Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What is worrying doing to us?

Okay, I read this today on FB and had to re-post.  Thanks NPR for putting it all in perspective!

5 Worries Parents Should Drop, And 5 They Shouldn't

by Meagen Voss

Worry less about the problems that are rare and more about the commonplace risks that can lead to real harm.

Shoomp shoomp shoomp. Hear that?

That’s the sound of helicopter parents hovering over their children, worrying every second of the day that terrorists could strike Johnny's school or a stranger will snatch Jane from the bus stop.

Scary stuff. But it turns out most parents are worrying about all the wrong things.

"These worries that we have are so rare," says Christie Barnes, mother of four and author of The Paranoid Parents Guide. "It’s like packing a snow shovel in case it snows in Las Vegas."

Based on surveys that Barnes collected, the top five worries that parents are, in order:
2.School snipers
4.Dangerous strangers

But how do children really get hurt or killed?
1.Car accidents
2.Homicide (usually committed by a person who knows the child, not a stranger)

Why such a big discrepancy between worries and reality? Barnes says parents fixate on rare events because they internalize horrific stories they hear on the news or from a friend without stopping to think about the odds the same thing could happen to their children.

"I’d love it if every news story came with a little warning at the bottom that said, 'Even though this is very tragic, this is 1 in 10 million, 1 in a million or 1 in 20', " says Barnes.

This unnecessary worrying, she argues, is detrimental to parents. The stress worry-wracked parents endure can harm their health and their relationships with other adults. Also, focusing on rare dangers distracts parents from the dangers that matter.

As for children, Barnes says that overprotectiveness will hurt them in the long run by making them less resilient. "We’re teaching them to be helpless," she says. "And because we’re so afraid of the world, we’re teaching them to be afraid of the world."

So, what’s a worried parent to do? Barnes has a simple prescription: helmets and seatbelts. Yup, that’s right, helmets and seatbelts. "I know it sounds boring," she says, but according to her research, making kids wear protective gear and buckle up in the car cuts kids' chances of death by 90 percent and their chances of serious injury by 78 percent.

(My favorite part...)  "We think worry means that we love our kids," Barnes says. "So we’re kind of fooling ourselves to think that all this research and all this worry we’re doing is actually love… because it isn’t."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Is the grass really greener?

I have been a stay-at-home mom and a working mom.  My oldest sons are playing flag football while my infant is still sleeping in a cradle.  I can send One-of-a-Kind and the Straight Hair off to school each day and promptly run to cuddle in bed with an infant and watch Dora on the couch with my preschooler.  I am able to see both sides of the fence regularly, and I'm just not sure which side is greener.

I loved teaching.  I loved getting up each morning and feeling as though I was being productive and making my mark on the world.  I know what you are thinking, by staying at home and raising kids, you are making your mark on the world.  I know this, but some days it just doesn't feel like it.  Some days, I feel like it is a scene from the movie Groundhog Day.  My alarm goes off and the new day is going to virtually be the same as the day before...give or take a couple of loads of laundry.

Now: I sometimes don't talk to an adult before noon.  Then: I occasionally left the house to make it to work without seeing my child. 
Now: I'm envious of other moms that get to work at something they love.  Then: I couldn't help but drool when I saw moms in velour jogging suits dropping older siblings off at school with toddlers in the back of the car in pajamas.
Now: I feel like my car is a city bus, dropping members of my family off at various destinations.  Then:  I would park in my garage exhausted after work and take a short nap in the front seat if the kids were asleep in their car seats. 

You see, I'm sitting on the fence not sure which side is better for me.  Please don't get me wrong, I am in no way trying to complain.  I know that I have been given immeasurable blessings all throughout my life.  My heart aches for the women of extreme poverty that are raising their four boys all alone and in dire circumstances.  I know that there are many, many heartbreaking stories from the deepest valleys.  And, I know that I should remind myself everyday that I am following His plan and all will be laid out for me. 

When I was teaching, I constantly felt as though I was accomplishing everything I set my mind to, but never did I feel as though I was completing any of these tasks well.  I felt as though I was focusing more time on my students than my own children.  When, I would try to reverse those two, I felt like a failure in my career.  UUURGGHH!  How was I supposed to get it right? 

Then, I decided to stay at home with my children and focus upon them all the time.  Guess what?  I now feel as though I am completing everything that I set my mind to, but never do I feel as though I am completing these tasks well.  Constantly, I am wishing my children ate better, read better, had better manners, or my house was cleaner, my laundry put away, etc.  UUURGGHH!  How am I supposed to get it right?

But, maybe that's just it!  Maybe we aren't ever supposed to get it completely right.  Who says right is right anyway?!?  I can't help but think of Darius Rucker's song, It Won't Be Like This For Long...

It won’t be like this for long
One day soon you'll drop her off
And she won’t even know you're gone
This phase is gonna fly by
If you can just hold on
It won’t be like this for long

I'm not sure which side of the fence looks greener to me, and maybe I never will.  It changes a bit from day to day.  But, here is a thought...it is time to get off the fence and just live in the here and now and give thanks for all of the treasures in my life.  You see, I am a big believer in living the dream (or the closest thing you get to the dream), rather than always chasing the dream in my head.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I heart hair!

Bliss = hair day!

Why is it that I long for the day of my next hair appointment?  I love it.  I speed to the Aveda hair salon in our town to sit in the chair to have my hair washed.  My hair dresser reminds me of a great guy that I knew in college.  I love the peppermint smell of the shampoo and can't get enough of the complimentary hair massage.  We talk about all things under the sun. 

Today's topic: why are people like Paris Hilton and Heidi Montag really famous?  We didn't really have a great answer, except to say that they should head back to The Hills and leave us alone!

I recently took a girls' trip and played hairdresser.  I know. It sounds nuts!  And believe me, it was nuts.  Especially if you know me.  I have a major germ phobia.  But, I loved "doing" someone else's hair.  I had a special voice that went along with my new "hair-ific" persona.  It was awesome!

Today, I told Russell, my stylist, all about my great plans to one day work at the swiveling chair beside him.  He laughed and told me many horror stories about the job.  We talked all about how people come in to see him with very unrealistic dreams about their hair.  Even though he cuts their hair like Jennifer Aniston, doesn't mean they are going to walk out with her body.  Needless to say, I'm back to being a stay-at-home-mom that loves a good hair day for the time being...not such a bad gig after all!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Middle Place ~ A Guest Post

The Middle Place
We have our Roots Below...our family. We have our Sky Above...our God. And this Middle Place is all ours to fill. It's the messy place where life is actually lived. Where we have our daily joys, our heartbreaks, and small miracles happen. This Middle Place flies by so quickly.  Please take a moment to look at the land where we dwell in between our mornings and nights. 
Written by you ~ about you.  Enjoy our guests as their share their middle places.

This week, my dear friend Traci shares her Middle Place with us.  To know Traci, is to instantly love Traci.  She is true to herself and loyal to her friends.  She loves country music concerts, clothes, and her family immeasurably.  I have had the pleasure to call her a friend for almost 20 years now.  What a gift!

Well, I have been forced to really take a long look at my patience level, parenting skills (or lack thereof), and the roll in which God's word should apply to all of these this past weekend. I took my middle child to a friend’s birthday party this Saturday morning and was quickly reminded how we have vast differences in our personalities.

He is the child in our family that can make me lose my temper one split second and laugh until I cry the next. His smile and his laugh are infectious. He is a cautious child and a lover. New situations with him must be approached like walking on an ice covered pond.

Long story short, he talked about this party all week and when we arrived he refused to participate. I tried to “hold his hand” a little to get him to warm up, but to no avail. I then thought, "Okay, what do I have to lose?" I will just let him decide when he is ready to join the party. Well, guess what? That never happened and we ended up leaving the party early so we were not to ruin the birthday child's day.

This had me fired up all day! I was torn with the idea that I somehow needed to punish him so he would learn that this behavior was unacceptable. Then, I thought that God would have wanted me to be more patient and guide him – boost his confidence. I think this is going to be a BIG lesson for me.

In all honesty I don't think I did what God would have had me do. Ephesians 6:4 says “Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” And, Colossians 3:21 “Fathers, do not embitter your children or they will become discouraged.” I sure hope the few little words I uttered did not wound his precious little spirit. So from now on I believe I will embed in my heart 2 Timothy 4:2 “encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”

Parenting is a daily lesson. I can only hope I am doing right by them and not damaging their sweet spirits along the way. They are my life. This Momma bear has a lot of learning and missteps along the way I am sure. I am FAR from perfect. For now let's just pray that my “impatient” gene isn't passed down the line. There are just some things better left behind.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Things We Do

Ahhh, the things we do to our first-born children.  When I went in to see my OB/GYN after I took a pregnancy test with my second child, the doctor sat down and said, "Go home and apologize to your first born every day."  But why?  "Because of all of the ways that you will mess him up."  

What?  Mess him up?  Oh, heavens no!!  I prayed, fussed, cried, had panic attacks over my first pregnancy.  I wanted him more than anything in the world.  How would I mess him up?  You should see the pictures of him on my computer...I'm pretty sure I'm running out of memory just on his pictures alone.  He WILL be perfect!  So perfect that he will be messed up?  So perfect that I will not ever leave him alone to discover his world on his own?  So perfect that I won't know when to stop worrying about him?  Yes, that perfect!

helicopter parentn. - they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not.

Oh, no.  I've heard the term helicopter parent. I've also heard some others...a curling mother - mothers who attempt to sweep all obstacles out of the paths of their children...lawnmower parents - mothers and fathers who attempt to smooth out and mow down all obstacles, to the extent that they may even attempt to interfere at their children's workplaces, regarding salaries and promotions, after they have graduated from college and are supposedly living on their own...Black Hawk parents - has been coined for those who cross the line from a mere excess of zeal to unethical behavior, such as writing their children's college admission essays.

It can't be me.  I am a laid-back parent.  I am constantly told that I'm as easy-going as they come.  Aren't I?  Sure, if we are out having dinner together and having a glass of wine and my kids are nowhere in sight, I'm very laid back.  But, when it comes to my first-born, I am wound up tighter than a tick.  I won't even give you examples as an attempt to save myself from embarrassment.

Why do we do this, though?  I know that I want the best for all of my children.  I am hopeful for all of their bright futures.  But, I can't seem to help myself to push my first born more.  I want him to follow all the rules in school, while also learning all that he can.  I find myself already talking to him about post-college degrees that he might like.  He might like?  Let's be honest...the post-college degrees are what we (the committee and I) might like.  But, do I do this to my third and fourth born?  Oh, no!  I just enjoy watching them be who they are and frolic throughout their days.

Even I can see the disparities.  I am able to evaluate that this is not fair to One-of-a-Kind.  Maybe that's the problem...I think he is one-of-a-kind, which he is...no doubt.  And maybe, that is what my Father feels for me.  That I am one-of-a-kind, and He wants the best for me.  Would He be my helicopter parent?  Does He want to plan out my days so that I don't have a chance to fail?

Rather than being that helicopter parent, He allows me to move down my path making my own choices and falling into pitfalls along the way, all along hoping for the best for me.  I am able to glide over peaks and valleys sometimes with ease and other times with sweat and blood, throwing my burdens and worries His way.  You see, this is a life that I have been given by Him, for Him, and with Him. 

So, today, I'm going to take a page out of God's playbook.  I'm going to take a step back and let One-of-a-Kind live his life for Him and with Him all the while moving gracefully to the side watching what transpires.  I will move out of the airspace above, stop hovering over him needlessly.  I will cease my worrying as it says in ...Matthew 6:34 ~ "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." 

But, I will NEVER stop wanting the best for my boys.  You see, isn't it natural to want more for our children than I am?  Shouldn't I hope to strengthen my shoulders for my boys to stand upon?  One-of-a-Kind is a product of me and my husband, and he has been entrusted to us.  He should be given the space to thrive in his own way without having me interfere in every tiny detail, just as God allows me the space to wander and discover with gentle nudges here and there.  Oh my!  That is so much easier to write than to do I am sure, but I'll give it my best, because that is what He deserves!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A New Hobby - Once Per Month

Well, One-of-a-Kind and I have this (verbal, non-binding ~ according to him) agreement that we will try to pick up a new habit/hobby once per month and hope to master it.  Well, we did step out of our comfort zone and try something new this weekend, but I would say we are far from masters.  Our family trekked about an hour away from home to Adams, Tn. to go canoeing on the Red River.

We invited three other families to join us.  We all packed lunches.  We rode an awesome, old school bus up to the drop off point together.  We all got to pet a goat and several sweet dogs.  We put on our life vests and floated on a class I & II river.  We saw a family of turtles and made up stories about this little clan.  We ate lunch in the mud on a sandbar.  We rowed until our arms trembled.  We tinkled in the woods.  We saw people fishing in kayaks.  We enjoyed cold, refreshing drinks while taking in all that nature has to offer.  We had a blast! 

But, we are far from being masters of this new hobby.  But, does that matter?  Should we beat ourselves up for it?  No, I'm pretty sure we shouldn't.  We had a great time as a family and with friends.  Today, that is all that is going to matter to me in regards to our canoe trip.  

You see, I had an AHA! moment when I went to visit the same church for the second week in a row this weekend.  The Committee went out to a fundraising benefit Saturday night, so I loaded up the boys' bus and headed to church.  It was some awesome music once again.  The minister talked all about how religion can bring out the judgemental nature in the believers.  Then, Pastor David went on to say that it's not the religion that we should "get", it's the relationships we should "forge" while walking in the path of Jesus.  Jesus was all about the relationships he made not the religion he could have forced. 

AHA!  This is what I believe life is all about...how we connect!  How do I greet people each day?  Do I lend a helping hand to build relationships?  Do I reach out with a kind word for those that are in need?  Do I only help those just like me or do I give to the needy?  These are the relationships that I need to fertilize.  I think  of... Romans 12: 9-10  "Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." 

So, as I'm canoeing yesterday with my family, I realize that I am enriching the relationships that matter most to me!  In the middle of a 50 ft. ravine, with rock walls on either side of you, you can't help but feel the sense of serenity and peacefulness.  God seemed all about us in the beauty of the natural habitat we were floating through.  There wasn't a chance for my children to wander off to watch TV or play the computer.  We all were forced to enjoy one another.  Every couple of miles, we would stop as a group and all get out to float in the swiftly moving water.  The kids loved it as much as the adults.  It was harder getting the dads out of the water than some of the children.  Many times, I heard, "I'll definitely do this again." from one adult or another.  

For me and One-of-a-Kind, there was just something about trying something new.  My oldest son and I went into the adventure with minimal expectations.  He was just looking forward to floating in the water; I couldn't wait to sit on the sandbar for lunch and enjoy my ripe strawberries I had packed for lunch.  I wouldn't dare say that we are by any means masters of the canoe, but we were definitely masters of enhancing our relationships with God, family and friends.  To me, I call that a successful day! 

My advice for you:  get out and try something new this weekend.  Make it easy and peaceful.  Don't expect too much.  Just take it as it comes.  Invite friends or family to join you.  Find God in the moments that you can .  Bask in the day and build those critical relationships with those that have been placed in your path of life.  Enjoy!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Old Days

With fall weather approaching and SEC football stadiums starting to fill soon, I long for the days of college.  I can easily glory daze with the best of them!  My days at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville hold so many great memories for me. 

It was on the streets of UT that I walked with new friends to class in the late August heat of 1994.  Little did I know, that these friends would turn into sorority sisters and then life-long friends.  I find that I have always had a hard time making any decisions without the input of these 8-9 friends.  They are my soft place to fall when times get tough.

I was with these same precious women (young ladies at the time) when I met my husband one late wintry night in a fraternity house on campus.  I've never been one to believe in love at first sight, but something definitely struck me when we met.  I did not know this precious soul, but many of my girlfriends were able to give me any background information that I might need.  And, you can certainly assume that they were pressed for anything and everything they knew about The Committee! 

I then went on a big spring break blowout to the Bahamas with these same women, only to find out that The Committee was there too.  And so it all began...a love affair for the ages...not really, but we did have some great times together!

You see, it is difficult for me to separate memories of college from my girlfriends and my husband.  I don't think I would change it one bit.  I know that it might seem as though I am stuck in time, but there really isn't anywhere else that I would rather be trapped.  For, all of these people are the first to mock me yet be my cheerleaders, laugh with me while also laughing at me, and never leave me without a word of love or hug. 

How can you want more in your life?  These are not my only friends.  I have readily been able to make more and keep others from my childhood close to my heart.  But, these are the friends for life.  And it all started back in the days of UT.  Oh, how I could glory daze with them right now!

So, as we creep into fall, I think back to where it all began and then thank God for my richest blessings...the beautiful people He has placed in my life.  I think of...Sirach 6:14-15 "A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.  Faithful friends are beyond price: No amount can balance their worth."  I know these words to be true in my heart.  I forever cherish these wonderful women and the memories we made...also the people (mainly the man) they brought into my life!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Today, I have nothing for you.  For I am starting a new pattern.  Each Wednesday, I am going to dedicate this blog to that place that we dwell in the here and now.  We all have goals, dreams, and desires.  We are all working toward making these amazing dreams come to life.  But, until they come to fruition, we are all living in The Middle Place.

So, that is what I'm calling Wednesdays...The Middle Place.  We have our Roots Below...our family.  We have our Sky Above...our God.  And this Middle Place is all ours to fill.  It's the messy place where life is actually lived.  Where we have our daily joys, our heartbreaks, and small miracles happen.  This Middle Place flies by so quickly.  It seems like yesterday that I was living a carefree life in college.  Now almost fifteen years later, I am raising a family.

However, I am not looking to write the blogs for The Middle Place.  I'm looking for others (YOU) to tell us about how you dwell in your Middle Place.  So, get to tapping on your keyboard and e-mail me your posts @ mocurlee@yahoo.com  You won' have to include your name, unless that is what you want. 

We have all lived in our Middle Place very differently, yet there are great similarities throughout.  Let us come together to understand where you are and where you are going.  I think of the quote...“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.”  Introduce us to your yesterdays and todays.  Help us to walk in your path for a while to mix up our day!

This blog has helped me to evaluate my life more, to take a look at all that I am and all that I have to offer.  It was hard at first to expose my inner-most feelings.  Yet, I have grown to love it as I am able to hear back from readers about how we are in the same spot with the same thoughts.  Let us do the same for you.  Let us encourage you in your walk (or sprint) through this Middle Place.  Hope to see your words in this space next Wednesday!  Love to you all!!

“You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Finding Our Home

My family moved from Memphis (West Tennessee) to middle Tennessee about 18 months ago.  We loved our church in Germantown (Germantown United Methodist Church http://www.germantownumc.org/). 

This church captured everything we were looking for...joyful music and a small, weekly nugget to take with us on our way down life's crazy road.  The Committee and I were able to put our children into Sunday School classes that they enjoyed, while the two of us were able to sit together for an entire hour without someone tugging on us for help.  As you know from your own experience, some Sundays spoke to us more than others, but we were always able to take something away from the message.  We found that we looked forward to this time in our hectic schedule.  What more could you hope for in a church?

Then we moved.  We have looked all around to find just the right religious "fit" for our family.  When we stop by one church or another it seems as though we find one or two things that work for us, but it just doesn't seem like our spiritual home.  Some days, I want to pack us all up and move to Jackson, Tn. to be a part of the church that has me smitten - Englewood Baptist Church.  But, that's not an option, so we'll keep trying to find the right place.  I know God has a plan for us and will lead our path to the right place at the right time.

However, we visited a church for an evening service on Saturday night.  I am a huge fan of good praise music.  I can't get enough!  The Committee would appreciate classic, traditional hymns, but not me!  The more joyful the better.  This service had wonderful music that was just right for me. 

This night, the pastor spent a fair amount of time relaying some of the plans for the church's capital campaign.  As it turns out, he had just returned from a planning trip for the future of this church's service ministry in Uganda.  Their plans sound amazing and represent true giving from the heart...the Gospel in action.  It was inspirational. 

But, these plans were not what spoke to my heart the most.  The worship leader flashed photos up of children of an orphanage that crossed the pastor's course.  We saw a sea of bright faces and shining eyes thanking the benefactors for their generosity.  Pastor David went on to explain that the girls were in green shirts and the boys were in blue shirts.  Because of a constant battle with lice, the children all have shaved heads and they can be easily identified by their shirt color. 

What?  Hold the phone!  This can't be right.  My mind understands the pragmatism, but my heart just can't get behind this idea.  These are children well below the age of puberty.  My children are the same age.  I love the curls of the Straight Hair.  We joke that One-of-a-Kind has hair like our lab - water just beads up on it and flows right off.  The Tiniest Hair can't grow a hair to save his life - he's bald as a grape!  Yet, these children can't have any growth to characterize their individual spirit? 

Don't get me wrong. I understand that the orphanage has to protect the health of the children and keep the lice and other diseases at bay. I am not pointing blame at this wonderful place that has offered a home to these young children.

I know that He is in control of all things, but my heart aches for these parent-less children of the world.  My childhood was not perfect, but I always knew that I could be a child, free to run, play, and return to a home filled with family members that loved me unconditionally.  The young girls in the photos had eyes glowing with beauty.  The boys had smiles wide enough to light up a room.  How can I rectify that these children have been left behind?  Half of the Ugandan population has been diagnosed with HIV. Most of these children have lost their parents to HIV.

You are thinking, but these are not the only children that are facing this plight.  I know that too.  I am awestruck because I went to this church to hear God's word for the children of my own family, and my heart was turned to the lives of these children without a family.  As you may or may not know, orphans are one of the most vulnerable populations on the planet. With no one to protect them, orphans are the most likely to suffer from hunger and preventable diseases and to be forced into slavery, prostitution, and war. Largely due to AIDS and war, the plight of the orphan is growing at alarming rates.

I move throughout my day today thanking God for opening my eyes.  Thanking Him for the past that I was given; asking Him how I can make a difference for these children of the future.  I don't know where this puts me in the world, but I do know that I need to know more.  I want to know more.  I want to venture out of my bubble more to feel more.

Most days, I wake up thinking of all that I have to do and how burdensome my life can get with four children, two dogs, and a hard working husband.  What a disgrace this is to Him!  I have been given more blessings than I can measure.  I can't help but think of... James 2:14-17 — “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”   What actions can I give?  How can I help my heart to soar for the children of this world?  I don't have the slightest answer.  I'll ponder this with great thought and continue my thoughts with you another day...

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Borrowed Word

Poem has been borrowed from:  http://www.chattingatthesky.com/2010/07/09/the-daisy-a-guest-post/

I want to be a daisy
unassuming, humble,

Willing to share my joyful face
wherever I am found.
In a prairie of grass
And alone,

I will tilt my face
toward the Son.
Bordered by peonies showy dresses
or the scandalous red of poppies

I’ll not be intimidated.
I won’t droop in the rain.

I will stand tall
And outlast them all.
I will pretend nothing.
I will smile

And be content to be me:
A bloom,
A delight to my Maker.
I want to be a daisy.
Washed pure white
With a heart of gold.

Oh, how these words spoke to me one late night.  I was worn down.  I had spent days getting ready for a yearly vacation that my family takes to go to a family reunion.  This week-long sabbatical promises to be hot, labor-intensive, and cherished by my boys for an entire year because of the freedom they have to run and play.  I knew the prize in the end would be worth the effort once we arrived at our destination.  But, getting our 6 family members ready for a week away had taken a toll on me.  Then, sometime after midnight,  I came across this poem and my mind was taken to a new place, a place of peace and sincere serenity.  It is amazing how simple words can sooth my soul.  Although I enjoyed reading the words, can I believe that they are true?

We can say these words - I will smile ~ And be content to be me - all we want, but will they always be precise?  Insecurities seem to work their way into our thoughts like fine wrinkles.  Everywhere I go and everything I do, seems to touch upon some insecurity within me.  However, I feel as though I am a confident person.  How can these two personas exist within one body? 

My personal philosophy on why I am here: we have been placed on this Earth to connect on an emotional level with everyone that crosses our path offering support any way that we can.  It seems to me (from my sociology courses in college) that this has been called people-sensitivity.  However, in the midst of being sensitive to the people around, I can't always stand tall like the daisy.  What are we afraid of?  Why can't I just get out there and not worry about being turned away?  Can I shut down the worrisome part of my mind and just follow my heart for a second? 

When I see these words, -  Bordered by peonies showy dresses, or the scandalous red of poppies.  I’ll not be intimidated.  I won’t droop in the rain - I think of those times when I meet others that I deem more beautiful than me on the surface or more adept at running her life.  You and I both know these women in showy dresses of scandalous red.  Oh, that blasted daisy.  How does she do it?  Can we stand tall like the her?  Not be intimidated?  Or, do we droop in the rain?

I do not stand erect with pride at all times.  I droop my shoulders on some days, because I am far from the super-model or the super-moms that I know.  Then, I remember...Samuel 16:7 - "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  He is looking at my heart.  This will be my new mantra.  It is my heart that sings with pride in the simple gifts that I can offer to those around me. It is my heart that that will continue to guide me in all that I do.  Can I lay down my insecurities knowing that I have gifts to offer to others in my own way?  These gifts are pleasing to my Maker and that will be my catalyst.

I'm taking a step this day to get out of my comfort zone and step out of my box.  I'll lay down my insecurities at once.  Can you do this too?  As a song from my childhood says, it only takes a spark to get a fire going.  I will reach out a hand not dwelling on the idea that my hand may be pushed back.  For, what do I have to lose? 

If, I, in fact, want to be more Christ-like and people-sensitive, then I must make the effort to share all the goodness I have without expecting anything in return.  I know that I am loved by Him and that is all that will matter to me this day! So, today, I will smile and be content to be me!

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Love Affair

I am not writing this post today with some deep, dark confession.  My marriage is quite well.  The love affair I have in my life is not outside of my life-long commitment to The Committee.  No, it is a deep, passionate love affair with water.  Whether it is the ocean, our wonderful, rustic lake retreat that The Committee's family co-owns, the local pool we visit, or my bathroom shower, I can't get enough of feeling the cool, crisp flow. 

Perhaps it is the season that we are in right now.  The temperatures are soaring and getting hotter by the day.  But, I can't help but squelch the desire to abandon all household duties to go and jump on the nearest float and soak up the joys of calm water.  I can't get enough! 

Just this weekend I spent time with friends and family lounging in the lake all day.  I couldn't have found a better place to rejuvenate my soul.  There is nothing I enjoy more, than sitting on the dock at the cabin watching One-of-a-Kind floating in a tube eyeing the boats out in the main channel.  We both feel a sense of calm with the movement of the water around our bodies.  Each day, Straight Hair hurls his body into the pool with huge gusto followed by a loud banshee scream.  It seems this is a necessary release for his psyche.  The Wild Hair refuses to move out of the kitchen sink because he loves to soak while I am completing dinner preparations or finishing household chores.  This love affair is a part of all of us!

But, I can't seem to convince myself that all is right with my heart's desire.  Our global water supply is taking a beating.  We are all aware of the oil spill in the Gulf.  How many eco-systems are being obliterated by the oil and dispersant being used to contain the oil?  While many of us focus upon whether our next vacation trip will be ruined, most local fisherman are thinking of how they will put food upon the table for their family over the coming months.  It truly hurts my heart to see the impacts of negligence.  And trust me, I am by no means an avid environmentalist.  I would love to be more sincere about my eco-friendliness, but it hasn't always been a priority.  However, my heart is starting to turn to this way of life.

Did you know...
~884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; approximately one in eight people. 
~3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease.
~The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns. 
~Poor people living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city.
~An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than a typical person in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.  
~Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. 
~Children in poor environments often carry 1,000 parasitic worms in their bodies at any time. 
~In the developing world, 24,000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable causes like diarrhea contracted from unclean water.
~1.4 million children die as a result of diarrhea each year.

How can these facts be true?  I can walk across my kitchen and turn on my sink to get clean water at any time of the day or night?  Why have I not ever realized these facts?  What can I do?  How can I make a difference? 

The children that are dying these atrocious deaths are not any different from my 7 year old, 5 year old, 3 year old, and newborn boys.  They were simply born to a different mother in a different location.  Having not been a huge environmentalist in the past, I feel guilt over my carelessness.  I wish to learn more about what can be done and vow to behold a different thought process.  I will spend more time thinking about the steps (although small) I can take to make a difference, rather than the next chance I can get to drift in my beloved water.

I am not, by any means, the first person to begin to think about this global issue.  There are so many that have thought about these issues day in and day out.  This is a new nirvana for me.  But, with small steps by all of us, we can try to preserve the world's water supply.  I have generally thought, "Oh, that is not my problem."  But, in fact, it is my problem...it is a problem of mankind.  With helpful preservation tips, I can hopefully make a difference for my children.

So, where can I start?  As individuals, we can all rein in our own water use to help conserve what is becoming an ever more precious resource.  We can hold off on watering our lawns in times of drought.  When it does rain, we can gather gutter water in barrels to feed garden hoses and sprinklers.  We can turn off the faucet while we brush our teeth or shave, and take shorter showers (urrgghh, can I really do this?).  As Sandra Postel concludes, “Doing more with less is the first and easiest step along the path toward water security.”

I pledge to you today, I will try so hard to do more with less! 

P.S. ...Could this the beginning of a trend for all other things in my life???

My dream pool for the backyard...I know The Committee would say, "Keep on dreamin' sista!"

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Living Above the Line

Yesterday, I watched a sermon (tagged below) given by Ben Mandrell from Englewood Baptist Church (http://www.facebook.com/ebcjackson) in Jackson, Tennessee.  We are not members, and we live over three hours away from this church.  However, I have repeatedly heard about this pastor from several, unconnected people.  So, being the nosey Internet user that I am, I decided to learn more about this pastor's past and sermons. 

In a nutshell, Pastor Ben talks, in this video, about the importance of God in your life.  As Christians, he questions if we are walking the walk or merely talking the talk.  In one poignant moment, he asks the hard question about what our children see in us as Christians.  If we suddenly passed, God forbid, and my children were prompted to remember the things important to me, would they say God?  Would my children remember me reading the Bible or cleaning my house?  Would they recall a direct correlation between volunteering to help a friend with trying to walk in the path of Jesus?

This thought made me think a great deal about my actions.  I like to think that I give more than I receive in the name of Christ.  But, am I really giving because of Christian intentions?  Or, am I giving so that I am hoping it will cross off some other less than pleasing act in the past?  I don't know that I have an answer.  But, I do know that giving to others does help me to lighten my load.  It helps me to realize that through Christ we are all welcome at His table and should share equally in His bountiful blessings.  I am able to put aside my burdens, which are meager in comparison to my global neighbors, and focus on someone else's needs. 

Each night as I rest my head upon my pillow, I have forced myself to make a habit over the years of asking myself if I have lived "above the line" during this day at hand.  I think of each day as a gift and new slate from the day before.  Intrinsically, I have a line that has been laid down by Him for me. You know, the little voice in your heart and head that tells you when you are not doing the right thing.  This line, although imaginary, is very real to me.  Have I lived above the line in my marriage?  Have I fallen under the line in my mothering?  How can I rectify these actions?  Am I living by example?  Where do I find my examples of Godly living?

I hope and pray that my children would think of me striving for betterment, if prompted after my death.  But, I can't be sure.  In my past, probably just like yours, I have not lived above the line each day.  Some days I live well above the line. Other days, I am just barely eeking over the line. On bad days, I fall asleep with a heavy heart knowing that there were things that I should have done very differently.  Some days are much better than others for sure. 

Through prayer and reflection, I have been delivered to a place that allows me the chance to be still in prayer and strive for more...more patience, more joy, more love, more giving, more happiness, more charity, and above all else, more of this life I have been given.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Welcome to our world!

{The Curlee Hairs - Minus the Tiniest Hair}
Need a family picture?  Ours were made by my dear friend Shannon.  Here's her website...shannonwatsonphotography.com

We are the Curlee Hairs. 

It is a strange name, but comes from years of repetition.  When making reservations at restaurants, I always have to spell my last name to those on the other end of the phone.  I routinely answer Curlee, like Curlee Hair (which is a poor choice given that it is not spelled correctly).  A great friend overheard me say this, and she has repeatedly remarked on the name.  So, hey, why not, let's just use this for our title for this blog for the time being. 

Let me not forget my manners and make introductions:

The Committee - My Husband - our fearless leader, Daddy, a worker bee, a finance major in graduate school who expects great fiscal responsibility from yours truly,  a lover of this mommy, true-blue through and through, quick to laugh, even quicker to make fun of himself, and most importantly, the greatest gift to my life from God.

The One-of-a-Kind Hair - our oldest- you know the type, He broke the mold after this one, came into this world his own way and does all things his own way, finds joy in meeting strangers, laughs often, loves wholeheartedly, sees the best in everyone and everything (except the Straight Hair), a bird of an eater, loses his patience often, openly weeps for the smallest wrongdoing, a precious bundle of energy that makes me smile everyday.

The Straight Hair - our true "middle-child" - on the straight and narrow at all times, always focusing on the task at hand, aims for completion and praise, questions everything, needs his daddy's kudos every day, needs dessert after every meal, looks far older than his actual age, wants to understand life's perpetual questions, wears his heart on his sleeve at all times, a gentle giant, so much like his father in all things it can be overwhelming, pushes me to be a better mother everyday.

The Wild Hair - supposed to be the baby - we all fear him, free spirit, undomesticated in the best sense of the word, independent, overly loving to his mama, wild at times (many times), a quirk, teetering between baby and big boy, thinks he is older than One-of-a- Kind, calls all meals snacks, can't get along without his lambie (snugly little stuffed animal), dissolves the walls that we put up as adults with one simple, robust laugh.

The Tiniest Hair - a blessing given to us without asking - the littlest member of our crew, a surprise from the first day in my womb, an answered prayer that was not openly prayed, a little bear, hope for our future, a joy to watch unfold in the life of his brothers, an endearing smile, my moment to slow down and acknowledge the blessings I have been given from the fountain of His Grace.

And then there is me, The Rat's Nest.  You know the messy jumble of hair that occurs on the back of your head when you sleep at night.  You have the best intentions when going to bed with straight hair and then the outcome in the morning light is not at all what you had intended.  That is me!  I am not all what I had envisioned myself to be.  Some days I feel as though I am better than planned and then other (most) days I am much worse than the finished product was supposed to be.  But, just like the rat's nest, all can be combed and coaxed out of this crazy muss and can be fixed anew through faith.  This product is hopefully far from being finished.  It is my heart's desire to follow the path laid down by my God and find joy in doing so each day. 

I humbly lay out our life for you and others to peruse.  I have gained moments of calm in my soul from other blogs out in the world of cyber-space, and thought I could offer my own two-cents.  I have so many fears that I am not glorifying God, raising my children, loving my husband, respecting my parents, befriending others, and offering thanks in a gratifying way each day.  So, I welcome feedback, criticisms, wisdom whenever the whim strikes you.  I believe it truly does take a village to make the most of everything we have been given.  Separately, we couldn't survive a day.  Together, the Curlee Hairs are able to exist living moment to moment and trying to live "above the line" in everything we do.  I hope you will travel on this adventure with us offering any goodness you have!

{The Tiniest Hair}