Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Amazing Emma

My Emma has been going to the Good News Club after school for several weeks.  She's also been very inquisitive about Jesus and the Bible since the summertime.  I have prayed for her, as I do all my children, that if she was ready to give her heart to Jesus that she might know.  She is young but so curious and smart [definitely like her mom] and I've tried to answer her questions and encourage her.  Tonight this is what happened:Emma: I need to talk to you about something private.
Me: OK...go ahead sweetheart.
Emma: We've been talking about giving our hearts to Jesus in Good News Club.  Today I asked Jesus to come into my heart.
Me [choking back serious tears]Wow!  I am so proud of you!  Did you pray with one of the workers there?
Emma:  No.   When daddy dropped me off this afternoon, I prayed in my room. 
Me:  Thanks be to God for working in her life.  Amazing.

Could this day be any better?  I am so proud of her for listening to God's call in her life.  I am overwhelmed as a parent and overjoyed as a Christian.  I covet your prayers for this sweet, sweet child as she begins her walk with Christ. 

Thank you to every single person who makes a difference and reflect Christ in the lives of children.  Thank you teachers for stopping for a moment of silence and the blessing before lunch.   Thanks to Sunday school teachers, VBS workers, choir directors, children's ministry workers, and Good News Club folks.  Thanks to each of you that cut and paste and wear gold fish on your Sunday best.  Thanks to each of you that get in the floor, plan lessons, and finger paint in the name of Jesus.  Thanks to each of you that pray for children and their salvation. From a mother who is extremely thankful, because it truly does take a village to raise a child, I am in awe of the wonderful grace of God.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Holy Guacamole!

OMG my friends ~ are you in Step Away withdrawls?  [I never know if that is "withdraws" or "withdrawls".  I could look it up but that would require opening another tab and I'm  just not feeling it tonight.  I am sure some English teacher or better yet, some grammar freak is going bonkers right now.]  I know that two whole weeks is a long time to deprive the world of the adventures of the Shorties but we've had a lot going on around here.

Where do I begin?  Gabe hasn't changed a bit in the last two weeks. Things recently overheard coming out of Gabe's mouth:
On the way to church two weeks ago I hear, "Houston, sexiness has landed!" [I cannot believe she lets her four year old use that "s" word.  What kind of mother is she? A very cool one thank you.]  All you can do is laugh because it is too funny. He broke out in song for us with, "If you like Inna Coladi and getting caught in the rain..." [Sad that I finished the rest of the lyrics for him...] He took his shirt off to carve his jack-o-lantern tonight and then "flexed" his muscles.  He asked me yesterday if I knew that Michael Jackson bleached his skin.  [Were we talking about Michael Jackson?]  Then he wanted to know if I knew Michael Jackson was dead. [Oh my....]  He asked me why zombies ate the brains out of people's heads but left their eyes. [Yeah, that's a question for your brother.] He came out of the restroom stall at Molly's game this past weekend with his eyes over his mouth.  When asked what he was doing he replied, "I'm a mummy Mommy."   We recently watched a DVR'd episode of The Office [best show EVER] and he overheard Stanley's new line: Shove it up your butt.  [You know where I am going with this don't you?]  I was cooking dinner and he proceeded to explain how to make tacos.....and then followed with the final instruction of  "And then you shove it up your butt." [Note to self: All Worked Up and The Office probably aren't good TV shows for the Gabester.]  I know I should probably be a better parent but I'm having way too much fun laughing to worry about that discpline-your-kid hype everyone's selling.

Emma's just as much fun as Gabe.  I made the comment at Molly's tourney that hitting was not my forte to which she replied, "So your fortune teller told you that you're not good at hitting?" [Who can argue with that?]  Tonight she drew hair, a bow, and ears on her pumpkin for me to carve.  She's obviously not seen my carving skills in action [because they are not skills but more like stabbing a pumpkin to death] so she had faith that I could perform this miracle of a carving.  Yeah, her pumpkin has one huge eye and crooked teeth and a place where the bow should be. [Needless to say, we won't be entering any pumpkin carving contests anytime soon.]  She wanted to me to put a candle in it.  My reply?  "Honey, we don't want to scare the neighborhood animals and children.  Allow the pumpkin to hide in the dark - please."  [No worries, I am sure Short will see it soon enough.]  Emma's got one speed - sssssssllllllllooooooowwwwww.  Usually, in the mornings, she puts her jewelry on before getting dressed and she'll come ask me if it "matches".  What in the world could it match - she's half naked?!!! [Incidentally, those nightmares I have of her and Vegas and tattoos seem to surface at these moments.] 2.5 hours later she is dressed and still trying to brush her teeth.  Bless much like her daddy.

Cooper is keeping us all in stitches.  His newest thing is a leg kick.  If he likes dinner you get a kick.  If he sees something on TV that is funny we get a kick.  [Again, he may look 18 but then he opens his mouth or kicks his leg and the 12 year old goof ball knocks you down.] He made a wooden tomahawk in his technology lab and then chased me down the hall at school with it last week. [Of course it was after school hours because you don't run in the hall.  Or talk in the libary.  Or smoke in the bathroom.]  He is constanly reminding us of how awesome he is....again, like his daddy.  

And Molly's the same old level headed girl she's always been. [Again, the ONLY normal one in this house.]  She still has the awkward relationship with the boy going on ~ I'm never sure if they are or they aren't talking.  [For the record, her brother told the boy that he should ask her out.  I thought she might kill Cooper. He, on the other hand, totally relished his meddling role as pesky, little bro.]  She's ready to wind up her cross country season very soon and she's done great. [She failed to tell us, though, that a teammate actually held her back on the trail and kept her from finishing ahead of the girl. Are you serious?  Reallly?  I will never understand some people.  Of course, if you knew her momma you might totally get it.  She told Molly her mom would be mad if she let Molly pass her and finish ahead of her in the meet.  My advice to Molly?  Run strong and pass her. (And yes, I admit it...I also said pull her long hair as you go past.  Not great advice but I was mad.   Thank goodness Molly's not that much like me.)]   She's playing with a new softball team and ♥'s it!  One of my favorite things to do is just hang in her room and talk to her.  We've really grown very close this summer and I am so thankful for the girl talks we've had.  She got her car from Paw Paw this weekend ~ the Molly-Mobile.  16 is coming way too fast.... 

Personally, there is a lot going on in my wacky head.  I recently started a Bible study, on my own, by David Nasser called A Call to Die.  And, as always, God hit me right between the eyes with this:  If you have time for Facebook and other things then why don't you have time for me?  Where do I fit in? [Ignorance is bliss they say....]  In my personal reflections I could not get a way from that fact that Facebook was controlling my life.  [So very, very, VERY stupid]  In order to accept this call to die, then I have to face the harsh reality that my life isn't about status updates, picture uploads, and looking at profiles.  Thank goodness it is something so much more!!  I decided [after debating with God for several days] to put a halt to Facebook.  Maybe one day I'll decide to check out status updates and pictures, but for now, I am just as happy not worrying about it.  My only regret? Not doing this a lot sooner. 
"When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die." Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 
I want to listen and go and die so that I may live.  I'm not getting any younger [Stick around for other words of true wisdom] and truth is, I have WASTED too much time doing it all my way.  For example, I put this year at school in God's hands.  I prayed about my attitude and the opportunity to reach lives in a powerful way.  No, I don't have that idealistic vision that I'm going to "save 'em all" but I do believe that I am much more than an 8th grade science teacher.  I am there to serve the Lord with all of my heart [Colossians 3:23].  This school year has been amazing so far.  I love being in front of my kids and teaching and talking and laughing and learning.  Are there bad days or tough circumstances?  Absolutely and that gives me more opportunities to sing His praises.  I ♥ my job - 100%.  I cannot put into words the true change that I feel this year, in my classroom, being a teacher. 

It goes without as a Short is good :) 

Monday, October 3, 2011


Lately, my life has been lived out in a series of text messages to and from my family.   [Heck, even Emma gets in on the action every now and then.]

Molly:  Are you home yet?
Me: Yes - what's it to you?

Craig: What is 4 dinner? [Craig LOVES to use text lingo. Molly and Cooper make fun of him.]
Me: What ever you pick up my dear. [I hate to use text lingo.  I have to spell out everything - completely.]

Cooper:  Practice is over.  Can you come get me?
Me: Do I have to?

Me: I love you.
Craig: I luv me 2.  Really, whats not 2 luv?  [Craig does not use correct punctuation when texting.  He can barely spell.  He blames it on big thumbs. Yet his sarcasm is blatant.]

Mom: I am falling and flying.
Craig:  Why would you send that to me in a text?
Mom:  I was trying to use voice recognition on my phone.
Craig: It failed.

Molly:  can i go to emily's tonight after church? [Molly is afraid of capital letters.]
Me: Ask your dad.
Molly: do i have to?
Me: Ask your dad or go to Emily's?
Molly: askkk himmm [Molly also likes to stutter in her text. Bizarre.]

Me: Molly hit back to back homeruns  today!
Summer: Great [I didn't even get an exclamation or anything on that one.]

Emma: i     love    you      daddy
Craig: I luv u 2 emma.

Molly: can you pick me up after cross country?
Me:  If I have to....

Mom: That great tell Coop way 2 go. [And that, my friends, is a Gaston County education for you.]

If we can't all be together then I suppose texting is a good way to communicate.  Happy Monday my friends....TTYL :) 

Small Minds Think Alike

You ever just know that something's up and that something just ain't right?  Short and I have had a situation going on like this for the past several weeks and suddenly, when the puzzle pieces finally came together, that something all made perfect sense.
As you know, [or maybe don't know because this is your first time on Step Away] my oldest plays fastpitch softball.  If there is one major thing I've learned about travel softball is that there is a TON of drama.  Sometimes, there are those "Daddy Ball" teams where only the girls that have loud, obnoxious, [and usuallly non-softball knowledgeable] get time on the field.  Then there are those "team hoppers" that jump from team to team when their little #1 isn't the team's #1.  Then there are those teams where no one gets along and they fold because of egos [generally the parents' egos].  As usual, the parents can make it miserable during tournaments.  I have seen parents come to the dugout and yell at other girls.  I have seen parents take their stuff [like slinging a cooler full of water all over the place] and their girl and go home - in the middle of games.  I even, at a rec game one time, saw two parents almost get in a fight.  Really?  Are we trying to teach sportsmanship and teamwork or my dad can beat up your dad?

Am I always happy with decisions made about my daughter's playing time or seeing her get raked over the coals when she makes a mistake?  [When it's my favorite coach involved then I secretly straighten him out away from the public eye :)]  No I am not always happy but I have tried to learn to keep it in perspective and realize that 99.9% of the time that getting fussed at in a constructive way is healthy for her and keeps her working to get harder.  She is a pleaser and she is coachable.  She will listen, even if she thinks the coach is wrong, and she will work on whatever you ask her to work on.  Is she a perfect softball player? [Yes, if you are asking me.]  No one is a perfect softball player.  But I know her heart and what the game means to her.  I know the times she's given up friends and parties and church activities to play ball.  I know the time she has invested.

We had our hand forced and had to move teams last summer.  [Very, very long story but I can assure you it would make you as mad as it made me.]  We ended up on a local team with a collegiate coach with a good organization.  Things were going well and Molly was happy.  Fast forward to this summer.  We paid a significant amount of money, along with most of the other players, to play 7 tournaments over the summer.  Well I'm no mathematician but 7 somehow turned into 5, which turned into 4, and we only played in 3.  Yet, come fall, more money was requested.  Hmmmm...wait just a minute....if we paid you  x amount of dollars, along with the other girls, then your sum was $xxxx.xx and we only actually played in 3 tournaments then where is the rest of the money?  The response: Equipment [didn't know we had team equipment]; sanction fees [only paid once to each of three divisions we pay and is around $35/fee] ; insurance [again, a one time fee of $175 for the team] ; coaches salaries [Excuse me? Say that again....]; assistant coaches salaries; and finally [was that not enough?] food, drink, and travel expenses for the coaches.  [At this point, honestly, I had to pick my own jaw up off the desk where I was sitting.]  My next question to the "person in charge" was "So how much are we paying these coaches?"  Hmmmm....well that grand total came to nearly $3300 [yes, that is thousands] for the season. 

OK.  Let me get this straight:  We paid a person who has a full time job to coach our daughter's travel team yet this coach wasn't even there for two tournaments and most of the summer practices AND we also paid expenses such as food and travel for tournaments?  [I am sure, at this point, my blood pressure was pretty high.]  Did we take these people [who incidentally do not have ANY children to care for since one just got married and the other two were college students] to raise?  Seriously, we don't even go, AS A FAMILY, to the tournaments because at $5 to $10 dollars/person, plus food [we take our own] , and drinks [take our own] times 6 people is ALOT of money.  Not to say that Molly isn't worth it but we just cannot afford to spend that kind of money two or three weekends a month and now we are expected to pay for the coaches to eat and drink?  To top it all off, we've never been given an expense report or itemized summary of the organization's money [aka MY money] and when we asked for it then we find out that we paid a large amount of money to people who gave us nothing in return.  Again, I don't profess to be the sharpest tool in the shed but if my hard earned money is paying you to coach then you should probably be there to coach.

To top all of this off, [as if we really needed to add fuel to the fire] we find out that several nasty, snide, and just generally humiliating comments were made to our daughter by this well paid "coach".  Again, we don't jump in and question playing time.  [I am married to a coach who does not entertain those conversations with parents on his team.]  We [Craig and I] may discuss things we don't like when we are alone but we don't voice these concerns to the coach.  We have tried to encourage all of our children to speak up if they feel like there is an issue with a coach.  And, just from being around sports so much, we also know that MANY times there is more to the story than just what our children are telling us.  But, when we continued to hear how this well-paid-but-never-there coach talked very negatively about other players on the team they are paid to coach [do you sense my bitterness over this issue] and then almost sought to humiliate players  in front of the team then we started to question if we were in the right place and doing the correct thing for our daughter.

Incidentally, communication began to break down - Molly wasn't getting information from the coach but was told that the coach's phone indicated Molly did receive the messages. [Checked the phone and the text history online - are we all three liars?]  Practice was moved to another location and the girl Molly rides with got lost.  Instead of being understanding of two high school students misunderstanding directions they were told, in front of the team, that "she expected them to be late because they are not dedicated and always late anyway.  And by the way, if you think you'll ever play in field, Molly, then you can forget it because you are not going to push the current second baseman."  Yeah...Molly's never, EVER been late to practice or a tournament while on this team - NEVER. And the second base comment?  Where did that come from?  Funny thing is that Molly was ASKED to move to this 18U team from a 16U team by this coach [the well paid one , who saw her playing 2nd base on the other team.  We really cannot understand where this sudden animosity and sarcasm came from but with the money issues the picture became more and more clear to us. 

Finally, Molly broke the ice, and requested to move to a new team she's played with the last two weekends. She said that for the first time in a long time that she actually enjoyed playing and didn't feel like she was going to throw up everytime she was at bat or in the field.  She said that she didn't want to go back to the other team and that she had no respect for the coach.  Little by little, in a long conversation, she shared things with us that broke our hearts.  She didn't want us to know but she secretly hated playing this summer.  It is obvious, looking back, that those puzzle pieces were staring us in the face if we'd only bothered to put them together.    We decided, as a family, that a move would be best for us. 

Now don't get me wrong [not that I've ever been wrong but....] we are not perfect parents and she isn't a perfect softball player.  There is room for improvement - always - and room for us to be more supportive of the coaches.  But when intimidation and humiliation are used in place of coaching and teaching then it's time to move on.  I even woke up, early this morning, worrying about what said to Molly when we weren't around to hear.  I feel bad that she, my tender hearted and pleasing child, was made to feel so humiliated.  I work with kids every day and they lose repsect for you very fast if they think you don't care about them.  This coach doesn't care about these girls - she only cares about the paycheck [just an honest observation].  Craig was told that we "were the only parents that questioned where the money was going."  His reply?  "Shame on the others for not asking more questions." 

On to bigger and better things :)

I am addicted to  Please go and watch the videos [I would HIGHLY recommend Josh Hamilton's story] and read about how the organization works.  God is just so amazing that I cannot put into words the emotions I have at the moment.  I am second.