Tuesday, January 31, 2012

From Ridiculous to Extraordinary in One Tall Moment.

I knew that I would be protected forever because of the day I sprained my ankle after jumping off the bow of a boat.

I see some explanation is necessary.

I'm very vague on dates, unlike my older southern friend from Fried Chicken, Alabama - "Yes, that was Septembuh of nannyfo-uh..."(September, '94) so I'll guess this took place about 5-6 years ago. We were with family and friends out on our boat off the coast of Pensacola Beach in a rather choppy sea on a dolphin watch or fishing or something. Well...I get very seasick in a choppy, wavy gulf so Buddy offered to get as close to the beach as possible and drop some of us off at Fort Pickens. The waves were bringing the boat in closer than was safe so Buddy hollered, "Y'all need to get off now before we get beached!" I, being a cross between the Proverbs 31 and Ephesians 5 wife, immediately jumped off the bow of the boat into what I thought was 18" of water. It turned out to be closer to 6" of water. Owee.

My oldest son, Buddy IV, was with us that day. Upon seeing my obvious and extreme pain, he plowed into the water as the boat was rapidly receding from the shoreline and swam to my side. The look of concern on his face touched me forever. He didn't know whether to blame his dad for yelling at us to jump, or to blame the boat for it's sub-par design that could allow it to be grounded in 6" of water, or to blame God for making waves in the Gulf that day.  He proceeded to show me compassion and aid that I didn't think was possible from a 21 year old boy.

That's not a very dramatic story, but it is typical of the character of my son. (Both of my sons, actually.)
Barney B Burks, IV, aka Baby Buddy, aka Little Bud, aka Bud was our Bouncing Bundle of Blessedness. Being pregnant with him was akin to hiking uphill with a 60 pound backpack strapped to your belly. He was about 20" long and weighed 10 pounds 10 ounces at birth. I called him the Cube. Not really. But I have used that expression when describing him as a baby. 

Oh. My. Gosh. The cutest baby ever. Dimples as deep as moon craters, wide open grins all day long, curly blond locks, and poop constantly running out of his diaper. Baby Buddy grew in knowledge and in stature. Mostly in stature. He graduated from high school at 6'3" and then grew 2 more inches after that. The freshman fifteen, for him, meant inches. It's nice to be tall, but the best thing about Buddy is not A single thing, it's three:

            •  His ridiculous personality. Unlike the rest of us, Buddy     won't repeat something funny if he thinks he wasn't heard. But you don't have to worry because something new and funny will be coming shortly.

  • His humility. This boy was good at every sport he tried. And believe me, he tried many. He's even good at Scrabble, which boggles the mind if you've grown up with him and listened to his vocabulary. But we had to pry out of him any of his accomplishments. (also unlike most of us) He never, ever brags on himself. Thank goodness for Bree, his amazing wife, my third daughter. Bree used to have to make him call me to tell me little things like winning a game BECAUSE OF BUD'S GRAND SLAM!!! One day I got an email from Bud and all that was enclosed was a link to another website. It was merely the University of Florida Intramural website stating the winner (Bud) of the best baseball hitter on campus...The Home Run Derby! University of Florida, home to 45,000 students. Sheesh.
  • His character. Of course you think your children are special. Each one of them has a gift. Everyone knows that. However, this young man has continued to blow our minds with his wisdom, capacity for love, and loyalty. He is child-like and a cut-up  90% of the time. As a matter of fact, if you didn't know him but happened to come upon Bud playing around with his family or friends, it would quite surprise you (because of his shenanigans) to learn that he has a masters degree in structural engineering. He does not quite fit the mold of the average engineering student, believe me! But he never ceases to amaze us with his ability to comfort, his desire to be Christ-like, to show compassion, and to bring a peaceful solution to any problem. His depth and insight are straight from Paul's prayer in Philippians 1:9-10: 
"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ..."

One of the most beautiful things about my life is to see the love my children have for one another. ♥ I've never seen anything like it. When they are all together, the mood is usually set by Bud. He is a stabilizing factor in their lives...especially Jake's. Bud chose Jake to be his best man in his wedding. It was the best day of Jake's life. You see, Bud has been almost like a second father to his little brother. Not that Jake needed one because he has a wonderful dad. (and he certainly did NOT need any more mothers.) But Bud took it upon himself to be whatever Jake needed and he took his role seriously. When he turned 21, he chose not to drink because he did not want Jake to ever see him with alcohol and be tempted to do the same. He was on the sidelines of Jake's football games just like one of those dads that remembers every single play his son performs. It was torture for him to have to miss Jake's college games so he would try to listen online or at least watch the play by play stats on the UWA website. (torture, indeed). It's a beautiful sight to behold whenever they are reunited. 

Today (Feb. 1) is Bud's 27th birthday. To say we celebrate this day is an understatement. Buddy, you are both insane and an inspiration. Preposterous and a paragon. Here's to you, Buddy IV. Thank you for protecting our family and pouring your joy into our lives.

"word from your mutha."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Command Z

I was a 49 year old woman with an active family that included 4 biological adult children, a husband, a job working with students 12-18, a home to take care of, and the sole caretaker of unhealthy aging parents (reserving this topic for a future post). After much drilling and consideration and a new iMac computer, I decided with the help of my family to go back to school to pursue a degree in graphic design. Let me add here that I wasn't even really sure what a degree in graphic design was, but I just wanted to learn how to do art on the computer. So after making the decision Dec. 25, 2008, I signed up for my first class on Jan.4, 2009 and started 3 days later.

My first impression upon walking into class: Oh.My.Gosh.What.The.&#$@.Am.I.Doing? That was actually my second and third and twelfth impression as well. The class was Computer Graphics I. It is a beginner class in this program. To clarify "beginner", it really meant that you should already have a working knowledge of all the Adobe Design programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, as well as know your way around a Mac, which I'd owned for 2 short weeks. I felt stupid, stupid, stupid. And to top it off, my instructor was apparently the most brilliant, important, educated, philosophical, expert in his field....the elite fraternity of Junior College Visual Arts Instructors. (I did not assign him those attributes, he himself implied all of them). I learned in the first few weeks, that my best friend on that PJC computer was the COMMAND Z shortcut. For those of you who don't know what that does, it is the PC equivalent to go back a step, to erase what you just did. Man, oh man! Those awkward little squiggles just disappear on the spot!

I have a new community of friends now. I am probably the only one without a tattoo and have the fewest piercings...but they are artists, therefore a very colorful group. My youngest daughter, Andrea, tells me incessantly how glad she is that I have a more worldly view and diverse friendships And she is right! I consider my life richer for expanding my circle to more than just "church" friends, or middle-age grandparents. (But if you really know me, you understand that my circle of friends will NEVER consist of only people my age.)

I'm over halfway through the program now, working 34 hours a week, going to school 12, planning which 2 nights of 7 that I'll actually cook, washing many loads of laundry on Saturdays, folding laundry on Sundays, declining social opportunities because I have projects to complete, scurrying around trying to discover scholarship opportunities for old women going back to school, calling the emergency room to see if either one of my parents has checked in, and still using COMMAND Z in class. But I have learned that you can't use CMD Z in life. No matter how much you've grown up, how many times you've rededicated your life at camp, how many old sweatshirts you've donated to Goodwill, how many tears you've shed, that you just can't undo what you have others, to yourself.


Thank God we don't have to worry about that. Jesus Paid It All so that we could have our canvas white as snow. I'm trying to use the consequences of my mistakes to paint a new picture on it. I know we've all been to the place where we couldn't stop uttering, "If only I hadn't done that". We've torn up hearts, relationships,  reputations, etc. and we have to live with the consequences. What you do with those consequences is what determines the whole, completed picture of your life.

Some changes since I started school: I'm 3 years older, we added a daughter in 2009 and a son in 2010 (thanks to Buddy and Jourdan), Andrea brought new life to our first grandchild in May 2011 (Baby Bobby), my boss quit, my aging parents are unhealthier than ever, and I have a fish named Nick. Did I mention I'm 3 years older?

Things that haven't changed: I am still married to a wonderful man, I still get more pleasure out of my family than I deserve, I still can't find matches to socks, I still plan trips I'll never take, I still don't exercise regularly, and I still love teenagers. (not ALL teenagers so don't start making plans to ship me yours). I am still using the CMD Z option like crazy and I am still making mistakes in life I wish I could erase. However, I hope to put those paints to proper use. And if I happen to get a tattoo, I'll post it proudly.

And here is what it will look like: