Wednesday, May 22, 2019

DO BETTER

Sixth grade awards were last night.  Although Elliot knew she was not being honored with an award, she wanted to go to support all of her friends that were.  I have a gazillion things to do, and I secretly despise awards ceremonies; but I agreed to take her.  When we arrived, it was immediately awkward; because she wasn't sure if she could sit with her friends or not...since she was not receiving an award.  She quickly inspected and decided she would and went and sat with the others.  I stayed in the back.  The ceremony was one of the best I've attended....it was efficient with not too much fluff.  Pretty much every single one of her friends were recipients of at least one award.  She was very proud of them and so was I.  They were all so deserving.  After the ceremony, I spoke to a few people and then looked around for her.  Neil was coming to pick us up to head to her piano recital which was immediately following the awards ceremony.  I spotted her standing alone, so I waved her over.  She had a look on her face, and I knew right away that she was sad.  I asked her if she wanted to snap a few photos with some friends before we headed outside, and she shook her head no and said; "All of the Cannon kids are taking a photo."  I encouraged her to go get in the picture, because even though she didn't do all of her elementary years at Cannon; she did the majority.  Then she said, "They're all holding up their awards"; and I knew then why she was sad.  So we scooted on outside and walked a bit waiting for Neil.  My mind started racing....What can I do to help her "do better" next year, so she will get an award.  Then I looked at her freckled face and bright eyes and realized NOTHING, there is nothing I need to do.  The fact that she chose to be here knowing she wasn't receiving recognition but only to support her friends is about as good as it gets.  There's no "doing better", because she's done the best, truest, purest thing ever.  I have questioned the decision about homeschooling her for 4th and 5th grades, because I feel that she feels a little distant and isolated from her peers; but God always reminds me of how amazing those 2 years were and what we learned from each other.  He reminds me that she is His, and His plan for her is greater than mine.  "Doing better" is for His glory, not hers and especially not mine.  God uses her so well, and it is always so evident to me.  Elliot is truly a servant and most of the time servants go unnoticed, because oftentimes that's how it's supposed to be.  Doing God's work can be hard in different ways and staying true to your truth is one of the most difficult, but it's also one of the most important.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

BUSY BUSY BUSY

MAY: noun; the month when everyone wants you to do all the things and pay for all the things.
Synonyms:  AUGUST and DECEMBER


Seriously could it be a busier time of year?  It's all fun and good stuff, but it's a lot of stuff.  Neil got up at 5:30 and drove a group of people (Addi included) to Love Field to get on a plane to Houston, sit all day in the airport and finally get on their connecting flight to Costa Rica.  Drew had her PROM last night and is on her way to Houston for a fun trip with 2 of her friends and a mama.  She was one of the Reverend Carol scholarship recipients.  Cal, Neil and I went to the Center of Unity Church this morning on her behalf.  I'm so glad we did, it was the sweetest service.  This was the only scholarship that she had to interview for which I didn't think she would do due to anxiety, but she did; and she loved it and they loved her.  Reverend Carol sent her the sweetest handwritten note a few weeks ago, and it was so incredibly meaningful.  I missed Drew being there with us this morning, because I know how much she would have enjoyed the service and seeing the scholarship committee again.  I know God felt that longing in my heart, because He showed up big.  One of the scholarship interviewers sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" which was one of my mom's favorite songs.  I can't remember the last time I heard that song, so I knew it was meant for me.  And the scripture read was Psalm 139:14 which is Drew's favorite scripture.  It was such a blessed morning.  Reverend Carol, who retired in 2018, was there and spoke to each of the recipients and to the congregation.  Her words were so genuine and spot on, and her voice quivered when she told them how incredibly proud she was of them and how thankful she is to be part of their journey.  She told us all how these kids are so important for the future of our world, but also how they are important and making a huge difference RIGHT NOW!  She named some of the things the recipients are doing right now to make a difference, and it was amazing at how they are currently changing the world for the better.  The advice she gave the was this:
1.  Don't lose contact with your family.  Texting is fine, but we like to hear your voices; so call sometimes.
2.  Laugh a lot!
3.  Look at the best within yourself and especially others, even those who disappoint you; because it's there.
4.  Stay true to your truth!
5.  Remember you're never alone! God is always with you!
I'm so grateful.  Neil and Elliot are currently working the church parking lot fundraising for mission trips.  Bryna is about to have her final masterclass play and then Bryna and Elliot and I will be heading to Allen for their dance recital dress rehearsal.  Busyness overwhelms me, and my eye has started twitching which is a sign of stress; but it only lasts for a short time....just like all of these fun activities.  Time is such a weird thing, isn't it?  Sometimes it seems so slow and other times, it passes in the blink or twitch of an eye.  I'm just trying to relish in all of these moments...eye twitch and all.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Grandparents

You know how God shows up in those little moments and sometimes you don't even realize it until they have passed? That recently happened to Bryna.  My parents and my in-laws have all passed away.  My kids don't have any living grandparents.  The only grandpa, that 4 of them knew, died in 2005....my dad.  Neil's dad died when Neil was one.  Elli has never had the experience of a relationship with a grandfather, and B's is very vague as she was only 2 when my dad passed.  My maternal grandparents were a HUGE part of my life, so influential in my spiritual walk but also with so many things in life.  I was extremely close to them.  My paternal grandmother died when I was a baby, so I never had the pleasure of knowing her.  My paternal grandfather died when I was a teen, so I didn't have long enough with him.  It's surreal and sad that my children lost their grandparents at such young ages.  My girls have often commented on how much they wish their grandparents were still here.  Yesterday I was driving B home from tutoring, and we were talking about her teachers.  She told me that she has a gentleman, Mr. Thompson, who subs in one of her classes regularly and how much she enjoys him.  She was telling me all about him, how he teaches a lot of life lessons along with the academic, that he is 80 years old but doesn't consider himself to be old, that he has a lovely wife, and that he reminds her of a grandpa she so desperately needs.  My heart hurt a lot for her, but I also felt really grateful to Mr. Thompson for making such a big impact in only a few short months.  Yesterday was his last day to sub, because he is moving to Santa Fe.  His daughter is building him and his wife a house out there next to her which is awesome for them.  The students were having a little heart to heart with Mr. Thompson and one of them asked him who his favorite student in the class was.  He said, "Well it's Bryna, because she reminds me of my granddaughter."  Maybe Mr. Thompson shouldn't have specified or maybe he should have said something like "You all are", but he spoke from the heart; and I think that all of the students appreciated that about him.   It was also a little blessing from God for Bryna....letting her know that she is seen and heard.  I like to think of  it as God telling her that He knows how much she wishes she had more time with her grandparents.  God works through us all in one way or another, and I'm thankful for Mr. Thompson and his honesty and love he shared with these kids.  He made a huge impact on Bryna, and she is going to miss him.   His granddaughter is very fortunate to have him. 

People

Do you ever people watch?  I am fascinated by people.  I don't always people watch, but when given the opportunity to observe, I do.  When I am observing strangers in whatever setting we are in, I often wonder what their personal life is like.  For example, how many people are in their family?  Do they live in a house, apartment, mobile home, or do they even have a place to call home?  Are there 2 parents, 1 parent, any parents?  Are they married, dating, single, widowed?  What struggle are they in, or is everything going really well right now?  I've learned that you can't judge a book but also that ...we have no idea what someone is experiencing whether that be joy or heartbreak.  Sometimes the people who seem to have it all together are the ones who don't, and those who don't seem to have it all together are the ones who do.  Life is weird like that...it deals out certain cards  and sometimes it's a great hand and sometimes you lose everything. Either way, I strive to be open minded and kind.  This world is harsh enough, isn't it?  Sprinkle that kindness, inclusion and compassion around like confetti.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Nudges

My heart is heavy.  Trying to balance my health, our house, finances, relationships, self worth and the overwhelming feeling of guilt knowing there are so many people with bigger struggles than I.  The world has become so dark to me. Focusing on the good things is a definite positive, but it hasn't come easily for me as of late.  Usually it does but not lately.  Then a week ago I was having a yard sale, just to get rid of some things and make a little extra money.  A woman and her husband stopped to browse.  She was looking at shoes I had for sale but decided against them and got into her car.  They both waved at me as they were driving away, and I waved back.  Then their car slowed before they left the front of my house, and I assumed she had changed her mind.  She got out and walked up my sidewalk, so I got up to go meet her.  I could tell she obviously wanted to talk to me.  She came right up to me, gently took my hand and looked directly into my eyes.  Then she slid a dollar bill into my hand and said, "This is for you."   I thanked her and assumed she would grab some shoes on her way back to her car, but she didn't.  She got into her car and waved at me again.  I looked at the dollar bill in my hand and realized it was a twenty dollar bill.  I don't know why she felt led to give me that, but I was very grateful.  The money was nice, and I have already paid that forward, but I was more grateful for the act of kindness....the gentle way she approached me and intentionally made me feel seen.  God is so good at using people, and I'm always grateful when they allow Him to use them.  If you feel a nudge, follow it....you never know the impact it will have.

Monday, April 1, 2019

It Takes The Whole Family!!



A week or so ago, I had a freak out moment.  I had asked my daughter, Drew, to make sure and be home by 4:30 to greet her brother as he got off the bus.  I had a faculty meeting, and the other girls all had work or school commitments.  I didn't tell Drew that none of her sisters would be home, so she didn't know.  She text me during the day and asked if she could go meet a friend who was coming in from out of town and be home by 5:00.  Note she had asked me about this earlier in the week as well, but I had forgotten.  I didn't read the text thoroughly, because I was busy at work and replied with something like "OK" thinking she was asking to meet her friend later.  As I was walking into my faculty meeting at 4:00, I had the nudge to text her again reminding her to be home at 4:30.  She replied that she wasn't home....not even near home, but in an entirely different city 30 minutes away.  I had a moment of panic, because I don't leave Cal alone for more than a few minutes and only after giving him very specific instructions:  "Don't go outside.  Don't open the door for strangers. Here is your phone, text me if you need me (which is just learning how to do and has never actually done yet)."  Having him come home to a completely empty house sent me into a frenzy.  I was irritated with Drew, and it definitely came across in my reply.  She was confused and reminded me that I had said "OK" to her being home by 5:00.  I called my neighbor, who did not respond and was not home; and then I told Drew I would go home and skip the meeting.  Graciously and apologetically, Drew said; "No mama, I'll go home and wait for him; so you don't have to miss the meeting." So my girl left her friend, who had traveled a long way and was only going to be available for that scheduled time, and drove home to greet her brother.  I can guarantee you she greeted him happily asking him about his day without being irritated about having to change her plans.  I apologized to Drew and felt badly for her, as well as, extremely grateful.  The beautiful thing about her and all of my kids is that she forgave me and didn't hold even the tiniest bit of a grudge.  The ironic thing is earlier that day I was thinking about my family and how caring for Cal is truly a family commitment. I had even started a blog post about it which turned into this one. The girls help out with Cal so very much, and I could not do half the things I do without their help.  They are compassionate and truly in complete adoration of their brother and have NEVER EVER EVEN ONCE complained about changing plans for Cal or helping with Cal or absolutely anything at all.  It's easy to adore Cal if you know him, but I also think the way his sisters love him has definitely impacted who he has become. I know their love for him has impacted who they have become.  And their love for each other has impacted who I've become.
 A long time ago, when Addi was a little girl; she kept begging me to have a lemonade stand.  I'll be honest and tell you that it was not on my list of things "TO DO".  It's not that I would have minded, it's more of I was busy....juggling work, all the babies, volunteering, a house, etc.  I just didn't have time for one more thing....or so I thought. Then one day she asked again, and instead of saying something like...sure we will do that real soon, I wondered why she was so insistent; so I asked her.  I expected her to say something like she wanted to have friends over to help and thought it would be fun, or she wanted to raise money to buy something we wouldn't/couldn't buy her; but that's not what she said at all.  Addi explained that she wanted to have a lemonade stand to raise money for Cal and Autism Awareness.  I remember stopping dead in my tracks, looking her in the eye and saying; "YES!!"  She planned, baked, stirred, made signs, and t-shirts; and she had a lemonade stand.  Over a few days, she raised over $600.  It was a pivotal time in my life and the life of my family for many reasons.  One reason was how the girls were able to witness the goodness in people.  People we loved, as well as, complete strangers supported that lemonade stand and her passion.  Many people, we didn't know, would stop and make donations and tell her what a good thing she was doing.  Another reason was that her generous and compassionate spirit. as well as, her determination has been instrumental in leading her sisters to reach outside of their comfort zones and pursue helping people in their own ways. That lemonade stand physically involved them in something where they were able to see  and feel the blessing of serving others. For me the most important reason is this one...Addi reminded me to take the time to listen to their passions and support them in anyway I can by simply saying "YES!!"
April is Autism Awareness Month, and we are grateful for the support you all have given in support of our boy and our girls.  It truly means the world to us all.  And these babies of mine....they bring so much light into the world, and I am changed for the better every time I say "YES!!"


Monday, March 18, 2019

SELF CARE

Lent has been very hard for me, and we are barely into it.  I took on being positive and fighting off negative thoughts, words, attitudes.  But I've been disheartened lately.  I've been disappointed.  I've been tired of much.  One thing I've been thinking a lot about is the "self care" movement and what that means, because honestly it's everywhere I look.  I must give a disclaimer here:  If you're all about "We are all in this together" or "We are doing the best we can" or "Women need to care for themselves before caring for others"; you might as well stop reading now.  Because honestly we are not all in this together....there's hate, jealousy, racism and prejudice in the world; and truth be told, there are days when I  am simply not doing the best I can.  This whole thing has lost value for me, because of the generality placed on it....kind of like when the population chimes in with "We are praying for you" when some horrific tragedy happens in our world.  That too has lost value for me, because the words seem dismissive and empty.  I know that is not the intent, but those words have been used in such a frequent and common way that  they no longer seem reverent, thoughtful and sincere.  The "self care" movement has become hollow.  Many talk about self care and loving yourself and blah blah blah, but I feel like we are a society that puts way too much emphasis on it in a very general and shallow way:  pamper yourself, have a day out at the spa, do things that bring you joy, take time for yourself, exercise, drink more water.  The "self care" movement seems, well, very selfish and meaningless.  For me to really care for myself, I need to go deep.  I'm not saying some pampering, exercise and doing things that bring me joy are not good things.  And yes those things definitely can make me feel better, my attitude better and attribute to self care.  I crave peace, quiet,  joyful things and water....exercise, not so much.  But the more I've read about "self care", the more I've realized that I already do most of the things suggested pretty regularly.  There was a season where pampering, alone time and exercise took a lot more effort than they do now, and most of the time I still have to be intentional about these things.  But what I've also realized is true "self care" for me is the hard stuff.  Staying when I want to run, loving someone who is hard to love, focusing on the positive when negative thoughts enter my mind, being honest when it's dangerous, pushing through when it's exhausting, speaking out when it's not popular, sacrificing when it affects my happiness.  I have to continue to strive to do the beautiful things when I don't feel equipped, to be the person that I know deep in my soul Jesus wants me to be, to stand for what I believe in all the while loving those I don't agree with.  The world is  avery broken place, and all of us are broken....every single one of us.  A day at the spa or a well intended cute coffee cup proclaiming self love isn't what makes me try harder for myself.  It's the soul searching, the listening, the seeing, the uncertainty and sometimes fear that I have to dig deep to get through.  It's asking for help without embarrassment but with confidence.  It's knowing I am a sinner, and I cannot do this on my own.  It's saying out loud to whomever will listen....I need guidance from  Jesus every minute of every day and oftentimes I need guidance from you to get through the hard stuff to be able to care for myself.  I couldn't make this post sound  fluffy or sweet, but that was not my intent.  I  just wanted it to sound real.



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

LENT

Today is Ash Wednesday....the beginning of the Lenten season.  Growing up, I didn't practice Lent.  I didn't even know what it was until I was in my 30's.  When I first started practicing Lent, I thought of it as a time of sacrifice, but now I consider it more of a time of conversion.  Fasting from something does indeed call for sacrifice, but sometimes I feel I have not taken this seriously enough.  Over the last 5 years or so, I've been very intentional about what I've fasted; and most of the time I've been successful....sort of.  However as I've been thinking about this over the last few days, I realized that my sacrifices needed to be something more.  I'm not talking about fasting more stuff, although that's not a bad idea either; I'm talking about more challenging, impactful, heart changing, life changing, me changing.  There has only been one time, that I can recall, that I fasted a particular something and actually gave that up for pretty much ever.  It was about 6 years ago, and I decided to challenge myself during Lent; so I gave up soda and bread. I know that may not sound very challenging, but I was addicted to coke. Coca Cola people, so let's stop that rumor chain before it even gets started.  During that time, I lost 20 pounds.  I was a pretty healthy eater and exercised a lot, but during that Lenten season; I was physically and emotionally impacted by bread and soda and the changes in my mind and body.  That year after Easter, I made some huge changes in my diet.  I did not drink another Coke for the next 5 years.  Since then I've had a taste every now and then, but nothing I would crave daily like I use to.  I took on a clean eating regimen and over the next 4 months; I lost another 25 pounds.  My life has changed a lot since I started taking better care of my body, and that got me thinking about this year's fast.  I've been praying for something, that I can challenge myself with, that will impact me forever, not just for 40 days (not including Sundays).  It wasn't until this morning, when I was praying and thinking about what daily encouragement to send to my children, that I found it. What I want to do for Lent.  I want to practice positivity more intentionally and to hopefully make an impact on other people, as well as, myself.


I need more positive, and I need to be the positive for others.  The world is a hard place, it's a scary place, it's an unfair place; but it's where we are.  I find myself focusing on negative a lot lately, because there is so much of it.  It's time to refocus, recenter, rethink and remember....there is positive in the world, even in the hard, scary and unfair....sometimes it's hard to see, but we have to keep looking! This is something that I know will change me and hopefully impact others....not in a PollyAnna sort of way....but in an "I'm here for you, and I love you" sort of way!  I know I will stumble, but I am praying this mind set will keep me centered on shining light in the darkness instead of fumbling to try to find the switch and then giving up.  This might sound like an easy thing to do, but to be successful and make this a lasting change; there is more to this than just a positive attitude. It will need to be a way of thinking about things, seeing things, praying for things and approaching things.  I will need to focus on my mind and energy and transforming them when life is hard, scary and unfair.  Look for the beauty and when I can't see it, know it's there and keep looking.

Monday, March 4, 2019

ALL ARE WELCOME

I had a conversation this past weekend about the general conference that was held for the Methodist church.  It's been extremely painful, and so many people have been hurt.  In our conversation, the main question was why?  Not why did the vote turn out this way, but why was there even a need for a vote?  This posed by a woman, whom I've known for years, who is searching for a church home.  She was planning on attending her boyfriend's church, which is a Methodist church, but after general conference decided against it.  Although I tried to defend my personal church and all of those who are not supportive of the outcome of this vote, I must admit I too have wondered why this vote was even a thing.  Ultimately I know the answer is that in order to change the Methodist Book of Discipline, a vote was the most diplomatic way.  However as in most governing boards, there are some things wrong here.  One of the biggest, in my opinion, is why did the global church vote on something that only affects the US?  Two, why do we think we can pick and choose who we welcome into the church? Some will argue that we, Methodists, are welcoming of all; but are we really?  Of course many are, but after the vote; it is oftentimes assumed that all Methodist churches are in favor of this particular exclusion. When you invite people in to experience the unbridled love of God, your arms should be open fully, not crossed at your chest.  This is what I feel like our denomination has said, "Sure you can come to our church and love Jesus, but these are our terms". When Neil and I were searching for a church home, some 23 years ago, we landed in our Methodist church.  The biggest appeal was the inclusivity and Bible teachings. Obviously I don't agree with everything the Methodist Book of Discipline states, and honestly I don't even know some of it;  because I don't feel like it should dictate my relationship with God.  It can certainly help to guide it and to grow me in spiritual disciplines, but it's not the main factor that drives my love for My Lord.  Although I don't agree with everything, I do love my church and church family; and I have yet to find a perfect church or denomination.  Every time we take communion, the pastor says, "ALL ARE WELCOME!" I believe God wants us all, every single one of us, in His house feeling His love poured over us....all of us.  We have taught our children this as well....Jesus loves us all, every single one.  We don't get to decide that, that decision was made on the cross.  When we welcome with open arms, we are closer to living like Jesus.  We will never get it completely right, because we are in fact human and imperfect and not Jesus; but it doesn't mean we can't strive for Christian perfection.  It's not up to me to dictate someone's faith or relationship with Jesus, that's on them.  It is up to me to share the love and grace of Jesus and pray for those searching. In my heart and mind "ALL ARE WELCOME"  always!!  God will bring good from all of this, and I've seen glimpses of that these last few days.  Now we pray and wait as we move forward, not backward.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love:  not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:7-12

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Matthew 22:35-40

Sunday, March 3, 2019

March 3rd, the best day of 1997!!!





Happy 22nd Birthday Addison Jo Payne....my first born. The one who changed everything 22 years ago today. I remember the moment you were born realizing how much my mother loved me. I called her a few days after and said, "WOW....YOU REALLY LOVE ME! THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME LIKE THIS!" I remember her loving response and "seeing" her smile through the phone, knowing now that I understood. I spent the first months of your life, with you snuggled against me staring into your face in complete and total awe, completely overwhelmed by the miracle that you are. You were a gentle spirit from day one full of love, you had a deep thoughtful understanding of people from the time you were a toddler, and the most generous soul I'd ever known. You were the child who always included everyone, especially those who would not have been included otherwise. My girl who always always put her brother's needs before her own and set the expectation for how others should treat him, understanding him better than I did for many years. You're a life changer, AJP, the one who goes out of her way to make people feel special and to see their special and to embrace their special. Supportive of all the people who adore you and whom you adore, and you are adored by so many. You are the best biggest sister in the whole world. The best thing is watching you love your brother and sisters so fiercely and them love you back the same way. The relationships you all have is truly the greatest thing I've ever been fortunate enough to witness on a daily basis. You have a quiet wit, the best sense of humor and are truly an artistic genius. Jesus shines through you, and many times when I think What Would Jesus Do in this situation? You have already done it. You have been through some really really hard things and have fought your way to survival sharing your struggles in hopes of helping someone else. I'm proud of you more and more each day. You are my heart, and I adore you.