I face painted a twin boy, once, whose twin had died.
He was four or five.
His mother told me in whispers that the brother died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.
His father in prison.
He hit the child too hard in anger.
It is difficult to convey the turmoil and struggle for control as I painted the boy whose brother was killed,
trying to smile and be light-hearted while mom whispered a nightmarish story into my ear.
What they asked me to paint was the brother’s name on his arm.
I did my job,
Compartmentalizing the horror, jamming my reaction into a box and shoving it down to contemplate later while I smiled and talked to the child whose arm was cradled in my hand.
The child condemned to a life without his twin by one angry man who blew it.
Ask Yourself, about the people in your charge…
– What type of person removes the blossom of a flower from its stem to crush the petals?
– What person cultivates a garden only to destroy it in a fit of temper?
When you are angry, how do you behave?
How do you cultivate your garden?
God gave Adam a garden and he told him to care for it.
God has given one to you, too.
It is full of roses in bloom, dogwood trees with flowering branches, tulips and snapdragons and hardy mums…
How do you treat your loved ones when you’re angry?
Do you assault them?
Consider the hard things today. Look at yourself today. Do not hide from You.
And remove the weeds you uncover.
Ruthlessly pull them out of the soil that is yours to care for.
The health of your garden depends on it.
Seek the Master Gardener for assistance.
Then rise up and walk.
Only a fool would turn to the most precious items in their life and destroy them in a fit of temper.
Let’s not be that fool.
The hard things. The ugly things. Face them. Acknowledge them. And Root. Them. Out.
You are a thread.
Thick, Strong, Vibrant.
And you’ve been woven into the lives of the people who surround you.
If you suddenly go missing,
You will destroy the pattern of the tapestry.
For a pattern has already been designed
And the Master Weaver sits at the loom
Making it reality.
But we have a choice.
You have a choice.
You can exit.
But not without destroying the miracle.
The Miracle of lives woven together
To create something Lovely.
The absence will be Noted.
The woven object altered.
It will still function,
It will even retain beauty
But it won’t be the same.
The missing piece will show
More noticeably in its absence,
Being true to yourself.
That phrase used to confuse me.
Who isn’t honest with themselves?
How can you hide from yourself?
Don’t answer the questions.
I’ve discovered the answers.
You have morals and you have standards.
They will be tested.
Will you betray your own heart?
Last night a friend I care for so deeply wrote to me and told me to “Be Steady.”
They would have no way of knowing that those two words are isolated quotes from my favorite Spiderman movie.
They are words I actually live by.
Or try to…
-“Spiderman? Are you kooky?” I am not. (Okay, I am. But not right now.)
That movie is deep!
It addresses many challenges, struggles, and temptations we face in life, including being true to ourselves.
Peter’s Aunt May says this: “I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes –> we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams.”
That scene in the movie is powerful.
Those words are powerful.
I have dreams.
A lot of them.
I am already a mother, my first and favourite calling.
I’d love to be a lawyer for children,
and advocate for them.
A child psychologist.
A social worker.
A poet laureate.
The author of the next _Color Purple_.
A best friend. Loyal to the end.
A true servant of God, when no one is looking, And the best life partner a man hoped existed even while he didn’t believe she was out there.
(Yes, I mean wife. But people have different perceptions of the word, and a wife is an equal partner in the longest three-legged race two people ever signed up for. They’re supposed to help each other to the finish line, not bicker and stumble all the way there. I could write pages on that concept, alone.)
But we have to be steady.
What is the ultimate goal before you?
Plot. Your. Course.
Do not allow temptations to divert your attention from the ultimate goal.
Do not allow seductive offers to entice you to betray your own morals.
The happiness of many depends on you.
Let the words of Aunt May, and my beloved friend, and now my own mouth settle into your soul.
Until you’ve heard the words,
“Mommmmm! Josiah put hair removal creme all over his hair!”.
You read that correctly.
My ten year old son rubbed, not one, but two applications of hair removal creme into his beautiful sandy brown hair.
When his sister got married, she and her bridesmaids were primping and beautifying every inch of skin, and this tiny tube is the only trace of evidence that my home was “Spa for a Day”, last July.
But I’m not thinking of that happy morning right now.
Right now, I am running toward the bathroom and yelling, “What?!? What did you just say?!?”
That was my calm, cool, and collected response to the 16 year old, also known as, “The Informer”, thank goodness.
I rush in, trying to remain calm, picturing clumps of hair falling out of my son’s scalp until he looks like a like a flea-infested mangey stray, while I try to calm down.
But I feel it.
I feel panic rise within me, not for his hair…that stuff grows back, but for his eyes.
I call him into the bathroom.
“Do you know what you’ve done?
Do you understand the gravity of this situation?”
I feel the screamer inside of me begging to be let out of the dungeon I’ve banished her to.
I feel tension in my voice.
I am at war with the old me I left behind so long ago.
Fear and incredulity have joined hands and they are racing through my mind like it’s their amusement park.
“Hurry, Alma, hurry!”, I silently urge.
“Just strip. Strip out of everything.”, I tell my son.
Reach for a washcloth so he can cover his developing body – preserve his dignity,
Turn on the water – get it warm but not hot,
Reach for a towel to cover his eyes…
“Step in. Turn around. Sit. Scootch forward. I have to rinse right away. Lie back. Cover your body. Do. not. open. your. eyes.”
I am in a hurry but I am not yelling and this is a good thing.
I am relaying the danger into which he placed himself.
I am wondering what type of discipline this will merit.
He is ten, after all.
He knew what he was doing.
I rinse and apply shampoo – then repeat,
watching for strands of hair to break free.
None break free.
Silent prayers sent heavenward, “Thank God.”.
We finish and he steps out.
I wrap his body in a towel and tell him he was fortunate. Very.
I make small talk. “You know, when you wash your hair you need to focus right here…” to calm the situation.
All is well.
No one lost their temper. No one was belittled or humiliated. Every one is okay.
I remember in the Bible when Adam and Eve blew it.
When Cain killed Abel.
I think of God and his reactions.
“Adam, where are you?”
“Cain, where is your brother?”
The perfect Father did not rant and rave and scream, even when very bad things happened.
I can almost hear the quiet sighs of resignation and disappointment, though.
And he disciplined.
But he didn’t withhold himself from his creation.
I try to model my parenting after the Lord’s.
Children know when they’ve done wrong.
No lecture necessary, the learning happens in their hearts when the actions have come to light.
My son is okay.
He’s in trouble, but he’s okay.
We’ve lived through another adventure.
And no one is worse for the wear.
Except, perhaps, for my hair.
I may have a few more grays.
Today is one those days,
Those days when I wake up and my affection is Niagra Falls.
Where are my children and my grandbaby?
I must spend every hour, every minute with them.
Have they seen the sunrise?
Are some of them still in bed,
Snuggled deep in blankets
with tousled hair,
warm and sleepy,
like the towels one pulls from the dryer?
The day has claimed my soul.
Every moment, every hour has been reserved.
Each one belongs to others.
It is for me to walk to each checkpoint and do the job required,
Then I will get home around 9:30 pm.
But I am not unhappy.
I am too much in love with a shy ten year old who told me, while at home, that he would not, under any circumstances, participate in the Spelling Bee he qualified for, but stepped up to the plate when it was time, challenging himself and not faltering, to make it to third place.
The one who likes me to scratch his back at night but makes me promise not to tell this to his playmates when they come over.
I am in love with the 20 year old who works hard and always has for his work ethic is as solid as granite. He needs his mother, even though he is an adult and does not need his mother.
I am in love with the sixteen year old who is the giant of the house, the 6’2″ teddy bear who still lays his head on my shoulder when I’m driving, and calls me “Shakespeare” because of the way I speak, not realizing that his giftings lie in the same area; he speaks as creatively as he writes.
How does he not hear himself?
I am in love with the twenty-two year old who lived out of state for three years and came home when it was time to build a family, and her husband, now my son, who has joined our beautiful broken mix of fruits and nuts yet has not withheld his heart from us.
She is song embodied.
He is affection in action.
And I am in love with their baby.
The softest dumpling grandbaby with the hazel eyes who always greets me with a smile.
It’s as if he knows that his mother is a piece of me; therefore, he is a piece of me too –
A living testament of the most beautiful things in life.
He is my whisper into tomorrow,
Proof that life goes on living,
Even when we take our place in the yesterdays.
Love like water flows from my heart, through my veins, and out from my fingertips to reach the lonely today.
The girl at school that cried herself to sleep last night,
The boy who doubts himself – as we all did at that age.
The grown up who is weary, whose bills weren’t paid last month.
The woman who looks back at me in the mirror.
I received communication today full of accusations regarding my divorce.
The accusations stated blatantly that I did not care about my children. They accused me of not putting them first when my marriage was in dire straits.
Of course the accusations were from a soul whose mind bore a one-sided perspective.
I cared about my children.
Of course I cared.
The main reason I stayed in the twenty-one year situation was for their sake.
Every storm weathered, every desire denied, every tearful night endured, every sacrifice made, every price paid was for my children.
Until my soul was almost shattered beyond repair like the windshield that bore the brunt of his most recent outburst of anger.
I lived in fear.
I lived alone.
I had no mate.
I had a master.
Like the woman in an airplane who puts the oxygen mask over her mouth before helping others, I did what I needed to do to stay alive so that my children would have a healthy mother.
I didn’t want them visiting me in a hospital unit.
I didn’t want them visiting me in a long-term mental health facility.
I didn’t want them laying flowers near a headstone with my name on it.
I offered a six-month plan,
One that preserved sanity and postponed a permanent divorce situation.
The plan was rejected three times in one evening.
The door was closed.
Ladies who endure domestic violence for the sake of your children, this is what I learned:
You are building a glass house for your family.
When it breaks, everyone will bleed.
If you are fortunate, you will be able to prevent them from bleeding to death.
But the scars will show.
Your “mate” may never embrace the blame for wounding those who were in his charge.
He may play the victim whose spouse left him.
He could point a finger and accuse, “You didn’t love them, me, us, enough to stay.”.
Even if he does admit at least half of the blame, it is quite likely that you will be accused of not forgiving him. It will not matter how many times you’ve forgiven him before.
If this occurs you must make yourself deaf to it and this is why:
Because no man gets to break you and then blame you for being broken.
No man gets to break you and then blame you for wounding your progeny when you leave to preserve your sanity.
No man gets to break you and then act like he is the victim.
Do you hear me?
No man gets to break you.
Look at your children and ask yourself,
What are they seeing?
What are they hearing?
What are they learning?
If you love your children, you will not subject them to negative images that will never leave their memories.
If you love your children you will remove them from the environment if it drains life from a soul.
Look in the mirror and ask yourself if you would allow your child’s mate to treat them as you are currently being treated.
Answer all of these questions honestly, and then do what is right for your family.
You do not want to live in a house made of glass.
You can clean up the mess when it shatters,
But you will always see the scars.
And try as you might,
You will not be able to remove every bloodstain.
I love instant happy.
Who doesn’t love instant happy?
But lives take time to build.
They aren’t instantly successful.
Friendships take time to build.
The real ones.
And merging lives? That is like getting up every day and going to work. You must pour into that project on a daily basis.
Like bricks forming a wall,
we lay one decision upon another upon another.
Uh-oh…a bad decision, now there’s a crack in the wall.
Take some bricks down, fix the problem, lay a new layer of mortar, start over.
Merge many objects into one solid and secure edifice that becomes the haven wherein souls find shelter, safety, and rest.
Think of a tapestry, blue and white.
One ball of white thread, one ball of blue, both on the floor at the designer’s feet.
The weaver sits, adding white when white is needed, adding blue where it belongs, and after a while, two colors merge to form one beautiful design as they are woven tightly together.
Knots are tied.
Tangles are unraveled.
Clack…clack…the weaver’s frame makes a rythmic sound as two seperate items become one lovely thing.
If they yield themselves to the hands of the weaver, that is.
Nothing that matters happens quickly.
Set your face like a flint, and put your hands on the plow.
With your eye
On the prize.
People say love is color blind.
They mean well. They mean lots of things, the most common being the concept that says, “Look deeper than the outer shell.”.
And they are right – we must do that with all of mankind.
But love is not color blind.
Love sees color.
Love likes color.
And Love embraces colorful differences.
Love sees skin tone and likes it.
Love sees differences in hair and is intrigued by it.
Love invites all to sup at her table.
Because Love is not color blind.
She sees the whole person.
And opens wide her arms.
(Photo: Sandra Bullock and her son.
Courtesy of Facebook)