(Recorded Aug 10, 2020)
I was standing in the back of my classroom (so I could see the screens) scrolling social media on my muted phone while my students completed a timed activity when I saw the announcement: Rascal Flats planning their farewell tour. What? One of our favorite groups whose music we had traveled by on so many trips was ending their time together. A last tour to say goodbye and thank their legion of fans for their loyalty. I can still remember when Tim showed me the band on his phone covering a Foreplay/Longtime/Free Ride medley. I was sad as I forwarded the news to Tim. As sometimes happens when the end of an era comes, and you are in your late 50 somethings I began to ponder what comes next? What will they do now that they made their wildest dreams come true and they are still young enough to dream another dream or have a second act?
What would that be like to have accomplished every achievement possible and now have enough money to do whatever you want, nothing to prove, leap knowing you had a huge net to catch you if you failed. Jay Demarcus is going home to his Christian roots to start his own Christian record label.
It started that reflective process in me, you know the one about your life and where you are and how do you feel about that and is there time for something more. It took me back to that place of longing, that secret thing you keep hidden and don’t ever talk about because it doesn’t really seem possible anymore. And quite frankly you’re not even sure you’re willing to make the sacrifices for it even if it was. I always wanted to preach/teach to women at a national level. And twice in my life I was in places that might have had enough of a platform that it maybe could happen, but life has its curves and changes eventually I found myself in a place where there was no platform at all. I put that dream away and focused on survival and doing what is at hand. I know all the motivational speakers teach You-can-be-anything-you-want-to-be and it is never too late but that is simply not true some things do have an expiration date. So, I rolled in that space for a bit because once it starts you have to ride the wave of what-ifs and if-onlys until life’s distractions and responsibilities demand you live in the present.
I was asked by our retiring LEA Union Rep to consider stepping into her shoes next year because I care about teachers and stand with them as a department head. I talked to my principal about the possibility and what did he think? He said, “I was the one who encouraged Martha to ask you.” I thought that was funny and after talking it over with Tim I agreed to serve in that capacity. It is an important and meaningful way to fill that “I want a little something more” it’s not sexy or cool and it isn’t the kind of platform that nets you followers, but it is valuable. I went to my first meeting about contract negations and made my first suggestion to the group that would update their process, they followed my suggestion and the outcome was impactful. That was satisfying and I was content to have made a difference.
I was in the middle of prepping my sermon for our church, we are in a series on Ordinary People Extra Ordinary God and I was assigned Abigail whose interaction with David during a pivotal moment his life is one of my favorite stories and the current relevancy of it makes it always fun to teach. It is a smaller platform but a very satisfying one to teach to the whole body (men and women) on a Sunday morning a handful of times a year on a preaching team with my husband. Our church is about 250 people and it is a lovely place to share my experience and insight from a biblical standpoint with them. When the media team posts the sermon on the church website, my Son reposts it on mine as a podcast. And sometimes I post a link on social media…sometimes I forget. On a small platform that is more than enough until the if-onlys and what-might-have-been thoughts wake you in the dark part of the night. It’s easy to dismiss small platforms, to compare the few responses to what you have shared with the world to the “Viral” responses of others or the influencers who have astronomical numbers of followers. Or to wonder if your limited efforts are even worth the time to share it at all.
And then God steps in and shows you that there are no small platforms in His design that He uses all of our efforts, all of our gifts to make changes and add to the lives of others. Because as only God can do, He takes the smallest offering and does the mightiest of things. The most extraordinary things. As I stepped off the stage after speaking on Abagail a member of the body was waiting to talk to me. His words were simple “That was for me today, I am in a situation so similar and I got the exact direction I needed, thank-you.” Not a small thing to this life.
The next Saturday as I sat drinking my coffee and watching the grand girls play on my living room floor I got a messenger notification from someone who had friended me which I had accepted the night before even though I didn’t recognized the name. Sometimes people read something I wrote or listen to a podcast and then friend me, so I accepted. I opened the note and read that the woman who contacted me was in our first youth group in the 80’s in a small foursquare church in Concord CA, she shared a story of how we had impacted her life then and that now she was a pastor’s wife in a church in FL. She went on to explain she had been studying to speak at a Mother/Daughter Brunch and looking for resources online found my sermon on “The Guardrail of Gratitude” and had used some of the concepts for her presentation and then finally made the connection that I was the same Kim Clements from Concord. She shared the connection with the ladies that morning and thanked me for our impact in her life. I was flabbergasted at how she had even found that sermon. How is that even possible? Surprised once again how small the world really can be. I looked up their church and it looks like it is a thriving growing body. I still have the message on my phone because I am still processing the wonder of it.
The very next Sunday I was sitting in my normal pew waiting for church to start when my pastor stopped to share something with me. He gave me very little detail wanting to respect the privacy of the parishioners who had shared their story with him but wanted me to know that there had been in the morning services on the day I taught about Abigail parishioners that were facing weighty choices that could result in serious repercussions and when the service was finished they decided to seek help instead of continuing on their current path. What was even more impactful was he cited a particular section of the sermon that had caught their attention, I was astonished by that revelation because that particular section had started rolling around in my heart on the Friday before so I got up on Saturday and reedited what I had prepared. It was a part of the final edit and I was second guessing it even as I walked onto the platform on Sunday morning but taught it anyway. I was weak in the knees just thinking about what if I had missed it? Not responded to that nudge and change of focus.
There are no small platforms with God, only man. Scripture reminds us over and over that He cares for the one. He comes for the one. To partner with God for the one is the biggest platform of all and perhaps the only platform that matters.
(Recorded Feb 28, 2020, at Neighborhood Church)
(Recorded Oct 2, 2019)
Is there more to life? The Scriptures tell us that we were built for so much more than the daily routine that so many of us get trapped in. We were designed for a Spiritual Life, to carry and deliver the power of God. The Bible calls this life the “Spirit Led Life.” This series will teach you to overcome, walk in power, and live out your purpose.
It started with Bugs, short for Bugs Bunny. Mychal had huge blue eyes that popped open when he was surprised and delighted by something and so Tim started calling him bugs. The problem when you refer to your child as bugs you can get strange looks so somewhere along the line it became Bub, Bubs or Bubba. A term of belonging, love and intimate connection and hearing my son’s use it with their children always makes me feel like we hit the mark, the exact intention we had when using those terms. Even more fascinating when I hear my DIL’s also use it. The passing down of valuable things always makes me stop and take notice.
It’s not just the term itself that hits the mark it is the tone, the love, tenderness, warmth and affection.
It can mean…
I like you (sometimes more important than I love you)
You are fun
Cute you are just so cute
I am delighted with you
You are my kid
I see you
We are sharing a moment of something wonderful
The tone can contain concern, compassion and support.
It can mean…
Can I kiss it and make it better
Are you ok
I am disappointed too
I wish I could fix it for you
I am standing with you
I am here for you and whatever you need
It’s all in the tone and the way the child feels when they hear that name that is used to communicate something endearing to them. How old they are doesn’t matter either. On Sunday my 29-year-old Son was at our church to do some video work for our Pastor and when I got there and he came out to see me I hugged him and said “Hey Bubs” and held him close. Sometimes just a simple greeting and sometimes a greeting to communicate so much more, this week my younger Son lost a dear friend and all I want to do is hug him and say “I am so sorry, Bubs.”
It communicates all the things a Mom’s heart feels.
Given names especially when the middle name is tagged on for emphasis is about another kind of tone and emotion and that is a whole other side to parenting but this “Name” that was created for use in our family is all about communicating approval and the tone in which it is used cannot be underestimated in its importance.
The clarity of that is crystal clear now that my sons are using it with their own children. And now we as grandparents are establishing that connection with our grands because calling Judah “Bubs or Bubba” is so natural to me I don’t even think about it and for Olivia I have adapted a more feminine version “Bubba Girl” and Meghan is “Baby Bubba Girl” which is quite fun to say. Tim and I even refer to each other as Bubs sometimes in a way that claims intimacy of relationship. It is our way of saying…We belong to each other…All of us belong to each other.
I didn’t realize what we were creating when we started, I just wanted to snuggle them, hold them close and show my affection in a way that was specific. It is easy with toddlers or babies to use physical affection in an effective way to communicate comfort and acceptance but that gets more challenging as they get older. We are huggers and we hugged regardless of their age and still do but a 16-year-old boy isn’t going to let you snuggle with him.
That’s when I realized what a great tool this had become to communicate the right kind of tenderness in a way that was needed and appropriate. It is important to distinguish the difference between hugging a teenage son and saying only to him “Sorry about the loss, Bubs.” And screaming it from the stand onto the Football field, I screamed lot of things from those stands but never that.
Now my Sons are men, with adult responsibilities and families of their own but still when they face challenges, hardship and troubling circumstances and there is nothing I can do to fix it, make it easier, or change it what I have left is prayer and emotional support that often starts with “Hey Bubs…”
Building solid foundations of belonging and acceptance into our kids is often rooted in our words to them and the tones in which those words are wrapped. What we are called and how we are called it leaves an indelible mark. A Mark that maters, really matters.
Names shape and mold.
Names provide and protect.
Names build and bond.
Names establish self-esteem.
Names create legacy.
Last week I picked Olivia Jo up from home and took her on a Mimi date. We ate dinner out at one of my favorite grown up places and she devoured the Mac and Cheese. We went to the Mall and walked, played and bought a princess cup at the Disney store because it was on sale, and pink with princesses on it, which to a woman who had sons is a treat I can’t even describe. And then I took her home, when we got there Allison was waiting in the garage with the door open so we could avoid the rain. I lifted Olivia out of her car seat and her little face lit up when she saw her Mama and Her Mama’s face lit up right back and she said “Hi! Love Bug.”
I smiled to myself here we are full circle back to “Bug” “Love Bug” spoken with all the tenderness a young Mom has for her child.
What’s in a name used to communicate affection? Everything
Real change starts with one decision and it can have a enormous impact if it is personal. We are all one decision away from a better life. The life God intended is not dependent on things around me it it only requires me to TURN to him.
In the midst of life’s challenging circumstances we often lose sight of the greatness of God. When we see God as NOT BIG ENOUGH we struggle to trust him stand in faith. God is greater than whatever we face. Be encouraged to take God at his word and believe that his greatness is available for you today.
Prayer is foundational to our relationship with God. the truth is that many of us are not confident in how to pray and we wonder if we are doing it the right way. This series answers real questions about prayer so we can grow in prayer and our relationship with God.
“What’s nine? Mom” It took a minute for the question to register because I was sitting on the floor surrounded by my kids and the grands watching the Raiders lose and eating Round Table Pizza lots of my favorites altogether at once. A rare day in our lives now and I was just breathing in every second. But I knew exactly what he was asking me. Meghan Joy had arrived safe and sound and now our little clan was 9.
I have always shaped and referred to our family as a team because I believe kids need to know that they are a part of something that is bigger than themselves, that who they are represents who we are as a family. Each individual contributes to the whole or detracts from it. So when they were teenagers I started referring to us as the Fantastic Four. Not as a point of pride but as a point of responsibility, that together we can make a difference in the world in the way we conduct ourselves and in living out our faith in a concrete way.
So first the Fantastic Four…then the Fab Five when Mychal found his Allison…the Spectacular Six when Taylor found his Niana…The Magnificent 7 when our first grand Judah Gabriel was born…the Great Eight when Olivia Jo made her rather dramatic arrival. And now Mychal was asking me what 9 was? I answered I hadn’t really decided because I hadn’t found one I liked yet I had considered Nifty but that word felt a little to old fashioned to me. And so everyone started throwing out ideas that either rhymed or were alliterative and we finally came to noble or divine but we didn’t pick one because with a beautiful new born and 2 very busy toddlers in the house it is easy to get distracted.
But I have been thinking about it since that day and reliving many of the moments since our little Meghan was born and our time together and trying to choose one that represents Meghan and our family now.
The moment I walked into the hospital room and saw Allison holding Meghan in her arms I realized that I had been kind of holding my breath. I had been praying throughout the day that the C section delivery would go smoothly and that the baby would be healthy with no complications because I just didn’t think our family could face that again. One NICU baby is all any family can handle. But once you have been there you just can’t exhale until you know for sure that you are not going there again. I think I was still in exhale mode when Mychal asked me if I wanted to hold her and on the day she was born I held Meghan Joy in my arms…Divine.
A few minutes later Olivia Jo arrived with Allison’s parents and we all watched as she saw her little sister for the first time. We got a picture of the 4 of them and after a bit were off to feed Mychal before taking Olivia home with us for a couple days. We had dinner in a darling little Mexican restaurant downtown and talked about the day’s events and the gratitude we felt that everything was perfect with our little Meghan while Olivia charmed everyone around her. Then we loaded her up and took her to our house for her first ever sleep over at Mimi and Pops house…Divine.
A few short days later after working 5 hours in the morning on Thanksgiving Day, Taylor and his family got on a plane and flew to California so we could all be together for Thanksgiving and to meet Meghan Joy.
5 hours on a plane with a very active 18 month old on a holiday.
This is love, this is family. On Friday Mychal and his family of 4 made the trek to our home for our Thanksgiving Feast. Allison only 7 days out from a C section and pumping every 2 or 3 hours, they brought everything they needed so they could stay the whole day so we could have this very precious time together…Noble.
We were altogether, leaning in and taking turns holding Meghan and playing with Judah and Olivia. I had done as much ahead of time as I could so I wouldn’t miss anything and I wanted to take the load off of all of these young parents because I remember those days of sleeplessness and toddlers who never sit still and how hard it is to travel with little ones. So I set the table, cooked and got everything ready. And even though I knew it would be fast and furious to all sit around the table with 2 toddlers, I still wanted that moment and that is about what we had because a few minutes in Meghan woke up and wanted to be fed. I had finished eating so I told Allison I would take her so she could eat and enjoy her meal. I did most of the cleanup and played with the toddlers too. This was my gift of love to them because I wanted to serve my family and honor all the efforts they had made so we could be together. Later in the evening I was in the kitchen alone and Taylor walked in and hugged me tight and said “I saw you Mom, I saw you taking care of everyone, all the work you did to make today so special. I saw you Mom. It was a great Thanksgiving day and I want you to know I saw all you did for us.” As Mychal was leaving later in the evening, he stood in the garage with me and hugged me tight and said “It was a wonderful Thanksgiving, Mom! Really a great day!” and he was off to get his family home. Those 2 moments, those words from my Sons to me…Divine.
It can be challenging to come together after being apart for so long, after life changes the dynamics of a family. Children added, life circumstances that look different and changing approaches to faith, politics and social awareness and I was proud of my family for not letting any of that rule the day. There was a minor dust up over pro-apple-juice vs anti-apple-juice but no blood was drawn or heat ignited and the principle players were soft and respectful in their opinions and then returned to their corners. This is the stance families should take when it comes to time together on the holidays and other special family days. Focus on the common ground and the history you share. Reserve difficult conversations and dealing with serious matters that are challenging for times that have been primarily arranged to do just that. Those things can be done at appointed times when everyone is ready to go to those painful places and are ready to do the work needed to heal, move forward or make hard choices.
Special days are for sharing the beauty of who we are together.
Judah and Olivia gave us a good example of this when sitting in the high chair Judah shared his pumpkin pie with Olivia (who had already had some pie) as she stood in front him. The picture of Judah spoon feeding Olivia will be with me always. It was a great moment and I hope the beginning of a fun friendship and deep bond between cousins…Noble.
But it is often the unexpected moments that you prayed would happen but cannot be orchestrated because authenticity and genuine interaction is what gives them life. On Sunday afternoon after the game was over the guys and I took the toddlers out for a walk, Olivia in her stroller and Judah walking in between, on, and around his Dad and Uncle. I was out ahead of them and so I don’t know how the conversation started but when I caught snippets of it I smiled to myself. So I stayed out in front to give them privacy but close enough to overhear a bit too, it’s what Moms do.
It is hard when your adult children are in different life spaces, especially when the older brother is living with his in-laws, has lost a job and just had a second child very close to the first and the little brother owns his own home, and was promoted 3 times in the last year. How will that feel when they are together? I had been praying about that and honestly worrying about it too.
And all of a sudden they were walking and talking about it. Mychal being vulnerable and sharing about the job loss and Taylor being supportive and encouraging. They were sharing this burden together, letting love and relationship lead the way. Never underestimate the power of a quiet walk. Kindness, support and vulnerable truthfulness deepening the conversation and life bond.
Together they were overcoming this life space…Noble and a little Divine too.
I still haven’t decided which word works best for us especially when you look up the definitions it can be a bit intimidating.
Noble besides meaning of royal birth also means having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.
Divine beside the obvious reference to Deity also means excellent or delightful. All I know is our time together was delightful and excellent because we chose to be our best selves and we chose peace instead of right. We chose to preserve this time as sacred and we chose to care for each other
. Like all families we have had our growing pains, our moments when we were less than our best. When making room for the new was harder than anticipated and understanding was limited because emotions were not. But those moments are private and not to be shared outside the family because part of forgiving and moving forward is not exposing those moments to public criticism. Love covers and protects.
What I appreciated so much about our time together this Thanksgiving was the effort by each individual to contribute their best self and to offer empathy and compassion to each other.
We were our best selves and that is both Noble and Divine.
There was a paradigm shift in our home this week, a choice we have never made before but may become the new norm because my husband is a middle-aged white man.
It started with a text from Tim letting me know he had been asked to coach the girls high school basketball team because they no longer had a coach. Usually, I just ask the details and then we have a quick conversation about how it will affect our lives. And then we say yes…always yes.
Small Christian schools often need their teachers to help with extracurricular activities and Tim has coached many times in the past including middle school girls’ volleyball with the help of a Mom to assist. I sent him a text back and told him this time I wanted to discuss it at home. What I really wanted was time to think about this decision.
We finally had a minute and instead of discussing it I just said “No, I don’t want you coaching girls of any age anymore, not because I don’t trust you because I do completely. I don’t trust the world we live in any longer. All it would take is for a girl who is not getting enough playing time or some other slight to make an accusation and our whole life could be turned upside down.” I started to defend my statement, but he just looked at me and said “That’s enough, Kim your no is enough for me. I have always trusted your instincts and made whatever adjustments you felt like I should and that has always served me well and that is enough.” My husband has taught, coached and pastored adolescent girls, counseled, pastored single adult women and pastored women of all ages in his ministerial career. The girls in our youth group used to say that when Tim hugged them “it was like hugging their Dad, not creepy like when some other older men hugged them.” Women in our churches have often told me they admired the way Tim conducts himself around them and how often he brings me into the room even when I cannot physically be there.
But I am in a season of life that I do not want to take any chances with this life we have built after the trauma of having our lives destroyed by people who lied about us and smeared our good name. We are both teaching, both on the preaching team at our church and we are beginning to have the time and resources to invest in our grandbabies. I am not willing to put any of that risk any more.
Now before you burn me at the stake and begin to say I am defending someone I shouldn’t, let me be clear I am not defending anyone but merely pondering all the aspects of what is happening in our culture in a very real and personal way.
Although I did not respond to the #metoo movement on social media or any media for that matter it wasn’t because I didn’t agree with or applaud it. Because I did and do. It felt in the beginning like it was a reckoning a much needed and timely reckoning. Organic, authentic and freeing for many women. Finally, consequence, meaningful consequence for those that so deserved it. The kind of real consequence that matters where the money hits the road. Even beloved icons were not safe, and even though I grieved that loss the evidence was too much to ignore.
I too have had my #metoo moments. There have been a handful in my life, but I will only share two because they serve the purpose of illustrating the thoughts I have been pondering.
The first happened when I was in High School and the details are kinda fuzzy regarding who was there and where we were exactly, but the event itself is crystal clear. We were playing hide-n-seek in couples. My partner was a cute boy and I thought it would be fun to hide with him somewhere in the dark. We found a cozy place in some bushes and I was sitting on the ground in front of him. We were talking, laughing and waiting to be found when all of the sudden I felt his arms come around me and he planted his hands right on my breasts!
Not just a touch but fully covering them with each hand. NO one in my life had ever touched me in that way or there, ever. I pushed him back with all my strength and he fell backwards and away from me. I stood up and asked him what he thought he was doing; his response was classic “I just thought I would give it a shot?!” Coy smile and all. I am pretty sure I kicked him, and I took off. I left and never saw him again. I don’t even remember his name, nor can I recall what he looks like but when my mind goes back to that moment I can literally still feel his hands on me. Violation does that it imprints itself on you.
Did I tell anyone? NO, I did not! Why? Because I knew the question that would follow, what were you doing hiding in the bushes with a boy anyway? Was I really wanting to play Hide-seek? No, I wanted to kiss a cute boy in the dark away from prying eyes, but I did not sign up for the violation that occurred. I had however willingly put myself in the moment, so I understand the confusion and embarrassment that comes from the thought of telling anyone about what happened and if the violation were worse the self-doubt and self-recrimination that could keep you silent until maybe in the right moment you would be willing to speak out.
This is the first time I have ever told (written) this story.
The 2nd #metoo moment in my life happened when I was 20 and working at Taco Bell during the summer between my freshmen and sophomore years at Bethany College. Because I was 20 I worked the night shift and there was a male assistant manager that had a little crush on me.
I was professionally pleasant, but I did not encourage him at all because he was a lot older, not a Christian and I had no interest. One night after weeks of working together when he walked past me on the way to his office he slapped me on the butt and let his hand linger while he did it. I immediately turned and told him that was not OK, and he better never touch me like that again and just who did he think he was? He apologized and walked into the office, a girl I went to High School with was working the same shift as me that night and observed what happened.
At the end of the week I came into get my schedule for the next work week and he was the only manager on duty, so he read me the schedule. The next day I was scheduled to work I arrived 2 hours late thinking I was on time. He had told me the wrong times on purpose. The female store manager could tell by my demeanor that I didn’t know I was late. She called me into her office and asked me if I was Ok? So, I told her everything that had happened and that the assistance manager had given me the hours and I showed her what I had written down. She listened and took in every word and asked some other relevant questions.
The girl I had worked with that night was also working that day and on her own told the store manager what she had witnessed. The assistant manager was fired immediately. The validation of being heard and believed is powerful and healing. If I had been working for a male store manager or didn’t have a witness, could my job have been in jeopardy?
A job I desperately needed because I was putting myself through college.
I understand not telling because you wonder if maybe you invited the violation, I understand not telling because you are afraid of the ramifications. I understand that the more horrific the violation, the bigger the fear of revelation and consequence can be.
I think that maybe like many people I have understanding and concern on both fronts. As someone who has experienced violation and as a woman married to an amazing middle-age-white-man and the mother of 2 sons who will someday be just that. I like many others ponder the validity of the timing of accusations and the paralyzing fear that can finally be unlocked in a moment of freedom and safety. I have no idea what the solution is, but I do know that we need to value authentic testimony and a woman’s personal truth, but we should also be thoroughly fair in our investigation of the accused.
Maybe reading The Crucible would be wise for us all, the lessons of an older man, John Procter taking an advantage and having an affair with a young impressionable girl, Abagail Williams and the witch hunt that follows is a tale for today. This story has connections to the actual Salem Witch trials where young girls lied about the conduct of people in the community and those people were convicted and lost their lives. The testimony of young girls that had to be believed because of their age and assumed innocence.
We need to proceed with caution and wisdom because victims need to be heard and respected. A victim has the right to vindication, justice and to be able to heal from the trauma they have experienced. We need #metoo to send a warning note to men that they do not get to violate a woman in any way they want and expect to avoid consequence.
Let the reckoning continue, we need it.
At the same time let’s not destroy a good man’s reputation simply based on his age, skin color and because he holds a place of authority or power. If a man’s conducted has been historically appropriate, can we not allow for some grace while he is being investigated. Can we withhold judgement in the court of public opinion until a definitive outcome is reached?
I have a grandson and a granddaughter, I want a calm, safe, rational world for both. I don’t want either of them violated because of someone’s selfish sick desires. And I would like to have a world where we can discuss these issues in a way that brings truth where it is needed and understanding where it is needed without sensationalism or brutalization.
These are the quiet thoughts I have been thinking about this week while trying to maneuver the world I live in…
Be encouraged about God’s desire for RELATIONSHIP with you. Relationships are His plan and it has always been his plan from the beginning. The 10 commandments were given to foster greater relationship with God. today’s relational value is Purity and Intimacy.
Recorded May 17th, 2018
(March 9, 2018)