I know better

I know better.

I know better than to eat any food with gluten in it. I do. I know what happens when I eat such food, and let’s just say it ain’t pretty. I know that if I eat a lemon square, a brownie, chocolate cake, pasta or banana bread I’m gonna feel so sick I’d need two beds. I know I need to stick to a no-fun, no-frills, boring as all get out gluten free diet.

So I know better.

But I have a weakness, and the enemy knows it.

My weakness? Cake. Cake of any kind. The simple yellow cake with chocolate frosting is my favorite, but I’m always up for pound cake, carrot cake or the dreaded variety that did me in this week – strawberry cake.

strawberry cake

Now I didn’t just go buy myself a piece of strawberry cake. I do have enough self control to stop that from happening. But Wednesday some friends and I were celebrating the birthday of a lady in our tennis group who is turning 80 this week. (Yes, you read that right. She’s 80 and still plays in our tennis group. Motivation to get off the couch, isn’t it?) And then it happened. Some very thoughtful person put a large piece of strawberry cake right in front of me.

And I might have been able to withstand the temptation, had it not been for the “Oh my gosh that is the BEST cake I’ve EVER had!” coming from my left and the “This cake is unbelievably moist – it just melts in your mouth!” coming from my right. I felt my mouth start watering just a bit and I think the words in my head were something like “Oh come on. Once piece won’t hurt you.” (I can now clearly see the little devil sitting on my shoulder whispering that in my ear. I didn’t see him on Wednesday.) Call it peer pressure, call it abandoning rational thought, but really…

I know better.

And I paid dearly for that piece of cake Thursday morning. Felt like death warmed over all day. I rallied enough to go to 2 business appointments and our high school graduation (two of my “sons” graduated Thursday night and I wasn’t missing that) but most of the day I felt like I’d have to get better to die.

And as I lay there wallowing in my self-loathing, I was reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:15-19)

Preach on, Brother Paul.

I think we can all relate to that passage – and on a much bigger scale. I have lunch with friends and have no intention of gossiping and then I open my big mouth. I trust that God will provide for our family financially and then I freak out about a big bill that comes in (call that one college tuition). I rehearse calm discussions with people in my head and then I let anger get the best of me.

That which I want to do, I don’t do…

But praise be to Jesus, because He knows me and loves me no matter what. He forgives ALL my sins so that I don’t have to live in bondage to guilt and shame but instead I can live knowing I have the secret to FREEDOM – God’s unending grace.

So every day let’s wake up thanking God for His unending grace and forgiveness. Let’s start each new day with our focus on Jesus, not on this earth. And when we do that which we don’t want to do, humbly seek His forgiveness and then let it go. He never intended for you or me to live under a cloud of guilt, shame or unforgiveness.

Even when you know better.

Blessings!
Leigh

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It Just Feels Weird

My daughter just finished her sophomore year in college. COLLEGE, PEOPLE. And my son is almost finished with his sophomore year in high school. Next year I will have 2 juniors in school. And that just feels weird.

My daughter came home after exams for 6 days before she had to head back to Oxford. She has a job there and is on rush team for her sorority, so she has “stuff” to do over there all summer. She won’t be home this summer for the first time ever in her life. And that just feels weird.

In approximately 18 days my 15 year old son will turn 16 and hopefully pass the Alabama driving test so that he can finally drive a car by himself. He’s one of the youngest in his grade, so he’s had the distinct honor and privilege of being dropped off and picked up by his parents far longer than his friends. But after that first Friday in June, he’ll be able to drive himself where he needs to go. And that just feels weird.

 ID

The older I get, the weirder life becomes. Yes, my children have grown and changed and we’ve morphed from t-ball and cheerleading to homecoming, prom and even college, but for most of their lives they have lived under this roof and been driven from here to there by me, my husband, my parents or another trusted parent. So when they get to the point when they can drive and have an apartment and not come home for the summer….

Well that just feels weird.

Too often I get stuck on the weird part. I long for days gone by, what I call simpler times and my son calls “the good ‘ol days.” (For him, the good ‘ol days means the days when I picked him up from pre-school at noon, he came home and enjoyed a lunch consisting of a PB&J sandwich, some fruit and a glass of milk while watching Tom & Jerry. He would then have a 1-man football game in the front yard until it was time to pick up his sister from “big school.” Agreed, my son – those were the good ‘ol days.)

And I know, I need to embrace the “Now.” I need to accept what is and what is not and what is coming because time stands still for no man… or momma.

It’s just that no one can prepare you for the weirdness. Oh they can try, as I am trying to do now. I’m trying to prepare all you mommas (and daddies) out there that while you’re sitting at home with your 5 and 9 year olds tucked into their beds all safe and sound, that one day… one day all too soon, it’s just gonna feel weird.

So what do we do? Wallow in our weirdness? Well I guess that’s one solution, but I don’t think that story will have a very happy ending. So instead of sinking into the abyss of days gone by, I suggest learning from these words found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”

And yes, a time to feel weird.

There’s a time for everything. For me, there was a time to get married and a time to have children. There was a time to tuck my children into bed, and a time to give them a curfew. There was a time to attend the 2nd grade Valentine’s party and a time to watch my daughter in the prom lead-out.  There was a time to watch my son play in his first 9-hole golf tournament, and a time to watch him win his first 18-hole event. There was a time to watch my daughter walk down the aisle at he high school graduation, and God willing, there will be a time to watch her walk down the wedding aisle.

So embrace the time God has given you – all of it – even when it just feels weird.

Blessings!
Leigh

The Next Step

May is the month of graduations down South. We celebrate every graduation from college to high school to elementary school and even kindergarten. I personally think some of these are a bit unnecessary (You know your ABC’s! Congratulations! Off you go to the 1st grade!) but they happen nonetheless.

The two biggies to me are high school and college graduations. Graduating from high school can be an expected result or it can be a huge accomplishment depending on a student’s home life and socioeconomic background. Some will go on to college, some straight into the workforce (assuming they can find a dang job these days) or maybe into the military. No matter which path a high school graduate takes one thing is for sure – they have to take the next step.

 cap&gown

And for those who go to college and spend 4 years (or more if they can make that happen) learning, studying, traveling, experiencing – they too, will have a next step upon graduation. (And all of us mommas out there are praying it’s called a JOB.)

Graduations are important. Graduations are to be celebrated. Graduations are the culmination of many hours of work, lots of prayer and some mistakes along the way.

But just because you graduate doesn’t mean you’ve arrived. It doesn’t mean you can sit on your momma’s sofa for the rest of your life as a graduate. (At least not in my house.) Graduates have to take the next step. They’re gonna have to get out in the world and yes, learn more than they’ve already learned. They’re gonna have to learn how to interview for a job. How to work hard at that job. How to get along with people at work they would rather strangle at times. How to accept disappointment when someone else gets promoted over them. How to be humble when they receive an award. How to be married, have a family and support them financially. How to be a light in the world around them.

So much to learn. Just when they think they’ve arrived because of a piece of parchment they hold in their hands with a lot of Latin and a few capital letters printed on it…

And that’s how it is with our walk with Jesus. We can never think, “At last! I’ve graduated! I’ve arrived! There’s nothing else for me to learn here – I got this.” That attitude is dangerous territory. We can all keep learning, keep taking one step closer to Jesus no matter how old we are or where we are in life.

And that’s really what we should focus on – taking one step closer to Jesus. We don’t have to take huge leaps in our spiritual walk, although sometimes that does happen. But if we don’t take time to slow down and walk slowly with Him, step by step, we will miss the lessons and the blessings along the way.

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

We all take steps every day toward something. A job, a relationship, a retirement. As we take our next step, let us walk with Jesus so that we can grow in our faith every day, every step of the way.

Blessings!
Leigh

The Dreaded 4-Letter Word

Yep, just take a quick look at that calendar all you mommas out there – May has snuck up on us once again.

Didn’t we just get our children INTO school? Didn’t we just stock up on pencils, paper, glue, glitter, crayons, markers and such? Didn’t we just buy the handy package of 5,000 paper sacks for lunch and fuss over the attire to be worn on the first day of the new school year?

Oh, gosh no – that was 35 projects, 8,672 tests and a million moments of drama ago.

So the school year has once again “flown by” as they say…

It always seems to me that after Spring Break we are running on a collision course with summer at breakneck speed. When my kids were younger it was all about locating summer camps that they would enjoy (daughter = art camp; son = sports camp) and getting my deposit in early because ain’t no way this momma was gonna deny her babies their summer fun (or myself the occasional summer morning to regroup and come up with the next strategy to beat summer boredom).

And you think running all over town dropping your multiple children off at various camps was tiring (which BTW, the camps always seemed to start and end at the same hour so that one or more of your little chickens would be early or late or just standing there wondering if momma was gonna pick them up from camp today), but I’m here to tell you that ain’t nothin’.

Cause when your child hits college, and you’ve aged another 15 or so years, one of the most dreaded four letter words in the collegiate English language attaches itself to the beginning and the ending of your summer months:

MOVE

Yep. You’ll move your child at least twice a year for four solid years (or more if they can’t quite get enough hours that last semester or simply enjoy changing apartments every time the wind blows). So if you’re out of shape, I suggest you start working out now (or save up to hire a mover, or bribe an in-law that owes you money) because you can count on this at least 2 times a year for 4 years: you’ll be buying, hauling, moving and arranging college stuff – then you’ll get a short respite known as fall and spring semesters to recover – just before you’ll have to pack it, haul it, move it and store it – until the next move comes just a few days, weeks or months later.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the 2nd move of 2014:

IMG_2697

One girl = a lot of college stuff.

I’m not complaining (OK, maybe I’m complaining just a little) but the moving dates never overlap. Gotta move out of the old place on 7/31 but can’t move into the new place until 8/1.

SERIOUSLY??? Give a tired old momma a break, please.

But you know what? I love it. I’m thankful that I’ll have a broken nail (or two) and my tennis elbow will be throbbing by the end of the move (gotta remember my Sam’s-sized jar of Aleve). I’m grateful we’re able to help our child move here and there (and here, and there…) and that she still wants our help. And I’m certain that one day I’ll miss the chance to load up the remnants of another year of college, packed all nice and neat (or notsomuch) and then release those mementoes from their bondage of boxes and plastic to be displayed in yet another bedroom. I’ll miss leaving her in a new room that may be different while finding comfort knowing all her familiar memories surround her year after year no matter where she lives.

And if moving your child to & from college is on the horizon – or if you’re worn out from the thought of hauling kids to camp after camp, remember these verses found in Isaiah chapter 40:

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

I’m so very thankful God does not grow tired or weary, but His strength is enough to get us through any and all circumstances.

Even 2 moves in 3 months for 4 years in a row.

Blessings!
Leigh