Saturday, August 31, 2013

Putting the FUN Back in Sports

The Number One Son is Lucky Number 13 on the far left-hand side.
Random observations from the beginning of sports season at Casa de Johnson.

We play small sports. What I mean is that our school is small. As in we have 67 kids in the high school from 7th to 12th grades. From that pool, we populate all of our sports. All of them.  Small.

Coaching: 

Yeah, okay, so we are losing across the board in every sport this season, but when the coaches and support staff are paid for the quantity of hours they expend (like at Hoover) then we can complain. Until then, remember that the coaches and support staff mostly volunteer to coach and lead and line the field and cut the grass and drive hours and hours to games and practices with little or no help. They cannot be rewarded adequately for the amount of effort expended, so it must be motivated by something else, like, oh, I don't know, love of the kids/love of the game. In fact, we don't have a "real" coach in the group--it's parents and teachers volunteering.

Soak in that for a second.

David by Michelangelo
So, we don't win all of the time. Big whoop. I'm not sure that's the main point in the first place of small Christian school athletics. Sure, it would be nice to win more than we lose, but I'm not sure that even Michelangelo could have sculpted David without the proper tools. I'm just staying that maybe it's just what it is.

Notes to Our Opponents: 

If your team is ahead 49 to 0 I think it's safe to pull your starters and let the second string play awhile. No really. I think it's okay. Especially since I can see from this rickety bleacher where I am balancing precariously, afraid that it might give way any second, that your second string is still bigger than our starting line up. Why not let 'em have a chance to at least get those uniforms dirty, Coach.

Also, if you are ahead by that much, you should probably stop screaming like The Incredible Hulk from the sidelines trying to pump up the team--there's clearly already enough testosterone in the air. We get it. You won.

Giving your opponents rickety bleachers or making them stand seems to contradict that whole 'esteem others as more than yourself' thing that the Bible had rolling. (I'd have been embarrassed to death to offer those seats to company in my house.) The Bible is a book of literal interpretation. I know exactly how you feel about God by looking at your spending habits and how you treat your visitors.

Also, if your players are pushing off of other people to stand up and not checking on players they have just turned into creamed corn, same. We aren't in the Iron Bowl. It's a six-man football game. You aren't Bo Jackson, dude. You are a 155-lb kid who wouldn't have made the team in 11-man ball. Seriously.

Notes to Our Teams:

Big E (background player) and Naynuh (foreground player)
If you realize that it's David and Goliath (for example when we play Kingwood in volleyball), perhaps the goal should shift a little--maybe we ought to be known as the Team That Has the Most Fun EVER--All of the Time.  As in, "Did you see those girls? They had matching socks and hugged each other when the ball when flying out of bounds and ended with a sweet spirit even if the score was 6 to 25 and why didn't we have Swedish meatballs and Chick-fil-a at our snack table? What a joyful and Christlike group of young ladies! I can't wait to play them again."

Like last night on the football field--the team we played were just competing as an 8-man team and have gone down to 6-man. They were physically bigger. There were more of them. They had an entirely separate offensive and defensive line. They weren't playing iron man ball like we were. They even came down to our jamboree game and videotaped us to prepare (who has time for that?). It would have been a total Hoosiers moment if we had kept that game even close. David and Goliath.

So, while focusing on basics and trying our very best to prepare and win, why don't we make up some insane new crazy fun plays that don't follow the rules of normal football and practice them in the dead of night? It couldn't hurt any and it might just be FUN.

Why don't we get shirts made that say: 

We might not be #1,
but our cheerleaders 
are all 10's.

or
 
Our football season: 4-5.
Volleyball: 6-18.
Our average ACT score: 28. 
Winning.
 

(Gosh, I love smack talk.)

Maybe we ought to laugh and encourage one another and just get over it--it can't be that serious since we haven't had a winning season in volleyball in the four years I've been at the school. Maybe it ought to be a FUN season. If we love it, and we listen to coaching and apply what we've been taught, maybe it will be fun and the natural consequence will be wins. Maybe. If not, well, them's the breaks, Baby.

Why don't we strive to be the most Christ-like teams instead of the most winning teams? Then I can get a shirt that says:

You only won because God
ordained it. That's why we took
it easy on you; we always seek to 
do God's Will at CCA.
Just sayin'.

And in other news, The Little Flower just rushed in here to proclaim that she finally beat the final level in Plants Vs. Zombies. Put that on a T-Shirt and wear it.



Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pray Anyway

We had a hard day in Johnsonville a couple of weeks ago. Carter's yard dog was struck by a car. She was crossing to greet a family friend who was exercising, walking down the road.

My son was devastated. What made it truly awful is that the dog went into the woods and we didn't find out until after dark when we were unable to see or do anything about it. So, Lexi lay in the woods hurt, alone, and afraid.

This was Carter's dog. Not the family dog, but his friend. His buddy. His walking/riding companion. He'd spent countless hours teaching her tricks and throwing the ball and playing keep-a-way. We went to the park and ball games. She buried a million milk bones in the yard and chased off anything that would run away. She was gentle and kind and the Church Dog, walking car to car waiting to greet everyone who pulled into park.

So, after walking the property for almost two hours, we did the only thing that we could: we prayed. We prayed for comfort for Carter. We prayed for Lexi to be okay and to come home on her own. We prayed that her injuries were repairable. We prayed for God to do what was beyond our ability.

And in the morning...we were greeted with a minor miracle. Lexi, on the back porch, sitting on the sofa, tail wagging. She was obviously hurt, but not fatally. The Husband and the Number One Son took her to the vet and she's just fine.

Sometimes we assume we know the outcome and don't pray because we just "know" what the answer is going to be. We think that there is no hope. When I ran out on our porch and wiped the cobwebs off of that stupid dog where she'd crawled under someone's house also thinking herself that she was dead, I was reminded that there is hope still even when we can't see it. And God is listening, even to the small prayers, because to me it was small, but to Carter it was enormous. I care for Carter and want to meet his needs and wants, but how much more does our Heavenly Father desire our good? Infinitely. So, remember to pray even when you "know" the outcome. Maybe God has a different plan!

Joking/Not Joking: It's a Fine Line

We've had a bizarre week. I'm not sure how much stress one person can take before there is a margarita relapse in her future. (A joke.) Here are some completely random observations.

My mother has been in the hospital with major surgery. She is an even worse patient than I am. She was giving some poor nurse up the river about being served green jello three times in a row.  (Not a joke.)

The dog was hit by a car, went into the woods in the dark where we couldn't find her all night. Turned up in the morning on the back porch and had to be hauled to the vet for observation. We went from "absolutely dead in the woods, hysterically crying son", to "hey, all is well", but in the moment, man, oh, man. (Not a joke.)

The same dog that we were praising God for a few days ago tore up the neighbor's dirty diaper trash all over our yard. (Not a joke.) The Husband, who was cleaning up said mess, might have been praising God or damning the dog's soul to The Bad Place for all eternity. Not sure. (A joke.)

We had Crazy Person phone calls this week. (Only someone in ministry truly understands what this means.) But it's when someone is mad or upset or disgruntled at you for no obvious reason they Just Are. Or maybe you have an uncle or in-law who does this. (Not a joke.)

My daughter had some sort of idiot teenager moment in a public place embarrassing herself half to death.  (Not a joke.) For someone who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, she might require a hospital stay to recover from the horror. (A joke. Mostly.)

We are dealing with a volatile family court situation, so I'd advise anyone who is familiar with us NOT to just open our door and walk into the house anymore or risk having me defend myself on the Stand Your Ground Law up close and personal like over your dead body. (Not a joke.) And this is Alabama, so I'm probably not doing any time or even seeing the inside of a courtroom. (Also, not a joke.)

Channing Tatumn is a child. Bruce Willis, however, is smoking hot. This is how I know that I'm Old. (Not a joke.) This is also how I chose to see RED 2 instead of White House Down. What? There is another way to choose a movie? (A joke.)

Sometimes people don't get the joke. Don't be one of those people. Or else you might BE the joke.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Definition of Tragedy

I know that in Birmingham this week, we have all been wondering how someone could forget a baby in a car seat in the car in the kind of summer weather we have.

I have almost done it.

Twice.

My kids were playing outside, and I went in to answer the phone and my youngest daughter got into the car. She buckled herself into the car seat of our vehicle. She "wan go"!

I was in the house fifteen minutes by the time I finished talking, used the bathroom, and laid out food to thaw for supper. All four kids were in the yard. 4, 6, 8, 8 playing. It never occurred to me one of them would get in the car, much less buckle herself into the car seat and be unable to escape. With all of the doors closed, not to mention the playing and running and yelping of playing children, no one could hear her screaming for help.

I came out and had what can only be deemed a complete come apart. It stared with 'where is Lilly where is Lilly' with me casually walking around the yard to me frantically calling and running. My son actually saw her in the car. She was soaking wet head to toe. Her skin was an inferno. We called 9-1-1 and they told us to put her in a lukewarm bath and take her temp. 101. Fifteen minutes in a closed vehicle under a carport.

That could have ended much differently. I could have been that mother.

Another time Carter had fallen asleep in the backseat. I decided to let him sleep a little longer while I unloaded the groceries (back door is five feet from the car). I unloaded three-hundred dollars worth of groceries (it took awhile) and closed the car and went in the house. Less than two or three minutes later I remembered, but what if I hadn't? I had shut the house door. It was his natural nap time, so I wouldn't have been looking for him for an hour or better. He was strapped in and unable to free himself.

I also once left Elaina at a fall festival. I did a head count and had four kids in the van. (We had the bonus child with us that weekend, so I should have had five.) The church we were visiting called about five minutes into our drive home and asked me if I'd forgotten anything. I said, "Nope." They laughed and put Elaina on the phone. Anyone could have picked up my child and left with her.

And then there was the time that Carter was playing on the swing set in the back yard. He was five, and I was watching him through the sliding glass doors, because I was dealing with Lillian, his baby sister, at the time. He attached a jump rope to the top of the slide and was backing down it, sort of like rappelling down the slide, and he slipped this way and the rope went that way and he found himself hanging by the neck from the jump rope, dangling about two inches off of the ground, which is plenty to hang yourself. If I hadn't been staring right at him when it happened and rushed out of the house to pick him up...

No one could ever in this lifetime call me a bad mother. Not even a questionable one. But in every one of those situations I could have been called neglectful or negligent or "a bad parent". Every one of those situations could have been a tragedy.

And there is never any doubt how much we wanted children--having gone through everything possible to conceive and then raise our babies. It was just a moment. One moment. So, before condemning this poor woman and her husband, think back through your child rearing and admit that there are times you have come close to the same whether in a car or on a playground or in a public place--you looked away for "just a second". Just a second could be any of us.

They need prayers and support and compassion and mercy. Not your condemnation.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Laughing at One's Self is a Spiritual Gift

Mother's Day Portrait 2013--you really have to click
on this and enlarge to see everyone's expressions. 
Someone in a religious circle we trafficked in once blasted me for using this blog as an entertainment site as opposed to a place to further the gospel or specific religious beliefs. She was trying to be helpful, but she said something that indicated we were being too silly or honest instead of spouting some higher religious philosophy.

Brother/Sister Affection
Like the anecdote I told when Lillian covered herself and her stuffed toys in sunblock before the Wal-Mart trip. That wasn't "spiritual". Um, okay. Not sure I was actually imparting some deep spiritual truth; we were just having a laugh.

But it got me to thinking.

My entire life is supposed to point people to the Father, especially how I behave on a regular. As in, every day that I walk around I am supposed to simply be living in the Spirit. It isn't a series of rules to keep, it's simply going about day by day in the power of the Holy Spirit. If your life is a series of silly spiritual Hallmark Card remarks you're sort of missing it.

See, things like finding humor in sorrow and laughing at my weaknesses are empowering, because they illustrate that my joy isn't normal, it's supernatural. By being happy and full of joy when it's unexpected bears out the God that is in me. So, being joyful and laughing IS being spiritual.

Nay-nuh laughing at herself after her sister
shoved her face in the birthday cupcake. 
Glorying in my children is prescribed in the Bible--they are the arrows in my quiver and a reward from the Lord. Delighting in them and raising them up in the best way we know how is pointing people to the Father, because we couldn't do anything without Him. All of their accomplishments and failures should serve to point people to Christ, not to prove that we are good/bad parents. So, telling anecdotes about my kids IS being spiritual.

I told them to "look pretty". 
Christ in the flesh hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors, and criminals. I bet there were even a few homosexuals in the crowds {gasp!}. You need to get over yourself. No one likes a pompous religious person spouting spiritual truths at them. Telling the truth is important, because some folks need to hear it IN LOVE, but being full of your own "religiosity" is off-putting in the worst possible way. It's not your job to bring people to conviction--it's the Holy Spirit's.

So when you spout off truth-isms and look down on people who don't instantly accept them and change, you look like an idiot. (No, you ARE an idiot.) You are literally pretending to have power that isn't yours. So, just being in the moment with whoever is present (provided you are holding true to the Word--you can't use it as an excuse to break the law, man's or God's), IS being spiritual.

My kids get the joke. Don't take yourself
too seriously. No one else does. 
With all of that said, we are trying above all things to be Consistent. To be faithful. To be there. To be involved. To be forgiving. To be helpful. To be kind. To be fallible. And to be joyful throughout.

And if you don't get the joke, I'm sorry for you. I'd like to help you dig that sour beam out of your eye, but I'm probably doubled over laughing at you, so you'll have to wait a sec.




Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Learning Process

So much has been happening in our lives that we just can't talk about. It's the most frustrating situation for people who usually live in an open-door world. We have been in the habit, since deciding to live in a glass house almost 17 years ago, that we'd just let it all hang out there and either you take it or leave it. It's worked out so far. But when we have a crisis that involves someone else's secrets, it's harder to navigate, because certain someones might not want their business just hanging all out there on the line with my business.

Since I can't share everything, here's what I am learning:

Sometimes what you want and what's best aren't the same things.

Wanting someone to do right doesn't actually MAKE them do right.

Helping people doesn't guarantee that they will be happy that you are helping them.

Frequently, the hard thing is the right thing.

The best story I've read all year came from the mind of a high-school senior sent to me via email. He wrote it for fun over the summer. Like not for an assignment. (I almost fell over from the shock. They might actually be listening.)

If you've ever said, "I wish I could help," you probably haven't actually tried to help.

If you offer to pray but don't offer to do one single practical thing to help, you're missing the entire point.

Family court is a complete cesspool. It's like trying to take a bath in a septic tank.

A pistol permit only costs $25.00 in our county.

You can buy a firearm at a yard sale.

There are 4,000 tile samples at Lowe's and among those I am guaranteed to pick the one that's out of stock or no longer being made.

Not everyone will agree with your decisions. You probably weren't asking those people for their opinions in the first place.

My son should be a lobbyist, lawyer, or evangelist. Seriously. You can't win.

The Husband is never, ever, ever to eat another pretzel M&M again or I'm moving out. Or he's moving into another room until the after-effects wear off.

Watching House Hunters and hearing people exclaim, "Oooohhh, look! Two baths, Honey! And it's only $350,000 for 1600 square feet," makes me smile knowing that we live in a mansion in the boonies. City folk. (snort)

You don't need one bedroom per person. If you pile in, you can get to know your kids and they can get to know each other.

Daryl is the hot one. You know Rick's all right and all, but Daryl. That's where it's at. :-)

And that sums it up.




Saturday, June 22, 2013

Paula Deen and the Politically Correct Police

I've been thinking again. (Dangerous, I know.) Unless you live under a rock, you know that Paula Deen's made some news recently for actions in her distant past.

It got me to thinking.

I've said some cuss words (a lot of them if you ask Lilly to judge it) and told some borderline inappropriate jokes and laughed at some very inappropriate jokes (one right in the middle of a funeral where I had to fake a coughing spell and actually get up and leave).

Makes me wonder; are they gonna ask me to leave church?  Or my job teaching at the Christian school? Cause I'm telling you that I actually did the thing I'm accused of. I am completely guilty and would have to own it in a court of law.

And I didn't do some of that stuff 25 years ago. Like, I did it last week. I almost hit another car and when my full cup of coffee bounced off the dash and all over me, I yelled out a really choice three-dollar kind of word that I hope my kids don't even know yet (wishful thinking). See, I'd heard my daddy say it, oh, like a million times growing up, so it's up in that grey matter and just dying for an opportunity to get some airtime. Garbage in/garbage out and all of that. I said it. I meant it when I said it. I admit that I said it.

And that ain't all, Folks.

Until I was a collegiate puppet troupe member of Kids on the Block at UAB, (read more here: http://www.kotb.com/kob2.htg/style.html)  a group that taught elementary school-aged kids about interacting with disabled people, I called friends "retard" as an endearing way of meaning "stupid" or "silly". Today, I punish my children if they say that, because I know better. It really never occurred to me until then. If you put me on the stand I'd have to say that yes, at some time in the long ago, I used that word. And I meant it.

We don't use the n-word EVER in our home. When my kids were young they didn't even know there was a way to refer to black people and called them "brown people" (which could have been horrifyingly offensive if you didn't know they were trying to describe someone on a television show to me and they didn't know the words "black" or "African American" even existed), because we were so careful to not make personal observations. Today I would punish my children if they said that, because they know better. It's completely inappropriate. But I might have heard a joke or two with the word salted over the punchline and laughed. And if you haven't done the same, then you've laughed at a cracker or spic or kike or raghead joke in the same vein. Or made the joke yourself. Remember, you're under oath. Don't perjure yourself.

So, what about you? Want to be convicted for stuff you said and did twenty-five years ago?  I vote a hearty 'no thank you' on my ballot. I'm not sure that it's even remotely fair, because if we all really examine ourselves, we've said a lot of nasty things that we don't want played back in a court of law for everyone to hear. I know I have anyway.

In college, I used to sing this Jimmy Buffet song out loud to myself when I was at a loss for words. It was a peppy little ditty that went like this:

"My head hurts. My feet stink, and I don't love Jesus. It really was that kind of morning. It really was that kind of night. I try to tell myself that my condition is improving, but if I don't die by Thursday I'll be rollin' Friday night."

I didn't even flinch when I hummed that tune as an unbeliever. Now it makes me feel sick at my stomach. But if you asked me to swear on a Bible, yeah, I sang it. And yeah, I meant it. Guilty. And now I call myself a Christian. A disciple. A follower. Not a fan. I have to be covered in the Blood every single day just to get along. How about you? Hey, Paula Deen? I'm just like you, Sugar. And so is everyone else. They just didn't go under oath and have to swear to it in front of the entire world.