Thursday, July 14, 2016

Books of Interest

Top Ten:

There is absolutely no way to narrow my favorite books to ten. So, I'll simply address books that are interesting in this part of my life: 

1. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
Simply the best read in my library. Like buttercream icing. 
 “Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case.”
 “Learning became her. She loved the smell of the book from the shelves, the type on the pages, the sense that the world was an infinite but knowable place. Every fact she learned seemed to open another question, and for every question there was another book.”
2. Blood and Chocolate, Annette Klauss
The definitive work on werewolves. (The movie was crap.) Followed closely by The Silver Kiss, a really nice vampire love story. 
 "I am strong," she whispered. "I can run with the night and catch the dawn. I can kick a hole in the sky." And she struck out with a foot to prove her words. Then curled into a ball.
 "I want to lay my kill at your feet," he said, more growl than words, and held her tight by her hair as he marked her neck with his teeth.  
3. The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
Fantastic adventure story. Takes fifty pages to ramp up. Don't give up. It's worth it. The narrator is unreliable and totally honest in the same breath. 
 “I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.” 
 “Call a jack a jack. Call a spade a spade. But always call a whore a lady. Their lives are hard enough, and it never hurts to be polite.” 
4. The Thief (Entire series), Megan Turner
Best twisty ending in a while. Whole series is delicious.  Motives are never black or white in any human being--we are all made up of shades of grey. This is especially true of our teenage anti-hero Gen.
 “Sometimes, if you want to change a man's mind, you have to change the mind of the man next to him first.” 
 “He didn't marry you to become king. He became king because he wanted to marry you.”
5. Grimspace, Ann Aguirre
Not sure that this is the best book ever, but it's the best concept ever. And Sirantha Jax is my hero. Series is clever and interesting with a powerful, damaged female lead. 
 “Once exposed, a secret loses all its power.” 
 “They say an interesting life leaves its mark on your face, and if that’s true, she’s got one hell of a story.”  
6. Elenor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
Wonderfully awkward first romance story. Full of angst, abuse, doubt, first kisses, and hot mix tapes. 
 “Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” 
 “He made her feel like more than the sum of her parts.”  
7. The Stand, Stephen King
Still the best book I ever read in my life. I re-read it every few years. You could make a career analyzing this story. 
 “Show me a man or a woman alone and I'll show you a saint. Give me two and they'll fall in love. Give me three and they'll invent the charming thing we call 'society'. Give me four and they'll build a pyramid. Give me five and they'll make one an outcast. Give me six and they'll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they'll reinvent warfare. Man may have been made in the image of God, but human society was made in the image of His opposite number, and is always trying to get back home.” 
 “No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side. Or you don't.” 
8. 11/22/63, Stephen King
This was a fantastic time travel book. Seriously. Don't underestimate the genre. Not horror, but horrifying nonetheless. 
 “When all else fails, give up and go to the library.” 
 “...stupidity is one of the two things we see most clearly in retrospect. The other is missed chances.”  
“But I believe in love, you know; love is a uniquely portable magic. I don’t think it’s in the stars, but I do believe that blood calls to blood and mind calls to mind and heart to heart.” 
 "Sometimes a cigar is just a smoke and a story's just a story”
9. Serena, Ron Rash 
Powerful female lead who is flawed from top to bottom. She wants it all and gets it. 
 “She’d never known fear had a taste, but it did.” 
 “A kind of annihilation, was what Serena called their coupling, and though Pemberton would never have thought to describe it that way, he knew her words had named the thing exactly.” 
10. A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick 
Disturbing, thought provoking. What makes us love someone? What makes us change course and decide between right and wrong when we have no moral compass? 
 “Catherine Land liked the beginnings of things. The pure white possibility of the empty room, the first kiss, the first swipe at larceny. And endings, she liked endings, too. The drama of the smashing glass, the dead bird, the tearful goodbye, the last awful word which could never be unsaid or unremembered. It was the middles that gave her pause. This, for all its forward momentum, this was a middle. The beginnings were sweet, the endings usually bitter, but the middles were only the tightrope you walked between the one and the other. No more than that.” 
 “She believed in the miraculous. Or she had, until she reached an age when, all of a sudden, she realized that the life she was living, was in fact, her life. The clay of her being, so long infinitely malleable, had been formed, hardened into what now seemed a palpable, unchanging object. A shell she inhabited. It shocked her then. It shocked her now, like a slap in the face.” 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Senior Class Cruise 2016

I just had the most amazing experience with the graduating class of 2016.

We took 13 people (9 students and 4 adults) and cruised with Royal Caribbean to St. Thomas and St. Marten. To say that the trip was wonderful is an amazing understatement. I was so honored and thankful that they invited me to be a chaperone and go with them adventuring.

Day one: We met at the church and left at 8:00 a.m. to drive to Orlando. We wanted to spend the night before sailing. The hotel was glorious--we stayed in suites with two bedrooms/two baths sharing a common kitchen and living room area. So, there were plenty of bedrooms, bathrooms and everyone had room to spread out. The pool was perfect, food was good, all was well.

Day two: We checked in and arrived at the dock by 11:00. We ate lunch on the boat in the casual dining room called the Windjammer. Food on the trip was wonderful every single meal. Entertainment tonight: we saw an amazing tribute to Broadway. Really, you just had to be there.

Day three: Today we took a tender to the cruise-line-owned private island of Cocoa Cay in the Bahamas. It was a perfect beach day--not too hot and not too cold. Sunny but not blistering. We swam, ate barbecue on the beach, and played non-stop the whole time we were there.

Tonight was the first formal night. Ironically, we dressed for dinner every single night, because that is what we have taught our youth to do--dress for the occasion. So, they looked spiffy every single night, naturally.

The kids in our school don't have much "game" in their dating skills (perhaps we need a class), so when I saw four boys on the stairs in the dining room taking Awkward Family Photos, I mentioned that I could make them Snapchat famous in five seconds. Then I arranged our girls on the stairs around them like supermodels and let their family take that photo.  (Formal Introductions 101.)

Sheepish grins, awkward posing, lots of giggling, photos taken, the girls then spent the next five days hanging around with their new friends in an amoeba formation. (Today we court in small groups instead of one-on-one.) The boys turned out to be from our state--a mere 1 1/2 hours away. It made the trip more fun for those boys and more fun for our girls for sure. Gave everyone someone to laugh and be silly with.

Entertainment tonight was this bizarre thing--a man played the xylo-synth. Yeah, I don't know either, but: Mind Blown. Trust me when I say if someone asks you to see a xylo-synth show you sign up for that post haste.  I've got to tell you this though--in the middle of the show I realized that the drummer was the ship band drummer. And he was reading the music. Like flipping the pages of the sheet music and drumming. I've never seen that one time in my life. Then the artist explained that the ship band had gotten the backup music like four hours before the show and were playing with only one real rehearsal. It was phenomenal.

Day four: We ported in Charlotte Amalie, St. Marten on the Dutch side. We got off of the boat and simply went with a cab driver for a tour of the island. Now, I preface that with the fact that I had been praying like a crazy woman that we'd be safe and have this amazing, unequaled experience. We met Mr. King who actually operated the touring van company. He gave us a personal tour of His Island. He was knowledgeable and interesting and engaging. We saw damaged homes from the last hurricane, expensive homes, the highest peak on the island, and ate wonderful island food.  We shopped in the straw market and came home with some quality junk for the friends and family.

Entertainment tonight: was a magician/illusionist who was also very talented. He used the ship dancers in his routine who also learned their parts like that afternoon (see amazing ship band drummer). The amount of talent on that boat was really impressive. I mean I don't think I've ever seen better group entertainment like that.

Day five: We ported in Philipsburg, St. Thomas. This day we booked a formal excursion through the cruise line. We played a game called The Amazing Race modeled after the show with challenges that took us through the town. We played on the beach, went into a grocery store and priced out local cuisine. We saw historic sites and played games. We ended by swimming in the ocean. It was a good day, but HOT as the surface of the sun. There is a reason May is the beginning of the off season in the islands. It felt like Alabama. And I was like a wet rag by the end of the day. It was fairly miserable, but the kids had a blast. Winning.

Day six: Day at sea. I'm not sure what we did exactly, but I remember it was relaxing. It was a little chilly since we moved up the Atlantic to get away from some rough seas. Becky (my ride or die) and I found the ship library. It had this huge picture window that overlooked the ship commons. We sat there a long time and people watched and laughed. We had the second formal night, but they were really all formal nights for us as we dressed up and looked fahbulous daaahhhhling.

Entertainment tonight was an ice show. No, that wasn't a typo--we saw an ice show at sea. And it was breathtaking.

Day seven: Day at sea. The show tonight was another singing/dancing farewell thing and it was also beyond any of my expectations. 

Day eight: We ported at 6:45 a.m. and drove home. The kids slept the bulk of the way home. (Staying up all night and getting up to see the sunrise daily will do that to you.) I, of course, had to stay awake and drive. We made it.

I'm so thankful that they took me along for their grand adventure.

One of the neatest meals of the trip--island food.

Part of our sofa series of photos.  We found sofas from one end of the trip to the other and posed cosmopolitan style.

Posing in our supermodel swag on the main promenade

Touring Charlotte Amelie

Some things can't be explained.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Struggle is Real

I struggle every single day not to be a toot.

I'm not kidding. I have to fight that part of my nature with a vengeance. My first response when hurt or upset is to lash out, and I'm fierce. Like dangerous, scary fierce.

I have to deliberately, carefully, purposefully put that part of myself down and try to focus on being Christ-like.

And the struggle is real, my friends.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that sometimes I lose that battle.

So would you.

Every single day you have options--how am I going to respond to adversity, hardship, angry words, hurtful I going to respond in kind or in kindness?
Sometimes I love you. Sometimes I want to help you. Sometimes I feel sorry for you. Sometimes I feel led to pray with you. Sometimes I want to throat punch you.

Hey, the truth is scary.

And this is especially true in church. Because I am compelled by the love of Christ to love you even in your sin and when I don't agree with you and when you hurt my feelings.

That part stinks. Like really, really stinks. I don't like it at all. (See: throat punch)  Ugh. So, I find that part of me that is completely connected to the Holy Spirit and strive to listen with patience and pray for my enemies. It's comforting that Jesus did the same and modeled that behavior for me. He thought about throat punching some people too, He just had better self-control than I do (See: tables overturned on money-changers)

So, some notes to clarify:
Do not come to me with any complaints about my husband. Ever.
Do not come to me with any child-rearing suggestions. Ever.
Do not come to me trying to gossip. Ever.
Do not come to me trying to get information about my friends. Ever.

(See: Throat punch)

I'm killing this whole being transparent thing, like for real.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Point

There is nothing new or original in this list that someone hasn't said more eloquently or succinctly than me. I still wanted to make sure my kids were clear on all of it.

The point of cotton candy is to make me joyful. There is no other point. That's it. (Stop reading motives into stuff. Sometimes it just is what it is.)

Carpe Diem means 'seize the day'. Make the most of every opportunity placed in front of you. (Really it means always go for it.)

If it's a "once in a lifetime experience" your only answer is "yes" and/or "what time?"and maybe "what shoes should I wear?"

Sometimes the only acceptable response is "yes, ma'am". (Usually said with your eyes diverted to the ground for safety reasons.)

When tempted to lie about something silly remember that will be the only thing people remember when it's time to tell the truth about something important.

If you don't feel slightly ridiculous doing it, you probably aren't all in.

If you aren't all in, what is the point?

If you aren't all in, you look ridiculous. (It's a vicious cycle that way.) 

No one cares what your hair looks like. Really. No one. Stop touching it.

Try it. You might like it. (And if you don't, you make a mental note for next time. And warn your friends.)

Yes, that is what you look like in that selfie. It's you. You always look like that. We like you either way. Stop stressing about it.

If you never ask the question, the answer is automatically by default a resounding 'no'.

Always weigh the consequences of impulsive behavior. (Then 9 times out of 10 I suggest that you let it rip.)

Do not compound your problems. One mistake is enough at one time.

Sometimes it really is who you know.

When confronted with two paths, choose YOUR path. (Then don't moan or gloat about it either way.)

It's okay to stay home once in awhile. Just don't sleep more than you adventure.

Balance is the key. You can eat dessert, you just can't eat ALL of the desserts ALL of the time.

People are going to talk about you either way. Make it something memorable.

I don't want to get to the end of my life and people say, "She was a good cook and kept a clean house." I want them to say, "Man, I never laughed so hard in my whole life than when she...." And when asked about my housekeeping or wifey skills I hope people snort and say, "Are you kidding me?" Followed by, "Who let you in?"

I want my children to know that it's okay. I'll love you either way. Regardless. Always. No matter what.

There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Nothing. Same with the love of your mom.

I don't really care what you think. If God and The Husband are cool, there's nothing else to discuss.

I hope my life reflects all of me, not just the plastic, airbrushed parts. The good, bad, and the ugly make me well-rounded.

If you don't laugh, really belly laugh, every couple of days you need new friends and new activities. Post haste.

Don't save "stuff" for "someday". You aren't promised tomorrow.

If you never get out of your comfort zone it becomes a stagnant zone. And everyone knows stagnant stinks and has mosquitoes.

I will laugh inappropriately at a moment's notice. You'll either laugh too or quit hanging around me. Either way it works out for me.

'Do we want to see the dessert menu?' is the stupidest question ever asked (proving definitively that there ARE stupid questions).

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Preacher's Wife, Church, and the Priority List: A Rant Just to Clarify

God, The Husband, and The Fam all at once.
An Open Letter to The Preacher's Wife from The Preacher's Wife:

Newsflash: In ministry, it is impossible to please anyone much less everyone. And if you actually are stupid enough to try to please everyone, let me clue you in: It's a lose/lose. You will be miserable, your family will be miserable, and some people still won't like you.

So, I always try to focus on what God wants from me and let the rest roll right off. It helped that we established a clear series of family priorities very early on in ministry. Here it is for anyone interested: 

1. God
2. My spouse
3. Our children
4. My extended family
5. My close friends
6. My personal ministry
7. Church
8. Everything else

Preacher's Wife: This seriously makes ministry/family decisions super easy if you follow it.
Wonder Twins putting on 'make up' to go to church. Yes, I let them go just like this. Don't judge me or my kids. They were so excited to be 'just like Mommy' and their Memaw gave it to them. (See List No. 3 and No. 4.)  Did they look ridiculous? Yes. Are they the example? No. They are kids. Nothing more and nothing less. Just children.

Example: My five-year-old child needs to be in bed by 8:00 p.m. Church goes until 8:30.
Decision: Children before church. I am going home to put the child in bed and not attending night church. (And I didn't attend night services until the kids were able to stay awake until 9:00 p.m., because there is no kind of nightmare like when a kid gets a thirty minute pew nap before going home to be put to bed. Yeah, you might be stupid enough to do that but I, madam, am not.)
Want me at a function? Better check the ball schedule.

Example: Sunday school party is at the same time as my child's opening volleyball game.
Decision: Children before church. Volleyball it is. (Because we will have five thousand other opportunities to fellowship with you at church, but my child is only playing volleyball four years if that. Yes, I choose her. Every time. Don't be obtuse.)

Example: My anniversary is on the same day as a large church event.
Decision: Spouse before church. Ask the Husband if he wants to celebrate on the actual date or the day before. Whatever he says is what we do.  (He'd pick the church and I'd go with him, because I love him more than the church.)

Example: Basketball game is at the same time as a budget committee meeting.
Decision: Children before church. Basketball game. Duh. (Again, how can the budget of our church be anything close to as important as encouraging my child? If you picked 'go to the meeting", I know what your relationship with your kids looks like even from this distance.)

See? Easy. On paper. But it's harder to actually stick to it, because in ministry, particularly if you are the preacher's wife, you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings on purpose. I still, as a wife and mother, have to put things in their proper place in order to honor God through my actions.

  • God is first, because I owe everything to Him. 
  • The Husband is second, because he picked me, and I picked him (well before his call to preach) to build this life together.
  • The Shorties are third, because they are the physical manifestation of our love for one another and our commitment should always first be to our family over any other people. 
  • My extended family is fourth, because without them I wouldn't even be here (and honor thy mother and father is sort of important to God).
  • My close friends are fifth, because they are a layer of my family that I got to choose.
  • My personal ministry is sixth, because that is the thing that God has called and tasked me personally with attending to in His Kingdom work. At this moment in my life that calling is to teach, serve, and work with youth in my church and at CCA where God has placed me to influence an entire generation of young people with the message of Jesus Christ. 
  • And last on that list is church, simply because I wasn't called into the pastorate. My husband was. I was called to my husband, and I will support him in every possible way, but I do not work for the church. I go to church because I love the Lord and wish to worship Him in a body of believers, but I don't work there and am not obligated by anything other than the Love of God to go there.
    Please God. He'll work the rest of it out.
I have been called by God to be obedient and faithful. Right now that obedience is being manifested in working with youth. (When He calls me to something else, I will jump directly into it.) That means that I have been told to work with youth in many different ministries and capacities. I teach youth at church. I teach youth in school as an English teacher.

But don't get confused. I do not in any way believe that I have job requirements placed on me by a church. God has done the calling, not the body of believers. And I will always do what God asks of me. I've been following Him 24 years now. I can hear Him all of the time and know from experience it's much easier when I obey immediately.

Case in point: I HATE Working in the children's department, but I serve in the children's church one Sunday every other month, because someone else did that for me and my kids once upon a time and I owe that as reasonable service to other moms.  I certainly don't serve in that ministry because the church expects me to. I do it for the Lord.

Need Proof? 
Want me at your event? Check the ball schedule.
Don't even think about asking me to teach a children's class on a regular. I will laugh in your face. God hasn't called me to that even in the slightest, so why on Earth would you want me to teach your children anything? I might teach them to hate coming to Sunday School, because "That evil, mean Mrs. C is always yelling at us" is going to be about all they learn from me. Seriously.

Some church folks would find that harsh or unhelpful, but it's still the truth whether you like it or not. I am NOT going to participate in ministries that I was not called to by God. Ever. I would do more harm than help. It's ridiculous to think that just because I'm married to the pastor I should be at everything and be everything to everybody. I'd lose my mind and myself trying to please several hundred people all of the time (who still wouldn't be happy because you can never do enough to please everyone).

And we don't do this to wives in any other profession. Do you demand that your surgeon's wife attend your surgery? Are you offended when your dentist's wife doesn't stand next to him while he checks your teeth? Are you bothered when your plumber's wife doesn't visit with him to make the estimate? People would think you were crazy for even talking that way. So, what makes the pastorate different?

Extended family is before all of you on the list.
I'll tell you what makes the difference--you ASSUME that both people in the couple were called into pastorate. You would be wrong. (I'm not saying He won't EQUIP both people for ministry, but The Husband was called. I was not or I'd be preaching too.)

(Personally, I'd rather that my husband chose to sell aluminum siding or install cable for his living. Then he wouldn't be on call 24/7 and have 200 people mad at him at a time and have to miss personal family stuff ON A REGULAR because of church demands.)

But I was called to be the pastor's WIFE, so I will stand with him and support him in everything he does. I will also heed God's calling in my own life and be true to that priority list He gave me.

I am not in the pastorate. I am not paid by the church. I do not work for the congregation. As a result, I don't have to do any thing at all in the church that God didn't specifically ask me to do Himself. It's incredibly freeing, if you actually apply it. But I guarantee that someone will get offended, because I was at the ballpark instead of at their first cousin's wedding shower. Sunshine, here's a newsflash: 

I don't care what you think unless you are Numbers 1-5 on that list. 

Shocking, I know. But God and I are on the same page here. If this is bothersome to you, you might want to do a serious spiritual check up on judgment, gossiping, nosing about in other people's business, criticizing the brethren, sowing discord, back biting, and harming the man of God (by harming his family). There's some pretty stout and direct scripture to deal with all of those things on your plate first before you critique your pastor and his wife.

So, before you call someone and gossip about what I did or did not do, keep in mind, I don't give a rip. I don't feel bad about it at all. I won't apologize for it. And God is listening very carefully to you. And He is remembering. I'm pretty sure He's got my back, since I'm doing what He told me to do and being what He designed me to be. The more important question is, are you?

We went to this event (after an over-night volleyball tournament on Friday/Saturday we drove two hours, ran a 5K, and danced for six hours, then drove two more hours home) that found us home by 2:00 a.m. on Saturday night/Sunday morning and we made it to church the next morning six short hours later. I want to model that nothing comes before God or worshiping Him. So, we do both--have fun at events and get to church, because I am teaching my children to make their own priority lists.

So, Church Member: Are you putting unrealistic, damaging, judgmental expectations on your preacher and his wife and family? Are you judging when they don't meet your made-up, Pharisee standards (not talking about God standards)? Do you critique their child-rearing? Do you expect their kids to be perfect and an example? (They weren't called into pastorate either.) Do you expect your preacher's wife to be at everything, to fill in for every ministry when a need arises (even if she's clearly not called to it), and to attend everything he is required to attend?

Then, I'm telling you that you are dead wrong and not in God's will. And I'm right.

Because the Love of Christ Alone Compels Me,
The Preacher's Wife

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Eccentric = Totally Awesome

I didn't say she wasn't weird. I said she was shy.
So...The Little Flower is a strange kind of shy. She isn't afraid of people, but she's terrified of being stared at or in the middle of a stage or in front of a crowd. She doesn't want to go up front and get an award, talk to strangers (or sometimes friends), or be noticed in any meaningful way.  It's an almost crippling sort of irrational fear of being noticed.
Once you get to know the kid you realize several things:

Myrtle Beach: Paper, clipboard, bag of pens

1. She's smart. Seriously smart. Her command of sarcasm and witty puns is spectacular. (She's barely passing math, but she's killing it with the one-liners on a regular.)

2. She's funny. She always, always gets the joke and is frequently making them.

3. She's talented. We competed in Elementary Fine Arts (which is what I'm getting around to) and she had to fill out this "Artist's Concept Form" explaining how she came up with the idea and how long the piece took her to make, (don't worry, I'm going to explain this further), but "It took me one minute" is the truth. It did take her one minute. Which is mind blowing. And that brings us to...

Fine Arts

The Sticks. Lilly's musical instrument.
We never go anywhere without paper, clip board, and bag of pens
I know that her band director, Mr. David, wanted to ring her neck several days in practice. (I know exactly how he feels.) Lilly can't (and won't) play an actual instrument. She will stare at the offending instrument and at you until you simple fold. So, he handed her the sticks. (Yes, the sticks.) Which she held in her hands and touched in time, but refused to actually hit together to make sound. (Not kidding.) She held the sticks an inch apart and sort of moved them toward each other.

And to get her up there with the band, the choir director had to promise (and promise and promise and promise) that the music stand and the music would cover up not just her face but her entire upper body from the view of the crowd. The stubborn child also refused to walk up on the stage by herself. She wanted me to walk on with her and sit beside her the entire time. I bargained until we reached the agreement that I would walk up there with her, get her seated, and then sit on the front row.

Ice Cream Shop: Paper, clipboard, bag of pens.
Mr. David also desperately needed the child in the second performance to hit the cymbals together.  She didn't just balk. She refused to even look at him anymore, because, seriously? You want me to hit together two pieces of brass loudly enough to draw the eyes of everyone in the building to me? Um, no thank you. I'll just sit here and take the failing grade without batting an eyelash. Watch me. (I have no idea where she gets that from.)

Candy Store: Paper, clipboard, bag of pens.
Other things Lilly refuses to do:
1. Walk into the church by herself. (She sat outside the door on the steps one time until I came out looking for her thirty minutes later when she didn't come in from Sunday School.)
2. Walk into the school by herself. (See: People looking at her.)
3. Talk to people she doesn't know. (And sometimes to those she does know.)
4. Order food in a restaurant. (She would starve slap to death first.)
5. Go back for seconds. (Again, people looking at her.)

That is some serious stage fright, Folks.

So, now back to Fine Arts... 

Our school has a state-wide elementary competition featuring art, drama, speech, music, choir, band--so many wonderful talents. The Little Flower is an artist. She has a talent that no one else in the household has--she can express herself on a piece of paper in seconds. She can turn anyone into a cartoon and capture mood, movement, expression, emotion in several strokes of a pen. It's amazing to watch.
Ink on white paper colored pencils. "The Escape"

Well, since the stick/cymbal playing was out of the question (naturally) I wanted her to participate in the one thing she is gifted in--art. Then she asked the Big Question:

Who is going to be looking at it?
Me: Judges. Your Classmates. Your Teachers.  Everyone.
Lilly: No.
Me: But, Lil, it's a gift that God has given you and you need to share it.
Lilly: No. I'll share it with Donovin (her best friend).
Ink on white paper colored pencils "Ship Crash"
Me: That's not big enough. We are told to shine our lights in front of men in such a way so that people are pointed to God through us and our gifts.
Lilly: God is doing all right without my help.
Me: (Sigh) We are filling out the paperwork and you are entering two categories. No more discussion.
Lilly: I don't think God likes you FORCING ME to do stuff.
Me: Yes, He does. That's why I'm the mom and you are my child.
Lilly: (pout) Fine. But I don't want to SEE anyone looking at it.

Ink on White Paper Monochromatic 2nd Place "The Nativity"
So, she won. First place in polychromatic and second place in monochromatic. For drawings that took her literally minutes to draw. And when she asked if she had to go up on stage to get her awards I said, Nah. We can pick them up later. No big whoop.
Ink and colored pencils on white paper 1st Place Polychromatic "Inside Outside"
That's right, Friends and Neighbors, I'm raising the Emily Dickinson of the art world. 

(And no advice on how you would address any of those Little Flower issues, please. I'll raise mine and you raise yours, thank you very much. We think she's perfectly wonderful exactly as she is. Eccentric is Awesome in Johnsonville in every possible way.)
Ink on white paper Self Portrait "Avatar"

Self Awareness is a Gift