Monday, February 22, 2016

One More Hot Dog in the Pot

We have two house guests staying with us for two weeks. A woman in our church had to fly out last minute to care for her father who is very ill several states away. Her two teens are in classes with my kids. Instead of pulling them out of school for two weeks, we offered to let them stay with us. Someone at work heard and casually said, "Charlotte, you have a very big heart." I sort of scoffed, because I'm the least merciful person I know.

Before you think I'm being falsely modest, I'm not joking. I'm sort of infamous for being difficult when it comes to mercy. 

It's always crowded.
I believe we make our own way. I believe it's almost always personal fault, not circumstance or accident or something that happened to you.  I believe that you have to decide to live a different way before it can manifest, and most people choose wrong or not at all.

So, I blame personal failure for what most would call happenstance. It's why that mercy thing is so hard for me. But the weird exception in my life has been twofold: teenagers and dogs. (Maybe God thinks it's funny.)
Regular day in my kitchen.
It never occurred to me not to offer for the kids to stay with us. I didn't have to ask The Husband either. He almost always lets me have my way (because that is the kind of love he exhibits for me daily). I just said, "Hey, we are having house guests for two weeks."

He grunted and said, "Sure we are."

Then he cooked ravioli and homemade sauce and mozzarella bread and made sure each of those kids had two helpings.
Where would we all sit to eat?

Now, keep in mind that we have eight people in this house already. Eleven are rolling around here tonight. My mother lives next door, but she comes over for laundry and eats all of her meals with us. She's come over tonight, because she doesn't like to stay alone in the "weather" (if it sprinkles or f5 tornado it's 'weather').

We have five kids. We have four (FOUR) dogs (some of them are actually ours and some of them transplants aka neighbor dogs that came and never left). We have one misbehaving cat.  We have boyfriends who visit and family friends who come to fellowship weekly. It's like a circus all of the time.

What it looks like when only seven of us travel.
We have people in and out all of the time day and night. We are busy, stretched, half crazed. We can't eat a sit down meal together most of the time, because there isn't a table big enough in my house.

My washer and dryer have never been idle more than six hours at a time in two decades. I have four large stock pots and we always serve buffet style, because that's what it takes to feed a dozen people at every meal. We have two refrigerators and two freezers and have to set a shower schedule to get everyone cleaned up.
My living room is always this full
And you know what? We've never gone hungry or without. God has been good to our family, usually through the hands of other people. I can't even envision a world where I don't say, "Sure, you can just come stay with us. We'll work it out. We'll fit you in. We'll feed you. We'll take you. You are welcome here."

Loving people is going to cost you something. Be careful that you aren't talking about living a Christ-following life and then shoving your family into a bubble, not allowing other people to participate in the party. You need to have open doors, open heart, open life.

What it looks like to feed the whole show.

If it's  only "your four and no more" you have missed out on the best parts of fellowship. The messy parts. The real parts. The scary parts. The damaged parts. The fun parts. The lovely parts. The best parts.

Invite people in. Let them see you as you really are, not as you want or hope to be. And you'll be surprised at how God moves in those relationships. How He is revealed through your love and open, unprotected sharing. Don't be afraid. My unmerciful heart can do it, so I know yours can too. 
We love Chinese food. Man at the take out place asked, "How many people do you feed with all of this?" The Husband responded, "All of them, Buddy. All of them."
Regular nightly meal.
Always room for one more in the house. Sometimes you have to get friendly, but we'll get you in there.

Love/Hate Relationships

Before you read this post, I am writing hypothetically and this is a general opinion article, not about a specific situation or people. I am in a good place right now without conflict. Let's keep it that way, shall we?

Social media and I have a love/hate relationship.
  • I love the convenience of it. 
  • I love being able to keep up with friends and family who I don't interact with regularly.
  • I love that you can post information to a group and instantly everyone is informed about assignments and schedule changes and important info.
  • I love that you can break large groups into small groups for specific tasks.
  • I love that you can make events and share them with people.
  • I love that I can see birthdays and wedding photos and who has lost a tooth or gained a car or dumped a boyfriend.
  • I hate that you can post instantly what is in your head, sometimes bypassing your internal filter.
  • I hate that you can write things that aren't true about other people or situations that you really know nothing about.
  • I hate that people can comment to their heart's desire about things that don't involve them.
  • I hate game requests.
  • I hate that the computer keeps recommending ads based on my reading/preferences.
  • I hate that my life can be stalked by people I don't prefer. 
Seriously, you better not ever talk smack about my family or make half-veiled commentary about private things on social media, or I will take this off of the Internet and into Real Life so fast it will make your hard drive burst into flames.

I have absolutely no tolerance for ridiculousness and will not accept it from anyone. I will call you, walk down the hall to talk to you, come see you where you work, drop in at your house, make an appointment in a public space, but I will NEVER call you out on the Internet in some veiled attempt at character assassination. You will know I'm coming for you. Every. Single. Time.

Because conflicts are to be resolved in person, in private. And the entire point of conflict ought to be resolution every single time. We need to reconcile, forgive, and move on. Airing supposed grievances on Facebook or twitter makes you petty and small. You are a coward hiding behind a computer screen.

What is private is private and shouldn't be aired on the Internet. And if you choose to post things in public that should have been dealt with behind closed doors that concern me and mine, I will be bringing it to your house. We forget that our actions always have consequences.

I pray that I am never one of your consequences. You should probably pray likewise. And remember to deal with people as you wish to be dealt with.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Good Day/Bad Day: You Choose

So, today was a good day/bad day.

Last cheer competition of the season (good day/bad day).

I had to get up at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday (bad day). But the alarm went off and we were on time (good day).

My child's stunt group performed beautifully (good day) and still lost to a team who had half of the difficulty level (bad day). 

The large cheer group performed the hardest stunts with the greatest degree of difficulty and still lost (bad day).
rocking it like Patriots!

(Sour grapes? Nah. Sometimes that's just how it goes and you have to get over it and go on. The best man does NOT always win. Get over yourself.)

We were the only team cheering in skirts, and let me say, you all looked wonderful, daahhhhling. Just wonderful (It's always a good day when you are dressed to kill). 

One of our stunt groups blew their big stunt but didn't kill or break the girl (bad day/good day). They nailed it in Jacksonville, but today was not their day. It goes like that some times. Get back on the horse.

We ate at I-Hop and had Steel City Pops (good day). (That satsuma cream pop was divine!)

one of these things is not like the others...

I napped for two hours after getting home without being woken up one time by an emergency or need or question (excellent day).

The Husband brought home Chinese food, so I didn't have to cook or clean up afterwards (great day).

I watched my show on Netflix for two hours without a single interruption (miraculous day).
This statue was on rollers. We found out the hard way.

My kids are all scattered and happy and healthy (good day).

Naynuh is watching Monsters Inc. with The Little Flower (and they are giggling maniacally). The Number One Son is camping with his boys (which is his Happy Place).  Big E slept with me all afternoon and is cleaning her room (which she finds blissful). Sister is with T-Ray (the boyfriend) and his family at the races (I hope she was able to stay awake!). The Husband is snoring in the bedroom with the sounds of Porter Wagner on in the background (his favorite relaxing activity). (all in the good day column.)

Squad in Mean Girls pose. Naturally. Because if you can't win, be fabulous.
When measuring your days, be sure to end with more in the Good Day column than in the Bad Day column. It takes effort to see the good in things sometimes. Always make the effort. It's what we are called to do in counting our blessings daily. It's purposeful and doesn't happen without thought and application. And know that sometimes it just is what it is. The good, the bad, the ugly all make up the tapestry of your life. Don't miss it.

Rolled in the Fun Bus with the Best Friends (always a good day)

Laughed, joked, finished strong (always finish strong).

Big E came for moral support for her sister. (Support those you love in their endeavors.)

Fly high. Everyone is always watching how you soar and how you fall. Do both gracefully.

Friday, February 19, 2016

I'm on a Roll Again

A handful of random rants...

"If you don't help with a particular endeavor in any meaningful way, your opinion about it means less than nothing. If, however, you are fully invested in the cause and have given of your time, talents, funds, hard work, and sacrificed personally, please, by all means, share your thoughts. I will listen. 

But remember that listening politely isn't an indicator that I will agree with you or change for you. It simply means that I have good manners." 
~ Mrs. C Said So

"Remember that the spiritual establishment chewed on Christ's behavior every single day He walked the earth. They didn't like Him, because He met with the people on the edge of the pit and engaged in fellowship with them. 

Where do you stand in your congregation? Are you in the middle of the holy huddle judging the actions of the brethren or on the edge of the world loving the people who live there? 

I can promise you this...I would rather be able to identify with sinners without judgment and in love than to live a single day as a spiritually pompous jack wagon.  Jesus Christ said, 'Same'." ~ Mrs. C Said So

"If you have to tell people about your spiritual deeds or point out your holiness, you're completely missing the boat. 

(And side note--no one really likes those people, and their influence becomes negligible as a result. No one tolerates a spiritually pompous person for long. It's too lofty for actual humans to live up to that standard of judgment on a daily.) 

~Mrs. C Said So (With a side note from Sister Sunshine Charlotte)

"My best advice is to shut your mouth about other people's stuff, because the length of rope you judge them with will probably be your noose. God is funny like that." ~ Mrs. C Said So