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Taking Pride in All We Do

The moment I quit expecting more appreciation, I became a better mom. The day I embraced my role as a servant to my family, I began to enjoy each of them more. That very second I became secure in who I am and what my role is in my family, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and quit trying to prove my worth to everyone around me.

Like most stay-at-home moms, I’ve felt unappreciated. I’ve been offended by the “when are you going back to work?” and “what do you do all day?” questions. I’ve read and even shared the articles other moms write about how hard their days and nights are; how they never have clean clothes; and how stressful it is to revolve their entire lives around everyone else in their families. Although I mostly shared the articles because I enjoy the comradery that comes with reading that I’m not the only one wiping poop off the crib walls at 2am, I have to admit, a small part of me shared the articles trying to elicit the “ahhhh, what a hard job!” effect.

And by gosh, my job is hard! But so is every store clerk’s; every teacher’s; every oil exec’s; every working parent’s that has to leave their child at day care. I am so fortunate that I get to stay home and see my kids thrive. Colossians 3 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” That one scripture has resonated with me for weeks.

My calling for this season in my life is to serve my family; to make every member of my family’s job easier.  Some may call my thinking outdated or even sexist, but I want to send my kids and husband out every day ready to tackle the world. Part of that is spiritual and difficult like modeling positive self image and teaching them to deal with stress and pain and showing them how to love and be respectful and responsible. But part of this mission is in the simple, every-day things like clean socks, healthy lunches that make full bellies, and warm cozy beds to rest in at night. It’s in the sparkly, lemon scented toilet bowls and taking time to give my kids my undivided attention or jump on the trampoline with them. It’s having a good meal, and clean home and a somewhat put together wife for my husband to retreat to after he’s been out working for 15 hours.  (or at least lighting a candle and freshening up my mascara to fake him out!)

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This does not mean I don’t take care of myself or do things for me. And it certainly doesn’t mean my home is pristine or I get it right every time. It just means I respect myself and my role enough to not depend on getting my spiritual tank full from others anymore. It means I do all the same things I’ve always done, but now with my heart in the right place. I used to stress myself out trying to prove to everyone that I don’t eat bon bons and watch Dr. Phil all day! I know I don’t. My husband and kids know I don’t. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters to me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is let’s all quit trying to prove our worth to our friends, PTO moms, strangers in the grocery store, and other people whose opinions of us frankly don’t matter. Let’s spend less time whining about how hard our jobs are and more time just doing them better. It’s hard, it’s chaotic, and there are days we all want to pull our hair out. But this is the life we chose and are privileged to lead. So instead of drumming up more “woe is me,” let’s compare stories so that we can all laugh about the crazy together and realize there are no perfect parents.  One day we’ll all miss being some little person’s world, so enjoy the heck out of it while we are! Be proud of exactly who you are and what your role is right now in life even if others don’t quite get it.  Take great pride in being behind the scenes of your family’s successes. It truly is an unmatched honor.

 

Confession

A few Sundays back, I said a cuss word under my breath on our way into church because my 3 year old traipsed his happy self through a puddle…in brand new shoes. Not like a little puddle….more like a small pond. And I was already mad we were late. And I didn’t have anything to change him into. And I was just sure his Sunday school teachers were going to look at him and think what a horrible mother I was for having my son out with wet shoes in the cold weather.

The very next day, my 7 year old was jumping on the trampoline and got hit by his brother in the face. I’m sure it hurt…but I promise you they heard him scream 3 counties over. And he just kept screaming. And kept screaming. And just when I thought he’d calmed down, he started screaming again, but not because he was hurt…because he was mad he’d been hit. After I was sure his face was fine (and it totally was), I tried to be the mature parent that I am and send him to his room to calm down for a few minutes. But when he looked back and yelled at me how mad he was again, I lost it…my patience was spent.  And I hollered right back at him how he needed to calm the heck down and how yelling wasn’t going to do him any good. I know….the pot calling the kettle black, right?!? I’m seriously so embarrassed just seeing it written out on my computer screen.

Ironically my devotional that Sunday was about bridling my tongue. According to James 1:26, the one thing proving our level of spiritual maturity isn’t how religious we are – whether we go to church or can quote scripture or the good works we do – it is the words from our mouths.

So after everyone calmed down after the trampoline incident, those words came back to me. And I was immediately convicted and overwhelmed with guilt. Uuuuugggghhhh I hate it when that happens!!

Don’t get me wrong…I fully believe in consequences for poor behavior. I’m not always sure how to accomplish that, but I am sure hollering over my kids is not the solution. I always tell them to reserve yelling for gushing blood, broken bones, strangers, and emergencies. I am so patient 90% of the time, but then I can’t hold my tongue over wet shoes and well, yelling. It’s really no wonder my kids are so, ummmm….vocal.

I’m not really into New Years resolutions….because frankly, I’m not great at keeping them for long. But I decided to give it a go this year. I vowed to learn to hold my tongue through my frustrations…especially with my kids. I fully embraced the challenge of becoming a better example of how to handle emotions. Archbishop Desmond Tutu credits his father for saying, “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.” I took that to heart, friends.

My husband and I have discussed in great length creative ways around yelling. My 2 year old daughter is completely fascinated with the movie Frozen, so we have seen it no less than 500 times during this nasty spell of winterish weather. So, now, when my oldest son gets angry or starts to pout about anything, we stop and calmly announce that he has to sing Let It Go…with gusto; hand motions encouraged. 9 out of 10 times, he just giggles and completely forgets what he was mad about in the first place. It’s a drastic improvement from the yelling matches that were taking place just a couple of weeks ago.

I’m sure the consequences will have to change and evolve as our kids grow (although seeing a 16 year old hairy boy sing Let It Go would be quite funny).  For now, I’m so thankful for that conviction that led me to find a much more effective solution that makes my entire house more peaceful and calm.  It’s amazing how quickly the kids are embracing our new tactics.  I think we ALL feel better!

America The Great

I made the choice to have 4 children. When I go shopping, I really appreciate when there’s a family bathroom for people like me. But I’m not offended when there’s not. I prefer the changing table be in a stall and not out in the middle of the restroom. When I was nursing, I loved an area to breastfeed comfortably and privately. But when there’s not, I make due. I don’t think I’ve ever made it through a grocery run without someone shaking their head at me, asking if all those kids are really mine.  I just smile proudly.  I’m not going to boycott or send hateful letters or cry hurt feelings. I’m not even going to call it an injustice on facebook. I don’t expect everyone else to understand, agree or cater to my desires because of a lifestyle choice I’ve made.

 
I wish more Americans felt this way. It grieves my heart that this is what America has come to. That old adage about the squeaky wheel getting the grease is the truth. Wrap your brains around this…we can sue a restaurant because our coffee is too hot or because we’ve become obese eating too much of their food….and win. We can pull a gun on a police officer…and somehow emerge a victim. We can decide we like a house, squat on it, and the owners cannot legally kick us out after a period of time. We can watch a show called “Blackish”….but a show called “Whiteish” or “Brownish” would certainly be called racist. We can choose not to work…and get paid to do it. A people group that makes up .3% of the population can decide they’re uncomfortable…and we change bathroom rights for the other 99.7%.

The beautiful thing about America’s foundation, was that it brought lots of people groups together. Did they do it all right? Absolutely not. Did they commit atrocities in their voyage to freedom? Without a doubt. They did then what they knew how to do. I’d like to say, we know better now so we do better, but I can’t. All we do is divide into smaller and smaller segments: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, conservatives, black people, white people, immigrants, straight, homosexual, transgender, rich, poor, middle-class, working, not working….

Everyone is drawing lines in the sand and bickering and fighting over tiny details. It wasn’t so many generations ago, our forefathers were fighting for freedom and equality and religion….not one religion, but the freedom to choose. Now, we shun and guilt-trip and threaten violence on anyone who disagrees with us or our choices.  The reason we love America, the reason we’re ‘Merica Smokers, and the reason I call my blog Mama ‘Merica is because we love what this great country was founded on.  Thousands of lives have been sacrificed so that we can have our own opinions – even strong ones. With that, I guess they assumed we’d be mature enough to respect others even if they were different. They assumed we could be nice, or at least civil, even if we disagree with our fellow Americans. They assumed we, the people, would handle our day to day affairs with some degree of common sense and not rely on the government to micromanage.

While other countries are fighting for hungry children and girls being sold as sex slaves, and villages being burned or daily explosions, here we are fighting over things like bathrooms. I’m disappointed in us, America. Without any of the afformentioned people groups, America would not be what it is today. But we should operate as Americans….not solely as any of those smaller groups with whom we identify.  I have a unique situation, and there are many things that would make my life easier or happier. But I do not expect everyone else who is not like me, to understand or operate in my favor.  Having to sometimes “make due” does not qualify as injustice. Logistically, we cannot cater to every person, people group or opinion. We are chasing our tales. We’ve got it so good over here, we’ve forgotten what real oppression is.  This is why we have lost our reputation as the greatest country in the world. We all need to put on our big girl panties, quit being so easily offended, and work together to make her great again.

Why we love BBQ People

It’s hard to explain cook offs to people outside of the circuit.  Best put; we spend an exuberant amount of money to have a weekend with little or no sleep, in that sultry southern sunshine, slaving over a hot pit…all for the chance to win a trophy and prize money that usually pales in comparison to the amount of money that goes into this hobby.  Yes, we pay to have that much fun.


But there’s something intoxicating about traveling the nation, pulling in to that cloud of smoke, admiring all of the shiny pits, and custom trailers.  There’s something oddly calming about evenings before the cook, something addictive about hearing your name called; something humbling about that 15 second walk to the stage among your peers.  And then there’s weeks that leave you empty-handed and grasping to get back on top of your game.

The truth of the matter is Jay and I breathe a deep sigh of relief when we roll into a cook off.  Because while we don’t get to do it as often as we’d like, these people get it.  They get why we do it.  They get why we are always entertaining people.  They get why we love to cook. All ages, all walks of life, all ethnicities;  we are cut from the same cloth.  For the weekend, no one cares what kind of truck you drive or how big your house or your paycheck is, or who you parents are or what kind of grades your kids make, or what you do for a living.  BBQ people just feel like our people.

I’ve said it a million times before, and I’ll say it again….BBQ people are the best people in the world to spend a weekend with.  And here’s why:

1.  Food is our love language.  Let’s face it, good food brings people together. We don’t cook for our health (which is obvious by most of our waistlines!). We cook because good food lures in people of all kinds. It’s a common denominator in an ever-evolving, ever-dividing culture. So naturally, BBQers love people. We love to sit around and shoot the bull with fellow cookers, with spectators, with people from all over the country.  BBQers never meet a stranger.  At home or on the field, we love entertaining old friends and meeting new ones.

2.  BBQ people are generous.   Whether it be a forgotten tool, a few sticks of wood, the right camper plug, guidance backing into a spot or just an extra hand…you never have to look far for help.

3.  BBQers are like McGyver behind a pit.  Maybe it’s just us and the extra chaos we bring, but everything that can go wrong, will go wrong on a BBQ weekend.  Being a good Pitmaster isn’t as simple as  knowing temps and cook times…it’s about pulling off a flawless turn in box that wows judges with limited resources when absolutely everything goes wrong and the clock is ticking quickly.

4.  BBQers compete fiercely but are always genuinely happy to see their friends win.  We freaking love to win. I mean, love. to. win.  We high five, we gloat a little, and we live on that high until the next competition when we know there’s a solid possibility we’ll be knocked down a peg….or 3.

This weekend, we were particularly happy to score higher than Jacks Old South.

Because let’s face it…beating Myron Mixon at a whole hog cook in Georgia is like beating Chuck Norris at a Tae-Kwondo match in Texas.

But the reason we’re so stoked isn’t because we wish any ill on his team.  Quite the contrary,  we respect the hell out of ’em! They’re phenomenal cookers and they’ve really brought BBQ competitions into the limelight.  So while it feels like a milestone to our little team, it’s all from a standpoint of admiration.

5.  BBQ people feed eachother spectacularly.  We all know everyone shows up to cook BBQ, but all the random little odds and ends, in-between meals and leftover desserts that get passed around…mmmm, to die for.  Steak, boudin balls, fajitas, burgers…if a BBQer hands you a snack, just relish the moment.  Odds are it will be amazing.

6.  BBQers are lifelong friends.  There’s something about the wee hours of the night that bring people closer together.  I mean, you see people’s true colors (and pajamas) long about 2am.  Friends that we met at out very first cook off in Montgomery, Texas are still our friends today.  We still root for them and they root for us.  It’s a comradary that lingers. 


7.  BBQ people are trustworthy.  You can trust them to keep an eye on your trailer or to watch your pit in a pinch.  Now, if you do something goofy after a shot or two of fireball (like the guy that exited the portapotty this weekend sans pants) you can also trust they’re probably going to tell that story…more than once and to different crowds.  Because everybody loves a good laugh and a funny story!

8.  BBQ people raise BBQ kids…that turn into BBQ people.  We deem cook off weekends technology free for our kids. We bring balls, bubbles, crayons, and, most of the time, a plastic pool. We may look like a redneck special pulling in, but our kids have an excellent time. They carry the responsibility of being polite in a grown up arena and helping as part of our team, but play hard and meet tons of new friends.  They learn to win politely and lose graciously. They learn how to function as a team and the payoff that comes with hard work.  Hopefully they turn into equally awesome adults.


9.  BBQers work hard and play hard.  Cooking itself is not an easy task.  But beyond that, most cookers have a regular job all week, cater on the side, and compete on the weekends.  It’s lots of work, but all worth it for the chance to play.

10.  BBQers are gypsy souls.  While every team has a home base that largely influences their cook, cookers pack up and move like the wind.  Jay always jokes, “have pit, will travel.”  Every weekend in a different city or state, at a different festival or for a different charity.  When we’re cooking as often as we like, it seems like we’re packed as much as we’re not.  And we love it that way.

So hug your BBQ friends today!  They’re just good folks to know, to have a beer with, and definitely to eat with.  We count ourselves so blessed!

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