Spare the Rod Grandma, Spare the Rod!!

So, we’re in church on Christmas Day, and what to my wandering eye did appear–well, not Santa’s reindeer. No, I was treated to domestic violence.  I exaggerate. Somewhat.

Listen I spanked my children. Yes I did. And, not because Scripture speaks to it:

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. Proverbs 13:24

But, because I found it to be the most effective means of discipline for the BIG STUFF. I know, not everyone agrees with spanking. These days, you’d be hard pressed to speak out on the issue if you do use that form of discipline for fear of someone calling DSS, but what I witnessed in church Christmas morning was not a spanking. In fact, it was not discipline at all.

Picture this: 10 a.m. Christmas morning, the church bells have rung, the pews are filled, hymns announcing the Christ child’s birth are joyfully being sung, when whack!, a GRANDMOTHER, not the mother, backhands a 3-4 year old boy for making typical toddler noise. It startled my sons and I, sitting two pews back from her with the in-between pew empty, so much so, that my youngest son instinctively put his arm around me, as if to protect me.

What transpired after that is actually difficult to write, so I won’t elaborate, but I actually wondered if we were secretly on that show, What Would You Do? 

And, as much as you might want to do something, it isn’t always in the best interest of the child for you to do so. Its possible the parent, or grandparent, will take their embarrassment out on the child later at home.

But really, HOW DARE SHE? 

I thought of my own toddler munchkin, who’d stayed at home with mom. What if someone dared backhand my two-year-old granddaughter for making normal two-year-old noise? My heart breaks.

Here’s what I wanted to say to the other grandma in church on Christmas: Spare the rod, Grandma! Spare the Rod! That’s one of the actual rights of a grandmother. We get to spare the rod, and spoil the heck out of the child. My sweetie will yell, “YaYa come get me,” when put down for sleep. And, I go get her. I know, drives the parents nuts, but as the saying goes,  The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy. (Sam Levenson)

But really, what was killing me too, was the fact that this child stands a huge chance of growing up to hate Jesus, hate church, hate her. There’s the sadness. That he won’t remember singing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” he’ll remember dreading the whole church ordeal for fear of repercussions from Grandma–what big teeth she has!!

That’s what made me want to scream at her. But, I prayed instead, and not because I’m all spiritual, but because when I feel helpless, that’s where I head–to God. He knows what is needed far more than I do–for that sweet, little boy, for the daughter, who could not stand up to her mother, and yes, for the grandmother, who needed his grace all the more. I could only wonder, who had backhanded her? Who did not spare the rod on her? Grace, grace, grace.

When my children were little, I would pray before disciplining them. Lord, I would ask, what do they need? Grace or law? I couldn’t see into their little boy hearts, so I asked my heavenly Father, who loved them even more than I, the rod or the cross? Rarely, rarely was it ever the rod. The Cross, Cinthia. Show them the cross.

Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin. (Julia H. Johnston)

 

 

 

 

March Madness; 2008-2013 Recap; Giving Glory

2008-2013. Here’s the abbreviated re-cap. Turns out March is a banner month for me.

March 2008. A friend suggested I write for the Mountain Xpress. Turns out they were looking for a garden writer for their column The Dirt. That started my very small, but fun career in garden writing.

March 2008. My now ex-husband suggested we divorce.  And, so we did, In June of 2013. What God “has joined,” I can attest to the fact that, it is dang near impossible to  “put it asunder.”

March 2009. I discovered a very big reason my ex suggested a divorce. Her name is,  fondly, Cruella de Vil.  (Well, it rhymes with it, anyway.)

March 2011. My first big garden article appears in a glossy magazine. It makes the “middle spread,” and is so snazzy. I’m super proud.

March 2012. Officially separated after 24 years of marriage, and officially employed after 15 years of unemployment. (Time flies.)

March 2013. A salary job! Manager of the BB Barns Flower Market in Brevard, NC. And, Aggie became an offical family member.

March 2014. There will be a brand new granddaughter to love. Miss Sadie Jane will make her appearance sometime mid-Feb, leaving March wide-open for my complete adoration of the newest family member. We’ll see if March has anything else up its sleeve.

But, maybe the March Madness has subsided. There is a time for every season, and the next good time is just as real as the next bad, OR vice versa. But, whatever the future Marches bring, 2008-2013 was a good five years, despite the unexpected. I’m grateful. Here’s what made it good.

The Lord was with me.

While my friends were hoping for a revenge-of-the-middle-aged-housewife, you know, lose the weight, get the fab job, the fab clothes, the fab guy, the fab condo… I was living reality. Reality looks a bit like that. I did lose the weight, but I also lost the fab job. Sadly, the Flower Market will not reopen next year, which stinks for Aggie as well as for me (she got to go to work with me). And, honestly, there was little time for revenge-of-anything. Its survival mode. Immediate action is needed if you’re going to be employed and housed and moving on, not a lot of time for revenge, which is never very effective when we attempt it ourselves.

But, how to describe that the Lord was with me, when the Lord is omnipresent, and so with us all the time?

Well, like he was with the Israelites when they left Egypt. He gave them the gift of his glory, i.e. his fingerprint on all that they did. In other words, there was truly no way they could say, hey look what we did! We got ourselves out of slavery, we drowned the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, after we parted it so we could cross on dry land, then we ate manna dropped from heaven every day for forty years while our clothes never wore out (though I’m assuming the fashion did).  And, we conquered Cannan and took over the land for ourselves. Wow. Did we do good or what? It was a good half-century. No. They simply could take no credit for that. Everyone who watched this ragamuffin nation knew, God was with them. He was responsible for all that happened to them. He was ACTIVE in their lives. 

God is always active in our lives, but sometimes he shows up in a pow sort of way. Waters part, mountains are leveled, enemies are destroyed, addictions are conquered, manna is provided. When that happens, we seriously don’t want to miss it. Imagine saying, Nah, I’d rather not watch him part the Red Sea and drown my oppressor in it, after I’ve crossed over on dry land. Who would want to miss God’s activity when it shows up like that?

He was active in mine. God showed up in a pow way for me, and everything that happened, happened because he made it so. I could not have dreamed arriving where I am now, much less made it real. So many examples, but here’s one that got the ball rolling for what life looks like now.

I was offered a job in a town where my son would go to college, and found a house one block away from the college. and five minutes away from the job. My son was not looking at this college, they called him. I was not looking for this job, they called me. We were not looking for the house, a stranger (yes, a stranger) called me.  All this in one month.

There are some things you cannot do yourself. You cannot part water. You cannot drown an army. You cannot make manna appear. But sometimes, you need to part water, drown armies and make manna appear. I needed to do all that and then some. When your time comes, call on the Lord. He’s very good at helping those who cannot help themselves.

That’s what 2008-2013 was all about for me. God’s fingerprints are all over it.   

Sleeping the Winter Away; Sorting Through Life; Testimonies and Issues

Platypus in Repose

Its that time of year again. I am going to bed. I mean that in the most literal sense. I am two weeks away from putting on the pjs, and curling up under my covers to sleep the winter away. When spring rolls around, well, somebody wake me up. But, not until the last possible cold snap is past.

I actually get to do exactly that because of my job. I don’t work Jan-March. I sleep. Horticultural is a great career, but it’s seasonal, at least where I live. As hard as that is on the finances, its not a bad way to live. Everyone should take the winter off and sleep. No catching up on projects or starting an exercise regime, just sleep. We’re all sleep deprived anyway, according to the Huffington Post. (Seriously, every other article is on sleep deprivation, check it out.)

I will also sort. When not dreaming through the wintry days, I will sort. First, through all the papers that were stacked carelessly on my desk while I worked, and then through boxes of who knows what, and finally my life. Every now and then I have to still myself and put my life in chronological order. I have to place the events of my life into a time-space continuum, or I get lost in my own life. I can only run on auto-pilot for so long, before I start to fear that I am living my life without living my life. Do you know what I mean?

I’ve already started sorting and sleeping (lots of naps of late) though two weeks of work are still ahead of me. Tonight, I ate my wild-rice/chicken soup (made in my new red crock pot, no less) for dinner while reading last November’s journal.

Two things stood out:

1. Everything has changed.

2. Everything has stayed the same.

My surroundings may be very different now, but it seems my issues are still well, my ISSUES, hence point number two. (I realize this is not breaking news for some of you.)

I was very unhappy about point number 2, kicking myself under the table (ha), and wondering when in the heck? But then, I remembered this pastor at my old church. He was young and fresh out of school. He was hired as like an assistant pastor. Nobody liked him because he fumbled over his words, forgot what was next, and generally stumbled through worship services. I thought he was awesome. A kindred spirit. Someone who messed up as much as I did. Anyway, I remember once he talked about how if your testimony about Christ was only about how you’ve changed, i.e. you’re such a better person now, you’re on the right track now, you’re so over all your addictions now, your marriage is awesome now, your kids perfect now, and so forth, that perhaps you’d missed the whole point. The point being Christ, of course, the perfect loveliness and holiness of Christ. No one liked that sermon but it made tremendous sense to me, even though I instantly forgot it until tonight.

So, I’m eating my soup, and wondering, am I trying for perfection? Is that why my issues are still my issues? Am I trying to be that person whose testimony is all so sanctimonious? Am I trying to have a testimony for Cinthia or for Christ? Well, that thought was a spoon stopper.

What if my issues are for the glory of God? Like the guy in John 9 who was born blind and the disciples asked Jesus if was blind because his parents had sinned or he had. Jesus told them he was that way for the glory of God. Now, there’s a thought. What if my issues somehow bring glory to God? My weakness revealing his strength?

This is not a way out of bettering myself, but it might be a way of placing my issues at the cross, where God is free to free me of them, or use them for his purposes. I am getting sort of mystical and hardly understand myself here, but in some far off way, it makes sense to me.

The good thing is, I have the winter to sleep on it and sort it out.

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Lay On The Floor (epic failure)

I work hard, as in I never stop working. Literally. I work 7 days a week, and I start at 7 a.m. and finish up around midnight.

There are several reasons for that.

1. I can. I have no family or husband or lots of friends (I just moved) or a church or any organization I belong to. I truly have no other requirement of my time. So, work gets it.

2. I am on a steep learning curve. At 54 (that’s me) most people are pros at their jobs. They’re now the consultants. I am just starting my career as a horticulturalist and so, the learning curve is large. I have a lot of catching up to do.

3. It feels good. It gives me something to do. When I come home in the evening, I come home to an empty house. I could watch tv or work. I work. (Side note: the tv is currently broken so that makes the decision to work even more obvious.)

4. I am terrified I won’t be able to work in five years, or ten years or however many years. I know 60 is the new 40, and I am in good shape (well, all things considered), but I do know that 50 hit hard and it hasn’t stopped hitting. I don’t know if I’ll be able to work five years from now. Who knows what state of health I’ll be in? I know that sounds all grim, and like I have no control over my health, but seriously, aging is not for sissies, and you do gain a new respect for what your body can and cannot do. With that knowledge, I work hard now.

5. Money is a necessity for all of us and I am no exception.

But there is also this:

I want to succeed at something. I have had some epic fails in my life and honestly, I hate that word, but it fits here. (The hashtag phenomena has ruined some perfectly good words.) So, now I have this over-arching desire to succeed at ANYTHING. But mostly, I want to look back at my career and say, I did good.

Okay. So, no big news there. People want to succeed in life. But here’s the clincher.

I want to succeed to make up for the epic fails. Oh, that takes a turn, doesn’t it? Let’s follow that path and see where we get.

Here’s how I learned this tidbit about myself. This morning I did on-line church. The Pastor’s sermon was about finishing the race strong (the journey of faith in Christ, he meant, for my non-believing beloveds). My reaction to his sermon was an over-reaction in the biggest (can I say epic?) way. I wanted to call the man up, and scream at him, “What the heck do you think I’m doing over here?” I wanted to murder the man. I wanted him hung in the town square and spit on by passersby. It seemed he was saying, “Cinthia, you aren’t doing enough.” I jumped up, off my couch, and screamed at my IPAD, “For pete’s sake, what else do you want me to do?”

Then, I laid flat out on the floor because for me, my posture before God helps me to hear God better when I pray. I told God, “That man is MEAN. Strike him down hard, Lord. He is hateful and MEAN.” (I can be bossy with my prayers.)

And, here’s what God said. Nothing.

And, here’s what happened. My soul was restored, renewed, comforted, and quieted. And, in that quiet Sunday space, I realized why I was really working so hard. I was ashamed of the epic failures.

In my quest to succeed at the next thing I was doing (work vs. marriage and family), I hadn’t dealt with the failures. Or rather, I hadn’t taken them to God to deal with. Sometimes, all you can do is lay on the floor, and scream. And, that’s a good thing.

Final side note: I did apologize to God about the mean preacher man. 🙂

Old Woman With Her Butt in the Air=Dog Pose

I glanced in the mirror to see how I looked doing dog pose. Well, let’s just say that Mariel Hemingway can keep her job as poster girl for yoga. But it felt like I was SO IN THE POSE. You know how you’re walking down the street and you’re thinking, wow, I look good today. You’ve got on your adorable, new brown sandals (they are brown in this scenario because I did just buy a cute, new, brown pair–picture to come), and you’re wearing your skinny jeans and then, bam, you see yourself in the window of a building and you’re kinda shocked because, when the heck did you get that old?? Or that fat?? Or that whatever? That ever happen to you?

After glancing at myself in the mirror at Cindy’s studio–which, correct me if I’m wrong, but I swear the place is all mirrors–I wanted to crawl under a rock. I know Cindy, my yoga teacher, would say to thank my body for supporting me in the pose, heck, for supporting me period. She’d say to do the pose my body will do. That it isn’t a competition, and so forth. She’s fairly guru about the whole yoga thing–and I’m fairly North Carolina and Southern–but she is sincere, so I stay and try to focus, and try not think about how I look like an old woman with her butt in the air.

The rest of the class did not go well.

Anyway, I drove home determined never to do yoga again, never to go to a yoga class again, and to become an old lady who lives in her garden clothes, and never cleans the dirt out from under her fingernails. Okay, so that is actually me already. I was going to embrace me, how’s that?

But then my dog, Platypus (Platy for short) got up to greet me, doing his dog pose first to get the kinks out. I watched him stretching his front paws out, his butt up in the air, and he looked so happy, and because he’s two feet tall and four feet long, his dog pose is a looooonnnnngggg pose.

So, I kicked off my new brown sandals, and did dog pose on my kitchen porch. Here’s what I have to say about dog pose when you’re not glancing in a mirror to see if you’re Mariel Hemingway’s new buddy. DANG I LOVE DOG POSE. It feels so darn good. I pushed up through my arms, stretching my back upward–really getting my butt up there–standing on my tip toes and then, when I had stretched up as far as I could go, I put my heels down. It was amazing. I stayed there for almost five minutes playing with the pose while Platy ran under me, sniffed my nose, licked my ankles and generally went nuts because he wanted petting.

I told him, “Give me a minute Plat dog, I’m doing dog pose, buddy.”

I know if I had glanced in a mirror again, I would have seen an old lady with her butt up in the air, but I didn’t care. My body was supporting me, and I was treating it with care. I’m getting a little weepy thinking about it so I’ll end here.

Abraham’s Journey to Home (and mine)

English: Abraham Goes to the Land of Canaan (G...

English: Abraham Goes to the Land of Canaan (Gen. 12:1-6) Русский: Авраам переселяется в землю Ханаанскую (Быт. 12:1-6) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Scripture, Abraham was told by God to pack up and start moving. But God did not tell him where. Instead, God told Abraham to go to “the place I will show you.” Abraham didn’t argue, although he did camp out at one place for awhile before he really started moving along on his journey. But, eventually he started walking (let that soak in) in earnest toward the “place God would show him.”

I never envied Abraham that trip. There are plenty of people I’d like to be in Scripture. The Woman at the Well comes to mind. The servants who watched the water turn to wine before their very eyes at the wedding (Jesus’ first miracle). Priscilla is intriguing. Philip, mainly because he literally got to space/time travel. But Abraham just seems old and tired to me when he begins his trek and like, he really would have been okay hanging out near the pyramids of home and simply enjoying retirement. That is exactly how I feel. Old. Tired. Ready for Retirement.

My biggest fear right now is that I will not be able to work as hard as I do for as long as I’m probably going to need too. My livelihood depends on me working. Period. From month to month, if I am not employed we don’t eat or have a roof over our heads. It is humbling.

So, while I wonder where home for me is, I am acutely aware that it might always be someone else’s home, i.e. a place that I rent.

I spent some time with a financial planner after my divorce, and we discussed whether he thought I’d ever purchase a home or not. He was very matter-of-fact about the whole thing when I mentioned the money I’d “throw away in rent.” He said, “How is it throwing money away? You need a home, and yet you can’t purchase one because you don’t make enough money. This isn’t about money management, its about staying out of the cold and the rain.”

Sometimes, a good reminder of the most basic sort is in order. It allows you to re- frame your thinking and begin to have a paradigm shift.  Abraham lived in the City of Ur of the Chaldeans. Reportedly, the place was very developed for its time. Houses had indoor plumbing and running water. There were markets and fresh produce. He had all the comforts of home. Then God said, pack it up, we’re moving, and Abraham finished out his years in a tent in the land of Canaan. Canaan would become the Israel of the Old Testament, and Abraham’s descendants would live in the land as their own.

So, sometimes the plan is less about the immediate and more about the eternal, as in Abraham’s case. It wasn’t about providing Abraham with a home. It was about bringing forth a Savior (Jesus) through a group of people whom God would build through the lineage of Abraham.

In my own trek, I am not living in a tent, but a nice rented home. Every night I thank God for putting a roof over mine and my son’s head. For paying the electric bill. For paying the internet, because my son needs it for college. For buying the groceries. For heat. For plumbing. For air conditioning. For cleanliness. For good landlords who treat us with respect.

Oh, there is a paradigm shift happening. From a home of 20+ plus years where the comforts of home were simply taken for granted, to a very real awareness of what a good thing hot water is.This type of consciousness is necessary if I am to discover my new home. I must first start to think of home differently.

Abraham followed God to unknown places, but in reading his story again, I do not see Abraham (or Sarah for that matter) all that focused on, where’s home? They seem more intent on where is the Savior (who would come through their child)? It makes me wonder if my focus is in the right place. Is it a home I am searching for, or a Savior?