That One Time We Sold EVERYTHING

“I think we should just get rid of it all.”

He looked at me and said, “I was thinking the same thing but was afraid to tell you.”

We were moving back to Texas, and had a house full of “stuff”. A 2800 square foot house full of “stuff”. Toys, clothes, shoes, things to dust. Boxes and boxes of stuff.

And we hauled it all into our front yard, posted the signs and sold it. Well actually, we gave most of it away…and the rest, we might as well have.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not just because it was me, but because I had to stand along side my kids while they learned the difficult lesson of materialism.

We loved our stuff. We attached ourselves to our stuff. Those are “my” dishes I bought in Mexico. Those are “my” legos. That’s “my” bag. Mine. Mine. Mine.

We kept a few things. I had a few pieces of furniture that have been in the family. I kept our memories, and school stuff from the kids. Those are still piled in my best friend’s garage in Florida. ( and I can’t wait to go back and dig through my boxes and get rid of more).

We came to Texas, all five of us, with just some clothes and shoes(and deodorant).

We call it “being in transition” but really we were technically homeless. So we shacked up with my bro and his fam for a few months until we could figure things out. Michael was waiting for his job transfer to come through from Florida to Texas, and I was figuring out how to organize the four of us in a few rooms, while feeling guilty for kicking my nephews out of their rooms.

We finally moved into our own space with still nothing but our clothes. We didn’t have a huge hunk of cash, so we financed mattresses, a fridge and a couch and dining room table (which we are still paying on a year later…smack me in the face).

My room has a bed. Yes just a mattress on metal slates. I have a broken tower fan in the corner by my side of the bed, just for the noise–it doesn’t stand on it’s own, it just leans in the corner.

We have the minimal of everything. And have now for a year.

And it’s absolutely freeing and amazing, and I love it!

Well, sometimes….

Sometimes I get caught up in the materialism of the city I live in, because believe it or not San Antonio, Texas is a town that likes stuff, likes to buy stuff, and wear new stuff, and spend a lot of money on stuff.

But most of the time I stay pretty grounded, because none of the “stuff” matters.

That one time we sold all of our stuff changed me forever. Not just on what I should own, or what I buy for my kids. No just about living minimally (Because ladies if you have to clean all the time, you need to get rid of it!) But about so many other things in the world.

I find myself sometimes sickened by the materialism in America. Not just because other countries are in poverty or need. Not because I’m on some high-horse, filled with pride about being able to simplify.

The reason I get sickened is this — people don’t even see what materialism, and wanting stuff, and taking things for granted is doing to them. People don’t see how it completely blocks a flow of the Holy Spirit into their lives. People fight for the wrong things, and work for stuff that doesn’t matter. People ROB THEMSELVES of joy and peace and love because of their Americanized perspectives.

I know, I know. Not you.

It’s just me.

This has been my soapbox lately. This idea of wastefulness and taking things for granted. This soapbox standings is probably why I got in a few heated discussions over the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS awareness and fundraising.

Maybe it will pass, this feeling of being disgusted by our world’s selfishness and willingness to just accept things as they are.

But I hope it doesn’t.

HOW I BECAME A CRIMINAL

It’s true. All of it, I confess. I went before the judge made my plea:

Judge: Do you understand the charges against you?

Me: Yes, ma’am

Judge: What do you plead?

Me: No Contest

Charges against me?! I now, officially, have a criminal record.

All the illegal stuff I did in my youth. The drinking and driving. The fake ID’s the drugs, the stealing….and NOW, as a mother of five….NOW, as I wife….NOW, as a someone who loves me some Jesus…NOW I am an official criminal.

And it’s not even a cool story. Everyone is expecting a cool story from me. But I got nothing for you…

It’s just as simple as this:

When Cody was sick, I sent in parent notes instead of doctor’s notes.

So because the school didn’t have their preferred excuse, me and my fourteen year old son had charges brought against us. And we had a court appointed time in the Municipal building with a judge. And we wasted a whole lotta tax payer’s dollars. To be told:

You are on probation until October 27th. Cody don’t have any unexcused absences, and Mom, make sure you monitor his attendance.

Yup. That happened… giving me a criminal record

I get there are kids who don’t go to school but these Texans take this truancy thing super seriously.

As I watched these other moms, I wondered how difficult it was for them to be there. How many of them had to take off work? How many of them have cried over their wayward child? How many have dreaded that phone call from the school saying their child wasn’t at there, and every tear was a different worry about something being horribly wrong?

My BIGGEST fear going into this whole court ordeal was that I didn’t want anyone to think I was a bad mom. I wasn’t afraid of jail, after all I’ve seen ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. But people thinking I’m a bad mom would be worse than death. ┬áIn fact, the whole BIKINI DISCUSSION really boils down to this–moms wanting to make the right decision. We want to all say it’s for the sole benefit of our child, but, really, is it? I think as moms we want to impress other moms. We want to make the more noble decision. We want our kids to come out of their messed up childhood with flying colors. And if they don’t, then maybe we didn’t give them enough attention. Maybe we let them wear a bikini…maybe we turned in the wrong kind of note.

At one time, maybe those moms felt the insecurity of being sub-par. But as I looked around the courtroom, most of them were courtroom veterans. One mom told the prosecutor she just didn’t know what to do anymore, and she has a younger daughter who hated school, and life, just like the older one who was ready to drop out and get her GED. One mom hired an attorney. The other moms could care less about their criminal record, they just needed someone to help them figure out how to help their children.

How petty of us to be concerned about what other people think of our mothering?! In mothering we extend each other the least amount of grace. Even when we are sympathetic to that mom who has a struggling, rebellious child, we have those secret questions wondering to ourselves,… never out loud….where that mom went wrong.

If a child is doing well, we assume he has a great mom. If a child is failing, then it’s for sure the moms fault.

This entire situation taught me a few things:

  • I didn’t choose the thug life, the thug life chose me .
  • We judge ourselves so harshly, and sometimes even hope to come across another mom that is worse at parenting than us, just to make us feel better.
  • Moms of truly hurting kids don’t give a crap about how you parent. They are way too absorbed in their own troubles to care about your failures.
  • We are all humans in need of grace and mercy.
  • Truancy judges are bound to be bored out of their minds.

How do you handle your parenting failures? Do you give yourself grace or feel like you’ve messed up your child forever? What have been your eye opening experiences?

I really want to know…. Comment and SHARE!

LG|LP – Tiff

 

For the Hopeless

I made up my mind. I had watched hours and hours on the TV. Tragedy, destruction, death. Complete life change in a moment for far too many. I was going to pack up and go help! The devastation was too overwhelming for me, and after all, What Would Jesus Do? Jesus would pack up and go to Moore, Oklahoma.

But I didn't go. I couldn't understand. It felt right, it seemed right. As I was talking through this with one of the voices in my head, God whispered to me, “You will have your own tornado.” And six weeks later, our family did.

My experience with the tragedy is minimal compared to what my sister in law and her family have endured, and are still enduring. The devastation is far spreading, and this time, I did pack up and go. But I went to San Antonio instead.

It was the evening of July 4th. My sister-in-law and her side of the family had just spent the day watching parades and sipping lemonade. Mom and Dad (affectionately known as Mimi and Poppy) left before the fireworks. It had been a long day, and it was a long drive home. That commute ended too close to home when another driver veered out of his highway lane, and hit Mimi and Poppy head-on, not even giving them time to brake.

At the age of 63, Mimi, a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a sister, an aunt, a church-planter, a Jesus-lover, died. Poppy was burned on a majority of his body and endured having both of his legs amputated above the knee and is fighting for his life, moment by moment until they family had to let him go be with the Lord, and his beloved wife.

My husband and I walked into the hospital waiting room. Poppy was in skin-grafting surgery. A family, broken, in heart and spirit, sprawled throughout the waiting room. Tears, memories, shock, and the business of death loomed. It was my own tornado.

The damage still wide-spread. The rubble, and people's hearts buried deep within. Questions and doubts, fears and life re-defined.

I'm learning through this and what my own family is enduring right now that I love and serve a God that often I do not understand. His ways and his thoughts and his ideas of provision and what is best for me are so hard to grasp in my life.

I can only imagine what my sister-in-law and her siblings are feeling. Life is full of such much uncertainity, I can't imagine not having God as the strong pavement beneath my feet. Without God, this family would never be able to recover. With God, there is hope.

If you have no hope, then you have no God.

You are Loved.

 

Fear Of Wasting Time

Lots of you are wondering, okay some of you, okay two of you are wondering, what is going on in my life. A few post ago, I mentioned that God was doing something to rock my world and no doubt He has.

Last Sunday was my last week serving on a church plant. The 3 1/2 year journey has never ceased to surprise me and even shock me. God has humbled me by using me, and taught me about building His church. After all this time, I've grown but not sure I know much more.

But I'm stepping out trying to use my slightly increased knowledge and a tremendous amount of faith growing a ministry out of my house. A year ago I began ministering to the misfit teenagers in my neighborhood and community. And now, well, they just keep coming. I just keep feeding them (both spaghetti and spiritual). For some reason God wants me to keep doing it, and on top of that, all these other things.

So now, I'm without a paying job, without a church, and without a clue as what to do next. But I'm certain, pretty certain, that I'm exactly where I need to be. I just have to figure out exactly how to do it.

I have to find some rhythm in my days, and accomplish something, anything, before the sun goes down bringing in the night, which brings another day. My greatest fear in all of this is wasting time accomplishing nothing. I'm pretty good at nothing. I can do days and days of nothing. I'm hoping that this will make the somethings, the anythings, mean so much more.

So for the two of you that asked, thank you. Pray for me. And since I have so much time on my hands, how can I pray for you? Comment and let me know.

Excuses and M&M’s

Excuse my procrastination tardiness. I've been buried in Oriental Trading Magazines that I daily receive by the truckload because I ordered a craft from them in 1998. Not to mention I'm still digging my way out of the Blow Pop wrappers from all the teenagers that stampede in and out of my house as if I run a Holiday Inn. God has been doing something….not sure what, quite yet, but something none-the-less.

I would love to say that since January 1st I have been diligently pursuing AND accomplishing all my new year's resolutions and writing goals, but really I'm just trying to survive one day at a time in a way that at the end of the day all i can do is ask, “Ok, God, did I do anything right today?”

I will say I have been writing, perhaps not as much as I would like, but I have (3) different writing projects I find some passion for at least a little every day. My daughter cheered her little heart into a sling, Zachry spelled incorrectly enough we had to “exchange” his teacher, and Beefcake is working on his own project that will be released to the world soon enough. And my husband, well, I meet him in Publix parking lots to say hello and pick up dirty clothes at some point in his 20 hour work day, heading from one job to the next.

So in all of that, I must say I've lost inspiration. I am a writer who needs to be inspired. I wish I was the disciplined writer, but yah, NO, discipline is not my strong suit. God is teaching me, patiently instructing me in the importance of obedience.

There is this guy named Moses, and he was to show God's glory to the Israelites and speak to a rock and water was to flow. Instead, Moses struck the rock clearly and blatantly disobeying God. God was so not dealing with such–Tiffany Moses should have known better at that point of his journey with God. So God told Moses, “this PROMISED LAND, this land flowing with blessings–with Milk and Honey–you will never see it. Your disobedience is THAT serious to me. Just do what I say, that's all I ask.” <<—If you're a parent, I know you've echoed that last sentiment at some point in your life and can understand God's exasperation with MOses.

All those years… All those years of preparing, of roaming, of wandering, and Moses never got to experience all of God's blessing and promises. So as great and amazing as Moses is, and even with his leadership skills being somewhat impeccable, I don't want to be Moses. I don't want all that God has for me withheld because of my disobedience.

You're disobedient. In someway, you are being disobedient to God…in your marriage, at your job, in your tithe, in your commitment to the growth of the church…somewhere you are being disobedient and there is a Promised Land, set apart for you that God wants to give you. Same with me. I've learned I'm not disciplined in so many areas of my life (as I'm shoving peanut m&m's down my throat)–and my lack of discipline is really just another way to frame my disobedience to what God is asking me to do in my life. Ouch. (but yummmmmm)

God is serious about us obeying Him. Through my excuses and M&M's I am trying to find my way to a more obedient, love filled life in a grace-giving Christ. Come with me.