Sunday, July 30, 2006

I Left My Heart in Arkansas

I've just returned from a gut-wrenching, teeth-clenching weekend at my parents' home. After having spoken with my daughters, who informed me that they would not be coming home with me, I almost decided not to make the trip. It's no fun having your heart ripped out, but I couldn't not go. I woke my husband around 3 am and told him I had to go. We took turns driving and napping, and I prayed every waking moment. We arrived 11 hours later and stopped by the ex's house to pick them up and take them to Grandma's.

Sarah packed a bag, and Lindsey locked herself in her room. I called their dad to tell him that we were taking Sarah to my mom's and that he could bring Lindsey by later. He agreed, and we discussed their rebellious behavior and possible remedies. They're the same way with him. I explained to him that the main problem is that we have allowed them to make decisions that weren't theirs to make. We are the parents, and we have to work together to do what's best for them, regardless of what they think they want. We are to meet their needs, not their demands. He agreed with that also, but he disagreed that the remedy is to make the decision for them. They shouldn't be made to live where they don't want to live.

I told him that I had warned them that if they continued to disobey me, then I would come get them and they would have to stay with me until they learned to behave respectably and respectfully. I'm tired of having my children tell me they don't have to do what I say because their dad says otherwise. He denied saying otherwise, but he refuses to see that in taking their side against me the message is LOUD and CLEAR. He agreed to let them come stay with me for two weeks, on the condition that I would not try make them stay against their will. I told him that if they chose to be disrespectful to me and my house, the consequence would be that they would remain until they chose to behave properly. The choice is theirs. Apparently, that sounded reasonable enough to him, so he said he would talk to Lindsey and call me back. I assumed that he was going to tell her that we had come to an agreement and that she would not be getting away with disobeying and disrespecting my authority.

Instead, he had her call me to work out a compromise. Can it be for one week? No. We agreed to two. Can we leave in the morning, instead of tonight? No. We have to get back for church. Can she bring a friend? Absolutely not, this is a family matter, and we don't have room. Family? What family? Carl isn't family, her dad agrees with her. I asked to speak with her dad. This time, he's pleading her case. She's in tears. She's afraid I'll make her stay. I'm sorry, but I seriously don't believe for one minute that she's afraid of me. She's afraid of having to do what she's told. She's crying to get her way. He then asked to speak to Sarah.

Before we got ready to go, I told Sarah to call Lindsey and tell her to get packed. She said Lindsey wasn't there and that her dad wouldn't say where she went. I called and asked him where she was. He had let her go somewhere with a friend. Grrrr! Then Sarah said she wasn't going without Lindsey. Now what? Separate them? I hadn't planned on it, but maybe it would be best. I wrestled with that for a while, then decided against it. When got in the car to leave, I broke down. I could not leave her behind. I went back inside and told her to get her things. She needs to spend some time with her mother. She started to cry. When we got to the car, she refused to get in without calling her dad first. I told her that I would call him. I made her get in the car, and she got out and took off behind the house. I tried again and again. The third time she ran, I let her go.

I now understand the peace that came over me last Monday. There is nothing I can do. It's out of my hands.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bloggy Tour of Homes

Welcome! So glad you could stop by. Our house was built in the '60's and was one of the first in the neighborhood. It needs a bit of a makeover, but it's home. Come on in!

Here's my little corner of the world, where the bloggy magic happens. Can you see whose blog I'm visiting? It's BooMama, blogger extraordinaire! She's the organizer of this tour, so be sure you drop by her place when you leave here.

This room is known as the living room, but apparently the plant hanging from the ceiling didn't get the memo. It was green when I got it. Good thing my kids aren't houseplants!

Here we are, back in the kitchen. It's small, but it's clean, thanks to the hubster. Can I get you anything? Coffee, perhaps?

Oh, that's right. You've got places to go and people to see. Well, I enjoyed your visit. Hope you did, too. Y'all come back now, y'hear?

New Kid on the Blog

Okay, yeah, I know it's a dorky title, but what do you expect from the likes of me? So here's the deal. There's a brand new blogger in town, and I think it would be really swell if we all went over and gave her a warm bloggy welcome. Tomorrow is her one-week bloggiversary, so don't forget to wish her a happy one! Well, what are you waiting for? Go!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Facing the Unknown

The coming weekend holds a lot of uncertainty for me, and although I am very much looking forward to seeing my girls again, I'm also dreading the battle of wills that is sure to ensue. Being apart from them is difficult, and phone conversations with them are almost painful. Scratch that. They are painful. Hearing my child tell me that she doesn't care what the Bible says and I can't make her live with me if she doesn't want to breaks my heart. At the same time, her boldness is admirable. If only she would turn it on the enemy rather than her mother. I never would have dared even dream of speaking to my mother that way, but I wasn't bold enough to stand up for myself in other situations when I should have. I'm not backing down on this issue, though. I have to stand firm.

Last week, I pondered the question "What am I to do?" Do I act on my faith and enroll them in school, or do I wait and see what happens next weekend? What if I enroll them, expecting them to come home with me, and they refuse? Their dad is telling them it's their decision, and whatever they decide is fine with him. I contend that it's our responsibility as parents to make the right decision for them. Of course they'd rather stay there. They aren't required to respect any authority other than his. They aren't expected to check in and let anyone know of their whereabouts. They don't have to go to church, read their Bibles, obey God, or obey their mother.

Lindsey informed me that I can't discipline them from here, which is true, but I informed her that God can discipline them no matter where they are. I can't believe the change in her. She's saying now that she was lying when she said she would come back. She was lying when she said the change was good for her. I'm appalled at her lack of respect for me and others in authority, but the scariest part is her lack of fear of the Lord. I seriously would not want to be her.

With Sarah, it's hard to tell. She isn't as bold as Lindsey, but she does say she doesn't want to move. I totally get that. I know how hard it is to leave friends behind, but I also know that God's plans are far and away greater than anything we can imagine. I also know that without proper discipline and guidance, they are more susceptible to Satan's deception. Even with proper discipline and guidance, it's often easy to become ensnared. I know I can't prevent it, but I can instruct them and be the example they need.

I went to bed Sunday night wounded and awoke Monday morning with a strange peace. I say strange, not because I haven't felt peace, but because I don't understand what it means. Peace that surpasses understanding, maybe? I'm sure it's God's way of letting me know that He has it under control, but I still don't know exactly what I'm supposed to do about enrollment. I feel certain that they will be coming home with me, but how in the world will that be accomplished? I guess that remains to be seen.

I have no idea what to expect from their dad. More lies, yes, and threats, likely. His usual tactics. I don't know how far he'll go, violence-wise. I hate to think I might be putting my husband in any danger. I'm trying not to be fearful.

Please pray for us this weekend. We'll be needing all the backup we can get.

** For those of you who are wondering, as I'm sure most of you are, our divorce decree is rather vague on the custody arrangements. It states that the children will spend approximately half their time with each parent, according to their schedules and desires. We settled out of court.

We lived close enough at the time that this was workable, until he found out I had begun dating. Suddenly, he became very possessive of the girls and threatened to keep them from me until I came to my senses. He threatened to have Carl killed if I saw him again, and made harrassing phone calls to Carl. My lawyer informed me that there was nothing I could do if he hadn't actually harmed anyone and that sufficient time had not passed to warrant a "change of circumstance" for modifying custody. He kept up his shenanigans for over a year, and I began the process of filing for a modification of custody. Because I became convicted that God was telling me not to fight over them, I dropped the suit and tried to work out an arrangement with him. I knew he couldn't be trusted, but I had to trust God. For the very first time in my life, I surrendered everything to God. I know He is in control. His will will prevail. I just have to quit trying to figure it out for Him.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Eeny-Meeny-Miney Meme

Got this one from Grafted Branch.

1. NAME: Brenda
2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Everyone named before 11:45 pm on March 9, 1966.
3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Last night, over my kids
5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT? bologna (pronounced baloney)
6. KIDS? Yeah. Wanna trade? They behave better for other people.
7. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Funny question. Which me are we talking about?
8. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Only online - 2 of them
9. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Mostly in my head, and often when I open my mouth.
11. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Up, yes. Down? Probably not.
12. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Life, Special K, Golden Grahams
13. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? No, but I untie them to put them on, unless they don't tie.
14. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Not as physically strong as I used to be, but much stronger emotionally.
15. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Edy's Dreamery Black Raspberry Avalanche or plain ol' Chocolate
16. SHOE SIZE? 6 1/2 W I D E
17. RED OR PINK? red
18. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? Indecisiveness or Procrastination - haven't made up my mind... yet.
19. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Whom? My kids
20. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? A link back to this post is sufficient. My inbox is full, TYVM.
21. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? No pants. A black dress with tan weed-looking floral print and black sandals.
22. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Various nocturnal critters.
23. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Purple. Ever seen a purple cow? Didn't think so!
24. FAVORITE SMELL? Hazelnut
27. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? The person I borrowed it from, you mean. I've never met her, but I think I would like her.
28. FAVORITE DRINK. Unsweetened Iced tea or regular Coke
29. FAVORITE SPORT? Blogging is a sport, right? College basketball and Pro baseball to watch, badminton or volleyball to play.
30. EYE COLOR? greenish/bluish/greyish depending upon what I wear, mostly green
31. HAT SIZE? no idea
33. FAVORITE FOOD: Shrimp & spinach pasta alfredo
34. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDING? suspense or happy ending, I'm not into scary.
37. SUMMER OR WINTER? summer
38. HUGS OR KISSES? Kisses! with almonds :)
39. FAVORITE DESSERT? cheesecake
40. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? I don't know, Barb maybe?
42. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Waking the Dead by John Eldredge, The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie O'Martian, and HTML Complete 3rd Edition
44. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? History Channel or Discovery Channel, not sure which. The backs of my eyelids were slightly more intriguing.
45. FAVORITE SOUNDS? silence, saxophone, cello
47. THE FURTHEST YOU'VE BEEN FROM HOME? Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on my 1st honeymoon.
48. WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATION? Accounting Technician
49. BOXERS OR BRIEFS? I don't wear either, but I like hubby in boxers...or not. What? We're married.
50. I TAG...YOU! Leave a comment so I can come read yours, ok?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Remember to Pray

I've spent the afternoon catching up on some of my blog reads and thinking about the people I've encountered through blogging. I would never have met so many were it not for the internet, and I'm thankful that God has provided this means to reach out to others. In my little world, my trials are a pretty big deal, but they're pretty insignificant when I consider what others are going through. Circumstances that are unimaginable to me and would seem to be unbearable. Earth-shattering, heartbreaking, and life-changing are words that come to mind. My heart goes out to each of these families, and my prayers are with them. I hope you'll keep them in your prayers also.

Elise and her boys, extended family and friends, including BooMama
Addie's brother
Amy Wilhoite, her family, and physicians
Addison, her family, and physicians
Kelli and her family
Rich Kirkpatrick
This family
This family

Pray without ceasing. 1Thessalonians 5:17

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Geeks, Nerds, and Dorks - Oh My!

I am nerdier than 45% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Thanks to Lori, I just had to find out for myself just how nerdy I am. Okay, I realize it isn't an IQ test, but 45? So I don't really qualify for geek status, no big surprise there, but I'm a little disappointed that my score isn't a little higher. I guess I was hoping to be more geek-nerd than dork-nerd. Is there a difference? The fact that you asked means you probably don't consider yourself a nerd. Your kids probably think you're cool. I bet you even have social skills. The fact that I think there is a difference is probably why I am more dork than geek, and the fact that I've actually given it any thought is evidence that I am, however lightly, a nerd. Go me!

What's your score?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Fantabulous Friday

Melissa at Breath of Life has come up with the fantabulous idea of recognizing a person, place, or thing that has had an impact on your life each week and giving a shout out to God for using him/her/it to bless you. Well, I don't know about you, but I sometimes need to be reminded to be thankful in everything. So how 'bout it? Let's lift our hearts toward heaven and praise the Lord!

This week, I have been most touched and inspired by a young mother who is undergoing treatments for leukemia. Through all of her pain and suffering, Amy Wilhoite's testimony of faith is amazing. What an example of being made strong in weakness. If you haven't read her story, please do so now. I promise you will be blessed.

Father, thank you for Amy and her wonderful example of praising You in all things. Pour out your blessings upon her and give her strength for the journey ahead. Steady the hands of the doctors and nurses who attend her and give them wisdom to aid in her fight against this cancer. Heal her body if that is Your will, Lord, and be with her family as they wait for her to return home. In Christ's precious name, amen.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Prayer Requests

Usually I put these posts on my prayer blog, but it doesn't get as much traffic, and we need to get the word out. Please pray for Amy and her family, Elise and her boys, Paulette and her children, this family, and this family. Updated to add Addison and her parents.

If I've missed anyone, please let me know. I consider it a privilege to lift up my brothers and sisters in prayer, whether or not I know their names or their needs.

God bless you!

Pondering the Purpose Driven Life

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 (New International Version)

A few years ago, my church participated in the Purpose Driven Life study, and I don't remember the scriptural soundness of the book coming into question. I'm sure if there had been any doubt, my pastor would have declined to participate. However, I find myself in agreement with a few of the dissenting opinions I've read, which has me wondering why some of these issues weren't addressed during our 40 Days of Purpose. And I'm curious. Have you or your church participated in the study? Were any of these issues addressed by your pastor? What's your opinion of the study or of the dissentors?

Please share your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Who Are Those Kids Anyway? (WFMW)

Emily, far left, is Carl's oldest child and the youngest of our three girls. Andrew, far right, is his son and the youngest of the bunch. Sarah, 2nd from left, is my youngest, and Lindsey, 2nd from right, is my firstborn and the oldest of the bunch. I've written quite a bit about Lindsey and Sarah, but Emily and Andrew don't get as much air time, mainly because they don't cause me as much grief, and also because they only live with us on weekends. We share them with their mother, April, whom I affectionately refer to as my ex-wife-in-law, and her husband, Andy. April and Carl have managed to remain best friends because they both are fiercely devoted to the children they share and are committed to raising them to be healthy and well-adjusted. She and I have become close friends as well as partners in prayer for our children.

Most everyone I know thinks it mighty peculiar that we would even consider being friendly, but I wouldn't have it any other way. One of the benefits is that there are never any arguments about what's best for the kids. Discussions are handled out of earshot of the kids, and decisions are agreed upon by the parents. Mom knows best, and we stand behind her decisions. The kids know this, and they rarely try to play one side against the other.

Another benefit is that she knows my husband as well as I do. I see the puzzled expression on your face. While you wipe it off, I'll explain. Carl is a prodigal. His godly mother raised him and his siblings in church. He accepted Christ as his personal Savior as a child, then somewhere along the way his faith took a nosedive. As his story is not mine to tell, I'll skip to the heart of the matter. A few years after he and April divorced, she remarried, gave her life to Christ, and led Emily and Andrew to the Lord. She and Andy began praying for Carl, specifically that he would find a godly woman to marry who would be a good influence on him and the kids. (Funny thought: I may not be the answer to his prayers, but his mother and his ex-wife tell me I'm the answer to theirs. That cracks me up.)

So April prayed me into his life, and we are now partners in prayer for his restoration. Here's the benefit of her knowing him so well: in discussions of matters of faith, she has no problem stepping on his toes or arguing a point with him. She'll get right up in his face without hesitation and tell it like it is. He rarely gets angry with her, no matter how spirited the discussion, and even if he does, the peace in our home remains intact. I don't have to say anything. I just nod in agreement with her and in keeping with the principle set forth in 1 Peter 3: 1-2 "Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."

This didn't start out as a WFMW post, but let me tell you, being sisters in Christ with my ex-wife-in-law works for me!

Treasure Tuesday

It's been quiet around the blogoshpere lately, at least in these parts. Summer has finally caught up with us, and we've been busy enjoying the great outdoors. I've also been playing around with my template, looking for just the right picture to put in my header, and experimenting with the digital imaging software that came with my new computer. It's not as versatile as Photoshop, but it will do a few tricks. I'm quite the novice, but I'm learning.

The photo you see in my header is one I've been practicing on. It's not exactly finished, but it's not too bad for a beginner. That's what I'm telling myself anyway. I'm thinking that I'll post the original photo when I get home from work so you can see what I've done with it. Maybe.

All that said, and I still haven't told you about my treasure. I found an old roll of film in the garage when I was searching for my digital camera, and just had it developed over the weekend. That's where I found the picture up there in my header. It was taken about 3 years ago. I had forgotten that we ever managed to get a picture of all the kids together, and while I'm so happy to have found it, the photo itself isn't my treasure. But I bet you can guess what is.

See those faces in the photo? Left to right, there's Emily, Sarah, Lindsey, and Andrew. Yes, they are my treasures, but they also belong to Jesus, and He treasures them most of all. Oh, the puppy in the photo is Lickerish, aka Poopsie (she earned the nickname during housebreaking) our German shepherd mix who is a heck of a lot bigger now but still thinks she's a lap dog. Unlike Leslie's dog, Austrey, she doesn't know Jesus, but we're working on her.

If you'd like to participate in Treasure Tuesday, or if you'd just like to see more treasures, hurry on over to Faith's place.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Email from Home

Y'all, you may remember my mentioning that I get a lot of email from family members, but very few of them are ever personal messages. Most often they're those crazy "say a prayer and pass this on to 7 people and you will see a miracle" ones that have the opposite effect on me (irk rather than bless). But sometimes, something worth reading makes its way into my inbox. Usually it's something I've seen before, but isn't something I mind seeing again. Like a Vonage commercial or an episode of The Brady Bunch. This email from my mom is a good example. It's been around who knows how many times, but like any good rerun, it's worth a laugh or two.

And so, without further ado, I present the (screechy horror flick music) Email From Home:


1. If you are choking on an ice cube, don't panic. Simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat and presto. The blockage will be almost instantly removed.

2. Clumsy? Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

3. Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by simply using the sink.

4. For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

5. A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

6. If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives. Then you will be afraid to cough.

7. Have a bad toothache? Smash your thumb with a hammer and you will forget about the toothache.

Sometimes, we just need to remember what the rules of life really are:

You only need two tools: WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

Remember: Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

Never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom.

If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You get another chance.

And finally, be really nice to your family and friends; you never know when you might need them to empty your bedpan.

And there ya have it folks. Kinda makes ya homesick don't it?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Tour of Homes Hosted by BooMama

July 28th is the big day for the big event hosted by BooMama.

This is not a contest. It's a fun way to get to know more about one another. Like dropping by to say hi without, you know, actually dropping by.

The idea is to 1) give people some insight into the "real" lives of the bloggers they read and 2) demonstrate grateful hearts for our homes - no matter the size. All the glory belongs to God.

Run on over there to get the code and get the word out. Hurry! Get those cameras ready! Snap snap!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Clearing up a bit of confusion...

First of all, let me just say again THANK YOU for all your prayers concerning my girls and our living arrangements. My gratitude is immeasurable. God bless you all.

Secondly, I am praying for each and every one of you, continually. My prayer list is growing, which is growing my prayer life, and that's a very good thing. The reason I started this blog was to connect with other Christian mothers, especially those with younger children, to encourage them to be more diligent in nurturing their children's spiritual growth, and pretty much to serve as an example of how not to do that. Please don't give complacency even the slightest opening, no matter how discouraging or frustrating your situation. We must always, always cover them in prayer. I realize that many of you do this, some have done so from the beginning, and I'm so grateful for that. For those of you haven't been as diligent, rest assured that I've got you covered, but I urge you to start NOW praying for them and with them. Don't wait for a crisis. I don't mean to get all preachy, and I'm not passing judgement. I live in a glass house, and I dare not throw stones.

Thirdly, the reason for this post is to clarify the previous one. I'm not real good at being serious. You could say I have issues with serious. You could also say I have serious issues. Both would be true. (See?) Anyway, for clarity's sake, I thought I should address a few of my earlier statements. The thing about me being competition for Beth Moore? Beloved, that was meant to be sarcastic. Not that I don't appreciate the votes of confidence. Oh I do. Yes, ma'am. And the commands I gave my daughter to "get to squeezin' out some fruit" and to "get godly in a hurry", while said in all seriousness to her, struck me as rather absurd upon reflection. A girlfriend at work and I giggled over it when I related the conversation to her. My attempt at levity didn't translate as well to the blog, but that's ok. You all are aware of my heart's desire, and your encouragement and support far outweighs a few laughs. You can't know how deeply grateful I am for all of you.

I am in agreement with Grafted Branch, who pointed out that my requirement of my daughter to squeeze out some fruit is impossible for her to do (of her own ability). I also agree with her statement that I can't beat her over the head with it if she isn't born-again. She's absolutely right. And I am humbled by her willingness to call me on it. I appreciate the candor and grace with which she approached the issue, and I hope that I would be bold enough to do the same. We are, after all, supposed to hold each other accountable, are we not? I admire her for the wonderful example she is.

The good news is that both my daughters are born-again. The bad news is that they're prodigals. Which brings me to Diane(Praying for your Prodigal)'s comment that I've put the enemy on notice. As that was my intention, I feel confident that she's also correct. I've asked the Lord to guide me in my discussions with the girls and to give me words to say that they would comprehend. I may not have phrased them the way He intended, but I do know that they understood. That was confirmed in the conversation I had with each of them today.

Since I'm not easily offended, I tend to shoot off at the mouth, or fingers as it were, without stopping to consider whether something I've said could be taken in a way other than it was meant. A good rule of thumb to follow, at least with me, is to think "warped with a weird sense of humor", but if ever I do offend (or confuse) you, please know that it isn't intentional. I welcome feedback, especially if I've misspoken, so long as the aforementioned example is followed.

Well, I didn't intend to blog a novel, but I did want to clear that up.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Ultimatum

I just have to share another of my shining mommy moments. This one happened today on the phone with my 16-yr-old daughter.

She: Mom, I told you I'm staying here. I don't want to come there for school.

Me: That really isn't your decision to make. It's my responsibility to see to it that you get the guidance and discipline that you need.

She (all dramatic like): It's my life! Not yours!

Me: The reality of it is that it isn't your life. You belong to God, so He gets to make that call.

She: I don't want to talk about it anymore.

Me: We have to talk about it because if you expect me to allow you to stay there, then you're going to have to show me that you're seeking God's wisdom in this. You got that? So the first thing you need to do is start praying. You need to ask forgiveness for disrespecting your mother. And you have to start going to church. Whether you want to or not. And you have to read your Bible. And I expect you to call me every day asking me to do a devotional with you.

Then you need to show me some fruit. You know what I'm talking about?

She: Yes. The fruit of the Spirit.

Me: That would be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. You'd better get to squeezin' out some of that fruit. Then you need to read 1 Corinthians 13. That's the chapter on love. I want evidence that you are willing to be obedient, not just to me, but to God. Do you understand what I'm telling you?

She: Yes, Mom.

Me: So here's the deal. I'm planning to pick you and your sister up at the end of this month to bring you back here for school. IF you think for one minute that I'm going to leave my job undone, you need to think again. I'm responsible for training you up in the way you should go, and that is exactly what I intend to do. IF you expect me to believe that you're doing what you think God wants, then you'd better get godly in a hurry.


Me: Are you there?

She: Yeah, I'm here.

Me: Well, I've got to go back to work. I love you.

She: Love you too. Bye.

Squeeze out some of that fruit? Get godly in a hurry? Move over, Beth Moore. You've got competition.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Now I've said my ABC's, tell me what you think of Meme

I was tagged by Paulette for this meme. Here goes:

Accent: Um. Educated redneck? Born and raised in Arkansas, now living in Georgia. My high school French teacher told me I had an excellent French accent. Mais oui!

Bible Book that I like: Ephesians. Favorite verse from Ephesians is 4:32.

Chore I don't care for: Any of them. I need a maid.

Dog or Cat: Fried, please. (Kidding!) Dog

Essential Electronics: Computer and cell phone

Favorite Movie: Napoleon Dynamite. Yes, I am a dork.

Gold or Silver: Silver

Handbag I Carry Most Often: My husband bought me a red and black canvas bag with a University of Georgia emblem on front for my birthday.

Insomnia: Usually only at night. I have no trouble sleeping at my desk or behind the wheel.

Job Title: Accounting Technician (fancy way of saying data entry clerk), Wife, Mother

Kids: 1 husband, 1 stepson, 1 stepdaughter, 2 daughters

Living Arrangements: 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 bath humble abode in a quaint little subdivision on the outskirts of town. We have hubby's kids on weekends and mine whenever they choose to grace us with their presence, (hopefully for the school year.)

Most Memorable Moment: Winning the Miss America pageant. Oh, wait. That wasn't me. Seeing my ankles again after giving birth to my first child was pretty momentous, but it doesn't hold a candle to falling in love with her immediately. Then her sister came along, and my heart doubled in size. Nothing compares to that.

Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: Mercilessly teasing my overweight sisters, which not only was terribly cruel, but was really stupid on my part because they could beat me up.

Overnight Hospital Stays: Twice for childbirth, once for a hernia operation, and once for a cervical cone biopsy.

Phobias: Being the only one who doesn't get the joke.

Quote: "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to shut up." - Unknown (kidding!)
"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again." - Stephen Grellet

Religion: None for me, thanks. I'm a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, whom I know personally as my Lord and Savior. Southern Baptist upbringing, if you must know, with a sprinkling of United Methodist (pun intended. I was dunked.)

Siblings: I have an older sister by 2 years, a younger sister by 11 months, and a younger brother by 8 years.

Time I Wake Up: After about the 4th or 5th snooze. 7:15 at the latest.

Unusual Talent: I can read upside down, recite the alphabet backwards, and quote Green Eggs and Ham word for word. Not unusual enough? Okay, I can sing the theme song to "All In the Family" and sound exactly like Edith Bunker. Wanna hear?

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Beets. Or anything pickled. Except, you know, pickles.

Worst Habit: Smoking. I've been meaning to quit. (2nd worst: Procrastination.)

X-rays: Ribs, once, after a car accident. Dental, several times.

Yummy Stuff I Cook: I don't cook often enough, but I can make a mean meatloaf, baked chicken, spinach lasagne, and cheesecake

Zoo Animal I Like Most: Otter

I'm tagging Barb and Diane, and inviting anyone else who hasn't done this one to please join in.

Have a Wonderful Day!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Comforting Word

I take great comfort in today's scripture reading. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

How quickly the Lord responds when I cry out to Him. Immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine? How awesome is that? And not only has He comforted me with His Word, but with your words of encouragement and prayers for my family. THANK YOU for standing in the gap with me for my girls.

Father, thank You for the wonderful women You have brought into my life through this blog. Thank You for their comforting words and their commitment to pray for my daughters. Bless them abundantly, Lord. Thank You for the everlasting promises in Your Word and for the power that is at work within us. Thank You, Jesus! Amen.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

More Mama Drama

I was counting on Lindsey to encourage Sarah to come back here for school next month, but when I spoke with her 2 days ago, she informed me that they both want to stay with their dad for the school year. My heart lurched at the news. I tried reasoning with her and reminded her of all the progress she made while she was here. Listening to her responses, it seems that since she's been there, she's forgotten all the reasons they need to be here. I know why they want to be there, and it isn't about preferring their dad to me. It's about doing what they want to do. It's about being resistant to change.

She has lapsed back into rebellion, hanging out with the same old friends and lying about where she's going with whom. She talks tough, as if her hummingbird butt could actually back up her alligator mouth: "Friend 2 showed up where we were and tried to get me to go with her to get the clothes I borrowed, but I wasn't about to leave so she shoved the door and it hit me, and I was gonna kick her @$$, but Friend 1 got in between us and I couldn't hit her...." It sounded like a transcript of the Jerry Springer Show. And my child using that kind of language with me? Not OK. But it's not just the language, it's the whole I-can-do-and-say-anything-I-want-to-and-get-away-with-it attitude.

I spoke with her again yesterday, hoping that something I said had gotten through. Nope. Same in-your-face tone. "If we went to court, the judge would ask us where we want to live,and we would get to stay here." I'm so tired of it all, and I'm angry.

Sarah wasn't as adamant when I spoke with her, so I don't really know what's going on in her mind, or her heart. I'm hoping that she's softening up and realizing that I am trying to do what's best for them.

After our conversation ended, I thought maybe it wouldn't be so bad if Sarah were to come here and Lindsey were to stay there. I've had it with her disrespectful attitude. Let him deal with it. Maybe that is what she needs.

I shook that thought out of my head and paused to assess my anger. I'm not angry at God, at least I don't think so, and I know I have no right to be. He hasn't failed me, I have failed Him, and not only has He has forgiven me, He has drawn me closer to Him. Satan is furious. He has launched an all-out attack, concentrating his efforts on the one area in which I am most vulnerable - my children. He would like nothing more than for me to give up hope.

I refuse to give him the satisfaction.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Some Gave All: A Tribute*

Corporal Bobby R. West
Hometown: Beebe, Arkansas, U.S.

Age: 23 years old

Died: May 30, 2006 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Unit: Army, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Tex.

It is my privilege to honor the memory of Bobby Russell West, a young man who loved God, his family, and his country. He left high school at 17 to join the National Guard, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, his father, and his older brother. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, he and his brother decided they needed to do more and enlisted in the Army. During his first tour he was a part of the operation that captured Saddam Hussein. His second tour of duty ended on May 30, 2006 when a makeshift bomb detonated during dismounted patrol operations in Baghdad, killing him instantly and severely wounding many of his comrades. He paid the ultimate price to protect the freedoms we all hold dear. On that day, America lost a great soldier, a soldier lost his only brother, and a mother lost her youngest son. I grieve with his family for their loss and pray God's blessings upon them for all they have given for the cause of freedom. Bobby's courage will not be forgotten, and I am eternally grateful to him and his family for their great sacrifice.

*Visit Some Gave All for your opportunity to pay tribute to a fallen hero.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

31-day Prayer Guide

It's a brand new month, and the year's half over. Amazing how quickly time flies. I am just blown away by my teenagers, who were only yesterday, it seems, taking their first steps and potty training and being cuter and sweeter than any mom could stand or any kid has a right to be. I'm thankful to have most of it on video, cause those days are long gone.

Now they're in the stages of first dates and driver training and cell phones and laptops and begging for a new car. Forget cute and sweet, although they do have their moments. I cherish every last one of those moments, hoping against hope that it truly isn't the last one. And I remember what it was like to be that age, wanting to hurry and get it over with so I could move out and live by my own rules.

I also remember being totally unprepared for life in the real world and many of the consequences that living by my own rules would bring. I didn't have as firm a foundation of faith as I had thought, and I succumbed to temptation after temptation, causing my foundation to crack and crumble until it gave way beneath the weight of the world. I fell hard, but thank God I landed on my knees. Thank God that He never left me alone and that He was there to pick me up and put me in my place.

As I kneel before my Father, I have to admit that I haven't fully prepared my children to walk uprightly in every circumstance. Despite what I have learned, I haven't been diligent enough in grounding them firmly in the Word. Oh, I took them to church and they've both accepted Christ as their Savior, but I have neglected to foster their spiritual growth. I was a Sunday school teacher myself, but I relied on church and their Sunday school teachers to pick up my slack. As a result, they don't know Jesus as they should and can barely grasp the concept of allowing Him to be Lord of their lives. Well, yeah, that is a tough one. I only recently came to understand it myself. What a difference it makes! Knowing what I know now, I wish that I could go back and correct my mistakes, but there is not enough White Out in the world.

However, there is something far far better. Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.(John 1:29) Because of Christ, my sins are forgiven. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1:9) There is no need to go back. I need to remember my mistakes only to learn from them, not to wallow in guilt, not to worry about trying to undo them. All I have to do is move forward, trusting Him to guide my steps.

With that in mind, I must make every effort to teach my children to trust and obey Him, to hide His Word in their hearts, to seek after righteousness. I've had to make some changes. They don't like it much because they've become accustomed to what I call casual Christianity. Not fully committed, no real sacrifice. Basically, fire insurance. Biblically, lukewarm. I must pray diligently over them and entrust them to Him.

This necessity has become more evident over the past year, and I pray more fervently now than ever before - not just for my own children, but for every child I know. God has answered many of my prayers, one of which was "Teach me to pray, Lord." You see, I had the fervent part down, but I wasn't quite sure about the effectual (James 5:16) part. I read tons of articles on prayer and finally came across this guide at Moms In Touch International. I knew immediately that this was what I had been looking for. I emailed the link to my mom and my sisters. I printed it out to put on my wall at work as a reminder, not that I'd forget to pray, but to help me remember the scripture references.

I chose today to share this with you because there are 31 character traits and virtues listed. That's one for every day of the month. I urge you to pray daily for your children if you don't already, whether you use this guide or not. It is always necessary, even when it isn't obvious.