Monday, April 15, 2013



It was all I could mutter when a nurse down the hall brought her phone. The live stream showed the recent aftermath of the Boston explosion.

"Jesus, help us."

I cannot pretend to know their fear, their pain.

My father and I were having this conversation recently-the one that is being played across Twitter, Facebook, and in living rooms.

What is the world coming to? When did our world get so bad? What has happened?

Today, I wanted to skip the allergy shots and homework, bunker down in our first floor apartment and wait.

But the shot needed gotten, the dog was still at the vet. We were almost out of milk.

My dad pointed out that every generation imagines itself the worst, the hardest-working, living in the most dangerous world there is.

We have 9/11, Sandy Hook, and now Boston.
The 90s had Oklahoma City, Columbine.
The 80s had the Iranian Hostage Crisis, attempted assassination of Reagan. Apartheid
The 70s had Vietnam, Agent Orange, SDS bombings.
The 60s had the Civil Rights Movements, the killings of Civil rights activists near Philadelphia, bombings including one that took 4 beautiful Birmingham girls in the House of the Lord.
The 50s had the Cold War, bomb shelters, imminent threats of Nuclear War.
The 40s had Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, Auschwitz.
And so it went on, each generation with its on fears, threats, and dangers.

"We didn't have to worry when we were kids." Quoted by people from 25 to 60.

Thought @ 35, I remember somehow knowing Adam Walsh's head was found severed from his body, harmed by scary people somewhere in broad daylight. He had been in K-Mart.

News reports from when I was in the first grade, a white van abducting children. My brother at 10, taking a knife to school.

My mother remembers her high school classmate murdering his stepmother, 50 years ago in a quiet Mississippi town.

Recent society can recall Jonestown, anthrax-tainted mail, Son of Sam, Oklahoma City, the assassinations of Robert and John Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

A generation or two removed recall the bombs of Berlin and Paris, suicides as the stock market plunged, bread lines, rations.

Graves hold the fears and stories of those who came before: Jesse James, the Titanic, the assignation of Frans Ferdinand, the Civil War, Jim Crow.

The tragedy the human heart can inflict is rivaled only by the resilience of the human soul.

May Jesus carry those affected by the tragedy of today.

May he make the rest of us brave so that we will carry own in this world because He has work for us to do. And how selfish of us to wish His return before every soul can hear of Him.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

On being tattooed and Christian

I dye my hair, more than one color.

I have enough tattoos that they are measured in hours, not number.

I still have somewhat of a potty mouth, though I am recovering.

I want Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the USA.

And I don't think the government should get to decide what happens in a uterus or a bedroom.

I am a Christian. I love Jesus, and He alone has saved me.

Sometimes all these pieces don't add up to what I think a Christian woman should look like. Sometime they don't add up to what society thinks a Christian woman should look like. Frequently, they don't add up to what the church thinks a Christian woman should look like.

I am drawn to women who identify their beliefs via uniform. Crushed when I discovered all nuns did not have to wear habits. I will gaze, longingly even, at the Mennonite women in our community (so much so that my husband has kicked me under the table), dying to know the difference between the black and white head coverings. Wanted to join in on the conversations of Pentecostal women I see at restaurants. To me, these women wear the uniform of a Christian.

I struggled to make those garments mine, struggled with what I thought I should be. I have covered tattoos, avoided political discussions, wanted to bake and preserve. I even tried to stay at home once.

Because I assumed that is what Jesus would want a Christian woman to look like.

I married a good man. He is God-fearing, love your wife as the Lord loves the church, Sunday school attending, Republican, music minister's kid who by all accounts should have married the quiet girl who sings in the choir.

Once I asked him, "Are you sorry you married a crazy lady?"

His only response, "I am sorry I didn't marry her sooner."

He chose me.

All of me: the single mother, the tattooed flesh, the overuse of the word a@#, the doubter.

So did Jesus. Jesus chose to make me, the way I am. He knew before I was thought of the bad choices I would make, the suffering I would both cause and endure and he still made me.

 (I wish I could take credit for the following revelation, but I can't; I read it in a blog comment somewhere. Thank you to whoever wrote it. Yes, God knows exactly how we are going to screw up before we do it. Remember when David asked God if he could build the temple. God told David that his son would build it. His son. God and David had this conversation before Bathsheba, before the death of David's first child, before Solomon. God KNEW exactly what was in store for David. He didn't just use David's mistakes for the glory of God.)

Knowing all these things, God still made my flesh, loved me, commanded me (just as He commanded every other believer) to love Him most, love others, and make disciples.

And because I believe in Him, I am a Christian.

May I focus on people seeing this by my actions and not worrying about my uniform.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


My husband is convinced that I will name any future children Olivia, Stabler, and Fin. He is probably right.

I watch Dance Moms with varying expressions of incredulities, disbelief and shame. I have watched more than one Honey Boo Boo, IN A ROW. There is (unfortunately) little shame in my guilty pleasure. But I cringe when I see advertisements for Cheer Perfection; I turn the channel before it comes on and think happy thoughts if I happen to hear recaps from someone else.

I was a cheer mom. The WORST kind--the loud, always-right, takes-it-way-too-seriously, has a talented kid who I embarrassed--cheer mom.

We fell into cheer; baby girl was about to start kindergarten and taking a tumbling class at a local gym. She wanted to sign up for a cheer clinic, and the instructor let her, though she was not yet 6. The rest is history.

She is super talented, can do handsprings and tucks and jumps.

But super talented isn't always enough when you're a cheer mom. I compared. I fussed. I complained. I pushed. And in the end, none of us loved cheer.

Life happened. I married and moved hours away; baby girl had to sit out since we moved midseason. Midseason turned into sitting out a full season and rec classes. The husband and I shared carpool duties to dance and tumbling. Carpool only, never darkening the door of the gym.

I was cured.

UNTIL. Until she told me she missed it. Missed the routines, the workouts, the competitions. And we delved back in, looking for a gym for next season.

We stumbled upon one in a neighboring town; the coach wanted her to come for a workout and get a feel for the group.

I felt a little like someone in recovery, walking into a bar again. I asked my husband to pray without ceasing while we were gone, and I asked my daughter if I could watch her while she worked out.

"Will you be nice?"

I didn't have the heart to ask if she meant to her or everyone else, but I nodded and added, "If I will make you uncomfortable, I will wait in the car." 

I was pardoned and took a seat in the lobby. She shook hands with the coach and started to stretch. As they progressed to tumbling, she moved from the line and came to stand beside me.

"I'm scared."

I wish there wasn't that little part of me that wanted to say 'Suck it up and just go out there.' But there is. It is ingrained, deep. The professional woman. The single parent. The survivor. We don't admit to fear.

Then there is the mom. A role that is evolving, that I am learning still, even if I'm not always comfortable.

The mom spoke, "It is OK to be scared. You haven't cheered for a while. Just take a breath and do whatever pass you want."

She leaned on me for a while, her body only two inches shorter than mine, her strong legs against my seated torso, her elbow on my shoulder.

And I think of all those nights, sharing a bed, her infant body resting in the curve of my hip. As a toddler, tiny toes pressed into my back. Lying closer wrapping her limbs around me as she grew. Never close enough for her. Her breath light on my face as she slept.

When I married, she picked out a new bedroom set, moved down the hall to her own bed. How I worried that she would be afraid without me. She straightened her pink zebra blanket and never looked back.

"Mama gets scared sometimes too."

And she left, joined the line, and looked at the coach when it was her turn.

I was amazed to watch her in the air. I had not seen her tumble in over a year. Flips with no hands, high into the air. Light on her feet as she landed.

And she looked at me. She was waiting to see where I would have her improve, what she could have done differently, better.

She got a thumbs up.

She shrugged, smiled, and got in line again.
This was my second chance. My second chance to watch my baby girl do something she loves. My second chance to encourage and support. My second chance to be involved.

Thankful today that I serve the God of second chances. Not only cheer mom, do-overs, but renewed every morning. Thankful that my God has given me more than a second chance.

The coach asked baby girl join the senior squad for the last competitions of this season.

She was thrilled.

I was nauseous.

But we both went forward.

I am still a work in progress, but enjoying watching her excel.

I let her coach, coach.

And I am her mom. A CHEER MOM, with a second chance.