Category Archives: General

I’m Talkin’ Mississippi

If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time you know I’m a proud, homegrown Mississippi girl.  Back home I’m a dime-a-dozen, but here in my DC suburb I’m somewhat of a unique specimen.  Just when I think I’m fitting the mold, I open my mouth and blow my cover–I’m not from around here.

babs

Lord, yes.

Sometimes it gets really awkward how “not from around here” I am.  Who knew the proper term for something falling over wasn’t “tumped?”  Certainly not me.  You mean “sprawled” isn’t a verb used nationwide for things being spread-out?  Absurd.

Occasionally, I even have to stop and explain common Southern sayings.  The conversation skips a beat, and that’s when I realize I’ve used language that’s routine among my people, but basically gibberish to the rest of the world.

Once at the bus stop, moms were discussing that they hadn’t seen a certain neighbor in a long time.  I replied, “You know, I haven’t seen them in a month of Sundays.”  From the quizzical expressions, I knew a proper definition was required, and followed up with, “It means a really long time.” 

Sometimes people just nod their heads in agreement, bless their little hearts.  Like the time I told a friend I wasn’t going to attend an event because it was just “too much sugar for a nickel.”  She wholeheartedly agreed, but later texted, “What did you mean about the nickel and sugar?”

MIXED MISSISSIPPI_0004

Ruth 1:16

I explained I think it means “too much of a good thing is too much.”  But sayings like these were inherited, and quite honestly there was some mystery–even to me– to the idiosyncrasies of my vocabulary.

Very often I find myself talking differently when surrounded by different accents.  It’s not to fit-in I assure you, it’s more like survival of the fittest–I just want them to be able to understand me.  If left around non-Southerners too long, I’ll begin speaking in a quick, precise, somewhat nasal manner.  Yes, I said nasal.

Contrarily, my drawl thickens when I’m back home visiting.  A few days into one particular Mississippi visit my oldest child said, “Mama, you’re really talking Mississippi.”  This has become a family quote.  Whenever the kids hear anyone with a Southern accent–whether it’s on a cartoon or in the grocery store–they get so excited, “MAMA, THEY’RE TALKIN’ MISSISSIPPI!”

When I was a little girl, my daddy wore a t-shirt supporting Wayne Dowdy, a Mississippi politician.  The campaign slogan read, “I’ll always remember who I am, where I came from, and who sent me.”

MIXED MISSISSIPPI_0002

Mississippi Mud

I loved that shirt, and even as a child carried a strong sense of pride and honor coming from the unique state of Mississippi. No matter what form you find me in–nasal or nostalgic–I’m always sure to throw in a promo for my home state.  I never ever want to forget who I am, and where I came from.

People probably get a little tired of me always “talkin’ Mississippi.”  That’s OK, because I get tired of being from a state that’s often underrated and overly scorned.  Some folks will never be lucky enough to see how great my state is–her hospitable people of all races, beautiful beaches and bluesy Delta.  When I’m talkin’ Mississippi, I’m just doing my part to make sure when folks meet me, they meet Mississippi.

MIXED MISSISSIPPI_0003

Feels like LOVE to me!

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Slowpoke

As a daughter of the Deep South, a question I am commonly asked is, “Do you miss living where life is slow?”  I usually just grin and say, “I do.”

usa porchI imagine the inquirer is picturing my family back home–casually rocking on the front porch while sipping sweet tea, nothing better to do than wait for the sun to set.

And while the South is famous for porches and sweet tea, the “slow-living” stereotype is somewhat of a myth.  People in the South are often just as inpatient, rushed and busy as people up North.

slow poke

Meet “Slowpoke.” He’s my reminder to slow down.

Regardless of geography, it’s an individual decision how you are going to live.  I’ve lived in small towns and been insanely busy, yet lived in large cities taking it slow and simple.

Sure, there are factors that cause more stress in larger towns–traffic, cost of living, etc.  But the truth is each of us has to make a personal choice to slow down.

Even with a packed schedule, you can have a stillness inside your soul that refuses to buy into a culture that reeks of stress.  I dare you to stop dreaming about the day you’ll sit and sip sweet tea on a porch, and slow down where you are.

 

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Spilled Milk

This morning I gave my 2 year old a half-full cup of chocolate milk.  Somehow I didn’t foresee this ending badly.

spilled milk

 

No more than 3 minutes after receiving the drink I hear Benjamin say, “Oooohhhhh. I make mess.”  I came in to find the entire contents splattered across the floor–the floor of my in-laws beautiful beach condo.

There was absolutely nothing to do but take a deep breath and grab a roll of paper towels.  I knew this outcome was possible when I handed the drink over to a feeble-handed toddler.  But I made the choice anyway, and now it was time to pay the price for my decision.

chochocspillAs I glanced down at the spill I noticed the pattern was actually a great life-lesson.  There’s the obvious centrally located mess–the area where the cup landed and the majority of the milk collected.  But feet beyond that, the mess extended to the smallest of droplets, and even these tiny sticky specks have potential to cause problems if left unattended.

When you make a mistake, the damage isn’t confined to you and you alone.  An unwise decision made in haste, a word spoken harshly, or a careless action.  Look closely, people and things around you get splattered and careful clean-up is necessary.

When our words or actions lead to a mess, cleaning up that mess is the right thing to do.  A responsible person recognizes their fault and how it affects people and things around them.  A loving person finds ways to repair and restore whatever damage–no matter how large or small–occurred.

God hasn’t called us to a life of carelessness, but of self-control and sound mind.  Paying careful attention to the full extent of the spill is necessary when cleaning up chocolate milk, and any mess in life.2 timothy 1 17

God also didn’t call us to a life of fear, shame and guilt.  Which is why once the spill is clean, it’s clean.  Glory to God!

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Move It And Lose It

Eight weeks ago we moved.  Although it was just down the street, the same moving process had to occur as if we were going cross-country.  As I dug through boxes day after day I began to fall into anxiety.  Having anxiety over a disorderly home isn’t something I’m proud of, but something I’m still struggling with.we're moving

I realize it’s a petty concern compared to more serious life issues, but it’s a real issue for many people.  When I talk to other women, particularly, they also harbor frustration and shame that the state of their home could cause so much distress.  The disorder of unpacking reminded me of a good truth my husband said to me years ago.

When Bradley, our oldest, reached the mess-making age my husband got a full glimpse of my issue with disorder.  Up until then, I had full control over the placement of each toy and blankie.  I wouldn’t go to bed until everything was in its place, so that the next morning I could awake to order.

box headsOne afternoon JD found me in tears as I struggled to sort toys and regain control over my domain.  A much more laid-back housekeeper, I’m sure this behavior was unbelievable to him.  But instead of chastising me or calling me what I was–a control freak–he said something I’ll never forget.  “Macie, it’s OK.  Nothing here can’t be undone.  It can all go back to the way it was.  Try to relax.”

This is a small glimpse into a huge truth.  Life is full of different ways to ruffle your feathers and even steal your feathers completely.  Time and time again families are hit with circumstances that leave them feeling as though there is no hope–as if it can never be undone.

But over and over again the Bible speaks of the Lord’s authority and victory over disorder, injustice and yes, even death.  Throughout the Old and New Testament verses speak of a Lord that will come and “undo” every wrong that was done to His creation.

Nothing, my friend, can’t be undone.

 

The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces;

he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 25:8

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Standards of Measurement

Tonight while loading the dishwasher I noticed my husband had yet again placed bowls on the top rack.  I have repetitively asked him to put bowls on the bottom rack because, in my expert opinion, they don’t come out as clean on the top.

proper dishwasher loading

Oh. Apparently the bowls DO go on top.

I wondered as I worked how I could nicely remind him of my request.  My wondering turned into speculation that he probably never even listened when I asked him to do this simple thing.  My speculation turned into resentment–how could he neglect to do this one simple thing?

As I moved the bowls from the top to the bottom rack, my brooding thoughts came to a sudden halt as I recalled a few things he’d asked me to do recently that didn’t get done.  When I stopped accusing long enough to see both sides of the coin, I realized how much I fall short.

My life illustrated.

My life illustrated.

My husband asks me to do small tasks all the time, yet sometimes things aren’t completed the way he asked, and sometimes not at all.  It’s not because I didn’t listen, or because I’m intentionally neglecting his requests.  Things just fall through the cracks–that’s how life is.

I privately forgave him, as this whole exchange took place silently in my head and heart.  The truth is, if I’m going to hold him to a standard of perfection, then he has a right to hold me to that same standard.

So many relationships–of all kinds–end because we allow these silent exchanges to cultivate into a full-blown irreconcilable difference.  So many relationships are riddled with drama because we hold others to a much higher standard than we ourselves could ever meet.

I know this won’t be the last time I start down a path of measuring another’s performance by a perfect standard of measurement of my calibration.  But I know by the grace of God–and the gift of the Holy Spirit guiding me–next time I’ll be a little quicker to stop and dole out grace instead of judgment. From now on, I’m not going to worry about where the bowls are.

For in the way you judge, you will be judged;

and by your standard of measure,

it will be measured to you.

  Matthew 7:2

 

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Worth Every Step

Next time I'll take a MAP

Next time I’ll take a MAP

Yesterday I ventured into DC to meet up with some friends who are in town for a school field trip.  Normally, I would politely decline, but these aren’t just any friends.  These are friends from the place I still secretly long for and day dream about–Coral Springs, Florida.  Not to mention these friends are from the church we attended and the affiliated school where I worked.  Thick ties, people, I was going into DC.

I prepared heavily–the van was loaded with a full tank of gas, snacks, diapers, wipes,  movies, juice boxes and toys.  Oh, we only live 45 minutes away from DC, but for once in my life I was going to be prepared.

This post may mean nothing to you if you are from a big city, were raised in a big city, or are just  familiar with big city living.  This girl is none of those things.  Y’all, there are like a MILLION people in DC on an average day, and yesterday I promise there were 3 million.  For some reason this didn’t intimidate me like it should have.

Turn turn turn there's PARKING!

Turn turn turn there’s PARKING!

So off we go to DC in a rolling grocery store, and everything’s great until we actually get into the District.  Hmmm, my husband was right, there’s no street parking like you find on the weekend.

That’s OK, I’m prepared for this.  My GPS tells me there’s parking at the Ronald Reagan Building.  I parked and confidently exited the parking garage with two kids in a double stroller.  I asked the security guard, “Which way to the Capitol?”

“THE CAPITOL?!”, he laughs and says, “That’s FOURTEEN BLOCKS from here.”  A bit shaken, I pulled up the Capitol on my iPhone and realize, “Hey, fourteen blocks is only a mile. I’ll be about 15 minutes later than expected–no biggie.”

YUM!

YUM!

I stopped halfway and got the boys some treats and tried not to think about the fourteen block hike back.  When I reached the Capitol, I find it’s roped off for a Police Memorial so I can’t enter to meet my friends.  This is starting to get annoying.

Then I had a stroke of genius–I’ll meet them at their HOTEL!  A bit more shaken and lacking confidence in my directional intuition, I asked a nearby DC police officer where the hotel was. He pointed and directed me on my way–right to one of the Smithsonians.  At least that’s where I ended up.

I’m telling you the truth, once you get into DC, you are basically in a concrete maze.  Every building–whether it’s the Department of Justice or a department store–looks exactly the same.  Asking yet another police officer, I found my way to the right street and saw what appeared to be a bright green “Holiday Inn” sign.

Did I mention I’d been needing a restroom for the last 18 blocks?  Did I mention the baby had fallen asleep, and I couldn’t just leave him outside in the stroller while I utilized any restroom I might have found?

I ran into the hotel and located the restrooms, only to find the stroller wouldn’t fit through the restroom door.  This is the moment it came full circle and I became very very thankful for the Police Memorial taking place at the roped-off Capitol.

Houston has solved a problem

Houston has solved a problem

A police officer sees me dancing outside the restroom trying to cram the stroller in and says, “Ma’am, I’ll be glad to stand with your kids so you can go in.”  I tell him my husband is in federal law enforcement, and he gave me his card and an official patch he was carrying for the event that day.  Just wow.

I thanked him profusely then turned to find the elevators.  That’s when I saw several familiar faces running towards me, arms outstretched.  I didn’t even shush them to not wake the baby.  I just fell into the moment of finding what I was looking for.  All the stress and sweat of the previous 90 minutes vanished in the midst of hearts reunited in a hotel lobby.

Students I was so happy to see! I even wore my MARLINS shirt in their honor!

I got to see John, who was Bradley’s kindergarten helper and (don’t tell anyone) my favorite student ever.  I chatted with Kim, a former ballet student of mine who said she thought about us “almost” every day.  I told her not a day went by I didn’t think about my friends in Florida.  Stacy had grown a foot and Mariah–who was in my Sunday school class–was a little lady.  It was bliss.

Rita and Macie

Rita and Macie. Not only a dear friend, but a fellow mommy of 3 who’s youngest was born just a few weeks after Benjamin, my youngest. There is no bond like journeying through pregnancy together. Trust me.

I think this is only a small glimpse at what stepping into eternity will feel like.  In this life we’re all experiencing highs and lows along the way.  We think we’ve done everything we can to prepare, and still life proves to us we are no match for it.  We approach a goal, only to find it roped-off and just out of reach.  We endure long intervals of feeling lost and spent, yet frequently enjoy small glimpses of grace and mercy from others.  Overall it’s quite an exhausting journey.  But one day–one day–we will fall into the moment of what we were looking for.

For this momentary affliction is producing for us

an eternal glory, far beyond compare.

2 Corinthians 4:17

 

 

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Mama, Rock Me

My husband and I lived in Nashville as newlyweds, then moved to Meridian, Mississippi for our first assignment with his current job.  It was there we bought our first home, a precious 1950’s cottage-style, gray with white trim and massive bow windows.

First House, Built 1951

The front yard was an ocean of azaleas and people in town were known to drive by just to view them in the Spring.  The bathrooms had intricate tiled floors and walls that a current builder could only dream of duplicating.  But the best part about this home was the 80 year old hands that designed and built it 50 years prior still lived right next door.

Fred Snowden, a quiet yet strong Southern gentleman, was a well-known builder in Meridian.  He continued to be sought out for his knowledge and skill well after his retirement, but Fred was also filled with knowledge and skill on a topic we’d soon be in need of–parenting.

Cross stitch by Fred's late wife Helen. Given to me before we moved. A cherished possession in the Anderson home.

Cross stitch by Fred’s late wife Helen. Given to me before we moved. A cherished possession in the Anderson home.

My husband and I had been married about 3 years when we found out we were expecting a baby.  Both of us still way too young to be put in charge of another human, we nervously awaited our new role as “Parents.”  In an effort to be the best parents ever we both read On Becoming Baby Wise, a book that instructs new parents on how to train a baby to sleep through the night.

I highlighted passages and held long, intense conversations with women who already had children.  I compared various sleep-training techniques, and made lists of what I would and would not do.  Because if there was one thing I was certain of, it’s I get crazy with no sleep, so this baby was going. to. sleep.

I’ll never forget that first night with baby Bradley.  Who can forget that first night?  The baby that slept for 48 hours in the hospital now screamed for 6 solid hours.  He took 2 hours to eat then only slept for 15 minutes.  None of this looked like the “first 7 days” section in my sleep-bible, except the “more than 8 wet diapers a day” which I charted (yes, charted) on a clip board in the nursery.

W. T. H.

What’s WRONG with him ????

The days went by and and the frustration continued, and Bradley was not falling into any sort of pattern like the book said he would.  Sure, he’d eat every 3 hours for one week, then the very next week eat every 1 hour.  He’d alllllllllllllmost sleep through the night for 3 nights, only to relapse into waking every 2 hours.

Once I was certifiably wacko from lack of sleep, I went running to anyone who could give me an alternative approach to sleep-training.  A dear friend recommended The Happiest Baby on the Block–finally someone smart enough to write a book told me it was okay to rock my child…for the first 3 months.  I bought the book when Bradley was 10 weeks old.  Do the math.

Enter Fred.  My back yard was basically Fred’s side yard, so we’d frequently meet at the fence and talk about how pretty the irises were that year, or how much he loved his new great-grand baby, Avery.  But one bright Spring day I’ll never forget, I saw Fred out and quickly bundled Bradley up to visit his neighbor.

PaPaw Fred, Ms. Doris and Bradley, age 2

PaPaw Fred, Ms. Doris and Bradley, age 2

Fred asked how it was going–was the baby well? — was mama resting?  That’s when I explained that I was really excited because I’d been letting the baby cry a lot, but now I’d found a book that said I could rock him–until he was 3 months old, of course.

Fred tilted his chin down, looked at me and–in the most wise, loving, slow drawl– said, “Macie, I rocked my daughter Becky ’til her legs drug the ground.  You rock that baby, and don’t mind what the book says.”

We finished our chat, and I went inside and rocked Bradley for at least an hour.  And of course, I cried as I rocked, and rocked as I cried, because that’s what you do with a 10 week old who you thought you only had 2 more weeks to rock.

It was around that time we started calling Fred, “Papaw Fred,” and still do. During our years as neighbors he gave us little gifts, some in the form of encouraging advice and some tangible mementos.  He let us borrow any tool from his shed anytime, “Just go get it, don’t even ask”, he’d tell me again and again.  PaPaw Fred gave us a sense of belonging and stability in this town where he was a fixture, and we were just passing through.

fred nursing home

Just one gift from PaPaw Fred, showing his great sense of humor

We lived in that little gray house until Bradley was just over 2.  It was so hard to leave–it’s even hard to write about now–because I loved that house, I loved that town and our time there as young parents.  I also loved having PaPaw Fred as my wise neighbor.

I still visit him each time we travel to Meridian to see old friends.  He always gives the boys a Coke, and although it breaks my heart that Bradley doesn’t remember all the Cokes he enjoyed as a toddler, PaPaw Fred doesn’t mind.  His wise old heart knows that time passes, kids grow, and even though they don’t remember all the details, we remember.  And we are grateful.

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