Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Three peppermints and a gift card

     Today started out like any other day...a mad scramble to get out the door for art class because let's face it, kids move in stop-motion when you want them to hustle, only to discover upon arrival that I had the time wrong. Days like this seem to happen to me more than most moms I know the email was legit WRONG. I even asked another friend when she thought it would have started. So there. It was an honest mistake but I seem to make those a lot. Doesn't really help my already ridiculously low self-esteem as a functioning human. With hot tears streaming down my face and a mad little boy yelling, "this place is ridiculous!!" (I'm not sure where he heard that word) at the church which holds the class, I trudged back to the car. Yes, I trudged. I'm trudging everywhere it seems these days. There's been no spring in my step for a while. It COULD be because of the RIDICULOUS cold that has produced ZERO snow or ice of any consequence, and has forced me to wear UGGs for an entire 4 month period. My toes and feet are begging for sandals and pretty nail polish. My legs are pleading to not have jeans on them, yet were I to release them to wear shorts they would blind anyone standing within a 5 mile radius. Yes. I need a tan. In a bad way. But THIS day wasn't to be about art or UGGs. It was to be about awakening. Awakening my spirit to The Spirit. Awakening my heart to listen and obey His heart. Awakening my trudging soul and finding joy in blessing others..and receiving massive blessing in return.
     I decided to calm my tiny tyrants with a trip to Chick-Fil-A. The promise of playground time and chicken nuggets lightened the mood and we were off to see the chicken. As we pulled in I noticed a bicycle, laden with rolled up bundles and knew instantly that it most likely was the entirety of one person's worldly possessions. I wondered who we would encounter and what the other diners would think of this person being in Chick Fil A in the heart of East Memphis. It's been a long time since I've lived here, but sure as I live and breathe, I don't remember ever seeing this happen. Sure enough, we walked into the store and there he was. Sitting with his ball cap pulled way down over his eyes, crouched over a newspaper reading dozing in and out of sleep. Other people came and went around him, either giving him no glance at all or quickly looking away. It was as if the Lord said to me, "you're gonna talk to that man. AND you're gonna give him a gift". I was all "WHO, me?? Seriously, God...ME??". I instantly thought of a story Beth Moore told of the Lord telling her to brush a man's hair  that looked like it hadn't been washed, let alone brushed, in a very long time. She was obedient. This was my chance to be obedient and to allow the Spirit to awaken my soul again. Deep breath...
     I decided to get him a gift card. That's easy enough, right? Step one, done. I sat back in my seat and could hear all the conversations around me. Listen, if you don't want people to hear what you're saying...don't talk loud. I grew increasingly more agitated and annoyed with the conversations around me. I knew what I was supposed to do but my legs wouldn't do it. Another deep breath...
    I suddenly felt myself rising up from my seat in the booth that had kept me safe from stares and whisperings that I knew would occur. They were taking me to this man. I'm standing there and there's no turning back. Step two...speak. I hear myself saying "My name is Theryssa and God told me I'm to give you a gift. May I sit down?". My heart was beating so fast I could hardly breathe...if you know me but at all, you know I get terrible stage fright. This felt like I was standing on a stage on Broadway, completely unaware of what my next line was and everyone was watching. Here in this Chick-Fil-A...people were watching and I could feel it. He told me his name and said I could sit. We engaged in light small talk and of course church came up. He was quite certain that I was on some kind of mission to give to the needy. I assured him I was not and we changed the subject. Deep breath...
     The more we chatted, the more I began to enjoy his company and he warmed up to me. I didn't ask too many questions (it has been pointed out that I do that. I thought people liked it when others were interested in them! No?) but he was willing to answer the ones I did ask. He had a cold and said he'd been taking peppermints because it was really good for colds. This launched us into essential oils and movies in which essential oils are used. Um, yeah. That happened. We talked about food and movies and his family. We talked about his life and (kind of) how he got in the position he's in now. He was terribly witty and very smart. An hour later, I gave him the gift card and said, "I'm hungry, let's eat!" and just like that, we were enjoying a meal together...with my kids. Yeah, I included my kids. They didn't miss a beat. Oh, I just realized I haven't told you what our new friend looks like. He's most likely in his 70's but I don't know for sure. He had sparkly blue eyes that lit up when he talked of his daughters in Florida and gray hair that stuck out from under his tattered ball cap. He was wearing at least 3 layers of clothing and his hands were calloused and cut from years of cold and hard work. I feel I should note that the Chick-Fil-A staff was nothing but gracious to us both as we sat and talked. I never felt like they wanted him out and found out AFTER the fact that he came there quite often and sat. I'm not sure I would have done this if I had known that so I'm glad I didn't.
     When it came time to eat, I sat Kate catty-cornered to our new friend (yes, I know his name, no, I'm not going to share it) because I knew she wouldn't talk to him anyway. Let's be real honest, Kate doesn't talk to very many people. Samuel on the other hand was more than excited to chat up this new person in his world. Samuel talked of basketball and soccer and our friend told him the story of Samuel in the Bible. The kids finished eating and went back to play in the germ incubator playground. Another hour went by. Sometimes we talked. Sometimes we didn't. It felt like sitting with an old friend. I have to say, I haven't enjoyed conversation like this with a perfect stranger in a very long time. He was interested in our church and mentioned that he knew a guy there.He's got a few connections around town with men from other churches so I feel relieved knowing that he can get help in an emergency. But it's so very cold and I have NO idea where he sleeps or lives. This makes my heart sad.
     As the afternoon went on, I knew we had to leave, but I didn't want to go. Is that weird? I just met this person, but was enjoying talking so much that I couldn't pull myself away. And I knew that once he was gone, that was it. I may not ever know what happens to him. The kids came out of the playground and we prepared to leave. He gathered his belongings and we said our goodbyes. I asked him if we could meet again next week and he said he'd get out to church tomorrow night if the weather wasn't bad. Like a dagger to the heart that was. He rides everywhere. I take for granted just hopping into my fancy SUV and hitting the road. Not anymore. As we were getting ready to go, he handed me a package of Life Saver peppermints. There weren't many inside, three exactly, but he wanted my kids to have them for their sniffles because "an ounce of prevention is half the cure". And he wanted me to make sure I had the package so I could know which ones to get when those were gone. Deep breath...
     We said goodbye to our friend, and I noticed another mom with little girls in ballet uniforms outfits costumes...seriously, what are they called?? We started talking about homeschool dance class and you guessed it...home birth. She brought it up, I promise! She also sees the need for a birth center in town, so that sealed it...I'm gonna get on that soon. ANYWAY, while we were chatting, I glanced out the window and noticed him standing by his bike. I turned again a minute later and he was gone. My heart was sad and I thought, "I don't know if I'll ever see him again. Did I do enough? Did I share enough? Did I love enough?" He had told me as he left, "thank you for the enjoyable time and for spending your day with me. It was a blessing". No, sir. I'm the one who received the blessing.
     The Lord knew today that I would have the wrong time for art and would end up exactly where He placed this man. As I write this, I can barely see the computer screen for the tears of thanksgiving. Today, my heart was awakened again with a love for the homeless. Jeremy and I served in Texas at a church called Beautiful Feet and got to know some of the people who would come to church on the bus. In talking to the men, we realized some wanted help and others didn't. Regardless, it's not up to me to judge why they're homeless or what they do with money people give them. Should we choose not to give cash? Absolutely. But we should also not turn a scornful eye and look the other way. It's super easy to ignore the homeless. But it's even easier to love them if we try.
     So, tonight as I lay down in my incredibly uncomfortable but warm bed, I'll pray for my new friend. Pray that he has somewhere warm to sleep tonight. Pray that he is safe. Pray that we see him again. I thank God for our meeting today. He walked away with a gift card to Chick-Fil-A but I walked away with a renewed heart for others...and three peppermints.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I can't think of a title...

     I've never been a scheduled person. Never met a schedule I liked. I was on time for high school classes because I had to be. In my world, however, college classes started 5-10 minutes later than the schedule said. Sadly, if I didn't have to punch a clock at a job, I was most likely a few minutes late there also. If you're a former employer of mine, just know it wasn't personal. I liked you. Just not the schedule. And if you're a friend, you know to tell me 10 or so minutes earlier than you want to meet so I'll actually be there at the time you want. Again, nothing personal. There's just something intrinsic in me that abhors being on a schedule. Well.
     Then I had Samuel. Most gals I met were reading books about scheduling their babies and figuring out what time their kid would poop. I was internally thinking, "seriously, girl, you need to relax". I mean, Samuel took naps twice a day like all the other babies in America, but if we were off by an hour or so, I didn't lose sleep over it. Same with Kate. But now that they're older I'm beginning to see the value of a more scheduled life. I'm not running a stop watch or anything during our daily activities, but I'm trying to establish more of a routine and schedule for our week. And may I just say that I, uh, sorta kinda, am a little bit...enjoying it. There I said it. I, Theryssa Michele Fant Gossman, am enjoying the benefits of living a less "flying by the seat of our pants" lifestyle.
   Samuel starts soccer this Friday and well, yoga, tomorrow. I got acupuncture last week, so if there was ever doubt, I'm a REAL hippie now. Thus, the yoga. Anyway. We have MOPS twice a month with all kinds of activities during the month, and he's really interested in doing some homeschool. The point is, if I'm gonna have all this going on, I should probably get a planner and actually USE it. Am I the only one who buys planners because they're cute and then doesn't use them? Can I get a witness??
     So, this year I plan on being more organized and less flustered. I can't promise I'll be on time if we meet for lunch, but I'll at least REMEMBER the lunch because of my new planner. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Christmas do-over

I was reading through some drafts and found this. Funny, because our Christmas this year was SO different. Maybe I listened to myself for once. This year I really did get a do-over.

Today I woke up with the resolve to get X number of things done for Christmas and even had a list to follow. But, this day started its downhill spiral when my usually obedient two-year-old chose to disobey, resulting in the loss of one of my most prized possessions. He knocked over a table and a crystal candy dish that had belonged to my great-grandmother Fant went tumbling to the ground. Ordinarily, this wouldn't have been a problem on carpet. In this case, however, the green vase I purchased at Pottery Barn for 50 cents fell on top of the irreplaceable candy dish and shattered it into a million pieces. I was angry, sad, frustrated. As I turned to face my errant child, I looked into his big brown eyes and saw fear and confusion. He knew he had done something wrong but had no idea what that mistake meant to me. At that moment I knew I couldn't discipline him for his actions. He saw the tears in my eyes and that was enough. I sent him to his room so I could clean up the glass and collect myself. When I went to get him, he was sitting in his little wingback chair playing with my phone. He looked so grown up yet still so childlike. He said he was sorry, and we moved on.

Strike two for the day: getting to Wal-Mart only to discover the item I needed embroidered was at home. Awesome.

Strike Three: using too much white sugar in a cookie recipe because the recipe was copied wrong. Again...awesome.

It seems that NOTHING I've done to prepare for Christmas this year has been merry, magical, festive, or any other descriptive words for this, the "most wonderful time of the year". As I was rolling cookies into balls this evening, it hit me. There's only been ONE perfect Christmas and it occured 2,000-something years ago the night Jesus Christ was born. With all the Martha's, Rachael's, and Oprah's with their perfect cookies, yummo appetizers and luxurious favorite things, there comes the belief that it's not Christmas unless it's "perfect". On that first chrismas, there was no well-appointed table, and the party guests surely didn't smell very good, but all that didn't matter. What mattered was the tiny baby born to take on the sin of all man-kind. Born to free us from slavery. Born to die in order to do that. "Amazing love, how can it be? That God my Savior should die for me.".

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yarn Christmas Trees

Anyone who knows me knows that I believe we are indeed in the throws of the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. So, I wanted to share a quick little craft that a friend of mine and I both did. Originally, I saw a post on Pinterest from and knew it was a "must do" this year. These cute and cheerful trees are SUPER easy (a small child could definitely help) and could be made to fit any color scheme. I decorate in crazy bright colors and April uses your more traditional red, white and green.

All you need is:
A foam cone
yarn-it doesn't take an entire roll, so if you have some at home already, that should be enough
craft pom-poms
glue-I use fabric glue in a tube because it dries very quickly

I didn't take step-by-step pictures, but this is SO easy. It took about 30 minutes for the whole thing. Probably wouldn't have taken that long, but I was watching tv while I did it.

1. Wrap the yarn around the tree so as to cover the foam. I was really haphazard about it because I like things a little messy. I started at the top and worked my way down because I wanted the end of the yarn to be at the bottom.
2. Glue the end of the yard either under the tree or at the very bottom of the cone. If you're a craft hoarder like myself and have a piece of green felt, glue a circle of felt onto the bottom of the cone. If not, don't worry. It won't affect the look of your tree.
3. Glue the pom-poms on.

That's it! I told you it was easy. And it's so incredibly inexpensive...especially if you have a coupon for your craft store or have most of the items already. I had a cone but of course couldn't find it! Oh well. 

                                                            These are my friend April's

                                                                     This one is mine.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Doubt, Insecurity and a Pop Tart

So, here I sit at 12:58 a.m. eating a pop-tart while everyone else is peacefully dreaming away the night. I just finished mopping and tidying up the house as quietly as I could. I wish I could say my midnight cleaning spree was brought on by my deep desire to be a stellar housewife or "Proverbs 31 woman", but alas, it is not. Instead, it was brought on by my deep desire for a mocha frappe with bubbles in it at nine o'clock at night. Lesson learned.

I've been feeling particularly insecure and unsure of things today. I'm one of the most insecure people I've ever met. Remember that feeling as a 13 year old that your legs and arms were too long for your body? Or that feeling that no one approved of your outfit? (OK, after looking back at photos from back then, I give everyone the freedom to mock me. Yikes.) I still feel that same insecurity sometimes.

Except it's with more important things like how I'm rearing my children or what I'm feeding them or HOW I'm feeding them. I'm quick to tell others "fuhgetaboutit! It's your what you want", and then forget my own advice. Where does that come from, anyway?? Where do those thoughts of insecurity and doubt of my abilities come from? 'Scuse me...from whence do they come? Can't end a sentence in a preposition, right Mom? Well, I'll tell ya like my Mama told me..."from the pit of hell". That's right. Those are lies from the pit of hell, and I won't listen. OK, maybe I do listen today. I worried and fretted about things from a self-centered point of view and had to remind myself to stop. Seriously. I'm not a toddler. I must realize the world doesn't revolve around me and that people and their circumstances do not dictate what happens in my own life.

Sidenote: This is the ONLY concept I took from the child development course I took in college...children are egocentric. No wonder I made a "C". Anyway...

My security lies in the Lord. HE knows what HE has shown me to do and what He has taught me to do through others. That's where my security lies and that's where all doubts flee. There is no doubt that He will enable me to be the wife and mother HE has called me to be. That's all I can do. I can't and won't measure up to what everyone else THINKS I am or thinks I SHOULD be. So there.

It is now 1:22 and I'm still wired. There's another pop-tart staring at me. Why do they package 2 pop-tarts together in the same pouch when only 1 is a serving size? Do they THINK I need 400 calories instead of 200?? One of life's many questions.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Caring for the grieving mommy

Go to college, become a successful buyer, marry a rich man who loves me for who I am, live in NYC and have two kids by age 25. 

Um, yeah. That was my "goal" as a senior in high school, and it's recorded for all to see in the Collierville High School 1994 yearbook. Wow. Only one of those things came to fruition. I went to and finished college. When Jeremy and I got married we didn't have 2 pennies to rub together. Then we had plenty of pennies. Then we had no pennies. But he married me and that's all that counts. I digress.

My plan for having kids at 25 clearly did not come about. I birthed our first child at the ripe old age of 32, thank you very much. The second one at 34. I lost a baby at 28 and one at 30. This was definitely nowhere on my radar as a 17 year old. I never thought I'd be in that club. The membership card for this club comes with incredible pain and heartache that you really don't ever "get over". And unfortunately, it's not a club you can age out of. You're a lifetime member.

These thoughts are on my mind tonight as I have learned of a precious friend having lost her unborn little one. I weep for her. The pain and emptiness she is bound to be feeling is excrutiating. I'm heartbroken every time a mommy loses a baby because it's like a little bit of innocence is lost. There's such a loneliness there. As I'm remembering the loss of our own babies, I am thinking back on the days before I knew this type of hurt. I'm remembering how I responded when I would hear of a baby lost. Mostly, I didn't know what to do or say.  I'm also thinking of the responses we received and wanted to give a little insight into how to show a grieving mommy the support she needs. This is just from my experience of course...every mommy handles this in her own way.

Don't say "if you need anything, call me". 
She probably won't. Do things before there's a need.  

Words don't help:
Trite words or inspirational sayings meant nothing to me. All I wanted to hear from anyone was "I'm so sorry". When in doubt, just say that and move on.

If she's up for company, ask her if you can come sit on the couch with her:
This was the best thing anyone did for me. Take a girly movie or just sit in the quiet. Nuf said.

Don't make her feel like she has to talk about it or give details:
I still don't talk about baby Andrew that often. If she wants to talk about it, she will.

Take a meal:
Don't ask. Just take it. Or gift cards for restaurants. She may not be eating, but her husband needs to eat. 

Send a card:
Something simple. Not too wordy.

When she's ready...take her shopping for something sparkly:
Maybe I'm simple, but this worked for me.

Don't neglect her husband:
He is experiencing loss too. If you're married, have your husband give him a call and let him know he's there for him. This meant a TON to me for Jeremy. 

Ministering to a grieving friend is difficult. Be genuine. Be selfless. Be faithful. And above all, be patient.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Were you "mothered" by your Mother?

    I was recently asked this question "were you 'mothered' by your mother?". Without hesitation I thought "of course!". Not just taken care of, but actually "mothered". So, I decided to list some of the most important things my mother taught me that I want to pass on to my girl (or girls if the Lord allows). In no particular order, they are as follows:

1. You are a daughter of THE KING...don't forget it.

2. Guests should never enter your home without being offered a beverage and/or something to eat. If they refuse, keep asking every few minutes...they'll cave eventually.
3. Sauteing onions on the stove while dinner's cooking makes it smell more "fancy"...and more "ready".
4. Always fix up a little before your husband comes home. If the barn door needs paintin'...
5. Make the bed before you might die before you come home. Do you really want them coming in to see your bed unmade??
6. Clean as if the Queen of England were coming to visit.
7. Remember who you are and whose you are.
8. You can always count on me (your mother).
9. Nothing is too difficult for God.
10. Chicken Salad is the only way to go for a baby shower, wedding shower or ladies' lunch.
11. When a friend is sick or a relative of theirs passes away...take a meal.
12. Never sit on a public toilet seat...there's cooties on there.
13. I will ALWAYS love matter what you do. I will ALWAYS love you.
14. Always check for toilet paper on the bottom of your shoe when leaving a public restroom.
15. Turn to the side when taking a photogragh.
16. Show hospitality to everyone.
17. Love your enemies. OK, that's in the Bible too, but I'm pretty sure that's where she got that.
18. Good girls don't call boys. Oops. I'm changing it to "good girls don't call boys and if they do, they get beat."
19. When people are coming over and you ran out of time...throw it all in the dryer.
20. And finally...Have a godly day. For what good is there in a "good" day if it isn't godly?"

     Obviously, some are more serious than others, but it's all very helpful. :-) If I'm HALF the mom that mine was, I'll be doing good. Thank you, mother, for the past 34 years of "mothering"!! I love you!!