Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Time to Unpack

Hey y'all!! This post today was originally a monologue submission for an upcoming variety type show called Expressing Motherhood. So, if it seems as though I'm just addressing California peeps, that's why. I'm sure many, many more mommies around the country have been in my shoes!!:) 
Time to Unpack
“You can't raise kids in California! You just can't. It’s Hollywood, fast living, dangerous, and you can't even mention Jesus out there!”  Growing up in the South, that was kind of my overall perception of life in California.  I guess what we’d seen in the movies and on the news just seem so wild, or risqué, to say the least.  It certainly didn’t seem like the best place to raise a family, especially when compared to the way I was raised.  I mean, take my mother and grandmother for example: Instead of seething out a four letter word when they stubbed a toe or realized they just totally messed up a recipe we would hear, "ohhh ssssssugar".  I mean, it wasn’t exactly Leave it to Beaver but, it was a relatively wholesome upbringing. 
My motherhood journey started off with a bang when our twin boys were born. You know, hospitals will let almost any woman deliver and a day or two later just leave with 2 babies!!  As we pulled out of there that snowy February day with 2 baby boys in the backseat looking all alike and unconcerned, all we could do was laugh. Craziness I tell ya!
No one told me, though. No one ever told me about the baggage that I would be bringing home with me that day.  The sheer love and joy, the fear, the guilt, the exhaustion, and the angst over Every. Single. Decision, kind of baggage.   I didn't have a place for all of that stuff!
I never really knew what it meant to pour into someone's life quite like this where every decision felt as though it could scar them for life.  Nearly every waking minute went into teaching them safety, manners, sharing, fairness, and Jesus, among other things.  I can't tell you how many afternoons I spent in the backyard throwing a tennis ball up in the air so they could learn to catch pop flies with their gloves instead of their faces. I can't tell you how many times I totally blew it with them, either.  Then, after almost 9 years, we started afresh when our baby girl, Jude, came along. 
She came home with just as much baggage and even though I was more familiar with it, I still didn't know quite where to put it.  This girl, you can’t imagine the doting she received. We had to have her birthday parties in the fellowship hall of the church because so many people loved our little spitfire. I taught her please and thank you, just as I had the boys. (Only, for the longest time she said, "nank you".) I poured into her little life just as much and weighed every decision just as heavily.  So, when a job presented the possibility of us moving our 3 kids to the LA area, you can imagine the contortionist type knots that formed in my stomach: "But, we are so rooted here." "But,’s California! We can't raise our kids there!!”
Well, the short version is that we both realized that California was where we were supposed to be.  So, we loaded up our kids, our dogs, and all of our baggage and headed west.  While I was on board and “prayed up” about it, I had a few, "what have we done?" moments, too.    
We moved in time for the boys to start 6th grade and it was a few months before Jude's 3rd birthday. Her birthday was one of those “moments”. My parents came out to celebrate.  My dad and I went out to pick up the cake and when we got back, instead of being all excited about her party, Jude was in tears!! I asked what was wrong and she couldn’t explain it but had told my mom, "My friends aren't going to see me for my birthday." It had hit her…. and those tears hit me like a ton of bricks.
I scooped her up and talked to her for a while as she sobbed.  In a little while she switched gears and said, “But, you didn’t get me a cake.”  I said, “Aww, of course I did, baby!”  I pulled the cake out of the freezer and knelt down beside her.  Her tears stopped when I said, “See, this is your ice cream cake!” She threw her arms around my neck and said, “Oh, NANK YOU, Mommy!!” She just kept hugging and kissing me as we admired her fairy themed ice cream cake.  Words simply can’t describe the mixture of emotions I felt in those moments.
She had so much fun the rest of the night.  Her heartbreak had been painful to see, though. So, the next day, in concerned grandmother fashion, my mom suggested that it might be best for the kids if we considered moving home. In that moment, I didn't even have to think, the words just came out. I told her that if we were where we were supposed to be, then as the children God gave us, they were where they were supposed to be, too.  If I was supposed to trust God with our future, I should trust Him with theirs, too. Right then, without realizing it, I had begun unpacking all that baggage that I'd been wagging around with me for 11+ years. 
It goes without saying that we always miss our Tennessee peeps.   However, nearly four years later, we love it here.  California is home to us now.  Peter and Preston are in 9th grade, on the high school baseball team, and have a great group of friends.  Jude is totally rocking kindergarten.  I’ve been blessed with an incredibly awesome network of moms here and we’re just doing this thing together. 
When I take into account the major adjustments the kids had to make with this move, I see that God was working on all of our behalves and has done above and beyond all I could’ve asked or imagined, just as my favorite verse, Ephesians 3:20, always told me He was able to do. Whatever decisions I make as their mom in any given situation, whether I handle it like a pro or totally blow it, not even I can screw them up beyond the grace of God.   Our family itself has not only grown closer together here, we’ve grown spiritually. Here… In California….where you can, in fact, talk about Jesus! I’m continuing to unpack my proverbial bags in California. As I do, I can’t help but wonder, “What if we’d said “no” to California and missed all of this? And, What is He doing next?” 

To all of you fellow moms and lovely, California peeps, I just want to thank you. Or, as Jude use to say, “Nank you”, so very much.   

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

I'll Miss You, Chips & Salsa

New Year, New Me.  We’ve all said it.  What does that even mean?  Do we really want a “new me”?  So many of us focus any New Year’s Resolutions we make on new bodies and being more physically fit. Especially women.  I gotta tell ya, I refuse ladies.  I simply refuse.  I don’t want a new me.  The Lord has done too much work on this Robin Brown in my 38 years and even though He still has His work cut out for Him, I’m looking forward to what He has planned for the rest of this Robin Brown’s days.  So, no….I don’t want a new me.   I simply want a healthy me, inside and out so I will be able to take on whatever He may have in mind.   

I know it’s been a while but, when I started this blog a few years ago, I promised we’d address some root issues.  This one right here is long overdue.
"”All things are lawful for me”, but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me”, but I will not be dominated by anything.” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:12
In this case, I'm claiming that focusing on weight, food, dieting, and our overall appearance…..can be enslaving.  I will not let this culture bully me into it and I will not be dominated by any of it.  The thought of weighing myself everyday makes me almost fighting mad.  I refuse.  It keeps our minds and far too much of our efforts focused on ourselves.  In my humble opinion, THAT is the point.  It is a ploy from the enemy that is alive and well in our materialistic, temporally obsessed society to keep us from focusing on what is real.  
For real, ladies….we are going to shed these bodies one day.  They are temporary and whatever size they may be…they are such a small part of our existence. 
Now, I’m not at all saying that all dieting is bad or that you shouldn’t exercise, etc.  By all means, if your health is holding you back or you need to tame the beast that is your appetite, please get after it. I have some things I’m going to be working on this year, too.   Just promise yourself from the beginning that you will not be dominated by it!! I am simply telling you my thoughts at the root of our food and body obsessions: I am convinced that if we just focused on Jesus and His business on this earth and simply didn’t think so stinking often about food, carbs, abs, bikini bodies, and whatever else our culture tells us we should focus on….most of our food and body image issues would take care of themselves. 

Having said all of that, I realize I need to tweak a few things in my daily living to make sure I’m physically capable of doing justice to the things that I’m called to do on a daily basis.  I'm addressing each of them by name and sharing them with y'all....An open letter, if you will,  to my bad habits.   Feel free to help me stay accountable going forward! Beginning now, January 2016, I'm committing to the following:

Facebook –our late night rendezvous habit is over.  My friends will understand and know me well enough to know I’ll be back the next day!
Netflix – you will no longer rope me into “just one more episode” past 9 pm.  Fine. 10:00. 
Books – I don’t care how good you are or what incredible new things you’re teaching me. I have to be disciplined enough to admit it and put you down when my time with you is going to infringe on my happy place disposition the next day. 
Peter and Preston – I love you both more than life itself, but I no longer feel sorry for you for staying up late to do your homework assignments.  Therefore, I will be leaving you to it, not hanging around and spurring you on.  Spurring ends at 9.  I know initially you will be glad to be rid of me and my hovering, but If you have a hard time focusing on your own that late at night or just want to go to sleep, you should get homework done in the 6+ hours of actual free time that you have most days.  Now - You may have to work ahead just a little on the weekends to make up for days that you get to do things like play baseball and soccer after school or hang out with your friends at church.  K?
Jude – well, you’re so good most nights and out by 8.  Thank you for taking it easy on me.  Keep up the good work sweet pea.  
Steven Brown – the rules don’t really apply to you, Sweetness.  Just keep in mind that part of the reason for the earlier bedtime is so I can be well rested for the next day which, makes me much nicer and less scatterbrained….in turn, making life better for all of us!:)

Back – prepare for strengthening.  You’re going to be reacquainted with our old friend, the big blue exercise ball 3 times/week. 
Arms – you haven’t seen any dumbbell action in a while.  Prepare yourself to work out alongside Back 3 times/week. 
Zumba Community – look out.  This sister girl is about to come up in there on y’all. My heart needs the cardio.  I’m hoping you will be more fun and nicer to my knees and feet than running has been (Don’t worry Back… I’ll try my best not to throw you out with any craziness!!)

Water – You know I don’t drink much of anything and far too often, I’ve replaced you with Coke, Diet Coke, Sweet Tea….anything but you.  I realize, though, that you are what my body needs.  So, while I will not completely abandon my favorite drinks, I am going to make sure that if I totaled up the numbers at the end of each day, you will come out way ahead of the others. 
Chips & Salsa – I’m not saying we can never see each other again – I’m just saying every night is not going to work for me anymore.  I may even see you occasionally at a restaurant for lunch!   Don’t worry though – Salad and Fruit will never take your place in my heart.   

So, I guess my New Year’s Resolutions are more of an overall mindset to be better to my body and to be an overall better servant.  I’m not depriving myself of anything, nor am I dreading the changes.  None of these things are drastic enough to produce fast results and I’m ok with that.   The lasting change that is able to increase blessings to those around me…..that is what I’m after.  Wish me luck!!

Happy New Year y’all!! May God Bless & Keep You in 2016!!!