Sunday, September 14, 2014

Not One but Two Cans

There is a common myth among people of faith and people outside of the church. It is this: that once you are saved, you are suddenly, perfectly transformed into a sinless creature who is supposed to always be in control, polite, obedient, and full of grace and mercy. It's the reason when a Christian becomes angry the community pouts and prisses and says, "Oh, I THOUGHT you were SUPPOSED to be a CHRISTIAN."

We propagate this myth ourselves by being characterized by what we are against more than by what we are for. How we dress, how we speak, and the things we do don't point people back to Christ, but point them to how holy we APPEAR to be.

See here is the truth...

When I was little, I was bossy, difficult, demanding, precocious, complicated, Type A, and totally in charge. My mother has this photo of me at three years old wearing a full-length purple dress, holding a piece of paper, directing the movers in my bedroom. We were moving, and I'd prepared by waking early, dressing for the occasion so that I looked like I was in charge, and making a check list of what they were and were not going to do in my bedroom. She said it was the moment that my personality came into fruition. She could literally see the woman I was going to become in that one day.

When I was five, my father stared calling me Sweet Charlotte. He added the tag line "who carries a can of whoop A in both back pockets on Sunday". It's because I refused to back down. I was confrontational and not afraid to be in a dispute or debate. I would argue until there was punishment and then still come back for another round when the dust settled only to kick it up again later. I refused to be cowed or afraid or back down. I refused to be weak.

I wasn't saved until I was 21. I committed every egregious sin that one can commit in those 21 years.  I was ungrateful. I was rude and uncaring and didn't love people. I wanted my way and to be right more than I wanted peace. I physically intimidated people and fought. I was the enemy. When the Holy Spirit descended upon me, I was one of those people who had a radical change--A Paul on the Damascus Road kind of change. A total turn around. But for this one thing....

See, the person you ARE is who you STILL ARE after your transformation. My sin nature simply became restrained by the Holy Spirit. Nothing in my intrinsic make up changed. I am still all of those things for the good and for the bad. The idea is that now I am under the power of God, not under the power of Charlotte. He has literally made all things new, but my personality--the thing that makes me ME--is still there the way He created me from the beginning.

But my basic instinct when something is out of whack in my universe is to reach behind me for one of those handy, dandy cans in my back pocket (cause I got this, God), which is the exact opposite of what the Lord wants from me.

He wants me to wait upon Him for deliverance, so that I am not sullied in the fight. He wants me to rest in His arms, because I battle against unseen enemies that I don't understand. He wants me to stop relying on me and look only to Him, which is overwhelming for someone who wants to problem solve and list make and get it done. He wants to actually be LORD in my life and not simply receive lip service. Because to say He is Lord and to actually let Him BE Lord are two totally different things.

He is a God of justice. He is a God of vengeance, just as much as He is a God of Love and Forgiveness. So, when things go wrong in your world, remember--you focus on still being you under the constraint and love of the Holy Spirit, and let God be God and handle the conflict. Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Hebrews 13:6 "So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."

Of course, should you cross me, you'd better pray for not only mercy and grace, but also for healing and protection, cause you might need it.  Sister Sunshine Charlotte still has two full cans of whoop-your-you-know-what in her back pocket just in case God needs a helping hand.

Just saying.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Two Roads Diverged

And because I'm the English teacher, there is always the poetry...

Two Roads Diverged

Snakes in my head
Slithering like the hush of hidden things
Secret things
Silenced things
Things that go bump in the night.

I can't shake the feeling that I'm spinning in circles
Slowly crumbling beneath the burden
Of things I can't let go.
Things that can't be said. 
Things that are left undone.

I see your face.
Crushed under the weight of my unmet expectations.
Eye sockets blank and swollen with sorrow. 
And I wonder.

What would the other path in the yellow wood have looked like?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Real Enemy

One of my facebook friends had someone take her photos and make a fake profile and then try to friend me and a bunch of other folks. I accepted the friend request, because when I checked out the profile, several of our mutual friends had been added already. I assumed that something had happened to her old account and that she'd just made a new one.

It didn't take but a few seconds of reading posts from the "new account" for me to know that the person with the fake account wasn't my friend, Judy, because I know Judy, and the behavior the impostor exhibited was recognizable as fake.

But how many of us are taken in my people who profess Christ but are really full of demons sitting right there next to us in church pews? They put on the right clothing and carry the Word and post scripture on their social media, but inside they are angry, vindictive, covetous people who have allowed Satan to have dominion in their personal lives.

How many times in my life have I actually been that wolf in sheep's clothing, attacking a brother or sister in Christ?

It makes me sad that over the course of my Christian walk the only people I have ever had to defend myself against were Christians. People who are wolves in sheep clothing; sitting in pews next to me; lying in wait to kill, steal, and destroy; being used by the enemy to defeat the body of Christ.

Paul said that when I am weak, He is strong. I'm counting on that being true, Paul. It has to be true.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Not only was she surprised but also thrilled.
So, in Johnsonville, we win quite a few awards. It's because we play so many sports and participate in so many activities. Like BETA and NHS and basketball, football, volleyball, cheer,'re bound to win something eventually just based on participation. The Number One Son even has a trophy for winning a fishing contest and we don't really fish.

Well, Big E hasn't won anything. Ever. It's really odd. Every kid in Johnsonville has a shelf of trophies, but E's is empty. So for her 14th birthday, we rectified that. We had a very special awards ceremony with only one winner: Elise.

No. 1 Interpretive Dancer
Most of us have a hidden talent. Elise's is comedic performance under the subheading "Interpretive Dance". See, the child doesn't move her head and shoulders when she dances. It's spectacular. And hilarious. When she gets really going, people have been known to snort soft drinks out of their noses and pee their pants. It's something you should see before you die. Really. That certainly deserves an award.

Cheerleading: The Bigger the Base the Better
Being the base in cheer is sort of anticlimactic. You just don't get the same recognition as the fliers. (And having a flying sibling doesn't help your self esteem when she's pixie-sized and you look like a normal human being. And E is sort of tiny in her own right. She's only 5'2 for goodness sake. She's a shortcake in her own right.) So, we awarded her the trophy for being Bigger. (We don't call her Big E because of her size. We call her Big E for her personality.) No one puts Elise in a corner. No one.

First in France
Here's a little known factoid. In England, the monarchy heir is determined by birth order, so if twins are born, the first one out of the chute wins the golden crown. But in France, they go with gestation. And that means that the twin who is highest in the womb gestated first--so the second one out is Queen. This means that in England Naynuh is in charge, but in France, it's all Big E. They are only separated by two minutes, but Naynuh has the title of "First Born". Being first born (even if it's in France) is worthy of an award.

Mom's Favorite
Each of my children knows who the favorite is. Seriously.

This should be self explanatory. She's a superstar. Don't be dense.

The only thing missing was Biggest Hair, but that trophy is elusive. It's hard to find a plastic sculpture with an afro. As you can see by the blurry photos, the one winner awards show was quite a success. Everyone needs to feel special now and again. And if it only cost a handful of plastic trophies to accomplish special, well, so be it. 

The moral? The world is going to beat you down. Your family should always be the safe place that lifts you up. No one else won an award today in Johnsonville, but we all participated. Because that is what family does--one body with many parts.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Laissez-Faire Parenting Manual Johnson Style

Mother's Day 2014
Sometimes it's difficult being a Johnson.

Laissez-Faire is probably the closest to our parenting method in Johnsonville. Literally defined it means "live and let live". It's really dismissed as an effective parenting style, because I think that folks don't fully understand what it means. It's setting boundaries and letting children self-fulfill in the confines of those boundaries. It begins with expectations and consequences.

Let me illustrate...

As a Johnson, you are expected to:

Pick up after yourselves. (Consequence: if you don't, I will throw your things away or sell them on Ebay.)

Put the group needs before the individual wants. (Consequence: if you don't work it out together, I will stomp in and solve it where I am the only winner. Example: no one can choose one common ice cream flavor. I buy what I want that no one else eats like coffee flavored. Hence, you are all screwed and I am pleased as punch with my own personal ice cream container. Result: next grocery store visit, everyone suddenly agrees on one flavor unanimously without a single whimper.)

Wait your turn. (If not, I will stop whatever the activity is and the person who has been cheated out of playing time/watching time will simply get the entire device uninterrupted for the rest of the day.)

Participate in everything that the church is doing, even if you don't like it. (If you don't get ready on time and with a happy face, I will not take you anywhere fun for days and weeks into the future.)

Go as a family to family events. (If you are given an option to stay or go, it's all good, but if we are going on a family thing see the previous statement.)

Being a student is your number one job. We expect your very best every single day in every single subject. (If you do your best, there's nothing to discuss. If you don't do your best, then don't expect sports, instruments, television, computer, games, outings, friends to spend the night, etc. I am the only judge of "what your best" looks like and it's arbitrary, so I'd really put some thought into What Mom Expects under this category.)

Support your siblings in sporting events that you don't play or enjoy watching. (Or you can play all of your games without us watching you.)

Don't touch other people's things without permission.(Or I will let them touch ALL of your things any time without permission, because you don't actually own anything in this house. Your father and I own it all and it's ours --we just let you borrow it.)

Share the Netflix account time. (Or your user account will be deleted immediately.)

Expect that your parental units are investigating your texts/emails/Instagram/Facebook/Twitter account like we are Angela Lansbury in a Murder She Wrote episode. (If I don't like what I find, I will print it and post the offending material all over the refrigerator for everyone to read. Second offense and you won't have those things anymore.)

The Laissez-Faire Bonuses to the Child: 

There is no bedtime. (You will however, get up and be ready to go on time every time otherwise I will help you with a bedtime, because you are clearly too irresponsible to handle this like a Big Person.)

No one nags you about chores. (But if that garbage isn't taken out on time, it will be deposited in your bed.)

You don't have to eat what we're serving in the kitchen.  (If you don't like it, cereal isn't going to kill you and you can make it yourself or go hungry. I don't care which you choose.)

You can watch and listen to just about whatever you'd like. (But if I join you, you can't change the channel or apologize for the content. I'll sit through the whole show/song with you. And then you'll have to listen to the lecture and Bible lesson that might follow with as much attention as you gave the show, or I can pull the TV out of your room or sell the IPod or phone, because they are mine.)

You have no set curfew. (It depends on who, when, where, how many, what time, and the activity. Seriously. If I say 10:00, it's 10:00. If I say midnight, it's midnight. I can change my mind as often as I'd like. That's why I get to be called Mom.)

Laissez-faire: Live and let live. :-) It's working so far.  

Sister Sunshine Charlotte Needs to Blow Off Some Steam

I clearly haven't been on my game lately. Sister Sunshine Charlotte hasn't made nearly enough appearances in the recent past. People have forgotten that sometimes I am the person in the room to be feared.

It's about to be the season of No More Mrs. Nice Guy.

Various Ramblings of a Quasi-Insane Mother of Five:

If you wanted a different color, perhaps you should have been on the committee or like come to a business meeting or something. Otherwise, just say, "Thank you for all of your hard work." (And the fact that you complain makes it difficult for me to like you.) This counts on voting and choosing ANYTHING in the church. If you don't come and participate regularly, why should anyone care what you think? Seriously. 

We are rural. I'm 45 minutes away from a Wal-Mart. One way. And 15 minutes from fast food. One way. We still have phone line Internet. We only have one flat-screened tv--the rest are 'fat' televisions. We use the DVD option on Netflix because the Internet isn't reliable enough to watch a movie from the Internet on the television and the fat tv in the living room doesn't have that capability. It doesn't make us backward--it makes us quaint. (And if you make fun of us for that, I know where your heart lies--it's in your possessions and status which makes you a pauper.) 

I buy literally everything my kids wear from consignment shops. I think handing a child a $200+ purse makes you a complete moron. If I had that kind of money lying around, my kids still won't be receiving $200.00 purses. It's asinine. In fact, the only new non-consumables we buy are undergarments, shoes, bathing suits, sports gear, bedding, and mattresses. The rest of it is fine used. It doesn't make us poor--it makes us frugal and resourceful. (And if you look down on that, I know that you are only concerned with appearance and not with inner man, which makes you a poseur.) 

We only eat out maximum once a week. And then I'm paying to feed eight-to-twelve people at every sit down, so it's rare. That's why we never go anywhere, not because we aren't adventurous enough. It's because we can't afford it. It doesn't make us uncultured--it means more family meals at home with the people I love the most in the world. (We've stayed in some of the nicest homes in the world, eaten with the finest people, served in the most humble manner. You are showing yourself to be a snob.) 

What happened to being content with what we have and living within our means? It's exhausting trying to make everyone happy, so I quit that futile quest ages ago. Now if God's good with it, I'm good with it. 

Mother of the Year Award

So, today I was in my classroom after school with my baby girl. She was trying to get me to fork over some gum. I kept saying no and she kept saying yes. There were a few students still milling around watching the show. I cupped The Little Flower's face in my hand and said, "Go on and tell them what your favorite thing in the world is."

I then said for her, moving her mouth with my hand like I was the ventriloquist and she was the dummy, "Gum."

She turned to me and said, "I wasn't going to say that."

I said, "Oh, I see..." turning her face back to the crowd, "So, your really favorite thing in the world is paper and pen."

She turned her little face back to me and said, "I wasn't going to say that either."

Still playing the game, I turned her face back to the crowd and moving her mouth I said, "So, go on and tell them; what is your favorite thing in the world?"

She whipped her head back so that she was facing me again and said, "You." And then she flung her arms around me.

That's right. I'm Mom of the Year again.