Scary Mommy? Boo!

It’s just not Halloween without this post!
oldwomaninshoeI used to think moms with just sons were pretty scary, until I became one of those moms.
When you’re a mom with 5 sons, no matter how big, those boys gotta think you can still take them down-no matter who’s around.

You gotta be able to call their bluff.

One day, one of my sons walked through the kitchen on his way to his room buck naked after showering in my shower.  At the same time, the oldest one strolled into the kitchen in his boxers.  I’d had it. I was tired of all this male non-challent nakedness. There was a girl in the house after-all, even if she was just “Mom.”

I started un-buttoning my pants.  I said, “Well, if you can do it, I can, too.”  They high-tailed it out of the kitchen. I didn’t see a naked butt for about 6 months. I must have been pretty Scary-Mommy! (BTW, I only started unbuttoning my pants.  That’s all it took)

It gets pretty scary in the house when I do my “Mad Mad Madam Mim” immitation from The Sword and The Stone or the Lady in the Portrait from Harry Potter when she can just break a glass “Just with My Voice.” The threat to do those immitations in front of their friends pretty much makes them toe the line.

Then, I get pretty SCARY MOMMY when I create visual lectures on relationships and stuff, like “You’re a Cake” and “Hubba Bubba” and “Are you Man Enough?”  And then I share them over S’Mores and Pizza when they bring  BFFS over or I get a chance to hang around their “girl” friends at soccer games or church. It’s so scary, they almost like it.

witchcatA truly SCARY MOMMY makes sure Santa stuffs stockings for the older sons with things like Payne’s Common Sense, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America or C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. However, for every Scary Mommy high moment, there is an equal Scary Mommy low moment, like when I reviewed every Def Leppard song with my son who disagreed that every Def Leppard song is about sex.  We were trying to eliminate the sin-with-a-good-beat music choices.  All Scary Mommy had to do was raise an eyebrow.  My son conceded victory, but Scary Mommy was rather red-faced. Def Leppart no longer blared at the house.

I am probably SCARY MOMMY when I lose my temper, my keys, and when I drive (not quite all at the same time).

SCARY MOMMY loves enough to risk pride, respect, and affection in order to be the mom my son’s need me to be. SCARY MOMMY can be meaner, but SCARY MOMMY gives Volcano kisses that slobber all over their cheeks, bear hugs that can lift the biggest one of them all off the ground, and say, “I’m sorry. I really missed it” when I handle mommy-ness wrong.

SCARY MOMMY has a pretty scary sense of humor.  When one son, whom we call “Bear” got in the car after soccer practice all cold and shivering, I asked him,” What’s the saddest sight in the whole wide world?”

“I don’t know. Your cooking?” he answered. I almost forgot my joke.

“A hairless bear shivering with cold,” I answered.  Now readers, you need to visualize that before you can truly appreciate the SCARY MOMMY humor.

momboysbarn.jpgThe boys would really think I was SCARY MOMMY if they knew what I was like without God in my life giving me the strength, the courage, the inspiration, the never-give-up-ness to believe in their innate goodness when it’s on sabitacal, to believe they are walking in God’s plan for their lives when it seems like every plan has been thrown away, to believe they have generous hearts when they are tight-fisted with their brothers, and to love passionately and unconditionally even when they don’t want to love me back.  SCARY MOMMY drops to her knees in prayer when life is scarier than she is!

SCARY MOMMY? Bring it on! Sometimes I just plain scare myself!

See also Socialism or Capitalism: Trick or Treat or Halloween is. . .

Wishing you a day of celebrating family!

I first posted this Halloween 2009, my first Halloween in the blogahood. I guess it has become an annual tradition here at Blue Cotton Memory, where raising my boys to be American Patriots steeped in faith and freedom are part of my mission statement. Trick or Treat – what are you looking for in this election season?

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat

Give me Something Good to Eat

Every topic provides a teachable moment about God and, often, politics. Halloween is no different.

Last year, before the election, I was driving my boys somewhere-we are always going somewhere, and we were talking, discussing the difference between presidential candidates.

I explained how our capitalistic country was born out of the failure of socialism. William Bradford, author of Plymouth Plantation led a group of people to settle in America. Their settlement charter required them to form a socialist society. All results of work would be equally shared among their group. The first year was an utter failure. Healthy young men did not work. Why? Because they knew they would get their equal share of the pie whether they worked or not, as the charter stated. Suffering resulted, and, sadly, the ones who worked hard to provide for those who did not work suffered equally. The colony revised their charter the second year into a capitalistic charter: what you made you kept to sell, barter, trade. The colony flourished. Those lazy young men worked when there was profit/rewards to be had.

“Capitalism allows you to keep what you earn and choose where to spend it; socialism “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”(Marx), meaning that it doesn’t matter how much you work or how good you are, the government will take away your earnings to give to fill other peoples’ needs.”

My sons looked at me blankly. Hmmmmm, apparently, I needed to put this into the U-14 venacular.” Passing houses with pumpkins filling door ways, black cat flags, and other ghoulish festivities, I pulled an idea out of the figurative candy basket of my brain.

I assessed my boys through the rear-view mirror.

“What’s your favorite part about Halloween,” I asked.

“Candy,” chimed the unhesitatant chorus.

“What if the Jones wouldn’t allow their children to go Trick or Treating because they didn’t believe in it? The Thompsons were just too lazy? The Smith’s too sick? What would you do when you got home and Dad said you had to give 2/3 of your candy to those families? How would you feel?”

“Not going to happen!” my then 8th grader answered bluntly.

The two younger ones looked appalled, even disgusted.

I countered my 8th grader, “But he is your Dad, you have to do what he says. Just like the president is the president-you have to do what he says, too. Socialism is like your dad telling you you must share, whether you want to or not. Socialism is when the leader of your country decides how many other people you have to give your hard-earned halloween candy to.”

“Some people don’t believe in trick or treating, some just don’t want to, some people maybe just can’t for real reasons. Despite the reason why others do not have Halloween candy, you cannot call it giving when the government takes it away and chooses who to give your stuff to.”

My 4th grader said, “Well, if they were sick, I’d share.”

“In a Capitalist society, you go out, work hard, and determine what to do with your earnings. The moral choice is yours to make with giving. That is what makes it moral,” I answered. “There’s nobleness and goodness in giving when you make the choice to give-that is capitalism, and that’s why we’re known as the most giving country in the world. There is no moral giving without choice. There is no generosity of spirit without choice.”

Halloween is a sweet-tooth example of the capitalist system thriving in our country. I bet your children share without being told to, or barter the results of their hard work.

Socialism or Capitalism–what’s the real trick or treat?

Young men have an in-born passion to take control of the reins of their destiny. They need to earn their money, balance their own spread-sheet of expenditures, learn to make choices – before they are sent off to college, responsible for a $10,000+ investment. Too many young men fail because of responsibility in-experience

What made boys turn into men like Henry Ford, John D Rockerfeller, Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie and Audie Murphy?

Are child-labor laws that discourage most companies from under-18 hiring partially to blame? Think about it – if young men can’t start working until 18, it makes sense that they won’t leave the nest until 25. If they start working at 14, how many young men would be better equipped to make a fairly graceful leap out of the nest at high school graduation?

Yes, there is something to be said for giving our children what we didnt’ have . I don’t think being unprepared for independence at 18 is one of those things we meant to give.

16-Year-Old Mechanic Apprentice, Henry Ford

I remember the reporting for the Columbine shooting, media personalities referring to high school students as children. They tried the same thing with the Virginia Tech shooting, referring to college students as children, but I guess when there were graduate students and teachers shot, they withdrew “children” from reports.

My college students even referred to themselves as “kids” in their writing, the same kids who probably railed at home for independence and claims of manhood. Because we were studying how to write a detail definition paragraph (dictionary definition, synonyms and personal definition), we discussed this concept of 18, 19 and 20 year olds considering themselves “kids.”

“‘Cause I can’t take care of myself,” the young man reasoned. A lot of heads bobbed up and down in agreement. My inside-my-head conversation replied silently, “Can’t take care of yourself according to the fashion to which you’ve become accustomed, you mean.”

Book-keeper at 16, John D. Rockefeller

“The Children. The Children. We’re doing this all for the children” is the mantra we hear from kindergarten PTOs to even high school personnel. How can one feel like an adult when they are continually being put in the position of a child?

Our oldest son had to save up a year’s worth of rent before he could move out. When he did move out, he did so with confidence. We told him we would help him with food, but only once a semester did we go grocery shopping – for an average of $100. He never had to buy food because he told friends, “You bring it. I’ll cook it.”

John Clem, 12 year old Soldier

One of my sons railed at the world, wanting to be on his own, “I’m an adult. I can take care of myself.” Because we were his money source, we were the ones holding him down, limiting what he could do. He hated asking us for money – or working for us to earn that money.

Then he got a job, after he turned 18 – the magical age of hiring. The pressure in our relationship evaporated. He started managing his money. He discovered discretionary spending.

Years of frustrating, arguments and anger would have been alleviated if the job market had been more “youth” friendly – like it was when I was a young adult.

13-year-old newsboy for Trains, Thomas Edison

Child labor laws prevent farmers from hiring teens. One farmer told me it just was not worth the risk of a government official breathing down his back. I thought a summer of bailing hay would give my son a hunger for an education.

In our community, it is difficult for young men to hired because they are not 18.

Adulthood delayed = stunted growth, delayed maturity.

Young men not working are like runners who do not run. They have no opportunity to learn how to work for someone else, come under the authority of someone not their parent, become adept at discerning and implementing necessary skill sets. No learning how to be diplomatic, to bite their tongue and keep their words behind their teeth. No learning now to organize their life into categories: work, rest and “my” time – because it takes time to learn that living is about giving up “my” time – and balancing, finding “my” in work. If young men do not learn how to take care of themselves before they leave the nest – then how will they be successful? Full of Confidence? Bravado?

“Independence with Training Wheels” is how my son defined our method.

13-year-old, bobbin boy, Andrew Carnegie

It started at age 13. When each son turned 13, they got the talk. This is how it went: “According to Judeo-Christian values, you are a man now. The world wants to call you children, but today you are a man. You are responsible for your soul. That means God knows you are able to tell right from wrong, you are responsible for the condition of your soul, whether you are bound for heaven or hell.”

Then I go further, telling them that over 100 years ago, if their dad died, they would be considered the man of the house, responsible for hunting for food, providing for the family. Davy Crockett knew how to hunt for food at their age. Paul Revere was already apprenticed. One historical account had George Washington, at age 11, helping his mother manage their farm after his father’s death.

Young men have an in-born passion to take control of the reins of their destiny. They need to earn their money, balance their own spread-sheet of expenditures, learn to make choices – before they are sent off to college, responsible for a $10,000+ investment. Too many young men fail because of responsibility in-experience.

Charlie Nolan at St. Clara University said, “”Young women, they mature earlier. They get a better sense for how to negotiate life — particularly academic life, time management. They are very good at that, and it’s reflected in their applications.”

As a mother of sons, I beg to differ. Young women in today’s culture have very different opportunities. They babysit. One matures earlier when given activities that build maturity. As a result, young men would have a “better sense to negotiate life.” Academic need would become real because they would have their own personal experience to make that decision, instead of just being “told” it will. Young men with experience – well, colleges will find it “reflected in their applications.”

5th grade drop out to support family, Audie Murphy, most decorated WWII American Soldier

Sadly, this attitude is reflected in our churches as well.  While young women (12+) volunteer in church child-care, boys and men are shooed away unless accompanied by a woman. Why? Well, silly, don’t you know? Men are more likely to be molesters? One teenage son was distraught when the youth minister told the young women in youth not to trust the young men. How can America, or even our churches, expect our young men to be a great treasure when they are treated like criminals who need to be contained? Restricted? Untrusted?

Parents would have fewer challenges, Schools would have few fights, and Colleges would have few drop-outs if young men were allowed to start being men when they are 12. That means jobs at age 12/13, even if it is dusting shelves. That means expecting the best out of our young men – and in expecting our best, giving them the opportunities to do their best outside of school.

Then maybe “Being a Man” choices would be something more than sex, drugs and alcohol choices. Maybe there would be fewer young men as high-school drop-outs. Maybe the retention rate for men in universities would increase. Maybe, just maybe, our sons would soar more often.


Untitled-1Age 6 – something inside Double Dog Dared me to write a book – and I did. I priced it at 5 cents – but there weren’t any takers. A dream emerged, though, through the writer.  Stories, poems, 7th grade  Shakespearean Sonnets, school newspapers, lay-out, editing.

I was learning to be a writer – and I planned a life of writing. Dream Plans drawn up are limited by experience and knowledge.

In graduate school, two guys sat across from me, trying to persuade me that the creative writing program wasn’t for me. The graduate school adviser echoed their arguments a few days later.

I looked them straight in the eye, and said, “Charles Dickens had lived a lifetime by my age (24). His life experience wrote his books. I have a lot of living still to do.”

I dared to stand up to a dream nobody else believed in.

In my graduate thesis, I quoted Charles Dickens. Somebody had written him a letter asking him to look over their manuscript, to tell them whether they had any creative ability whatsoever.

Dickens replied, “For all I know, the land is yours by right.”

Dreams are often slide-tackled by others who don’t know the plans for God-Dreams planted inside us before we were born.

God-dreams might crumple in a slide-tackle, but they rise back up. They’re unshakable. God-dreams just won’t seem to let you let go. . . .

(The chairman of the department told me after my thesis defense that the dean of the graduate school said it was the best creative thesis she had read)

“We plan the way we want to live, (Proverbs 16: 9a, The Message)

All those years ago, the graduate student could only put that dream emerging into context of what I knew. There’s a huge difference between what I know – and what God knows – about how God-dreams are used.

Only God could make my dream livable, though. I was learning that. It’s been a lifelong lesson.


knittingava“We plan the way we want to live,
    but only God makes us able to live it” (Proverbs 16:9, The Message)

3 children later, I dared to give this dream to God – this very dream that I thought had roots only back to 6 years old. I gave it to Him, willing to not pick it back up. I wanted to show Him I loved Him more than a dream. It was the biggest love offering I had to give.

. . . and He gave it back.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all” (Proverbs 3: 5-7.5)

There wasn’t anything like blogging back in graduate school. Yeah, print Writer’s Markets existed. I wrote for a newspaper – and had a blast doing it. In college, I never dreamed of being a mom to 5 sons, or falling in love with children’s books.

Sitting around my grandmother’s dining room table, my first-born sitting in the high chair beside his great-grandmother – probably one of the last feasts she hosted – she leaned toward my son, 80-year-old green eyes sparkling, she recited to him “Wynken, Blinken and Nod one night sailed off in a wooden shoe, off into a sea of crystal light into a sea of dew. . . .” – and I fell in love with children’s books right there, all grown up, watching the interaction of the two in the lyrics of a book recited from memory.

She must have read that book over and over and over to my mom, my aunts and uncle. . . .

Over the next 27 years, I fell in love with children’s books, like Margaret Wise Brown’s Wait Till the Moon is Full, or Joan Walsh Anglund‘s The Brave Little Cowboy, Ben Schecter’s When Will the Snow Trees Grow – and so many, many more.

CrocmomDuring those years, I wrote a drawer-full of stories. Then I started blogging – encouraging posts and a few stories.

In November, two of my stories are being launched, Bicycling with Ava and A Crocodile Under the Bed. Four more follow next year with 3 planned for the year after. Linda Farrington Wilson illustrated them – and that has been a God-gift for this God-dream.

My dream has a dust jacket . . . just. . . .wow. . . thank you, God!

Dare to dream, friends! Dare to God-dream! There’s no telling where God will take you and what that dream will do!

(Stop by Kate’s five-minute Friday – and bring your five minutes of brave to write on the word. . . . Dare. . . . )

Crocodile Under the Bed INTERIOR.indd

Chronicles of Grace: Unforced Rhythmes Messy Marriage  photo 65f0f5f9-b796-4cfb-977e-fe63b69f9e6d.jpg ”What Equipping Godly Womencountingmyblessings



My Annual Ghost story, part of it passed down from Cousin Nancy, mixed with a story from my newspaper days. Pull your chair up to the fire, set your hot apple cider on the table, wrap the quilt around your shoulders. You wouldn’t want an unthinking draft to create a chill:

“One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place”
~ Emily Dickenson

The October day blustered its way to a stormy evening.  It was hard to tell what element bullied more – the wind or the rain spitting at anything in its way.  Baschum Sluckert slid down the wet oak tree, answering the coded call of Snuff Sparks.

Soggy leaves muffled their footsteps as they maneuvered through blackness down Boonesborough Road to the dilapidated manor house – their courage looking less promising with each wet step.

What could cause two 12-year-old boys to wander about on not just a forsaken, chilled night but All Souls’ night? A time it was whispered that all restless souls of evil character roamed free by the devil’s own decree until the saints sent them packing back to the netherworld the following sunrise?

Only a dare, of course.

Adley Bancroft, with his overly large head and punishing fists, had taunted them in nursery rhyme sneer that they weren’t men – they were just girls in boy pants needing their mamas to kiss their booboos and hold their hands.

Baschum and Snuff mustered up enough courage to be baited – and here they were. On their way to the abandoned Clay mansion up the road.  Back in their grandpa’s day, it had been a real showplace housing Cassius Clay, the notorious Lion of White Hall. Why, he had wrestled in political arenas from Russia to Kentucky.  He’d even wrestled the women folk in his home who wanted the right to vote.  So word said, he’d kicked them out, like an annoying cat.

Cassius Marcellus Clay

Adley’s ma and pa used the house now to strip tobacco in November and store hay through the winter.  Adley’s ma had found a statue, stuffed in a piano topped with salt licks for storage. The statue was a bust of old Cassius himself – and that’s what Adley had taunted them into taking. Not just taking it, though.  That would be too easy.  They had to stay until sunrise.

Not a soul would be there.  Adley promised.  At least, not a living one, he had snickered.

Snuff, breaking the quiet as they walked up the lane to the house, adjusted his back sack carrying a blanket and some marshmallows.  He asked “D’you believe in ghosts, Baschum?”

“’Course not,” Baschum answered, his courage insulted.  Sluckerts don’t get scared – he’d been taught that all this life.  At least, not the smart ones. “Besides, no ghost’s gonna bother me, even if’n that old Cassius himself steps out on that porch packin’ a rifle.  No misty piece of air’s gonna best me.”

“Adley said he locked his 14-year-old wife into his tie room, so she wouldn’t run away,” Snuff said.

“Don’t listen to nothing Adley says, Snuff.  Hes just tryin’ to get your dander in an uproar.”

“Adley said she jumped out of the window and some man on a horse carried her away.  Otherwise, she would’ve starved in that room.”

“She wouldn’t have, Snuff,” Baschum said, sticking his sweaty palms deeper into the pockets of his overalls, trying to stare down the white full moon.  The moon had an unfair advantage; it never blinked.  Sighing, he gave up, turning to see Snuff pointing frantically to the house.

“What’s th-that?” Snuff’s whispered.

A light blazed in an oval window, then vanished.

“That’s the room he kept her in Baschum. Adley said so,” Snuff reasoned.

“Now don’t let Adley go putting that fear in your head.  He don’t know beans with his head in the bag.  It was probably just him tryin’ to scare us,” Baschum calmly assured Snuff, albeit in a voice an octave higher.

Tugging Snuff’s arm, they moved up the brick sidewalk to the porch.  Rattling the door knob, the door opened easily. Earlier that day, they had gathered kindling for a fire in the hearth and cased the house to dispel any unwonted fears.

‘Anybody home?” Baschum called warily.  Black silence answered.  “C’mon, Snuff.”

‘Two hours later they were wrapped in blankets, roasting marshmallows in the front parlor.

“See.  There’s nothin’ to be frightened of Snuff.  Nothin’ here but us chickens,” Baschum laughed, his giggles rolling to echo beyond the parlor.

Suddenly, Baschum stopped laughing.

Chills shimmied up Baschum’s spine as the door beyond them creaked like leather.  His heart juggled up his throat.  Something rubbed against his back.

“Meow,” a cat trilled, stopping to sit by Snuff.

In disgust, Baschum spit into the fire.  Snuff spit.  The cat spit, too.

The cat looked at Snuff.  Snuff looked at Baschum, and Baschum looked at the cat.

“I don’t like this none,” Snuff whispered, his blue eyes wide as a meat dish.

“It’s just a cat,” Baschum said, bravado filling his voice.

“A black cat,” Snuff reminded in a hoarse whisper.

Baschum boldly picked up the cat, walked to the front door by the stairs, and threw the cat out.

Shutting the door, he turned around to the sound of furniture scraping across the upstairs floor and what-knots falling.

“It’s just Adley?” Snuff asked, hopefully.

Baschum didn’t say anything, just sat back down, pulling his blanket tight about.  The only thing upstairs that afternoon had been hay.

When nothing else happened, both boys stretched out, falling into a chilly doze.  Quiet – a heavy quiet resounded within.  The fire crackled comfortingly.

Snuff sleepily opened his eyes – to look directly into a pair of yellow-green eyes.  Hypnotic yellow-green eyes.

Frantic blue eyes turned to Baschum.  “I thought you put him out,” Snuff asked, nervousness edging his voice.  The cat just sat there, across from him, staring.

“I did.”

Baschum looked at the cat.  The cat looked at Snuff, and Snuff looked at Baschum.

The cat turned to the fire – and spit into the burning embers, causing it to hiss.

Baschum grabbed the cat, stomped to the door, opened it and tossed the cat into the spitting, blustery wind of the night.


A door slammed within the bowels of the house.  Snuff lurched for the poker by the hearth as Baschum turned to look up the stairs.

Violin music wafted softly from the darkness above.

“C’mon Snuff.  We’re gonna give Adley the what for.”

whitehall300b_edited-1Moving quietly, they climbed the stairs.  At the landing, they listened at each door, trying to catch Adley. A pounding, thump, thump, thumping drew them to a room they had noticed early that afternoon.  A room trimmed in blue.

“One, two, three,” Baschum whispered before both boys slammed open the door.  No Adley. Just emptiness and a violin without strings.

“He must’ left somehow,” Baschum reasoned, not quite believing it himself.

Shoulder to shoulder in fright they walked back downstairs, practically holding their breath.

“Let’s just get that bust and leave,” Snuff offered. “I’ve had enough of this place.”

Sniffing, Baschum agreed. “It’s in what used to be the dining room.  At least that’s what Adley said.”

Walking carefully, quietly, they moved through the house until they came to a room used for stripping tobacco.

In a corner was a chipped, dusty bust of Cassius Clay.

Picking it up, they headed back to the parlor.

Looking into the room, they saw a little boy peering vacantly into the fire.  They blinked. And he was gone.

“I don’t like this Baschum.  I say let’s get out of here,” Snuff said shakily.

 Rolling up their blankets, they started to leave when out of the corner of their eye, they watched a black cat move to sit in front of the fire. “Mmmmerrrrrrr,” the cat growled looking at them, seeming to tell them to get out. Then the cat turned, spitting into the fire.

Screaming, Baschum and Snuff took off running, Snuff carrying the bust.

As they ran down the driveway, they saw a light flicker in the tie closet window above.  Horse’s hooves clopped, gaining speed as it neared.

Snuff dropped the bust.  A piercing keening sound echoed behind them as the head severed from the base, rolling to land by the gates.

Reaching, searching in pitch black night, Baschum grabbed what he could and ran. By Jove, he was not going to let Adley and the others think he had failed.  The base was better than nothing, and he just did not have the time nor the courage left for both.

whitehall1014Baschum and Snuff? They never returned. Not even years later when the great mansion was renovated, and its polished doors opened to tourists.

There is a bust of Cassius clay, the notorious Lion of White Hall, having been knocked off its base and reset.

Ghosts?  Even today it is whispered that footsteps can be heard on the staircase, doors mysteriously slam and a light appears in the tie closet of Cassius Clay.

A great ambassador who fought for the emancipation of slaves, he was also the father of Laura Clay who fought for women’s rights alongside Susan B. Anthony.  She was the first woman ever to be nominated by a political party (1920 Democratic National Convention) for president of the United States.

I collected information on White Hall State Shrine in 1984 for a Haunted House Series written for The Richmond Daily Register.  The Lion of White Hall was written shortly after.

The black cats were handed down from “Cousin Nancy,” my grandmother’s paternal aunt, Nancy Wills Chenault.  When Cousin Nancy came to visit (the last time was when I was 6 years old), everybody waited with great anticipation for her storytelling.  They would turn off the lights, light a fire in the big fireplace – and settle in.  I only remember 3 black cats spitting in the fire.  3 black cats without a story – is just a story waiting to be told.  I hope Cousin Nancy would like the home I found for them. 

Ghosty stories are great fun – at least the old-fashioned kind where it’s all really just a matter of mind over matter – or maybe faith over mind over matter. Often, what instills our fear is trumped-up worry, where things on the outside become stronger than things on the inside. Poor Baschum and Snuff – they were sneaking around, going places they shouldn’t – and the vapors of that behavior created a ghosty story – out of thin air.

Growing up in an over 200 year old house, I finally decided that God wouldn’t allow a ghost to scare me to death – and so everytime I climbed upstairs at night, in the seemingly ancient dark, He walked with me, my shield, my fortress and my deliverer – in the tangible and in the mind over matter.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Dueteronomy 31:6)

Of course, it helps if you’re not sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night trying to steal the bust of the Lion of White Hall in an abandoned house.



I admit it. I read book endings first. If I don’t, then I rush through the story, details, the words. When I know the ending, I slow down, savor the details – wait with grace for the story to unfold. . . . because I am assured the ending.

“Don’t pray for God to give you patience,” people say.

I say bring it on.

Patience is the living between right now and Christmas morning,

. . .or between right now and the first slow sip of a chocolate soda, just a hand-reach away or a block away.

It’s everything in-between praying that God’s angels encamp about us during the day, letting others know about the love of Jesus with our words and actions, all the details in the daily, and everyone’s shoes kicked off by the back door, feet standing around the counter, waiting for dinner.

Patience is what I fill my mind with from the beginning of a three mile walk to its end, how I chose to live in every waiting moment – every until

. . . like chosing to wait for that first kiss, the wait from the asking, “Will you marry me,” to the ,”I do”, to the delivery of every child, or the long wait to see a child or loved one on the other side of heaven, to the timer buzzing the chocolate chip muffins are ready, to even a child-growing’s salvation, or for a fever to break .

It’s how we live grace, faith and hope in the journey of a prayer sent to Shaddai; Patience is the wait for a prayer’s fulfillment. How we live that wait changes everything. . .

Patience is not just waiting with grace, but living faith in that wait with grace, thinking, speaking, battling the doubt in our minds to live hope like we believe it.

Patience how we live in the time it takes for God to redeem the big and little happenings in the daily of our lives.

Patience is head-time thinking in in-between moments like walking out the door to walk Sadie, our golden retriever, through the water puddles and wet chill to when we burst through the back door.

Patience is how-to live all the in-between times, the big and little, tough and easy, and the seemingly empty moments that need filling.

“Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change” (2 Peter 3:9)


Chronicles of Grace: Unforced Rhythmes    Missional Women Equipping Godly Womencountingmyblessings


“Stop. . . Mom. . . we’re not 5 anymore,” said a boy growing up.

Can one really be too old to be excited about a cloud falling from the sky and splatting itself all over your home on a mountain?

I guess 16 is a stuffy age where falling clouds spilling everywhere are replaced with more grown up words like fog.

There’s something about raising children that wrings the stuffiness out of you – and fills it with an appreciation for

. . . .for pulling good things out of the daily like the the relief felt in a thorn pulled from the tender pad of a foot and the more-than-whimsy of things like mists and fogs.

Stuffiness can’t find God in the in the coolness of a milk-box morning, an imperfect parenting moment, a turtle dove calling on a roof ridge, a holy spirit message in a summer storm, the broken rebel’s anger, the steeping of tea leaves, salting chicken soup, the prodigal’s imperfect walk homeward, the routine of dinner dishes – the every day ordinary where an extraordinary God meets us.

He doesn’t just meet us in the parting-of-a-dead-sea-moment or a lame-man-walking moment but in the everyday comfortable and uncomfortable moments of an ordinary man’s ordinary day.

In the ordinary of our day, God spills his grace over us in our imperfect living – like a cloud falling from the sky, spilling over my little mountain.

Driving up the hill homeward into the mist always makes me feel like I’m entering a shield of protection (not when I’m on the interstate, only when I’m homeward bound).

That cloud fallen down reminds me of God’s protection – how He paid the price to offer me that protection.

“I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free” (Isaiah 44:22).

In a world where up seems down and right is viewed wrong, I need a place of refuge. He’s created a safe haven, a sanctuary where I can go – and in the midst of all this non-stop pouring rain in saturated Tennessee red clay, I needed that reminder that when I am in Him, I am there.

“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by” (Psalm 57:1)

What a gracious God we have, a real-knight-in-shining armor – who has the power to bestow sanctuary right where we are when we are with Him, who desires to conceal us from the things we were not created for.

“He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; And He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver” (Isaiah 49:2).

“A weapon even keener than a sword, smoothed and polished, so as to make it pierce the deeper, and kept hid in God’s quiver until the time came when it could be launched with most effect against the hearts of ungodly men” (Pulpit Commentary).

There’s much more to the ordinary things in the daily and things like clouds falling from the sky to spill over a mountain home – so much more!

Messy Marriage


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