Some secrets are meant to be kept (Flashback Friday)

From January 21st, 2005

Sami and me about the time I wrote this story

Sami and I have a secret, sacred mother-daughter code. Anytime that we share
something with each other that we don’t want anyone else to know, we put up
our pinky fingers, lock them, do a little circular handshake and intone
“Mother-daughter sphere—promise?” This is to keep Sami from spilling out my
most embarrassing moments (which I spill out perfectly well on my own), and
it keeps Sami’s adventures from winding up in a magazine, book or blog (at least without her permission).

Sometimes, on rare occasions, I forget to use the code, thinking that some
things will just be assumed as private, personal information.

Not very smart.

So we went to Austin this last weekend. Brian, the man I’ve fallen in love
with, came along to sit under the spotlight and be interrogated by some more
family members. He did well. He played basketball with the boys, talked with
my niece and pulled out all the paperwork on his financial, medical and criminal history for my brother and his wife to peruse.

And still, I thought, he loves me.

The dating days 🙂

So back to the sphere. One evening we went bowling with the family. I took my turn, bowled the perfect strike and turned to see Sami talking to Brian. He was grinning. I was suddenly nervous.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Sami took her turn and Brian was still smiling.

“Talk to me, Brian.”

“Sami just informed me that I need to marry you in two months.”

I gulped. “She did?”

“She just wanted me to know that you would say yes if I asked you.”

I remembered the conversation. “Mom, would you say yes if Brian asked you to
marry him?”

“Yes.”

That was it. No pinkies in circular motion. No mother-daughter secret,
sacred code. What was I thinking? I tried to redeem the moment by putting on
my most mysterious and alluring look. I tried to bat my lashes. I went for the
I-will-say-yes-but-I-want-to-maintain-the-element-of-surprise attitude that
I once had going for me. I fluttered my lashes again.

Brian peered at me closely and asked if there was something in my eye.

I shook my head and smiled in my full-on embarrassed dimpled goofiness.

And still, I thought to myself, he loves me.

One Mom’s Fight Against Tuckuses and Ticks (Flashback Friday)

From March, 2006 (Sam was 14 – at 19, she now makes much better musical decisions!) :

Sam loves music. If she could, her headphones would be surgically implanted for her constant listening pleasure.

Unfortunately some of the music Sam enjoys falls way short of my this-is-so-not-good-for-you parental antennae. We’ll be in the car, flipping through stations and a popular song will come on. Sam will sing away as someone discusses someone else’s tuckus and his or her appreciation thereof. I’ll quickly turn the station to something I used to consider harmless, like country, only to discover lyrics about a naughty country boy checking his country girl for ticks. And it seems no matter where I turn, Sam knows the words.

She’s hearing it somewhere.

So I worry. And I find myself wanting to protect Sam from all the stuff that’s out there. When I really think about it (TV, music, movies, Internet), I’m tempted to lock her in her room, tutor her myself and only let her listen to K-Love and the Sound of Music soundtrack over and over and over (Although that Julie Andrews was a bit of a wild woman herself).

But then Sam went on a mission trip over Spring Break. She went to Gulfport, Mississippi and helped out some folks who didn’t have anything. She actually tore down a home . . . and loved every minute of it. She came back in tears, saying she hadn’t wanted to leave. Her heart was tender towards those she served and her heart was tender towards God. She lay in her bed that evening and asked God to help her stand firm spiritually. She wanted to be a light for him.

It brought tears to my eyes when she told me about it.

The next day, she didn’t even ask to flip through other stations when Brian drove her to school. She wanted to do life differently.

Of course, by the end of the week, I caught her singing about those darn ticks again . . . but those few days taught me something.

We can have rules and guidelines and boundaries in our home (and we do), but the thing that changes Sam’s heart, the thing that changes mine . . . is encountering God in real life situations. It’s all about falling in love with him and wanting to do life differently because of the love we’ve experienced. If life is all about the things we can’t do, it’s overwhelming. Because there’s SO MUCH we should avoid. But if life is about our time with
God – and the adventure, joy, life and hope we find as we love him and reach out to others… well, then, those silly songs, lousy movies and tempting distractions will lose their appeal.

Because He is so much more beautiful.

She paved the way

Here I sit, in Okinawa, Japan, and the truth is I should hate being here. Years ago my mom was imprisoned by the Japanese. From 6 to 10 years old, she was held captive on the island of Indonesia. She suffered deeply through those horrific years and then into adulthood as she relived the trauma through flashbacks and nightmares.

PTSD. Depression. Pain.

My mom could have gone bitter. I could have easily grown up in a home where the Japanese were demeaned and dishonored. I could have been hardened as my mom fought through difficult days and sleepless nights. So much so that the mere thought of going to Japan would only bring harsh feelings and deep resentment.

But it didn’t happen like that.

As a young mom, my mother fought for her healing. She pursued her God. She sought out counsel. She did the hard work of forgiving… and she didn’t give up when she faced a setback or two.

As a result I am here in Okinawa with great joy in my heart. I’ve had the chance to serve at the military base, but also to go out into the community and visit shops and restaurants. The Japanese are polite, gracious and honoring. I ache for their deep losses in the recent tragedies and this weekend joined others to petition God for their needs. I am drawn to these lovely people and only wish I could do more in this painful season.

I wouldn’t feel any of these things if my mom hadn’t paved the way to the cross – refusing to give in to her past wounds and the potential bitterness that lived there.

I’m so proud of her.

Me and Mom. She’s lovely, isn’t she?

Way to go, Mom. In your darkest moments, you probably didn’t realize the long-range impact of your choice to heal through forgiveness and grace – thanks for holding tight to our God and never, ever giving up.

I love you.

Camouflage Mama and True Beauty (flasback Friday)

October 15, 2006

Camouflage Mama

It happens every afternoon around 4:37 p.m. I don my camouflage pants and head out the door. Sam’s bus arrives at the bottom of the hill at 4:39. She’s in high school now. Cool. Happening. She wears lip-gloss and just a touch of foundation to take off the shine.

She even has an I-pod she received on her birthday after three years of
complaining about the bulkiness of her old-fashioned CD player. “I mean
really, Mom. All the kids make fun of me. It’s so bulky and HUGE!”

Yeah. OK. I couldn’t even LIFT the record player I listened to in the 6th
grade.

So I start walking – slowly. It’s all in the timing. If I get too close and
the kids on the bus see me, all will be lost. I hear the familiar sound.
There it is. I spot the yellow through the leaves, and see a window on the
bus. A set of teenage eyes meets mine. They widen. I’ve been spotted! Drat!
I quickly duck and pretend to pet a caterpillar.

I asked Sam once, “So what if your friends see me? They won’t know I’m
coming to meet you, they’ll just think I’m some lady out walking her dogs.”

“Every day Mom? At the same time? And a woman who looks EXACTLY like me?
Mom.” Slight eye roll. “They’ll know it’s you.”

Right. And that’s . . . horribly, mortifyingly not good, right?

Right.

The bus starts moving away. I see a bobbing brunette head coming up my way. I
wave. She waves. We grin. On this day she loops her arm in mine as she draws
close. She doesn’t even realize she’s doing it. She right away starts in on her day.

I smile a little grin of victory. Undercover. Top secret. Camouflage love.

Mission accomplished.

October 16, 2006

Swan

She was tiny, frail, beautiful. I met Swan at a woman’s conference. Wrinkles lined her lovely face. She dressed stylish with a touch of sassy. Swan spoke in a quiet voice, and her hands trembled slightly as they rested on her lap. She was the picture of gentle beauty.

Then Swan prayed.

With a voice full of passion and strength, she prayed over the conference.
With power she prayed for each woman present. She seemed to grow in stature
with each word spoken to our God.

I have a picture of what Swan will look like in heaven. I’m sure it’s a pale
vision of what will truly be, but even with my limited imagination, my
picture takes my breath away. She is adorned in vibrant colors. She is
brilliant and strong with energy spilling from every pore. Her Lord takes her
dancing and without a single ache or pain, she graces the heavens with her
lovely form. Her eyes are full of light and her smile is warm and
captivating. She is all that she is now – only with a touch of heaven thrown
in.

I want to be like Swan. As my body weakens, I pray my spirit strengthens. As
my heart grows weaker, I pray my love grows stronger. With each passing day,
may I be more like Jesus, until my final breath takes me home to him.