Monday, September 12, 2016

Do Good Day, 2016

Hi Friends.

It's Coming.

Do Good Day 2016 is only 2 weeks away.

Here's the quick recap for those of you who are new to Do Good Day: Each September 24th (my Daddy's birthday), we unite forces to Do Good.  It's sort of a collective Random Acts of Kindness day... honoring a man who showed Goodness to so many of us. (longer explanation below**)

Each year since Daddy died, I've suggested to you a focus for your Good... a little bit of direction for those of you who might not know where to start. In the past we've donated to St. Baldricks in honor of children who fight childhood cancer, we've served the kids who benefit from the backpack program of Meadowlark Meals, we've organized gift cards for food for those who arrive at their doctor's office and haven't eaten, we've donated to Alzheimer's research, and we've collected money for a family who had been recently diagnosed with cancer.  Each collective effort brings a smile to my face and meets a need in such a tangible Good way.

You don't have to join our collective effort, though.   Anything you do is great- my day is made by the stories I hear from you about what you do in your own little sphere of influence.   I get texts all day of people who pay for people's coffee anonymously in the drive through... people who bring lunch to coworkers... people who provide musical instruments for children who can't afford them... people who have honored my Daddy by bringing treats to his beloved Home Depot coworkers.

So what will you do this year?  Already have ideas?  SUPER.  Need help with a little direction?  Think on this:  I'll be collecting school supplies for two area teachers who teach at local schools that need extra Good.  One of them teaches First Grade, and one works with Exceptional Children.  Both of their classrooms have children who need a little extra- and don't have parents that are able to always provide in that way.  They can both use basic school supplies or gift cards to Target/ Wal-Mart/ Barnes and Noble/ Amazon.  I'll be collecting items and gift cards for them.

Want another way to help?  Our "Do Good" fund is super low.  This year alone we have provided money to buy appliances, car repairs, and basic needs for multiple individuals.  Our supply box of gift cards is nearly depleted.  Do you work for an area business that would like to donate a gift card?  We'd love to keep it on hand.  We give them out as we hear of needs- and don't always have time to publicize for help.

Speaking of which, in this next year, we are going to be changing how we publicize needs- both on the giving and receiving end.  If you have a need or feel like you can meet a need, please make sure you've liked our Facebook Page.  We will begin better utilizing our page to help with the anonymity of our needs.

I'm grateful to get to celebrate my Daddy's life with all of you.  He would hate the attention, but he sure would love the results of this effort.  Whatever you do on 9/24, know that how you Do Good can have lasting effects.  Join me, will you?

** More on the history of Do Good here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Part Two... a Liturgy Newbie


Thanks for reading Part One and not hanging me out to dry.  I'll admit now that I had loads of anxiety during the hours that the post was being read.

So St. Tim's... What was this Baptist girl to do?!?  I grew up at a mainline Baptist church.  I worshipped more recently at an Evangelical contemporary church.  Both of these feel familiar to me. I know how to follow along in a hymnal, or even on projected screen.

Dan had grown up in an Episcopal congregation... worshiping at St. Tim's felt like old home to him.  But me?  I felt like I was reading a script.  It wasn't worship as much as it was a group reading.  My only experience in an Episcopal church prior to this was as a visitor.  In fact, my first experience was when my friend Angela had me visit with her in high school.  The bishop was visiting her small congregation and she wanted me to come to the service.  All I remember is that at some point during all of the sitting and standing I tripped over the kneeler and fell for all the congregation (and the bishop) to see.

When Dan and I married, we didn't have much of a discussion of where we would worship together.  I was on staff at a Baptist church.  No discussion needed.  When we moved to Winston, however, and we began our search- we picked more contemporary services over those of a traditional bent.

So (again) St. Tim's... What?!?!  How on Earth would I even begin to fit in when worshipping in this space at first appeared daunting?  Again, I have nothing to ascribe it to other than the Holy Spirit.  This place felt right.  Immediately.  I knew I was supposed to give it a try.  I knew I was supposed to be open to new things, including giving this faith heritage a chance.

(Small caveat... I am not a big proponent of going where it "feels right"... Church shouldn't be a consumeristic space in our lives, yet it often becomes this.  All I'm sharing now is my perspective of how something so different than my previous experience immediately felt sacred and, well, right.)

What I have found at St. Timothy's is beautiful.

It is a chance to participate in the Church universal- knowing that my prayers are being echoed throughout the world.

It is learning a whole new (to me) faith tradition- and I often feel as though I'm right back in my Religious Study days.  Sometimes in Bible Study my hand goes numb as I am furiously writing all of the nuggets of wisdom I'm learning.

It is beginning to understand the beauty of Liturgy.  And to agree with what my friend John said when he pointed out that Liturgy gives him the structure to worship even when his heart doesn't feel like it. It's putting a dialogue in front of me that I get the chance to participate in- and know that I'm not alone in that process.

15 years ago- the thought of Liturgy would have been a roadblock for me.  It would have felt limiting to all that God could be teaching me.  Today, however, it gives structure for the way in which I hear His voice.

One of the biggest things I've learned in these recent days is that there is so much freedom in how we worship.  Something in which we fail frequently is assuming that truth can only be learned in one way- our way.  And now that I've worshipped in churches that are traditional, mainline, conservative, liberal, liturgical, contemporary, and other... I'm seeing a bigger understanding of Jesus's teachings.  I'm grateful for this path- although at moments it's been beyond painful.  I'm grateful that my community of the faithful has been gracious when we don't line up theologically and politically.

And I'm grateful that His mercies are new every morning.

Thanks be to God.

Monday, July 4, 2016

'Coming Out' Spiritually...

Yesterday I posted a picture on my Instagram account- publicly acknowledging for the first time the shift that has happened in our spiritual home over the last year.  While I am in no way making light of any experience my LGBTQ friends have had... I'll tell you that I felt a little bit that I was Coming Out.

The love I feel for my former church is so intense.  I have been so careful to not share about our current journey for fear it would look like we somehow didn't like them anymore.

Let me save you the trouble of looking for dirt if that's why you're reading this- wondering if maybe I'm gonna spill some big, juicy drama that occurred between us and our former church home.  NOTHING (bad) HAPPENED.

The road to a new church home has consumed the last year of our lives.  So much so, that I'm going to share that experience in two parts.  Not for a drama factor, but just for ease of sharing.

I have been a member of 3 (now 4) churches for all of my life.  The first one, I was born into.  The next one, I chose because of my time and service in Chapel Hill.  The last one, we found after a long search when we moved to Winston.  We knew going into our membership there that we didn't line up theologically 100% (spoiler alert: we're sorta liberal)... but we fell so in love with the people and the fellowship that we allowed ourselves to look beyond any differences and dive right in.  It was in this place that our biggest life events to date took place: we longed for, conceived, lost, and gained children.  We developed deep friendships- and lost some of those friends to tragic, unbelievable death.  We prayed fervently during extreme illness of children and parents... some with joyous outcomes, and some that won't be joyous again until we reach heaven.

In short, we grew in all ways during our time in that sacred space.

Along the way, especially as Elizabeth began to ask hard questions, we wondered if we needed to look at other church homes.  This is where the beauty of our marriage partnership became even more evident.  When I would feel a need to go, Dan would gently remind me that we don't all need to "look alike" in a church... and we would stay.  When Dan would feel a need to go, I would remind him about our beautiful fellowship... and we would stay.  Last year, however, we both came to the same point of needing to go at the same time.

We wept, we talked, we prayed... and we repeated that process over and over until we knew we were doing what was best for our family.

Last summer we began the Church Search again... a long and lonely process of not feeling rooted.  We were blessed, however, to explore so many neat places of worship all over our city.  We met people we wouldn't know otherwise and got a chance to see how Others are "doing church" oh so well.

We found a Community close to our house and were so excited to be welcomed in to their fellowship.  Our kids were part of their Christmas program.  We were loved well during the loss of my Mom.  It felt good.

And then....

One Tuesday night in February, my Book Club went to serve dinner at the Overflow Shelter at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church.

When we walked into the building, I had an experience that I can only accredit to the Holy Spirit.  As I entered the church, I knew it was a special place.  I knew it was somewhere we were supposed to- at least- visit.  St. Tim's had been on our short list, but since we'd plugged in elsewhere, we weren't continuing to look at new churches.  Prior to walking in that first night, I'd had 3 good friends mention to me how much I'd like it there.  One of those friends had a child in E's class and she'd also invited E to come.

So right in the middle of heading toward plugging in elsewhere, we decided to give St. Tim's a try.

And that was the end of that.

We've been there ever since.

Tomorrow's post... Liturgy Newbie

Friday, May 27, 2016

Piles and Rugs and Pain and Faith

Growing up, I thought that by the time I was "an adult", I would be done changing.  I assumed that by the time I was "grown up"... and surely being 40 would be grown up... I would be who I was for better or for worse.  Right?


Our house has been one big pile recently.  Piles of paperwork, piles of plastic toys, piles of Julianna and Elizabeth's clothes because they continue to get bigger and outgrow them before I can even put up the most recent load of laundry, piles of photo albums, piles of books I bought but haven't read, piles of things that make me feel overwhelmed.

I am just now able to sort through those piles.

That was a side of grief I wasn't prepared for.  The debilitating feeling of being overwhelmed.  Not even seeing an end in sight- so much to do, such a constant reminder of being the only one who is going to be able to get it done.

Also in those piles of being overwhelmed- somewhere tucked in between the death of each of my parents- was the remnants of my previous faith.

I never renounced my faith.

I did, however, try to work through how my faith looked on the other side of chaos.

I never doubted the reality of Jesus.

I did, however, wonder how a sovereign God lined up with all of the pain we experienced.

I never ran away from the Lord I knew so well.

I did, however, yell at Him with all I had in me.

In all of the chaos... in all of our piles... as my new self is starting to break out of the debris... I am just now starting to deal with the crap left behind.  I am just now filling bag after bag of trash, making lots of trips to Goodwill, and sorting through some precious heirlooms that I've been handed.

One of the material things we've "inherited" is a rug that was in my Mom's house.  Mom didn't have air conditioning until a few years before we sold her house.  (One benefit of living in the woods is that we rarely needed a/c!)  We're not sure what happened during the installation, but something made the entirety of Mom's house smell like burning rubber for a while.  (Comforting, right?)  The smell eventually went away- except for in that rug.

It's not a smell we necessarily like, but it definitely reminds us of Mom's house.

That's how so many of the things are in our house now... and in my faith.  I don't always like what I smell, or see, or feel... but I'm grateful for what it reminds me of.  The places I've been.  The people who have mentored me.  And the faith that is evolving.

We are still nothing more than a bunch of piles in this house.  There is a good chance that when you stop by, we'll have to move the laundry before you'll have a place to sit.  But I'm hopeful that eventually the piles won't bring panic and pain, but will show the strength of where we've been.  Even when we have a bizarre smell because of it... maybe eventually it will make us all feel a bit nostalgic.

Growing up is hard.

Maybe when I get to be an adult, it won't seem like it's been that difficult.

I'll let you know when I get there.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Juggling Chaos

I have a precious friend who once said that she needed a business card that explained her job title as this: "Managing Crazy, Getting Sh*t Done."

These days, mine would look an awful lot like that but I would change it to this: "Juggling Chaos, Getting Sh*t Done... Or Maybe Not."

Yesterday was a typical day for us.  Julianna and I drove to Hillsborough to get a copy of a form we needed for her adoption.  Then we stopped by our attorney's office to sign some paperwork, then home for a missed nap time.  (That always leads to a super fun afternoon!)  E got home from school, the mail came with a random check for Mom from an account we knew nothing about, so I began the investigation to see what was going on there.  Then when Dan got home I passed off kids abruptly, ran to the bank, then took part in a Grief Group at Hospice for people who have lost their parents.  I cried with strangers who became friends and then ran back home- getting gas on the way so that AAA didn't have to show up on the side of the road.  I walked in to find an anxious daughter who wasn't able to finish her homework on the computer because she'd lost the privilege of the computer for making a poor choice.  So as I sat down on the couch, I caught Dan up on it all and I cried.

I cried because I'd had a conversation with my brother about when to scatter Daddy's ashes.

I cried because the people at Hospice "get it" and have brought up so many things in my heart.

I cried because a friend unexpectedly lost his Dad yesterday.

I cried because our house was trashed... and I'm tired of it.

I cried because I just plain miss my parents.

During my productive morning, I juggled our chaos and I got stuff done.  A lot of it, actually.  So when I hit the moment that I just couldn't do anymore... it was okay to not do anymore.

We are raised to be finishers... we want to complete the task, mark it off our to-do list.  I am this way as well.  But I am also a starter.  I have a bazillion started projects downstairs- books I didn't finish, things I wanted to paint, old stationery projects uncompleted, half done scrapbooks... I am a pro at starting.  Finishing, however, is not my strong suit.  Don't believe me?  Check my college transcript for the dates between Freshman Year and Graduation...

In this season of grief and exhaustion, my Juggling Chaos is never harder than when it's trying to determine when to be productive and when to rest.  I teeter between excellent self-care and slothfulness.  I hover over the line of giving myself grace and giving myself permission to do too little... or sometimes, too much.

In between picking up forms and signing things yesterday, Julianna and I stopped at a park to play for a bit.  Near us was a woman sitting alone on a bench who was wrecked with sadness.  I'm not sure if she was suffering from mental illness, or if a situation had left her incapable of anything than sitting on that bench and crying.  Her sadness was palpable... maybe I picked up some of it along the way.  As I pushed Julianna in the swing, I prayed for the woman.  I prayed for myself.  I prayed for the pain and the drowning feeling of the Chaos we both were feeling.  All while I pushed Julianna "higher, Mommy... higher!"

Maybe my Chaos will get better today.  Maybe it will get better next week.  Or maybe it won't get better at all.  I don't know what's next for my schedule, my laundry, my bank account, or my heart... but I do know this:  Not one thing got knocked off my To-Do list yesterday while I was pushing this little girl on the swings.  But nothing on it was more important than pushing her, either.

So here's to being a finisher of the important things.  And a juggler of everything else.

And the wisdom to know when to stand back and just push the swing.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


Mom died on December 22nd.  She fell on December 17th... her 4th fall in 2 weeks.  Her last fall required dental surgery and the bleeding on her brain was too great for recovery.  In the end, with Chris and I by her side, she was released from the bondage of dementia and was whole again.  While I'm unsure what the first moments looked like as she crossed through the pearly gates, I feel certain she immediately combed her hair, brushed her beautiful teeth, and then set about doing the business of heaven-ing.

The loss of Mom was so very different than any of my other losses... we lost her long ago due to that nasty disease.  I've wanted to share with you all some of my thoughts on that... but before I do, thought it might be best to share the words that I shared at her funeral.


Chris and I grew up in this church. Our roles were very different: Chris would sit in the sound room which he helped develop. I would sit with Kristen at the piano, in the choir loft, or right up here, or more often with Mom- midway back on that left side, right at the aisle, and just behind Glenda and Jack Roberts.

The times I was up here are the ones that sit in my memory most about my Mother.  Each time I spoke, or sang, or spoke some more... I would see her- not beaming with pride as you might imagine... but sitting anxiously tense- wondering what words would come next out of my mouth.  She was nervous because not only was I her daughter, but I was Stan’s daughter... and he didn’t pass down a lot of filter in the ol’ gene pool.  I was so proud of a speech one time that I gave at our eighth grade graduation... only to come home to Mom saying “I canNOT believe you told all of those people THAT story.”  My Mother was a painfully private person... and while I might have thought it totally acceptable that you guys hear that Katha Phillips drove me home to get things I’d forgotten to get because my Mom was out of town and Chris and I woke up late and had to rush to school and he told me we didn’t have time to go back... Mom wasn’t so in love with the idea that all of the people in attendance at Enka Middle know that gem.  Nor would she love that I just told you all again, but what are you going to do.

So this morning I have the freedom of telling you some of the things about my Mother’s life without worrying about her being tense and hearing them.  Because this morning she is anxious no more- unless Jesus has a dirty kitchen which might push her over the edge- and I get to tell you some of the things I love most about my Mother.

The Mother that I knew was never really a trouble maker.  Shocking.  But that didn’t mean that she didn’t have certain ideas about how she had been wronged and that she didn’t choose to fight for a way to make it right.  The first time I realized this was when she told me the story of how I got my name.  My birth name is Rebecca, but I’ve gone by Becky my whole life.  Because that was a decision Mom was in charge of.  Her birth name was Rebecca Jane.  And she went by Jane- because my sweet Grandmother didn’t approve of nicknames.  Mom told me that her whole life she wished she had been called Becky instead of Jane.  Rather than complain about that endlessly, she did the next logical thing: she gave birth to her own Rebecca and called her Becky.  Problem solved.  

Later as I was telling my Mom names we had thought of for potential babies, I told her were thinking of naming a daughter Allison Jane and calling her Allie Jane.  She begged me to not do that- saying over and over “I hated the name Jane.”  That was the biggest reason we kept our daughter’s name a secret during my whole pregnancy.  As Mom was in the room with us when Elizabeth was delivered and we announced her name- Elizabeth Jane, Mom immediately responded “That is the most beautiful name I’ve ever heard.”

She also was thrilled when Katherine and Chris named Alex “Alexander Christopher”... She loved the name Christopher so very much- but you’ll note that my brother has always been called Chris.  Except for those 18 or so years he made me call him Fred, but that’s a story for another time.

Mom taught us well the value in buying well made products.  And I don’t mean value in that they were the most reasonably priced, I mean that they were the items she valued.  I honestly didn’t know that there were other options for toothpaste besides Crest until I was at Martha’s house one time and discovered Aquafresh.  In case you aren’t certain what you should be buying, feel free to begin taking notes now: Crest. Bounty Paper Towels. Cottonelle toilet paper.  Tide laundry detergent. Cascade dishwashing detergent.  Coke. And when you go to a restaurant to order and they ask you if Pepsi is okay, you politely say no.  Ruffles potato chips.  And even when you’re cooking- always buy real names.  It’s Chex Party Mix, not corn, rice, and wheat cereal Mix.

With the beauty of branding, my Mother had her own scent.  Until the later stages of her illness, she always smelled like a lovely combination of WindSong powder and Belk bought moisturizer.  She used to smell like Ultima II, but in more recent days she switched over to Lancome.  She taught me the value of spending money on what you love- whether that is good sweaters from Orvis, good shoes from Tops, or good fudge in Hilton Head... she had standards that brought her- and us- joy.  Just as her obituary said- she never went to the movies without popcorn and a Coke.  When Dan and I started dating he looked at me strangely when he suggested not buying them before a movie... I looked at him even more strangely when he suggested it.  We almost didn’t continue dating until I convinced him that it was a splurge worth considering.

My mother was the sweetest soul you’ll ever meet.  However, this week I stumbled upon this gem:  This is a paper my mother wrote in 1958 when she was a freshman at Mars Hill high school.  The whole thing (with her immaculate penmanship) was about her life- appropriately titled “October’s Gift”... there were stories I’d heard before: stories of her first words, her first steps, when she was baptized... and one I didn’t know.  In her own words... "Everyone who knew me as a child said that I was mean. I pushed my sister off of the porch just because I thought it would be funny to see her fall."....

This was one of the stories I almost missed out on with Mom.  Unlike some parents (myself included) who push their children into something they are interested in thinking their children can follow in their footsteps, Mom had the opposite response.  She was concerned that we would feel pressure trying to walk in her shadow.  Instead, it was as I graduated high school- having done Student Council my entire time there- that I learned that my Mother was her class president.  The only thing she told us as way of advertising for how we should do something was when she told me that she graduated college in 3 years- with all A’s except a C in swimming.  When I went to Carolina, Mom said she didn’t care what my grades were... in swimming.

Most importantly, the thing I remember my Mother saying most as I was growing up was “You are known by the company you keep.”  That could be because she knew I was friends with those trashy Cable twins... or it could be because she surrounded herself with such great company, she wanted the same treat for me.  It wasn’t until Mom was in the hospital this last time that I began thinking about how I knew my Mother’s friends before I knew my own.  When I would describe her friendships, I often found myself saying “Mom’s best friend Martha”... or “Mom’s best friend Bunie”... or “Mom’s best friend Brenda”... she filled her life with so many best friends... the ones that lived on Bradshaw Lane, the ones from Day International, the ones in England, the ones from Mars Hill... clearly, I learned from her example.  My life is richer from my mother’s best friends- and modeled today with so many of both of our best friends being here.

In addition to teaching me the beauty of being a friend, Mom modeled for us how to be a good Mimi.  Mom became Mimi once it was apparent that her first Grandchild, Alex, couldn’t say her hoped for Grandparent name of “Grandmother”.  They tried and tried to come up with something that would work for both of them... and when he was able to say “Mimi”, it stuck.  I remember searching high and low for just the right John Deere toy for Alex the year that he was into those... and making sure Mimi always had him a birthday cake when they came to celebrate Christmas.  Those of us in the Waldrup Family know a thing or two about having birthdays near Christmas, and Mimi wanted to be sure that he was appropriately celebrated.  (I’m fairly sure she didn’t want to take focus away from your birthday this year, Alex.)  When Elizabeth Jane showed up a little bit later, Mimi immediately formed a connection with my girl.  Every chance she would get, the two would go to “The Bit-More House”... and always end with chocolate ice cream.  When Julianna joined our family a couple years ago, Mom couldn’t have been more proud to show her off when we came for visits.

I am grateful that my mother brought me here, to this special space with this special congregation to help me begin my faith journey.  She opened my eyes to the body of Christ as being one of inclusion- one that would celebrate my giftedness as a woman, not in spite of it.  Wayne’s reading of Psalm 1 perfectly embodied not only my Mother, but the beauty that come from a life that is faithfully lived.   My friend Caleb used the phrase “an epitome of southern class and sophistication” when he described my mother this week. And while those earthly words ring true... I am most thankful that today my Mother is not only faithful, but joyful and triumphant.  I am grateful that she has joined the Citizens of Heaven Above.  Please join me as we worship the God who gave us Momma Janer, and as we sing....Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.

My mother was faithful.  And I am grateful.