Sunday, May 13, 2012

Barbecue Sauce with Fries on the Side

I cannot think about Beth without smiling.  She is there, in many many memories, smiling, acting goofy, and probably doing something us older girls bribed her to do. (We promise, we will never you Bethy!) We also knew, all of us, that she would marry her Chris, and she did. Now, they have three beautiful (and I mean beautiful) babies. 

It is amazing to see her (well, I Facebook-cyber-stalk Beth on a regular basis) and hear her stories and antics about what her children are up to, and how they are becoming these amazing people already at such a young age.  I am, however, not surprised that hilarity often ensues. 

Most recently I was struck by a comment that she made regarding Keely. Keely, age 3, is Beth all over again, with her big eyes, and light hair.  As Beth and Keely were out and about one day running errands, Beth took a jaunt through McD's, and while normally eating in the van is not allowed, that day, Mommy made an exception.

Although I wasn't actually present for the event, I can well see what took place over the next few moments as Keely rummaged through the bag, looking through her lunch items, when she saw something in the bottom that did not belong.

Being the dramatic soul that I am, I imagine that in this next moment, Keely through her arm over her face, and with her other hand practically toss the bag to her mom.  (Basically, because that's what I'd do.)  What she did do though, was yell, "Take this! Take this! I am not allowed to have it!!"

What was in the bag? Barbecue sauce.

I cannot say how I would have responded right now, let alone when I was a mere three years old.  You may be thinking, "Wouldn't you just eat it? It's barbecue sauce... you're an adult. You can eat in the car if you want to, or don't. Really, no one cares about the BBQ sauce..."  The truth is, I would eat barbecue sauce,  (except that right now, I am avoiding fast food altogether [sigh]).  As I read this though, my thought trailed away from beloved BBQ to regular ol' temptation.

For Keely, it wasn't enough for Keely to leave the BBQ sauce in the bottom of her bag, close it up and set it on the seat beside her.  The temptation was just too close. Close enough, in fact, that she could have done the sneaky thing, opened the packet and tasted the yummy goodness.  (Those packets are hard to open, but in a child's determined hands, I wouldn't put it past her.) Keely, in the wisdom of a three year old, saw past the moment of instant gratification, and saw where the consequences of  her actions would lead. BBQ sauce can be hard to hide if it's all over your face, you are out of napkins, and have no mirror. (I'm just sayin'.)

Instead she knew that she had to rid herself of the temptation altogether.
"Take this! Take this, Mom! I am not allowed to have it!!"  
Being the super mom that she is, Beth took the BBQ sauce, relinquishing her daughter from the sauce and any possible outcomes that might have happened had she kept it. 

I have my own temptations.  BBQ sauce is not necessarily one of them, but they are there, and my decision becomes what do I do with them. 

We can read the Bible and know that even Jesus faced temptation, so unfortunately, I'm not sure of a way where we can altogether stop them from coming.  However, there are methods for getting rid of them.  In Keely's case, toss the bag with the goods into the front seat with Mom.  She'll keep her covered.

In my case, a little prayer goes a long way. I guess, that would involve me "tossing the bag with the goods into the hands of my Father." He has proven good at catching.

Matthew 26:41
"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Sending lots of love and chocolate (and a little barbecue sauce) your way,

Oh, and Keely, High Five to you! Way to go!! 

Friday, May 11, 2012


The bus ride.
That dreaded stretch in the afternoon when we would load onto the bus and sit (for what seemed forever) It was not a quiet, calm ride for me. Instead of time to do homework, or to chat with friends, I had to wrestle to keep my adorable, fiery red haired, as-cute-as-you-could-ever-be-brother (believe me, he was cute), in his seat, and out of the aisles, and away from those who would tempt him to do.... stuff (that only would ever result in him getting in trouble). 

I was over my head, and out of my league. Then along came John's forever protector.  Actually there were two of them, but Brandon, Brandon saved me on a daily basis on the bus, as he guarded and watched over my brother. I could finally relax knowing that no one would infiltrate the wall that Brandon and the fellow protector made around my brother.

Years and years later, my chance to, (in a small way) repay Brandon happened.  My brother was in high school, and Brandon's younger sister, Bonnie, was in John's class.

"You know, John," I said to him, "Bonnie is Brandon's sister."
"I know."
"You know, Brandon took care of you. You need to take care of Bonnie. Don't let anything happen to her."
"I won't, Steph. I'll take care of her."

He did.

John, and his whole class loved Bonnie.  But John, my brother, my hero, took my words seriously.  Bonnie was his friend, and she was his responsibility. (Apparently to the point where he would not allow others to take her down the hallways. He was the only one allowed to push her down the hall--- his rules of course.)

"How is Bonnie?" I would ask.
"She's good."
"What do you do when she's in school with you?"
"We touch her face, and we touch her arms and her hands. We talk to her, and tell her we are there, and we sing to her."
"What do you sing?"
"My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."
"Does she like it?"
"Oh, yes."
"How do you know."
"I just do, Steph. I just know."

He did. I believed him. He knew. 

It's no wonder then, to me, that when I drive by your family's old house, that I miss you, Brandon.  It's no wonder that when I go back to my memories of elementary school, that you are there. And, at times, when I see my brother, that I remember you.  And, it never fails that every time I do remember you, I smile, and then I grow sad, because I miss you.

And, while I miss the boy that you were, others miss you for the man that you became. And while I cry, over that boy who saved me for those years on the bus, your family and your friends cry, missing the man, the dad, the husband, the friend that you became.

Thank you, Brandon. One hundred times over.  Thank you.

We will love you forever. We will miss you for always.
You will always be in our hearts.