Man in Black
Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dylan came out dressed for school in head to toe black.

I took a second look at him and he gave me a scoffed "What? Black is my favorite color."

I thought "Hmm. We're reaching this 'dress all in black' stage a little early aren't we?"

Then he added, "I like it because black is perfect when we play spies at recess!"

I love age 8.

The many faces of Dylan.

second cousins
Saturday, February 18, 2012

I had to google to figure it out, but these cute girls are second cousins! (Is that right?  My daughter and my first cousin's daughter are second cousins?  It's rather confusing....) mom, cousin, and her daughter made the 8+ hour trek from Tulsa to Lubbock for a visit!  We got rained in, so we decided we needed an indoor art project.  Freezer paper stencils of course (tutorial here)!  Look at these cuties:

Lauryn and her rather surprising choice of a brown bird (a mature but cute choice!)...
...Tay and her not so surprising choice of a purple crown!

Grown-ups made shirts too!
Treble clef for Granny...bird for for Jessy!

And the manly choices of a shark and a sword.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I was Mean Ogre Mom yesterday.  She makes an appearance occasionally, and yesterday her fangs were out.

The kids and I were snowed in, work and school having both been cancelled due to the icy road conditions.  I stayed annoyed with the kids most of the morning.  They were too loud, too rowdy, too altogether childish.  I was trying to make the best use of my unscheduled off day to get things done around the house, and frankly they were in my way.  Making more messes in the wake of all my cleaning efforts.

A couple times they needed my help or my approval or my acknowledgment, but I just waved them off  with a martyred sigh and instructions to please entertain themselves so I could work.

Lauryn finally busied herself in her room, and the boys bundled up to go play outside in the snow.  They escaped out the door after repeated stern warnings from me to not track in mud or leave their wet clothes lying around or make any other messes. (I can't imagine why they wouldn't want to stay in the house with their loving mother.)

When Lauryn finally emerged from her room, she came bearing gifts:

Not only a sweet note, but a necklace as well.  (Strung backwards because she lines up the word, then strings it on in that order.  Precious.)

A gift so undeserved.  It changed my attitude and behavior. It helped me remember to enjoy my children instead of barely tolerate them.

It was a good lesson for me, in a weird way, about parenting.  Her sweet gesture made me stop and take a breath, re-evaluate my attitude and interactions, and wipe the grimace off my face.  If she would have come to me with a scowl and told me that I was being a big meanie of a mommy and needed to shape up, our interaction would not have gone nearly so nicely, and definitely would not have resulted in an improved attitude.

I imagine the kid are much like me.  They'd much rather be treasured and loved sweetly, even if undeserved, than continually scolded and shooshed and corrected, even if their behavior warrants it.

Finding the balance is why I need the Holy Spirit and His wisdom.  Knowing when to lovingly correct (that key aspect of "lovingly" was missing entirely yesterday) and when to lavish unmerited grace is beyond my ability on my own.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, 
who gives generously to all without finding fault, 
and it will be given to him. James 1:5

God Bless the South
Sunday, February 12, 2012

Thank you Lord that I live in a place where snow is an occasional novelty, instead of a normal part of existence.  A couple days of snow gear, wet clothes, muddy footprints, snotty chapped faces... and this mama is ready for the stuff to be melted and gone!

Makes for some cute pics though....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'm writing today on passion misspent.  Click here to visit my post on the Prize31 blog.

wonderfully made
Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What has God fashioned in you, in your personality, that you are thankful for?

I had a talk with friends last week about how humans, we of the female persuasion especially, are prone to fault-finding.  In others, yes, but mostly in self.  Self-Improvement.  Self-Awareness.  Self-Discipline. The perpetual directive loudly bouncing around in our skulls: "I must work harder to correct these flaws in myself." A needed exercise no doubt.  But the pendulum so easily shifts in only one direction, doesn't it?  We see where we need work, but do we celebrate what God has gifted within us?  Do we praise Him for the way He has crafted us with passions and abilities?  Do we even believe that we are fearfully and wonderfully made?

I know there is a fine line and balance between pride and humbly praising our Maker.  But I think when people operate in their God-given gifts it brings Him honor!

I thank Him that I am a loyal friend and daughter.  I praise Him that I have a certain innate amount of reasoning and logic and ability to build rapport, that when nurtured, make me a great Speech Therapist.  I'm grateful, along with all mothers, that I have been given an ability to hear what my children do not say and give them what they don't even know they need.

I'm also thankful that I have a degree of transparency that makes it easy to share my shortcoming and faults, of which there are many.  But that is not for today.  Today is for celebrating a creative God that knits each of us together with beauty.

Where do you see God's workmanship in yourself?  If you are so brave as to name it, then please share! At least name it as an act of worship in your heart, if not in a comment.  I praise my God when I see the different ways He has gifted my friends and family.  That is where I tend to see His creativity most on display.

 necklace available on etsy

GUEST POST: forgiveness that transforms
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Note from Starr: I met Julian Gonzales and his wife Minerva nearly a decade ago at The Pathway of Life church in Dallas, TX.  I respect his authenticity, his love and passion for his family, and the work he does to minister to "the least of these."  I asked him to share this story on my blog, because I was challenged and humbled by it.  Forgiveness matters.  

I can't remember the last time someone smiled at me without having the feeling that something bad was about to happen. Usually when a stranger smiled in my barrio, it meant several things and all of those things were bad. Nevertheless, he was smiling and walking towards me. I didn't do the normal procedure; watching the whereabouts of where his hands were on his person. I didn't visually blitz his clothes, trying to discover a bulge or slight impression of a gun, knife, or tire iron for that matter. I didn't even look for an escape route, nor did I reach into my pocket and make ready my recently acquired .380 pistol that I bought from the local heroin addict. I knew he wasn't "Five-Oh", because he was calm. He didn't swallow hard, his breathing was consistent; neither shallow, deep, nor hard, but just right. He was now close enough to me to be a problem if he wanted to, but I didn't feel threatened by him. I did however feel uncomfortable at the pace he was approaching me, so I said to him in the best poker face I could muster, "Whatcha looking at ese'?" Immediately spitting out my gum, and where it landed became the symbolic demarcation point. He stopped about 1 millimeter away from where the wad of gum landed so close that the front of his British Knights tennis shoes would bump it occasionally. He never stopped smiling.

I was 16 years old when this happened, and I was standing near the Lambrano St. bridge, by Elmendorf St. in the Mechaca Courts section of San Antonio. My uncles, who were alcoholics, recently started going to church, and for me it was scary because I didn't know who these guys where anymore. They talked about how great church was on Sunday morning and then again on Sunday night, they were even going to church on Wednesdays too. Then one day about four o clock in the morning when one of my uncles began singing, "I will dance like David" I said, "What the hell is going on here?" It only got worse when Grandma busted out her tambourine and played it so hard that Tina Turner would have envied her. God was moving in our home, and I didn't understand it one single bit. I was living my life just a half step in front of death; I was selling drugs and getting paid to beat people. I was involved with the San Antonio Kings at the time we where a known as a "wolf pack" for a bigger, more violent and established prison gang. 

Two days later on a Friday night I found myself at church. You see, that young man who walked up to me in my barrio just graduated from Latin American Bible Institute, and he was the youth pastor and worship leader for East Central Assemblies of God Church in San Antonio, Texas. He was no older than 20 years old and grew up in the church; I guess that's the reason why he thought he could sneak up on me and "jokingly" apply a choke hold. I was talking to several people at the time, and I noticed their eyes would flare off of me. A true sign that someone was behind you, but I ignored the massive urge to turn around. That is when I felt someone apply pressure around my neck. From then, I really don't remember what happened, other than when it was finished this pastor of about 50 youth lay on the floor of the church gym, bleeding from his mouth holding his arm with a dislocated shoulder and a broken wrist. I stood over him and someone pushed me away. I went into failsafe mode; I was ready to fight everyone if I needed to. He saw what was going on, so he got onto his feet and placed himself in between I and the others even though he could barely stand the pain. He said something to the youth, and for the love of God I don't remember what he said, but whatever he said calmed everyone down. In the mean time I was sizing up the guys that had begun to charge me before the pastor interceded. 
I remember that night I felt like I was going to hell, because I just beat up a pastor. He called me later after he got out of the hospital and apologized for doing what he did. I remember saying to myself, "He is apologizing to me for kicking his ass?" I didn't know how to act, but he showed up at my door and made sure that I would go to church. It was a new experience for me. He, by example, taught me how forgiveness should work. I in turn taught him how to apply a correct choke hold. I made a lot of friends at that church, and gradually left the street life. I will never forget how Pastor D, a youth pastor, took the time, got beat up, and extended forgiveness, for me to have a relationship with the Lord. I now have been married for 18 years have two wonderful children and I still go to church happily. I reflect at times what would have become of me if that youth pastor would not have listened, and taken the time to share Christ's love with me? What would have become of me, if he did not stand up for me on that Friday night that I broke his wrist and dislocated his shoulder? I don't know, but I thank God that he did.

Julian and his awesome family

When I have angry, mean-spirited, hurt kids at church who are hard to love, I think about this story and the man that Julian has become.  Help me be quick to forgive offenses and extravagant with my love for those kids Lord! Thank you Lord for "Pastor D" and his willingness for forgive.  

Cliff Familyt

I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)



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