Friday, March 24, 2017

FIVE CHILDREN



I have five children.  Although there are times when that feels like a lot of people, in all honesty I don't think five children is a lot.  I don't think a family of 7 is ginormous unless you are waiting to use the one tiny downstairs bathroom in the house.  If you think about it, five is one more than four and two more than three.  Now ten....that's a lot!!  When they were all little, it looked like a lot of people when we would go somewhere; and we would get all sorts of comments...some kind, some not.  Now that they are big, it looks like I'm hanging out with a bunch of friends and one 10 year old. Yes I know the average cost of raising a child is in the several hundred thousands, yes that's true; so one or two additional may have a profound financial impact.  In fact, I know it does.  For example, we have never flown anywhere all together.  In fact, Addi is the only Payne child who has ever been on a plane. We have a difficult time finding affordable places to stay that allow five children, going out to an "inexpensive" dinner is usually not really that "inexpensive", buying good tennis shoes for five is pricey, compact car is not an option, and I could go on; but there are also other profound impacts of having a house full of children.  They always have someone to hang out with, chores can be done much faster, car ride is never boring, they learn so much from each other, lots of stuff to share, many people to laugh with and cry with, but mostly so much love given and received.  Of course they don't always get along, but that's true in most families whether there's 2 or 10.  One thing I believe is this:  if you're thinking about adding another to your family, do it....you may always regret not adding one, but I bet you will never regret it if you do.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

To Love Like That

Last week was our spring break, and I was home for about 48 hours total for the entire week.  I did a lot of driving.  I took my 16 year old, Drew, and her friend Riley to Asheville North Carolina to visit their friend Ruby.  Asheville is like being in another world.  It was very different than Grapevine Texas.  Their adorable little house is in the mountains, and their adorable little town is quirky and endearing.  There are many homeless people in Asheville, and there are equally as many or more people there who come to their aid.  Every day that we walked by the park in the middle of the city, there was some sort of gathering where homeless people were being ministered to, through food or music or words.  It was heartwarming.  We visited the most adorable bookstore a few times, and I think I might go there every day if I lived there.  And then the dogs....dogs are welcome everywhere, and I mean every single place you go....even church.  We attended a church service unlike any I've ever attended before.  It was enlightening and uncomfortable at the same time.  There were many different types of people (and dogs) in attendance, and it was nice to be in a place where everyone was welcomed by everyone.  From the moment we sat down, I noticed this sweet little family.  I watched and listened to them nearly the entire service.  There was an expectant mother,  a teenage girl and another woman all who were white; and an adorable little boy who was black.  He was about 6 years old and very active.  His mama kept looking back at him as he lay in the aisle coloring to ensure that he wasn't misbehaving.  At first his focus seemed to jump from place to place and so did he, but after about 10 minutes; he settled into his coloring.  I kept finding myself staring at him in his bright yellow sweater and rain boots.  His skin was perfect and so was his beautiful curly hair.  As I watched him color, the sweetest thing happened.  He gently took the hand of the teenage girl, who was sitting in a chair beside him, and stroked his cheek with her hand.  Then he just held it gently to his cheek with his eyes closed and savored her touch.  She had been journaling and noticed his gesture with a sweet smile and then she reached down and tenderly kissed the top of his head.  No words were spoken, but their love was strong and so very evident.  There were no color barriers or age barriers or gender barriers, there was just love.  It was pure and whole and just like Jesus's love. Someday I pray our entire world will have a love like that.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Lent

Yesterday I asked a dear friend what she was giving up for Lent.  She said, "Oh I don't give anything up, because I can never stick to it.  I always take something on."  I have done both in the past....given up and taken on, and I had decided to do both simultaneously this year.  I have been contemplating what to give up, because I wanted it to be something hard.  I had almost decided on giving up all sugar, but since yesterday I've been rethinking that decision.  I have thought a lot about my friend's answer, because she is truly one of the most selfless and serving people I've ever met.  I respect her 110%, and I know her decision is from a place of purity and honesty and knowing her strengths.  After meditating on this and praying, I've decided not to give up sugar.  Some people may think this is a cop out.  Deep down I know that I wouldn't stick to this wholeheartedly, and it wouldn't be hard in a "growing closer to Jesus kind of way" but more of in an "irritating and annoyed kind of way"; so I changed my mind.  Instead I'm taking more on.  My family had already decided some things we were taking on together and individually, as well as, some thing we were giving up; but I'm taking on more in my own way as well.  It will be something small every day, something medium every week and something large a several times over the next 40 days.  When we were discussing this tonight after church,  I felt the fire burning inside my spirit; and the longing for Jesus even more.  I think this is the goal for the Lenten season and really for all of our seasons....a burning inside and longing for Jesus!

Friday, March 3, 2017

March 3rd....The Best Day of 1997!!

Happy TWENTIETH Birthday to my first born, Addison Jo Payne! You were the one who started it all, my wonderful journey into motherhood. Life changed so much the minute you were born, and I've felt it all: hard, easy, happy, sad, best, worst, success, failure, confused, confident; but most of all a love like I had never known and so much joy. I remember holding you in my arms and weeping as I stared at your face for weeks after you were born. How could I love someone so much it literally brought me to tears. I remember calling my own mother and saying, "WOW!! YOU LOVE ME A LOT!" I really had no idea how much I was loved until you came into my life. You are quiet, hysterically funny, witty, smart, creative, generous....oh so generous, wise beyond your years, understanding, patient, kind and beautiful. Your heart is good. Your soul is good. Your spirit is good. You are good! You make my life better, and I'm glad God has let me borrow you for these past 20 years. Your pain is my pain. Your joy is my joy. Your sorrow is my sorrow. Your happiness is my happiness. I adore you to infinity and beyond! TWENTY....wow....I still can't believe it!!! What in the world? ;) Now let's party like it's 1999, or 1997 or 2017!!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Be In The Moment!


I was sitting in my car waiting for E to get out of her class today when this mama and her 2 young daughters pulled up next to me. I had the windows rolled down, so I could hear them talking as they got out of their car. The oldest little girl hurried out with her supplies in tow while her little sister (maybe 4 years old) lingered. Their mama was a little exasperated, I could tell it had been one of those days. She was rushing the littlest girl out of the car. When the sweet little thing got out, she was smiling and cuddling her baby doll. The oldest little girl turned to her sister and in a very irritated tone said, "Where's your stuff?" The little sister's smile started to fade. Then the mama harshly said, "You mean you didn't bring your stuff?" She had a scowl and a very irritated look on her face as well. The youngest sister hugged her baby doll close and started to quietly cry. 
As I watched this scene, it took me back. That season of a lot of littles was tiring and exasperating and hurried. I don't mean as in "in a hurry" (although that was true too), but instead I'm referring to it went by so fast. There were days when I hurried everything along just to get to the end. I remember times I lost my temper because we were running late or someone forgot their soccer cleats or underwear (true story), or didn't want to stop playing and had a tantrum. I remember going to bed many nights feeling like I failed hard that day.
Then one night, while rocking my 3rd baby, when she was a few months old; I made the conscious decision to be in the moment...the hard, the exhausted, the exasperated, the hurried, whatever it was...I wanted to savor it all. I'll be the first to admit that I am not a friendly person when someone wakes me in the middle of the night. In fact, once my kids figured this out; they would walk right past me to their ever so calm and patient daddy to help them get back to sleep. But this night, this sweet night; I remember looking at her sweet newborn face and thinking how grateful I was to have these treasured moments alone, even being exhausted out of my mind. Being the third, moments alone with her didn't happen often and were hard to come by. That night I realized that she too would soon be a toddler like her big brother and sister. 
From that night forward, I have made it a priority to find something every day to be grateful for. I get up daily and thank God for another wake up, and I give it my best effort to be in the moment. I still fail at this on a regular basis, but I am also very aware when I fail because of that decision I made that sweet night 16 years ago. When I'm failing, that decision helps me say, "I'm sorry I got upset with you. I'm sorry I lost my temper." That decision helps me tune in and really listen when I ask how their day was, and they actually say something besides "Fine." That decision helped me to slow down and let them play a little longer and give them grace when we showed up to dance class late with no tap shoes. That decision helped me to think before over reacting. That decision led me to walking with them instead of just walking beside them. As my children have grown and are growing, I still fail at being in the moment. I still fail at being grateful. I still fail as a mama, but I am acutely aware when I do. And because I learned to give them grace and look them in the eyes and tell them they are forgiven, they always do the same for me; and then we move forward and try again.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

PEACE

Life feels heavy and hard, and I've had a headache for three weeks.  I can't decide if it's due to allergies, the crazy Texas weather, too much sugar, lack of sleep or worse.  I saw my doctor this week, and thankfully all my tests seemed to have improved. However he did mention a few times that I have a vascular disease and how imperative it is that I stay on my medication, so the thought of another stroke is always in the back of my mind. UGH!! I begrudgingly agreed to try another medication for arthritis pain as well.  I'm not a fan of medication and have tried to avoid it as much as possible, but the pain is winning....I'm becoming defeated by it which may be another cause of the lingering headache.
I know that stress plays a large part in the headaches and even the pain.  Seasons of stress come and go, and I usually let it get the best of me when there are many heavy things happening; and right now...there are. 
I'm out of place where I am, and I keep trying to force myself to fit.  Sometimes I can maneuver and force my piece into the puzzle but more often than not, I just cannot make myself fit.  When this happens, I look around and take note.  I plead with God to guide me, give me peace where I am, to be gentle with others, to keep His light shining within me; and to be in the moment.  But oftentimes I fail, but especially when life feels heavy and hard. Then comes the guilt of taking things for granted, of not being as grateful as I should when there are people all over the world suffering things that I cannot even imagine.  The terrible things that are happening to people all over the world.  The suffering that is going on in my own neighborhood. This is a paralyzing state for me, and I feel helpless.  Why is my heart so heavy when my life is good?
Last night I lay awake in the middle of the night thinking about the world...the beautiful world that God created, the beautiful people that God created, my life and choice to be a christian.  Then I think about the arguing and ugliness over things I cannot grasp. I don't understand the arguing, the name calling and disrespect when there are people dying of starvation, people being sold into sex trafficking, people suffering terrible terrible loss.
In this beautiful world, where we are suppose to love each other as Jesus loved us (or at least try to); why are we acting this way? Why aren't we embracing each other?  Why can't I fit my piece into the puzzle?  As I lay there with my face buried in my pillow sobbing, I realized maybe not fitting in is a good thing?  Maybe I need to stop trying to force myself into a society I don't often understand? Maybe it's okay that I don't fit?  Maybe it's okay if I don't have the answers in my head and heart?  Maybe instead of being paralyzed by not solving it all, I should do what I've always done and just do something? One thing?  A few things?  That's what Jesus is for...He has all the answers.  He always shows me the way if I take the time to listen.  And then it came....peace!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

February 5th....The Best Day of 2001!

Happy 16th Birthday to Drew Michelle Payne aka Drewby Lou. My smack dab in the middle, quiet, brilliant, vegetarian, thrifty, organic, deep thinker. The girl, who declared herself, "a tomboy who likes to wear dresses" when she was 4. The girl, who use to sit out under our tree, with handpicked flowers thinking about how to make the world a better place. The girl, who loves sleep, and asked me after her first full week of kindergarten; "You mean I have to go back? I'm exhausted." The girl who stays true to herself and has one of the kindest hearts I know. My observant, shy child who doesn't like any attention...even when it is well deserved. You are the child, who taught me about being in the moment and loving the simple life. When you were five I asked you what extra curricular activity you wanted to do, and you looked down at me (from that tree you had just climbed) and replied; "I just wanna be a kid."
You are a fantastic artist and a gifted writer. Hopefully someday you will share these beautiful gifts with others, because I promise you someone will benefit greatly from them. Being a teenager is hard, and you are doing it very thoughtfully and with integrity. Keep loving animals, music, nature, books, coffee, thrift stores, art, writing giving all the glory to GOD; and you will be a-okay! You're a world changer Drew Payne, and I adore you!













Sunday, January 22, 2017

Between Yesterday and Tomorrow

I went to a funeral this past week.  It was for an 18 year old young man.  It was tender and sad and beautiful.  There was pain and rejoicing all at the same time.
You might think I'm kind of a weirdo, because I don't hate funerals.  I hate that they are the result of someone dying, and that people suffer due to the loss of life of someone they love.  I hate that someone might have suffered great physical or emotional pain before they died.  I hate that families are torn apart because of death.  I hate the emptiness that will remain, but I don't hate funerals. Every funeral I've been to has taught me something.  Some have been hard hard lessons, some have been gentle reminders. Sometimes it's learning more about the person that passed, but I always learn something.  It's the one time all my feelings overlap.  This particular funeral reminded me of this:  yesterday is gone, tomorrow hasn't happened; so concentrate on the in between.  So much can happen between yesterday and tomorrow.  I talk about this often in my writing, speaking, in common conversation....LIVE IN THE MOMENT.  I tend to find peace and clarity in the mundane and ordinary moments, oftentimes forcing myself to re-evaluate something I'm complaining about or unhappy with; or finding the utmost joy in the simplest of things like sitting outside in the sun with my dog.  Gratitude in every day, even the hard ones. Every single moment of life is a gift, and a life lost leaves a hole or a lot of holes somewhere.  But a very wise man once said, the pain you are experiencing is a result of the love that is felt.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How Do You Know?

How do you know when God is leading you towards something or away from something?  How do you know it's not just your thoughts?  How do you know it's not just someone else's thoughts?  How do you know?  There have been many times when God has led me to or away from something or someone, and I knew it without a doubt.  I just did.  But then there have been times....especially over the last couple of years....where I felt led, but I was not sure if it's God.  Years ago, one of my lifelong friends told me that she knows it's God when it's something uncomfortable.  I would have to agree with that as well.  But what if you feel pretty certain that it's God leading, because it's something uncomfortable, situations have arisen that clearly show you that it's Him, and you also have a huge sense of peace about it; BUT....the other people involved do not feel led?  Then what?  This is the situation I have found myself in over the last few years.  I use to pray that God would intervene on my behalf.  In other words, I would ask Him to show them my ways.  It was such a huge struggle in my head and heart when He wasn't doing that, and they weren't coming around to my way of thinking.  In the last few months, I have started praying differently.  And although I still feel the nudge and the struggle, I also feel peace when the answer is still WAIT!  How did my prayers change?  Instead of praying for God to change other people's minds and hearts, I asked Him to change mine.  I also asked Him to make sure that I am still acutely aware of this calling that I have felt, and that I do not dismiss it; but instead understand that it is a time of waiting.  I've asked God to allow all involved to feel this nudge if it was His will.  Honestly at first, there was no change at all.  But slowly I can see it, and slowly we are making our way towards it.  It's still a time of waiting, but the signs that this calling is from God is becoming more and more evident to all of us involved.  I know that He doesn't want me to embark on this journey alone, so I will continue to pray that we all feel it and are obedient...especially when it's hard and uncomfortable and while we wait. Thanks Be To God!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Grieving Someone I Don't Know

Is it odd to deeply grieve for someone you don't really know?  Is it odd to feel such a sadness for someone's family?  A family, that I've never formally met, is grieving the loss of their son.  He was 18, and he had been battling cancer....it was a hard and painful battle.  It was one he fought hard against, so hard in fact, that his nickname became Warrior.  From all I know of him, through others including 2 of my daughters, he was a true warrior with one of the gentlest and purest hearts around.  I read his mother's comments this morning "As I told him he could go, my heart was screaming come back.  After always making sure he was with someone...there is nothing that prepares you to walk away from your child and leave him with strangers".  This resonated so deeply in my heart and head, and although I honestly have no idea what that pain is like; I grieve deeply for this boy whom I never met.  Praying for his family as they search for peace and comfort.  It's comforting to know that they are believers and know that their boy is with His King.