Archive | July 2011

Cindrella Rules – Part 1

As Christian parents my husband and I try to teach our daughter that life has rules.  There are “house rules” where our boundaries and expectations for her behavior are defined.  There are “school rules” that the school and/or board of education have determined will do the same for her school behavior and actions.  Even her Sunday School class has rules.  When she grows up and is old enough to have a job outside the house that job will come with rules.  Games have rules.  So do beauty pageants.

My husband & I had quite a few adversions to the whole beauty pageant “thing”.  All the material that came home from school kept emphasizing “age appropriateness” for dress and make-up.  So we agreed to the $40 entry fee and the $10 photogenic contest entry fee, and filled in the necessary paperwork.

She and I found a simple dress that had enough “bling” for her with its red sequins & that seemed age appropriate.  She borrowed some jewelry from me, wore a pair of her Sunday shoes and her oldest cousin prepared our little girl for her first beauty pageant.

After watching the final rehearsal (the only one parents were allowed to be at) I felt better about our decision to let our daughter enter.  At their age the stage rules were simple, consisting of  “the walk” with three turns and an escort on and off the stage.  In their regular school clothes and minus the “bling” and make-up all the girls seemed to be on a level competition field.  When one girls shoes caused her to fall the vice principal had the PTSO president call the girl’s mother right away and request she wear different shoes.  Yes, I thought, this will be good for our daughter’s self-esteem and hopefully fun too.

Two nights later our initial apprehensions seemed mild compared to what we witnessed.  First, all those age appropriateness rules were the first ones broken.  Shoes, make-up, dresses, hair, jewelry – these girls weren’t dressed as girls, they were dressed as Miss America contestants!  Kindergarten girls tottered on high heels beneath the weight of dresses bigger than they were!  Sixth graders looked like seniors in high school. (Apparently I should have watched “Toddlers & Tiara’s”!)

Second, that simple walk with its three turns?  Only a souple of girls just walked the walk they’d been taught.  Those girls with “pageant experince” worked the walk.  Also clear was that when it came to investment of monies we had fallen way short of the mark.

We had one dress, our daughter was going to wear that dress.  We had one pair of shoes, those were the shoes she was going to wear.  My mouth gaped open seeing mothers who struggled in the wind and rain to haul in three or four dresses, a bag of shoes and enough make-up cases for a LA runway.  We live in a rural area, few people have “wealth” and I knew some of those families were struggling financially as we were with the economy.

I felt totally naive and a bit less than intelligent.  As a parent I wondered why I hadn’t “foreseen” the “way it would be” instead of believing it would be as it appeared on paper.

Our daughter didn’t place.  Her “Princess” experience ended quickly.  Her inexperience  as a pageant contendor was evident.  However, she played by the rules.  Her dress, shoes, make-up and hair were age appropriate.  She did her walk as she was instructed to do.  She was beautiful.  She still “lost”!

To be continued:

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Cindrella Rules Part 2

Continued from Cinderella Rules Part 1

It isn’t easy as a parent to see your child disappointed and even worse when you know part of the reason they are disappointed is because of your own naivety.  Yet even though I hated seeing my daughter hurt I knew we were learning a “life lesson”.  In any thing or arena of life there are rules.  Learning how to work the rules in your favor can be one of those “fine line” issues.  I’m sure no one in that pageant thought they were “breaking the rules” and I can’t be their conscience to say either way.

I can only feel confident that as I put our princess to bed that night we hadn’t done anything of which God would be displeased with, that her understanding of being self-disciplined enough to follow the rules regardless of whether you win or lose is important and that some outcomes in life aren’t determined by what is within your control.

God’s word tells us that it will sometimes seem as though the wicked are prospering on earth while the righteous suffer.  I can’t begin to compare losing an elementary school beauty pageant to the wider scale ways it seems that evil is winning in this world, it does seem like a small example.   Plus, some of the contestants we knew were believers and no doubt had prayed, as our child had, to win.

“You are always righteous O Lord, when I bring a case before you.  Yet I would speak with you about your justice:  Why does the way of the wicked prosper?  Why do all the faithless live at ease?  You have planted them and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit.  You are always on their lips but far from their hearts.  Yet you know me, O Lord; you see me and test my thoughts about you.”  Jeremiah 11: 1-3a

Really that’s what it should be about.  Not questioning another’s motivations but our own in the mirror of God’s word.  As the world looks at us what do they see?  Anything different?  It seems that whether we be Christian or not we never stop wanting more “stuff”, even with an economic turn down some people are still obsessed with their stuff (keeping it mainly).  We still wear our masks.  We’re still responding to circumstances that do not go our way in a sour way.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe every female deserves one night on the runway of life where she is absolutely at her best.  For some that “Cinderella” moment is the glamour route.   For others it may be pulling the family together to think creatively of ways to cut the family expenses to save the family home or helping her children understand why selling their home is the right thing to do.  Still for others it may be being the one who presents the “winning” plan, gets the promotion” or walks out the door on a bad job believing God will provide.

When we first encounter Cinderella she is basically a servant in rags to people who care nothing for her.  No, her future doesn’t look rosy, and it seems even during the briefest of moments when the mice show her the dress they’ve remade for her that wickedness is just going to win.  No, Cinderella had maybe six hours of being a princess before again we’re led to believe she lost it all.  But she kept going and a miracle happened her foot was the only one to not only fit the glass slipper she was the only one able to produce a matching original.  Of course Cinderella is purely a fairy tale, fairy Godmothers do not appear to save the day and my first thought on glass slippers is how sweaty they must be.  God doesn’t operate with hocus-pocus!  However, He does say this:

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation that is common to man has seized you except what is common to man  And Good is faithful he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear  But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  1 Corinthians 10:12-13

Our daughter has already decided she wants to enter next years pageant (her parents haven’t though).  I doubt anything will have changed with the pageant.  Truthfully I’d rather her find her Cinderella moment in a different vein so soon we’ll have to make the pageant decision all over again.  I’d rather her find her Cinderella moment in a different venue and while I hope she fulfills her dreams who am I to say when or how each woman’s Cinderella moment arrives?

How about you, truthfully, what was or would be YOUR Cinderella moment?

Faithfully,

Faye

Modern Day Hero #1 – My Brother

My siblings and I grew up with both parents who were married and who stayed married until “death did them part” when our mother died in August of 1999.  Yet in so many ways it is as if my brother Clint and I grew up in one family and my sister Lynne another.

Clint and I are separated in age by 1 year and 5 months.  Our sister is 6 or 5 years younger depending on which of us you’re comparing her age to.  But age alone isn’t what separates us though we lived and grew up together.

Clint and I knew our father as a man with a severe temper, who viewed his family as possessions, and who thought personal privacy didn’t apply to  anyone other than himself.  He was often physically abusive, even more verbally abusive and rare the time he wasn’t emotionally abusive.  The scars he left in all our lives will never fade completely.

My brother though determined early in his life that the things that I let keep me “down” were going to be rungs of a ladder he’d climb to get out of the life we knew as “family”.  My dad wasn’t a huge fan of education period much less for a girl, so when I brought home low grades it wasn’t as much an issue as it was if Clint brought home less than an “A” in any subject.  In first grade he made a “C” in art – Daddy beat him.  Clint used that unfair and unreasonable expectation, that he never make less than an “A” to propel him towards high grades and he did so taking classes he was interested in.  While Daddy fumed over Clint’s choice to take calculus instead of “shop” or auto mechanics, and berated Clint at every opportunity he could never say Clint was a failure academically.  Our living room walls was covered with Clint’s awards, certificates and trophies.  As soon as Clint could he graduated high school and went away to college.  He never looked back.

Clint overcame every obstacle to obtaining his “higher education” which to date includes a masters from seminary, in education and now he’s working on his PhD and he did it with next to no help from our parents.  He was never one to stand in the wings of the stage and wish he could perform – Clint did it!  He worked through all the “issues” our childhood left him with by utilizing professional help, common sense, much prayer and marrying the woman who understands where he came from and where he is now.

Though he is the “middle child” because he was male he was usually expected to be and acted more like the “eldest”.   Though there were years where in order for both of us to heal we didn’t talk much, never talked about the past and were separated by 100’s of miles we have regained a similar closeness we had as young children.  Clint drove from Mobile the first day I was in the hospital in November 2010 to sit with me in the emergency room and when I was too weak to pick up my fork he fed me.  He came back twice more before I was discharged.

It is never easy to overcome the abusive life my brother and I knew as children and teenagers especially when that abuse was never acknowledged outside the home.  (Though years later people would tell me they knew but “back then” you didn’t intervene in family matters”.)  But my brother has while maintaining his kindness, willingness to help others, a drive to succeed for his self and a peace with who he is…yes, he’s a hero and I treasure him beyond words.

Faithfully,

Faye

The Heartbeat of Jesus

Hospitals and I are no strangers and being so confined is not among my favorite things to do.  I always long to be at home with my husband and child.  Plus, there’s another home I always long for too and usually far more when I’m in ICU and not in a regular room.  One ICU experience in particular always makes my desire for “home” a struggle.  It was renewed recently as I underwent an amputation.

March/April of 2004 I had a horrific leg infection.  By the time I got to the hospital I had no strength to even move from van to wheelchair and literally lay down on the sidewalk outside the entrance to the hospital.  When they got me inside the ER I was freezing and wanted water so badly I begged for it.  Heated blankets they rotated around me.  Water they wouldn’t give me until they knew what was wrong.

I knew I was dying but the doctor confirmed it when he told my husband he should call any family or friends we had because they didn’t believe I’d survive the night.  Later surrounded by family in ICU I struggled to keep my eyes open to see my husband’s face, longing to assure him I’d be okay knowing it wasn’t a promise I couldn’ make.  Life and death were up to God and in that moment I surrendered.  “Whatever Your will God I know I’m okay just be with those I leave behind.”

Again I begged for water and I heard a nurse promise to return with it in a few minutes.  Sleep dragged me under, arms lifting me up woke me up.

First I thought my husband had lost his mind but, as my head nestled next to a chest and I heard a heartbeat beneath my right ear  I knew I was in the arms of Jesus.  Too weak to turn my head the surroundings were imprinted on my heart.  I opened my eyes and could see sunlight dapping through the leaves and branches where hints of a sky bluer than any I’d ever seen before peeked through.  Where we were was older than time itself, the trees, the ground, the tree roots, the river and I longed to look up into Jesus’ face but somehow I knew I wasn’t suppose to.  The only sounds were those of His heartbeat beneath my ear and of rushing water.

We stood on the banks of a river so wide that the trees on the other side seemed small.  The water was so clear it appeared silver in the sunlight, the surface appearing perfectly calm but I knew that beneath the surface the current was swift and steady hence the rushing sound I heard.  In the middle of the river was a large stone, worn smooth by the waters.  Jesus was going to carry me into that water!

My next thought was, “I should be scared!  I can’t swim!”

Jesus replied instantly, “It’s okay Faye, I’ve got you.”

I knew His feet were in the water then and shortly I felt my gown getting wet as He strolled toward that rock, the wetter I grew the warmer I became.  By the time we reached the rock I was submerged up to my upper chest and Jesus laid my shoulders and head on the rock.  The rock was warm from the sun and felt not hard but supportive.  Jesus arms remained beneath me.  The waters rushed around me and I slept knowing Jesus had me and these waters were washing away the infection.  I was safer than I’d ever been.

That event was repeated many times during my ICU days.  Healing did not come quickly.  I knew when I’d been transferred to another floor out of ICU and the river trips didn’t happen again I was going to live.

I’ve made over a dozen trips back to the hospital since that one.  Not once has Jesus returned with me to that river.  I was forever changed by that experience.  How can you hear the  heartbeat of Jesus and not be forever changed?

Faithfully,

Faith

Good from Wicked

The nerve endings pills make me groggy,  even at half dosage keeping a train of thought from derailing is difficult.  Plus at half it doesn’t work as quickly or thoroughly.  I’d been refusing them unless I had a really bad occupational or physical therapy session,  I was paying a high price for it too!

I had my left leg amputated above the knee on Friday, June 3 and here I am on Sunday, June 19 barely able to keep my eyes open and the leg and phantom pains dragging me towards a place I do not want to go – self-pity.  Time for self-pity was years and years ago.

“Back in the day” when women were still more property than partners, full-time caregivers, maids, taxi cab drivers etx…many knew the sting of a hand across their face, the wrenching of their arms, the ever-present reminder of who was “the boss”.  Most of the time their children knew it too.  They cowered in fear or stood in defiance as the belt whooshed through the loops and slapping of leather on leather and as well as the command, “Come here girl (boy”)!”

I was one the lucky ones, my dad never used his fists or tree limbs on us, just the belt.  I was one of the defiant ones.  As soon as I figured out what he wanted was for me to cry, beg and plea for him to stop the sooner he stopped.  In my mind I determined NOT to give him what he wanted if I could withstand it.  So where lies the fault for the soft-tissue damage that damaged the lymph node system that led me to an amputation?

My brother and I believed no knew what we were enduring until daddy’s death in February of 2009 but turns out they did but back then you didn’t report such things.  For a while I was bitter but then came the time forgiveness was the only way out of the prison I lived in.  It wasn’t easy and God and I had many wrestling matches over it.  With God though, I forgave.  I can be a determined woman when I have to be but I would NEVER have chosen to have willingly forgiven the man I called “Daddy” if God had not been alive within me and commanded it of me for I did it on His strength not my own.

I’ve chosen to be a different type of parent to my child.  I speak up and let someone know when I suspect abuse behind firmly closed doors.  I work in a profession that gives me some sense of “helping” to ease/end the problem of child/spouse abuse.  God uses all things for His purpose and glory when we step aside.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been

called according to his purpose.”  – Romans 8:28 (N.I.V.)

Faithfully,

Faye