Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dear Andrea,

Do you remember when you graduated from college how I printed off all of our emails from your four years at Florida State and put them into a little book? (back before I had texting) Do you remember the last email in the book? How it was a story about this little girl who actually made my heart sing? Do you remember always asking me who my favorite child is? And do you remember telling me that it should be you because you were the reason I talked to God so much?

I remember all those things. 

Of course, I forget a lot of things too. But I will never forget how you and Mandy Stanley dressed up as ghosts for a Halloween party at Brownsville Assembly of God and drove through that sketchy part of town with pillowcases on your head...looking like something straight out of a Ku Klux Klan promotional video. Or how you and Lisa Burr dressed up in flannel pajamas and fur coats and ran through Wal Mart calling out for me and dad but we had already left...never hearing you yell, "MEE MAW! PAPAW!" all through the store.

I remember getting my hair frosted when I was pregnant with you. And wondering if that would make you blonde as well. (that explains a lot right there) I remember how you always wanted to be picked up and how you still want to be picked up only I'm a little too weak to do that now. You got on my back for a horsey ride just last night though. You couldn't resist me on my hands and knees without "saddling up". 

There are times when I tried to resist getting on my knees but you have driven me there. And God has met me down there. For that I'm grateful. You will see. You will be driven to your knees time and time again by that angelic little dreamboat of yours. And you will find that God will meet you there also. 

I am grateful that you and God have a long-standing relationship and that you remember his faithfulness. I still pray for you, Ange. I am honored to be in God's presence, lifting up his beloved gift of you, for him to take a hold of and nurture, mold, and guide. I am glad that you have caused me to seek him out...
even when I didn't want to
when I was tired
when I was in doubt
when I was in pain
and when I was hopeful.

Do you remember your turtle named Hoop? You were never one to be obsessed with an animal so I was surprised you took such a liking to that odd little thing. I should have known that Hoop was just a precursor to the many "odd little things" you would obsess about as you got older. Like baptizing your stuffed animals and dolls. Like the Peter Pan movie. And your '86 Volvo. (Who wants a car like that? It wasn't even the cool looking old Volvo but an old lady Volvo.) All of your strange quirks and funky hairstyles will live on in this old brain of mine. 

But the one thing I remember most about you is how much you wanted to be loved. There were times when you wanted me to pick you up or listen to you that I was too busy with baby Buddy or Dad or Jourdan or some other household chore. I wish so badly that I could go back to those days when you held your arms up to me and pick you up every single time. I wish I could go back and hold you in my lap every time you tried to crawl up in it. I wish I could go back and take you to lunch, just me and you, leaving the others at home. Obviously I can't now. What I can do is make sure that I'm there for you every step of the way, as long as I am alive and even after. (within still need limits!) I can still meet God on my knees for you.

And I will. I think you know that.

I thank God for the last 30 years with my beautiful blonde-headed Angey Pangey. Hope your next 30 are amazing!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012


We are alive during a social phenomenon...much akin to the 70's Sitcom. This movement began shortly after the installation of Twitter as a major social networking system. Then came Instagram to heighten its use. And your iPhone is not innocent of influence either. Welcome to the hashtag generation.

If you know enough to click on the link to this blog, you've heard of Twitter. Whatever your opinion of this, it's been around since 2006 and is not going away for a while. Sure, thousands of young nerds all over the world are designing new ways to network, but we will not see a reinvention of this wheel that works better for a while. People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets or Instagram photos and help them show more easily in Search.

Let's look at the positive results of Twitter: (Interesting that I am commenting on it since I don't tweet)
  • You can keep up with whatever Katy Perry and Justin Beiber are doing at all times.
  • You can read solid, condensed sermonettes from Matt Chandler, Louie Giglio, Perry Noble, or whichever popular, hip pastor you revere.
  • You can be "heard" on any politician's Twitter site...whatever good that does.
  • You can hashtag until the cows come home.
Now that last one is my personal favorite. I'm a hashtagger without a Twitter account because I do it on Instagram. Not only do I do it on Instagram, I include tags in text messages. Not only do I include tags in text messages, I have been known to actually utter the word "hashtag" followed by a spoken hashtag.  

Don't act like you've never done that before.

What is the draw? What reels you into this hashtanguage and makes you start thinking in short phrases? I'll give some examples. Some of the more popular hashtags on Twitter and Instagram are:

#tbt (throwback thursday)
and my personal favorite: #bobbygram

However, some people, myself included, have been known to hashtag a whole sentence. That's always fun to try and read.

Here's some #hashtetiquette:
  • If you use a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet
  • Don't over-tag a single Tweet or Instagram photo. (Best practices recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet/Instagram.)
  • Do a spell check. There's nothing that looks more ignorant than a misspelled hashtag. Well...I guess there are things that appear more ignorant now that I think about it. I have seen an episode of "Honey Boo Boo".
I actually spend time thinking up good hashtags because they can add a punch to your caption or your post. That's really what we are going for, isn't it? The punch. The oomph. The memorable line that makes your post stand out above all others.   

In the Millenial Generation (aka "Generation Y) we have taught ourselves to pay attention quickly. Which is just another way of saying we are moving at a rapid pace toward mass attention deficit disorder. "Let's just get to the point!" our brains are screaming. We need a "point" now more than ever, don't we? If only we could hashtag our way through school, or win an argument with our parents using hashtags, or talk ourselves out of tickets using hashtags:

I could go on and on.

Think of all the unncessesary words we use in a day. This would save us time, energy, and actually save words! YES! SAVE THE WORDS! We could start a non-profit for saving the words and get some tee-shirts made up with the logo on the front:

Men all over the world will jump on this bandwagon because they don't like to talk anyway. (my husband excluded) Think how much money our court system will save from lack of blustering attorneys. All they need to do is use hashtags like:
#objectongroundsofmalarky (thanks, joe)

Imagine your college economics class. 20 minutes tops and you're out. My poor computer graphics instructor would have had to resign from his position of lecturing on philosophy, economics, the advertising racket, and his string of "s" words he loves so dearly because he never would have been able to constrain his characters to so few letters. 

All this is in jest of course.  Like I said, I like to hashtag because it makes a point. This shortened phrase, often funny or sarcastic, points to your message with precision. Captions are sometimes misunderstood, until you read the hashtags beside them.

I'm often misunderstood until you read the hashtags I leave. It's taken Buddy 30 years of living with me and loving me to be able to finally understand my hashtags. And now, of course, I'm not talking about a phrase uttered after the number sign. I'm talking about the little things I say that are important, that define me, that show what I care about. Loving me has motivated him to figure it out. That was probably an understatement. Loving me, forgiving me, showing grace to me, supporting me, laughing at me, being proud of me, and listening to me have all shown him how to understand my hashtags. 

Lately I've been wondering what Jesus's hashtags would be if he were tweeting or posting a pic on Instagram.

#takingoutthetrash - cleansing the Temple
#takeoffyourshoes - when we enter the church, followed by a:
#lookatyourself - when we start to attack our brothers and sisters in Christ
#lookatme - when we start to attack those outside of our community of believers
#whatwouldido - when faced with a difficult decision, like whether or not to dance at a wedding. you know, something life altering. a choice that might turn non believers away from the Lord. (Well...the way some of you dance, you may just do that very thing.) #usediscretion
And finally, as you're on your knees pouring out your doubts, fears, and hopes to God, praying your guts out, heaving from pain and frustration, and are tempted to say, "just take me, Lord! Take me out of here!" Don't be surprised if his answer is two hashtags.

#takenandsecured, #youarefree

Those tags pack a punch every time I read "He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say unto the Lord, he is my refuge and fortress, My God in Him will I trust. There shall no evil befall you, neither there shall be any plague come near your dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways."

I know that one day soon, I will be through with this hashsession of mine. And another one will take it's place. But I pray that I will never be through with trying to make a point. and pack a punch with something I have to say. Because I want something to always matter to me. I want to leave an impression...the right one...when I speak, or from the way I live and love.

What hashtags define you? What point are you making with your life? your decisions?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tiny Daughter

 When I heard the loud mufflers of the old blue Chevy truck backing our boat into the driveway, I stepped outside to welcome the skiers home. What I found on my front porch was a very small, very cute girl in a bikini top and shorts, awkwardly waiting for Buddy to introduce her to his mother. I was not used to seeing small, cute, bikini-clad strangers on my front porch. And thankfully I’m still not.

That was the day that my tiny daughter-in-law bounced, flipped, and sprung into my life. She was 18 years old. Today she is 27. It’s hard to believe that I’ve known her for 9 years. It’s also hard to believe that I fell in love with her. You don’t just start dating my son and expect me to take their word that this girl is perfect. In what alternative universe is that going to happen?

Why Buddy chose a cheerleader/gymnast to fall in love with I’ll never know. It made perfect sense, as he was always an athlete and the athletes go for the cheerleaders, right? But boys are supposed to choose someone like their own mothers, right? Buddy’s mother was nowhere close to 5 feet tall, or a size 4 ½ shoe, or a size 3 ½ ring for that matter.  I am neither perky nor vivacious. My shoes don’t match my purse and the heels are never over 2”. The only similarity between a cheerleader and myself is that I cheer for my sons when they are competing. And also when they’re not competing. Maybe that’s the kinship we share. Bree has always been in love with Buddy and always will be. She recognizes his strengths and celebrates them. She calls me when he does something magnificent and also when he says something momentous. (It has happened.) She knows what I need to hear from Buddy and about Buddy. She supported him while he was in grad school after they married 3 years ago until he got his first real engineering job. She does not support his antics when they turn stupid and for that I’m also grateful. 

You don’t add to the Burks family without paying your dues. Bree seemed to know this. She patiently waited for her hazing from all of the family members and accomplished this with grace. She did this by going hunting with Buddy even though the thought of a dead animal made her physically sick, learning to shoot a pistol and rifle, riding a bicycle off a rickety ramp into our pond, and wading through the drama of everyday life with us…like a champ. As our resident nurse, she is the go-to guy for all of our health issues and advice. If she doesn’t know the answer, she will flip through her mental Rolodex and find out who does.

This fateful day in history, 9/11, not only marks a tragic event in American life but a wonderful event in our own. Bree Leslie Burks was born for a purpose. One of those purposes was to make our family complete. But most importantly, to make Bud’s life complete. Andrea and I were always amazed that at the height of Bud’s silliness or amazing comedic timing, Bree can sit and read a magazine and not even look up at him. Well, Bud needs that. Because if his wife treated him as we do, then he would never have grown up. He has definitely been sharpened by his fairy-sized wife, who calls herself my tiny daughter. She has tamed a giant by encouraging him, cheering him on, and sometimes even laughing.

Bree, these last few years have taught me how incredibly lucky I am. Sometimes when I am driving down the road, frustrated, exhausted, overwhelmed, I think about how you care for me, how you pray for me and how you love me like a real mom. That means more to me than you’ll ever know. We are very different in some ways, but alike where it counts. I am SO PROUD of you! And I know that if you and Bud have a tiny son and a giant daughter that they will indeed be blessed by the best mom they could ever have. Happy Birthday, I love you!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Swooper and A Whisker

Marriage separates families. Not a popular thought. Some would wholly disagree...that's your freedom to do so but here's an example. We rarely experience a time when 100% of our family can be together. It's so rare an event that I just want to cry the whole time it happens. (don't go all psycho-analytical on me.) We are a family of 9, soon to be 10: Two parents, two daughters, two sons, one son-in-law, one daughter-in-law, one more daughter-in-law-to-be, and baby Bobby. That's a lot of different personalities, but more importantly, it's a lot of schedules.

The craziest of schedules belongs to my daughter, Jourdan, and her husband, Jeff. They are musicians. That means they live their lives out of a suitcase. This didn't used to be her life. Someone swooped down and whisked her away, into his van, into his band, into his crazy life and away from ours. How was I supposed to take this? I am by nature very territorial. Everyone knows this about me.

When someone wants to swoop down and whisk your daughter away, you, as a parent normally treat that act as an infringement, a threat, or a disaster. Sometimes you sigh with relief because somebody finally loves her. Rarely do you consider it a joy. I know many parents who love their son-in-laws yet still aren't overjoyed that their daughter is married with a life separate from them. This is where I found myself three years ago.

Sure, Jourdan chose a fine Christian man to love and marry. Sure, he treated her well. Sure, he could provide for her.  Sure, their kids would be beautiful. Why should I be bothered in the least? Because I'm Barbara. Selfish and protective to the end. I wanted my daughter to be there for me whenever I needed her. I wanted to be there for her whenever she needed me...and I wanted her to need me. There I said it. I was afraid Jeff wouldn't "get" our family. That he wouldn't see the need we have to be together. That he wouldn't need me. (again, said.) Jeff and I were friendly all during his and Jourdan's courtship and dating life. He is a lot of fun. You can't help but like him. But not until he married Jourdan did I really get to appreciate who he is and what he is to my daughter. At some point if you decide you're going to be a good parent, you forego your selfish desires and opinions and look at your child's life in the way God does. God probably says something like this to himself, "Who will take care of my daughter, Jourdan, the best?  Who will let Jourdan be all that she was created to be? Who can benefit from a partnership with Jourdan the most? Who will let Jourdan honor me and who will allow Jourdan to serve me, alongside himself? Who can Jourdan love the deepest? Who will teach Jourdan what my Bride is to be when the Bridegroom comes for her by living this out in earthly form?"

I was wrong to limit my desires for my daughter to my own narrow views.

Jeff Johnson is the only man my daughter has ever wanted to marry and the man whom God found as the answer to the above questions. I now know why. He pursued her, loves her, protects her in ways most men don't think about, learns from her, teaches her, prays for her, and plays with her. These are all aspects of their relationship that I celebrate. 

But I have to mention here that not only does he play with her, he can get her to do anything unreasonable. They got married the day after Thanksgiving in Dallas. On Thanksgiving day, both the Burks family and the Johnson family gathered together at Jeff's home to celebrate the annual feast together. It was all very civilized and friendly, in spite of the fact that we did not know each other well. Jourdan was seated at one end of the table as the hostess and this was the first time both families had sat down together. Her first time to host her in-laws and her own crazy family. She was a little nervous, but happy. The conversation turned to impressions. Someone brought up that Jourdan used to do an impression of Will Ferrell's impression of Harry Caray as seen many times on Saturday Night Live.

So Jeff then makes her do her impression in front of all , including her new mother and father-in-law. But he doesn't stop there. He goes and gets her guitar, puts it in her lap and tells her to sing a Thanksgiving song in her Harry Caray voice. She proceeded to sing us an impromptu song about Thanksgiving in that ridiculous voice. That's when I knew it would be alright. From then on Jeff has been stretching Jourdan's parameters. I have seen a change in her over the past three years. She is more relaxed, funnier, more joyful, and continues in her pursuit of godliness. I attribute much of that to her husband's influence.

Jeff and I are big buddies now. I love him as I love my own sons. We have deep conversations and we talk nonsense. (He's equally good at both.) I'm so grateful to Debbie and Larry Johnson for bringing him into the world, that hot August night. (I don't really know exactly what time he was born, I just wanted to make a Neil Diamond reference here.)

Jeff, I honor you today and every day. I pray that I will always make you proud to have me as your other mother. And I pray that your incredible God-ordained mission is brought to completion every day of your life. Thank you again for loving my daughter, for pursuing her, for never giving up.

And thank you for taking my advice to not be a turtle.

Love, Barbs

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We Were Better Off When We Were Little Children

All my hopes and dreams scatter like ashes...
Up in flames, a quiet disaster...
One day something went wrong, everything changed,
Now we're patching these holes in our souls 
where a ball and chain...

We were better off when we were little children,
When our faith came as easy as freedom,
When we dreamed we could fly,
Hope was shining in our eyes,
We were better off when we were children.
~Elenowen, 2012 (click to listen)

These are the words to a song I heard today for the first time. 
Today is the day after I heard of the death of Drew MacLean, one of Buddy's closest friends at UF. 
Today is the day after the day that marks the end of life on earth for a young husband, father-to-be, brother, son, friend to all who knew him. 

This is not an obituary for the dead but simply written to formulate grief and sadness. I am sad for this family who was as close to each other as we are. I am sad for Marc, the brother who shared every friend with Drew, shared the same degree, a home, moments meant only for best friends. I am sad for my son, Buddy who has never grieved like this before. I am sad for my son, Jake, who has compared this event to what it must be like to lose his own brother. I am sad for Mr. and Mrs. MacLean and for Drew's young wife, Allison. I am sad for their unborn daughter who will never be held by this bear of a man who never had an enemy.

When we were children, most of us had bad dreams, bad thoughts, moments of fear and sadness...but they were only moments. We bounced back with zeal and a mere memory of loss or trouble. God made children with an amazing talent for pushing forward and tendency toward resilience. Children are optimistic. They dream of flying kites and being superheroes. Adults lose their dreams. They learn the truth about superheroes. Yes, we were better off when we were children.

But we can't stay children. We would never learn enough, or love enough. 

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. ~ I Corinthians 13:11-12

I am so looking forward to seeing you face to face, Lord. Until then, please continue to help us learn and love...and continue to be God.

Serious golfers

Drew, celebrating the best day of Bud's life with us.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pregnant and Pissed

Finding myself pregnant for the fourth time was a traumatic disaster. How did this happen? (Thanks for not commenting, peanut gallery.) Just keep in mind that I was 30 years old...long past child bearing years...and all three of my earlier children were potty trained, Little Bud was going to be in kindergarten - giving me a morning all to myself, my father had had a serious stroke and was having to relearn how to walk and complete simple tasks, my best friend moved to another state (best friends don't grow on trees, y'all!), no maternity insurance, no one wants to have a family of 6 over for dinner, no one wants to babysit for four kids, we couldn't afford to pay a babysitter for four kids, I was already limited to a $75 per week food and gas budget, and I was spoiled rotten with the three kids I already had. What are the chances that a fourth one will be pleasant? Not good.

You know what else wasn't good? My attitude. Shame on me. Women all over the world trying to get pregnant and not able. Here I am, a veritable baby machine, crying real tears over nature's blessings. Ugh. Chalk up another item on the list of Behaviors I'm Not Proud Of.

Twenty-two years of Jake. I have often considered myself the luckiest woman in the history of the world and he is part of the reason why. Since I'm not a good enough writer to weave his blessed life into a story, I'll list the reasons I love him so much.
  • He loves me. Oh, how he loves me. Come to think of it...he loves everyone.
  • His smile. His eyes have always crinkled up into little slits whenever he smiles for real.
  • Every day is an extreme for Jake. "This is the best day of my life" or "This is the worst day of my life". There is always light at the end of the tunnel for this guy. Unless the Miami Heat loses to the Celtics.
  • His hugs. We could package them and make million$
  • He still occasionally gets in bed with us. (This will not be good news for some of you.)
  • He is easy to please...just give him beef. And soooo fun to feed.
  • He gave new meaning to the word Joy. No, I did not want to have another baby. But once again, God knew that this baby would bring Joy to my life when I needed it most. 
  • He made me talk to God on a regular basis. When I began to get lazy about regular conversations with my Saviour, Jake would get a concussion. Sometimes two. When I finally became comfortable with my meager prayer life, Jake would call with a broken heart, or his grades hanging by a thread (he had to maintain a 3.0 to keep his scholarship at UWA...not easy for a mediochre student in addition to playing football,  missing Calculus III every other week because of away games, etc.) And Jake would play football and play it with a vengeance. You football moms understand the need to talk to God regularly within this concept. Having a college football player causes many of us to try and make deals with God. However useless that is, it sent me to the Bible for words of comfort and wisdom. 
The Lord is my light and my salvation 
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me
    to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall. 
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear; 
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life, 
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

For in the day of trouble 
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.
We, in the Burks family, are not ashamed to be caught praying for our children - no matter the issue. When your baby is threatened by some force other than yourself...whether it's a germ, physical need, behavior that is the opposite of what you've taught, (but similar to the way you are), addiction, accident, or the dreaded broken heart, mothers become someone they don't even know. It's like, "Who is living in my meek, compliant, polite, and reasonable body?" Because this person has none of those traits AT ALL.
Jake is a product of Barbara, Buddy, his siblings, and a lot of prayer. God has a plan for this boy.

To those of you who know know exactly what I'm talking about. To have a son that other people want as their own is a phenomenon. To have a son that loves like Jesus loved, that is a miracle. Yes, he's flawed. No, I'm not immune to those flaws. Yes, I've actually told him "no" and punished him. No, I don't want him to live with me the rest of his life. Lucky for us he wants to spend the rest of his life with a beautiful young woman named Allison. Allison is as crazy as Jake...only prettier. This should be an interesting combination.
Jake's last football game for UWA

I want to sincerely thank those who have poured into his life with us: Jourdan, Bud IV, and Andrea (his sister who raised him), and dozens of our friends who love him almost as much as we do. I am grateful for his choice in brides, as well. Allison, you are perfect for Jake. You are every bit the juvenile pal he loves having around and also the woman who has pledged to love him forever. You're breathtakingly beautiful and amazingly humble. I am so excited that you will be my daughter!

bow lesson.

baby lesson.

A day Jake's arms never unclenched.

With Diana...preparing to go off to college.
We love to pose.
Jake, your birthday was last week and I hate to think of you leaving us for more of life, but thats exactly what you need to do. There's so much more of life for you to touch. for you to breathe in. For you to influence with your clenched fists and flexed biceps, and squinty smile. We are not worried about you. You will be better. Better than all of us. Better because of all of us. Better because He who is in you is He who overcomes the world.

Brothers. Stirring up trouble and stuff.

Happy birthday month, Jbird. 
I love you.

"For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession."
“Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel(Bud's nickname for his brother) because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Not much inspires me or bewilders me anymore.
I guess I'm turning into one of those crotchety old women who feels like they've done it all. Which is quite comical in that I have hardly done anything.

Newborn Bobby grasping Mommy's hand

Then a year ago this week, our first grandson was born. He was about a month premature and caused quite a ruckus. His mother was hospitalized a few weeks prior to his birth for pre-eclampsia which I thought was no big deal until her high risk obstetrician answered my question of "what's the worst thing that can happen with this condition?" with the reply, "she could die."
OK then.

She persevered. He was born. He was put in neonatal jail for two weeks. He then came home to our house.

Did you read that? Home to OUR HOUSE. I'll come back to that in a minute.

  • My daughter, Andrea, did not plan to become a mother yet. 
  • She had just begun an intense internship for her Master's program in Mental Health Counseling. 
  • Our relationship had been a bit strained the previous year. 
  • She was living in our house with us to save money during her internship. 
  • And her sister was getting married in 2 months.
No, this pregnancy was not planned but it proceeded as pregnancies do and we were all sucked into the process. Thanks to or some such graphically informative website, Andrea kept us all up-to-date on baby's progress. The baby is the size of a lima bean. It's the size of a lemon. It's the size of a peach. Funny how fetuses are described according to food. No one ever says, "It's the size of a prairie dog" or "He's almost the size of a Swingline stapler!". Even the food used to explain fetal sizes is bland. Why not, "He's as long as a California roll." or "Yep, I see her...she's now the size of a jalapeno"? So we got our weekly report and Andrea had her weekly meltdown. Do you know why a pregnant woman is overly emotional? It's because of all of the estrogen and progesterone produced in addition to anxiety she feels about becoming a mother. Andrea was a hormone factory and we all suffered for it. My husband will tell you I was the same way when pregnant with Jake, our fourth and sweetest luckily all of those ferocious feelings do not rub off on the baby.

I was invited into the delivery room along with Jourdan, Andrea's sister. We camped out for 30 hours of intense labor. Medically speaking, the labor itself was not always intense...but Andrea was. She was miserable. She hates needles and she hates being "inspected". It was all very painful and agonizing for her. Especially the anxiety over Bobby's health. I felt so sorry for her. But I would not trade a second of my life for that experience. You can well imagine the joy that accompanies the birth of your first grandchild and getting to cut the cord...but also witnessing a bonding between sisters, sharing a joke during actual childbirth that caused us to laugh until we cried, listening to the crazy delivery nurse sing in her opera voice...that baby was laughed into life. What a day. A long, long, day.

Now, a year later, the results are so inexpressible I am surprised I'm even trying to write about it.
Bewilderment #1:
God. Showed. Up.
I can tell you that there is no love like that of a grandparent for a grandchild, but you've heard that a thousand times by now. I can tell you that there's no love like that of a mother for her child...but that, too, is old news. What I can't tell you is how this happened. I went from total apprehension, worry, anxiety for Andrea, Bobby, their future and the future in our household, to a form of ridiculous obsession I like to call "momnoxiousness". 

He taught us a Holy grace, forgiveness, repaired relationships, and showed us Himself repeatedly through different events and through our amazing circle of friends (which makes me cry to face is unattractively contorting at this very moment). He held Bobby and Ange in his big strong hand and continues to do so this very day. 

Bewilderment #2:
I see the Lord in my daughter, as a mother and as a woman. It's amazes Andrea every day the depth of love she feels for this baby. Sometimes I would worry that he was replacing her Saviour as the Lord of her life. Then, slowly it dawned on me that Bobby reminded her of her need for Jesus and that she has totally re prioritized her goals. She is the best mother I have ever seen, including myself and I think I'm a pretty good mother. She lived at the hospital while he was in The Unit. She tirelessly trudged up to the nursery to feed and hold and stroke him because he wasn't allowed outside of his little cell. She has never, ever regretted her pregnancy or even spoken in a negative way regarding it and she had a difficult one. (she DID complain regularly about her "cankles" though.) 
I recently read a passage in Bob Goff's new book, Love Does where Donald Miller is describing Goff:

"(Bob Goff) loves people with a force that is natural, and by natural I mean like nature, like a waterfall or wind or waves on the ocean. He loves effortlessly, as though love packs annually in snow on a mountain, melting and rushing through him in an infinite loop. There's no explanation for a man who can love this well save God."

When I read this passage, I immediately thought of Andrea and the love she has for her son. The son that changed our family. Who brought absolute joy into our home. Who healed us with his mere existence. Who soothes me with his chubby hands on my face. Who stops whatever he's doing when I sing to him. Who grinds his new little teeth on anything and everything. Who "reads" by opening and shutting a book over and over again, Who lays his soft, fuzzy head on my shoulder for a second to let me know that at the moment, I'm his favorite. Who is loved beyond measure by his parents and all of the Burks and Pace clans. Who's gut laugh is gold and who's smile is priceless.


The only reason it will take a village to raise this child is
because everyone wants to be a part of his life.

Bobby and his silly personality...where did that come from?

Bewilderment #3: Yes, I'm bewildered that hosting an infant for six months was not hectic or in the least bit annoying. The day I walked upstairs and saw his crib taken apart before they moved into their own home, my heart lurched. It literally did a flip and landed in a sorry mess at the pit of my stomach. I like to imagine that the Gastrointestinal Crime Scene showed up and said, "Call Horatio, we'll need help with this one." He's my buddy of buddys. I don't know how long that will last because, at some point, I will not be nearly as cool as Granddaddy who has lots of fun things to do in his shop and can drive a boat and shoot a pistol, or lift a tank and throw a football like Uncle Jake, or sing thousands to their feet like Uncle Jeff and Aunt Jourge, or throw him to the moon (and catch him) like Uncle Buddy, or teach him to do flips like Aunt Bree, and he will soon tire of me trying to teach him to love literature...but until that happens, I will continue to read him important things by Dr. Suess , help him find Waldo, make him whatever he wants to eat, and squeeze his plump thighs and kiss him till he yells for mercy.

Happy birthday Baby Bobby and thanks for teaching all of us that God shows up as beans, lemons, and jalapenos.

Love, BB
"Oh a cowboy needs a horse, needs a horse, needs a horse.
And he's gotta have a rope, have a rope, have a rope.
And he oughta have a song, have a song, have a song...
If he wants to keep ridin'....
(our song)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Push-Button Hope is just not happening here. Not Today.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness....and Christian radio.
Nope. That last part is not true.
To be honest, I am not a hater of Christian music/radio but it sometimes makes me gag.

Let's do a few pros and cons on it right here, right now:
Pros for Christian radio - 
• positive, encouraging music
• something the kids can listen to and you don't have to worry about them repeating any unsavory lines from the songs they hear in front of grandma.
• some of the music is actually based on scripture.
• there are countless testimonials of how someone was at the end of their rope then tuned in to Christian radio and the song playing literally saved their life.

Cons for Christian radio - 
• DJ's
• Pledge drives
• The same 5 bands on repeat
• DJ's

There! I've said it! In other words, most Christian radio stations drive me bonkers. And yet, I still tune in. Why do I do that? What is it about my personality that continues to feast on a steady diet of cheese in my ears day in and day out? And by cheese, I am talking about the schmaltzy, fix everything with a 25 word devotional, fake-laugh-sounding deejay.

What I really want from a Christian 
radio station:
• Hire DJs who actually laugh from their gut...not to mention have a good sense of humor. The ten commandments do not include, Thou Shalt Not Be Witty. Or Thou Shalt Not Speak In Any Tone Other Than High Church.
• Real music. Not pop music that is recorded under a Christian label.
• Independent artists.
• Music recorded after 1999.

I know I must sound like an atheist to some of you at this point. I actually love Steven Curtis Chapman and respect Casting Crowns. I recently saw Chris Tomlin in concert and was wholly impressed. But where are artists like Gungor, Jillian Edwards, All Sons and Daughters, Sandra McCracken, Sara Groves, to name a few? Is it all about the money and the label? I do realize that many many many people want to hear Third Day (whom I also love), Barlow Girls, Point of Grace, Michael W. Smith, and any of the Winans. I also understand that any song performed by a group with the word "Hillsong" in it is gold. They are the "cool kids" in Christian radio circles.

I'm a promoter of the kid who sits on the back row. Who talks in church. Who doesn't always wear the trendiest outfit or the latest style. Who loves to laugh more than anything and incorporates their humor into everything they do. Who almost didn't try because fear of failure paralyzed them. That was me. So naturally I am drawn to that kid...that group...that artist. I would love to see Christian radio promote that kid too. Not because they already have a Dove nomination. But just because they are freaking GOOD. INSPIRED. HAVE A WORD I need to hear...not a tired chorus that just rhymes or contains the verse-of-the-month. (Jeremiah 29:11 anyone?)

Radio is a powerful medium. I appreciate its history, its effects, its purpose. But not everyone who needs spirit-filled music is comfortable listening to 2 people from the John Tesh School of Diction and Timbre (JTSDT) quote fragments of scripture out of context and acting like they have never had diahrrea or a crusty cold sore in their life. (I'm also picturing a toupe' and/or a perm.) I see that as a theme in our churches as well. C'mon people! Show your fever blisters. Don't be ashamed...everybody gets them.

Available April 24th on iTunes
Currently 6 people follow this blog. I am expecting to lose a third of my following after this post. But before you leave, please look at this brand new album coming out Tuesday, April 24th. Have you ever seen anything more lovely? I expect the songs from it will be even more spectacular. Am I bragging? You'd better believe it. THIS is what deserves to be all over the airwaves. And not because of my relationship to the artist. (well...not JUST because of that) but because I know where her heart has been and what has inspired her to write the songs on this album. Check it out. It's 100% lactose free.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Now THAT'S hope!  Horatio Spafford, I would definitely push the button to hear more of you.