Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ever-Body Needs an Aint Lucy!

This my brother Perry and our Aint Lucy!

I am finishing my novel and have decided to take July to focus on it. So I will not be blogging or sending out any Joyvotions until August. Please pray that I will listen to the guidance of the Lord. Thank you and thank you SO much for reading.

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children…” Titus 2:3-4

Last week, I had the joyous opportunity to visit with my three siblings and their spouses and their kids and it was a blessing. And then to add to that, I had the privilege of travelling to a little town in New Mexico called Eunice to attend a family reunion. The last time I was in Eunice was 20 years ago in 1991, when my Grandmother Mamie Grizzard Floyd celebrated a family reunion with her 7 children, their spouses and all their kids. Since then, Mamie, my Uncle Raymond and my parents, Walker and Sally Floyd have died. And though my heart twinged a bit missing their presence, I felt the joy of seeing the many that have been added to the clan since then. Spouses and tons of kids have joined. And I too, having been single in 1991, have an expanded family with the blessing of John and Noah Iobst.

As with any family reunion, we laughed plenty and ate a lot. There was music making and storytelling. I hugged a lot of necks and kissed the cheek of several aunts and cousins. And yes, I even said, “Wow, you have grown!”

But I have to tell you my favorite moments came while sitting next to Lucille Kellum, my Aint Lucy, as I call her. Lucy is in her 70’s and is full of wisdom from the Lord and from life experience. She has 4 kids and in our family we had 4 kids. The Kellums lived in Eunice, 3 hours away from the Floyds in Van Horn, Texas. I grew up visiting them often and playing with Phyllis, her youngest, the one about whom my Dad would say, “Robbie, she’s about your caliber.” Gun vernacular was a constant metaphor used by Daddy. :0)

When my father died, Lucy was at the funeral. After the service, I remarked to no one in particular, “Well, I guess I’m an orphan.”

Quick as a cricket, Aint Lucy said, “As long as I’m alive Robbie Gail, you are not an orphan.”

Wasn’t just words either.

Last year, Aint Lucy went through a bout with cancer. I’m sure Mike and her kids were scared something awful. I was, too. But she came through a-shining and looked great at the reunion.

While I sat next to her, I asked Aint Lucy how to keep a good marriage going. She and Mike have been together 59 years. She said simply, “I learned very early on to get rid of the “me and I” in everything.”

She continued to dose out wisdom and soon she was surrounded by me, my sis-in-law, and two of her granddaughters, ages 17 and 18. It was a beautiful scene because it was how it should be. The older woman giving wisdom to the younger.

I miss my own mother so much and there are still moments I ask God why He had to take her. He’s been silent on this point.

But sitting in Eunice, New Mexico last week, listening to someone who has earned my love and respect like a mom, comforted me in ways that I can only feel, not put into words.

I drove from Albuquerque back to Denver on Monday and during the long, lonely drive I talked to God about what had happened and the joy of being placed in such a wonderful clan. And I asked God if it be His will, to allow me to someday be a wise old woman. (I refuse to think of myself now as old and I know I ain’t wise. :0) )

If you have such a treasure in your life, I encourage you to take some time and ask her some questions and allow the Father to soothe your spirit and teach your heart lessons that only come through the words of someone who has lived long and well.

Thank you Aint Lucy!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Fatherless on Fathers Day

“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.” Matthew 6:8

Sunday is Fathers Day and even as I write this, woman and children across the country are deciding what to give the Dad in their family. A tie, some ammo, movie tickets perhaps? It’s a day that often brings a chuckle into our home because of church. John and I have observed that in most churches, mothers are beatified on Mother’s Day and on Fathers Day, dads are told “You’re doing it wrong and you need to do it better.” Not all churches, but many.

Last night John shared something with me and he gave me permission to share it with you.

“Something weird happened today, Robbie.”


“I wasn’t doing anything particular, and I thought of Fathers Day and then I had this overwhelming sense of grief. I think for the first time in my life, I really grieved not having a father.”

John spent three days with his father when he was 19 and it turned out that the man John met was only a sperm donator for John’s life. I’m always amazed at the redemption God has brought to my husband’s life, because in not having a dad, he didn’t know how to be a dad, but God has redeemed that void. The Father of all has become John’s father and teacher.

After John and I talked about his grief, I started thinking of my own. Not the grief of never being fathered, but the grief of not having my father alive. I miss him at odd times, I’ve noticed. Many of those moments occur right after I see his face in my son’s or hear his goofiness in Noah’s.

So my husband and I are both fatherless, in a way. And you may be fatherless, too. But I thank God, we have THE FATHER. I’m not being trite at all when I say Our Father in Heaven is a true dad to us. He doesn’t make us smiley faced pancakes or take us to shooting ranges or movies, but He fills the place in our hearts that needs to know that we are enough. We are loved just as we are.

The Father has taught John that he has what it takes to be a warrior man in this world of passive, chicken-hearted men. The Father has taught me that I am His daughter, beautiful, worthy and loved unconditionally.

So this Fathers Day, Noah and I will make sure that John is honored as he should be with presents and food and hugs.

And this Fathers Day, John and I will make sure that we honor our Father as He should be honored with our hearts and our love and our lives.

If you are fatherless, look up on Sunday, and take a moment. Honor your Father in Heaven on His day.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

I Want to be a Dangerous Christian!

“I wouldn’t mind if to be a Christian were accepted as being the dangerous thing which it is; I wouldn’t mind if once again, we were being thrown to the lions. I do mind, desperately, that the word “Christian” means for so many people smugness, and piosity and holier than thouness.” Madeleine L’Engle

Amen to that, Madeleine!

And it starts with me, not those “other Christians” who offend me with their noses affixed in the air, sniffing their own goodness. It starts with me.

I long to be a dangerous Christian, one that loves recklessly like Christ. One that defines loving as action, not words. One that risks in order to please the Father. One that holds fast to the teachings of the Word while living to the fullest in the world.

It’s possible. I’ve seen dangerous Christians and they inspire me.

I disgust myself when I see me acting pious and smug, wielding judgment on others as if I have an anointed sword that is able to cut to the hearts of all. I do not like it when I spend more time wondering why someone doesn’t love Jesus like I do and less time loving them like Jesus loves me. And I offend myself when I cower in the corner, scared of offending anyone and doing absolutely nothing.

I want to be a dangerous Christian. Why not? I serve a dangerous God.

Remember when Lucy asked Mrs. Beaver about Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?

“Is he safe?” asked Lucy.

“Oh, no dear, he’s not safe. But he’s good.”

Lord, help us all take one more step toward Your heart. Cause us to live lives of courage and reckless abandon in the name of Jesus.

Help us be dangerous Christians!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Summer Reading!

Ah, the sun is shining its warmth and encouraging us to head for swimming pools or air conditioner. I love the summer! Cherries are ripe and the fruit is sweet. :0) And for me, summer time is an excellent time to READ! I mean read even more than I usually do. So this time of year, I make myself a summer reading list. I asked my facebook friends for suggestions.

Here are the ones that they named that I have read:

The Help - LOVED IT
The Mitford Series books - SO wonderful end easy and sweet!
Chronicles of Narnia - Classics
The Shape of Mercy - SO good
Chasing Lilacs - WONDERFUL
Redeeming Love - One of my favorites of all time
Eat, Love and Pray  - So much better than the movie

Here are some they suggested that I haven't read:

Crazy Love - I have it but haven't read it.
The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
The Jack Reader series by Lee Child
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
A Ship Possessed by Alton Gansky
Same Kind of Different as Me
Introverts in the Church
The Power of the Blood
Downpour by James McDonald
I Know This Much is True
Jane Adams Diary

So I'm looking at the second list and trying to decide. Do you have any suggestions? Have you read any of the second list? Help! And have a wonderful summer. Pick up a book if you haven't read in a while!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Sounds of a Warrior

(This week I am only blogging once because I have a nasty cold. What you are about to read is something I wrote a year ago. Noah is now 12 and taller than me and will soon end the 6th grade. Learning to let go is a lesson I will never fully embrace. But I am trying.)

My only child is about to turn eleven-years-old. He’s entering a phase in his life that scares me to death. Not because the prepubescent phase is racked with frightening questions about sexuality. Not because he is about to enter the lion’s den called Junior High. And not because he is getting less affectionate with me. This phase terrifies me because I won’t be his number one coach anymore.

My husband John and a friend of mine have both remarked to me this past week that it is the time in Noah’s life where Dad takes the front seat in guiding him. Even though I know this is for the best, I hate it.

John told me a story about a jungle tribe that keeps all the women and children in the inner circle of their village, while the men mainly live on the outskirts. When a boy turns a certain age, the father comes into the village wearing ceremonial gear and kidnaps his son. The boy then moves in with the father and learns how to live on the outskirts of the village.

When John told me this story my first thought was “Seriously, John? This is how you comfort me?”

It also made me think about the word outskirts. Basically, the etymological meaning is “beyond the borders of a woman.”

Soon, my little boy who is not so little will be on the outskirts of my influence.

Not completely, of course. I mean, John is not going to kidnap him away from our home and teach him to live in Motel Six. I will still be an integral part of my son’s life and will always be. But the relationship is changing, as it should.

Yesterday, I walked by his room and heard noises. The same noises I’ve heard for years. The first time I heard these sounds my forehead crinkled and I tilted my head towards his door.




Part of me wanted to walk in and catch Noah doing whatever he was doing. The other part of me sensed that interrupting would be akin to disturbing a sacred act.

I was right to go with my second instinct. Later I would ask Noah what he was doing in his room. He gave me a one word answer. “Imagination.”

It became a simple and wonderful explanation for the sounds. Little boy battles were fought in that room daily. Battles that I could not be a part of. My son has lived his life as an only child (his sisters are much older) and he has learned how to entertain himself. I love that his imagination has grown through the years. He still loves books and movies and video games and playing outside. But from time to time, he goes into his room and all I hear are the sounds of a young warrior.

Sometimes I imagine that world. Maybe he is dressed in camouflage, crouching in a fox hole, bullets blazing above his head as he plans how to unleash the grenades that will end the battle. Maybe he is flying on an enormous dragon, swooping low to kill monsters and save those in danger. And maybe he is a knight drawing his sword and fighting the enemy of the castle.

But I know his heart is being built into a warrior as he practices his courage. Once I had a thought that it would be horrible to find out he is some kind of serial killer, so I asked him if he was a good guy or a bad guy when he practiced Imagination.

“Mom, I’m always the good guy. And I always win.”

I sighed and thanked God for the guidance of my husband and brother Phil. See, without them, I would never have encouraged this side of my son. Violence is bad. Violence never leads to any good. This is what I believed. But part of my education in raising Noah is learning that every boy needs to learn to defend himself. Every boy needs to know that they have what it takes to fight evil and win. John and my brother Phil have schooled me in this. Especially in those moments where I thought Noah might get hurt. As his nurturer, I would sweep in and make sure Noah knew that some things were unsafe. Like climbing too high or trying something he’s never done before.

It was a difficult lesson to learn, but I learned it. I let go of trying to control my boy’s boundaries, within reason of course. And as I did, I noticed that the sounds from his room became more frequent. Even more intense at times.

Now I have to learn the lesson all over again. Noah has needed me to draw him in and soothe his heart and teach him gentleness and courtesy. I’ve modeled for him the kindness and love of Jesus. But he needs new lessons and John will be a better teacher. He will soon enter the classes of Becoming a Man 101 and Integrity as a Leader 102 and How to be a Good King 103.

I hope he always likes to be tickled. He and I have colossal tickle wars. I hope he always enjoys a little cuddling with his mom. Even when he is taller than me. I hope that my warrior grows to be a man who is after God’s heart and one who meets a woman who is crazy about Jesus. And I hope that even after he leaves our home and his room of warrior dreams and sounds, he will always be the good guy. And always win.