Thursday, December 31, 2009

i ain't never birthed no puppies.....

aaaaaahh...september 29. as i remember, it started out like any other day around here. nothing really spectacular had occurred. until that night. the night that my home turned into a "dog house." our lab, zoe was pregnant and i wanted to find a book on what to expect when you're expecting puppies.  like the book they have for pregnant mothers.

i wanted to know what was in store, as "i ain't never birthed no puppies before." and the more i read, the more terrified i became. this was much, much worse than the book i read when i was expecting my first child. i was only having one baby. not anywhere from eight to fifteen! i needed things. you know, in case i was called on to "help" with the delivery. things like white towels and a thingy you suction their nose and mouth with. boiling water and forceps and a scapel in case i would need to perform an emergency c-section. i would need scales to weigh them and tags to label them and a "whelping box!" what in the world was a whelping box? a box to put the mother in when she starts writhing in agony? or, a box to put ME in, when i started writhing in agony? so, i sent micajah to wally world...for supplies. i sent him with a list. and on that list was a package of white cleaning cloths from the automotive section (i'm cheap and didn't want to buy white towels that i would never be using again) and if he couldn't find those, to go to the baby department and get a package of white cloth diapers. he calls me from inside the store.

mom, "i'm in the automotive section and they only have one package of white cloths and there are only three to a pack."
"well, that's not enough. go to the baby section and get the cloth diapers."

"i don't know what they look like, mom. where are they?"

 "they are in the BABY department. in a package. where all the other diapers are. just ask someone to show you where CLOTH diapers are."

"fine. whatever. i'm not going to ask somebody where diapers are. i'll find them. bye."

a few minutes later he arrives home. with these.

BWAHAHAHA! i asked him, "micajah, what am i supposed to do with these? these are pampers. am i supposed to put a pamper on each puppy? and besides that, they are jumbo size, for 35 lbs. and up!"

"well, i told you i didn't know what they looked like. you said cloth diapers. those are diapers...and they are made of cloth." this the way all seventeen year old boys think?

we were sitting on my bed, with zoe. not suspecting that she was in labor at that very moment. she wasn't pacing. or whining. or digging her nails into my wrist, like i did to micajah's father when i was giving birth. she just sat there, licking herself, the way dogs do all the time. and then there was a puppy coming out. and then there wasn't. she had eaten it before it was born. and i began to panic. THIS i had never heard of! i had a cannibalistic dog! i grabbed the laptop and did a few searches on dogs who were cannibals and learned that this was a totally natural thing. that dogs instinctively know when the puppy is stillborn or when it won't survive, and they eat it. and it is actually good for them. but it was not good for me! i was in full blown panic mode. we didn't even have the whelping box yet! what to do?

we layed some towels on the floor in my bedroom and put zoe on them and i got out the camcorder and the camera and we waited. for a long time. and nothing. micajah went on to bed and i was just sitting on my bed when i heard a single groan and then i saw movement. she had given birth to the second puppy and this one was alive. i yelled for micajah and we watched her clean the baby up and get the sac from around it's face. and a few minutes later, more licking, a glimpse of a puppy, and more puppy. another one stillborn. another panic attack from me. i thought birth was supposed to be a beautiful thing. this was not shaping up that way. about 30 minutes later she began the licking and then she jumped up and there was a baby trying to be born and she leaps up onto MY bed, walks around with this puppy hanging halfway out of her and then just sits down. on top of the puppy that is trying to make its way into the world. and hopefully, live here awhile. we managed to lay her down and "assist" her in getting the puppy out and she cleaned it and all was well.

to make this already getting long story a little shorter, i will just say that through the course of the night, until 6:00 the next morning, zoe labored and gave birth to 12 beautiful little puppies. there were no more stillborns. there was no emergency c-section. there was no whelping box.

but there was another kind of box. one that micajah built in our garage. to keep the puppies in so i wouldn't have to smell poop all day long. it was large enough to hold all 12 puppies as they grew...and until they went to their new homes.

 it was great too. or it was until they got big enough to be weaned and began eating real puppy food. then they would push their bowls all the way to the back of the pen.

which meant, of course, that this 50 yr. old woman had to climb over the front, which was built low enough for zoe to climb in and out, but still high enough that the puppies couldn't climb out. or that i couldn't lift my leg high enough to get over it easily. there were times when i would put one leg over, and get stuck. or i would get splinters in my hands trying to heave myself back over it. or in my backside when i just gave in and sat down to rest a minute. i just knew that one day i would slip and fall...into the pen. and into the poop and pee of 12 puppies. and lay there, unconscience, with the razor sharp nails of all those dogs digging into me. i had horrors of laying there for several days, bleeding, being wet on, until micajah got hungry enough to come in search of his mother who should have been placed on the missing persons list days before. had anyone missed me enough to place me there.

there were days through all these weeks of puppies, that i would cry out to God, "when will my life be normal again? when will i be able to have a conversation with humans again, instead of this dog language i had acquired while conversing with these animals? much like women who stay home with their children all day, longing for adult companionship. to hear words other than MOM, MAMA, MOMMY a million times in 24 hours. i began praying for the day these puppies could be listed on craigslist in search of a new home. i loved them. but keep in mind...i already had two yorkies, a cat and two ginormous labs. plus a teenager. a boy teenager. the food bill alone was killing me.

and finally. FINALLY the sun shined down on me and God spoke. He said, "today is the day." Oh, thank you, Lord. thank you. the puppies were placed on an ad and within three days, they all had new homes. the last to go to his new family was King Kong. the week before Christmas, he was going to be the biggest present under some little boys tree. i was ecstatic. i want to show you WHY the name King Kong...

the pen came down that very day. the wood went to the dump. the garage was cleaned out. the blankets were thrown away and my house was cleaned for company. my dog house had officially been DE-PUPPIFIED. and on its way to being a home again. for people.

a couple days later patrick, micajah's friend, came walking in my front door. with these words.

"hey mom, is Bailey pregnant?" (he just calls me mom because, well, he practically lives here.) (and Terri, if you're reading this, i mean that in a GOOD way! really. seriously. i love patrick.)

NOOOOOOOOOOO....this could not be happening to me. Lord, haven't i been good this year? haven't i done everything you asked of me? am i being punished for something? talk to me. please. talk to me. and He did. He told me that yes, indeed, bailey was pregnant. she's our "other" lab. zoe's sister. and we figured she would give birth sometime around the end of january.

Christmas Eve was last thursday. my son, christian, and his girlfriend, missy came up from florida for the holidays on wednesday. we got up thursday morning and went to one of the cemeteries to take pictures. we put zoe and bailey in the garage while we were gone. so they wouldn't terrorize the neighborhood (as my grumpy old neighbor likes to say.) we were going over to some friends house for dinner that night and when we got home i had some cooking to do and some presents to wrap. while i was in the process of doing just that, micajah came running into my room.

"mom, bailey is having her puppies. she already had some. come to the garage, QUICK!"

and sure enough, the dog that we had just found out was pregnant, was giving birth. once again, we weren't prepared. no whelping box. no clean, white towels, (diapers) no scapel or nose sucking thingy. she did it all on her own anyway. the first five puppies didn't survive. the last three she cleaned up and then she deserted them.

 i had to clean them off once she had gotten the sac off. she wouldn't nurse them. she wouldn't go anywhere near them. she kept trying to eat them. so micajah and christian rushed to petsmart and got the last two baby bottles and a can of milk replacement. and we took the puppies to our friends house with us. and we all took turns bottle feeding them.

ryan, my nephew

sarah, our pastors daughter

beverly and sarah, pastors wife and daughter

caleb, pastors son

that night i had to get micajah up every two hours to hold bailey down, so i could put the babies up to her and let them nurse.

i knew they needed their mothers milk and i knew that bailey needed the relief. but bailey didn't like it one single bit. she hated those puppies. Christmas morning we were like zombies. we went to my sisters for lunch, puppies in tow and it was clear by that afternoon that the puppies were not liking the bottles. or the milk. so that night i tied bailey up to my bedpost with her leash and had the puppies on the floor in a basket, by my side of the bed. when they cried, i held bailey down and put the puppies up to her and after about the fourth time she began licking them and cleaning them and that mama dog has just about licked the skin clean off those babies since then. she won't leave their side for a minute. her motherly instincts kicked in some 24 hours after giving birth and she went from total neglect to "i'll kill you if you try to hurt my babies" mode. (notice the one puppy, laying between her front paws and the other, between her back legs)

twelve three. and these three are already spoken for. and the mama's? oh, trust me. they will soon be on their way to the vet for a little ummmmmm...O-P-E-R-A-T-I-O-N.

i sometimes wonder WHY God allowed such a thing as this to happen to me. didn't i already have enough on my plate? was there a lesson here? well, of course there was. isn't there always, where God is concerned?


it's that simple. this verse comes to me time and time and time again. it's Gods way of reminding me to LET GO and LET GOD. i have a tendency to hand things over to God, only to snatch them back when i think i have a better plan. or i think He is not moving things along as fast i would like him too. having all these puppies to take care of in the midst of all that i am dealing with in my personal life, has taken some of the edge off. it has kept me focused on things other than myself and my problems. God could very easily have left me saddled with all those puppies. i would have had to take them to the pound where they would most likely have been put down. and then they would have needed to put me down. but God took care of the situation. he found new homes for all of them. with good people. and these last three?

they remind me of my own three boys. when you walk towards bailey and reach for one of the babies, she reaches her long legs out and gathers them to her. she looks up at you as if she's saying, "i dare you to hurt one of them."

that's how i feel about my boys. although they are all grown up now, and don't need my arms around them all the time, keeping them safe...that's the feeling in my heart whenever i see one of them. to want to protect them.

God has blessed me. tremendously. and i thank him for the lessons he teaches me on a daily basis.

and he answers prayers. whether we see the answer or not. it's always there.

oh. and one more lesson i learned through all this. puppy poop is hard to get out of most fabrics. i never knew that before. just saying.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Heroes...and a panty bomber there are two stories making headline news, both of which are the meat of this post. the first is a story of an american father, who was married and had a son. his wife leaves, with son in tow, to visit her homeland in brazil. her husbands understanding was that she would return in two weeks, however, that didn't happen. instead, she divorced him from brazil and kept their son away from him, eventually remarried and then was killed in an accident. leaving the boy with his step-father and his maternal grandparents. for five long years, this man fought the legal system, in two countries, to regain custody of his son. finally, after 5 long years, the father and son were reunited, after brazilian courts turned custody back over to him, and on christmas eve, they traveled back to new jersey, to begin the long process of becoming re-acquainted and putting their family back together again.

the second story is of a would-be terrorist, who is being dubbed "the panty bomber" by the press. he tried to blow up an airplane, filled with passengers, enroute to Detroit. his weapon of choice...a bomb. strategically placed in his underwear. his attempts were foiled, when a nearby passenger heard what sounded like firecrackers going off, and saw smoke rising from the man's lap. he leaped over the man sitting next to him and on top of the "panty bomber." he saved lives. and was burned himself, in the process.

you may wonder what in the world these two stories have to do with me. and why would either of them be the subject of one of my own stories. i will enlighten you.

in the first story, this father is to me...a hero. a man, who would travel to the ends of the earth to save his relationship with his son. a man, who has proved, time and time again, that there is NOTHING he wouldn't do to make that happen. i, personally, don't know ALOT of men who would do that.

most of you who are reading this, know that i am a christian. i have a pretty close relationship with God and strive each day, to draw even closer to Him. most of you also know that i am in the process of going through a divorce. my youngest son, micajah, is also in the process of going through a divorce. as much as some of us would like, these kinds of things do not affect just the husband and wife, but the children, the grandchildren, the in-laws, and even your friends. suddenly, everyone you thought loved you, feels they must "pick a side." one day you wake up and realize that this person you intended to spend the rest of your life a virtual stranger.

today, i am angry. today, i am sad and hurt and desperately need to pray. but, i can't pray. today is one of those days when the words just will not come. i know that in times like these, the Holy Spirit takes over for you and petitions God, the Father, on your behalf...but it makes me feel so inadequate. today, i find myself slipping back into the hole...alone and scared and without answers.

who was this man i was married to for almost 18 years? the father of my youngest child. the man i committed my life to. the man who said he was a christian? who was this man that i shared my family with, that came into my life like a whirlwind and promised me a stable home, filled with love and honesty and faithfullness? who i believed, would go to the ends of the earth for HIS son...if need be? he was a wolf in sheep's clothing. he devoured me. he took what self worth i had, and over the years has ripped it to shreds. until there is not much left. it is soooo cold here in this hole. a place i do not like to be, but find myself sinking to, quite often these last 9 months. and i wonder how much colder it is...for my son.

nine long months. and if i counted, and rounded off and stretched the time as far as i could, the amount of time my son has been face to face with his father would total maybe, MAYBE 10 minutes. that, my friends, is 600 seconds. in 9 long months. and how much more time has been spent with his "greener pasture?" as far as i can see, that "greener pasture" would be better defined as "gone to pasture." but that's just me. so, yes. the man in the first story is a hero to me. a man who would give up his life...for his son. i have 2 fathers like that. i know the feelings that come with having a Heavenly Father that has unconditional love for me, as well as an earthly father..., who would go to the ends of the earth for me. my son will know that kind of love from me, his mother, and from his Heavenly Father. but not from his earthy father. and that makes me angry. which leads to the man in the next story.

the "panty bomber." the would-be terrorist. no, he is NOT a hero. his religion tells him that if he dies while killing others he will receive 70 something virgins on the other side. i don't know what, had he succeeded with his plan, he would have done with those virgins, seeing as where the bomb was placed and all. but, i'm kind of liking the idea of a "panty bomb" as a form of punishment...for men who stray. and dump their families. i am thinking about petitioning my congressman to possibly use this device in my upcoming divorce. the "one who strayed" could be locked inside of a bomb-proof room, with a small device tucked into his a strategic place. and the "one who was strayed on" could take their time...mosey on over to a switch on the wall and ask, very politely, of course, if they have any "last words" before they lose their....well, you know what i'm saying here. it wouldn't kill them, of course...but, they wouldn't stray again. i think this idea might just save some marriages. this idea is almost enough to get me out of this hole i'm in.

if someone would throw me a phone book down here...i'm going to start on that petition right now. but, i need the number of my congressman!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

things that go BUMP, the night and the day

in the previous post i mentioned some other "unusual" things my car had hit.

when i finished my first (and only) year of college, back in 1978, i went to work for a large law firm in downtown west palm beach, fl. i was in a pool of six girls who each did secretarial work for about 12 attorneys. we had an hour for lunch every day and so three of us girls, myself, marion and ginger, would sometimes take a ten minute ride down to palm beach and sit on the sea wall and eat our bag lunch. (which translated to scoping out the surfer boys.)

this day we decided to do just that and we were going to go in my car, a toyota celica, which meant that i was driving. we were in the right hand lane, cruising right along on the main drive through palm beach, (yeah, THE PALM BEACH) where all the filthy rich people live. now, any time the three of us girls got together, i can assure you there was plenty of noise, with us singing to the radio, laughing and checking out the local "dudes." to see if we might draw the interest of one of them. a filthy rich one. so that we might marry one and live in one of those mansions on the water one day. i realize now, some 31 years later, that cruising down worth avenue in a toyota celica would probably not draw the attention of anyone that had a dime to their name, but we didn't know that back then. we were young, and stupid and we looked good to boot.

the light turned red and i came to a complete stop. just like the drivers manual instructs you to do. we were laughing about something and when the light turned green, i put my foot on the gas to go, because i was the first one in line and those people in palm beach mean for you to GO when that light turns green. then, as quick as a lightening strike my little car collided...

with one of those humongous ROLLS ROYCES! we went right through the back door of that monstrosity and the old man at the wheel just kept on going...pulling my car, with us still in it! he was going to try and make this little accident a hit and run, but i think he realized that he would have a pretty hard time explaining to his wife exactly WHY he had a toyota celica with three young girls, planted in his back seat. he pulled off the road and that was the very first bag phone i had ever seen. he called the police and we just sat there, until they arrived with a tow truck to pull the car, and us, back out into the real world.

this man had been drinking during his lunch hour, and while we were heading east, towards the beach, he was headed west, towards home...or a bar...or somewhere. he didn't know, because he was drunk. he had come to the same traffic light, on the other side of the median and had decided that the red light didn't apply to Him, so he made a left turn and i put my foot on the gas just as he passed me. he never spoke one single word to us girls throughout the whole time we sat there. in his backseat. and we weren't physically hurt or anything, thank God, but wouldn't you know, out of all the cars in the world, i would have to have my little bump with one of the most expensive ones. my car had to be hauled off on the tow truck, and he got to call someone to come and drive his away, since he was under the influence, minus a back door.

the old man, of course, was charged in the accident and us girls...well we got to take an extended lunch hour that day. and then we had to get a ride back to work from the policeman who was handling the accident. my insurance covered the damage to my car and life went on.

fast forward a few years.

i had just bought a brand new silver volkswagon jetta. my sister, terri had just bought a red mitsubishi eclipse. just a few short weeks after my large purchase, my radio and cassette player just quit working. a girl can not have THAT! we must have our tunes to rock out i had to take my car over to west palm beach and leave it for a couple of days at the dealership, so they could replace it. i was living in clewiston at that time. and it so happened, that mama was over in ft. myers, in the hospital. i can't remember if it was for gall bladder surgery or if she was having a kidney stone...but that's where she was anyway. ft. myers was an hour and a half west of clewiston, and west palm beach was the same distance, east. i needed someone to drive me over to get my car, which was on a friday, so terri said that she would take me.

now. let me stop here and tell you this. mama was always telling us girls, "y'all don't need to be out at night in those little miniskirts. if you got stranded on the side of the road some maniac serial killer/rapist would surely get you."

we didn't always listen to mama though. we were bad girls. and besides, we were going over to west palm in the daytime anyway. we would be back home before dark. let me also stop here. and tell you that mama doesn't like to hear about things we did when we were younger. even though many, many years have passed, and we never really did anything that every other young person did/does. she might still get mad. like sometimes how you might have a bad dream about your spouse having an affair with your best friend, and the next morning you would wake up furious at them, and be mad all day long. and they don't even know what they did. (don't pretend like you've never done this before) so...mama, if you're reading this, you might want to stop. now.

after we picked up my car we decided we didn't really feel like driving right straight back home. there wasn't anything to do there on a friday night. so we made the bad decision to go visit some friends. and it got later and later, and it was really, really dark by the time we decided we need to go. so, we left, with me driving my car in front and terri following me in her car. we were on a main highway, but it was not a busy highway. not in the middle of the night. and it didn't have street lights. and on one side of the road was a canal. a very, very deep canal. it was a four lane road, and i was driving along at a pretty good pace, when i suddenly started getting very sleepy. it was getting to the point where i could hardly keep my eyes open, so i rolled down my window so i could get some wind blowing in my face. thinking that this would wake me up.

i turned my head, briefly, towards the open window and when i turned back towards the road, in that instant i saw that there was something in the road, and i knew that i was going to run over it. and i did. it was lying horizontal to my car and it was longer than my car was wide. it got caught on something and my car began swerving, because i was trying to put the brakes on...but my brakes went out. and then my power steering went out. and i ended up in the far lane...the one going in the wrong direction than i had been going in, and then this thing, whatever it was came free from the car and started rolling down the road towards terri, who was fast approaching. she swerved to avoid hitting it and ran her car along the guard rail that was up to keep idiots like us, out of the canal. she was scared to death that i was dead, and that whatever or whoever i hit was dead and that she was out there in the dark all by herself. she got out and came running over to my car and there i was, slumped over the steering wheel...i don't know if i had been knocked out for a minute or two, or if i was just in shock. what i did know was this. we were out on a dark, lonely highway, in the middle of the night. not a soul knew where we were. i had just possibly killed someone. and we were both wearing mini-skirts. now there were two of us scared to death. we knew that if a maniac serial killer/rapist didn't get us, mama surely would when we got back home.

there was no such thing as cell phones in those days. and the closest thing to us, that was inhabitated with humans, was five miles back down the road. and before we could go anywhere to call anybody, we had to walk down the road and see what it was that i hit. and see if we could render first aid. soooo...huddled together and muffling our screams we headed in that direction, and the closer we got...the bigger it got! we didn't see any movement at all, or hear any thing resembling a cry for help, or a breath. or a gasp. we crept closer. and this is what had hit my car

not exactly this one, but one that looked just like it. a 9 1/2 ft. alligator. with his head smashed in. we started screaming bloody murder and ran as fast as we could back to terri's car and hauled our badonkadonks five miles back down to that truckstop we had passed. one of those 24 hour ones. where truckers hang out in the middle of the night. and ogle young girls. in mini-skirts. we went inside and had the cashier call the police and they told us to wait there for them, so we could lead them back to the gator. when they finally got there we drove back to the scene of the "crime" and waited while the trooper took his report. and then he told us that we would have to wait for a wildlife officer to come, because i had run over an endangered species! and i was thinking, "whoa there officer...that alligator was "jaywalking" on a dark highway in the middle of the night. it was not MY fault he couldn't outrun my car!" i was thinking that i was going to jail that night. the officer finally came, after about an hour, and he had to measure the gator and they removed the head and then they put the body of the alligator in the back of his truck. i don't have the faintest idea why they did that. but i imagine they took it for the tail meat. gator tail is considered a delicacy in those parts of south fl. we were finally free to go. minus my car. it had to be towed away.

we made it back home, and then the scariest part of the whole night came when we had to call mama and daddy and tell them what had happened. (the "not the WHOLE truth version") and of course, mama wanted to know what we had been wearing. and we had to listen to her telling us, in that way that only mama's can do...I TOLD YOU NOT TO WEAR THOSE MINI-SKIRTS AT NIGHT!!! WHAT IF A MANIAC SERIAL KILLER/RAPIST HAD BEEN OUT THERE ON THAT HIGHWAY!!! and i'm sure we were probably grounded for life.

that alligator had done $3,000 worth of damage to my brand new car. tore out the whole bottom of it, blown two tires, took out the power steering, the brakes, and a heap of other things.

i never went down that road again, without thinking about how lucky we have a mama that prayed for us. all the time. probably prayed alot for herself too...that she would live through all the stuff we kids would get into. we did some crazy things. some downright stupid things. but one thing we DIDN'T ever do again...was to wear mini-skirts out, in the middle of the night. we didn't want mama to have the satisfaction of being able to say she told us so...again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

the day i DIDN'T get my drivers license

i have often heard the question asked, "if you could go back in time and change some things, what would you change?" and of course, everyone has alot of things they would probably do different, but one thing in particular always stands out in my mind. because it happened to be one of the most humiliating moments of my life. and there have been MANY, but maybe this one was particularly bad because i was a 16 yr. old girl. from a very small town. where everybody knew everybody. and when things out of the ordinary happen in small towns, word spreads, like wildfire.

when i turned 15, it was time for me to start learning how to drive. daddy was the manager of the sugar refinery and our house was one of two that actually sat on the refinery property. we lived a few miles outside of town, down a long road that was bordered on one side by a canal and the other by sugar cane fields. i had an older brother and sister, who had already flown the coop and two younger sisters, and mama was not real fond of teaching me how to drive with most of her offspring in the car, so she left that job up to daddy. on the weekends, when the refinery would shut down, and the parking lots were empty, he and i would drive over there and i would practice my driving skills. now the company car was a hearse. not really, it was a big ol' yellow station wagon, but to a teenage girl, being seen in that car in front of your friends was comparable to carrying around a dead body. your own. because it was like dieing a slow death...of embarrasment.

anyway, there were some ramps over at the refinery that the forklifts would drive up and down and it was on these ramps that daddy tried to teach me about the fine art of judging distances. now, i don't know if he didn't teach me well, or if it was just that i didn't learn it well, but for the life of me, i could not judge distances. i was always too far away from the side, or way too close. i think those ramps were my first inclination that i would grow up to be claustrophobic; (fear of being in small spaces.) one day we had been over there practicing for awhile and i think he must have been frustrated with me and had more than likely gotten on to me about something, because when i pulled back up to the house i would normally have gotten out of the car and let him drive it into the garage. but on this day, he told me to do it. and i panicked. it was a double car garage and mama's car was already parked on one side, which meant parking in very tight quarters. too tight, if you asked me. but, daddy didn't ask me. he told me. to park the car in the garage. and i tried to remind him that i hadn't yet mastered the skill of judging distances. but you didn't talk back to daddy. so i put my foot on the gas, barely, and then slammed on the brake. and then the gas, and then the brake. and then the gas a little harder, and before i knew what happened, i had pulled too close to the left side and ran the car up the side of the garage door frame, taking off the door handle on the way in. and i remember crying and saying, "i told you the garage wasn't big enough for this car, and he told me that he had always managed to get in there with no problem. daddy didn't want to teach me too often, after that little episode.

when i turned 16 i had already gone through drivers education at school, daddy decided to let someone else have a hand in training me and i had studied that driving manual and knew it inside out. i was prepared. now, in clewiston, the small town where we lived, you could only get your license on one day of the week. so, anyone that had a birthday during that week had to wait until that day. and i believe it was on a friday. we pulled up to the tag office, where you took your test, in mama's car, which was another humongous car, a lincoln continental. that was one of the downsides to having a large family. you had to drive large cars. and be seen in them in front of your friends. i was excited about finally getting to drive on my own, and some of my friends were there to get their licenses too. we were like a little cheering squad for each other. there were also a lot of other people there, doing things like getting tags, or paying taxes or seeing the sheriff about one thing or another, because all of this was done in the same building.

i went in and took the written portion of the test and then waited outside with the rest of my friends to take the driving portion. they took you alphabetically, by last name, and my last name was willis, so i would be one of the last ones. which was fine by me, because i was more than a little nervous about the parallel parking. when my turn finally came, there was just me and moody left. the one boy out of the entire school, who if i had been able to choose one person that i would not want watching me take my driving test, it would have been moody. without question. he was the kind of boy that was always happy, always a jokester, and he was popular. he had already taken and passed his test, but decided he would stick around and be my cheerleader since everyone else had already taken the test and gone home. with their independence in their wallet.

the lady officer came out and got in on the passenger side of the car, with her little clipboard. i got in the drivers seat and was so aware of her watching me. to see if i would put my seatbelt on. and if i checked the mirrors and adjusted them, and if my hands were at the proper 10:00 and 2:00 positions. she was making her little check marks in all the boxes and i got real nervous. really fast. this lady was scaring me. and i looked up and there was moody, with a big grin on his face, cheering for me to "go girl!" i cranked up that big ol' car and i turned around to the back to check to see if there were any cars coming and i remember clearly that lady officer telling me to back out slowly. we were parked with a car on either side of us. i took my foot off the brake and eased it over to the gas pedal and put a little pressure on it, all the while turning the steering wheel all the way to the right. and then my foot just pressed down a little too hard and i got scared, and i backed aaaaaallll the waaaaaay down the side of the car on my left. oh, the grinding noise. between that and the sound of the lady officer screaming at me....i got even more scared and i put that car in drive and went aaaaaallll the waaaaaay back up the car. and it wasn't just any old car. it was a POLICE CAR! i looked up and saw moody, just bent over at the waist, laughing his head off. his face was so red i thought he was going to blow a gasket and keel over right there on the sidewalk. that lady officer got out of the car and told me to follow her and she was babbling about something or other, when my mother walked right up to her, and i will never forget, as long as i live, what my mother said next. she actually said to that lady officer, "does this mean she doesn't get her license?" and that lady officer, in the loudest voice possible, i'm sure they heard her over in the next county, said, "SHE JUST HIT A PARKED VEHICLE!!!! NO, SHE DOESN'T GET HER LICENSE!!! i could have died right then and there. between her and moody, i don't know which was worse. knowing that i would be the laughing stock at school the next week or knowing i would have to get back in the car with that lady again the next week!

turns out...going to school on monday was worse. by then, everybody in town had heard and i was the brunt of many, many jokes. it was probably the headlines for that weeks newspaper, i don't remember. but, when i went back the next week to try again, i prayed that none of my friends would be there, just in case i had another "experience." that lady officer saw me coming and she refused to get back in the car with me. she went and got somebody else to ride with me and i passed the second time around. i gained my independence, finally, but by the time i did, i was too nervous to drive for awhile and to this day my stomach knots up when i see a police car.

on the bright side....many years later, when my own boys would hear of this story, they thought it was pretty cool that their mother had hit a police car while taking her driving test. and me? that was only the beginning of "unusual" things i would hit with my car. i will share some of those other things in a later post.

so, if i had a chance, i would go back and change that day. i would have parked the car in a different place when we first got there. with wide open spaces on either side. and i would go on a day when i knew that moody wouldn't be there. and i would have tried to borrow a smaller car to take the test in.

my three boys are all grown up now. the youngest got his drivers license a year ago. and i thank God that i don't have to go through another teenager learning to drive. God is still working with me on the judging distances thing. thirty five years later and i still haven't mastered that. maybe by the time i'm 70 yrs. old i will have it downpat. i'll pray for that anyway.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

a word to the

several years ago, while spending the summer at ft. myers beach, fl, where my parents own a condo,

i had the good fortune to meet randy.

daddy and i were in the pool one morning and an older couple was there with their two grown sons and their wives. it was their first year being at this particular condo and so we struck up a conversation with them, letting them know all the important stuff a person would need to know. like where to eat. and where not to eat. and about sights they should take the time to see, and places they should forget about and save their money.

the more we talked, the subjects would change from time to time and we would go from talking about our favorite restaurants to the subject of God or politics or real estate. over the next couple of days, we began looking forward to the times we would meet up with randy at the pool. because as we listened to his life story, we realized what an inspirational man he was. he talked about how he had gone from a broken marriage, which left him estranged from his kids, to his second marriage with Julie. and how he had begun a job as a window washer and built his company into a successful janitorial company. i  could listen to him talk for hours. about anything. he had such a positive outlook on life and he just made you feel good. he never said a negative word. about anything. or anybody. he was so friendly and outgoing and just exuded happiness. i wanted to hang around with him forever. so some of whatever it was he had, would rub off on me. but, i didn't think his wife, julie, would much like that idea. so, after two weeks, they went back home to indiana.

the next year, randy's parents came back to stay for another two weeks. but they came alone. and it wasn't nearly as much fun. they're good people, don't get me wrong. but i didn't want to hang around with them forever. i missed the "inspirational one." BUT, this past year...the parents came back again...this time with randy and julie. and they were going to be there for all of one week. so, we had to stay on guard at all times and make sure that we were in the pool at the same time they we could get our "happy" on.

mama and daddy started taking us to ft. myers beach every year, when we were little kids, for the summer. we started out renting a little cottage at the pink shell resort. it sat right up over the pool and mama could sit out on the porch and keep an eye out for the five of us kids. mama doesn't get in swimming pools. because she says it's like sharing bath water with strangers. plus, she knows what kinds of things people do in pools. gross things. like peeing, spitting, wiping your nose with your hand and then putting said hands in the water. gaaaaaaaaaaagggg. when you think about those things it's a wonder that any of us swim in them! later on they bought the condo and after they moved from clewiston to savannah they would go down and stay for the summer. my sister, terri, would also go. because she was still in college and had the summers off. after pickle was born, they would still go down, until terri and her husband moved to tennessee. then she and i started splitting the summers up. she would drive down to savannah and pick mama and daddy up and then go down and stay for the first half. then i would drive down and stay the second half and drive them back home. neither mama nor daddy were driving anymore and so they needed a "chauffeur."

so, the first year that randy and julie came, it was my time to be there and terri didn't get to meet them. but this past year we were both there at the same time, so she got introduced and she too, just loved to listen to randy talk.

now around the condo, mama is known as the "phantom lady" to the regulars. that's because in the more than 30 years that they have owned the condo, the regulars have never seen my mother! she is not a sun person. she never was. kind of ironic i know, that they would have a place on the beach and she doesn't even like to go out in the sun, but if you are really quick, you can catch her getting on or off of the elevator and getting into or out of the car. if you're not really quick, well, then you would never see her. there are 4 parking places underneath the condo, for owners to park their cars, and it backs up to the oceanside.

it has become a joke with us, that any time we would pull up in the car, we would ask mama if she wanted to sit outside for awhile. she usually said no. mama likes her air conditioner you see. and she doesn't like to get her hair messed up by the wind. not after she has spent 30 minutes with the curling iron on it trying to get it to hold a curl long enough for us to go eat dinner out and get back before it fell.

but, every now and then, it would be just cool enough, and we could talk her into sitting over by the grill area for a little while and enjoy the view and the beautiful sunsets.

this particular day...was one of those times. terri and pickle, and daddy and i, had been down at the pool all morning long. terri and i laid on our rafts and floated around the pool and listened to randy talk. she and daddy and pickle had gone up a few minutes before i had and terri had told mama, "boy, if i wasn't married, and if randy wasn't married...i would go after him!" and then daddy said something about him, like what a nice young man he was and just really brought out the best in people. about 15 minutes or so later, i walked in and said the exact same thing terri had just said. we were always just going on and on about randy in front of mama. saying, "oh, you should just come down and sit by the pool sometimes just to hear him talk." well... this day, after we got home from dinner, we pulled up in the owners parking lot and asked mama if she wanted to sit outside awhile. and she did! now to most people, this would not be a big deal! but to us, it was HUGE! so we pulled some chairs over so she could see the view and catch the sun setting and pickle ran upstairs to get her dog, tootsie, so mema (mama) could watch her walk the dog down by the water.

and i ran up (well, i walked and i went up the elevator)and got my camera...because, like i said, this was HUGE. and i wanted to document it. so MY grandchildren would know that their great grandmother really DID go outside once in awhile.

while we were sitting there, guess who came downstairs? randy and julie!!!! this was perfect. now mama could meet this man that we had been gushing about for the last week. we pulled up a couple of chairs for them and we introduced them to the "phantom lady,"  and we waited.

for randy to talk. and be inspirational. and we waited...and we waited. but he wasn't in a talking mood. for once. in all the time we had known him, he picked this ONE time to be kinda grumpy. maybe he and julie had had an argument. or a knock down, drag out fight. maybe his stomach was hurting or he had a headache or maybe he had already said everything he had to say. but he wasn't happy. or funny. or inspirational. and we were kinda bummed out. all this building him up and then this huge....nothing.

finally...after about 20 minutes or so, he slapped his hand on the table and he got this big grin on his face and he looked over at mama and he said, "I KNOW WHO YOU LOOK LIKE! all this time i've been sitting here trying to figure out who it was you remind me of, and i couldn't get it out of my mind! but now i know who it is!" and we were all like "yay, he's back! now mama will get to see the randy we know and love, and she will love him too!"

and we were all thinking he was going to say something like JACKIE KENNEDY ONASSIS or GRACE KELLY or some other beautiful movie star or actress. because mama IS a beautiful woman. she always has been. and very dignified.

but randy slapped his hand on that table again and said, "YOU LOOK JUST LIKE ROY ORBISON!" WHAT??? did he really just say that my mother looked LIKE A MAN? and a not very good looking man, at that! and just like that...mama formed a different opinion about randy. he had kinda, sorta just insulted her! he said it was her big sunglasses she had on, and the way her hair was the same color, and that when her head was turned just so...she could pass for him. ummmmmm. okay there, inspirational man. open mouth, insert foot. randy was just laughing and trying to explain that he wasn't being mean or insulting...but it wasn't come off too good. and the rest of us just sat there with our mouths open...not knowing what to say or do. then mama said she was ready to go upstairs.

we put on our nightgowns and all of us girls gathered in mama and daddys room for our nightly ritual. playing a rousing game of "ball" and laughing until one of us (me) wet our pants. pickle gets great joy out of someone (me) wetting my pants. so she insists that we stay until it happens. every night. and i always manage to oblige. this night while we were playing ball, we got to talking about randy and mama said that it had really hurt her feelings, after we had all built him up sooooo much, that he would say she looked like a man. and we were laughing about it, and trying to convince her that no, she did not look like a man, he had only been joking. and to prove it to her, i pulled out my lap top, so i could pull up a picture of ROY ORBISON and show mama that they looked nothing alike! and this is the picture i pulled up.

i went to close the lid on the laptop, before mama could see it, and i was just a tad too late. she wanted to see it. and when i turned it around...she looked at his picture and said, 'I DO LOOK LIKE HIM! I DO LOOK LIKE A MAN! THAT IS A PICTURE OF ME!" and we tried to tell her that she DID NOT...but the truth was, that with her sunglasses on, she DID! while mama and terri and pickle were over on one bed, laughing about it, i was on the other and just to be funny and also so i could get to laughing good so i could wet my pants and then get to go on to bed, i opened up the Paint accessory and did this!

and then i put these two pictures side by side and turned it around to show them.

it just so happened that it was at the exact same moment that terri and pickle had finally convinced mama that she and ROY looked nothing alike. really bad timing! we all busted out laughing at the same time and of course, one thing led to another and i got up to get a piece of candy, and wet my pants. not just a little bit. an "i wet my pants now i have to change the sheets and my nightgown, kind of wet." and that led to mama wetting hers and that led to pickle deciding that from now on and henceforth...mema would now be called "ROY."

we decided that ROY was a good looking man after all, after looking at this picture. mama got over her feelings being hurt. but she didn't change her opinion about randy. she said she didn't know what all the fuss about him had been over. and she was glad that terri and i were both married. because she said she wouldn't want him for a son-in-law.

just a little word to the wise.... man. if you're going to put your foot in your mouth and tell a woman she looks just like a man...make sure you insert your weaker foot...otherwise you won't be able to outrun that frying pan that's flying towards your head!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

a movie, a snack...and the JAWS OF LIFE

when i was fresh out of college (the one year that i actually attended college) i moved into an apartment with my sister, denise. we lived in west palm beach, fl and our apartment was just 5 minutes or so from the mall. and the theatre. we were both single girls at the time. not desperate, lonely girls...but just extremely...picky. about who we went out with. we both had busy daytime jobs, she worked at the chamber of commerce and i worked at a small law firm. ( i later went on to work at a very large law firm, and oh, how i wish i still had contacts there. there were many times in the years to come that i could have used a good lawyer.

on the off chances that a friday night came along and we neither one had a date, we would always go to dino's pizza to grab a bite. of pizza. and go see a movie. it was almost always a chick flick, and at times it could be a little the 12 friday nights in a row when we were dateless and went to see robby benson in ice castles.

(i still watch that movie on the occasions i can find it playing...and i still cry, even though i know how it ends.) we would try to go to the early bird movie, while everyone else was still at work, namely, so no one who knew us would see us in a movie theater with our sister on a friday night, but mostly, because we were poor. and we could get into the matinees alot cheaper. which left more money for pizza. and popcorn. and candy.

we had alot of good times, though, seriously. there were many times that we were the ONLY ones sitting in the theatre, and we would be laughing our heads off at something...or in the case of ice castles...crying our eyes out. and there would be no one around to tell us to be quiet or to go blow our noses somewhere else.

a year or two after living together, denise moved to miami, which left me needing a roommate, so a good friend of mine, wanda, moved down to fl from ms., and we shared the apartment that i was living in. and my brother, ray, would come over alot and we all hung out together. one day a guy from clewiston, whom i went to school with, and who just happened to have been the very first "love of my life", keith, came over and we all decided to go catch a movie that afternoon. i don't remember what the movie was, but the funny part was, that keith was wearing a pair of flip flops. you know the kind i'm talking about. the flimsy little $.99 ones that you could get at the drug store or the five and dime.

he had sat through what was probably at least an hour and half long movie. with his feet in the same position, and when he got up to leave, he almost fell flat on his face because one of his flip flops had completely stuck to the floor! in whatever gunk it was that the people who had sat in his chair before him, had left behind. coke, popcorn, melted candy, vomit. i don't know. but whatever it was, it had turned into something resembling super glue. and the little piece of rubber that goes between your big toe and your second toe had ripped apart when he went to lift his foot up. and he came completely out of his flop. we were just hysterical with laughter. i was thinking about that day today, because keith's brother, greg, has recently become my friend on facebook. i've been talking alot with him recently, because we are both big FLORIDA GATOR fans.

 anyway, i was sitting here reading something he had written on my facebook wall and it reminded me of keith and the flip flop thing and that brought to mind another funny story. about an incident in a movie theatre. only THANK YOU LORD, it wasn't ME that this happened to! (although i would have loved to have been present to witness it.) this little "embarassing moment" happened to my sister, terri.

she and pickle (her daughter, ashley) had decided to go see a matinee (she was trying to save money by going to the matinees too. so she could also get more snacks.) and they would take along one of pickle's friends, sarah. they stopped off in the lobby so she could splurge with the money she had saved on the matinee and get one of those very large tubs of buttered popcorn, with extra butter. and one of those ginormous diet cokes that come with it when you buy the the very large tub of popcorn..." the SPECIAL," they call it,

and then the girls got their candy and icees...all for the very low price of about $20. the girls walked a little ahead of terri as they went into the very dark theatre. and there were only about 10-15 people in there that had already taken their seats before they had come in, so they could have sat in any of the 200 other seats available. pickle and sarah chose the row that was about halfway up the stairs and they walked down to the middle chairs and sat down in their seats. terri came in behind them, trying to balance her purse, a very large tub of popcorn, with extra butter, and her ginormous diet coke and she did what most normal people do when they have both hands full and they have to sit down. she parked her badonkadonk on the top part of the bottom seat, so that she could slide down and the chair would move into the normal seating position. know how you know something isn't the way it should be, the second you know that you can't stop what you're about to do?

she knew the very second that her badonkadonk touched the top of the seat and she went to slide down, that something was about to go horribly wrong. there was no BOTTOM to the seat!!! just the frame. someone had completely removed the seat. and you're already getting a visual as to what happened next, aren't you? she went right straight through that hole and the next thing she knew, her badonkadonk was flat on the floor, her knees were at face level...buttery popcorn and diet coke went flying...and pickle and sarah were hysterical with laughter. i imagine the other 10-15 people in there were too! terri was trying to be very discreet about the whole thing, so as not to draw attention to herself. (i'm sure the people that were sitting behind her must have wondered where in the world she went them, it must have looked like it does when the car in front of you has a very short person driving and you can't see their head over the headrest, so it looks like the car is driving itself.) i mean, one minute, she is standing there and the next they can barely see the top of her head!

pickle and sarah were trying to help her get out of the hole the best they could...but they are both tiny little things. plus, it's hard to pull with all your strength when you are laughing so hard. they thought they were going to have to call in the fire and rescue with the jaws of life to get her out of there,

but she finally managed to hold on to both of the chair arms and work her way out. she thought she had been PUNKED by someone. or was on an episode of candid camera. she HAD, however, managed to hold on to the popcorn tub and the now empty diet coke cup...which was a good thing, because once she managed to extricate herself and her badonkadonk, she was able to get free refills. good thing she had splurged for the SPECIAL that day!

price of the movie...$18.50, price of the snacks...$20.00, terri falling through the hole in the seat...PRICELESS!! just ask pickle. or sarah. they still laugh about it to this day!

Monday, November 23, 2009

a 50 yr. old SQUATS...for a weed.

last thursday morning i was pulling into mama and daddys driveway and as usual, stopped to pick up their mail. they have a long driveway and the mailbox sits out on the main road. and this road gets a fair amount of traffic. as i got out of the car, i noticed this little yellow flower (some would call it a weed, i would beg to differ) sitting there in the dirt, all by itself. and i felt compelled to take a picture of it.

now i know that anyone else would have probably just said, "oh's a weed!" they would not have reached back inside their car to grab their cell phone so they could take a picture of said weed. but, i'm not like other people. i'm a little strange. i know this about myself, and i accept it. but when i feel these compulsions about things like this, i know that it's usually someone whispering in my ear.

no, i don't have voices in my head. not that kind of whispering. more the whisper of God...telling me that it's something He wants me to do. and i try my best to listen to God when He whispers things to me. granted, sometimes i think He whispers just a little too softly for me to understand. (this is usually my excuse when He tells me to do something that I don't WANT to do.) but, this morning God told me to take a picture of this little yellow flower. so...i DID reach back into my car and grab my cell phone. and i set it to camera mode. and then i did something i know looked pretty silly to the people in those cars that passed by me (but i didn't realize this until i got back in my car) i squatted down, so i could zoom in on it. i am 50 yrs. old. and 50 yr. old women don't squat well. and i'm quite sure that it was not a pretty sight for the people in those cars that passed at that moment. nor was it very pretty, i'm sure, for the ones that passed as i was trying to get back up from said squat. 

i proceeded to get the mail and go in to the house. and in the back of my mind i kept thinking about WHY in the world God would have had me take a picture of that little yellow flower.

the next day, friday, i pulled into the driveway again and i noticed immediately that the little yellow flower  was gone. i got out to go over to the mailbox and as i was walking back to my car, i noticed this.

that little yellow flower that was so pretty the day before, had died. overnight. and then i did something even more stupid than the day before. God whispered in my ear to take a picture of the now DEAD yellow flower. and how weird do you think i looked THEN? a 50 yr. old woman, squatted down, in front of passing cars, with people in them, to take a close up picture of a dead flower (weed.)

i admit that by then, even i, was thinking to myself, "ok, God, this is preeeeeety strange." so i definately didn't tell my family about this. they would most likely have had me committed if i told them that God wanted me to take a picture of a dead weed! and i can't say that i would have blamed them. but....i thank God that i listen to his whispers. saturday, while at lunch with the family, micajah had grabbed my cell phone and was looking through my pictures. and he came to the ones i posted above. and of course, he had to ask me, loudly, so everyone at the tables around us could think his mother was insane, "Why did you take pictures of some weeds?" and i had to say because God told me to. and of course, everyone thought i was nuts. but on my way home that day i knew EXACTLY why He had me take those pictures. in the Bible, God gave parables (life's little lessons) all the time. and he was using this flower (weed) a modern day parable, if you teach me and hopefully, those who are reading this now...a lesson. and THIS is the lesson.

earlier this week i was on the phone with one of my very best friends in the world, pam. she was on her way to pick up her daughter, emily, from a school field trip her class had taken to the mall. just a few minutes away from the school, she heard that little click in the background which signifies a call is waiting. she noticed it was emily and said she would call me back. a few minutes later she called and said that emily had been crying. softly, so her friends wouldn't hear her. when pam asked her what was wrong, she just said, in a quavering voice, "telllll you...laaaater." and instantly, with a mom's superpower intuition, pam knew what it was. it was, what she had warned emily about earlier...before the trip to the mall.

emily just turned 11 yrs. old a couple of weeks ago. she is a VERY bright, little girl, who is mature in some ways, beyond her age. just last week, out of her whole grade...she placed in the top three for a poster she had made on world peace. and then it was chosen, by the Lions Club, as the #1 poster! two honors for the same poster. and hers wasn't about depicting guns and, hers was about God holding the world in HIS hands. about how God is the ONLY source of peace in this world. her poster STOOD OUT from all the rest.

a couple of weeks before that emily won a place on the All Stars cheerleading squad. again, because she STOOD OUT.

emily comes from a broken mine. her daddy left her mother, also for one of those "greener pastures." but emily's mother is a very Godly woman. she has taught and teaches on a daily basis, about God and His love for us. and emily accepted Jesus into her heart a long time ago. when she has to go and stay with her "dad" and his "greener pasture" she stands her place when her dad tells her that the stories in the Bible are "fairy tales" or when he forces her and her brother and sister to sit in front of the tv for two hours and watch a show on evolution and how we evolved from monkeys. emily stands up TO her "dad" and stands up FOR her God. many times parents come to know Jesus because of their kids...this is the hope we all have for her "dad."

and, emily loves to read. she is what some would call a "bookworm." i have a sister, myself, paula, who when she was a little girl, would always have her nose in a book. so many of her childhood pictures show her reading. and she grew up to be really, really smart. she went to college for 7 years and became a PA (physicians assistant) and she knows more than most doctors i know. she can diagnose us even when the doctors can't quite figure things out. and her son, ryan, is the same way. he has read literally thousands of books. he is 19 yrs. old now and a sophmore in college, studying for a major in psychology. people who read alot, are smart people. and smart people STAND OUT.

emily was looking forward to the trip to the mall, because she had a little money (she was given a monetary award from the Lions Club for her poster) and all she wanted to do was go to Barnes & Noble (a bookstore) and pick up a few books. pam tried to warn her that most of the other kids would not want to spend their limited time going to a bookstore. so, when the kids got to the school to prepare for the trip they were divided up into groups and told to vote on the stores they each wanted to go in. emily,of course, put down the bookstore, but the other girls in her group wanted to go look at clothes and Claires (for jewelry, purses, hair bows, etc.) and so they decided that the bookstore would be the LAST store they would go to. time permitting.

when emily got picked up that day, still sobbing, she told her mother that the group managed to make it to the bookstore FIVE WHOLE MINUTES before they were to meet back at the bus. wow. it takes 15 minutes just to check out in, needless to say, she didn't have time to buy a book, much less, even, to LOOK for a book. when everyone got back on the bus all the other kids pulled out their purchases to oooh and aaaah over. except for emily. she was the only one that didn't get to spend her money that day. the only one who felt left out. and she STOOD out. but this time, for a very different reason. this time because the other kids, (her friends) didn't care what she wanted. because they made her feel that she was less than popular because she was interested in things that they weren't. that because she wasn't into the fashion thing or the makeup and jewelry that she was somehow not as "cool" as they were. and haven't we ALL been there? on BOTH sides, at one time or another? i have. i have been the bully and i have been bullied. and neither feel particularly good.

when pam and i were 11 yrs. old, all the rage at that time was autograph books. nowadays those are used to get signatures of celebrities and "important people," but in those days, we used them for our friends. it was kind of like signing your yearbooks when you got to high school. just recently, we BOTH found our old books. and looking through them we both remembered as though it was yesterday. when we would get mad at one of our "friends" we would draw a line through where they had signed "best friend forever" and write "NON-FRIEND." a few days later, after we had made up, we would then scratch though non-friend and write BEST FRIEND, again. our loyalties at that age changed on a daily basis. and as we got older, i think that we didn't really need a book any longer, to keep us reminded that a certain friend had committed a transgression against us. we simply wrote it on our hearts.

when pam was telling me about what happened to emily it made me stop and remember how much i disliked high school. i was not a bully...i was THE bullied. i was bullied because my body had matured at a very young age. there were certain girls that didn't like that...because their "boyfriend of the week" might have looked at me or spoken to me, so they would come up behind me while i was opening the combination lock to my locker, and they would look over my shoulder and get the code and then go back later and steal a jacket or my p.e. tennis shoes, or a shirt...and brazenly wear it to school the next day. they were the intimidators. and trust me, i was  intimidated. then there were the boys...two in particular. one was a little short guy, in my own class, who every time i would walk by him, would reach out and pat my badonkadonk. i could not stand this boy. i was always looking around corners to see if he was anywhere near me so i could run the other way. this is a picture that one my girlfriends took from across the hall, where i am actually looking around one of those corners and he is coming up behind me!

i don't care about showing him here in public. he humiliated me so many times. i can only hope that he has "grown up" and stopped this behavior. (after all, he would be 50 yrs. old now, and i think there are laws against that!) then there was a boy on my school bus. i absolutely HATED riding the bus. every single day that he lived in clewiston (which, thankfully, wasn't too long) as i would get up to walk to the front of the bus to get out at my stop, he would do the same thing. reach out and touch my badonkadonk. and there were even the male teachers...that liked the girls that had mature young bodies. one even went so far as to try to attack me in a music closet. in his classroom he would call the girls up to his desk and while he pretended to be speaking to them he would try and run his hands up their legs, and if they had on a dress, even further. he was eventually fired...after the near attack in the music closet, when my parents called him at home and threatened to report him to the police. another girls parents beat them to the punch though. just the other day pam told me that HE was the main reason she had left our school in the 9th grade and moved to another state.  and i had never even known the reason she had moved away,until this year, when we reconnected on facebook.

in our youth we have ALL made fun of other kids who were "different." maybe they wore glasses, or braces or had a lisp or "we" thought they were ugly. maybe we called them "retarded" even if they weren't. or stupid when they were really smarter than we were. or fat. or skinny. or a million other things. and "we" were the bullies.

Proverbs 20:11

Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.

and we do it as adults too. sometimes purposefully. sometimes privately. sometimes joking. sometimes not. we say mean things, or we think them. we're rude when people irritate us, or get on our nerves. we lash out at people we "love" when we've had a bad day. we want things "our way." we give the "silent treatment" to our spouses when they make us mad. we laugh when someone does something stupid or wears the wrong outfit, or falls in public. 
Proverbs 26:20-21

Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.

and every single time we do one of these things...we lower their self esteem. we make them feel worthless or useless or lazy. or ugly. or fat. even if they don't hear it...or see us laughing...even if they don't know us. we kill them, a look at a time. a word at a time.

Matthew 12:36

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

and this brings me back to the little yellow flower. emily is that flower i took a picture of last thursday. she STANDS OUT on a daily basis, amongst all the weeds. she is a CHRISTIAN. she is a cheerleader. an artist. a bookworm. she is beautiful. she stands up for her faith, at 11 yrs. old, even when her "dad" tells her she evolved from a monkey. or when her "dads greener pasture" gives her a box of anti-bacterial wipes for her birthday and "he" gives her a tube of chapstick. when her friends ignore her wish to just run in the bookstore so she can buy a book to read because "they" think books are boring. she blooms bright. and i am so very proud of her. her mama is too.

1 Timothy 4:12

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

and the dead flower picture taken the next day? that too, is a picture of emily. of what WOULD happen to her, without Jesus in her heart. when people are mean and ugly and judge others for being "different than they are." she would bend and wither up and die. people and circumstances can suck the life right out of you. they can hurl angry, hurtful words at you. they can bully you into submission. they can bruise you and batter you until there is no fight left in you. 

1 Peter 1:22-2:1

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

but this WON'T be emily. she does have Jesus in her heart. she knows she didn't evolve from monkeys, as her "dad" would have her believe, but instead was created by the Master Designer Himself. she knows that she is smart. her report cards prove that every semester. she knows what is right and good and she shouts it out without shame. she is, after all, an all star cheerleader. and she is a bookworm. she reads her Bible and she goes to church. and her mama, my friend should be commended. for the Bible says,

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the ways he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

are we training up "our" children in the ways they should go? we should be. because God has commanded us to do so.

and i am so thankful, that i am learning to listen when God whispers to me and tells me to do things. He uses the simplest of things sometimes, to get our attention and to teach us a life lesson. and last thursday and friday he used a weed (flower), of all things. and even though i had to squat and then try and get up by myself, with nothing to hold onto, and humiliate myself in front of the people passing, i'm glad i did it. thank you God, for this simple little lesson. i hope i can remember it. (i'm 50 yrs. old, after all and my mind seems to be going...somewhere.)