Musings of this GRANDmother…

As my daughter and granddaughter were leaving the house on Saturday for a mother daughter afternoon of lunch and shopping, I was struck with a moment of deja vu. They were dressed similarly black tops, jeans and boots/high top tennis shoes. I complimented my grandgirl on how adorable she looked and gave my daughter an approving nod. They were rocking one of my favorite looks; black top, jeans with a great shoe is my uniform! And they looked like sisters. My daughter turned to me with that somewhat pained look that every mom has when it seems their child has entered that “almost out the door stage of life” and said “she doesn’t look 11”. I just gave her an understanding smile because in that moment, she didn’t look 42 to me either. For an instant, I was ushered back to the time when I was the mom and she was 11.
The children, they grow up so fast. Cherish every moment, in every stage.
The cycle of life is a glorious gift … embrace it!

Life Lessons in Loss…

I find a distinct peacefulness whenever I am near the water. Oceans, lakes, rivers or streams provide me with a respite that is much different from the mountains, flatlands or the desert. Despite the beauty of the earth, I am ultimately drawn to bodies of water. For many years I have lived in the desert or the flatlands. With my travels significantly curtailed, I’ve not enjoyed the sound of waves or the feel of mist on my skin from ocean breezes. This might explain why I was overcome with emotion while crossing a bridge in Annapolis, Maryland on my recent visit. It almost seemed as if I’d been ushered into paradise, but my friends and I were simply on our way to an early dinner. The view of the water was breathtaking. IMG_0582 2Dining al fresco in the company of cherished friends while the waves played in the background was exactly what I needed. Scrumptious food, stimulating conversation and comfort of friendship provided me with the safe environment I needed to explore my frazzled emotions.

It had been a difficult summer. The loss of five loved ones in my life circle in a two month period threatened the stability of my inner peace. I was trying to hold it together for everyone that might need encouragement…including me. Although none of the people that had passed away were from my immediate family, they were all intricately woven into the relational threads of my life. Every one of them had influenced me. My heart was broken for their family members. I felt a bit of their pain. Losing them caused me to question how would, or could I prepare myself for the loss of my immediate family members. Did I dare grieve in advance for the reality of the losses that I would suffer? I was fairly resolute about the inevitability of death but I wasn’t as comfortable with how I was treating certain aspects of my life.

The events of those two months prompted me to do some serious examinations of how I care for my personal relationships. Living life can often allow you to neglect the people who aren’t in your daily, weekly, monthly space. I’d been guilty of that. The first person I lost was a friend since first grade. We hadn’t spoken in years but when my sister informed me of my friend’s diagnosis, I got her phone number and reached out to her. I was blessed to reconnect with her. We shared great memories, laughs, prayers and tears in the following months. Our text messages and conversations were both a comfort and wake-up call to me. I was comforted by the knowledge that in her final days she told her children that she was thrilled that we were able to renew our friendship. This was my wake-up call to the fact that life is fragile and tomorrow is not promised. The subsequent deaths reinforced an uncomfortable sense of urgency to pay greater attention to the care of my relationships.

While driving over the Old South River bridge in route to Mike’s Crab House for an early dinner, the beauty of the water and the promise of delicious food was enhanced by the company of two girlfriends I hadn’t seen in nearly ten years. My tears were an outward expression of gratitude for the gift of being in my favorite environment with two of my favorite people. In suffering loss I’d been allowed another chance at becoming a more present friend. My peace was being restored as I began paying closer attention to my relationships.

Product Presentation Packaging …hair and other things

My adventure with natural hair has been a long and winding road. This project has caused a vast range of emotions. Hair days that have reinforced my self-confidence and others that forced me to close the blinds, silence my phone and become one with my bed! My Caucasian sisters may not be able to relate to the natural hair phenomenon, but you can identify with the lengths we go to in pursuit of the perfect hair. Long, short, curly, straight, blonde or brunette…it’s all about the hair, a woman’s crowning glory. Why oh why does it have so much power over our self esteem?

I have driven miles, engaged in lengthy conversations and invested hundreds…make that probably more than $1000. on getting the perfect hair cut and products for my Natural hair. And still I search. Whether in store or online the illusive perfect products are a must. I have tried my share over the years. There have been some that lasted only one shampoo conditioning cycle and others that have worked well for a while before they gradually lost their mojo.

My latest favorites are fairly exclusive and expensive. The products are specific for wavy or curly or kinky as is the packaging. It’s the packaging that first caught my eye. A handy little gift set for frizzy hair. After trying the products I liked them well enough to buy the ones for kinky hair. I was pretty satisfied. I even recommended the line to several friends. And then it happened. During a recent shower, shampoo and conditioning experience I reached for frizzy instead of kinky. The outcome was the same; my hair looked the same using a different product. This made me think if my results were the same using the product with different packaging could it be that the product inside the various bottles were all the same? Was the packaging and presentation just camouflaging what was inside? After all my initial attraction was for the attractive presentation.

That made me think about more important areas of life that can cause us to be swayed by the packaging of an opportunity or a relationship. The truth is what is on the inside that counts, the essence of the product. How many of us have been guilty of getting too serious, much too soon about the guy with the slick car, flashy wardrobe and smooth line whose heart is…cold? Or accepted that coveted invitation that looked good on the surface but turned out to be a dud? Why is it that women often exercise more due diligence when it comes to their hair than they do regarding life altering decisions?

Whether hair products or life choices we must make sure that we look beyond the glossy presentation. We can fix our hair…even if that means buying some! Repairing our lives can be a much more long and winding road.

The Real Housewives…Really? and “The Resolution for Women”

The Daytime Bible Study that I lead is reading “The Resolution for Women” by Priscilla Shirer. This week’s chapter is “My Integrity”. “It’s those undercover, low-key matters, the ones that cloak themselves in the guise of entertainment—those are the ones that hook us. They’re unobtrusive. Quiet. Too comfortable and familiar, really to be asked to leave. Just there. Justifiable.” This quote from the chapter made me research my writings and dust off this blog written 5/1/2011 but never published. Enjoy.

Housewife is defined as a married woman who manages her own household as her principal occupation. So will someone please explain how we can have the Real Housewives of Various Cities and only a few of these women are really housewives!

I guess I should say that I don’t care for reality television…primarily because it isn’t real. There are countless hours of footage shot and creatively edited to portray anything that will boost ratings and entice more viewers and sponsors.

Consider this, have you ever had a camera follow you around for 24 hours? Me neither. It can often be uncomfortable for me to take a picture or give an interview. Something about the presence of a camera can cause a shift in one’s behavior. Cause us to not be our true authentic selves.

The Real Housewives of…Orange County, Atlanta, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and now Beverly Hills, I have watched them all. It started innocently enough with some channel surfing. My curiosity peaked and soon I began to watch regularly. I was astonished, appalled, embarrassed (both for them and for myself for watching), but gradually I was sucked in to the point that I even chatted with girlfriends about what was happening on whatever “Housewife” group currently airing. We would spend precious time discussing these women as if we knew them. We had taken the bait and been enticed by these “distraction agents”!

Upon closer inspection, I noticed several curious details about the women featured on the “Housewives” franchise. The fact is that few of them are housewives by definition because their households are not their principal occupation. The majority of the women enjoy lucrative careers outside the home and still others earn a living by simply being famous. Some of them are not even married, which would challenge the use of the word “wife”. And one of the women has even become famous apparently as a result of her very public, ongoing affair with a married man. Surely she cannot be considered a “Real Housewife”! The drama that surrounds their lives reaches outrageous proportions in each episode as the program travels to the various cities represented. Still we watch…and still I watched…and discussed and judged and watched. Then one evening after watching a “Reunion” show that was particularly mean-spirited and totally over the top, I began to notice that many of the women seemed to be sad. (subsequently several of the cast members have left the shows)

That was when I evaluated what I was doing. I had unintentionally joined the ranks of millions of pop culture viewers who find “sport” in other people’s lives. Kind of like when the Romans looked on during a chariot race or a coliseum filled with lions devouring Christians. Soon my heart began to hurt for a woman who for whatever reason had decided that, “15 minutes of fame” was more valuable than her life. I can’t imagine the world looking on as my family unravels due to marital difficulties, a failing business or a child on drugs. Seriously what would cause anyone to choose to share such invasive snippets of their lives with people who don’t care at all about the well-being of their family?

I prefer to share my personal trials with a handful of trusted friends whose loyalty is proven. We don’t always agree but we do provide one another with a safe environment to expose our hearts. Despite the safety net of genuine friendships my favorite person to cry out to in my times of trouble is my Savior, Jesus Christ. HE and only HE, has a way of holding my heart and restoring peace to my soul. So I began to pray for the women of “The Real Housewives…” I began to look at them as Real women, who need to know that there is a Real GOD, who loves them…Really!

Mother’s Day in September…what?

For several weeks leading up to Mother’s Day and even on that Sunday I mused over the idea of writing a piece about being a mom. After all my blogs often speak specifically to moms. So why did I write a few sentences, get distracted and eventually move on to other writing projects? Why was it such a struggle to express my thoughts on a topic that is so important to me? It didn’t need to be a manual on motherhood, simply a few paragraphs of encouragement. As we all know time passes so quickly it often seems that if you blink you’re in a whole other season. That’s what happened with this blog. The subject continued to melodically float in and out of my thoughts but I never got around to fleshing out my ideas. Eventually it seemed that I would have to wait until next year to address the Mother’s Day/holiday subject.  Wait…maybe it’s not too late. But how do you reengage interest in Mother’s Day when it’s almost five months behind us?

Duh…that is the real theme of this blog! It is impossible to relegate one day out of the year as a sufficient celebration of motherhood. Being a mom is a twenty-four seven, three hundred sixty-five day of every year gig. Whether you are a working, stay at home, single or married mom, you are always a mom.

I understand the sentiment, respect the traditions and am thankful that there is a day set aside with mothers in mind. Hallmark, Tel-a-flora, Edible Arrangements and countless others do an excellent job of providing us with tangible ways that we can express our love and appreciation for our mothers. Brunch and visits to a spa are a few things that I totally enjoy. I can be a “pomp and circumstance” kinda girl. I enjoy being pampered. The truth is every mother needs to be appreciated and Mother’s Day should be a special day.

On the other hand, I have been a mother for the past forty years. For over half of my life I have been blessed to be called mother, mommy, mom. It has been my primary vocation, my most rewarding accomplishment. That is why I couldn’t finish this until today; the reason that my thoughts couldn’t be dismissed. I am a mom today and every other day. I was a mom in May and I’m still a mom in September. So even though I am a fan of the holiday, one day does not do motherhood justice. Every mom reading this knows exactly what I mean. We are mothers every day for the rest of our lives. It is an extreme responsibility and an extrordinary gift.

My mother is eighty-six years young. I still call her mama. I still crave her approval. I listen to her more intently than ever, seeking her wisdom. She reminds me lovingly that I am her first born, her “little girl”. My mother is still my mother even though I am a “big girl” now and GRANDmother myself.

Let me encourage you to enjoy the annual tradition AND find ways to celebrate yourself every day. You will be a mom until you leave the earth. Embrace motherhood. It’s good to be a mom. Why not celebrate Mother’s Day again…in September?

GodChicks, Girlfriends and other Great moments

I just returned from what can only be described as one of the greatest weeks of my life. It was FABulous! Don’t you just love when the experience exceeds your expectations? It all started months ago when I received the GodChicks Conference brochure (more like a catalog) in the mail. I hadn’t been to this amazing gathering of women for several years.

The brochure cover hooked me. I was in. The next step was to contact a friend with a simple text ‘thinking about doing GodChicks June 29-30th in LA r u in?” The rest is “herstory”! Women have the amazing ability to gather and disseminate information in a very short period of time. In  short order,  the “fab 4” were committed to GodChicks and good times. We registered online, booked our hotel and made travel plans. In the months leading up to the conference we all went on with our lives. Family, work, school etc with a few brief phone calls and texts. Long conversations weren’t necessary. We’ve traveled this road before. There have been other conferences that we’ve attended together.

The atmosphere changed the week before GodChicks, we all were giddy with anticipation. We descended on Hollywood (the absolute perfect place to gather for the sole purpose of exalting the Name of Jesus) and our “girlcation” began with exuberant conversation to the point that security knocked at our hotel room door. Really! It had simply been too long and we were excited to reconnect and do another portion of our lives together. True girlfriends though separated by time and distance can always reconnect. (One little suggestion…make sure you have some girls to do life with…we were meant to do life together) The meetings, conference speakers, praise and worship, fellowship with dear friends and ministry partners though brief was wonderful. Girl talk, laughter, tears, shopping and food was abundantly present. We had a blast and our souls were fed. It was a beautiful combination.

The next days were filled with more chatter, food, laughter and tears with my breathtakingly beautiful and talented daughter. My heart was full. There was so much LOVE! The last stop on my holiday included a visit with my mom and dad, sisters, nieces and brother-in-law. Traveling these days can be hectic and exhausting. My time of GodChicks, girlfriends and other great moments was more than worth it. I’ll do it again in a heartbeat.

If you have the opportunity to spend time with family and friends, do everything in your power to make it happen. Life is short. Relationships are a gift. Fill your life with great moments. I don’t have any travel plans for this week, however I will be enjoying some great moments with some more Girlfriends! How about you? Let’s do what captured my attention on the GodChicks brochure. Let’s “love one another”!

as my world was spinning…

For the past nine days I have battled Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or simply Vertigo. This condition is medically described as dizziness due to debris collected in the inner ear; “ear rocks” or small crystals of calcium that are unable to migrate into the ear’s canal system. That is the brief medical definition.

My definition is more like debilitating dizziness accompanied by extreme nausea, a total inability to perform my normal, basic life tasks. My steps were unsteady when I was able to walk and my vision was blurred. In other words no fun at all. Living life in this state has been challenging for me. I have places to go, people to see, etc, etc. And yet simply living in this altered state afforded me some time to reflect. I spent time, appreciating my life and my overall good health. I don’t know about you but when illness invades my life sending me to bed, I begin to focus on life and it’s increasingly fragile reality. Nothing like being flat on your back, or in my case curled up on my side, to make you realize that our health is something to be cherished and our time on earth is but “a vapor.”

So while the world turned around me and I was unable to participate, I made a few personal resolutions:

  • I won’t waste my time
  • I will smile more, laugh more and appreciate exactly where I am in my life journey
  • I will be kind to people (even the ones who get on my nerves)
  • I will tell my friends and family that they are loved and valued more often
  • I will continue to pursue every one of my dreams (even the ones that terrify me)
  • I will thank God with more fervency than ever before, for His faithfulness to me
  • I will be grateful for every moment of every day (life is to be lived to the fullest)

Yesterday much to the dismay of my family members who were concerned for me driving, I was able to maneuver to my church and lead the final session of our intense six-week Bible Study. I had decided that only a return visit to the ER would keep me away. There has been an amazing group of women who have totally committed to the study or merely dropped in for some refreshing for their souls. In six short weeks, deep healing occurred as layers of buried despair were peeled away. We collectively decided to pursue our destinies with even greater passion as we left the pain of our past behind. We laughed, we cried, we encouraged and strengthened one another as we dug deeper wells of worship. We concluded that we would not allow anything to separate us from the perfect love of God. The women emerged from our time together with their peace restored and their voices primed to share a message of hope on any occasion with any woman who has a thirsty soul.

Today I’m doing some more reflecting. This time marveling on how the peace of God was able to steady me when my world was spinning out of control, all around me. Physically the vertigo happened because my brain, my eyes, as well as my ears were not functioning together perfectly. Our balance depends on all of these body parts being in sync. Who knew…

I wonder how many women are functioning in their everyday lives, while their spirits are in a state of vertigo? Are your a bit out of balance? Are your steps unsteady? Is your vision blurred? You might want to check and see if your spirit, soul and body are all in sync. Take some time to do an emotional and spiritual check-up. The great life that is your destiny depends on it.