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Archive for 'Faith is the Evidence'

A Dog Tooth Honesty Lesson

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I was sitting in the kitchen with my coffee yesterday, having a rare quiet moment, when I heard the tell-tale “ka-chump-wump” followed by a searing screel.  Edward shot in the kitchen, both hands clamped down firmly over his mouth, and began hopping up and down frantically.

I threw out my trademarked, “What-on-earth-happened-haven’t-I-told-you-all-not-to-run-in-the-house-why-can’t-you-all-just!” only to watch Edward open his mouth and emit a large pool of bloody gruel.  Then, as fast as he opened it, he closes that mouth and, through bloody spittle, wails, “Ma teef!  Ma teef!  I think they’re gone!”

I jump down to his level, not too terribly panicked because I’ve dealt his 27 other bloody lips, a major tongue laceration, a torn frenulum, etc.

“You’ve got to let mama look!” I implore.  “I’ve got to see what’s going on!  I’m sure they’re not all gone!”

Then he begins this wild bloody spitting while hopping, clasping his mouth and moaning, “Ma mouf!  Ma mouf!”  Sophie, our five-month-old Boston terrier puppy, hurries over in some sort of blood lust and lunges at the collecting pools.

It’s hard to see what is actually going on, what with the hopping and spitting and such, but I do discern the absence of one big tooth and two cuts on the lips.  I relax.  We can handle this.  The tooth was slightly loose, and, as I’ve explained before, he’s an early puller anyway.

Joseph and Sue finally run in breathlessly, feigning an air of concerned innocence.  “We were, uh, playing and then he fell and I…”

I’ve seen this action before.  “You were wrestling, weren’t you?”

“Yes, well, sort of.  And my knee kind of knocked against his mouth and sort of, well…I think I might have knocked out some teeth.”

“You think?”

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This comment brings Edward to certain level of acceptance and then a fresh concern, “OK but where’s my toof!  Where is the toof!  Don’t let it be like last time!”

Now I start to worry slightly that he’s actually swallowed the tooth.

“Joseph–run man!  Go find that tooth!”

Joseph rushes away and is gone for a few long moments.  I apply ice to the toothless mouth, sop up the floor and the child, and attempt a general calm-down.  Joseph finally returns, a triumphant look on his face.

“I found it, I found it!  It was stuck to the couch.”

Yes, well, that does make sense…

I settle Edward down with an organic high fructose corn syrup-free lemon ice to stop the bleeding, and we bag that tooth for the tooth fairy.  Not two seconds after I have him settled, Sue runs in the kitchen, a crazed look on her face, her tiny deft fingers clutching something small and white.

“A tooth!  A tooth!  I found another tooth, Mama!”

Curled in her tiny palm is what, to the untrained canine dentistry eye, looks like a small, white puppy molar.

Joseph immediately begins to calculate:  “Mom, do you think the tooth fairy can tell the difference between a child’s tooth and a dog tooth? I mean, do you think if we put that tooth under his pillow she would bring double the money?”

(Remember, this is a lad who rents wooden bats to naive friends at baseball camp, sells official “tadpole water,” trades worthless McDonald’s trinkets for $5.00 Bakugans, and generally considers himself some sort of Donald Trump of the nine-year-old set.)

“Well, I feel certain the tooth fairy is well-acquainted with the difference between human and canine teeth, but more importantly, do you think it would be honest to try to trick the tooth fairy into leaving something nobody deserves?”

Joseph looks down sheepishly…lesson learned.

And then everyone wants me to take pictures of their mouths!

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Posted on 11 March '09 by , under Faith is the Evidence, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 15 Comments.

What to Tell…When to Tell…Why to Tell

Many disparate events have collided in the past two weeks only to push me kicking and screaming to consider a topic that frankly infuses my veins with ice crystals:  The Birds and The Bees.

I’ve conveniently viewed my need to address this issue as a lengthy, serpentine road whose end I didn’t have to see quite yet–after all my oldest child just turned nine.  He spent yesterday with a friend catching green lizards activated finally by the 70-degree weather, finding various grubs and such to feed the creatures, holding Star Wars battles in the back yard and playing “Duck-Duck Goose” on the trampoline.

Why does he need to be faced with anything further than “good touch/bad touch?”  Plus, he’s homeschooled.  Doesn’t that protect him somewhat from this sort of thing?

NOPE!

Well, I was a bit freaked out last week when I had dinner with several girls from church and they began discussing their own 10-year-old girls’ burgeoning maturity.  I was slack-jawed.  I personally didn’t reach such maturity until my mid-teens, and while I had one friend who “blossomed” during 5th grade, she was the exception.  I knew she was different because she wore a bra, but that was the extent of my understanding regarding her maturation.

My upbringing was “churchy” but not spirit-filled, and my parents told me nothing about the topic other than “DON’T DO IT!”  In fact, the first time they warned me not to do it, I had no idea what they were talking about.  I had to ask my mother what monthly accoutrements were for because I had seen them in friends’ purses and didn’t know why they would need such strange objects.

I learned the details in a shocking, frightening way by reading Judy Blume books, and I vowed then and there to share the truth with my own children so they would not have to find out in such a troubling way.

I was the girl who left for college knowing nothing, got a roommate who was on the Pill and got an such an earful the first two weeks I had to ask for a different room arrangement.

So the perfect storm of “birds and bees acknowledgment pressure” further roiled when another mother called to let me know a “friend of a friend” had been exposed to pornography while at another child’s house.  The culprit?  An unsupervised computer, of course.

This tender nine-year-old began having such anger outbursts and depression that his parents finally sent him to a psychologist who got to the bottom of the situation; the images this child saw disturbed him to such a degree that he is now profoundly depressed, his innocence cast into a fiery furnace for which no child is prepared.

I felt further nudgings through Stone Fox’s post on exploitation, Elaine’s recent thoughtprovoking posts on purity, and a frank conversation yesterday with Kim.  I now find myself at a crossroads for which I was not prepared.

(Are we ever truly prepared for crossroads?)

From those who have traversed these waters before me, I welcome your insights, wisdom and experiences.  For those whose children are still too young, I pray I do not cause fear and dread.   And for those swirling along in these roiling waters beside me, I welcome your support and friendship.  Shining the light on this topic can only serve to keep it in His Light where the enemy has a trying time with encroachment.

From all of you, I seek your prayers.


Posted on 7 March '09 by , under Accidental Homeschooling, Faith is the Evidence. 15 Comments.

Thrift Store Profiles

I don’t blog about it too much because it’s a tad odd and I’m trying not to scare off readers, but I have been selling rare books online for 10 years.  It is a bit like a treasure hunt and allows me to run into the most bizarre people–some of them rather frightening–others surprisingly engaging.

I hunt a great deal at a variety of thrift stores in my town, and, in doing so, have become a tangential part of the “thrift store underground.”  I’m known as “that book girl” or “that book lady” depending on the age of the commenter.

I’ve gotten quite tight with a heavy-lidded weight-lifting woman whose eye makeup rivals Ann Coulter’s, and who used to own her own carpet cleaning business that was “stolen” by an ex-husband who set her up to be busted on a coke charge.  Tanya won’t let me walk to my car alone if “Crazy Elise,” who is 65 at least but dresses like she’s still following Jerry with purple hair streaks and exaggeratingly stenciled eyebrows (Joan Crawford), is milling about the parking lot, hitting up people for rides or handouts.

I’ve prayed with John, a 60-something quadriplegic whose world is relegated to the sidewalks that border his section 8 housing.  His story involves incredible faith, a failed business and an attempt at finding some way to make ends meet on his meager disability check.

Collins is a 50-something thrift store worker–a funny, leprechaunesque Irish fellow who can barely read but will save books back for me with childlike enthusiasm in the hopes that they are great treasures.

Larry is a rangy ex-Vietnam vet who rarely finishes a sentence without mentioning faith or the Holy Spirit; he manages one of the thrift stores and sells old war memorabilia at local flea markets.

Barbara is 45 but looks 55; her fiance was killed by a tractor trailer that crushed him while he was fixing his delivery truck.  She had become a mother to his son, aged 8, who was thrown out of the house by his own mother, an admitted meth addict.  The dear mother went back to court recently to fight Barbara for custody but, in an unprecedented move,  the judge gave the child to Barbara permanently.  She has made sure he attended school and completed his homework, and for the first time ever, he is on the honor role.  Barbara’s faith is contagious and she has brought her new son to know Christ as well.  She is a “tee-totaler” but will partake of a “hot toddy” when she feels a cold coming on.

Debbie’s daughter has five children and a bad meth habit.  I met the daughter briefly once when she came to hit up Debbie for money–four children crammed into the back seat of an old Buick with no car seats.  Debbie wanted to retire but needs to work in an attempt to clothe and feed her grandchildren; she recently gained custody of one boy who is seven and failing kindergarten for the second time.  She and I discuss ADHD, homeschooling, reading intervention ideas and speech therapy.  Debbie drinks gallons of Mountain Dew to get through the day, always looks tired and is developing acute osteoporosis.

These people talk to me, share their stories, pour out their woes.  They have allowed me a glimpse into a part of society I would probably never have known much about.  Yet what is more fascinating is how they have accepted me into their culture.  Me with my minivan, my now-bobbed hair, my unfake purse

Now, lest you think it’s all inspiring stories and insight, last week a creepified 60-year-old man with a handlebar moustache began following me around the thrift store I’ve named “Crazy Cecil’s.”  His penetratingly evil eyes with no discernible pupils told me to beware.  He fixed on me and began a deluge of questions on faith and Christianity.  He berated Christians, asserting that his own mother loved him to no end and thought Christianity was “bunk” and if she had thought there was something to it, she would have told him.  I suggested he read the Bible and see for himself, at which point he began regaling on UFOs, his own abduction escapades, and the extraterrestrials’ plans to abduct people like me.

I headed out of that place.  My life is complicated enough at the moment.

Posted on 6 March '09 by , under Faith is the Evidence, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 11 Comments.

Mourning Hair

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Perhaps I’ve gone over the edge with the T.S. Eliot?  I know people are reading my last post, but only a few have dared to comment.

Where is she going with this?

(One insightful friend did indicate she thought there was more to the post than just a hair cut.  Another friend called me “brave,” [isn’t she kind?], and promptly sent me the picture above taken a few days ago when I still had long hair, while another asked me if I was a modern-day Lady Godiva.)

Let me elaborate.

When I was almost three, my parents had another baby and cut my hair into a bad pageboy.  Then they sent me away to a spinster aunt’s for two weeks while my brother ‘got bonded,’ and my aunt bought me a horrific, leering-eyed clown jack-in-the-box at K-Mart, from which I’ve never recovered.

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So to get even, I stabbed my mother’s vinyl kitchen chairs with a cheap, serrated steak knife and pulled out the tufts of polyester fiber stuffing, ruining each and every chair.

How’s that for three-year-old sibling newborn angst?

From that point forward I pledged to keep my hair long.  Long hair, for me, exemplified graceful, flowing femininity and acceptance.  It represented an array of hairstyles from pony tails to pig tails, Princess Leah braids to headbands, handpainted name baretts to yarn puff-ball cheerleading hairties, elbow-length, face-covering Dead head hair to shoulder-length, trimly cut wedding veil hair.  And of course the pregnancy-fertile mommy hair that promptly coated the shower stall a few months after childbirth.

Two Christmases ago I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in years.  This normally bobbed-hair, perfect lipstick friend had rangy, shaggy hair halfway down her back.  We were in the toy store debating the evils of various Transformers when I finally had to ask her what the deal was with the hair.  Was she getting the band back together?

She explained that she was growing her hair out for Locks of Love.  “Wow!” I thought.  I could do that.  I mean I grow hair.  I love my hair.  Still, I could do that.  I filed away a short mental note and moved on.

Yet that memory of her “hair plan” nagged at me.  God began to whisperingly remind me about my pledge.  Each month when I would visit my hair stylist, I would ask him how many more months it would take for me to grow my 10 inches.  At one point, it was June and I thought how lovely it would be to have short, smart, Summer hair.

Next I felt it might take until the Holidays to have the right length.  “Yes, after Christmas, would be perfect,” I would think.  “Then I will have long hair for all the holiday pictures and will still have some time to grow it out before Summer.”

This hair dance continued.  Month after month, I’d sheepishly enter the salon, clutch my long locks, and admit I was simply not ready to shed them.  Yet why?  Why was this shock of admittedly stringy hair so important to me?

Finally the whole affair became a bit ridiculous.  Wednesday afternoon when I told H I would be emerging from the stylist with a significant alteration, a strange Lenten offering, he looked at me in a bemused way and gave me a hug, (ie, he didn’t believe I’d go through with it.)

My “stylist” is a 20-something, super-straight, University of Georgia football fan with an 18-month-old son and lovely wife whose hairstyle I pirated.  The man is the best colorist in South Georgia, and he does a great hair cut too, but he can’t put hair in a pony tail.  He gave me what looked like the rubber band off of a newspaper and asked me to put my hair in a loose pony tail.

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Hurry up please, it’s time.

All I can say is as I did this, I felt this floating, surreal sensation as if my head was disconnected from my body.  In slow motion I watched him take the shiny scissors, clamp down on my hair, and deftly cut.  And as he cut, the visceral nature of what I felt can only be described as akin to having a baby pulled out of your womb.

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Those of you who have pushed and pushed to no avail only to have the unfortunate experience of a forceps delivery will know what I am talking about.  I felt as though something was being removed from me…something I didn’t want to leave…yet something I knew had to go.

So when Tari asked me this morning via email if I missed my hair, I had to answer that not only do I miss my hair, but I am actively mourning my hair.

While I am missing the way my hair felt on my back, and I admit to looking longingly at the stray pieces that litter the floor by my computer, what I lament the most is my own inability to find joy in sacrificing my hair.

Let’s be honest: this is a miniscule sacrifice in the grand scheme of things.  It’s not like I had to cut my hair to prepare for chemotherapy like several of my friends have done lately.  Why has this seemingly small sacrifice been so difficult for me?

While I believe there are several reasons from the frighteningly vain to the extremely personal, honestly I am still trying to understand it all.  Perhaps you have some insight, and if so, please share it with me.

I do feel God calling me to acknowledge my own struggle with a new level of faith, and this reminds me of Stone Fox’s revelations of late.

Or perhaps the decision is just as simple as God called me to cut my hair to help another person and I finally obeyed just because He said so?

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Could it really be that simple?

Posted on 28 February '09 by , under Faith is the Evidence. 17 Comments.

Ash Wednesday

Because I do not hope to turn again

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Because I do not hope

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Because I do not hope to turn

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Because I know that time is always time

I rejoice that things are as they are

Teach us to sit still

Even among these rocks,

Our peace His will

Posted on 27 February '09 by , under Faith is the Evidence. 12 Comments.

Valentine’s Blessings

Last night, the long-awaited Father/Daughter Valentine’s Day Dance was held in honor of Chloe Shiver, a precious five-year-old who has battled neuroblastoma for almost three years now.

(You may remember me writing about her before.  Chloe is the little girl in the pink.)

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During her fierce battle against this insidious form of cancer, Chloe has run through a million dollar health insurance policy, and is now reliant on donations to pay for her remaining treatments which involve flying to Sloan Kettering in New York for costly treatments each month.

She desperately needs Sky Miles donations as well as other donations to help with her battle.  Please visit Pray For Chloe for more details if you are led to contribute.

One of the fascinating things about this whole experience was how God took a casual conversation over dinner sometime in December and turned it into an event that blessed an entire community.  There were so many other cancer survivors and cancer fighters in attendance, including sweet Maggie Jo, a dear two-year-old battling another rare form of cancer.

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A grandfather, who has been given only weeks to live, danced with his two granddaughters.  So many cancer survivor stories and faith lessons were shared over the course of this evening where everyone lived in a moment of pure hope and joy.

I cannot explain the feeling of seeing 250 daughters and daddies dancing away all for the benefit of one little girl.  Something in the air was distinctly palatable.  It was unusual.  If you have had an experience like this, you know what I mean.

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The tables were sprinkled with pink, read and white M & M’s, and Sue certainly enjoyed her share.  She even entered a “Daddy/Daughter Dance Contest,” and won a door prize.

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She fell promptly asleep the moment she strapped in her Britax, and as I watched her clutching a balloon in one hand and a heart-shaped lollipop in the other, a poignant pressure on my heart told me, again, how God has reminded me to cherish each moment.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Posted on 14 February '09 by , under Faith is the Evidence. 12 Comments.

Only Today…

A year ago, our family was in Disney World, splashing around the pool at the Polynesian Resort, not a care in the world.  (H had a work conference so this was such a blessing that we could go without paying for most of the trip.)

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Then the call came in.  H’s best friend’s sister, with whom he had grown up and known since tiny childhood, had died, completely unexpectedly, from a random blood clot; she was 38.  One minute, I was happily watching my children frolic in the spurting fountain sprays, and the next minute I tried desperately to hold all three of my children at once to make sure they were OK.  I shuttled them up to our room where we prayed fervently for friends who are family to us.

So a year later to the day, a shocking email crossed my computer: the mother of one of my son’s football teammates had died, unexpectedly, from an aneurysm; she was in her mid thirties.  Earlier that day, she was happily delivering invitations to her son’s 8-year-old birthday party, and later that afternoon, she passed away on her bathroom floor, only to be found by her five-year-old son.  She leaves behind this sweet child, a four-year-old daughter and a recently-turned eight-year-old who attended his mother’s funeral instead of his own birthday party.

Please know that I share this story not to be morbid, depressing or melodramatic, but to let you know that I firmly believe those events happening on the same exact day one year apart can mean something to me personally.  They stand as a wake-up call to me–a reminder that we truly only have today.

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We don’t know what God plans for us tomorrow, or in the next moment, for that matter.  And while we all know this intellectually, an event like this reminds me in such a visceral way.  In my hustle-bustle, hurry-worry world, I forget that tomorrow just might not be for me, or for someone I hold dear.  I skitter along mindlessly, stopping to feel sorry for myself (or bitter) when painful events occur, but forgetting the big picture.

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I used to write more about the story God is writing with my life.  Today during church I realized how far I’ve gotten away from that, and potentially why that is so difficult for me to address.  I believe it boils down to my inability to believe that God could actually delight in me.

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you.  He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”

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I spent an entire year with that verse taped on my bathroom mirror, but it didn’t sink in, did it?  Perhaps I’d better stick it back up there where I can remember, rejoice and believe.

Posted on 9 February '09 by , under Faith is the Evidence. 15 Comments.

Playing Santa

Felicia at Go Graham Go agreed to let me “Play Santa” over at her site and pontificate on a few top items on my children’s Christmas List.  Per usual, I am woefully late in fulfilling this mission.  Everything around here has been incredibly late, or just plain old incomplete.  Still my children have compiled lists, emailed Santa, refined lists, re-emailed Santa with edits, and sobbed because they received a “C +” on an online Santa Claus behavior quiz.

(That was today at church when Edward shared his less than stellar score with another little girl who claimed to have received an “A +” on her behavior quiz.)

“What can I do to improve my behavior grade for Santa?  I’ll do anything!  What in the world can I do?”  He cried woefully after sharing this sorrowful tale of mediocrity.

“Well, maybe just clean your room and stay seated at the table during meals.  Those were two heavily-weighted questions,” I encouraged.  “Oh.  Well, that’s impossibleimpossible!” he countered.  “I guess I’m stuck with a C +.”  He ran away happily.

It’s encouraging to see a child who so readily accepts average when it comes to behavior…

At any rate, my children have many items on their respective lists, the top one on each child’s list (if you combine all descriptions) being a “live, newborn Boston terrier girl boy puppy.”  Yes, it’s Sue who emphasizes the word “live” each time she is asked by friends and strangers alike.

“So what do you want for Christmas, sweet girl?” the hapless stranger or relative asks.  “A LIVE dog.  A live one.  He’s got to be ALIVE!” she shrills.  Apparently she’s seen battery-operated animatronic pups and she will have none of that!

Here’s her list written in her own three-year-old hand.  You can barely make out the word “dog” there with all the “Ho Hos.”  Still it’s there…

Yet back to Felicia’s project.  Since we have not received any of our gifts thus far, I believe I’ll share details on some perennial favorites during my almost 9 years of motherhood.

Every child needs a Cozy Coupe:

It is simply one of the grandest childhood toys around.  Joseph received one on his first birthday (he’s almost nine) and that same coupe has seen us through two additional children.  It has served as a fort, had three children stand on it at one time, careened down rocky hills containing children, stuffed animals, Star Wars action figures, been turned upside down and jumped on, sat out in the rain for years on end, had birthday cake and sidewalk chalk smeared all over it, and housed science experiments in its “trunk.”  It still looks fine with bright colors and is…well…see for yourself:

There are countless years of fun left still in this coupe!  (Yes, it really is my old Mrs. Beasley doll!)

We also have the Police Car coupe which I believe is a must for those with two or more children.   I’d personally love to see my old Shirley Temple doll gracing the back seat of that police coupe!

The other items we have thrilled to for years include anything Little People-related.  We currently own the Farm, Zoo, Princess set, Doll House and Nativity.  Again, many of these Joseph received from a wise Santa during his first Christmas!  Those durable Little People can battle Darth Vadar, withstand bubble baths, become mowed down by Hot Wheel cars, get lost in the van for years.  They are just fun, high-quality toys.  Sometimes I’ll put them up for a few months and when I get them back out, it’s honestly like Christmas all over again…

Our favorite is the Navitity set:

Now there’s a set I firmly believe every child should own!

Remember the reason!  Merry Christmas!

Posted on 21 December '08 by , under Faith is the Evidence. 10 Comments.

Nutcracker Dreams I Don’t Deserve

Every year beginning when I was three, my mother and grandmother would take me to the Nutcracker.  I grew up in Nashville, TN, and the ballet there was lovely and quite established.  I would dress in my best Christmas dress, tights and patent leather shoes.

One year, I even had a tiny white fur muff with matching hat.  I supposed looking back, this tradition meant a great deal more to me than I realized at the time.  I have mourned its passing each year since I left for college, and then later when my grandmother died right before my wedding day.

This year, however, in a sort of unexpected blessing, the tradition was rekindled with my tiny Sue who is finally three.  She’s old enough so sit through a ballet without wailing, talking incessantly or needing to nurse.  Right before my eyes, God has transformed her from a chubby, bouncing toddler in to a tender-hearted, long-legged, inquisitive little girl.

I have written before about my pregnancy with Sue, and how, after two miscarriages, I longed for a healthy baby with a fervency I’d never felt before.  I have many dear friends who have battled infertility for countless years.  Some have ended their struggle with a biological child, and others with the grand blessing of adoption.  I certainly cannot imagine those kinds of struggles, but I am certain that in loaning us Sue for a short time, God gave us His best.

So yesterday, when God blessed me with the chance to take my own smallish girl to the ballet, I relished in the event.  I tried to capture many moments in my mind and in my heart.

Here she is waiting in great anticipation for the ballet to begin.

She sat riveted to her seat, mesmerized by the music and the dance.  When we got up for intermission, she was worried that the ballet was over.  When we came back after getting our candy and taking a potty break, she exclaimed, “Oh goody!  We get to see it again!”

“Mama, I want to be there, on that stage, with them.  I want to be there dancing with them.  Can I be, Mama, can I do it?”

“Absolutely, sweetheart, absolutely.”

Posted on 2 December '08 by , under Faith is the Evidence. 21 Comments.

The Thankful Essay

This essay was written last night by Joseph, my 8-year-old.

I am very thankful for my family.  They are very funny.

I am glad I live in the USA and not in Chad.

I am thankful that I have a house to live in.  I am glad that my family is not poor.

I am very glad my family can afford to pay for football, baseball and basketball for me to play.

I am thankful for Jesus.

Posted on 26 November '08 by , under Accidental Homeschooling, Faith is the Evidence. 9 Comments.