The College Son’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Semester (And My Nervous Break Down)

The first article on my new blog site. How do you like it?

Oh? You love it. Bless you. I knew you would. (If you hate it, just keep it to yourself please, just keep it to yourself. Remember love covers a multitude of sins and just about everything else.)

(Btw, there is one small issue that needs to be fixed, but I decided to wait no more. The time is now. I must write on my new space. If you find said error, overlook it, and perhaps consider a career in I Spy or Finding Waldo. But, don’t fret, we’re working on it.)

So, onto the topic of the day, written on my new blog.

I debated mightily on the debut article. I considered waxing thoughtfully about my hellebores, especially ‘Purple Galaxy.’ Contemplated a discussion on the weird ways of roses, but why I think you absolutely should plant Lady of Shalott (David Austin) in your garden (so many good reasons!), or how my primrose collection is going (fabulous). But then I had an epiphany. (Don’t you love it when that happens?) So more weighty things will appear here today, and later we’ll get back to the gentle ways of the garden, and the ‘Black and Blue’ saliva I plan to plant along the picket fence (pure triumph).

This blog post concerns the college son, who had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad semester. And, I considered moving to Australia. But, some semesters of life are just like that, even in Australia. So instead, we plowed through. (I say we because as THE MOTHER I wanted to kill him and myself and the everyone associated with what we’ll just call the ‘Incident’.) The semester finishes up next week (Thank you Jesus!). So, we did a brief review today. Here’s what we know.

1. The consequences for some not-so-stellar-choices are proving harsh.

2. The consequences will be long term.

3. The consequences could bring shame if we let them.

4. The consequences are sweet revenge for some who were hurt in the “Incident.’  (It is far better to be in the hands of the Lord than of men. Can I hear Amen?)

5. Blessings are sweeter in the midst of rough consequences.

That last one kills me. Just like days off are sweeter after a long week of work, blessings are more obvious when life is kicking your butt. I’m sure its all a yin-yang thing, but what I know is, that if left up to me, life would be one long cruise in sunny weather with calm waters. I am not made for battle. I am made for flip flops, long lazy beach days, tea in the garden, good books, interesting conversation, naps, and leisurely walks, but not deep-in-the-trenches-battle. I never liked the song Onward Christian Soldiers. I preferred In the Garden.

But, my children are teaching me what battle looks like and what victory is. I include my Bonus Daughter who showed what tough stuff she’s made of living in Juneau, Alaska for a year, alone, as a single mother. (I could not be a single mother if had a thousand nannies, household help and a Jacuzzi.) Here’s my take-away from the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad semester:

Victory is not the absence of failure.

Victory is what you do with failure.

The College Son did some pretty amazing things with his failure, which ended with an incredible poem that blew my mind and his English teacher’s. I watched his failure become his triumph. I will say that is an awesome thing to see.

I view a few of my own failures differently now, not letting the voice of shame win the day, but instead saying, wow, you survived that? I am curious, even. What if my failures can be my victories? It’s a start, I suppose, to learning how to fight. The battle may be lost from time to time, but the war is not over, and victory is not the spoils of my enemies, but the attitude of my heart.

Transplanted (and still) Blooming.





Advice from a Blue Collar Girl

A guy asked me out recently. (Oh. Stop. It can happen.)

Anyway, when he found out I was a horticulturist, he lost interest.

I’ll quote him:

“I didn’t realize you were a blue collar girl.” he said, pausing to consider the ramifications of this on his personal life.  “I thought you graduated from Furman University.” Silence, while he pondered this newsflash a bit more, rubbing his chin a lot like my divorce attorney did. He concluded. “I don’t really want to date a blue collar girl.” 

My response:

“Oh good, because I didn’t realize you were an a**, but now that I know you are, I don’t want to date you.”

I know. We can’t all be as classy as I am.

So here’s my topic. I’m going to give ya’ll some career advice. The dating advice was a freebie that I just threw in. You’re welcome.

Career Advice from a Blue Collar Girl:

1. There is no shame in hard work, blue collar, or whatever collar you wear. Be proud of your job, and your hard work.

2. You can work in the pouring rain, melting heat, blowing wind, freezing cold, and baking sun. You think you can’t, but you can.

3. DayQuill will get you through even your sickest days.

4. Don’t wait to be brave to do something. Bravery comes with doing, not waiting (or reading a self-help book).

5. Get over the idea that you should be at the same place someone who has been doing their craft/job for decades is.  Stay focused. It will come. Don’t compare yourself to others. Just persevere.

6. And, while we’re on that subject. Perseverance is the number one thing needed to succeed at whatever you’re doing: work, career, family, marriage, hobby, gardening, writing, etc.

7. Most people quit way before the finish line; some quit when it’s in sight. Don’t quit.

8. Your body, no matter the age, can do more than you think. Push yourself.

9. Training matters. Not every job or every person needs a college degree. But, training is important. Take lots of extra-curricular classes to improve your job skills, and add to your resume (it is all about the resume these days).

10. If you don’t know, do ask. And, don’t bs your way through. Horticulture is a knowledge based industry and the knowledge changes daily. It is vast and wide. People often remark to me that they had no idea just how deep this industry is. I’m assuming the same could be said about your industry. So, don’t be a know-it-all, but do aspire to know it all. 

Advice from a blue collar girl.

Small, Medium and Big Christians: Auditing the Faith

One Sunday after church, my oldest son (age 10 at the time) came into my bedroom to announce something.  He wanted me to know that it had come to his attention that there were “small, medium and big Christians.”

This is a mild announcement compared to some of the things my children have sprung on me since, but I could tell he wanted me to take him seriously. So, I did.

I probed a bit to get his meaning, though frankly, it wasn’t too hard to discern.

He said he had noticed that not all Christians were the same. Meaning, of course, that we’re at different places in our faith journeys. I agreed. His concern was that one person he thought of as a small Christian was seen by everyone in our church as big. What had he missed?

Well, imagine the following conversation. Of course, before you even think it or get it out of your mouth (because I know you are thinking it), we had the discussion about judging others. To which, he retorted, “Dad says we can judge if someone has fruit or not.” My ex was always the clever one. Touche.

Honestly though, I wasn’t concerned about my son’s discovery that the church was busy promoting some elder as a stoic in the faith, while my son witnessed a very different person Mon-Saturday. Let’s face it. At some point, all of us church goers figure out that there’s a few loose screws sitting in the pews. My polite way of saying, a few who, for whatever their reason, show up to church, but haven’t a clue whomthey worship. I mean bottom line, for some, church is a social means to a business end. Or a cultural habit that revolves more around friendship than worship. There are plenty of reasons people go to church, not all of them have to do with Jesus. My son was going to figure that out soon or later.

No, this little announcement had a different impact on me. It had me on the edge of my seat of wondering where MOM fit on the small, medium, and large Christian scale.  I mean I talked the talk, that’s for dang sure. Was I walking the walk in his 10 year old eyes?

So, I nonchalantly got him off the elder by quizzing him instead about everyone else he knew. I was hoping to insert my name into the list and catch him off guard, so he’d be honest. After all, he’s 10, he knew who paid for the pool and movies. I started with his Maurme, my mom, his grandmother. “Oh, she’s  HUGE.: She got a huge? Huh. I went on, Aunt Debbie?, Aunt Kathy? Your Father? and so on. When I slid my name into the list, he cut his eyes at me, and said, “Mom, of course you’re big.” Hmmmm…

The child was desperate for a night over at a friend’s house who lived a long way across town, and I had agreed to talk Dad into it. So?? Was I truly a big Christian in his eyes? Or the means to his present end? Who knows? What I do know is that I became acutely aware that a 10 year old had pretty much nailed the faith (from appearances) of each person I listed. It was revealing because I could see how he arrived at his conclusions, and I really couldn’t argue with him. My mom is huge.

He’d done this without a word or a discussion. In his child’s eyes, he had watched each person in his world with a keen observation, and made some rather stern determinations. It was humbling, and life changing for me. I wanted, from that moment on, to be a big Christian in his eyes.

This past Sunday, sitting in an entirely different church than the one my son witnessed,  the Pastor said that as Christians. sometimes we want to “audit the faith.”

You know, like auditing a class. You get to sit in the class and partake of all the good things–lectures, notes, books, learning–but you do not have to take the tests and quizzes, or turn in term papers. Christians want all the blessing of the faith, but none of the testing of the faith. At least, I think we can safely make that assumption about most of us because who on earth wants to be tested in anything?

Here’s the problem with that: tests are what grow our faith.

If I want to grow as a Christian, and become more mature in my faith, then the Lord will test me. Test me to prove his total faithfulness to me. How would I know he would provide if I never needed him too? How would I know he would give comfort, if I only experienced joy?

Lately, I have found myself in a circumstance that proves to have no solution. I can’t think or muscle myself out of this situation–something I can generally do. I was thinking (obsessing ) about it again yesterday, and I said out loud, “I have no backup plan for this.” The Lord whispered in my ear, “You have me.”

When the Lord is the only back up plan we have, we’re facing a test.

When the Lord is our only help, we’re facing a test.

Now, I have two beautiful granddaughters, and one Bonus Daughter. I want them, if ever asked about YaYa”s faith, to respond as my son did about his Maurme, “She’s HUGE.”

Keeping in mind, of course, that our huge is still so very small compared to the greatness and glory of God. Amen.