2911 West Bird

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2911 W Bird

2911 West Bird

It is a threshold that will forever remain in my heart—stepping through the doorway was like entering a parallel universe—this was Yes World, a place where no was only heard in conjunction with “do I have to go to bed?”

That’s right, the world was our oyster at 2911 West Bird—Granny’s house.

Drifting through the open doorway were smells of her kitchen. From the best fried chicken on earth to the greasiest burger in town, in her kitchen everything was made to order 24 hours per day. My food obsession cultivated in rays of sunshine pouring from the window next to the small wooden table which was the alter where Granny’s meals were laid.

It was also where Granny liked to watch us eat. As she watched every spoonful and anticipated each swallow, she delighted in that her family’s bellies were being filled.

Enough: that wasn’t something she always knew.

Granny grew up in a single mom home with three other children at a time when no help was available. Her mom often considered sending Granny to the orphanage up the road just to ensure she would be properly fed meanwhile giving her one less mouth to feed. This was the 1920’s when single mothers were frowned upon unless they were widows.

Great grandma wasn’t a widow, but as she might as well have been. Within the course of year Nora Moore went from a married mother of three with one on the way (Granny) to a single mother with four children—three living and one dead.

Granny had a promising future to enter into a loving family as she grew in her mother’s womb but two months before she entered the world, Nora’s world came crashing down. When Fern Charlene Moore was born on September 29, 1920, her father was already gone and her twelve year old sister—who would have been closest to her in age—was already dead.

It was mid-July, right after a celebration with friends. Pregnant Nora and oldest daughter, Golden, were drying dishes and proposing names for the new baby as they tried to guess a gender. The rest of the family scattered around the backyard playing hide and seek as their father, Charles Moore, readied himself on the back porch.

Whether it was random choosing or divine placing is a question not yet answered as each child chose the perfect spot in which to hide. In between the shed and the fence was Cecil’s favorite because his brother Gene, the seeker, didn’t like the poison ivy; Harry from next door tucked himself behind a sticky bush and immediately regretted it as his finger throbbed and his shirt sleeve clung to a branch.

It was Lela who could never make up up her mind quick enough. She darted from place to place as Gene counted down.

“Ready or not here I come!” rang out simultaneously with a loud bang from the back porch.

In the kitchen a plate shattered on the floor at the deafening sound of a gunshot as Nora reached the window just in time to watch Lela collapse where she was standing. By the time she reached her daughter, the grass around her was drenched in thick, dark blood and Lela was lifeless. Her eyes were open and pensive as if she were still pondering a good hiding spot, and Nora wept over top of her barely noticing the tiny kicks fluttering in her womb.

Her husband heard the anguished cries from the chair on the porch where he had been preparing to clean his gun, and where it suddenly shot a bullet into the back of his daughter’s head. The moment he watched her fall, he froze. Too afraid to move from that spot and claim the truth of what he had just done; caught in the web of that moment his terror sucked out his heart and left him as a shell. His insides were empty as he finally approached the backyard scene where his wife was covered in the blood that was on his hands.

Kneeling beside her was Gene, the oldest, whose hand slowly reached for Lela’s eyelids before Nora slapped it away.

“No! Don’t touch her! Don’t touch her!”

No one really saw him slip away in the midst of the chaos; eventually they just noticed Dad was gone. That bullet—resting feet away beside a wilted leaf—shattered Granny’s chance at ever truly knowing her family. She would never meet her father or her sister Lela, and she would never go to church and sit in the favorite pew where the Moore family regularly sat—Mom and Dad sat like book ends to keep the kid’s straight. She would attend First Baptist Church with her mom, her oldest sibling, Goldie, and two brothers Gene and Cecil, but those two missing bodies would always be felt—even by Granny who never met either of them.

Barely meeting ends through seamstress work and a part time secretarial job, Nora Moore continued to get out of bed daily and keeping working when truly she was broken. How many days did she curse the sun as it rose on another day that she just didn’t think she could get through? How many times did she shake her fist at the stars and demand an explanation from God? And did he ever give her one?

I don’t think he did. When God doesn’t answer that usually means we are in the process of a test, and the strongest students are the ones most rigorously tested.

Granny remembered her mother as a faithful woman; a strong woman who loved her family and did what she needed to do. It was Granny who told me that Nora once began the process of taking Granny to the orphanage up the street because she could not feed her any longer. Imagine the heartache of turning your beloved child over to someone else because you could no longer provide; this is a different level of love, a selfless one that many couldn’t bear.

God rewarded and God provided.

Cecil, Granny’s oldest brother, enlisted in the army so that he could send home his pay to feed them. It was exactly what she needed to keep going. None of us can say for certain what happened to Charles Moore after he ran away, but what we can say is that Nora Moore faced mountains that many would never even consider climbing. And she kept going—she kept on moving forward. She relied on God and she allowed those to help who He sent along the way.

None of this was forgotten. In their aging years, the baby of the family became the caretaker. Granny took care of Nora, as she lived with my Grandpa and Dad, until her last breath was taken in 1956 in the bedroom next to the kitchen of that same house where Lela was taken from her so many years ago.

2911 West Bird.

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Humility: thy name is burnt pizza

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I am not a cook.

Well, I am not a good cook at least.

My poor family suffers through my calling of motherhood as they grow up with dinner time fire drills. That’s no joke, either, the smoke alarm honestly goes off every single time I cook.

I don’t know why cooking is such a struggle for me…

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Honestly, though, my mothering has taught me much about life and not just in the mothering area.

These are the two things I always thought I had down: faith and family.

My high opinion of myself came with absolutely no experience of either things.  From the looking glass, motherhood appeared romantic and sing-song to me.  My visions were matched with reality once I married and started my own family.

My perfect self-sacrificing Christian mom dream painfully collided with who I am.

The actual work involved in parenting hit me like a diaper filled Mack truck. I found out I mostly suck at all the tasks required to be a good, selfless and faithful mom–ouch that hurts to even type.

It is 100% true though.

I was never taught to value someone else’s needs over my own, not that my parents didn’t love me or teach me correctly but my life never really required a lot of self-sacrifice–and NEVER any cooking.

I also found out that I misunderstood what parenting is supposed to be about; it is about the baby and not about me.

Hmmm…I sure do hope that someone else out there has experienced this redirection from God, otherwise I am even worse off than I think.

I thought my little baby would provide me with all the fulfillment I needed, and you know what, that kid couldn’t do a thing for me–I had to do everything for him!

I never gauged my selfishness before someone was totally reliant on me.

  • Selfish with my time.
  • Selfish with my sleep.
  • Selfish with my chocolate.

So instead of leaning on God–which is truly where the fulfillment of motherhood should come–I just kept leaning on myself.

Everyone suffered.  Not just through my burnt food but my moaning and groaning about everything that is required of me.

God began working on me through my frustrations, though. The guilt of not feeling joy through motherhood was a load to bear, and I called out to Him to show my why.

It was then He began revealing to me that motherhood is a guided and directed role–I constantly needed seek Him out. I wasn’t doing that, and as a result this is what would happen:

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and then it escalated to this…

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I mean there is a dying pizza in there for heaven’s sake.

Well, okay, this kind of thing still regularly happens, but God uses this smoke-filled room as a teachable moment.

Parenting has taught me humility and a willingness to keep serving no matter how bad I think I am at it.

We must first understand that our fulfillment comes from God rather than the unrealistic expectations we set for ourselves.

He will take our strengths and hone them into something beautiful–our weakness though, that is where we really shine because God uses them in ways we never dreamed possible.

Dinner in my house might always be announced by the smoke alarm, yet God still gathers our family around my meek offerings for nightly bonding time.

It is in this that I realize my imperfections do not keep me from doing exactly what He has asked me to do, in fact, my burnt cheeseburgers are regularly requested around here.  I mean, who doesn’t love burnt cheese?

Inadequacies are God-given opportunities to seek Him and grow in our faith.

And always remember to laugh along the way, because truly, He is laughing right along with you.

The Pants Incident

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pants incident

I gave up this morning.

Face down on the steering wheel and driven by pure exhaustion, I thought, well I gave it a good run. For the good of the kids I was ready to turn in my resignation before they fired me.

I have been verbally warned several times already, but today at breakfast I thought I had nailed my coffin.

It was the pants incident, and it went like this.

“Connor, please hurry up because as soon as you are done, we have to go.”

I had that tone; it was the annoyed mother tone.

“Mom, we can’t go yet because…”

And I jumped in, mad before I even had a good reason to be.

“Connor! We are going to be late! I told you to have everything ready!”

The kid jumped out from behind his cereal to reveal his Spiderman boxers and stood next to the table with his hands up.

“PANTS Mom! I need pants!”

I stood there as a freight train full of guilt made its impact. I forgot to get his pants out of the dryer after i told him not to get them himself because I didn’t want him in the laundry room.

So I grabbed a spoonful of humility, apologized and got the kid some pants. He was sure to let me know the knees were still slightly damp.

Meanwhile I lost the five year old who was also without pants, but he didn’t want any. He was discovered under the table with a piece of toast.

“I don’t think Becky (his babysitter) said I need pants today.”

That was a whole other incident.

So finally, after a stressful drop off and two return trips to his school due to forgotten items, I sat in the school parking lot and thought that someone else must be better suited for this job.

Then my boss chimed in.

God gently reminded me that He gave me this job and He expects me to step up to the plate even though I sometimes strike out.

I thought about the way their faces light up when they see me. That’s the thing with kids, they really don’t expect or want a perfect mommy, they want the one who loves them–the one God gave them.

And sometimes they just want pants.

Rejection: oh the sting

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I have been rejected this week in several different ways.

  
1. I was rejected by Redbox. My debit card apparently wasn’t good enough for that $1.35 movie. Well fine. 

2. I was rejected by these geese at the park:

   
3. I was rejected by my eight year old who said that playing Operation with me is boring. Then he played Operation with his friend who came over so apparently Operation is not what bores him.

Despite rejection, life is truly beautiful.

Not only do I have a loving family–even if I bore SOME members–I have a God who blesses me continually.

Neither a pocketful full of money or a dead debit card is what will bring life to my bones. Fleeing geese won’t break my stride either; It is serving Him in whatever way He asks me to serve where I find my purpose.

Though my listed rejections are meant as a joke, we do have a tendency to allow daily–and trivial–frustrations get in the way of service. So just remember to dust off those irritations and look up.  God is asking you to praise Him in the middle of the chaos and in the trenches of the day because  truly…we are blessed.

Because no matter what, it is a day the Lord has made, so let us rejoice!

Mom Against Mom

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The hardest part of parenting for me has had nothing to do with the kids.
Moms are hard on each other. Seriously brutal.

From breast feeding (I didn’t) to bottle feeding to that solid line drawn between stay at home moms and working moms, parenting is often a battle against the exact people we should be battling with.

Here’s the thing: I have been in many positions. I stayed home full time and then attended college full time, and both are hard.  I now work both in and out of the home as a writer.

Every position I have been in has been both exhausting and rewarding.

However, each are full of questions, fears, and guilt trips. Wars break out and motherhood becomes a battlefield over personal choices and the fight to prove just who has it the hardest.

My question is why are we are always trying to prove we have it so rough?

There are several truths we need to always remember.

1) You have it harder than some but not nearly as hard as others. Within the last two months my community has been rocked by three deaths; one young girl committed suicide, another one overdosed on drugs, and one young boy died in an ATV rollover.

Life is messy and it hurts really bad sometimes without us perpetuating pain through harsh and petty judgement calls.

2) The challenges you face are meant to strengthen you and you are made to overcome them.  Even in the devastating events above, these obstacles are meant to draw us closer to God.

3) Looking into someone else’s life and pegging it as easy is small minded.  You have no idea what lies behind their closed doors.

My solution is to look up and ask God to guide us each through the lives we have been given. They will all look different because God created separate plans for us all. We will struggle and we will grow.

Hopefully the end result will always be we grow closer to God and closer to each other.

Mom gets real

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Sitting down to a late dinner after a good, but exhausting, day and Logan looks at me and cocks his head.

“MOM! You didn’t get me a drink!”

All I wanted to do was tell him to get it himself because I am tired and I just sat down with my own food, but I am a mommy first. I mustered my strength and looked at his sweet face and said:

“Get it yourself!”

Seriously people he’s almost six and he knows how to work the water faucet.