It took that cat a year to trust me like that!" It was love at first sight.

When we were selling the goats, baby goats, chickens, dogs, Pooh Bear and I cried together as each precious beast made it's way down our driveway and out of sight.
Peace found us sobbing after Ripley and Sarah had departed and responded with compassion, "Pooh Bear, I'll share Patches with you. He can be half yours and half mine."

I asked, "Pooh Bear, which half would you like? The front or the back? I highly recommend the front!" Peace and Pooh Bear sealed the deal that he'd clean the litter (oh, how I wish this were true), and she would do the feeding which seemed to so lighten the mood, and they would both be proud owners of a one-eyed, one-toothed geriatric cat.

So when Claudette passed away, Peace's tender response to Pooh Bear's heartache touched me deeply. I so pray Peace's generosity and kindness grows and spreads to make this world a better place.

Pooh Bear's friend also offered to give her a pretty new hen named Pudgy when we are ready. What a blessing.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Is God Big Enough?

It's so sweet. People worry about me. When I call with a need, folks lay down their lives on a moment's notice and take up my cause. These people are the hands, feet, ears, voices of Jesus to me, and I am so grateful. I am overwhelmed with the generosity and kindness of mankind and God Himself. So, I don't want anyone to fret about what I'm about to write. It's just my feelings at this time.

I always thought I was so busy in my former life, and I was. I took Tater to football, attended Peace's cross country meets, made sure Wise One got friend time, and played lots of Uno with Pooh Bear. While I still do these things and work, it's in a much smaller window than I'd ever dreamed, and I hope and pray it's enough. Having three determined teen boys and a strong-willed, beautiful little girl in the house feels like the perfect storm at times. I ask myself frequently, "Is God big enough to take on these broken hearts?" My head says,"Yes", but I admit that my heart has doubts. This is especially true when my oldest states with all honesty, "The only thing I want, I'll never have." I wonder if I'm selfish and sacrificing my children at some level for simply wanting dignity following a tragedy. It's a terrifying thought. This is where I try to lean into the knowledge that God is quite big enough to cover me and all my mistakes.

I determined when I was twenty-two or so to have a life so well-lived that I'd never have regrets. I naively thought I could make it happen, but then life hit like a hundred ton steam train screeching off the tracks. I have regrets stacked like red bricks around an untended secret garden. I promise I don't look at them and agonize all the time. In fact, I'm learning to let go, really let go and move on. I can't tell you how many times when a new horrible consequence pops up, I answer the question of a concerned friend, "How are you doing after..." I say, "It's not happening right now, so I'm fine." Kinda like Scarlet O'Hara saying, "I'll think about that another day" but really meaning it. I just don't want more bricks of regret in my stack if I can help it. It's not easy watching my children suffer from my choices- though they may be very healthy choices for me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This morning I woke for my morning prayers. I found myself approaching God with an an agenda, my agenda, and of course, it wasn't going well. I felt like I was trying to force God to answer me without being willing to listen. How would that ever work? So, I laid my thoughts aside and struggled just to be, just to remain in the Healing Presence. Man, I must have some big issues under all the junk on my brain, but apparently I'm not ready to deal.

I'm currently wrestling with the fine line between disappointment, mourning and resentment. I am stumped about what constitutes resentment. Wouldn't it include feelings of revenge or getting in a jab? I just don't have that in me. or at least I believe I don't. Hurting someone else in my own pain doesn't make sense. However, I was born with an unsinkable sense of justice, and I worry I hide resentment under the guise of healthy boundaries taking form in the wide-legged stance of "Don't tread on me."

If you have any thoughts or stories on resentment, I'd like you to share. I'm looking for clarity.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Beginnings Again

I feel like such a big girl now. I worked a forty hour work week for the first time since before the personal cell phone came into fashion. Everyday I dress up like a grown up, get the kids up and on a school bus, and drive ten minutes tops to an office. I pull records, make phone calls, invite folks into to sit down beside me and talk about truck driving. Do you think the drivers know that I have never been behind the wheel of an eighteen wheeler? Oh, yeah. It's obvious, but I have learned some new things about another world I'd never known this week. It's like Avatar for me on so many levels. I put on my Avatar trucking self, by the way which I think will be named Catfish (wink to Kayce), and explore a brand new culture. Drivers are from all walks of life, and I have a new respect for the smarts it takes to drive safely and wisely. These people work so hard and so long away from home for long stretches of time.

Now onto the home front.

My children are quite into the school routine now after 2 1/2 months, even the two who never set foot inside a public school before. I am so grateful I did not have to spit them into the system the day I got a job, because no routine would have been established. The timing on finding work is impeccably God's. I squeezed in an entire Christmas season before employment with my young 'uns as well. I will try to look back on the treasure of sixteen years at home with joy instead of dwelling on the abrupt, unplanned end. It's a force of sheer will for me not to nit pick all the things I do not appreciate concerning the disservices done to children sometimes in an institution. I advocate and work hard to keep a positive attitude instead. Time home and homeschooling has been a sweet ride, and I've been one lucky woman to have had it.

Clifford is a perfectly beautiful home now. The blessings and handyman skilz of Andy, Buddy, Jack, and Don have created showers, kitchens, closets, walls where none had been before. I and an army of friends have covered the walls in paint with more colors than present in a rainbow. I look forward at to spring and creating a new truevyne garden. Stop on by for dinner if you're close.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I am loving my new job. It's such an answer to prayer for me. It includes things like:

cultural diversity
challenging work
helping sometimes reluctant people
great hours
good pay and benefits

I especially like that the two people I work closest with love to laugh.

I'm looking for a CB handle for myself. Any suggestions? It has to be trucker savvy.

Life is good.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Starting a full time job tomorrow. I haven't held a job in literally sixteen years, besides being a trainer for CGS and writing. Though even I couldn't be more surprised, I'll be working in the trucking industry helping with driving logs. I think it will be interesting. Maybe some good blog tales may come of it.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Fifth Season by Frederick Ohler

For four seasons
and all the cycles within them
within us and without us
for periods, tides, phases
for birth and growth and decline and death
thank You, God.
To live is to have rhythm
and time is the signature on all Your compositions.

Forgive us that
too often we fight against the rhythm
trying to be twenty when we’re fifty,
craving adulthood when we're still children
coveting summer when it’s winter,
detesting the heat when it’s July,
too often unwilling
to let go and let You be
in. Your good time.

Forgive us no less when we worship Chronos,
cower before clocks
schedule surprises
and tick our lives to death.

We are not Canaanites, we are Christians
and for us there is a fifth season.
You became flesh
that flesh might become You.
Love invaded time
and love is the fifth season
not bound by daylight time
or standard time
or Pacific time
or troubled time
or any time.
always seasoned, always seasoning
as old as ‘in the beginning’
as permanent as forever,
as new
as now
as possible as Christ.
Make Him possible in us.

This is my prayer for the New Year. Would you like to join me?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Peace turns 16 tomorrow. Um, really? Someone find the brakes and put them on time. Fast.

We're celebrating Pooh Bear's birthday instead with a huge little girl birthday party. Hardly seems fair.

Attended my usual DeLo New Year's Eve party. I can't remember laughing so long and so hard in a very long time. Something to do with that crazy SNL skit about the woman with baby hands on Lawrence Welk and Helen's dance moves to "Don't Stop Believin'". She totally rocked it. Picture a serious expression, full body sway, jerking head, and dramatic arm waving during "up and down the boulevard". Then there was the overheard comment during our slam dance to the Ramones about what that kind of dancing does to women's bodies who have given birth too many times.

I'm seriously looking for a job in Knoxville. Call me with leads in town friends.
Tough time to enter the job market after sixteen years of stay-at-home momness.