Sunday, May 10, 2015

Our Mama and Us....Lessons

My Mom had me at a young age and then my brother four years later. All things considered, I think my parents did a phenomenal job with us. Neither of us have knocked over a 7-11, been committed or been considered a menace to society. We turned out ok.

I did not have children until I was 25 and I wonder if I should set aside a fund for future psychological visits to go along with their college funds. If they don't use it I may need it. I mean lets face it....parenting is hard, even in ideal circumstances, and I think Mothering is even harder. You are molding this little being from a mound of clay into something that is supposed to be pretty, hold water or serve some purpose. There is no guide book or instructions on what to do, so for our's to do what she did with what she had speaks volumes about the Mama that my brother and I have. If we do half the job she did with us then we might be able to pocket the psych fund.

We're very fortunate....she stuck around when I'm sure that she felt like running away. She kept her sanity when my brother would knock on the back glass door holding up a rattle snake he had just killed with a BB Gun. She survived our fighting and bickering which was extensive, she never drowned us in the tub and on several occasions she saved our butts extra licks that Daddy had full intentions of giving us. Yay Mom!

We not only taught Mama some lessons, we gave her some life experiences.

We taught her the art of ignoring things and selective hearing. When my brother and his friend chained me to a tree after a fight and threw sticks and beetle bugs at me I screamed for help. My Mama's response was to shut all the windows, holler hush out the door and close it behind her. Daddy untied me when he got home.

When my Mama screamed "Ya'll are going to give me a nervous breakdown!" We taught her to tie a knot at the end of her rope and hang on. We pushed her just a little further and proved to her that she was stronger than she thought and she never made that trip to Whitfield and she never rocked that straight-jacket. I recognize my own children doing this to me, but my knot is sometimes loose and so I have already arranged for a blinged out straight-jacket in LSU colors.

Mom perfected the art of refereeing a fight. She told us to just take it outside and at that point she shut the door and we proceeded to fight until we were worn out.

Our Mom got to witness how fast a child on a sled can go when he pushes off head first down a straight down hill covered in a sheet of ice. She also learned how strong a tree can be hit without loosing anything but a little bark. During this particular life experience I watched her claw up a hill covered in solid ice like a cat climbs a tree to get her baby to a vehicle and to the hospital. I'm sure she had lots of grey to cover after that incident.

Mama learned the art of standing her ground when I was determined to dress like Madonna and date ANYONE who would ask me out just because I was impressed they asked. There were no lacey gloves in my wardrobe and dating guidelines were set in stone. She never budged. I have a 10 yr old girl....I'm still trying to figure out how to stand my ground that way.

I'm pretty sure Bill may have taught her to curse....although she never did so out loud and if she did EVERYBODY hid.

She learned to appreciate her car, hubcaps and all, as well as a gas tank above empty before we got our driver's license. I was only responsible for one hubcap and I'm still sticking to that story. Bill, to his credit, only ran her car to make sure the speedometer know make sure the dial moved all the way around ...I guess you could say he tested out the engine and breaks in many different ways to make sure it was truly safe for her to drive. Such a thoughtful son at a young age!

The lessons we taught her in patience and forgiveness could not have been easy. I announced I was moving half-way across the world and getting married WITHOUT ANYONE for Heaven's sake. It was a bitter pill for them to swallow. As a parent now it breaks MY heart that I did that! But she still loved me through it....she didn't talk to me for about a week or so......but she loved me through it.

Mama tried her very best to instill nothing but loving goodness and kindness in us. She took us to Church.....sometimes dragged us.....because she wanted us to know the Lord and she wanted our salvation to be secure. She didn't drink. She very rarely ever cursed and was always very careful to always act a lady. Mama taught me the difference between being a woman and being a lady....she's a lady. She has a grace and dignity about her that some people may mistake as an emotional weakness, but she is anything but weak....emotional or otherwise. I hope that I am just half the lady she is.

She tried really hard to instill a love and respect for family. She made sure that not only did we have holidays with her family, but she also made sure that the same amount of time was spent with our other Grandparents. One was not more important than the other. My Dad's an only child so we're all that my Mamaw and Papaw Sanderford had. She was always very understanding of that.

I know it's still hard for her....missing her parents....missing the old traditions. Now that we are grown and she has grandchildren of her own I see the joy she gets from just having a little time with us or the kids. I love it when she calls all excited about a shopping trip she and Logan went on and tells me every little detail. I love the pure happiness in her eyes when she has her kids and grandkids together. Now that I have a grown child I understand my Mama more. I understand that gift of a visit on a special day or a call out of the blue just to say "hey". It's the gift that money can't buy.....just a little time.

Now that we have moved, I don't have the luxury of being there for those holidays or birthdays. I know it's part of life and circumstances. Don't get me wrong, I love every second of being with my husband and children, but there's just something special about being able to share a little time with the one who chose to give me life.

Father Time moves quickly and that is the sad reality that I have become more aware of with age. I never want to pass up a chance to make her happy or proud. She's never asked for much out of life....just to be loved, accepted and have time with her family. I hate that this year I won't be able to be there, but I hope that she knows that I am there in spirit.

I'm lucky in so many ways...lucky that she gave me life....but more importantly lucky that I was able to have my life with her. I can not think of a better Mama than ours and even now I still learn so much from her by her actions and examples.

So Mama if you are reading this know that you are loved and appreciated dearly.

P.S. Could you get that Mother's curse thing straight or lift it? I'm pretty sure that I got some of Bill's portion and that's just not fair

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Things I'd Rather Do Than Wear BAMA Attire or Scream "Roll Tide"


I hate BAMA....I'm a die-hard purple and gold bleeding LSU fan. Considering I'm originally from Mississippi, those DAWGS are near and dear to my heart, but I am all things Cajun with just a splash of Mississippi Sass.

Our family and a few friends have had more fun with a friendly rivalry back and forth since half are BAMA fans and half are TIGER fans. It's been a bit boring around the playing field so I thought I would spice it up. No worries Brother will NEVER see me wearing the colors, logo or screaming those vile words.

I'd Rather do ANYTHING on the list below than wear BAMA attire/colors or holler "Roll Tide"

Root for the Falcons

Watch tennis or golf

Clip a stranger's toe nails

Run for fun

Give a random person a massage

Take a bite of cabbage, spinach, eggplant, snails, mushrooms, or hominy

Get on my hands and knees and nudge a golf ball with my nose from one end of Mike Snow's chicken house to the other

Flip tractor tires in the Cul de Sac

Sit through a Kanye West Concert

Be Obama's Caddy

Clean my driveway with a toothbrush

Brush my teeth with the cleaning toothbrush

Go to the boot sale at Belk on Black Friday

Get booty implants

Attend the Democratic National Convention

Drink white milk

Walk through Oak Ridge and Redwood with an I love Obama sign strapped to my back

Wear a Vicksburg Steam Clean cap (anyone know where I can find one?)

Dress like Elsa and walk through Marcus Bottom singing "Do You Want to Build a Snow Man"

Display a herd of Pretty Pink Horses on my Mantle for a year

Get on a motorcycle with my brother one more will and life insurance must be in order first

Go down Bourbon Street blind folded guided by Diane and Lisa

Let Chris pluck my eyebrows

Sit in an Elementary classroom on a party day.....or on any day...can only handle an hour without meds

Go through a Haunted House

Let Kayla Grace do my make up for Church

Sit through an Up-tight Opera with Brayden and Tanner

Walk around in public and pretend to be from another planet without breaking character

Watch a weekend of back to back episodes of Moonshiners and the stupid Ginseng show

Be on a episode of Wife Swap

Camp out in the bathroom at Walmart

Wear Doe Pee for perfume

Be on the other end of the line with my Sister-in-Law Pam, while working out a medical bill

Ride blind-folded in the front seat with my Mother-in-Law driving.....(LOL....don't ya'll tell her!)

Good Morning Sunshine!

Good Morning Sunshine!!! It could be pouring down raining, but all I see is SUNSHINE.

Now isn't that just the most adorable face? This was taken about five years ago and it is still one of my favorites. It is an exact image of the "Morning-Time Kayla Grace". Oh but in five years that sweet face that is so comical, so funny but filled with so much irritation has GROWN.

After the experience I had last night I slept a different sleep and I really feel like I need to try to get a little more of that as I type this and have my coffee. When I hit my snooze button the first time I fell asleep praising and thanking God for the load lifted from me and the wisdom He shared with me. The second time I hit the snooze button my prayers were a little different. See I know that I only get to hit snooze prayers were a little like this....

"Oh God PLEASE.....PLEASE.....let me survive this upcoming cage fight."'

When she was at the age she was above, getting her up was like a wrestling match. I was younger and more fit. She's 10 now so it's more like a cage fight and I know without some kind of Divine intervention we will move to the street fight stage in a few years. Five years can do a lot to a person...I'm old. I'm not fit and I need more coffee before I can think these days.

My sweet little dumpling is just not a morning person and she gets that honestly because her Mama is not a morning person either. Her weapons of choice are "I'm sick...don't feel good", crying, sarcasm (NO idea where she got that), dramatics....again clueless where this trait comes from, and my personal favorite "YOU JUST DON'T CARE THAT I'M SICK AND YOU ONLY CARE ABOUT BRAYDEN AND YOU HAVE RUINED MY LIFE!!!!!!" This is all complete with full watery eyes and sometimes the tears roll.

As she fell down with half of her body in the dryer looking for her shorts.....I prayed that maybe God could play a little joke and the dryer turn on. I mean that would be funny right? No...I'm kidding. I just prayed for patience. I went and picked the shorts up that here little fingers were just too weak to hold and then I lifted her from the floor since she was just too weak and sick to pick herself up, I gave her a kiss, told her I loved her and sent her to find her shoes.

As I checked the clock and mentally calculated how long it would be until she would visit the neighbor for the ride to school, I fixed her lunch. I gave her what has become an almost daily reminder not to call me from school unless she has fever, throwing up or passed out. To my surprise I find she already thought ahead and answered me with "I know! Our vehicle is broke so you couldn't even come get me!!" I knew there was a silver-lining to having only one vehicle right now and I smiled. Her eyes bulged at the look on my face and she snatched her stuff and stomped out the door as I screamed "I love you sweetheart! I hope you have a better day. I'll have your bed all ready for you so you can go straight to bed when you get home!" I got a inaudible "Love you too" and door slam.

Aaaaahhhhh....this was a good morning. I love every part and facet of my daughter....even the most irritating morning attitude. I have no plans to get her room ready for her to convalesce because I know as sure as today is Wednesday that as soon as that bell rings this afternoon she will be right as rain. There will be no paralysis, no blindness, no toothache or earache, no tummy ache, no headache......she will be full of energy and theatrics and bless my soul until the sun goes down and she prepares for her next morning.

At times it is very nerve-racking and even embarrassing, but God gave her own unique little personality and he is obviously working overtime on me through her. My last thought  as I sip on my coffee and say my silent prayer for her and her day is that one day, hopefully when she's ready and I'm still of sound mind to enjoy, she's going to have a precious little darling to call her own. Then I pray for her future because that child will really have to be good to out-smart her Mama.

Thank you Lord for my three blessings who all have such unique, but loving hearts. I count each of them as a miracle and I'm so grateful....that you have given them to me. I thank you for not only the good and fun times, but I thank you for the trying times. Lord please continue to open my eyes to Your wisdom where my children are concerned and give me the stamina to see them all grow to be God-loving productive people. You get all the glory for everything. In your most precious name.....Amen

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Line

I had an amazing opportunity to attend a one night Lisa TerKeurst Women's Conference tonight at The Church of the King in Mandeville, LA. When I got home I immediately told everyone that I could not talk because I had one of the most amazing experiences in my life. To talk would be to dull the try to describe it verbally is impossible, In fact, anyone reading this blog may not even get it.....but I got it. God spoke to me so clearly through this amazing Woman of God. I don't know if she will ever know how her words lifted a ton of bricks from my back and helped lighten my soul.

I can tell you that she spoke about a wise woman in Samuel Chapter 20, but what I got was not so much from the scripture as from her analysis and using her own experience to illustrate a point. The TerKeurst family adopted two teenage boys from a third world country. It was not planned nor expected. God put everything in place for them to survive their experience, live in an orphanage then be transported to the United States where they found a home among Lisa, husband and three daughters. Because the boys were on a Kindergarten level she home schooled them with no clue about what she was doing. She was hilarious in her description of this experience. Anyone who knows me....just imagine me trying to do this and that will give you a pretty good visual. In two years the boys were able to transition to either Junior High or High School. The oldest graduated with something like a 2.76 and was so worried and upset that he would not get into the College he wanted with that grade point average. Of course, God worked that out and he WAS accepted. Lisa told how she took him to College and did a prayer walk through his dorm....through the hall....across campus....ALL AROUND the girl's dorm. She reminded him of their family motto: Remember who you belong too. She said he remembered it.....for three weeks. She got the call that he would be suspended because what most College kids participate in....alcohol usage.

At the point that she got the call she was devastated. She said that she wanted to just draw a line straight from her son's mistake straight to herself. She blamed herself for not doing this....or doing that. Maybe if....It plagued her and she carried the grief of her child's trouble and consequences. THEN God showed her that the line that she drew was not drawn correctly. The line should have been drawn from God to HER because He gave her this child. He knew even as Jackson was being formed in the womb that Lisa would be strong enough to take him where he was, get him where he needed to be and certainly strong enough to weather any troubles that he may face.

At that moment I had to cover my whole face to keep the cry that crawled from my heart from becoming completely audible in this huge stadium of a Church. When I say that the tears wasn't just was the sloppy snorting kind. Thankfully the Lord allowed my tears to flow quietly.

There are no perfect parents or children. When I married  my husband I got a "2 fer".....I gained a precious four year old  little boy. Oh he was the light of my life and still is. I believe my parents became grandparents in their own minds the day they met him for the first time. My brother doted on him so proudly. He was about as close to perfect as could be. He had the best manners.....extremely respectful and smart. He was fortunate enough to have three sets of grandparents as well as three sets of Aunts/Uncles. He never lacked for love and was so free with the love that he gave....especially when his siblings arrived.

Then the teen years hit and they KNOCKED US DOWN! I will be the first to say that I didn't always handle things the way I should have. There are so many things that I wish I could take back or do different. Things went from bad to worst and there was absolute no control over going to school or anything. I think that we alternated from pain....and the cycle continued. No one outside of the home saw what was "actually" happening so we looked like lunatics and were pretty much alone. It was a really bad, bad situation that resulted in him leaving us four days after he turned eighteen, as well as, damaged relationships between us and our families. I, literally thought I would die. I begged to was all too much and I came very close to giving into that desire twice. The loss was almost unbearable.

I'm happy to say that after those very long few years of hell, we have our son back and thankfully other family relationships are mending. He is a fine young man who is making a place for himself in this world and I couldn't be prouder,  but I did exactly what Lisa did. I drew a big THICK line from our son to me and I blamed myself for not being enough or for being too much. I want the best for all of my children, but for him in particular, the responsibility felt heavier because God gave him to me to raise here on Earth while his Mama waited for us with Jesus in Heaven. Although we made it, and things are good that big thick black line remained. Just this week something reared its ugly head from those dark past years. It was just enough to rip my heart up. After talking with my son about it, his heart-felt comforting words and apologies for what took place then were like salve to a burn, but tonight after hearing Lisa TerKeurst's story that nasty line has been erased. It's gone. I no longer have a ripped up, shredded, burned heart.

I get it now and God made sure of it tonight. My line goes from God to Me then to my husband and children because He knows everything that they will experience and go through. God put me with my husband and three beautiful children because He knew I was strong enough to deal with each of them and what they would experience.....just as they would me. There are no words to express the love and gratitude that I have for my husband and children. The Lord blessed me....he has blessed me indeed.

As you go to sleep tonight you may be burdened with issues that you are really struggling with. Maybe it's a child, a loved one, grief or illness. Whatever it may be....just know that the line from God to you is a powerful line because He has put you in your position because you are strong enough, wise enough, and tough enough to deal with anything that comes your way. You are his Holy and dearly loved child. Rest in that.

Tonight I go to bed for the first time in about eight years with no thick black line.

Praise God and God Bless All

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Homeless to Homeowner....Might not be quite what you think

Imagine....if you will....a middle aged woman who at times is dirty, ragged and pushing a cart full of "stuff". Other times she is a little tidier and carrying a lighter load. She wanders from one end of town to the other, sometimes just barely putting one foot in front of the other. At other times she moves like a seasoned "mall walker". She is in and out of places and establishments and seems to know people, but she has no place of her own. She's homeless.

We have all seen people like this, and they are not always the ones on the corner holding a sign saying "Will work for food." Sometimes they are the people closest to us. In fact, I was that homeless woman until today.

For twenty plus years I have grown from being a young girl to an older lady pushing the buggy of baggage...the "stuff". The "stuff" has been the baggage that I so stubbornly insisted on burdens and worries. The dirt and ragged clothes were the sins that I allowed to cover me until I hit my knees to pray. Sometimes my load was light. At times I was cleaned up and fresh while walking with my Jesus, but other than my future Heavenly home I was homeless.

Tonight after over twenty years I officially became a homeowner....I even signed papers! After all those years of looking for a shelter to rest, a place to be regularly fed I found my home at True Life Church. Tonight I have a new family and the funny thing is I only know a few of them!!! Amazingly I feel loved by them all.

For this one thing I have searched. For this one place I have dreamed of. For this one place I have prayed spiritual home. Praise God for this blessing and the many more that I know He has in store for my family and I.

All I can say is Thank you Jesus! May everything I do and say on this part of the journey only glorify You and Your works.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Journey

Let me introduce myself. My name is Melissa Sanderford Snow.....I include that middle name because I'm just as proud of my family's name as my husband's. Many of you may THINK you know me. Maybe you knew me growing up.....maybe you knew me last month, but do you know me now? I'm still a raging book-a-holic, current event monster and obsessed music fan, but I have ended a journey that I began long ago and started a new one. Reaching my destination and choosing my current path has fundamentally changed me more than Obama ever dreamed of fundamentally changing this country.

Let me begin by saying that when I was around 8 or 9 years old, I got "saved" and was baptized. I walked that aisle right along with my friend and cousin at the time. I wanted to get up in that big water tank just like they did, It was the thing to do. I had no true understanding what it all meant, but my Mama was happy and I continued on like I always did. I mean how much change can a 8 or 9 year old make? Then I hit the teen years.

When I was around sixteen years old I went to Church camp in Florida. I almost didn't go because I had run fever all the way up until the time we left. Before I hopped on that bus with dreams of white sand and blue waves my Daddy told me, "If you start feeling bad, call me and I will come get you." We pulled up to this camp and even the chaperons wanted to call my Daddy. The mattresses were stained, the showers were dark and moldy. I didn't see anything resembling white sand.....just some brown mud/dirt with dingy water. I wasn't allowed to call home, which in my mind even now is deplorable and it angered my parents, but it was the best thing that could have happened. After the first two days the shock of our environment was gone and we were totally immersed in JESUS. It was one of the most amazing experiences and although I don't remember the date I can say that at this point I DID accept Jesus as my personal Savior. But sadly I did not grow....I wilted.

Mama had us in Church every time there was an opportunity, but the world is a powerful thing, especially during teen and college years. I sat in Church on Sunday mornings and even sang specials after weekends of having a "good" time. Then at the very young age of 19 I moved half-way around the world and got married. There were no available Churches that I knew of that were not Catholic and they certainly didn't speak English. There was a small group that met on base but after the married "leader" hit on me that wasn't an option. My Bible remained on my nightstand unopened, my prayers stopped and all Godly influence was gone. Living in Belgium was a great experience, but it wasn't worth the chaos, havoc and pain that bombarded my life. After a very rough three years I was divorced and back home.

That was over 20 years ago and since then I met and married a wonderful man, and God has given me three beautiful children. God knew what He was doing when he gave me Shannon and Chris. In some ways they saved me from myself. My focus changed from myself and my problems to them. This is when my journey back to God began. It has taken so long to find my way. I dropped into Churches for a few Sundays, but wondered if there was a better one out there. I have opened my Bible and got on fire and read and studied for a few weeks then quit. I've been lukewarm. I prayed to God for more children and God blessed us with two more, but I didn't keep up my end of the bargain. It's only by His grace and mercy that He hasn't taken any of them from me permanently.

Recently when I walked into True Life Church, I did not know a soul. It was an amazing, comfortable and cozy feeling. After that first visit I was not able to return because my Daddy had two strokes and he became my family's main priority. During this time I woke each morning to see my Mamaw, who was never particularly religious while growing up, having her morning devotions.  During one of the many nights in the hospital, Daddy and I talked about decisions we made and his Salvation. My Daddy hasn't gone to Church in years, but the community Churches had him on prayer lists, visited and did so much to minister to us.All of these things were just more nudges to the right path.

 My thoughts became more consumed with finding the missing piece of my life. I was overwhelmed and stressed beyond belief by many different circumstances. I was so very close to giving up. Thankfully God had placed people in my life whose life changing examples, or words of encouragement to no one in particular through social media, became my life preserver.

When things settled with Daddy I went back to True Life and took my family and this is where you will find us every Sunday morning. I am so happy to say that after so many, many years of wandering aimlessly this journey has come to an end and I have started a new one. I have found my Home and I have also found my Father again.  I am proud to say that Sunday, February 22....I hit my knees at the alter and re-dedicated my life to The Lord, I will follow this decision in baptism on March 8.

So now you know me....the REAL me. I'm still Melissa, daughter of Thomas Sanderford and Bernadette Miller, but I'm also the daughter of a King. I'm not a Christian because I am better than anyone. I'm a very flawed and imperfect individual that needs Christ's constant forgiveness. I will mess up, I will do things wrong....but I have no doubt that my Father will pick me up and dust me off when I fall. He will give me a swift kick when I need to get it together, and he has his loving arms around me when I need comfort.

I'm blessed. I'm redeemed. I'm heaven bound. Thanks be to God.