Fate: A Love Story about God’s Mighty Plan

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I have always believed in fate.

I haven’t just believed in it but I have marveled at its power.

God’s plan in action—fate, destiny—we dip our toes into footsteps we were already meant to walk in. That hair raising thing that happens when you look back and see life’s turns that, if missed, would have altered life as you know it.

For me, that was my first job.

Honestly, I didn’t want a job. I was kind of a nerd or geek–whichever one of those don’t make good grades–and generally I was just awkward.

You know, all the qualities I still possess but have learned to hone into the asset they are today (right?!).

Anyway.

My mom and dad made me get a job so I could pay for stuff like car insurance and learn to be a decent hardworking individual.

I was almost at the end of my first shift as a waitress when I had to ask for more sugar to refill the coffee bar.

My response came from eyes as deep as the sea with laughter splashing around on the surface, beside him three waitresses swooned (that’s still a word–right?)

“Gotta be louder than that if you want anything around here,” he said, tipping his head back toward the chaos of a busy kitchen and accompanied by a chorus of giggles.

I was always jealous of girls that could talk to boys. My flirting skills included running into poles when smiling, accidental drooling when attempting to speak, and sudden twitches while making eyes–or whatever that is called.

This was different, though, because it was my job to talk to him.

Night after night I asked for things from the kitchen, and it led to conversation.  He listened to me–he thought I was funny, and he enjoyed watching me stumble with words and nerves–he saw I was genuine.

He put together all my pieces I worked so hard to hide from everyone else.

And he kept me like a treasure–as his best friend.

See here is what I didn’t know all of those years–Shawn needed someone to trust.  Life had left him cynical about love and marriage, and his life motto was “I am never getting married.”

Through six years of friendship, God showed him he could trust me with his heart.  One day he took me to the movies (something we did often anyway) but this time he took my hand.

Everything changed.

All those giggling girls had faded away, and standing there was just me: the girl he loved. I was just as awkward as ever, but he loves that about me.

He has helped me to love that too.

Fate: God’s ultimate plan.

As I now sit in our kitchen with our two little boys buzzing at my feet, I remember all the days that led here.

Long before I met Shawn, my Dad worked in a neighboring town about double the size of ours and we wanted to move there.

But it just never worked.

After one real estate contract fell through, and other trip-ups along the way, my parents came to realize it just wasn’t meant to be.

I was so upset; I hated school and I had only three friends–counting my mom.  I just thought moving away would fix everything.

I couldn’t see the whole picture like God could.

Moving to a bigger town meant I would never have put in my application, and God knew that.

Wrapped in that piece of paper bearing my name and no previous work experience, was everything that has come into being today–my sweet family.

Today might be ordinary, but hidden in our steps is a master plan leading us exactly where God wants us to be.

And not just me–my kids too.

My footsteps align their fate as we make future impacting decisions, and star-crossed in our movements are those that will help pave family generations to come.

God’s plan: fate, destiny–whatever you want to call it.

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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.

Oreo covered faces: Fulfillment on Earth

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That moment when a hollow aching from deep within rises up and searches for more.

More what? I can’t help but wonder.

More is a word that generates many images.

More stuff: fancy cars; bigger homes; trendiest fashions; and latest technology.

More fun: vacations; day trips; dinners out; living the life…

More money: to fund everything listed above.

More fulfillment.

Is there such a thing being more fulfilled?

The definition of fulfillment: satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character.

This is the more that I have been searching for; at the same time, though, this is the more that I will never achieve.  I don’t think total fulfillment will ever be reached until we stand in the presence of God.

Certainly we can, and should, develop our character and seek knowledge here because our calling to Christ is to back up our faith with these things:

Knowledge, virtue, self-control, brotherly affection and love. (2 Peter 1:5-9)

All of those things revolve around character development, but what we must realize is total satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment will never be achieved while we are still fighting our sinful natures.

Until the day we stand before Christ, we will never fully know who we really are.  When we look into the face of our Creator is when we finally understand that who we are is nothing more than HIS.

Which in reality is a whole lot.

We belong to Him and what this means is that an eternity of true contentment—fulfillment—awaits. It is there that our questions will finally be answered.

Still, there must surely be depth here in this place where I have temporarily made my home.

That through the dishwater my hands sink into, I can pull out joy and understand that this is my earthly calling and that in reality I do not need more.

So instead of total fulfillment here, what I am looking to is purpose.

To find purpose in the small duties I so often dread is the closest I will ever come to true fulfillment because they are the same ones that make life better for the ones I love.

My boys.

I have been given what will seem like only a moment in time with these two.

To teach them. To mold them. To give them the tools to serve God.

The willingness to put my own desires underneath their needs.

In this, perhaps the closest we can come to earthly fulfillment is through sacrifice.

I believe that is the example that Christ set for us. He purpose on Earth was sacrifice for His children.

I truly believe that during my time in the world I will never come closer to the face of God than I am right now—as I look into their beaming Oreo covered faces.

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Wait…OREOS?! From my under the bed stash.

Some sacrifices are easier to make than others.

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.

Find Humor in Struggles

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I am not a liar.

I definitely am an embellisher, though.

I color the truth with funny, really it’s usually already there and I just pull it out and shine it up.

Exaggeration might be the best word for it.

It’s the difference between this:

462 times in a row

And this…

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I didn’t actually count how many Reese’s I ate except that I ate the entire bag. It was in little spurts too. I quit eating them about six different times and then I would return to the kitchen for something (and sometimes that something would be Reese’s) and then spend the next five minutes eating just one over and over again.

Probably not 462 of them, though. That’s just the number I put there.

On the contrary, Redbox actually did reject me–flat out said I couldn’t have my movie.

This may or may not have been related to the 46 cent balance attached to my card at the time, but do you really need to know EVERYTHING?

To me, those are life’s little adventures, and if you can’t see the humor–or even the lesson–happiness will never result, but it doesn’t mean I also don’t see the seriousness of it too.

I was thinking that sometimes I might need to elaborate a little on that.

Maybe I should have put this:

Ate 462 Reese’s…Felt like puking all night long…my self-esteem is dwindling…my eating is totally out of control.

Redbox rejected me…I have 46 cents in my checking account…the US Cellular people called and threatened to turn off my phone…just have to hold off two days until we get paid.

Well, there’s the honesty behind those posts, and they aren’t all that funny. I think they are relatable though, because more people than we know suffer from the same things we all so often hide behind.

My humor is sometimes a glass door to the troubles in my heart, but my intention is for my readers to see behind that and know they aren’t alone in their struggles or mishaps.

Even if we battle different opponents we are all trudging through some kind of battlefield.

Some fight to lose weight while others fight to gain it.

Some fight for control while others fight to the need to control.

Some fight shyness while others fight the desire for the spotlight.

Yes I had 46 cents in my checking account that day, but some people had 46 million in theirs and had just as much to complain about, or something even worse.

Self pity can drown out your blessings if you let them, but I honestly do believe that our weakness is what strengthens us in Christ. For me, humor is meant to bridge the gap between struggle and appreciation, and in it I draw closer to God.

It is also meant to connect with you.

You might not want to eat 462 Reese’s but you can identify with my weakness because we are all weak, and maybe if I show you mine then you can start to face your own.

God reaches out to others through the struggles we are willing to share, and there are different ways to share them.

Humor isn’t always appropriate, and a social media broadcast isn’t either; sometimes it is just the person right beside you who needs to hear your story.

And sometimes you need them hear it.

As for me, I will continue to share life through silliness whenever I can but I will TRY not to exaggerate quite so much.

For now though, I gotta go, a rogue sock from the laundry pile just tried to eat the kids again.

Old habits die hard.

The Pants Incident

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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.