Stop the striving …

My sweet Glory is getting ready to pack up her vehicle and move her boyfriend to Texas to live with her.
Five years ago, I would have been sorely disappointed.
Ten years ago, I would have been devastated.

But, I am a different person today than I was five or ten years ago.
Divorce has been so good for me.

In a conversation with a friend last night, I was asked how I felt about this move.
Without hesitation, I replied, “I’m okay with it.”

At the end of every Super Soul Sunday interview, Oprah ends her conversation with this marvelous question

“What do you know for sure?”

I am still blown away by the question.
If there IS one thing that I KNOW for sure,
it’s that I really don’t know much of anything for sure.

Through divorce, I lost all those crazy dreams of things that may never happen
… those dreams that you hold on to because you want them to come true.
I used to be so hopeful. But, my hopes hung on ideals and expectations.

Oh, what joy and freedom
to just live …
in the here and now
not waiting for
hoping for
or praying for something
bigger, better, faster, stronger, safer, richer ….
just be.
today.
here.
now. 

Life is a journey ... not a destination. - Emmerson

What DO I know for sure?
I know that life is full of lessons.
And it is a gift that we go through struggles.

I’ve noticed a recurring theme in the answers given to Brandon on the Humans of New York webpage. When asked about regrets, we often make decisions on how to live our lives according to the things we have seen others do. We decide we won’t spank our children, because our parents were too aggressive with spankings. Or we choose to indulge in grand vacations, because our parents never took us away from home. Or we decide to let our kids eat whatever they desire, because we were forced to eat green things and we still hate them.

Click here for a perfect example.  This woman said, “”My mom died the week she was supposed to retire. I think she died of sheer exhaustion. So I decided I was going to live my life in the present, and not focus on money. I just wanted to know myself and live life accordingly. I never thought about the future. So I find myself, at my age, having to focus on money.”

Here’s another.   ““My dad was a Latin musician, so I rebelled against that and chose rock and roll. So I wanted to be careful not to try to force my interests on my son, because then he’d go the other direction.”

This man  is living his life in a way that makes sure that his son has a better life than he did.

Here’s the thing; there are no guarantees. Going left may keep you from the trouble you see on the right, but you don’t know what struggle is around the bend, over the hill or just out of sight …. down the path leading from the left fork.

My daughter is moving her boyfriend into her apartment half way across this nation to live with her. Am I okay with it? Absolutely. You know why? Because, she’s a grown woman. There are lots of roads to be taken. Hers is not mine to travel. And hers is not even mine to direct. I could plan out her life making my decisions according to what I did right or wrong, what I should have done or what my parents did or didn’t do … and in the end, her life could still be a total wreck. Her life may or may not be what I expected for her when I was planning or directing. Most importantly, it certainly wouldn’t be a fulfillment of her vision for her life.

I have had the firsthand experience of watching a parent turn their back on a child because a child said something that hurt their feelings. The words spoken were foolish, but the fact is ….. a child spoke them. I’ve seen parents turn away from children for their actions. We all do things that don’t please others. If I please you today with my words, surely they will offend someone else. It’s all part of life.

My dream today for my children like my dream for myself ; just be. Drop the expectations. Leave behind the struggles of what should or shouldn’t happen. Forget about that hokey movie-script life. Even the people who LOOK like they have it all together …. simply have a well-constructed facade. There is no perfect life.

Of course, I pray, hope and dream that my children love God and obey Him …
but just like He does for each one of us,
He’ll deal with them on own His time
in the areas that He chooses
in the way, timing and order that He chooses.
It’s not my job to step in and snatch His job from His hands.
What a joy! It’s not my job anymore.
Because if I look back over my life …. I’ve made some really big messes.
Here is one thing I can say I know for sure; it’s a good thing
that I’m not perpetually in charge of anyone
except myself.

In a few days, I’ll watch Glory drive out of the driveway to begin a new chapter in her adventure book. She has a wonderful boyfriend who adores her. He even embraces her feisty spirit!  I see how comfortable she is with him. I see them thoroughly enjoy each other. They appear to be a good fit.

Yet, they will have bumps in the road. They will hit struggles. But, the life is theirs to live. I’m not willing to let my ideals and expectations get in the way of loving her and remaining in sweet fellowship with her.

What I know for sure is
people and relationships are more important than ideals and expectations.

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I can take it

I was in the kitchen emptying the dish drainer when I heard the familiar movement yesterday afternoon.
The handle turned, the hinges silently allowed the door to glide open as the solid plank of hardwood slid from the tight frame.

“Hiiigghhhhheeeeee” I sang. “How are you?”
My song was met with silence
. footsteps .
… then an exhausted “fine.”

My youngest is like my oldest – a die-hard introvert.
At the end of a school day, I know she is drained
by being under authority, beside living bodies and immersed in noise.
Today was no exception.

She began with an accusation that I called her principal that morning.
I had, in fact, spoken with her principal … a good three weeks earlier,
but not that morning, I defended.
Next? “Would you fill my cup with water?”
I didn’t know WHAT cup she was asking me to fill.
Her water “bottle” was on the counter and dirty.
I needed clarification and she balked.
And as is her standard, she did not add “please.”
As I stepped into the adjacent utility room,
I emptied fluffy, fresh towels from the dryer,
she emptied her backpack and
we both filled with frustration.
I think I then reminded her that she had neglected to order a Kindle book for school.
I moved back to the kitchen to finish popcorn that I was preparing for a snack.
I believe I was defending why the refrigerator was in the middle of the kitchen floor
when I began to prepare to melt butter for the popcorn.
“NO. Butter can’t go in a bowl!”
She wanted me to microwave-melt the butter in a coffee mug … her preferred method.
My hands went in the air – truce style – and I said, “That’s it. I’m done.”
I verbally listed the contentious topics of our ten minute conversation,
I told her she could finish the popcorn
and I went back to my sewing project.
Yes. Those are bird feathers on the floor beside the bird cage. And I didn't edit them out ... because real life is rarely neat and tidy to view.

I was thankful that I did the right thing.
I set a boundary.
This is new for me.
For decades, I have let someone else make all the decisions
about how they should treat me.
I didn’t get angry or hurt.
I set a boundary.
And I walked away.
I did well.

……

This morning, when I saw this HONY post, I could relate to this woman.

She is a director at a children’s refuge center in South Sudan. She told Brandon about the children’s backgrounds. She said, “Many of them were malnourished, abandoned, or regularly sexually abused. Some of them have witnessed extreme violence.” Then she said, “Often their trauma is so bad, that when the children first arrive, they can be very hateful toward me. But I feel blessed by the hate. Because I know it’s part of the healing process. And if they need someone to hate so that they can heal, I’m glad it can be me.”
Isn’t that beautiful? She does not expect to be appreciated. She does not require that she is respected.

She understands that … hurting people … sometimes hurt others.

Please don’t be misled. I am not relating my daughter’s struggles with those of these children. I am relating my parenting to the mentoring of this beautiful woman.
I k.n.o.w that my child has not lived the life of these children who are growing up in dire, dangerous circumstances. Our struggles here pale in any form of comparison.
But, everybody on earth has struggles. And we each have to learn to work through our hurts.

From the most tragic situations of terror
to the simple, growing pangs of my teen,
people need unconditional love to heal from their personal wounds.
They need to know they won’t be pushed away
when their healing is messy and uncomfortable.

I parent alone. Parenting alone is one of the hardest parts of divorce for me.
Glory doesn’t live at home any longer and James is not home very much.
So, life is Joy.and.me.
Sometimes it’s … NO …. often it is difficult to absorb all the blows
that parenting dishes out
and make all the decisions that must be made.
I’m thankful that God gives me the stamina to stand.
And I’m thankful for His direction daily ….
His altering of my perspective.

In thinking about yesterday, I have realized
that I neglected something important in yesterday’s interaction.
Before I walked away,
I should have brought awareness to the conversation.
I should have said,
“Ya know, I understand that you’re probably tired. I know that you’re hungry. And I realize that you may even be angry because I talked to the principal about a topic that you and I struggle over. But, I’m on your team. I am for you, not against you. I love you and always want the best for you. So, I’m going to step away and give you some space.”

That is what I should have done.

I’ve heard people talk about becoming paralyzed
by perfectionism.
Sometimes, trying to do “the best” you can
gets in the way of just doing good.
In this case, I think a “good” response
got in the way of the best response.
But, another saying I like fits in this case;

Do the best you can until you know better.
Then when you know better, do better. – Maya Angelou

I am thankful for the stamina
and that I am here – albeit alone – to absorb the blows.
Next time, I hope I do better.

Makes Me Happy Monday : Snow Memories

Parts of the south froze over last week without the joy of snow to make it feel worthwhile.
But, Augusta enjoyed a few inches.

Our Our city and county, much smaller, of course, than the metropolis of Atlanta, planned ahead and told us Monday that schools would close on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday was an extra gift.
So, for three days, our city sat still …
Children laughed and ran about in yards, on sidewalks and at our park where there is a slight little hill that at least offers a toddler an enjoyable quick slide on a make-shift sled.

Yes, my kids were the ones that were loud and outside at 10:30pm throwing snowballs on Tuesday night.

Accumulation

My two introverts (oldest and youngest) played outside a bit on Tuesday,
but huddled inside for most of the rest of their break.

Snowball, anyone? But, this girl ^ would have none of that.
My more extroverted, middle child decided to play outside off and on all day Wednesday.
She made snowballs and threw them at anyone who dared venture out of the house.

Snow happy

She made pretty little snowgirl.

Glory and her Snowman

In fact, she crafted several snowmen around the yard.
Making a second snowman

It brought me such joy to see her really play …. with her 22-year-old self.

Glory's snowman

Right after ^ this photo, her sweet little snowgirl came apart. The snow was so light and fluffy that it didn’t pack well.
Alas, we enjoyed her in pieces for the next few days.

Oops. Snowball parts

All that is left of her now is a memory.

Snowman remnants

But, memories are sweet and to be treasured.
We enjoyed almost a full week of homemade chocolate with real whipped cream,
damp hats, gloves and shoes drying by the fireplace
and warm homemade soups and chowders.

Chicken and dumplings

Everybody in the family was in the same home
and there was laughter and joy.
Our week was Snow Much Fun!
Yes, snow memories from last week make me happy!
What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?

“STOP YELLING AT ME!”

In the course of any given day,
and probably at least once a week
possibly for months,
Joy would find a reason to raise her voice in irritation
and firmly command,  “STOP YELLING AT ME.”
This would accompany an about-face
as she turned to walk out of the room
and stomp down the hall.
A few times, there was a door slam
but that stopped quickly as I assured her,
“One more time and your door comes off the hinges
and sits in the hall for a week.”
She wouldn’t be the first girl in this house who was offered that furniture arrangement.

The conversations very well could have been about how eggs make her stomach queasy,
but at some point, she would feel she was being attacked and she would retreat.
Keep in mind, it doesn’t take much for her to feel attacked.
“You just don’t like eggs,” sounds like
“You’re being picky. Eat what I give you and I will like you.”
“You need to pull up your pants. I can see your underwear” becomes
“I don’t like the way you dress, so I don’t like you.”
“You HAVE to get the trash cans out on the street tonight” is
“YOU are failing at your chores, so you are a failure.”
Something as simple as, “Please go wash your hands,” could make her feel jabbed.

And, ya know what? I get it.
I’ve heard those same voices.
In fact, they . probably . have . the . same . roots . and . origin.
Joy
The thing is, I almost never, ever raise my voice.
It’s in my blood to be loud … but not when I get angry.
When James and Glory were young and Joy was a toddler,
I would find that I would yell …. simply explode upon everyone.
After refraining from caffeine for two years of nursing,
it was the reintroduction of chocolate after weaning Joy that helped me
put a finger my chocolate allergy.
It was that reintroduction to chocolate that illuminated
that mocha was the catalyst for those frightful eruptions.
But, when they were happening, I had not made the connection.
I had to use pure self-control to stop my outbursts
lest I leave my children verbally wounded and emotionally bleeding.
I learned to pay attention to my physical cues (because I had a physical reaction to chocolate)
and intentionally whisper when I became angry.
So, I don’t struggle with YELLING at my kids any more (because I don’t eat chocolate).
More than once, Glory assured her, “Oh, girl. Mom isn’t yelling.
Trust me on that one. You don’t remember what is sounds like when mom re.a.l.l.y yells.”
Joy just F.E.L.T  like I was yelling.
But, the Lord gently reminds me of the quote that I have heard over and over
during the past few years ; It isn’t what you say or do, it’s how you make them feel.

Joy has felt a great deal of rejection that has injured her in ways that
only she will be able to unravel, examine and knit back together into a healthy tapestry.
That rejection, coupled with her Introverted soul, has caused her to be
much more hard on herself than anyone that remains in this house has ever been towards her.
So, the smallest glance of displeasure or word that isn’t complimentary
can wound her in ways that it never would have hurt my other two children at age fourteen
because our family life was much different.
The older two were strengthened by the security of being home for school …
not protected from harm or injury …. not secluded and sheltered,
but exposed to life with the support of a teacher who
knew them, loved them and supported them
day in … day out.

Through many difficult afternoons,
Joy and I have had talks about
how you can’t always walk away from tough conversations,
but that we should remove ourselves from friendships that consistently injure our spirit.
We have discussed being disrespectful and what that looks like and sounds like.
We have conceded to the idea that life will always have people who say things that wound us.
Sometimes, those people are strangers … but they can, in fact, be from within your family.

But, one afternoon, we had this wonderful thing happen.
I asked Joy to do something simple that I knew she wouldn’t want to do.
We had a playful banter back and forth that was full of jest
and completely okay with me. It was Avoidance Comedy, I suppose.
At some point she teasingly yelled , “STOP YELLING AT ME!!”
Out of nowhere, I said,
“You mean, ‘STOP SAYING THINGS I DON’T WANT TO HEAR.”

It was a magical moment of revelation. That was it!
When someone says something that she internalizes as critical,
it is LOUD inside her head and SCREAMS inside her tender heart …
and she feels attacked and wounded and raw.
You could say, “That red flower is ugly,”
but if her favorite color is red, it would lance her open wide.
This was a wonderful new understanding.

All of life is a dance, isn’t it?
We learn new steps, figure out the rhythm and the moves
and then the song ends and a new one begins.
I’m thankful for the chance to live with and love upon this girl.
She’s a thinker who ponders and contemplates. She has rich observation skills.
She mulls things over and thinks them through. She’s learning not to be so hard on herself.
And she’s learning that she may HEAR things in her heart
that feel like yelling,
when in fact that are not intended that way.
Just as important as my being careful not to further injure her healing wounds
is that she learns to calm the lions that yell within
and value her own worth, value and beauty … no matter what messages she has heard in the past.

So, we have learned to have fun with the new phrase.
We understand the enormity  of it,
but we all toss back and forth teasingly.
It has become a valid response to most any statement.
“No, I’m not buying dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets” “STOP SAYING THINGS I DON’T WANT TO HEAR”
“Hey. Your car is now out of gas.” “STOP SAYING THINGS I DON’T WANT TO HEAR.”
“Are you using the dryer as a closet now?” “STOP SAYING THINGS I DON’T WANT TO HEAR.”
“Have you finished your homework?” “STOP SAYING THINGS I DON’T WANT TO HEAR.”
“Don’t let the cat out!” “STOP SAYING THINGS I DON’T WANT TO HEAR.”
“Your hair is sticking up.” “STOP SAYING THINGS I DON’T WANT TO HEAR”
“I think I’m catching a cold.” “STOP SAYING THINGS I DON’T WANT TO HEAR.”
or “I really need to go to the bathroom.” “STOP SAYING THINGS I DON’T WANT TO HEAR.”

And, through Joy and like Joy,
I am learning that
the words of other people
don’t need to be internalized.
I don’t need to let every person that crosses my path,
speak into my life and influence my heart.
Because, like I wrote about here,
not all of us were cut out to own an Ice Cream Truck.

A night of Beholding

This bus is the traveling home of Andrew Peterson’s band. My imagination twirls as I think of the stories told, songs written and inspiration that is housed in this building on wheels.

 

Andrew Peterson Concert

 

My youngest and I went … arriving early …
….. before the doors opened at 5:30 ….  before the concert started at 6:30.
There was a line. I was happy to wait.

Concert Line

There was plenty of time to find a good seat, locate the bathrooms and explore the halls. Patterns make me happy … repetition … order …. symmetry. *contented sigh* In a world of cacophony, visual repetition settles my soul.

Pattern & Boots

The sun began to set as we waited. Even the courtyard looked aglow with excitement.

First Prez Courtyard

The Chrismon Trees were beautiful and stately … covered in white and light with emblems representing Christ.
Chrismon

I have been to many concerts through the years. Singer/songwriter musicians move my soul.  Second only to James Taylor, Andrew Peterson is my favorite. His video Dancing in the Mine Fields is one of my all-time-favorite-ever! His line, ” ‘I do’ are the two most famous last words .. the beginning of the end. But, to lose your life for another I’ve heard … is a good place to begin,” feels like a brilliance somewhere deep inside  and moves me every.time.I.hear.it.   He is a storyteller that sings his tales, shares stories and reveals perspective. And his stage was not just dotted but FILLED with talented musicians and lyricists playing mandolins, guitars, a bazouki, keyboards and percussion instruments.

Just a few rows back

So, we sat and listened, Joy and I. We whispered about the instruments, listened to the lines and soaked in the stories in a magnificent way.
First Prez and Andrew Peterson

I find myself jotting down notes when I’m out and about. I pulled out 3×5 cards and scribbled. At one point, Andrew talked about marriage and how people all around him have marriages that are falling apart.  He said about hearing these stories, “I want to run home and hug my wife and bolster my marriage to make it stronger.” It is so encouraging to hear a man declare that he has a desire to fight for a marriage … that it is a noted priority in his life.

Relationships have a priority ranking. The most important relationship is the one that is spiritual … between us and our God. When that one is functioning, we can have a healthy one with our own selves. And when we are strong individuals, we can then offer much to our spouse, our children, our extended family, friends,  neighbors and co-workers.

But, that first relationship … the spiritual one … must be alive and active.

Joy and I spent the night beholding.
We watched talented singers tell stories of love …
love for each other,
love for spouses, children and family
and love for a God
that came to this earth
to make Himself accessible.

Yes, Behold the Lamb of God …
who came into this world to offer us solace in the cacophony,
who wants us to bolster our relationship with Him and those around us.
Behold the Lamb

The Dryer Parable

During our extended dryer illness,
James realized that the dryer that I own and the one that he owns
are nearly the same make and model.
Since he is living at my house right now,
and his dryer had also been making a funny sound in his apartment before moving back home,
he began contemplating using parts from both machines to create a working single model.
He has never worked on a dryer before,
but decided to take a look at it.

And by “take a look at it,” I mean
he googled dryer schematics,
did some heavy research on forums
and began taking both dryers apart.
I’m pretty sure that he spends as much time doing research on a repair
as he does ON the repair, when he dives into the uncharted  territory of a new job.
Disassembled dryer

He made major renovations inside my dryer.
His dryer had two heating coils, but the heat reflective pan wouldn’t work in my dryer.
So, he altered the pan in my dryer to accommodate both coils.
He had to switch out the blower on my dryer
but it vented in the opposite direction of the original.
This required major repositioning of the blower and the venting system.
These are only two of the problems that he explained to me
while the drum of my dryer sat in my kitchen
and I waited for him to finish the job
in his spare time (which is slim).

My dryer drum ... in my kitchen

He got the dryer running.
It worked well …. for a few weeks
before something inside began to make noise again.
Dryer

 

My memory is sketchy on some things, but I’m pretty.sure that my dryer was purchased new
around the time that Joy was born.
That would make my dryer around fourteen years old.
Considering that it worked hard for a family of five for at least ten of those years,
(with folks moving out and staying out … or moving out and back in during the last four)
it is no surprise that it has simply … tuckered out.
And James’ model was nearly the same age. 

 

James - working on my dryer

After James decided that the appliance was truly broken beyond repair,
a thought occurred to me.

James has no training in dryer repair, but he was willing to work to figure out how a dryer operates.
He did all the right things … as far as he could tell.
He looked up the schematics from the maker.
He read about problems and sounds and symptoms to isolate the problem(s).
He took time to seek wisdom from people with greater experience.
He asked questions and listened to answers.

But, he was using parts from two failing … worn …. broken appliances
to try to create a working model.
Looking for parallels in the spiritual physical world .... We … broken people …  do the same …  all the time.
We try to find ways to repair our broken hearts
through another broken person.
We search for the perfect person  who loves us
rather than the one we can best serve.
We date and  break up and date and break up. We search and hunt and watch for a soul mate.
We marry and divorce and remarry again .. and again.
We find ourselves bewildered because we think we have control and our actions should be enough.
Like on the dryer repair, we work, remove, replace, reposition, and redirect … to no avail.

In reality, there is only one way to create a beautifully operating instrument
from bits of broken … wounded … dated … and worn on this earth
and that is through God who knows our hearts and loves us anyway  ….
through Christ who redeems us and fills in our gaps … caulks our cracks …. and smooths the roughness …
through God’s Holy Spirit who fills us and walks with us … guiding and leading ….
strengthening weak places, shining light into dark corners ….

Our dryer is dead and gone. There is no plan for  James or I repairing it.
Our hope of fluffy, sweet clothes from that machine has been removed.
In fact, we put our home and our own lives in danger from trying to get THAT machine
to do something that it is no longer capable of doing.

But, there will always be hope  for you and I in the spiritual realm.
We live in a broken world … but our inner world need not be a shambles.
We cannot fix our broken hearts with another person … no matter how much they love us.
The only way to operate on this earth without completely falling apart  …
is through the power, energy and wholeness offered us through God alone.

Legos and a Teachable Heart

The bedroom that James once occupied has a massive, wonderful closet.
When James moved, he took most of his things … but he left behind one full top shelf of toys, games
and containers of Legos.


James has been very open with me in the past
about his fear of our home catching on fire.
Most people say they would try to save their photo albums first.
He has always told me,
“If our house catches on fire, I’m saving my Legos!”

Because life has been dramatically rearranged of late,
I am in need of the shelf space that is currently home to his Lego collection.
So, I pulled the containers down
and requested that he take them to his apartment.

My son's Legos

It is bittersweet to know that some time in the not-so-distant future,
he will find a lovely bride … marry …
and then become a father.
I’m praying for the day that his own children will play with these bricks and blocks.

When he was potty training and near three years old, I would give him a tiny Lego set as a reward for staying dry for three or four days, building to a week or more. I made a little chart and posted it on the fridge and checked off the days.  Those first sets were quite small. Most were vehicles of some sort with 20-40 pieces. There was one condition to him being allowed to play with them: he had to put the set together according to the instructions first. After that initial building, he was free to play with them in any way he wanted. Many men think that instructions are written for operators to consult when you hit a snag. I wanted him to learn the value of instructions and begin with them rather than resort to them when in frustrated or desperate.

Heads and helmets

He kept his Lego direction booklets and even sorted them in three-ring binders according to the theme of the set ….

… and  chose to sort Lego pieces for easy accessibility.

Today, he can fix anything he sets his mind to repair. He amazes me. He will research parts, figure out problems and commence to any repair he chooses to tackle. He can google any snag he hits and figure out the inner workings of most any machine. He has taken his car engine apart several times and repairs computers for a living. I’m so proud of him for finding value in looking “elsewhere” for help and direction. Looking for parallels in the spiritual physical world ....

Because this is life ….
and this is humility.
The person who often says, “I know. I know,”
is not a teachable soul.
The man who turns to God as a last resort
and o.n.l.y reads the “instructions” when he hits a snag
lives a life of desperation.
The woman who thinks she has no need to ask for help …
will find herself lonely and lost.

We all need help.
We all need direction.
We all need support.

The person who is not too proud to admit that need …
to ask for instruction  …
to confess when they just “don’t know”
is the one who finds support, direction and friendship.

I want to have a teachable heart. I want to remember to read the instructions first. I want to be the quick to say,
“I made a mistake. I’m sorry.”

My man/child has taken another step.
He has very few things here in my home that belong to him.
But he has taken with him the most important: a teachable heart.

We cut her hairs

Joy and I realized last night
that both of us have “hair inspiration”
from photos that we saw on girls on  Instagram. 

If there is one thing that I know about body altering,
it is that
with every change, there is a desire to try something new.
I’ve heard it said that tattoos are addictive; once you get one, you want another.

I praise God that there is a law that keeps me from allowing the girl to get a tattoo.
At least THAT is one decision that is made for me by the government!
But, all the other things she’s asking for …
are legally permissible.

We sat down to a bowl of Beef, Mushroom and Barley soup
and talked about these things …. again.

She has asked to do some kinda crazy stuff to her hair lately.
She wants to let her hair grow out and dread it.
After it’s dreaded, she wants to bleach it and dip the tips into different colors of dye.
She wants to color it in stripes, high light it, low light it or color it red.
She would love to gauge her ears, or pierce her ear cartilage, her nose or her tragus.
She wears some pretty push-the-limits outfits.
They’re not immodest (I draw another line there),
but she’s perfectly comfortable mixing patterns and styles.

The thing is, I’m not willing to allow her take these steps
because she’s only 13. She has some older friends who have these type decorations,
but I’m of the mindset that, if she starts now, she’ll push farther and farther.
So, I’ve told her when she’s 18, she can do all of these things …
but not before.

Part of this is rooted in a culture today that accepts more of these type things.
But, I think it’s even more deeply rooted in the fact that
Joy goes to a creative, push-the-limits arts school.
To be in the school, you are naturally an “outside the box” thinker.
You pay attention to trend – and you make your own, as well!

The struggle comes in the balance. Right now, I’m the boundary keeper.
It’s a difficult job. I want her to express herself. But, I don’t want her to push the boundaries too far
when she’s still so young. Sometimes, as we grow and mature, we regret past decisions.
I don’t want her to make decisions that she later regrets and turns to me to ask,
“Mom, WHY did you let me do that?”

So, last night, we used an IG photo as our inspiration and took scissors to the girl’s hairs.
I love the finished product.
And I love that a haircut can be so amazing
on a stylish, opinionated, boundary-pushing girl!

I love everything about this girl!!

A “Big Girl” purse and car

I still remember when she first purchased the purse. She brought it home and said ” I feel all GROWN up now! I have a ‘BIG GIRL’ purse.” She made a verbal list and talked about the few purses that she had owned and faithfully carried, the first being a little black bag covered in circles of fun primary colors. It was gifted her one year at Christmas by a dear friend who employed her as a nursery sitter. Once a week, I would attend a Bible study on post. While I soaked in The Word and fellowship, she ministered to little ones for the harried mamas that so badly needed a break and rejuvenation. She earned money, respect and sitter skills during those years. And she was given her first “real” purse by the friend who secured her in that position.

When she moved from a cute purse to a “Big Girl” purse, she noted the change.
She has since moved out of my home and moved on.
She works several jobs and goes to school full-time.
She is dependable, friendly and wise.
She is my Sunshiney-Girl.
And upon occasion, she calls me just to say with  overwhelmed inflection,
“I never knew it’d be THIS hard to be “all grown up.”

In 2009, God graciously gifted this girl  with an awesome, fun ride.

She drove it carefully for several years, but of late, began to talk of a new vehicle.

Her daddy has always wanted a convertible  … so Comedy bought Glory’s Mustang and Glory used that money to buy herself
a “Big Girl Car.”

She is so excited about her car. Now, she can stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter because cool/hot air are not lost through the roof. She has a lot more space to carry “stuff” or people. She has four doors rather than two so it’s easier for people to jump in and out. She sits up much higher off the ground so she can see and be seen better. She’s no longer in a “hot rod” that draws attention from police.

At first, she was a little apprehensive about the car. It felt a tad too “mature,” I think. But, she’s been driving it for going on a week and she’s in.love.

And I’m so happy for her! I watch God care for her … protect her … bless her … and I’m thankful.
I watch her grow and stretch and mature and I celebrate.
I see her struggle ..  but ever-so-wisely make it through
one life-maturing situation after another.
And I’m both proud … of her
and thankful for God’s faithfulness.

She’s an awesome girl with a huge heart, a tenacious determination
and …. “Big Girl Purse
and Car” to boot.

I love my Sunshiney-Girl.