I Don’t Hardly Love It

Let me explain something… if you’re not from the South then there are aspects of our dialect that you will never understand.  People live “over yonder” and go “up Alice’s house” to eat dinner.  We talk to “ya’ll”- singular OR plural and if “ya’ll” ever become a group, then it’s “you’uns”.  We love “taters” and “maters” and don’t even get me started on the importance of sweet tea.   

I have a friend who one night rolled the funniest phrase right off of her Southern little lips that I had ever heard.  My sister and I were attending our monthly Bunco group- possibly another Southern staple- when little Jaclyn uttered these words when telling a story- “I don’t hardly love….”  This phrase was instantly adopted into the vocabulary shared by my sister and myself.  It’s amazing how many times you can work this phrase into your daily conversation.  “Don’t hardly love” is just a sweeter, Southern way of saying “dislike”.  Let me share some examples:

I don’t hardly love when I go through the drive through at McDonald’s and they mess up my order.

I don’t hardly love when my children wake me up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday.

I don’t hardly love when rednecks with no muffler on their truck drive down Main Street at 11 p.m.

This list could go on and on because there are many things at this time in life that I don’t hardly love.  However, I DO hardly love being a Southern gal and living in a place where maters, taters, and sweet tea seem to make the world go round.  Let me encourage you to try on this phrase for a week and just see if it doesn’t bring a smile to your face.  🙂

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THAT girl

I hope this blog will be as fun to type as I have imagined it in my mind to be.  I have mentioned my friend Kelli in past blogs and will most likely continue to do so since it seems there is no subject in this universe which is off-limits during any of our discussions.  Kelli and I spend hours (literally) discussing current life and past experiences and we’ve come to a few conclusions.  One that seems to come up in many of our talks are the women that we know and the women that we are personally.  Sometimes in the midst of one of our chats, when one is discussing something about ourselves that we don’t particularly like, we will use the phrase “I don’t want to be THAT girl.” 

You may be confused a bit by this phrase so let me break it down for you. “THAT girl” can be anyone of us on any given day who is simply not living up to the fabulousness that we know we contain within ourselves. 🙂  I’ll give you some examples to use in helping to categorize THAT girl. 

The Spotlight Girl- I need to begin with a disclaimer.  I am happy to admit that I am a bit of a spotlight girl myself.  Now mind you, I don’t need the spotlight for the FULL duration of our time together, but more than likely at some point during our visit I am going to require it for a few minutes.  It is interesting to me that I seem to be surrounded with other spotlight girls much of the time, so we have learned to pass that spotlight around to the whole group after each girl has had her ample share of time.  There were five of us girls in college, each needing the spotlight for varying degrees of time, and we had an inside joke that we would share anytime we went dancing.  Whenever any of us thought we were doing something funny or worthy of attention or were just being a show off we would loudly proclaim as we were dancing, “LOOK AT ME!!!  LOOK AT ME!!!”  It doesn’t really get more direct than that, does it?!  Spotlight girls can be annoying.  You don’t have to tell me.  I’ve lived it.  I think everyone is deserving of the spotlight during their time on this planet.  I’ve learned that the secret is that you just can’t hog it.  No one likes a girl who requires that all attention be focused on her at all times.  Can I get an “amen”?

The Boyfriend Girl- This girl would be that person we all knew in high school who would drop her friends like a bag of hot potatoes anytime she “got” a boyfriend.  When she is single this girl would spend every waking moment of the day with her friends- laughing, shopping, going to dinners- but the moment a boy came into the picture all you could see was her dust as she galloped away on that white horse with her new prince.  The worst part about THIS girl is that the minute she gets dumped by said prince, she would try to come slinking back, after having not spoken to you in 3 months, and then would have her feelings hurt that she wasn’t welcomed back with open arms.  The boyfriend girl just needs to learn to prioritize.  You don’t have to have EITHER a boyfriend or friends.  You are allowed to have both.  I know this because the spotlight girls signed this declaration and it became fact.  😉

The Needy Girl- I am noticing that my fingers are growing heavy just trying to type this one.  The needy girl is THAT girl who will literally suck the life out of you with all of her moaning and complaining about how unfair life is and lamenting over all of her many woes.  We are all needy and fussy at one time or another.  We all have ups and downs.  I am referring specifically to that girl who is the proverbial Eeyore in your life with the little black cloud overhead and all.  Sometimes you may adopt a needy girl into your circle in the hopes that you can somehow better her life.  I’ve noticed that generally what actually ends up happening is that once all of the air has been sucked out of your balloon and you’ve given all of the advice you have to give, we generally throw these girls back.  Being in need is one thing.  Being the needy girl is something completely different.

The One-Upper Girl- This girl has done everything that you ever have, but she’s done it bigger and better.  Whether this girl is being honest about all of her accomplishments is still up for debate, but one thing is for sure- this girl has to “one up” everyone.   If you took a 5-mile hike THIS girl has just scaled Mount Kilimanjaro.  If you bought a wonderful, new purse at the outlet mall THIS girl has just flown back from Milan, Italy, assisting Miuccia Prada herself with designing the spring line of new handbags.  This girl was on every honor roll, won every academic award, took every title of recognition throughout her high school and college experience, and LOVES to talk about it.    A noticable difference between this girl and the spotlight girl is that the one-upper girl tries to grab the attention by slowly extinguishing any light which may be shining your way, even just for a moment, and making sure that her light is the best light with the highest possible wattage.  An important lesson for the one-upper girl to learn is that accomplishment is something to be proud of.  Being a boastful, bragging b-word is not.

The Gossip Girl- This girl probably doesn’t need much of an introduction.  We all know her.  This girl is the eyes and ears of your community, your work, or your school.  There isn’t a juicy story that she doesn’t know all of the details about and is more than willing to share them with anyone at anytime.  The gossip girl is a perpetual pot stirrer.  The more her tongue wags and the bigger her eyes get, the quicker you need to be stepping backwards to get away.  Trust me- if she’s talking about it WITH you it will only be a matter of time until she’s talking ABOUT you.

The Copycat Girl (thanks to Sonya V. for the suggestion)- I’ve only ever really known one of these girls in my life.  It was many years ago and fortunately I was not the one she was copying.  This girl means well, but her lack of originality can become irritating.  If you show up at school/work/church with a fabulous new belt/dress/purse it will be only a matter of days until this girl will be the proud owner of that exact possession.  It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  I’m guessing that must have been said by a man.  (Ha!  Charles Colton 1780-1832… I just Googled it!)    Some women like to be trend setters.  It’s important that as a woman you develop your own style and look.  It should be exclusive to you.  Sure, you can take bits and pieces that you like from other people and tweak them to make them your own, just don’t try to be a carbon-copy of someone you’re not.  Be yourself, ladies.  There is only one you- make it exceptional.

The Evil Girl (thanks to Amy Jo P. and Sandra for the suggestion)- The name really says it all.  This girl is most definitely NOT someone you want to be around.  This girl’s very happiness depends upon the crushing of others.  I’ve often wondered how some people find the time to invest so much energy in trying to make another person’s life miserable.  Don’t these people have lives of their own?  Don’t they have hobbies?  I would think it takes so much time and effort to constantly be scheming and planning that all I really have to say about this girl is how much I feel sorry for her.  How miserable must she be inside as a person to find her greatest happiness in hurting others?  How we treat others during our time here is truly a reflection of our inward character.  If this girl is constantly trying to put the negative focus and attention on someone else then that tells me there are horrible things in her own life that she doesn’t want to be discovered.  My only piece of advice about this girl… stay away.  When listing the qualities I want in a true friend the word “evil” very rarely makes the list.  🙂

The Jealous Girl- This girl can be jealous of you for any number of reasons.  Perhaps she wishes she looked like you or dressed like you.  Maybe she wishes she had your car, your job, or your life.  This girl is the person in your life who makes you want to scream, “WOULD YOU PLEASE JUST GROW UP?!” from the top of your lungs.  I’m sure at one time or another we all have a touch of this girl in us, but when the jealousy rears its ugly head and it is noticed by other people, then it becomes problematic.  Example: Some girls only have one friend at a time.  I like to have an assortment of friends.  I think the mixture is always fun and interesting.  Not all girls enjoy the mixture and may start to feel insecure or threatened when a new person comes into the fold.  The jealous girl should be encouraged to develop her own self-worth.  If you like who you are and can become secure in THAT, then the others are free to float in and out as they wish.  You know you’re fabulous.  No one has to stroke you to remind you.

The Stalker Girl- This girl is actually pretty fun to talk about.  I don’t really mean stalker in a restraining-order sort of way.  More of a girl who might continuously call, email, text, chase, hunt down, and spy on her man.  The stalker girl has insecurities for whatever reason and feels that if she is not in constant contact with her man of the moment then something must be wrong.  This girl is one who may call a boyfriend 15 times during an argument and leave messages and then continue to call because JUST MAYBE (fingers crossed) he’ll pick up on that 16th try.  “Stalker girl” can very easily roll into “desperate girl” and that is never anywhere any of us want to wind up.  Just put down that phone, girl.  He’ll call when he can.

I have a feeling this list will continue to be added to in the future.  For now I’ll just say that I believe we all have some of THAT girl in us.  I think the real challenge is to learn to identify it and then to focus on minimizing THAT part of us which takes away from our overall fabulousness!

Shades Of Gray In A Black And White World

A question for you. 

Most of us have heard that things/life/situations are always either black or white.  There really is no “gray” area.  I can’t help but relate the majority of my experience with this phrase all the way back to my very first memories of being in church.  There is good and there is bad.  The Lord would rather we be hot or cold as opposed to lukewarm.  There isn’t really much room for space in between.  At this very moment I could list a handful of my own friends and family who live by this mantra.  I love and respect each of those people.  I try to adapt my life to that mantra, or maybe adapt that mantra to my life, but the older I get I’m beginning to notice my life contains definite areas of undeniable gray. I don’t really feel it is necessary to give specific examples from my life- or maybe I just don’t want to- but I’m wondering if anyone else out there has ever had a similar thought? 

I remember in college taking a psychology class which encouraged us to analyze a situation from several perspectives and then to draw a conclusion.  Not only were we to draw that conclusion, but we also had to back up and explain why we came to each conclusion.  I’ll give you an example.  Situation one- “Is it wrong to steal?”  I would be willing to guess that the overwhelming majority of people would quickly answer that question with one single word… “yes”.  Now let me ask the same question, but with a little more background.  What if you were the father of a terminally ill child?  This child needed medication which was way beyond what your funds could provide.  What if you were unable to access the insurance necessary to cover the cost of such a drug?  What if mysteriously and miraculously you had free access to a pharmacy which had this drug on hand?  No one was there.  No one would know.  This drug would mean the difference between potential life and death for your child.  Now, is it wrong to steal?…

 The above example is just one of many that we discussed.  I’m curious to hear from any of you who would be willing to respond about the “gray” shades of life.  Maybe you still whole-heartedly disagree.  That is fine.  I am the first to realize the importance of black and white in this world.  There are set rules to be followed- some earthly, some spiritual.  Maybe you too see a little bit of gray in your own life.   I wonder how much the reason behind certain actions or decisions can have an effect on the choices that we all make.  Should that ever come into account or do we truly live in a world which is checkered only in black and white? 

Just curious.

Uncompartmentalized Living

I would venture to guess that most women who have just read this title will be able to relate to this story.  I can’t speak for ALL women, but the women in my circle get it.  Boy sister, do we get it!  The lesson is as simple as this- men and women are two inherently different creatures and thus misinterpretation and confusion throughout our shared time on this planet ensues.

From as early as my teen years, when boys and men started playing into my life picture, I remember very specifically my mother having a talk with me.  This talk has continued even into my adulthood.  Whenever there is a fuss, a disagreement, or an all out fight with a boyfriend or a husband, Carolynn has always explained to me that men are able to “compartmentalize” their feelings and emotions.  Let me give you an example.  In my past experience if ever a boyfriend/husband and I would have an argument I would feel as if the walls of my life were caving in.  I couldn’t eat.  I couldn’t sleep.  I became completely unmotivated and saddened.  It was as if this perceived argument was just slowly seeping into every other aspect of my life.  I would become frustrated at work.  My fuse would grow shorter and shorter and I might even find myself becoming upset with people who had nothing to do with the problem at hand.  It would consume my thoughts and everything I did throughout my day.  Trust me, I see the problem in this.  I HATE this about me, but it is what it is.  My entire world would be rocked.  Then, to make matters worse, the boyfriend/husband with whom I was having the disagreement would seem to be just fine.  WHAT IS THAT???!!!! Why isn’t he as miserable as I am???!!!  Doesn’t he LOVE me?!… Here is where “compartmentalization” comes in.

According to my mother’s wisdom and several psychological reports, men are able to compartmentalize their feelings.  So, they may have one compartment for work, one compartment for sports, one compartment for finances, one compartment for play, and one equal-sized compartment for relationships.  The psyche of men is a virtual office space divided by partitions whereas the psyche of women is a full-blown, open-door arena.  Men are generally much better at keeping their emotions in check.  Women are known for being creatures of emotion… laughing then crying then instantaneously getting upset that the man isn’t equally as upset.  Do you know these women?  I do.  I am one of them.

Many times after an argument or disagreement would blow over the man on the receiving end of my frustration would tell me not to read anything into whatever behaviors he did or did not exhibit to my liking.  In my head I was always thinking, “Okay, you flippin’ robot, if you would just show me a moment of genuine emotion maybe I could learn that lesson better.”  🙂

I think I may actually be starting to get the message.  It’s taken me a number of years to process the lesson on compartmentalization versus noncompartmentalization, but I think the sooner I get a grip on it the easier this shared journey through life may be for me.  For all of us.  We can’t get angry at men for not doing exactly what WE THINK they should do, say, or even be.  They aren’t mind readers… thank God for that.  We have to remember that each of us are created exactly as we were supposed to be.  In God’s perfect plan we were created for man, right?  So, maybe we start learning more about his compartments and he could be a little more understanding about our lack thereof. 

I think this realization may just be the key to harmonious living between women and men.  Well, that and maybe a little Prozac.

Never Claimed

I’ve never claimed to be something I’m not. 

If you’re waiting to watch me fall take your shot.

I’m human… imperfect, but fearfully made.

You know what they say about the plans best laid.

We’re here for just moments and then we are gone.

I have bigger things to think of as I’m moving on.

I’m not angry or bitter just stating a fact.

If you’re busy watching me then who’s watching YOUR back?

So stay in your drama and I’ll stay in mine.

I never claimed to be perfect, and I know I’ll be fine.

*** I would like to interject that in the majority of my writing I attempt to focus on the positive.  I’ve never been one who likes to focus on the negative, although sadly I do know that the negative exists.  Let’s just say that I’ve had a bad day.  I’m guessing most of us have experienced one of these.

A Birthday Wish

With each new year comes a chance for new hope.  Some people fear the progression in age, but my wish is that you can see the beauty of the journey.  Each marker in our life represents 365 days of change, of promise, of regret, of laughter, of chaos, of memories, of humility, and of humbleness.  What we do with our year is inevitably (and sometimes fearfully) up to us.  Let this birthday be the beginning of a renewed life for you.  Live your days to the fullest.  Walk with your head held as high as it can reach.  Don’t allow the past to be a tool which pulls you further into despair, but instead allow it to be the compass from which you direct your life in moving forward. 

There is mighty power in promise.  This morning, this day is as full of promise as you allow it to be.  Don’t set limitations on your goals and desires.  Don’t fear the uncertain and the unknown.  You serve a God Who knows the plans He has made for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Take comfort in that knowledge.  Whatever those plans may be, you are not alone.

My wish is that this birthday is your best yet.  Enjoy your day.  May you be showered with all of the peace, love, and happiness that you deserve… that you need… that you want.  I am beyond thankful for you, my friend.  I am blessed and privileged that you are on this planet another year.  Happy birthday.

Judge Not

This is an excerpt from a Church Without Walls (Facebook) Bible chat that I shared earlier this year.  Just wanted to include it on my blog as a reminder…

Matthew 7:1
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

Any of us who have been brought up in church are most likely familiar with that verse. I memorized it as a child as “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” I want to share something with you this morning that I can’t seem to get out of my head during the past week. I live in a small town. I’ve been here almost 20 years. There are many things I love about being here. However, one of the most difficult parts of living here is how this town seems to thrive on talking about the sin and the downfall of others. I have a dear friend who made a mistake a few years ago and her sin truly did “find her out”. It became a public scandal. It even made it into the local and state-wide newspapers. My friend is a Christian. My friend made a mistake. We are called not to judge. So, what did this town do? Did the Christians here rally around our hurt sister and lift her up?… okay, a few people did. There were a handful of believers here who reached out to her in her lowest time, but what did the rest of this town do? They turned their backs. She became a virtual pariah. People who had known her for years stopped talking to her. Her church practically “uninvited” her from coming back. People still to this day will cross the street to avoid having to walk by her. I truly believe if the majority of this town could have had its way, my friend would have been lynched right there on the courthouse lawn. It is shameful. It hurts me FOR her. I am here to tell you, friends, it is CHRISTIANS who give Christians a bad name. We are called to forgive, NOT TO JUDGE.

This week in our local paper two people I know are about to forced to travel down that same and lonely road. Because of mistakes they have made, or people around them have made, it is practically a certainty that the name-calling, the gossiping, the whispering, and the rejection will begin. All I know to do is offer support and to pray. Let me share with you a thought I had the other morning while talking to God about my sadness regarding the oppression in this town and the sick desire people here have to see other people fail. Imagine this with me for a moment if you will…

Imagine that God sent out an announcement to every person in every one of our towns and asked that we meet Him at the local movie theater on the upcoming Friday at 6 p.m. This announcement wouldn’t contain any additional information except that it was very important we be there. Wow! Wouldn’t we anxiously await the day and time which had been set? I would! We would be planning out what to wear and probably spend much of our time wondering what was so important. What was going to happen? Let’s say that the day arrives and everyone in our town starts lining up outside of the movie theater. God is inside! We’re very excited to finally find out what this is all about.

After each person in that long line is finally let inside we are all instructed to sit down in a seat in the theater. The room is packed to maximum capacity. God walks to the front and welcomes us all here. He explains that He has called us all together tonight for a very special event. Tonight on the big screen He is going to be showing us a movie. He has put together the most horrible and hidden secrets and sins of every person in the room whose last name begins with the letter “M”. I imagine that for those whose last name begins with “M” it would be a horrifying moment, but for the rest of the crowd it would force them to the edge of their seats! Wow! Front row seats to see IN PERSON the hidden secrets of those people right here in our community!!! I imagine that people would be ready to soak in each and every horrible detail to share with anyone who may have missed it and of course to post all the scandalous details on any chat room or website they could get their hands on. The movie starts and the people whose sins are being revealed have huddled in the back… heads down, ashamed. The rest of us watch on in the audience with bated breath, soaking in each and every embarrassing detail! Man, are we gonna have things to talk about NOW! Can you believe HE did that???!!! Can you believe SHE said that???!!! This is GOOD STUFF!

The movie ends, a small group is ashamed and embarrassed, but the rest of the people are like vultures. Mouths and heads full of rot to chew on for nourishment. Imagine then that God walks back out and tells the crowd to remain seated and get comfortable. The movie isn’t quite over yet. He tells us that now we are going to watch the sins of everyone else left in the room. Total silence fills the place. Are you kidding me? You mean MY sins are going to be layed out for everyone to see? You try to stand up but your hands and feet have been clamped to your seat. It wouldn’t matter even if you could get up because all of the exits have been sealed. No one is getting out and there is nowhere to go. All you can do is sit and be expose and be humiliated. What is going through your head NOW? Enjoy the show…

Friends, please think about this little scenario the next time you are tempted to participate in gossip. Please remember that we all sin. Everyone of us. Some sins are found out while others are not. Don’t be a “Christian” who rejoices in the downfall of another person. It is during those moments that these brothers and sisters most need our prayers and support. It is our obligation through the love of Christ to build them up not tear them down. Today, it may be the sins of our neighbors being exposed. Tomorrow it may be yours.

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