Thursday, June 26, 2014


I will turn thirty-seven today at a ballpark. 

I have not been looking forward to this birthday and in fact I have been dreading it. 37. It doesn't even look nice.  It is a prime number which makes it sad and makes my husband happy. Maybe the real reason it scares me is because it is sptting distance to 40. Despite my social media life this has been a growing year. I learned hard lessons about saying no, saying I can't and saying goodbye. 

I am not the same momma or wife I was in my twenties. I don't feel the need for girls night out. I am content on Friday night with my family doing nothing. I don't feel the need to clean it all up.  I have even let my daughter have a craft room where she is free to create. Every now and then I require that I can see the floor. My son eats Oreos on his bed and my thirty something self is okay with it. 

I lost one of my closest friends to the mission field this year. It has probably changed me the most. Internet barely happens to let us communicate and I am learning why Paul wrote all those letters. I keep a lump in my throat and long to hear her voice on occasion. My closest friend list is smaller. I still over use my data package on my cellphone and I would still rather talk to people than text them. I like to hear their voice. 

This is also the year I became the talked about travel ball mom. Despite the fifty articles you have read about travel ball and the friends you know that are crazy with it...half of that is true. I have enjoyed long car rides with my children locked in a car and talking without wifi. I have put bible verses in bat bags, had devotionals in the car and prayed for their witness opportunity. Whatever adventure my kids go on and I hope there are so many more, I will be their biggest fan. I have sat on a soccer field, a tennis court, at a dance recital, a gymnastic class, a basketball court and a football field and cheered most of the time louder than they would like. They know when they look in the stands we will be there. 

I have stopped using the word blessed. I have seen the people that the bible calls blessed and it is not me. God didn't give my a comfortable life so I can call myself blessed, no that makes me burdened. Burdened to go back to the mission field. Burdened to give more away than keep. Burdened to love the unloveable. I am not blessed to turn thirty-seven, I am just grateful. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Farmer's Daughter

Words can define who you think you are and sometimes we let the reflection in the mirror or the weight on the scale define us. I want to be defined for nothing that has to do with me. 
This week has been a discovery week for me. For the first time in 2 years my family is not in Belize on a mission trip during Spring Break. My heart and prayers are there but physically we are home on the farm. A farm with a legacy longer and older than the city I live in. 
I am the fourth generation to call this farm home. My children are the fifth. Generations ago there were animals, milk production and no such thing as phones much less blogs. Two generations ago there were three brothers and a sister who worked the same fields I do.  The floors in the house I live in were once tiptoed on at 3 am for morning milkings at the dairy farm.  There was work and there was hard work. Even though my daddy made me help on the farm growing up, I don't know half about the hard work that came before me. Defining characteristics of a generation come and gone. What will be said of me, the farmer's daughter? 
There are parts of this farm so overgrown and boarded up that remind me of the condition of my heart. Just looking at this old covered wagon that was home to chickens tells a story of neglect. What and who have I neglected today? But each day we wake up we get to do it again. Write the story. 
We get to not be defined but we get to leave it behind. We tear down what we boarded up. We let the sun come in. We get ready for new life. We open up to what we shut out. 
And maybe we dream a little about being not the farmer's daughter but the farmer.  Maybe we start a new chapter. Maybe just maybe we open the door to something new. 

And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Revelation 21:5 ESV)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Letting Them Be A Loser

This has been a debated topic in my house for years.  Travel ball vs. Park Ball. This year both kids made the switch to travel. There is a whole other blog just about that decision and that debate. However, we feel we have made the right decision with both kids at this stage in their life. Marlee is playing with her best friends and the best parents. Tyler is playing with his best friend and his coach is from our church. As parents our goal for sports is to make sure they are having fun and being active. Simple. Real simple. 

Marlee's team entered their first tournament this past weekend. They went 0-4. After being run ruled by a team, she came out of dugout and looked at me and said, "this is the most fun!" Trust me when I say this is not always the case. There have been tears over losing. There have been tears over a spelling test or two but it made me stop and think how many times as a parent do I prevent her from losing? When I am playing UNO do I let her win? What if your child never learns to lose and smile? What kind of adult does that make.  Life will be full of success. Life will be full of failures.If you are defining success as merely the absence of failure, that’s a sad way to live your life.  Anyone can avoid failure by just having low expectations. But if you define success as learning from your failures, suddenly losing the ball game is fun. 

What is in the best interest of my children isn't thousands of baseball and softball games. What is important to my children? Do we expect too much of children today? Do we expect too little of children today?  Is it okay with me if my child is in the middle? 

It's okay with me. 

Do I want them to taste victory? Yes. I love to win as much as the next crazy yelling momma but I have to parent both. 

Letting them forget something.

Letting them do the school project themselves. 

Letting them recieve the consequence. 

Letting them be a loser. 

But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Matthew 19:30 ESV)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My People of Snowapocalypse

Everyone I know has a story from Tuesday January 28,  2014.  I work at an elementary school and happen to be in a classroom with no windows. I didn't even know the snow began. But it wasn't long until I received the email we would dismiss at noon. I then was asked to help in the lunchroom. I was given a pair of gloves and began throwing oranges on trays. 4 to be exact Mrs.Michelle Obama. We got word dismissal had been bumped up to 11:30. By this time I had seen the snow along with 975 elementary students who were squealing with delight. I was back in the office when word came that the buses were called back. 

Controlled chaos began. 

Here is what I think about as I reflect days later and look back at my cellphone that could not dial out on Tuesday. We need people and not just any people, people that pray. 

1. The first thing we did in the office when the buses were called back, a group of us held hands and prayed. 
2. My son was not only with his teacher at a different school but she happens to be one of my closest friends and is in my small group. She sent me a text and said, "I have him." We texted each other the words: "pray"
3. Friends with kids in my school sent me text to check on their kids with the words, "I am praying"
4. Our student pastor from church walked in the snow from his house to offer help and also sent a text, "the staff and I are praying"

My husband was in Mississippi. He didn't understand the chaos that was going on and had no idea what my text meant. I mean it was only to be a dusting! It was only God's divine intervention that my daddy was able to call me. Only phone call I got for hours. He said, "don't worry. I will get Tyler from school and I will get you and your sister home." My sister was at her elementary school on the opposite end of town. He promised his tractor would make it. My daddy lives 15 minutes away in another small town. It took him round trip over 4 hours to get my son home. 

But my son was home. 


And now my daddy couldn't get me. 

Second phone call to come through was my mother. She was safely home from her school. She promised to keep calling Tyler and checking on him until I could find a way to him. 

A little before 5 our school resource officer said,"Marsha, your daddy sent someone to pick you up."

It was another hour before I would make it home. Thanks to a big 4wheel drive and an experienced volunteer fireman. 

Then the story of who I left behind at school. 
Some of my favorite people on the planet. These are not just my coworkers but my friends. There were teachers who were stuck. There were teachers worried about their own family. There were teachers doing what they do everyday. There were aides, administrators, bus drivers, school resource officers and a school nurse. Caring for children. I have seen the secret of that world. They just don't lesson plan and teach a new math that drives you crazy. They are not just chaperoning your children through school everyday. They are caring and loving your children in ways that never get noticed. They listen to funny stories and tie shoes.  They teach children how to wipe their nose, they feel for fevers. They bandage boo boos. They make sure they eat. They don't leave. They didn't leave your child. I had some of the saddest and funniest text from this friend that night. Her own child slept in the hallway at school that night. No doubt these teachers did bonus work that night. But they do it all the time. And no one ever says thank you. I hope the public remembers this before they fire off an ugly email or complain about homework or complain about a conduct mark.  Loving your children isn't in their job description it is in their heart. Their greatest reward never will come from their paycheck but it comes every time your child succeeds. Thank them. 

Thank the people who text you on that day. 
Thank the people who helped you. 
Thank the people that prayed for you. 
Thank God you had people. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Shoes and a Paul

Years ago there was a couple in church with us that I begin to beg to teach a Sunday School class. Joey had been in a men's discipleship class with the Todd and I had been with Shirley and their children serving in different areas of the church. But each time I begged Todd said no. Until the summer of 2009 he called and a small group was formed. They invited us Into their home and explained the rules, the commitment, the accountabilty .... There was even a piece of paper to sign. I was terrified. 
The first time I hosted the small group at my home, I cleaned for three days. I labeled the food.  It said, "fried chicken, chips, salsa..."  Shirley put her arm around me and said if you ever do this again, you are out of the group. She began to take off my makeup and my mask. I was a mess. It wasn't long until I broke my ankle. Helpless. Broken. And finally still. I don't remember her ever leaving me from the hospital and even at home. I pushed and she stayed. That was always my go to, to push away but she wasn't leaving. She and countless others moved me broken into a new home. She threw away half my belongings and had me so blissfully unorganized and surprisingly it was okay. The girl I used to be was starting to fade. 

She didn't let me stay broken long. There was work to do. Daily time in the word. She had me reading scripture before the sun came up. She answered every crazy question I had about the bible. We read Radical in small group and we were all ruined. I don't know when all my makeup came off but I wasn't even the same person in the mirror. Then she said serve and we did it together. Then she said go. And we went on our first mission trip. Then our second. Then our third. 
Did I mention my kids? Todd and Shirley had them too.  Ball games and homework and discipline and babysitting.  Of course she bribed them with candy and coke but they have loved them. Tyler knew he wanted Todd and his daddy to baptize him. That day in the river in Belize will be etched into my heart forever. Todd stood in the river and looked at me as he read scripture. Shirley and I did what anyone would do...we cried. My kids will miss them more than I can bear to think about. Marlee already ask when and how much longer before they leave. 
She is the person who would give you her clothes off her back. She rarely ends up with her socks still on her feet in Belize because she has usually given them to a kid. So it is no surprise she showed up at my house this past week with shoes for me to wear on a upcoming trip.  She says she won't need them in Belize. I can have them. That night I slip them on.  A little too big but I can make it work. 

I know God is changing me and has but this relationship has changed me too. She is my Paul. As she is to so many others. And just like Paul she is on her mission and leaves for Belize soon to live full time. There is a couple of us who have started a new bible reading plan.  The other morning she sends me a text to see if I am up and reading.  I send back yes but I have terrible news Paul and Barnabus separate. As God in sovereignty would have it we are reading Acts together before she leaves. Now we are really just Shirley and Marsha. I know that. But I am just saying, this Barnabus is tender. Separation is hard but good. 
One day in Belize this summer she took me to the house she would be moving to to call home. I cried for the rest of the day. The next morning I crawled out of bed and she and I had devotional time on the beach with the bugs. I wrote on a scrap piece of paper and put it in her pocket. "The gospel is worth my friend."  I believe it and so does she. So what to do when Paul,leaves? You slip on the shoes that are too big to fill and you try. You keep on the mission before you.