Mean Girl Memory

I was ten years old the day I acted like a Mean Girl. I’m ashamed to tell you what I did.

A group of us girls stood in our driveway laughing and talking. We were going to the movies. At the last minute, one more little girl showed up.

I didn’t know she’d been invited.

I wanted it to be just US older, mature girls, and she was only seven or eight. I still cringe at what I said.

We were all wearing shorts and T-shirts except for her. She wore a dress and Sunday shoes.

“Why are you so dressed up? We aren’t going to church. We’re just going to the movies.”

She ran home crying. We stopped by her house to pick her up, but she wouldn’t come to the door.

It felt so dark inside my heart.

I’d excluded her from the group.

Something happened last week and I remembered being a Mean Girl, and the shame in her eyes. While my husband was feeding his parakeets, one flew away. A white female.

For days she darted near the atrium where she used to live, but we couldn’t catch her. 

Sometimes, I’d see her in the treetops all by herself. An outsider looking in.

Nearly broke my heart…

Rick hung a bird-cage on the atrium, and fixed the tiny door so if she flew in, it would close. She never did.

And the worst part–at night, she clung on the screen of her old house calling out to her friends. Of course, they couldn’t help her. 

Hungry, thirsty, and lonely, if she survived the summer, she’d never make it through the winter outside the heated atrium.

One morning, Rick sprinkled bird seeds on the walkway near the atrium. She was no where in sight, but just in case…

A few minutes later, our cat Thelma crouched in an attack position, focused on the white parakeet who’d landed to eat.

Please, Lord, don’t let the bird die on the outside looking in. Don’t let Thelma…

Quickly and quietly, Rick shooed Thelma away. 

The parakeet stood still. 

He scooped her up, opened the door, and put her inside. Her friends welcomed her home and threw a grand celebration!

But the best part…

A week later, our long-lost white parakeet laid three white eggs.

Oh, the sweetness of belonging–of hearing, “Welcome. We’re so glad you’re here.” Click to tweet

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7 (ESV) Click to tweet 

Have you ever been on the outside looking in?  

Have you ever been a Mean Girl? Or am I the only one?

Love,

Julie

 

Reminiscing about Rutabagas

I’ve always been able to ask my mother anything. She doesn’t know about numbers, money, or directions–and she doesn’t want to, but she understands emotions. I called her New Year’s Day. “I cooked collards and black-eyed peas. How ’bout you?”

“I had rutabagas,” she said.

I laughed. “Really? I didn’t know rutabagas are a real food. How’d you cook them?”

“I opened a can and poured them in a pot.”

“Have you ever bought fresh ones?”

“Once, but they were horrible to peel. Like a coconut or a rock.”

“I’ve never noticed them at the grocery store,” I said.

“I always look away and head to the canned goods.”

“Did you grow up eating them?”

“Oh, yes. I’d come home on a cold winter’s eve with the trees bare and gray sky behind them. I’d run inside and Mother was in the kitchen cooking. The whole house smelled like rutabagas.”

“What do they smell like?”

“Wintertime. Security.”

“What color are they after you cook them?”

“Pumpkin-orange.”

“What did Goge (my grandmother) fix to go with them?”

“Turnip greens, pork chops, cornbread, sweet tea, and gingerbread for desert. She’d say, ‘Talk to me while I cook. Tell me what you did today.’ Now when I eat rutabagas, I go back in time. I’m standing behind my mother at the stove. She’s stirring… like I’m seeing a painting I love.”

“Rutabagas mean more than eating vegetables, don’t they?”

“They sure do. They mean, I love you. No matter what happens in life, you’re gonna be okay,” she said softly.

“Thank you, Mother.” I tucked her message deep inside my heart.

My dear friends, I’m sending you a plateful of warm rutabaga-love on this January day.

Love,

Julie

*bottom picture from QueenaSookKim flickr

Remembering the Good Stuff–Only the Good Stuff

Saturday night, my sister Jennifer celebrated her 50th birthday. After dinner she said, “As I reflected on turning 50, I realized I didn’t want a big blowout party. I guess there’s something about aging that makes you grateful for your family, your health, your marriage, your children, and your dearest friends.”

Uh-oh. My heart pounded triple time. She planned to say something about each of us. I was the bossy older sister. The tattle-tale. I organized neighborhood plays and always got to be the director.

One night in the tub, I convinced Jennifer to take a bite of Dial soap. I told her everybody ate soap.

I told her if she’d put her Popsicles in my mouth, they wouldn’t melt so fast because my mouth was just like a refrigerator.

I told her to never say the words VENETIAN BLINDS. 

VENETIAN BLINDS  means something dark and scary, and you’re way too young to understand.” Bless her heart. She believed me.

Would she remember all the ugly stuff I’d done? Would she tell everybody at the party?

Flash back to 1968. Mother’s folding diapers. Jen’s twirling her hair. I’m smiling at the camera with my hands on my hips, probably telling Jen to behave and smile too.

Okay, back to Saturday night, Jen’s words…

“As my sister, Julie, you truly know me better than anyone, next to Charlie, Libby, and the Lord! It’s hard to put into words the gratitude I feel for you.” (Charlie’s her hubby. Libby’s their daughter.)

Gratitude? Did she say gratitude?

“From the time I was a little girl to now, I’ve looked up to you and admired you. We had such fun as sisters.”

Me? Fun?

We were both crying, but somehow she continued.

“Playing in the sprinkler in matching bathing suits, groove-ins on Nancy Clutter’s porch, cereal and cartoons on Saturdays, me, jumping in your bed with you at night because I’d heard something and was terrified. You let me put my cold feet on your warm ones. You’ve always been there for me. I know I can confide in you.”

Oh, wow. She only remembers the good stuff.

How can it be? She’s let go of all the mean things I did to her.

(Jen, me, and Mother–44 years later–the night of the party!)

Staring at her 1960’s groovy cake, I thought…

What if I could live like Jennifer?

What if I “kept no record of wrongs?”  1 Corinthians 13:5

And dwelled only on the good stuff.

Help me, Lord.

Love,

Julie~ Was anyone else a bossy child?