Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Parents Drugged Me!

I came from a messed up family -- dysfunctional in so many ways by today's terms. And, to add insult to injury, I am now openly speaking about the days my parents introduced me to the word "drug" and they actually incorporated the "drugs" into my life at a very young age!

My childhood did not consist of methamphetamine, or crack, or even pot. But, I can tell you that I had some kind of "drug" put in my life most every day by my very own parents!

Can you believe I was drug to church every Sunday? I'm not just talking Sunday mornings, either! I was drug to Sunday night church, and Wednesday night bible study! I was drug to my elderly great-grandparents' home every Sunday after church, too, where I had to sit and be quiet and "show respect" to my elders.
You want me to go on? Well, even if you don't, I feel compelled to tell you how much they drugged me! I was drug to the kitchen sink every day, seven days a week, to wash the dishes. That was after I was drug to the chicken coop to milk the goats, water the horse, and gather the eggs from the hens. Oh, it doesn't stop there! Then, I was drug to the cellar after school where I learned how to clean, weigh, and grade eggs. Yep, you guessed it! I was drug to the front room in the cellar (which was sparkling clean, I might add) where I had to wait on the egg customers, be polite, and never take a dime for doing my work. "You do this because we're a family. We all help out. You need to learn from little up what it means to work to keep us together!"

I was drug to nursing homes, hospitals, and church plays to be a support and encouragement. I was drug to the homes of sick neighbors to help clean their houses and hang out their laundry on the clothesline. And, if I ever refused to do any of this, I would have been drug to the back bedroom where the wooden spoon was waiting, and it wasn't waiting to ladle out the homemade soup! My butt felt the spoon on more than one occasion!

I often complained about my parents when I was growing up. They were tough. They were no-nonsense. They were old-school. And, they put drugs in my veins that still affect the way I act today. I've never had a hit of cocaine, crack, or heroin. I've never visited a meth lab, nor do I want to. I have drugs running through my veins that are way stronger, and more addictive, than anything you could ever grow in a field or mix in a lab.

God bless my parents and all those like them who thought it was best, and right, and good to drug their kids with a reverence and respect for God and all of His creation. I can only pray that I gave my own kids enough drugs to carry them through a lifetime, too!
Love and prayers,
Clara / Mom

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Have you ever looked at someone and wondered just what was going through his mind? More importantly, have you ever talked to your kids and wondered just what made them tick? What were they thinking when they escaped from the house in the middle of the night and rode their bikes ten miles into town? What were they thinking when they lit a match to see if the carpet would really burn? What was going on in their minds when they decided to take off their clothes, climb on the hot shingled roof and suntan their bare bottoms? WOW! I'd love to have had a penny for their thoughts back then!

In reflecting back over my own life, I'm sure people have said that about me, too. What was she thinking when she drove her little VW bug all the way to Oklahoma from New Jersey without knowing where she'd stay, without a job, and without a friend in the entire state? What was going on in her mind when she allowed her ten-year-old daughter to watch the other 7 kids "for just a few minutes" while she drove uptown to pick up some medicine for the sick kids? What in the world was she thinking when she allowed her 16-year-old and 15-year-old to drive three fourths of the way across the country just a few weeks after getting a driver's license? I probably would have made people quite wealthy if they had had a penny for my thoughts during those times in my life!

Most of the time, we don't have a clue what is really going on in the minds of others. Oh, we think we do! We take psychology courses that teach us how to analyze. We can study human behavior and think we know the next step a person is going to take based on previous thoughts and actions. But, do we really, really know? No way! Our thoughts are often a million miles away from what others think goes on in our minds.

Except. Except when we become a true follower and believer in God. "His ways are my ways. His thoughts are my thoughts." We can place that penny on the dime knowing that a believer in God has mostly pure and godly thoughts. We can flip that coin and know that it's going to be "heaven up" when that person is filled with the Spirit of God. We can be certain that a penny is a penny and it remains true to that when we are talking to a mature child of the Father. There is no mistaken thought identity when a person is feasting on the words of God.

Why do we do what we do when we're kids? Why do we make strange and odd choices? Why does our brain seem to malfunction when we're still experiencing growing pains? Why do we go kind of bonkers in our thinking when under stress? We know those answers! When we're young our thinking needs time and experiences in order to mature. We can't reason things out, so we make crazy and wild choices at times based on our childish thoughts. But, as we mature and learn that our thoughts turn into actions and we desire our actions to be good, wise, and godly, then we can channel our thoughts through the brain and sift out the dirt and keep the gold. it's beginning to make sense!

Don't get all bent out of shape trying to figure out what people are thinking about all of the time because you're never, ever going to get it all right. Only God knows the contents of the heart and mind. But, I'll bet you a penny or two that we can know that the overall thoughts of a person who knows God are kind and loving. Peaceful and gentle. Patient and kind. And, above all full of love! How do I know? Because our actions are a direct result of our thoughts! What we think about we become, and that's a godly teaching!

What am I thinking right now? Do you really want to know? Okay. Alright. I won't keep you guessing any longer! I'm thinking I'm hungry and some pizza would taste mighty fine right about now!

PS You're right on the money about what I wrote. All of the examples I used in this blog are true. And, I can tell you from experience, raising eleven (11) kids, very seldom was I right about their thoughts when they were little, but I sure can see the fruits of their thoughts now that they're older. I can see the beauty of God interwoven in their thoughts and actions and it's a beautiful, awesome sight! I'm continueally stacking those pennies up every day!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Let Me Tell You 'bout the Birds and the Bees

When I planted this flower in my garden, I had no idea that its name was "Bee Balm" nor did I know that aside from the obvious visual beauty of this gorgeous flower it attracts birds and bees.

Immediately, upon hearing that, I remembered the song "let me tell you 'bout the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees and a thing called love'', and then I chuckled out loud. And, then I sat and reflected about how much life has changed in the arena of the birds and the bees and the story of intimacy and sex since I was a kid.

For one thing, when I was growing up, the word "sex" was never used! Never, ever, ever did I hear that word in my home, and I only heard it in school when used in reference to "being dirty." I can almost see today's kids rolling their eyes at this one. I know my kids sure do give the eye roll when I talk about my days of growing up!

I honestly and truly didn't find out about "the birds and the bees" until I was in 8th or 9th grade and the details were pretty sketchy because I had to sneak a peek in Webster's Dictionary and the only photos I could find weren't very graphic at all. I promise you that nobody talked about sex back then! Yes, I know that people did the birds and bees thing, but they didn't talk about it!

I was about 16 when my mother had "the talk" with me, and it consisted of "Watch what you're doing when you go on dates because you could end up pregnant." YIKES! Some education, huh? I didn't have a clue. And, there really wasn't anybody to ask because everybody's lips were sealed on this topic. It was something you talked about when girls got engaged, I guess. Okay, I'm sure there was some talk about it before getting engaged, but it sure wasn't like today! We blushed, we did a silly giggle, we got embarrassed, and we definitely thought we were getting away with murder if we whispered the word "sex" when we were in a group talking as highschoolers.

My kids grew up in an entirely different era, and as a parent, I've watched things move from the story of "the birds and the bees" to today's times of ads on TV for condoms, sex toys, and advertisements for websites that can introduce you to a sexual playmate. Quite a distance from the days of the "Bee Balm" plant!

Good or bad, this is the time in which we live, and I believe today's times carry an even greater responsibility on parents to have "the talk" with their kids than ever before! And, hopefully your talk will be a little more detailed and bit more God-centered than the one my poor mom gave to me. The story of love and making love (God's way) is beautiful and sincere and pure and perfect! And, it's a story that every child needs to hear!

As I was checking out the old "Bee Balm" plants, I thought, "Why not? What would be so wrong with going back to the basics of explaining how God designed things to be for husbands and wives? What would be so wrong with using the example of how bees carry and deposit pollen and then the plants blossom and grow? Why not use God's beautiful creations to explain His most wonderful design for love? Would today's kids grasp it? Or would they make fun?"

Today's kids would not only grasp it, but they would delight in it, I'm sure. And, they need to hear the story of love and sex as told from a godly perspective! We all love hearing the truth. We each have a place in our heart for purity and beauty. And, there's nothing that
draws kids closer to their parents than to hear them speak about God's plan for their lives.
Go for it! Buy a few Bee Balm plants, wait for the birds and the bees to arrive, and talk on! I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!

PS How did I explain love, sex, and God's design for marriage to my kids? I'm sure you're dying to know. Okay. Okay, I confess. I didn't do so well. I bought a book that had little naked cartoonish stick figures and gave it to them to read. I still have the book, and it will be a conversation piece for time evermore!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

There's a Little Mask in All of Us!

One of my most fun times of the year comes in the month of October. Not only do I love the pumpkins, and cornstalks, and the crisp fall air, but I love the parties that are associated with fall harvest, trunk-or-treating, trick-or-treating, or whatever else you want to call it.

As I kid, I can remember loving to dress up in a costume, put on a mask, and go try to fool all of my relatives and neighbors. I always thought I got them good, and sometimes I probably did! Some of my costumes were pretty awesome if I do say so myself!

This fun tradition has carried on into my adult years, and I still love putting on a costume and a funny (or sometimes scary) mask and trying to fool people. I used to spend hours planning who I would be when I disguised myself and when and where I would appear in order to trick my kids when they were little. Oh, how much fun that was!!!!

One night I can remember dressing in a black top coat, dark gray scarf, work boots, ragged jeans, work gloves, an old farmer's hat, and a crazy wig. The final touch was the mask. was a killer of a good one! Mean and nasty looking! Frightful! I looked in the mirror and about came out of my own skin. I looked nasty!

My heart was thumping faster and faster as I sat on the chair in Steph and Alex's bedroom in the dark waiting for them to come to their bedroom. I wasn't going to say anything. The plan was to sit on that chair in the dark, and then have them discover me when they turned on the bedroom light. (I know....I have a warped sense of humor, but it only happens once a year!)

I could hear their steps coming closer to the bedroom. I sat in the chair good and straight hardly breathing. They were chatting girl talk as they opened the bedroom door and turned on the light! WOW!!!!!!!!!! I have never heard such screams in all of my life! HELP! PLEASE, HELP! SOMEBODY'S IN MY BEDROOM!!!! SOME STRANGER IS IN MY ROOM!!!

Now, do you want to know their real reaction? They turned on the light, took a slight step back, stared real good, then said, "Real funny, Mom. We knew it was you sitting there. Nobody else would be that dumb. You didn't scare us one little bit. And, take off that mask while you're at it."

All of that work for nothing. I tried to disguise myself real good, and they still knew it was me! Isn't that how it is in real life, though? We put on masks of all kinds. We put on our "church mask", our "everything's fine mask", our "happy, smiley face mask". You know what I'm talking about. We pretend. We hide behind the masks and act like we're somebody different. We think we're fooling others, when in fact, we're not even fooling ourseves. We know our hurts, pains, and struggles. We know our temptations, anger, and jealousy. We can't hide things like that behind a silly, old mask!

What's all this mean? No matter how hard we try to hide who we are behind a mask, we're going to be found out, so we might as well be ourselves right from the start -- dimples, pimples, simples, and all! If God loves us just as we are, then why should we try to be anything but who we are? We're a work in progress, and there's not a mask that can be made that can hide the heart and soul of a person! If we're good enough for God, then we're good enough!



PS The fright night didn't work on my girls, but the boys......they never made it to the bathroom! Oh, was that fun!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Duck Tail -- You Gotta Love the 50's!

My kids think it's so funny when I tell them stories about "my times" of growing up. It's definitely a hoot for me to think back to how different things were back in the day.

So, let's talk for a minute about the duck tail hair cuts. I can remember standing on the playground of Hammonton High School in New Jersey swooning over Frankie Avalon as he would walk on by the chain-link fence and talk to us. Okay, maybe he didn't always talk, but he did wave at us as we girls gripped the fence in hopes that Frankie would walk over and touch one of our hands. No, trust me, he never touched mine. If he had, I would never have washed my hand again!

Frankie had a duck tail which was the absolute most studly fashion statement for guys' hair in the 5o's. This awesome style was the dream-child of barber Joe Cirella (Italian, I'm sure) and this fashion became the craze when television and movie stars began waltzing the streets with their ducktails, also known as the Duck's Butt, or the D.A., but we'll keep it polite here and stick with ducktail. You can actually look at the tail of a duck and see how Barber Cirella came up with this idea!

I remember my father ranting and raving about how awful that was! He had plenty to say about the ducktails! Truth-be-known, if he hadn't been in his 30's at the time or had a head of kinky waves that wouldn't comb straight, he would have strutted a duck tail, too.

What's all this have to do with us today? I guess I just think fashion raves are just that.....they come and go like the waves of the sea, and sometimes we get so hung up on what people wear, how they style their hair, or better yet, what color they put in their hair, that often we miss out on the heart of the person.

Ducktails in the 50's. The disco punk in the 60's and 70's. Long hair for guys. Short spikes for girls. Vice versa. Who cares? What really matters is what the person is made up of on the inside. The outside is nothing more than a signature fashion statement of the era in which we live. It's been that way for time evermore, and fashion statements will continue to change like the tide until the end of time.

I'm sure you're wondering if I had a ducktail? No way! That was for the guys. Me? Beehive all the way!



PS I sure do wish the ducktail would come back, guys! Why don't you work on that?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Inside Every Peanut There's a Man!

As a kid, I can remember many hours spent finding the "Peanut Man" inside of every peanut that I opened. If you haven't tried doing that, you should! You can see the shape of the man's face, his top hat, his moustache, and his long beard. You can even see Mr. Peanut Man's eyes looking right at you! And, the fun part is that no two peanut men are exactly the same!

Most of us have probably never looked for the man in the peanut, though. We dig through the bag, shell the peanuts, gobble them down, and then we're done, often hardly even taking the time to savor the lingering taste of the peanut. (Can you tell I'm a fan of peanuts?)

Isn't that how it is in life most of the time? In the course of a week, we come in contact with so many different people, we say a quick "hi", and exchange of few words, then go on our way never even savoring the flavor of the individual much less taking the time to look for the man inside each person!

Life is too wonderful to allow it to pass us by unnoticed! We do it with people in general, with our friends, and many times we even do this with our close family members including our children. We just gulp down the "mundane stuff of the day" without taking time to look at the individual man inside of each flavorful peanut. We busy ourselves with the menial tasks of everyday living, and carelessly toss aside the meatier parts of life, including spending enough time with one another to really get to know the heart and what makes each of us tick.

Who are the peanuts in your life? Your co-workers? Your aunts, uncles, and cousins? Your friends at school? Your mate? Your children? Your grandchildren? Do you take the time to really see them for who they are? Do you make the time to enjoy their individuality? Do you look for the things that make them uniquely and wonderfully different? It's FUN getting to know people, especially those close to us, on a more personal level. Everybody has something special, something unique, to add to the beauty of the day, but we must take the time to look for it!

Inside of every peanut there's a man just waiting to be discovered! There's a wonderful personality, a terrific brain, a flavorful side, and a uniqueness that was meant to be discovered.

Why not try something different today? Why not spend enough time with those you come in contact with to find the peanut inside the man? I have a feeling you're going to be happily surprised at all of the neat faces you'll find!



PS For those of you who are allergic to peanuts, keep in mind there are all kinds of other nuts in this world just waiting to be discovered!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Bible Totin' Kid from Nashville

Every now and then something strikes a chord in your heart that plays a song that you'll remember forever. That's just how it was on my most recent trip to Nashville to visit family.

We were gathered in the livingroom saying our final goodbyes when my two-year-old grandson entered the room with all smiles. He was dressed up in his Sunday best and ready to go to church! He was happy from the inside out and you could tell. His eyes sparkled, there was dancing in his steps, and he clutched ever-so-proudly to his very own Bible! Yes, you heard me......he has his very own Bible at the age of two! Name inscribed on the Bible, too!

I captured a picture, not just because I think he is cute as all dickens, but because that was a sight precious to my heart. My son and his wife are teaching their children from little up the absolute JOY of knowing God! Going to church isn't a drudgery. It wasn't a sacrifice to get up early, get all dressed up in church clothes (when sunshine and a swimming pool were calling to them outside of the dining room window). It wasn't a hardship to carry that Bible around, nor was it an embarrassment. He was proud to be going to church! He was so happy to show me his name written on the front cover of his very own Bible! He was full of joy, and for all of the right reasons! God is love! God is our Father. God is our Redeember. God is our Everything!

In this hurried world of ours, we sometimes allow "things" to get in the way of way of the meatier parts of life -- those things of lasting significance. And, we often drift far, far away from what is of eternal value. We get sucked into the temporary fun stuff of life, and forget that we can have absolute fun while we're being totally in love with our heavenly Father. Joy and God are synonymous....they are not enemies of one another.

This photo of Zach is etched in my mind and burned on my heart forever. May we always strive for that child-like love of God! May we never be ashamed of calling God our Father! May we display our Bible in our hands, hearts, and homes with the same joy of this little one who so innocently said, "Gram, look! MY Bible!"

By giving our children the words of God, we are giving them the map to an eternity spent in heaven, as well as the guide for all of life while on earth. There will be hard troubles that smash into our lives. There will undoubtedly be difficult challenges that test us to the very core of our being. But, if we cling tightly and proudly to the words found in that Bible, there will be nothing that will ever pull us away from our God, our Father, and our Saviour!

Who knows what lies in store for this little two-year-old Bible totin' kid from Nashville! Maybe he will be the next voice that God uses to tell the world of His love. And, to think it all began with a little tan Bible in the hands of a very young boy from the hills of Tennessee!


Clara Hinton

Thursday, May 13, 2010

There's More to Ice Cream Than Meets the Eye!

I don't know about you, but I love ice cream! I mean I really love ice cream, and apparently so do a lot of people! Give me the plain flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, and I'll get wowed! Give me the totally scrumptious flavors like almond peanut butter or black cherry and vanilla bean and I'll jump up and down with craziness!

For a lot of us, ice cream is a much more than just frozen milk, cream, and some flavoring. Ice cream is reason for getting together. Ice cream always is present at a party. Ice cream is something that cools us down on a hot, summery day. Ice cream is that stuff that gets all gooey on the faces of little ones and makes us look at the children with delight and say, "Oh, my word! Look how cute!" Ice cream is a great way to make memories!

Last weekend, I had the most wonderful Mother's Day ever! I got to visit with family in the grand city of Nashville, Tennessee! Granted, I love the city, and it's an awesome place to visit, BUT the city would not be what it is to me if I didn't have loved ones living there! I got to spend precious moments with some of my children and my grandchildren! And, guess what helped give us some of our most cherished moments of our time together? Ice cream!!!!!

We laughed, we talked, and ate all kinds of flavors of ice cream. The kids had ice cream all over their faces, on their shirts, on the tables and chairs, and nobody seemed to care. The "ice cream social" was too good for words!

We all need those "ice cream moments" when we can get together and just let our hair down and enjoy life. Those times when we forget we have any cares in this world, and we fall into the "I love life more than anything" mode. Those times when all we care to do is laugh and play and enjoy the moment.

If you've noticed the date of this blog, you'll know that my visit to Nashville was directly following the flood that did billions of dollars of damage in that fair city, as well as claimed lives of some very precious people. You might ask how we could take a break away from the heavy pain of this time of sorrow to eat ice cream and laugh. We did it because that is often how we deal with the deep sorrows of life -- we take some necessary small breaks away from the pain in order to recharge our batteries. We take mini grief breaks to give ourselves time to replenish and refuel.

The Nashville people were doing just that, too! Many were out last weekend talking, laughing, and enjoying some ice cream. They weren't disrespectful. They weren't forgetting the massive clean-up about to begin in the city. They weren't making light of the pain. They were simply getting energized for the work that lies ahead.

What's your pain today? More importantly, what's your plan for survival? Do you have an "ice cream social" planned? Maybe a "chocoate chip cookie fest" ? Or how about a movie-marathon? What is it that recharges you? What fills up your tank when it is running on low? Whatever it is, then do it today! It's a matter of survival!


Clara Hinton

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Making Amends after Mom is Gone

Since Mother's Day is coming up, and the original use of this blog was for "healing", I decided to take a brief break away from talking about the Italy trip, and post some of my thoughts on how to make amends with your mother after she is gone (if, of course, there is a need to make any amends.)

Making Amends after Mom is Gone

Mother's Day has been one of the most difficult days of my life for two reasons. Twenty-two years ago I was carrying a 28-week-old son who died in my uterus. I knew he was no longer alive, but my doctor felt it was best for me to wait for spontaneous labor to begin, so.....while I waiting for these two longest weeks of my life to pass, Mother's Day arrived. I wept, I sorrowed, I grieved, and I wailed to God for allowing this to happen. The Thursday following Mother's Day, I delivered my baby boy who was forever still.

The Mother's Day before the loss of my son, I did something that was so out of character for me that I still cannot believe I did it. I totally ignored my mother on Mother's Day, and I did it knowing that I would hurt her deeply. I was angry with her for her alcohol problem. I was angry with her for destroying her health. I was just plain angry with her! Mostly, I was angry with her for not being the mother I thought she should be, so I foolishly and selfishly made the decision to withhold love from my mother on that particular Mother's Day. I've never been the same since.

Life never gives us everything we want or everything we think we need. My mother had problems dealing with depression. She had serious physical illnesses. And, to top it all off, she was a full-blown alcoholic shedding her misery on others every day of her life. And, I wasn't happy at all about that. "Why", I asked myself, "should I buy her a card filled with flattery and tell her things that weren't true?" "Why should I shower my mother with love when she would probably be far too drunk to even know that I tried to show her that I cared?"

Mom asked for a simple gift that year. She wanted a lawn chair -- the inexpensive kind that can be folded and carried any place in the yard. She wanted a $10 lawn chair, and I wouldn't give her that as a gift because I didn't feel she deserved it. Talk about having the wrong understanding of love!!! I didn't acknowledge her at all on Mother's Day, and forgiving myself has been a long, difficult, tear-filled journey.

Little did I know that my mother would never again see another Mother's Day. She died 10 months later from complications of the liver brought on by her constant drinking.

God, in His mercy, allowed me to hold my mother's hand as she drew her final breath, yet I never spoke the words I wanted to say to her. I never said, "Mom, I love you so much and I'm so ashamed of myself for not thanking you for giving me life, for taking care of me when it was so hard for you to even take care of yourself, and mostly of all thank you for pointing me to God." Instead, I pulled inward and kept that wall between us as she breavely took her final breath. My mother was gone, and I was left with only guilt. Guilt for not being being the daughter I should have been to my mother. Guilt for not acknowledging my mother on her final Mother's Day on earth. Guilt for not getting her that lawn chair that would have been so easy for me to give to her as a gift.

I have had lots of time to repent, and it has taken me years to finally feel the heavy weight of guilt removed from my heart. I learned an eternal lesson that I want to share with you on this Mother's Day and every Mother's Day to come. Please don't ever deny your mother the gift of love even if you think she doesn't deserve it. You have been given one mother, and it is both an honor and a privilege to show your mother that you care -- even if that love is never reciprocated. Every mother deserves to be hugged, loved, and treated special, and most especially on the day set aside for honoring mothers -- Mother's Day.

I miss my mother, and I have wished thousands of times over that I could tell her what I feel in my heart. I have visited her gravesite and talked with her there. I have written her letters and asked for her forgiveness. I have even bought her a lawn chair! In fact, every year since the death of my mother, I buy one lawn chair and give that chair to someone who might enjoy just sitting in the sunshine for a while.

Life without mother on Mother's Day is often empty and hollow. Add guilt to that, and it is horrible. Why not do something to remove that awful burden of guilt if you are feeling the same as I did? Do something special for your mother today! Don't delay. You don't have to have a special day or a special reason. Just do it! And, if your mother is no longer here, you can easily find another mother who just might need an extra hug, a smile, an "I love you" and maybe even a lawn chair!


Clara Hinton