Phew! My Daughter is Married

I am an empty nester for the second time.

The first time was when Keturah moved into her own place after college.

To be honest with you I am not sure how I thought I would feel after the big day, but I can say that the year passed quickly. And let’s not talk about the last two months. There were times when I didn’t know if I was coming or going. I can only imagine the emotions that were stirred in Keturah’s heart.

Can we talk about the people who approached me and asked “What will you do now”? First of all, she got married, she did not move to “Zimbabwe”. These are not my words but this was the analogy from the bride to be. I searched my heart many times this past year and there was no room for sadness because this is what I prayed for.

Being the parent of an only child placed a burden on my heart that all parents should carry.

Lord, bless Keturah with a husband, not just any man, but a man that will love her like Christ loved the church. A man that would give his all to ensure that she is safe after I am long gone to be with you. I believe I have said this more then once… I didn’t wait until she was an adult before I started to believe God for specific things to happen in her life.

At conception, I prayed

Pre-school, I prayed

Elementary, middle, and high school kept me on my knees; not that she was a rebellious kid, but I knew the pit falls that the world could hold.

College, was the time to see if everything I poured into her would stick.

Remember, that scene in the “Color Purple” when Mister cooked Shug Avery a horrible breakfast and she threw it against the wall? Next, Celie cooked Shug a wonderful breakfast, but didn’t know how Shug would respond, and Celie said, “I’m gonna wait to see what the wall say”. As parents, that is what we have to do, we equip them, and then wait and watch.

Now my little girl is married.

If I didn’t learn anything else from this journey, I learned that I couldn’t love her selfishly. I had to let her be her own person even when my heart said “hold on”.

Can I say this?

It has been a honor and privilege being her mother. I am absolutely sure I would not be the same person if God had not chosen me to care for. Loving her changed my heart. It grew me up in the Lord. It helped me to see how much God truly loves me. I have been asked time and time again what I did. My answer has always been “I raised her right by accident”. But then a light came on. It was no accident. I prayed each day and asked God to show me what was best for her. He spoke to my heart, and I followed his instruction. She is my testimony. One day when we were driving home and I told her “If anyone deserves a “fairy tale” wedding, you do. Truly, I can’t think of anyone more deserving.

What did I think about this past year?

I thought about the day she was born and when she would hear my voice and lift her tiny little head to find me.

Her chubby cheeks and big eyes.

The way I loved to see her run into school and watch her little red polka dot skirt swish.

The day she asked me “Mom, why don’t we go to church like we use too?” (See, sometimes we can get so busy making a living, we fail to give God some of our time).

The middle school years when she had to stand up and be the person she wanted to be, verses doing what everyone else was doing. The awkward years that I believe every young girl experiences.

What was I thinking standing at her side on her wedding day? How blessed I was to be a part of the entire journey. I heard somewhere “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans”. I think it was Madea; that made me chuckle. Our plan was that Luci would be standing by her side, but God knew that little Henry would need his mother. How fitting that two mothers were standing by their child for different reasons.

What did I see in her?

A joy that only God could place in her heart. I believe we all know the difference between joy and happiness. Just in case you don’t know. Happiness is based on what is happening around you. As the flower girls cried, that joy was there. When her dress was stepped on and we heard a tear, that joy was there. Even when the 2nd part of the sand ceremony was skipped, she laughed and I saw “joy”.

God is so awesome. He prepared us for this season. We have talked a lot about trust and having faith in God this year. I still don’t know all the answers. Yet, at the end of the day, I know God is faithful.

There is no reason for me to cry, only reasons to give God praise.

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Making A Difference

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Tom Brokaw stated “it’s easier to make a buck and it’s a lot tougher to make a difference.

There are a lot of things we take for granted and I am certain our “Educators” are at the top of the list. They are the individuals’ who will have the greatest impact on our children’s’ lives, but I believe are the least appreciated within the community. I could not let a new school year start without blogging something about my daughter the “educator”.

When Keturah was growing up she always had a heart for animals and children. We had every animal (fish, hamster, chinchilla, prairie dog, rabbits, horses, and dogs) that you could possibly envision. I felt she would choose a profession centered around what she loved, but teacher was not on my radar. One day out of the blue she came home and told me she wanted to be a teacher. My response was, “are you sure?” On career day at school, she spoke with a college rep from SFA (Stephen F. Austin State University) and from that point forward she was on the path to becoming an educator.

If you are not a first time visitor to our blogs (Looking Beyond Yesterday and Throne of Grace), you already know we are spiritual people.

Well, soon it was time for Keturah to head off to college. We packed up both of our cars and headed to Nacogdoches. On our way to SFA I received a phone call from Keturah.

The conversation went something like this:

Keturah: Mom, when I turned that curve I felt like I had seen it before.

(we called those moments God’s check points to let her know she is on the right path.)

Me: That is God’s way of letting you know that you are on the right path (It was confirmation for me too).

In Acts 2:27 it states in the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.

Since Keturah graduated from college I have watched her prepare and plan each year getting ready for new students and I have moved from the role of a parent to the role of a coach/cheerleader of a 4th grade teacher/future administrator.

(Side Note/Principle): It is important for a parent to understand when their role changes in their child’s life.

This week the school year will begin for her. Try and picture desks piled against the walls, bulletin boards to be built, folders to be labeled, readers to be sifted through, and teachers moving out as another teacher moves into a classroom. Everyone is scrambling to get things done before the doors of the school open to students and parents.

It is the teachers who ensure that our little darlings have everything that they need. Sometimes that includes school supplies. In my many years of work experience, I have never known any employee to spend long hours at work and have out of pocket expense without the expectation of compensation or reimbursement. Nevertheless, our teachers continue to diligently work year after year.

I thought, “what was I thinking when Keturah was going to school?” Did I think those pristine classrooms appeared magically with their bright colors and clever story boards? I pray I was not to impatient with those who invested in Keturah’s growth. I can admit I never really thought about it until Keturah became a teacher when I found myself in the classroom volunteering my time.

We all have shared in the success of our Olympic athletes by watching them achieve the gold; yet, we the viewers will never fully understand the time and energy sacrificed by those individuals. Nor, will we fully understand the time teachers invest to ensure that every student has the opportunity to have the best education.

Teachers’ today have a lot more challenges than the teachers of my time. Not only do they have to educate; they have to be thought leaders regarding our children’s protection. The biggest problem my generation faced was unwanted pregnancies. A fight did not mean it could escalate into to gun shots, injured children and teachers, and/or possibly leading to death. School drills only consisted of what to do in the event of a fire, not what to do in the case of an invasion. I see the classroom as a mission field. Yes, it takes a special calling to be a teacher today.They are working in uncharted territory. I thank God for the gift he placed inside of them.
Romans 12:7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well

There is no denying that there are problems within our educational system. But can you find an organization or institution that does not have their challenges? This coming year I pray that instead of finger pointing, we pray for God’s protection over the students, teachers, administrators, and staff.

Over the past two weeks, our church (Light Church) held services to pray over our college students, teachers, administrators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and support staff. We are trusting that God has equipped our teachers to develop the next generation of leaders. God gave Pastor Shaw an analogy several years ago. If you have a pencil and it is not sharpened, do you blame the pencil or the pencil sharpener? No, you look at the sharpener. If we lose a generation of children (pencils), it will not be their fault. It is the responsibility of the sharpeners (parents, teachers, administrators etc). It will takes us working together as a community to ensure that our children obtain the best education possible.

I challenge you to join your faith with ours and prayer for the educational system and our next generation of leaders. Do I believe that Keturah is where God designed her to be? Absolutely!
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Christian Mom Gone Crazy

In the last post, Seeds of Trust, there are a couple of things my mom mentioned that I would like to touch on; the first being middle school. I have yet to meet a person who actually enjoyed going through middle school. As a matter of fact, when I just googled “middle school” it suggested that perhaps I meant, “middle school problems.” Middle school is full of a bunch pubescent pre-teens trying to discover themselves meanwhile outcasting others who are not discovering the same characteristics. Forget learning! There was way too much drama for that. I am so grateful that the elementary school I went to included the sixth grade, because I wouldn’t have lasted there three years. I have a hard time remembering much about middle school. I’ve blocked it out… it was that bad.

Part of what I do remember, I will share.

Towards the end of the sixth grade (still elementary) my friends and I were all getting excited about going to middle school. We’d taken a field trip there, ate lunch in their cafeteria (which was sooo cool), and had a tour of the school. In the summer, our schedules were mailed to us. We called each other to figure out what classes we had together (if any). We realized that we’re all being split up and are joining other students from about 6 different elementary schools, and so the problems begin. New people, new dynamics.

These “other kids” were well versed on things I had never even heard of; things way outside of my league and comfort zone. I spent a lot of time in SHOCK as I learned all these taboo concepts. This also meant my mom spent a lot of time in shock, because she was the one I was talking to about it – and that wasn’t a secret. Everyone knew I was close with my mom, everyone knew I talked to her, and as a result, I was ostracized for it. My “friends” started excluding me from their conversations and whispering in my presence. Of course it hurt my feelings (which I also shared with my mom).

Eventually just excluding me wasn’t enough, one girl in particular actually started threatening to fight me for being close with my mom. At one point she even threatened to fight me IN FRONT of my mom, if I ever opened my mouth about something I’d heard. Which brings me to the next thing I would like to address that my mom mentioned in the previous post… Getting “carried away with her emotions”. She breezed by that, but my mom can be a little crazy. Don’t be messin’ with her baby now. I can just hear her now, “I wish she would hit you in front of me! She’ll get the whopping she deserves that day!”

Fast forward toward the end of 7th grade. I have endured this all year. It’s the morning of TAAS day (the old school Texas Standardized Test) and this girl really wants to fight me, she has been talking noise non-stop about it. Around here, you get ticketed by the SRO for fighting, along with some other consequences. I wasn’t too concerned about the consequences I was going to get from MISD, I was more concerned about the consequence I was going to get from Marilyn Stewart if I got into a fight with this girl. So here I am bawling, sitting in the office (instead of in class getting ready for my test like I should be). The SRO is calling my mom. He put me on the phone with her and this was the conversation:

Mom: Girl, why are you crying? Are you scared of her?

Me: No

Mom: Then why are you crying? Are you scared you’re going to be in trouble for fighting her?

Me: (crying harder) Yes….

Mom: Let me tell you something, if that girl lays her hands on you, YOU BETTER WEAR HER OUT!! DO YOU HEAR ME? I WILL PAY THE TICKET!!

Me: (crying over) Okay… (hands the phone back to the SRO)

He tells my mom, I don’t know what you told her, but she seems to be doing a lot better (lol).  I later found out that my mom  sought counsel with our Pastor after our conversation, and he was going to come up to my school himself to put a stop to all this nonsense, which demonstrates, in the words of my mom, “the importance of having your child in a faith believing supportive body of believers”.

In the end, all of that happened for nothing. The girl was all bark and no bite. A fight never took place. Eventually, I just had to move on and make new friends. Being apart of a group wasn’t worth the drama to me. I wasn’t going to conform who I was to be accepted, and I am so grateful to my mom for instilling that in me. The one thing I did learn in middle school.. if no one else had my back, at least my mom did.

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Romans 12:2 – and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. 

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Seeds of Trust

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When I read Keturah’s post “The Ingredients that Made Us, Us”. I had to chuckle.

Mini Heart Attacks” is an understatement.

Picture me driving and listening to Keturah tell me about what was happening in school and about some of the things her friends were doing. It was challenging for me to sit and listen without thinking, OMG.  But I wanted to demonstrate that I trusted her and I was there for her. One of the foundational principles of Keturah and I having a great relationship is “I purposed in my heart that I would always listen to her.”

I believe middle-school was the most challenging for both of us.  It is a time when young people’s peer’s approval take percedent over obtaining approval from their parents.  Times have not changed that much since I’ve gone to school. In today’s society, people want others to conform to their views and the way they do things.  This repsonse seems to hold true no matter what stage of life you are in.  Being different in school can cause people to ostersize other kids.  Why? Because that person doesn’t fit the typical model.  Keturah was not a typical teenager. I tried to raise her to be her own person.  Following after the crowd was not going to be the norm.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 2:6)

In elemenatry school, when she came home and told me, “Mom, the girls will not play with me, unless, I do this,” then I would tell her, “go play with the boys.”  I believe in a person being who God designed them to be. Sure, we all have similarities, yet, we are different. How boring life would be if we’re all the same?

Keturah’s friends knew she shared her experiences with me and at times it made school life tough. And it made it hard for me to watch her go through some of the challenges she had to face.  I  would watch, listen, and step in when my spirit led me to, otherwise, my emotions would carry me away.  She was correct in saying I was not the cool Mom.  I was her parent first.  I was protective but I tried not to be overprotective.  I established boundaries that I believe would help her develop into a strong woman of God, even as an adult, Keturah still respects those boundaries.

Boundaries didn’t mean we couldn’t have a good time together.  I can recall us sitting up night after night playing “Super Mario” until she beat every level of the game then there was Zelda and Zelda II.  I taught her to roller skate in my kitchen how to do a back bend, and do cartwheels (things, I cannot do). I was once told that I could be in deep sleep and all I had to hear was “Mom” and I was up. It has been a priviledge watching her mature.  If someone says to me I did a great job, I always tell them it was by accident and the grace of God.

When I didn’t know what to do, I prayed.  I prayed for God to help me send her to the right schools, the correct way to discipline, and how to raise a responsible adult whose parents weren’t together.  The second thing I purposed in my heart was that I would not be the reason Keturah did not have a relationship with her Father.  I would not speak ill of him around her and I always ensured she treated him with the upmost respect.  She was not a pawn to be shuffled back and forth between us.  She was a little person with feeling and a heart.

My mother sowed seeds of trust in my life and in turn I sowed those same seeds into my relationship with Keturah.  I am sure that there were some things going on in her heart that she didn’t share with me, but I had to trust that God was guiding her.

We’ve all seen a baby who just started to walk.  They shakily stand up on those wobbly chubby legs and they may occasionally plop down on their bottoms.  When they do, they look at Mom.  With that questioning look “Should I cry?”.  If Mom has a calm reaction, then they will get back up, maybe laugh and continue on.

That is what every parent wants for their child to experience life and continue on.

The Ingredients That Make Us, Us.

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If you walked up to anyone who knows me (or knows of me for that matter) and asked them to name someone I was really close with, I guarantee you that my mom would be amongst the top of the list. My mom and I have always had a close relationship (even during those rocky teenage years that all girls go through when they’re trying to find themselves).

So what exactly does a “close relationship” look like? A lot of people think that to have a close relationship with your mother she has to be a “cool mom,” and I’m not saying that my mom isn’t cool, because she is, but she wasn’t what society deems a “cool mom” is… You know, the mom that lets her daughter underage drink at home because “I’d rather her do it here under my supervision than be out there where I can’t monitor her.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. My mom was no where close to that kind of mom. She set very clear expectations for me (and modeled them herself) and made sure I knew what was right – regardless of what was popular.

Technically, I’m an only child (I know, shocking – especially considering the impressive number of siblings I’ve inherited by marriage). So MOST of the time it was just me and my mom. Occasionally I had siblings over at the house some weekends, and I had siblings at my dad’s house. I wasn’t by myself ALL the time, but you get the idea. I wasn’t one of those kids who felt cheated out of a brother or sister and hated being by myself. I was not lonely. I had someone to play with whenever I was ready. We played barbies, stayed up until unGodly hours playing video games, we rode bikes, we went skating, we went to the park, we watched movies, and we went swimming. It didn’t matter that she was my mom… except for when I was getting whippings… it did matter then.

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We talked a lot. She talked with me about things that were going on with her at work and in school (she was in college getting her Bachelor’s Degree) and I talked to her about what was going on with me at school and all the drama that was taking place with my friends. (Side note: being a teacher, I know the things kids hear at school. I know what they talk about… and even though I teach fourth graders, sometimes their conversations are shockingly inappropriate. I can imagine parents having mini heart-attacks when their kids come home and ask them about something they shouldn’t know about until adulthood.) With that being said, I told my mom mostly everything, and asked her questions about stuff I didn’t understand and was too embarrassed to ask one of my friends about (which should let you know just how comfortable I was talking to my mom). I later found out that some of those conversations were a little hard for her. She was having several “mini heart-attacks” of her own and probably wondering when the actual learning about academics was talking place at school. But, I would have never known, she always seemed collected. She would tell me what was right, and always gave me sound advice.

My mom instilled in me at a very young age the value of trust. Which contributes a great amount to our bond. She taught me that if someone trusted me, and I broke their trust, it was very hard, if not impossible to regain. It was something we talked about often, and I knew that I didn’t want to put myself in a position where she didn’t trust me. Her trust was something that I valued and I knew that she trusted me – she told me all the time. So, If I said I was going to be somewhere, she trusted that I would be there. I didn’t ever want to be in a position where she didn’t trust me, so I was always honest. When I made plans with my friends, she knew about it. If the plans changed, she knew about it. If we were going to be longer than planned, she knew about it. I always wanted her to know where I was because 1. In the event of an emergency, I needed to be found (I’m very fond of being alive) and 2. I didn’t have the desire to sew any wild teenage oats, and if things got too crazy, I needed her to come and get me as soon as possible. Neither one of those things were possible if she didn’t even know where I was.

So, those things are the ingredients of the bond that we share. What makes us close is trust, communication, and quality time, which are basically the ingredients for any successful relationship. We didn’t pick these things up when I got into my 20s, we’ve been practicing these since day one. It wasn’t always popular for me to be close with my mom, I was criticized for it a lot growing up, but I’ve always worn my badge very proudly. I am a momma’s girl, what can you do about it?

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Lasting Memories

Not only is June the month I share a special time with my daughter, it is also my mother’s birthday month. It is where life started for me. The ideologies of motherhood was imparted to me by a strong women. It just feels right that the time set aside for my baby (yes, I still call her my baby) is in the same month.

When Keturah was growing up I worried about her being an only child. I didn’t want her to feel alone. I made a point of not holding on too tight. Allowing her to spread her wings and let life experiences grow and stretch her. As a parent, that is a hard thing to do because no parent wants their child to hurt or be hurt. Yet, some experiences are necessary to strengthen and develop the individual.

As I live this journey called life, I pray that I translate those life lessons into laying a foundation that will build a healthier future. I am a forward thinker. I want to feel as if I have given her the tools she needs to keep going just like my mother did for me. I learned when God called my mother home, the thing that kept me from staying in the valley is the lasting memories that I shared with her. Memories that had life lessons behind them. Memories that carried me through times when my heart yearned for my best friend. Memories that have caused me to smile and yes, even some that have made me cry. It is my faith combined with those memories that have keep me thriving.

This June is one of several vacations Keturah and I have shared together. I look forward to the adventures we share. Like spending time with my two girls and listening to them talk about their hopes and dreams. Both at different stages in their life; one about to be a mother and the other about to be wife. I am sure that they think of their college days because I do and I am thankful that they have each other.

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Memories that stir the heart .

Walking the streets of San Antonio experiencing the river walk together. Thinking of years earlier when I too was at the river walk with my mother. Keturah and I pressed through the crowd not knowing when we would stumble upon that next memory.

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I was bent on finding this certain restaurant. Rosario’s a place my oldest sister and I ate at when we visited San Antonio. A place where we had a party with a special friend “honoring my mother”. We loved the place so much we patronized it three times. Now Keturah has become a part of that memory. How did we find the place? I don’t know I thought I was going to the right place. I walked, looked, and searched my 2013 check register to find the restaurant’s name. Then I began to recognize the neighborhood, mile markers (food truck stand) just like in life that steers us along our way. Then there it was.  Laughing and feeling the Texas heat we entered the restaurant and I was hoping the food was as good as I remembered. I had to send my sister a picture and say, “Guess where I am”.

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Keturah said, “Mom, these are the best fish tacos I have ever eaten.”

Day 2 – There is one thing we love to do. Experience the food that we don’t have at home. We search Yelp to see what locals have to say about the restaurants in the area. We found a breakfast restaurant that had been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives; it had a five star rating. Upon our arrival we learned that it was an hour wait and 32 people were (it was apparent that others had read the same review) ahead of us. It is a vacation and we were all in.

I must say it was well worth the wait.

If we feel like quietly lounging in our room or going to a chick flick, we do whatever is in our heart.

Day 3  – We found ourselves at the Alamo. I knew that I visited this site in elementary school.  Yet, the details had faded from my memories.  Now a new memory was created. We walked the ground, stood in the room where the women and children were housed, and read every name of every man that laid down their lives.

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There are certain things that are traditional, such as, visiting “historical” sites.

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Taking “selfies” and “enjoying” life

It is one thing we have both learned, in the past two years, that life can change in an instance.  I don’t want to leave you with the impression that we don’t have our moments because we do.  Yes, I am sure I get on her nerves.  I am a mother and sometimes we think we know best. But what I love most about her is that she would rather say nothing than disrespect me.  It is important for me to recognize that God gave me the awesome responsibility to nurture and care for one of his precious gifts. My greatest responsibility is to ensure she is equipped so she can equip her children. I have learned to love her as my child and love her as an adult.  She is my greatest blessing.

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